Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 MOOSE HUNT....BIG BULL DOWN!

It finally feels a bit like fall here at home on Salmon River. The warm summer weather has been hanging on and we are just starting to get a little frost. This has caused a delay in the leaves turning and they are just starting to show a blush of red. This photo was taken at my place a few days ago and the trees are still pretty green!

Our area also received some much needed rainfall to freshen up the brooks and streams. Water levels were getting low and some wells were drying up. Hopefully, this recent rain event will get things back to normal.
    The fall run of salmon has started on the Miramichi River and some nice fish are being caught in the MSW and her tributaries. If we have good water levels over the next two weeks, the fishing should be excellent. I will be making one more trip over to Doaktown and run the river from Carrolls and bring my gear and boat home for the winter. I expect to be spending more time fishing and guiding on the beautiful Miramichi in the coming years. My partner and I have a fully equipped,comfortable, three bedroom house in the heart of the best stretch of open water on the system. This location is perfect for doing float trips or wading and fishing pools close by. We are also a very short drive from the Cains River with it's world famous dark water pools.Since my partner and I are acting as guides as well as hosts, we can provide excellent opportunities for fishing sea trout and salmon at a very reasonable cost. Please feel free to contact me for details on fishing trips of one to five days duration. Here is a photo of a local guy, Mike T. with a nice fall salmon he caught recently. He said it still had sea lice on it so it must have been a fairly fresh fish.
 The pickerel fishing is over for this year and in retrospect, it was probably one of the worst years in recent memory for catching pickerel. I haven't really figured out why for sure but I'm guessing dirty water had something to do with it. The jury is still  out but I'm just hoping it's because of a natural occurrence and not some man made event. 
    The trout season has also ended for the year and by most accounts it was a good year for fishing brookies. It seems like almost every trickle of water holds some trout in our area. They may not always be big but they make up for it in numbers. A limit of five brook trout can be caught quite easily and makes for a nice shore lunch with all the fixings. It's a tradition among most fishermen to have at least one trip with a shore lunch along side the brook. I know I really enjoyed the many trips and shore lunches I've had with fishing buddies throughout the years.

   Now that the hunting season has officially started, most sports are going over their gear, sorting and replacing items as needed. If you are a serious hunter, you should also be putting together your game plan for the upcoming hunt. My grandson recently asked his mother when hunting season started and she told him it had just started. She asked him why he wanted to know and he replied he was going to go hunting. She told him he couldn't just go to the woods without being geared up and he told her he was all rigged up and he would show her. Here's the photo of Jack all decked out for his hunting trip.
 There's a boy on a mission right there! He must be going to hunt Africa or maybe he's headed for the Middle East. Either way, he sure looks like a Hollywood Hunter to me. As long as he's having fun, all is well.

    The 2016 moose hunt just ended and there were some real trophy bulls taken right across the province. It never ceases to amaze me the caliber of animals taken during New Brunswick's annual moose hunt. The hunt was held at its earliest point this year for the newly implemented five day season. Personally, I like the five day season better than the former three day season. I enjoy the hunt more and it seems less pressured. The numbers of moose harvested haven't changed much because the hunt traditionally has a high success rate and the number of tags hasn't increased much over the years. The kill is down around 20% this year from preliminary numbers and already the dip is being attributed to the season being too early and the weather being too hot. I told one of the DNR officers at the registration station that I thought the moose population was down in zones 13, 17 and 18 and he looked at me like I had three heads! These zones are where I travel and hunt and I know what I see. I'm seeing less moose. Period. Even with the numbers staring them right in the face some people and organizations refuse to acknowledge change or facts. One big problem in these zones is the unregulated native moose hunt. There have been large numbers of moose harvested in these zones by natives over the last ten years and I don't think DNR really has a handle on that number and that's why the number of tags hasn't been lowered. I have reports of two native hunters taking over fifty moose in one year. How many more moose were taken by other natives? That's the big question. Another big factor especially, during a mild winter like last year, are ticks. They can be a big killer of moose under those conditions. I wouldn't be surprised to see less tags in these zones next year.

