Hunt Dates: Sept 29 - Oct 6, 2019
Outfitter: DADG MacDonald
Guide: Lewis Hann
Booking Agent: Bowhunting Safari Consultants (Jay Osting)
Firearm: CZ 550 .375H&H with handloaded Barnes TTSX 250gr
This trip has been roughly a year in the making. One of the doctors I work with is an avid traditional bowhunter and has booked through BSC numerous times. An friend of his was turning 50 and was looking for a trip to celebrate. I count myself lucky enough to have been invited to go along. A group of 4 of us departed from various airports in the country on Sept 28 and had a few hours to enjoy a first cocktail together in the Halifax airport while waiting for our flight to Deer Lake that evening. I flew out of Newark (NJ) into Halifax on United. I found the airport staff at Newark to be very pleasant in handling my firearms check in.
Deer Lake Motel was confortable and convenient. We were picked up by the outfitter Sunday morning for a two hour drive to Peter Stride's (essentially a turn around on the side of the one road running between Corner Brook and Burgeos) to store our hard cases, sign our licenses, and wait for a helo ride. The pilot attempted to get us into camp on two occassions, one of which getting us within 5 minutes of camp, but had to abort both times due to fog. There were hunters at the heliport waiting 2 days for a flight due to poor weather. With 2 of the 4 of us having worked on/out of helicopters for portions of our careers, we understood and had no intentions on taking risks with bush flights in a rotorwing. We ended up staying at the outfitter's parents cabin down the road for the night.
The next morning was almost equally as dicey on the weather, and rather than risk it, we packed into two Argos for a 3 hour ride to Rocky Ridge Pond where two boats awaited us to cross the pond to camp. The Argo ride was fantastic. Those things are absolute tanks and we got to see a lot of country traveling by them. Camp was extremely comfortable for off grid, with generators for hot water and lights, good wood stoves, comfortable bunks, a camp dog, and most importantly - the outfitter's aunt as the cook! She had hot moose stew waiting for us on our arrival and was in staunch competition with the guides over which faction was going to make me lose weight (guides) versus gain weight (Aunt Violet). Three of the four of us took a short walk up the hill out of camp that afternoon (late) to smoke a cigar, do a bit of glassing, and relish in the fact we were there.
Tuesday morning brought 40-50mph winds and not many moose. Two of us and our guides hiked up to a ridge and glassed and called to no avail. The moose were bedded down in the timber and not giving us a look at them due to the wind.
Wednesday brought 2" of snow in the morning and eased up on the wind. After a day of glassing (and seeing!) moose from ridges and a few unsuccessful stalks, we popped down off a ridge heading towards a river and saw a great bull about a mile away up river, in a timber stand 100yds across the opposite bank we were on. Lewis was off like a shot and I did my damnedest to keep up with him. For those who have not had the pleasure of hunting Newfoundland, it's like running on wet mattresses with random 2' holes, and strewn with rocks. Lewis and I covered the mile+ in about 30 minutes, crossed the stream (topping my Muck boots), and got into position with a small berm to our backs. Lewis told me to "get read to shoot" (of which I heard "shoot"), and when the moose broke the treeline I shot. He went 20 yards and piled up. The shot landed just behind the onside shoulder with the moose quartering slightly away from us, and exited just in front of the offside, taking both lungs and the aorta. Other than ribs, no bones were hit and there was very little meat damage. His rack measured 36" wide with good paddles, and 13 points. We lased the shot at 287 yards after we field dressed.
It was 5pm by the time we got to my moose and almost 6 by the time we had him dressed out. We left him for the night and came back in the morning with an Argo to recover him. I thought I was going to die on the 2 mile hike back to the boat Wednesday night. That terrain kicked my butt. Thursday night we enjoyed inside loins, which were absolutely delicious. One of our other hunters had a rather close (10yd or so) stand off with a young bull who came RUNNING into a call in the timber. All ended without a shot, and later that day he took a 40" bull.
The two bowhunters in the group never got shot opportunities. Friday and Saturday both brought high winds and passing snow squalls. Regardless, we all had a good time. Sunday brought BEAUTIFUL weather (of course, we were leaving), and a pleasant flight out of camp on a Bell 206. We dropped our two bulls off at the butcher for cutting/packaging/shipping.
Flights home were uneventful and CBP staff in Halifax was very pleasant to deal with regarding reimporting my rifle. The four of us left very fond of Newfoundland, and eager to go back after woodland caribou in the future. DADG was a solid outfit with very hardworking guides. I would hunt with them again.
High top boots are a MUST. I brought Mucks as well as a pair of Kennetrek mountain extremes. I only wore the Mucks in the field.
Good rain gear is a MUST. I brought Sitka Cloudburst pants and jacket and they held up great. I was warm and dry the entire trip. I wore my rain pants over my boots, and a pair of Kennetrek gaiters over my rain pants and the rain pants survived without a tear. I ultimately liked that set up a lot.
We were completely off grid and I loved it for the most part. I did have a Garmin InReach for texting and rented an Iridium sat phone for voice. These both worked very well for staying in touch with my wife and son. The Garmins allowed the groups of hunters to communicate throughout the day as the guides' radios were quite unrealiable. I felt much better having my own comms.
I brought Swarovski EL 8x32 binoculars and probably would have been happier with 10x42's for the amount of glassing we did. The 8x32's were VERY clear, but I had a hard time distinguishing cow from bull at longer ranges.