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Moose Hunt on the Pagachwa River

Moose Hunting on the Pagachaw River

It was late October 1970 my father Arthur, brother-in-law Bill and I decided to go hunting on the Pagachwa River up in northern Ontario. I had a great uncle who lived in Pagwa and maybe he’s still up there. Anyways we took a chance and up we went.

We had a good days ride from Kapuskasing to Pagwa. Up early that morning, we tide the Radisson canoe on top of our Volkswagan station. Baggage aboard and our way we were. At Hearst we stopped and had a good lunch. Did about 50 miles passed Hearst, just crossed the Pagachwa River on highway 11. On to a rough, muddy road. It had been raining for the last couple of days and this was not going to stop us from going moose hunting. The road was in a hell of condition. This was our first time
ever on this trail. I knew that it was 25 miles from highway 11 to the small village of Pagwaw

We had been travelling for two hours and 9 miles done and yes stuck in the muck. We worked for another two hours to get that Volks out. To make this short we arrived at Pagwa at 5PM and getting stuck only another time. We asked the first native we saw, does George I. still live here? Yes it’s the house over there. Yes my uncle was there and all surprised to see us. He asked us what we were doing up here? I said we want to go moose hunting. The answer was quick, he said I was looking for someone to go moose hunting with. I said well were here and ready. We’ll leave early tomorrow morning and it’s a good time and a good 3 to 4 hours up the rapids. About 15 miles from here. We had a good supper, smoked geese and a good bottle of red wine. We hit the sack around 10pm and this after listening to about 50 stories that my uncle
George told us about the old days, he's in his late 70’sand still in great shape.

The next morning at 5am after a healthy breakfast, few cups of coffee, fat bacon and eggs. We were ready for that canoe trip up the rapids. Because of the extra baggage we had no choice to haul the Radisson canoe with some of the baggage in it. Uncle George had a 20ft. Rupertshouse canoe with a 10hp outboard.

At 6pm. we were on our way and all seemed okay with the canoe tide to the rear. It was a beautiful river, not to large 200ft wide and a shallow. It looked like a great place for moose hunting. After travelling for two hours we arrived at his first camp. He said were not going to hunt here. We’ll be going to my second camp instead. I asked him how many camps do you have like this? Four he said, but the best place now is the second camp. How far from here, another 2 hours.

It was 10:15am when we arrived at the second camp. We did not see any moose on our way up, but did see a few ducks, Canada Geese and 2 otters.The camp was a
Prospector’s tent with a wooden floor and 4 foot walls. Inside was a couple of bunk beds, a table, chairs and a little wood stove. Just what we needed. I asked him where do we hunt. He said anywhere along the river. The moose cross on both sides.

After having a good lunch and a short nap. My brother in law Bill and I decided to paddle up the river with the Radisson canoe, this was about 3pm. I was looking for fresh moose tracks. We had paddled for about 30 minutes when I saw tracks on the sandy beach. Yes they were fresh ones and maybe a couple of hours old. I told Bill no noise and I’ll call from here. I didn’t have the experience that I have today, but was sure going to give it a heck try.

We waited about 30 minutes and I was ready to give the moose call. I remembered that is was a long call, drawn out call like a cow. Or the sound of a mosquito. So I tied it. I did this three times, a few seconds in between each, I listened. After my third one, I asked Bill how was it? He said it sure sounded like a cow (not a moose cow a real cow) that was constipated. Anyways thanks. I did this two more times and not an answer to be heard. We waited until I could not see the other side of the river. Also it was getting pretty chilly. Back to the camp we went.

At the camp Dad and uncle George had supper cooked and it sure smelt good. It was moose stew, a moose that uncle George had killed two weeks ago. They also seemed pretty cheered up as they had a few drinks of Crown Royal whiskey. So that supper with another bottle of red wine was excellent. George asked if we heard or saw anything. Yes fresh moose tracks, Dad said well that’s not to good in the pot with potatoes. I replied maybe tomorrow. It was close to 10pm and time to hit the sack.

