Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 N.B.MOOSE HUNT,THE BITE THAT WASN'T,HUNTING PUDDLE DUCKS

The 2012 hunting season started off with a bang with a terrific moose hunt,followed by some very good duck hunting. The weather co-operated during our short moose season and this helped boost hunter success rates across the province. We also started to get a little fall rain that put some water back in the ponds and marshes. This made it a little easier for duck hunters to get around in their boats and gave the ducks a little more water to access food and resting areas. As far as this years fall salmon season goes,the water we did receive was just too little,too late. By the time we got some water,the season had pretty much ended.
    As I mentioned last month,we had three moose tags this year and we were all primed up for the hunt because of all the sign we were seeing. I drew a tag for the first time in over thirty years and ol' Wes Hargrove got a tag again this year after having one last year.If he draws another one next year,I'm going to get him to by my lotto tickets! Wesley's new son-in-law,Denis,rounded out the group that held tags for this years hunt. We were splitting up into three hunting parties and we would each be hunting our own area within zone 18. I elected to hunt the same spot I hunted last year as second gun for Stephen Doherty's wife and that proved to be a wise choice. This area is part of the Coal Creek valley as it makes it's way to its point of entry to Grand Lake. Wes and his second shooter decided to hunt the Harley Road and Denis,his brother and a friend from Saint John were going to hunt a spot in Bronson. All the areas we had chosen were showing a lot of sign so we were quite confident going into this years hunt.
    Here is a clip of Allen Davidson calling on the opener of last years hunt. Allen and Stephen Doherty were hunting with me again this year and we had a great time.
    Allen did a repeat of that call again this year and I hadn't gone out of site down the road when the cell phone buzzed and it was Steven telling me to get back up the hill to where they were calling because there was a nice 14 pt. bull had come to within thirty yards of the truck,not more than ten minutes after the start of the season. Somehow I knew this was going to happen, so off I go huffing and puffing back up the hill,only to arrive about two minutes late.Allen said he held the bull there as long as he could by grunting him back each time he started to leave but eventually he faded out of sight down through the chopping. I asked which direction he went and down through the chopping I go,hoping to catch him lingering in the area or maybe grunt him back out. What a mess of skidder ruts and pot holes I got myself into and all to no avail. Mr. Moose was long gone. Back out I come and after talking some more to the boys,off I go again to make my way to my stand. This time I do make it to my stand around the corner and after I get set up,I give a few calls and suddenly,out steps a moose about four hundred yards away. I could tell it was a big moose but I knew I had to get closer. As I duck walked up the road towards the moose,the cell phone buzzed again! It was Stephen calling to say a monster bull with about twenty points and a sixty inch spread was heading my way. I told him I had a moose in front of me,when the moose veered off of the road as quickly as it had come onto it.I tried to call it back out but it was a no show. I quickly made my way back to the stand because if that big bull was going to cross,I had the chopping and road both covered. After I got settled in,I gave a series of calls and stood waiting. It wasn't five minutes and out comes a moose heading right towards me at about seventy-five yards. I moved to get behind some bushes and he stopped and turned broadside. After all the close encounters that morning,I wasn't going to let this guy walk. I dumped him and I walked back to Stephen and Allen and we drove back to the moose.Neither one of them had heard me call or shoot,so they were quite surprised when I told them I had one down. The following photo shows Allen and I with my moose shortly after walking in to where he fell. As you can tell from the photo,I am not a trophy hunter.Period. When it comes to moose and deer,I take whatever the good Lord puts in front of me,as long as it's legal. I love moose and deer meat so on a three day moose hunt,I'll take a young,eating bull like this any day. But,like any hunter,I like big horns, too. So you can be sure,if I'm hunting a spot ,there is usually a large set of horns in the area.A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush! The next photo shows Stephen and Allen taking a sup of tea before the work begins. I dressed out my moose and Sheldon W. came along and offered to drag it out for me.I said sure and we had the moose on the back of the truck in no time. I shot the moose about 9:30 a.m. and we were on our way to the Chipman DNR station to register the moose by 11:a.m. The next photo shows Sheldon W. packing up after we had our moose loaded. When we got to the registration station,we were surprised to see Ol' Wes had been the first hunter to register a moose on the first day. Wesley got his picture taken and a short write-up in the local paper and he was pleased as punch with the moose he got. His moose was almost a twin to the one I got but unfortunately I never got a photo. After getting my moose looked after,I suggested to Kenny that we take a run back into the area I had hunted on the morning of the second day, just to see what was around. We hadn't gone too far when I spotted a cow in the chopping. After going a little further,we saw another cow with a calf on the opposite side of the road.We started back out and on the way I saw a nice cow standing beside a pond. That totalled three cows and a calf on the second morning. That told Ken and I that the moose were still in pre-rut and not breeding yet.The bulls were still chasing and sparring and the cows were still feeding and travelling with calves,from what we observed the first two days of the season. This type of situation always provides lots of good moose hunting opportunities,provided the weather is good,of course. This year proved to be a banner year,with a moose kill of three thousand ,five hundred and fifty -six moose killed with sixty-three registered at the Chipman station. I tagged out early so that gave me a good chance to get some photos of the moose as they came in and I wasn't disappointed. All of these bulls were from zones 13,17 and 18 and these photos show the calibre of moose living in our hunting area. This first photo is one showing four moose brought in by a group of Frenchmen.Two large bulls,a smaller bull and a nice cow. All these moose were taken in zone 17. The next photo shows Kenny K. huge, old, one horned bull that proved to be the largest registered at 886 lbs. This moose had one banged up horn and was all beat to pieces from fighting. This moose was taken in zone 13.
    The next photo is the moose my neighbors and long time Irving employees,Greg and Kelly B. took in zone 17. Greg and his wife both drew tags and this is the bull Kelly took. Looking on is ninety years young Glendon L. of Chipman and Gerald B. who is eighty something.
  The next photo shows two trophy bulls taken by two local hunters who were less than two km. apart in zone 18. Sam W. of Salmon Creek took the biggest rack,with 20 pts.. Terry L. of Chipman took the second trophy,having 14 pts. Sam W. had the nicest rack I seen registered this year but I know I didn't see all the bulls taken in our area,so there could have been a larger one taken.
 The next photo shows a very nice bull taken by Linda and Roger A. of Minto. They got their moose in zone 13,near Salmon River.
 This next bull came from zone 18 and was taken by a couple of hunters from Moncton.
 This next bull fell in a pretty rough spot in zone 17 and the hunter said they tried unsuccessfully to get their moose out whole before giving up and cutting the big bull into two pieces to get him out.
 The next photo shows the second bull taken by my neighbours Greg and Kelly.Both their bulls were very nice specimens and both were taken in zone 17. Rounding out the photos of moose for this post is a very nice bull taken in the final moments of the 2012 moose hunt by Denis,Wesley's son-in law. It never pays to give up and Denis was justly rewarded with this bull taken in a pounding rain at the last moment. I could only get a photo when the moose was loaded and in the back of the truck. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. Denis' moose filled the last of the three tags our group had and Allen and Stephen agreed that our hunt was one of the best we had ever gone on,in terms of moose taken and seen. A lot of other hunters would have to agree this was one of the best years ever for hunting moose in New Brunswick and any non-resident looking for a trophy moose hunt couldn't pick a better time to enter our draw for one of the one hundred non-resident tags available.
 
