A NEWFOUNDLAND TWO-FER: WITH THEIR HUNTING TIME CUT SHORT, SHOOTING ONE BULL MOOSE SEEMED IMPROBABLE, LET ALONE TWO.
"Yeah, this is Dean. Go ahead," replied my guide and DADG Outfitters owner, Dean MacDonald.
"Big bull down!" proclaimed Adam's guide, Lewis, in his strong Newfoundland accent.
"Yeah, Jeff got his bull, too!" Dean responded.
I couldn't wait to hear Adam's hunting story, but there was still work to be done on my bull to finish quartering and de-boning it. This moment in our hunt had been a culmination of three years of preparation for Adam and me, and our harvests had outwardly triggered a bit of relief for our guides. You see, Adam and I are bowhunters, which is a bit of a rarity in this country where hunting is typically done with guns. Moose are abundant in Newfoundland, but during our hunt the bull sightings were scarce, because most of them were locked down in the thick timber with receptive cows. This made calling them rather difficult.
To further stack the odds against us, we had already lost three days of our six-day hunt to "misplaced" bows by the airlines, and unsafe weather. High winds, driving rain, and fog made taking our camp's skiff across the lake-sized pond with five-foot swells not in our best interest. I found myself in camp rereading the October issue of Bowhunter cover to cover, while wondering how Adam was fairing at his spike camp.
Every day the forecast threatened unstable and unsafe conditions, which challenged our demeanor and tested our patience. Yet, with patience being a virtue, we knew that if the sun peeked out and the fog cleared the moose would likely be back on the move.
On early Friday morning, the storm clouds finally cleared, and the winds calmed just enough to get the green-light blessing from Dean. Our eyes were on a timbered hillside at least a mile away, trying to pick up any glimpse of a moose--particularly, a lone bull. We figured if we could spot a lone bull we could quickly cut the distance and possibly call it to within bow range.
Suddenly I spotted a lone silhouette at the crest of the hill, and seconds later Dean said, "That's a bull!" Watching the bull through our glass, we could tell by his body language that he was on the search for a cow. Without hesitation, Dean hit the cow call, and by the fourth or fifth wailing call the bull stopped and looked in our direction. Game on!
Even though the bull immediately disappeared back into the timber, we were fairly certain he had heard our calling and might be on his way to investigate. We continued calling every few minutes, while anxiously glassing the bottom edges of the timber. Suddenly, there he was, exiting the timber on a steady gait, heading in our general direction. He was committed, and so was I.
The bull was about 2,000 yards out and on the move. Between our positions, there was wide-open, grassy marsh with only a few pockets of low-scrub blueberry and prickly spruce. The only suitable cover for setting up an ambush was one dense patch of scrub evergreens 300 yards away. Estimating the likely approach the bull would make, I anxiously decided it was time to move.
Staying low, I ran across the grassy bog with Dean in tow. Suddenly the bog grabbed at my uncinched rubber boots and claimed them for its own! There was no time to worry about my boots' whereabouts, so with saturated socks and a beating chest I attempted to calm my nerves and prepare for a possible shot opportunity.
As Dean and I hunkered behind the thick brush, I began to hear the sound of splashing marsh water accompanied by steady grunting. I knew the bull had to be close, so I quickly nocked an arrow and drew back while slowly standing up.
With mutual surprise, the bull and I simultaneously discovered each other. Moose may be criticized for poor eyesight, but I believe he saw me as clearly as I could see him! Subconsciously, I settled my 30-yard pin just behind the broadside but moving bull's front leg. It was as if he instantly regretted his route, because he turned quartering-away in stride. As I was about to release my arrow, I remember hearing Dean whisper behind me, "28 yards." I touched off my release and watched as my arrow's fletchings disappeared through the bull's "sweet spot"--a complete pass-through. The bull took the arrow in stride and continued his gait for about 20 more yards. Then he stopped and turned back, giving us definitive confirmation of my shot placement.
Forcefully quiet celebration commenced between Dean and me, as we watched the bull turn and slowly walk away. When we saw him fall dead seconds later, our silent celebration quickly transformed into boisterous cheers and emotional hugs. The excitement and thrill of what had just happened overtook me in that moment. Everything that had gone into planning, traveling, and executing this big-game adventure culminated at that exact moment in time. The feeling of accomplishment, but even more so the respect and appreciation I'd gained for this animal, became very strong ... it was a memory that will never be forgotten!
My bull was a large-bodied, five-year-old seven-point with a 31-inch spread. What he lacked in general antler palmation and score, he gained in his uncharacteristically dark color and distinctively long dewlap.
After the celebration, there was much work to be done, and we wasted no time. Then, when that radio contact came through--announcing Adam's mutual success--the great feelings of joy came over us once again and we could not wait to catch up him. Motivated by the news, we quickly loaded up my meat and gear and began our trek to meet Adam and Lewis to help them finish their packing job.
When we met up with Adam and his guide, I couldn't help but notice the were both exhausted but thrilled with the accomplishment. Once we set our eyes on Adam's downed bull, it was clear that he had killed an absolute Newfoundland monster! Adam's bull had it all--age, size, mass, palmation, and a unique dagger point protruding out of one paddle. He was a beautiful 14-point with a 41-inch spread, and the bull was the trophy of a lifetime!
It had been a whirlwind day filled with excitement and a healthy sense of accomplishment for everyone involved. Adam and I had achieved what we had set out to do several years prior. We had made plans based off of dreams and goals. We connected with the right booking agency, and we found a very outfitter whose operation fit our budget. We prepared ourselves for the hunt through rigorous and regular physical training. We practiced our shooting nearly every day, and fine-tuned all of our gear. Our "success" was not just gauged by killing our bulls, but more so in the efforts made to get us both there, and in working for the opportunity. Back home, we have been able to proudly share our stories with friends and family, as well as share the fruits of our labor--the delicious meat.
Adam and I encourage all of you to set your own goals and work with a partner to help push each other to achieve them. Plan your attack, and make your dreams happen. You might find that your dreams are more accomplishable than you originally thought, and you will only grow as a person and bowhunter from achieving your goals. Here's to a prosperous 2019 fall season. Safe and happy hunting to you all!
The author is an avid bowhunter, husband, father of four, and owner/operator of a landscape construction firm in southern Wisconsin, Adam Kane, also from southern Wisconsin, owns and operates a property management company.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: My equipment on this hunt included a Mathews Halon 32 bow, GrizzlyStik Momentum TDT arrows, 200-grain Maasai broadheads, Spot Hogg Hogg It sight, Vortex optics, and KUIU clothing and pack. Adam shot a Mathews Triax, GrizzlyStik Momentum TDT arrows, 200-grain Maasai broadheads, Spot Hogg Hogg It sight, Sitka Gear clothing, and a Badlands pack. Our hunt was booked through Jay Osting at Bowhunting Safari Consultants (bowhuntingsafari. com), and our outfitter was DADG Outfitters, LTD. (dadgoutfitter.com).
Caption: (Top) Our floatplane ride to base camp gave us a chance to look at Newfoundland's diverse terrain. (Middle) Adam Kane (right) and I with our gear and meat packed up in our outfitter's truck, ready to be flown back home to Wisconsin. (Bottom) DADG's spike camps had all the comforts a bowhunter could ask for.
Caption: Adam killed his 14-point bull after his guide, Lewis, called it in with aggressive grunting and raking of brush.
Caption: My seven-point bull had a dark coat and a long dewlap.
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|Date:||Oct 1, 2019|
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