The next morning I was up at 5pm. Everyone was still sleeping. I pushed Bill and said are you coming? Replied no, you can go. I didn’t push him the second time because I always liked hunting alone.

Instead of taking the canoe I walked up the river. As I was walking very slowly and always anxious to see what was around the next point. Yes they were about 600 yards from me. Both of them, the bull and the cow. All I could see was their heads and they were feeding on the willows just beside shore. They didnot notice me as they kept on feeding. All that I had was a .32 special Winchester and no scope. They were a good 300 yards to far. On my belly I went and crawled every time they looked the opposite way or eating. I could still see both of them. I crawled about 200 yards and I still had to crawl 50 to 100 yards more. I did about another 25 yards and the bull turned and headed into the bush slowly. The cow was there but all that I could see was half of her head. She was getting nervous, I had no choice I had to shoot now. My heart was beating at 150 miles an hour. I could see her whole head. I got up aimed and pulled the trigger. She took off for the bush. I decided to try and cut them off by running straight into the bush and towards them. I stopped after couple of 100 yards and listened. They were heading back towards the river. I ran for the river as fast as I could(if it would have been the 100 yard dash, I would have made a new record that day) and yes they had crossed and I saw their rear butts going into the bush. I waited on the side, called a few times and nothing. I was disappointed, I missed my chance. I stayed there for three hours and nothing to be seen or heard. I walked back into the bush and found their tracks, followed them to the river, not a spot of blood to be seen.I said to myself thanks I didn't touch them. Then headed back to the camp. They were waiting for me and mainly to hear my story. I replied that they will be bigger next year.

We spent another night at the camp and nothing. That afternoon we headed back to Pagwa. The next day back to Kapuskasing.

It was a great trip and more an excellent experience. The error I made and just that one time only. You have to be patient, keep quiet, don’t move, don’t breath and wait.

It was another great trip.


Moose Hunting Trip Lac Allard Quebec

Moose Hunting Trip Lac (lake) Allard

It was the first week-end of September 1977 my brother- in-law Jean Marie said we should go out hunting at Lac Allard. It’s the last week-end for fishing and the opening of the moose hunt. Lake Allard was a 30 minute flight in. I said I’ll ask Madeleine if it’s okay to go. Oh boy she said, are you crazy, no and you can’t go out fishing our hunting. I said I’ll be very careful and Jean Marie said that he will do everything. He’ll prepare the camp and all I have to do is lay on my lawn chair, listen and watch. Yes I had broken my ankle a month ago. I had a big cast up to my knee and was on crutches. We had a couple of days to get ready. I told Jean I’ll give you a positive answer to-morrow morning. I knew that I would get a yes and my chances were pretty good.

The next morning I called Jean Marie and told him that was a big yes. He replied and said great. I booked or flight last night. We have to be at the plane no later Than 6:30 AM.

It was exactly 6:30 AM we were at the lake and the Beaver float plane was ready. J.M. and the pilot tied the 16 ft. cedar canoe onto one of the floats and then load our baggage aboard. Oh yes not to forget my lawn chair. J.M. asked me how did you convince Madeleine. I replied, remember one of those first books we bought on “ how to hunt and call moose” The one that Paul Emile Goyer wrote. Well in that book just about at the very end. There’s a part that’s addressed to all the ladies saying that “ never try to stop your loved one from going on a moose hunting trip” That is one of the worst things a women can do their loved ones. J.M. laughed and said yes I don’t think I would have thought about giving that as an answer.

Up and away we were like I said about a 30 minute flight and it should be a little less as we had a tail wind. Twenty minutes later we are over Lac Allard. It’s about 5 miles long and about a half a mile wide A few good points and sandy beaches and a nice looking lake for moose hunting. J M said to me that; point there at the middle looks good. I said yes, okay with me, I won’t have to walk too far. That’s where our pilot dropped us off and up and away he went. I said to JM if I ever get rich one of these days, that’s what I want to buy a Beaver with floats Look at him climb. There’s a lot of power in that engine.