    As I said in my last post, Kenny was lucky enough to draw a tag for zone 18 this year. Kenny likes to hunt this zone and knows the area like the back of his hand. This years hunt was a family affair with nephews Jamie and Dallas along for the excitement. Jamie was chosen as second gun and that later proved to be a good choice. I also said in my last post that Kenny was a meat hunter and would be happy with any moose. I should also add that the Hargrove clan likes trophy horns as much as the meat from an animal and that's how they roll when on the moose hunt. There was a thirty-four point monster bull on one of the trail cams and that was the moose they were looking for. There were also a couple of other bulls and cows in the same area. After deciding where to start in the morning, Kenny and Jamie began cruising the choppings at day break. A few minutes after the start of legal hunting time, Jamie spotted the dark silhouette of a bull over two hundred yards away at the back of the clear cut. They both eased out of the truck and fired at the same time. The big bull seemed to hump up and disappeared behind some brush. Jamie, being younger, leaped across the ditch and sprinted across the chopping to where he last seen the bull. Looking around, he couldn't see it anywhere. so he gave a  grunt and the bull stood up a short distance away and answered before staggering and falling over dead after \Jamie hit him again. Jamie whooped for Kenny to join him and soon high fives were going all around. They were both surprised at the size of the bull. They couldn't tell what the rack was like when they first seen it and it grew when they got up to it. Here is a photo of their 2016 moose.
 The bull had nineteen points and a good spread. It's weight was estimated at 785 lbs.
 The whole family was in on the celebrations and this next photo has the boys showing Ol' Wes the moose they got.
 I like this photo because it shows three generations of hunters starting with Wes. Jamie seems to have really caught the hunting bug and he has proven time after time that he can get the job done when hunting all of our game species. Two big factors for Jamies success in the woods is his shooting prowess and the amount of time he spends scouting. Jamie loves the hunt and he gets out there at every opportunity. He also spends a lot of time at the shooting bench target practicing. This is important because the more time you spend handling your firearm, the more naturally you will handle your gun when the time to act comes. Many times, this period will spell the success or failure of any hunt. Jamies has it down tight. He's a great guide and has the vigor of youth going for him. 
As I said previously, there were many trophy bulls taken right across the province this season and I've got a few photos of some of the nice bulls taken. This bull had 15 points and weighed 790 lbs. It was this hunters first moose.
 This next moose had 16 points and weighed 800 lbs. This was this young hunters first hunt and he got his bull on the first day.
 The next photo shows a trophy bull with 24 points and weighed over 1000 lbs.
 The next big bull was taken by a father and son team.
 This next photo shows a nice bull with a 51" spread and 27 points.
 This photo shows a hunter who accomplished a very rare feat by taking a trophy bull moose with a bow. His arrow passed through the bull at a distance of 10 yards!
 The next photo shows a bull with a 52" spread taken in zone 3.
 Here is a photo of a beautiful bull taken in zone 7.
 The next photo shows a big bull taken in zone 12 that weighed 958 lbs. and had 22 points.
 This bull weighed 860 lbs. and had 14 points. It was taken in zone 16.
 Finally, this great bull was taken on the last day of his hunt. What a great way to end it!
    This is just a sampling of the great trophy bulls taken by residents right across the province this year. New Brunswick's moose hunt is one of the best deals around for non-residents who are lucky enough to get drawn. We have the trophy animals and success rates are very high. Interested sports should check our website or the NBDNR web site on how to enter the draw for a tag to hunt trophy moose in New Brunswick.

