By Nathan Theriault
You have been drawn for a once-in-a-lifetime moose tag. Or maybe, second, third or fourth. If that is the case, you are extremely lucky or blessed. There’s nothing wrong with a little of both, if it gets you a tag. However, being lucky alone does not work so well today with filling a tag.
Over the years OMM has invested in all the best tools of the trade to be able to get our clients in front of some of the largest bulls in the woods. Trail cameras and scent, along with careful calling, are critical tools and improve a hunter’s odds of success. You probably have heard the saying “you get out of it what you put into it.” This statement cannot be more accurate when it comes to moose hunting. Whether it is choosing your outfitter or planning a do-it-yourself hunt, hunters need to do their homework.
Sometimes we are fortunate to locate animals within a half mile from a road, but most trophy moose are miles away from any ground accessible by vehicle. Moose habitat has changed with the landscape thus pushing the moose into places that can be harder for the human eye to see. The time has come to collect your thoughts and put together strategies to address this dynamic.
Cameras will help you study animal movement. Make sure to spread your cameras into many types of terrain, forest types and areas with water. By doing this you will be able to put together a timeline that will add to your scouting repertoire. When placing your cameras be sure the batteries are new, and the memory card is formatted and cleaned so the pictures are in the proper order. Trigger the camera before setting to make sure you get the shot. You may only get one chance. Be cautious of false triggers and clear away any brush that may cause them. We set our cameras for 3-shot bursts to catch those bulls following a cow. We try to set cameras on the high side to keep them out of reach of pesky bears. Sometimes a stick behind the camera can give a better angle. Camera use is regulated, so get landowner permission prior to setting and label the cameras.
Artificial and natural scent can be extremely helpful in attracting a big bull and can also help to keep him in the area. Making a fake pit and tearing up nearby bushes is intimidating to a bull that has laid claim to an area. These visuals are taken seriously by a big bull and cause him to be more responsive to calling.
Calling is the most fun way to interact with a cagey old bull. A scapula or shoulder blade makes a very realistic antler sound when used on trees and brush. This resembles an aggressive bull marking his area and announcing he is present and willing to fight for territory or his cow. Natural sounds such as breaking branches or stripping leaves to imitate walking or feeding is a great way to get a response. It is a subtle tactic and allows you time to adjust your location and get the wind right. Be careful not to over call. As a rule, if the moose are very vocal you can be too.
In conclusion, much needs to be considered during each week of hunting. One common factor to look at is the normal breeding time in the zone. As bulls breed the cows in their respective areas, bulls will begin to travel looking for additional receptive cows. Soon many of the bulls are beat-up and tired so it is important to be patient when calling. Being too aggressive with calling may hurt your chances rather than help them. During a week of hunting I usually expect to only get 2
days of great weather. It may be spread out across the whole week but those are the times to take advantage of the knowledge gained from your scouting tools and hone-in on your target bull.
When it comes to this coveted tag, nothing should be left to chance. So do your homework, use those cameras and practice with scent and calling. Learning is part of the fun. Avoid frustration and be patient. Plan and execute with perfection. Be safe and have a blast. Success is in your future!
Nathan Theriault is the owner of OMM Outfitters, home-based in Eagle Lake, Maine and dedicated to helping clients make great memories and meet and exceed their life-time goals. OMM is an education, entertainment, and hospitality company providing extraordinary outdoor adventures including great service, world-class outfitter standards, attention to details, high quality, even perfection in every aspect including the food and lodging. All with a smile!
OMM’s enthusiastic staff love the outdoors and wildlife and are goal focused as it energizes and guides clients to their desired outcome. OMM also adhere to and shares the ethical traditions of the outdoors including the respect for wildlife, the environment, and landowners.
For more articles about hunting, fishing and the outdoors, be sure to subscribe to the Northwoods Sporting Journal.