Wade, Jake and I returned to the lodge. It was well past lunch time and I suddenly realized how hungry I was and was happy further care of the moose quarters were not my concern at this point. Wade and Jake hung them in the meat shed and I ducked in to my room to change out of hunting gear. I zipped into the kitchen to grab whatever might be left from lunch.
Joe and I swapped tales of our success. It seems he and Kevin had planned to go back to where they had had a responsive bull the previous day to see if they could call him out of the bush. As they walked at first light, they came across two moose grazing in a bog with one of them being a bull. Joe whispered to Kevin “Let’s kill it”. Two quick shots later he had done just that and Jake was on his way for the fairly easy pick-up.
Meanwhile, John had gone on the adventure hunt of the day. He and Shane had gotten a bit frustrated for lack of seeing moose. Shane was playing his ace in the hole today. They had gone to Shane’s house early that morning, loaded into one of Shane’s boats and departed for parts unknown. Well, they were well known to Shane but as far as John knew, they were motoring across the water into the darkness. We wouldn’t find out how they fared with moose until later that evening.The Canadians had had no further success that morning but revelled in our success.
After lunch, Joe and I watched as Kevin and Wade skinned out the quarters, and carefully scrubbed down the exposed meat to remove debris, readying them to take the butcher. We decided we would get them to the cooler right away along with Matt’s cow. Conveniently, Mayflower Outfitters is now truly a full-service operation including their own butcher shop. This is not a small, back yard operation. Trevor and Shanna added a state-of-the-art meat processing shop on to their house! Clearly, they aren’t just serving their hunting clients but anyone in the Roddickton area including other outfitters.
We loaded the meat up on a giant piece of fresh plastic sheeting in the back of Kevin’s truck. (When I say “we” I mean Joe and I stood and watched as Kevin, Jake, and Wade lifted the heavy moose quarters.) The plan was that we would drop the meat off with Shanna at the shop, then Kevin, Joe and I were going to take a walk into the moose country they had hunted Monday. Joe carries his Dad’s knife with him as a memento of his Dad’s legacy. Unfortunately, the leather sheath had broken and the knife slipped off Joe’s belt while he hunted earlier in the week. We had hoped to retrace their steps and maybe find the lost knife. We were also going to see if we could call in the angry bull they had all but come out of the woods on Monday.
Trevor and Shanna did a great job building their butcher shop. I’ve been to a lot of butcher shops over the years. While I do know how to cut up a deer for the freezer it is kind of like changing oil. I know how to do it if I have to but it’s kind of nice to give someone else a few bucks and have the job done. In this case, we could back the truck right up to the door, and then they had a hanging rail system the quarters could be lifted to. Once hooked, each quarter was weighed, and then rolled inside for processing. Shanna documented our choices of cuts. Once complete, the meat would be vacuum sealed and then frozen to pack in coolers for the ride home. They had this down to a science and it was sure a lot easier then the logistical nightmare of transporting moose quarters home.
After giving us a bit of a local tour, Kevin took us back to where he and Joe hunted Monday evening. As luck would have it, we found Joe’s knife not far from where they had talked to the moose, but we didn’t get any big responses from the bull aside from a distant grunt or two. It was a beautiful evening spent with friends. As we rode back to the lodge, we were anxious to find out how John made out. I was pretty confident they would find success as well. I was certain Shane wouldn’t go to the great lengths of boating across the bay without significant chance of success. It turns out I was correct. In fact, I was a little envious of how John’s day went because it was sort of the fantasy that formed in my mind when we first decided to hunt rutting bull moose.
John and Shane had tried several places by boat before deciding to spend the remainder of the day on a high overlook where they could see a good distance. Shane had moose decoys out (yes, there are such things) and they spotted a bull well over a thousand yards away. No worries. A few cow calls, and he covered the distance in a hurry to find the lonesome, sweet talking cow. John had struggled to get his rifle to shoot as perfectly as he wanted (he has a very height expectation for himself and his guns) but as he stated, it was capable of minute of moose and he quickly dumped the 5 point bull. Then the work began. Jake the retriever doesn’t have a boat. It was up to John and Shane to quarter the bull and lug it down to the boat piece by piece. Shane had some sort of litter to facilitate this but it wasn’t on wheels and didn’t have a motor. They were tired but happy hunters when they arrived at dinner that evening. I did notice John became good friends with a bottle of Advil for the remainder of the trip.
Meanwhile, Bert and Daniel came back. Bert was over-the-moon! They had killed a small cow at last light. It was a bit stealthy in that Daniel had quartered the animal himself, thrown it in the truck and the first anyone knew they had had success was when they rolled into the lodge whooping and hollering. Bert ran to grab a couple beers to toast with Dan.
Over dinner that night, we told and retold our success stories to anyone that would listen. I’ve seen this ritual dozens of times and I’ve personally heard the same stories of the same hunts over and over again. I can listen to them all day and don’t mind repeats. This is the lore of hunting and the stories of the lodge. I often think about cave drawings that depict successful hunts. The troglodytes who made them must have felt like we did now, glowing with success engendered by a full belly. I looked around the lodge and decided Trevor probably didn’t want any cave drawings.
I had said the previous night that Wednesday seemed like a good day to shoot a moose and four of us had done just that.Trevor’s mood did a 180 and he looked relieved. There were still tags that could be filled but suddenly the camp was 5 for 8 instead of 1 for 8. This would be a good week for them no matter what else happened.
Next up: Vikings, Screeching, and goodbye!