    While Kenny and the boys were concentrating on their moose hunt in zone 18, I was busy tending bear baits and and scouting for deer in zone 17. It's nice to see some more deer sign this year because our deer herd needs help...badly! I'm almost ashamed as a New Brunswicker to report these numbers but here they are. Our deer herd has shrunk from 270,000 animals 30 years ago to 70,000 today. Where are most of those 70,000 deer? On private ground in the southern half of the province. Deer cannot live in our crown forests as they are now managed. The good news is this has caused hunters and other stakeholders to band together and demand change. I think it's going to take a new party with a new leader and a new style of governing. The peoples voice is not being heard and that has to change.
    As I said, I have found a couple of pockets of deer that have some bucks in the mix. I have just narrowed down three good ambush spots where I have set up baits and I'll have some photos in a week or so. I caught a couple of twin bucks in an orchard when I was out getting bait. The bucks are still together and will tolerate each other around the bait at this time of the year. I try to spread the deer bait out more so there isn't too much competition for a bite of food. Here are a couple of photos of those bucks.
 After the deer moved out of the orchard, they wandered back towards the road and I got a good photo of one of the bucks. These twin bucks are 1.5 years old and one of the bucks is sporting branched antlers in his first year. New Brunswick's deer have good genetics with "northern vigor".
A 4.5 year old deer here will sport 8+ points and dress out over 200 lbs. IF they can get to that age in good condition. That's the challenge for both micro and macro managers of deer. Trophy bucks are a tough hunt here in New Brunswick these days but that doesn't mean there isn't a few smaller but still decent bucks around. We know we have deer like that here but those big boys are scarce. The nice thing about the younger bucks is they aren't so apt to be nocturnal. They haven't developed that fear that comes to a buck after a few close calls. Young bucks are also real suckers for bait. This makes them a lot more vulnerable and they can be taken quite easily with the right set up. Having said that, sports must remember that you are hunting free range, wild animals and things can go sour real quick if care isn't taken. I love deer meat and I have never had a problem taking a young buck. I can almost taste the tenderloin right now!

    Mother Nature was very generous with her bounty this year and there is a lot of food around for the animals and birds. The apple trees are so heavy with fruit that the limbs are breaking. There was also a bumper crop of blueberries. and raspberries this year. This is all good news for the critters but it can make it a little tougher when baiting fall bears. Black bears are gorging on food sources right now and many times they are reluctant to leave a natural food source until it has been depleted.
    Kenny and I try to keep lots of bait at our fall bear baits. Each bait is actually in two parts. We have a bulk bait to keep them there and a "honey hole" bait that keeps them coming back for more. This system works extremely well for us and we always have some nice bears coming to our baits. All of the baits I've been tending in zone 17 have been hit hard and on a regular basis. What surprised me was how many nice bears were hitting the baits. From the few pictures I have so far on the cameras, it looks like there are at least three or four trophy sized bears and a few in the 200-300 lb. range. I can tell from their scat that some of the bears are still feeding at natural food sources but there are others that have our bait in their scat. The trick now is to try and hold these bears at our baits and hope they don't wander off or go to hibernation. Ken and I are sticking to our program and keeping our fingers crossed.as the season unfolds. Here are a few photos I managed to get off of my two screwed up cameras before I pulled them and reformatted them. I added a third camera on another bait so I should finally get some good photos with the right time and date.
 This bait has a couple of nice bears on it. They had been feeding heavily on blueberries but they are nearly done so they seem to be switching over to black cluster berries. This next photo shows a trophy sized bear at the same bait.
 This bear has a nice head on him. There's lots of air between the ears and he would score well if measured under the Boone and Crockett system.
 This next photo shows another huge bear at one of our baits in zone 17.
 This bear has been coming in for the past month but he acts a little different around the bait. The first time he hit the bait I saw that he was very fussy and just picked at the bait. He had a few choices at the bait but invariably he would pick one thing and snack on that before leaving. This bears "take it or leave it" attitude is worrisome but he's a real nice bear so I'm sticking with the program. He knows where the bait is and I've got a few tricks I haven't tried yet. Time will tell.

    October is going to be busy for Ken and I as we fine tune and put the finishing touches on the blinds in our hunting areas. We are guiding Nils and his wife during the first week of deer season. This couple is from Germany and they will be the first Europeans we have hosted in our area. It should be lots of fun AND exciting. especially if we get up close and personal with one of those big boys!
    
If anyone is thinking of booking a trip with Ken and I for spring bear, don't wait. We run a small operation because we want to be able to give people good service and a quality experience. We take no more than four hunters per week. This way, each hunter gets personal attention and doesn't get lost in the crowd.

    Until then, this is Dale Bauer saying "Happy Trails to You.....Until we Meet Again!"
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