Last year on a return trip from Caniapiscau (along the James Bay highway) my son Emmett shot his first moose. That day we saw three moose within 10 kilometres of each other and we vowed to return for the big bull that got away.
This year we went back. Clarence Tomatuk was able to get permission for us to go there the week of September 26 to hunt with them but we arrived before they did. We traveled there on a Sunday, taking about 10 hours because we were towing a boat on a trailer. Anyone who recently traveled on Route du Nord will know we had to take our time. We arrived at sunset and only had time to eat supper and prepare for next day’s hunt.
The next morning we were up by 5:30 am. We had coffee and went for a ride towards the area where Emmett had killed his moose last year. We had brought back the jawbone from that moose to hang it up on a tree at the same spot. We were also looking around for fresh moose signs so that we might do some moose calling there that evening. My grandson Nick kept calling moose for us as we traveled on the road, we told him we would see them if he kept calling. We went back to camp for breakfast after only seeing a wolf.
Then we headed inland, towards LG3, again telling Nick to keep calling the moose for us. We spotted a bear about 4 km from camp, but decided to pass it up because we wanted to get our moose and I wasn’t sure we would have enough time to clean it properly if we killed one. About 11:30 am we saw our first moose, a young bull which I shot. We could see that I hit it, but it still ran into the woods. My grandson was quite excited as we heard him yelling, “he’s running away!” Emmett went in after the moose and came back saying it was hit hard because he saw a trail of blood. We went back in and followed the trail about 400 feet and found the moose down. I had my first moose. Luckily it had almost doubled back so it was fairly close to the road.
My wife Alice was also with us on this hunt and was truly thankful, saying we were going to have plenty of meat. After about three hours work we had it butchered in the truck and were on our way back to camp. We thoroughly enjoyed our fillet mignon and kidney for supper. After that we hung the meat in the teepee frame and made plans for the next day.
Once again we went for a ride in the morning before returning for breakfast and going out to drive around some more. We had already said that we had a successful hunt and anything more would be a bonus. The night before, Emmett had gone out to call moose and I heard what I thought was someone calling moose while at the camp. I knew it wasn’t Emmett because he had gone in another direction. The next morning when Emmett went out he said he also had heard something in the same direction. After some discussion we finally decided to make use of our boat. This time we left Alice and Nick at the camp because it was quite windy and cold.
We traveled very slowly staying to one side of the lake and when we came to a narrower part I said to Emmett that, “if moose regularly crossed this lake, this is where they would cross.” We went all the way to the end of the lake and started to return along the opposite shore. Since we didn’t know the lake very well, we went very slowly and didn’t try to go into the creeks we saw flowing into it. Suddenly, Emmett moved and I knew he saw something. He pointed to a point at the narrower part of the lake and said “moose.” When I looked, I noticed the one he was pointing at plus another one and I said, “there are two of them.” We kept the motor going at the same speed and waited until both moose were well out into the lake and then we gunned the motor and were right on top of them before they knew it. With the excitement of adrenaline flowing and the boat rocking from the waves, it took a few shots to get these two moose but we got them. Emmett tied the moose to the side of the boat and we dragged them to the landing. Three moose in two days! Our moose caller Nick sure did his work.
I had invited my friend Raymond Menarick from Chisasibi for a moose meat supper at the camp so I was expecting him to arrive at about 4:30 pm. He arrived in time to help us butcher the moose. Clarence came by at the camp for supper as well with John Moses, his wife and two other ladies that arrived that afternoon, plus Angus, Clarence’s former chauffeur. Alice cooked a bunch of meat for everyone, including her famous spaghetti. We told Clarence and the others we would be heading back to Mistissini the next day with two of the moose and leaving one for them.
In finishing this story, first let me thank the Creator.
Even though I write words such as “shot and killed”, it is the Creator who actually gives us the animals we harvest. We could tell that there are many moose and other game on these hunting grounds, because the family that owns it takes care not to over harvest, thereby allowing them to share with others such as us. We respect them and hopefully we have respected their land.
I will be 50 years old this winter and my wife Alice has taken care of me for many years. We will treasure this hunting experience for the rest of our lives. I felt I was giving back to her. I mentioned Nick in my story a few times because an Elder once told me when you are hunting and if a young child says something about the animals you are hunting, listen closely. Often they are more in tune with nature and can lead you in the right direction, some call this intuition. I call Nick my moose hunting partner, even though he will be only five years old this October 3. Finally, my son Emmett and I have hunted together often, another one for the storybook. I thank him with all my heart, for he gets me out hunting. I can still help with the butchering of the moose but he does all the heavy work such as carrying the meat. I hope we can add more chapters in the future.
To Clarence, John, Angus and others from trapline VC 16, thank you for your hospitality and sharing of the animals on your land.