I noticed a couple of old moose tracks on the sandy beach, maybe a week or two ago. I said to JM it looks like a cow and a bull. Which it was. I tried to help JM a bit, but he said no I can do it myself and if you fall you may break the other ankle. I said okay; give me a hand with the lawn chair. I was set about 100 feet from JM and this for a reason. A moose or any wild animal is always curious to new and unfamiliar sounds. So they try to sneak up to see what’s going on. My job as JM said was, he wanted me to watch and listen.

Around noon everything was in place and JM was making us a snack with a good cup of coffee that he had in his big thermos. The weather was beautiful and pretty calms a few wrinkles on the water. I said to JM we are the only ones on the lake. Did you see anyone? No, and not even a campsite or cottage on this lake. I guess it’s to close to the mine Q. I. T. and the railway track. JM said that we will start our little moose show around 3PM with nice little calls, nothing to loud. If we have to, we will do that in a couple of days. I asked how long are we here for? I asked the pilot to come and pick us up next Thursday or before if they we were to get bad weather.

It was 3 PM and JM with his hip waders on and was doing the cow moose walk and as usual and then the cow in heat urinating in the water. Yes he had brought me my dry twigs that I cracked just before he started his walk into the water. As he came out I cracked a few more twigs. We listened for about 10 minutes and not a sound. He bent down in front of the lake at one foot distance and gave the soft calling sound that sounds like a mosquito, waited a few seconds and repeated the same call. We waited and listened and let me tell you I was comfortable on my lawn chair. I even had a pillow and blanket. A half hour later he did the same call and no louder. He asked me; did you hear any echo. No not at all. It was close to 5PM when he gave another couple of calls but a little louder, no echo.

JM whispered to me and said I’m going to walk over to the other point and sit there for a while. I’ll be back around dark and you; no walking around. Don’t worry about me your just like your sister.

It was calm and not a sound to be heard. I picked up my 30.06 to make sure that it was okay. So all I had to do was sit and relax. I said to myself, I had not planned to do the moose hunt this fall and here I am and more than that I’m also on a fishing trip.

It was close to 7PM and starting to get dark, I could barely see the other side of the lake, I could see JM coming and THEN. I heard splashing sounds in the water and it was regular. Not to loud but I could hear it clear and it was getting pretty dark. It was on the opposite of JM. I picked up my rifle, took the safety and aimed in that direction with my finger off the trigger, I think my whole eye was in the telescope. It was about 250 feet from me, it was big I could see the head, the moose a big bull, but and I say but, you don’t shoot when your not sure. I still thank the lord today. It was a moose head in a canoe with two guys paddling on lake.

They stopped to talk with me and they also taught that they were alone on the lake. We talked for a few minutes; I told them that they scarred the hell out of me. They left us a couple of rabbits for a pack of cigarillos. We only smoke cigarillos after the moose is down and with a nice shot of cognac.

Remember what I said “you have to no what your going to shoot at and that 100% sure before you aim and pull that trigger”.

We had a light supper and hit the sack at 8:30 PM. JM said it looks like bad weather coming in and to-morrow is Sunday and the last day for fishing. We have to go fishing and nothing is going to stop us.

The next morning I was up at 5AM. A little wind for the northeast and we could hear the little drops of rain falling on the tent. At daybreak I was outside listening and trying to see if anything was around. It was 7:30 AM all was quiet and nothing in site. JM was making breakfast and it looked like we were going out fishing for the day. The lunch box was ready.

Attached the 4HP motor to the canoe, all the baggage, rifles and our way to south end of the lake. When we flew over I saw a nice river with a few rapids. It was 10AM when JM pulled ashore; he took his fishing rod, tackles box and rifle and said I’m going to fish down rapids. I said I’m going to fish from the canoe; there are too many rocks for me to try and walk around here. I’ll try it about 100 feet above the first rapid. That’s okay, but be careful.