    The salmon season has pretty much come to an end for another year except for three small rivers that are tributaries of the Miramichi.These small rivers will end on October29th. I really don't know what to think of this years salmon season and the very poor returns for the year. Atlantic salmon have to be the most exasperating and,at the same time,thrilling fish that swims.After a banner year in 2011 and a phenomenal spring fishery in 2012,most sports and outfitters where almost giddy in their praise of our Atlantic salmon. Then things started to get a little wonky. We started out with low water conditions at the start of the season and many people were surprised when the larger sea-trout sailed through very early in May,although their numbers were way down.Then in June we got a big raise of water and a run of mostly large salmon came in and very few grilse. A prolonged drought settled in over New Brunswick and sportsmen and outfitters alike waited all summer for runs of fish that just didn't materialize. Now all our hopes were pinned on a strong fall run. This run also failed to arrive before the season ended and now most river people were getting very concerned. Now here we stand,our heads hanging,lamenting our loss for this year after rejoicing over the strong runs of salmon last year. I'm positive if it were not for the sheer love of this fish by anglers,it would have been extinct here in New Brunswick decades ago. The ups and downs of this love affair with the King of Sportfish is sometimes enough to drive you to distraction but at the end of the day, hope springs eternal and we all eagerly anticipate the coming year when,once again,our runs of Atlantic salmon will complete their age old ritual and greet waiting fishermen. Lets just keep our fingers crossed and hope Mother Nature knows what is best for this great fighting fish and their numbers will rebound in the coming year.
 
    We only had a day between the last day of moose season and the first day of duck hunting,so we were rushing around trying to finish up some last minute details before heading out on the first morning. Each fall,I look forward to the waterfowl opener with the same enthusiasm as I did over forty years ago,when I was a young man growing up in Minto. I've hunted a lot of different marshes and ponds over the years in the Grand Lake area. I started out hunting McDonalds Meadows at the mouth of Newcastle Stream and moved on to Grand Lake Meadows,the Portobello,Indian and French Lake and then I moved up to Salmon Harbour and the Mouth of Coal Creek stream.Later still,I hunted up the Salmon River at The McGill Meadows, Mistake Cove, and McLeods Pond.For the last several years I have been hunting a small pond on Moon Island and we usually have a very good morning shoot in this spot but the night shoot is usually a little slower. Today,after killing hundreds of ducks over the years,I find myself not being too concerned about getting a limit but would rather watch a beginner make a good shot and see the look on their face or maybe just sit for a bit,have a sup of coffee and just soak it all in.The meadows and surrounding woods are beautiful at this time of year. Don't get me wrong,I still like to dump a few ducks once in a while but the emphasis of my hunt lies elsewhere at this stage of my life. The following photo shows the group who shot the pond on the first day.
 It was nice to have a new lady shooter join us this year.Cora B. works as an electrician out of Fredericton and has a camp outside of Chipman in Dufferen. Cora shot her share of ducks and kept us in stitches all morning with her dry wit and funny comments. The next photo shows Cora in the background, waiting for some ducks to come in. We ended up taking our limit of ducks on the first morning. It was a mixed bag of woodies,blacks,blue-wing teal and a couple of green-winged teal. We used Maddie for most of the retrieving duties and he did a fair job,considering his age and having no formal training. The next photo shows Maddie with the ducks he retrieved on the first day.  The following photo shows a good shot of a male wood duck with his brilliant plumage.
 
    As you can tell from this months post,we are off to a roaring start as our fall hunting season gets under way.Our deer season just started and if we can hang a couple of nice bucks on the pole,we will finish out our fall hunting season with lots of good memories with old friends and hunting partners and toasts around the camp fire. Look forward to some changes here at Hargrove and Bauer Outdoor Adventures in the coming new year. We will be updating our web site and Ken and I will be adding some new features to the adventures we can provide here in the beautiful Grand Lake area.In the meantime,if you are looking for a week or a day in the bush or on the water,just give me a shout and we'll have you on your way in no time. This is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You,Until we Meet Again!"

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