After getting everything in place and seated comfortably. I gave it my first cast and yes I had one and nothing small, it jumped about three out of the water and what a fight. I knew after seeing it jump like that, that it was a “Ounananish “ we call them in French it’s a “landlocked salmon”. It took me a good ten minutes too bring it close to the canoe. I heard JM yelling, I got one and it’s something big, I yelled and said me to. It was a nice size landlocked salmon a 8 ½ lbs. A beautiful fish. We fished for a couple of hours. We did a lot of catch and release. We kept 12 landlocked salmon, weighing from 51/2 to 12lbs. and we kept 20 nice speckle Trout, weighing from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 lbs. This was great and it was time to get back to our moose hunting.

It was 5PM when we got back at camp. Nothing seemed too have moved around here. No moose tracks. JM said I’m hungry and I think were in for an excellent lunch and dinner. With this rain I’m cooking a couple of speckle trout and I'll cook them outside the tent. I replied that was a what I was thinking also. We will also bury the left over. Not to leave any greassy smell around for that big bull.

That was a great supper, those trout melted in our mouth and with a bottle of white wine it was still better. JM said, no calling to night, but if it’s nice tomorrow we will give it our best shot. Tomorrow morning we will start our show very early. I said okay. It was around 10PM and the rain has stopped and the wind had died down. It was time to hit the sack.

During the night we could hear two wolves howling to each other. It seemed that they were on each side of the lake. This went on for a good hour or more as I fell asleep on their howling.

Monday morning and I was up at 4AM. Had a look outside. It was bitch black, nice and no wind. JM got up and said I fell asleep on the howling of the wolves. That a means that theirs something around and their interested in it. I guess the same thing as we want. We had a light breakfast, no toasting or frying and the left over coffee.

At 5:45 daylight had started to appear. JM with his hip waders on and me with my dry twigs. The show began. I was well installed on my lawn chair. About half an hour after his two soft calls, we got an answer, but it was soft and far. It was the call of a cow when she’s either with her calf or the bull. It sounds just like the owl call, not three times but two hoot, hoot. We waited a good hour and the repeated the two soft calls. It was noon and know answer. JM said if she’s with a bull, we have to do everything we can to convince the bull that I’m a cow in heat. We had a little snack and waited.

It was 3:30PM and JM gave two longer soft calls and we waited. I was hardly breathing; I could hear everything, even a bird landing on a branch. I heard a CRACK, a loud crack at the same place JM was the night before, out on the point. We didn’t move, we listened and watched. It was and I still remember like It was yesterday. They were coming around the point and straight for us, non stop. The cow in front and the big bull about 20 feet behind her. JM had his rifle up and ready, he was just waiting for the bull or cow, either to move from one side or the other. The bull was in the open, I say 300 yards, POW. The bull stopped, the cow looked at the bull, the bull turned to his right, walked about 15 feet and fell down on his right side. The cow headed straight for the bushes yelling the call that cows does to keep her bull with and this until she was far enough that we could not hear her anymore. It was done and yes my heart was going at 150 miles an hour. We shook hands and JM took off for the bull. Yes me behind hopping on my crutches. What a sensation and what a trip even on crutches.

I helped JM even if he did not want me around. As he opened the stomach to empty it, I held the legs. JM said that’s all were going to do for now. I will cut it up in quarters tomorrow and I’ll call the dispatch to pick us tomorrow afternoon.

We were out the next afternoon. I say it again what a trip. Both hunting and fishing on crutches. The antlers measured 52 inches. A beautiful and healthy bull. What a trip.


Snowmobiling & Ice Fishing in Northern Quebec & Labrador.

Snowmobiling & Ice Fishing in Northern Quebec & Labrador 2004

It was a sunny and beautiful day up in Schefferville. I was up early that April morning and with a nice day like this I could not just stay around the house. I asked my wife Madeleine. Do you want to go fishing with me today? She asked, what is the temperature outside. At exactly 7:45 AM that morning on the outside thermometer it was +9* Her answer was as fast as I gave her the temperature, she said YES. We had a good breakfast, packed a lunch, thermos with tea and one with coffee.

Out to the garage I went, hooked up the sled to my 580 Artic Cat. The ice cutter, tools, lines bait were always ready. Gave a couple of cranks on the Tundra, Madeleine’s snowmobile, hopped on my snowmobile and away we when. It was beautiful; the white snow was changing to grey as the days were getting a lot warmer. At certain places there were spots of tundra also a little water on top of the ice. But there was no danger as the ice was still a good four feet thick.

We had travelled for about an hour when I thought about a place that my good buddy Serge had told me about. I stop and talked to my wife about his place. She said have you ever been there before? I said no, but the way Serge explained it to me I’m pretty sure that I’ll find the place. Anyway with a nice day like this we can fish anywhere on that lake and I bet your bottom dollar that we would catch at least one fish. This lake is huge and called Ashtray Lake. She said how far
from here? A good hour and a half. Okay let’s go.

A half hour later I was on Ashtray Lake and I remembered my buddy saying that from here it was exactly one hour, also he told me always stay on the left side until you hit a small creek, the portage is on the left side of the creek. Cross the portage and once on the other lake, head straight for the other side. Make your holes about 150 feet from shore. You will notice that there is not much water under the ice, about three to four feet max. That is where they are, in three too four feet of water, at this time of the year. It was 8th. Of April 2004.

As we travelled about another half hour, I stopped and looked and about a mile away on the middle of the lake was a herd of caribou. A few standing but most of them laying on the ice. As we continued and getting a little closer to the caribou, they all got up and started running, one behind each other and in a straight line. We counted 42 of them and the speed they were running meant that they were in good shape. They headed straight into the portage that I was taking. Yes the small creek on the right side.

The portage was not open, no one had been here this year, no old snowmobile tracks. We had no problems going through as the snow was soft and Madeleine made the trail up with the Tundra. Once on the other side I could see the place exact that my buddy told me to go and try. Also this was a pretty big lake and a lake with no name. It was Serge’s secret lake. He said that there was monsters (big fish) here.

It was around 11 o’clock and we had managed to get six lines into the water. Yes the ice was still 4 feet + in thickness and when I looked into the 10 inch in diameter hole, blocking the sun with my two hands, I could see that there was about 4 feet of water under the ice.

It took 15 minutes and we had our first laker (lake trout or grey trout) and a nice size about 10 pounds. I caught the first one so Madeliene was really watching the lines now. Yes, she got one and the same size as the one I caught about 10 pounds also.

The bait that the natives use and only that, as bait, to catch big speckle or lake trout is the grey sucker. They cut them into stripes about 5 inches long and one inch in width. They use a huge hook and attach the bait in a way that the fish cannot pull it off. They sometimes tie it on. They use 100 lbs test green line. When the line (still line fishing) is in the water and attached to a big enough tree branch, laid across the hole, there is a loop in the line. Reason is when the fish takes the bait, it has time to swallow the bait and hook before the line is tented. Which means that the hook is stuck in the throat of the fish. No way they will lose their fish.

It was noon and four nice fish caught. I gathered a few pieces of dry wood, lit a fire and toasted our ham sandwiches. Madeline had the tea and me the coffee. Madeleine threw her sandwich aside and ran for one of the lines that was moving. I sat and watched. Heck, I lost it she said. It was a big one. I said yes, they all say that, they always lose the big one. She said no, it was big. She laid on the ice looking into the hole, she yelled, I see it, it’s huge and it’s biting the bait, I got it, I can’t pull it out through the hole, it’s to heavy, help me, pull it out. I stood beside her and watched, I said no it’s your fish you pull it out. I can’t it to heavy. So I had to give in and pulled her fish out. It was heavy and lucky we had a 10 inch in diameter hole. Yes she caught the big one that day. It was 25 lbs. exactly. It’s the one on the picture on the front page of my blog that I’m holding.

We fished for another hour and caught two more, one was 15 lbs and the other 18 and half lbs. Then we said all good things have to have and end and packed up and headed back to Schefferville.

My buddy Serge passed away two years ago and I thank him still today for the great place he told me about. His Secret Lake.

I tell you snowmobilers, fisherwomen, fishermen and hunters this is a place that all of you should try, even in the winter time, like I said from the middle of March up to the first week of May it’s something.