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Lukinto Lake Lodge Moose Hunt
Written by Jon Nystrom

I read about Lukinto Lake Lodge in a Minnesota Bowhunters, Inc newsletter. That is how I found out about this great moose hunting opportunity.

My moose hunting trip for 2004 actually started last winter when I got together with Jody Bengtson of Lukinto Lake Lodge. Jody has an allotment of 2 bull tags in area 19 just east of Longlac, Ontario. Jody and I discussed his self-guided moose hunt. Jody described the area as a dense boreal forest with lots of tote roads to hunt from. I wanted to hunt moose and actually do all the calling myself. Jody provided me with detailed maps of the area to study over the summer months.

In preparation for the hunt I contacted local Ministry biologist Evan Armstrong about the area. Evan helped me order the correct maps that showed detailed access to the area. Evan provided important information about landscape, moose movement and habits. Evan explained that moose actually live in pocket areas. Not all places have moose. A hunter must find good moose habitat. Moose migrate to different areas depending on food sources.

I purchased two moose calls. Primos makes a moose call called “Primos moose horn”. It really reaches out a long ways and is great to have under windy conditions. You can also use the call to scoop water in lakes and pour it simulating a moose urinating.

 

 

 

 

The second call is “Calling Trophy Moose with Wayne Carlton”. This call works well too and there are some good tips on the cassette and video about how to hunt moose. It was critical for me to understand moose habits and know how to call. These two calls helped me cut to the chase.

Our destination was 15 miles east of Longlac, Ontario. From the Twin Cities it is approximately 500 miles. About a 9-hour drive through some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. Leaves were turning red and yellow from Duluth, Minnesota all the way to the lodge. My friend Butch Hunter and I left home full of excitement about the possibilities we were about to encounter. We listened one more time to the cassettes and talked about what strategies we might try.

We arrived at Lukinto Lake Lodge before dark to be greeted by Jody. Jody brought us to one of the eight cabins he has at his lodge. The accommodations included two separate bedrooms with a full service kitchen, bath and shower. We unloaded our gear and stocked the refrigerator and freezer with enough food for a month even though we were only going to be there a week. Jody issued us our licenses and then we sat down to discuss what was going to happen the next morning. We went over maps and then Jody took us a mile down the road to a tote road. From there we drove in as far as our truck would take us. A beaver had done his thing and caused the small road to wash out. Jody stated that there was some good sign down the road. I was glad I brought the atv along.

The next morning came early. At dawn we found ourselves across the wash out walking the old tote road. The woods were starting to come alive with activity. We noticed right away the obvious fresh tracks in the sand. Butch and I are not experts by any stretch of the imagination. We simply used common sense. The sand on the sides of the deep imprints were still dark. We concluded that these tracks were indeed fresh. We stopped at this first sign and I cupped my hands and did my best impression of a lovesick cow. Without an answer we continued our walk observing more fresh sign that moose were close by. We opted to get close to the bogs or swamps that followed the edges of the road we were on. Slipping out into the marsh as far as I dared, I called again. Still no answer. Well, except that the cow call seemed to attract every nat and black fly in the area. We continue this all morning. One time we found a spot off the road and behind a hillside. It was a perfect spot. I called a couple different times with the different calls I had. We got a little complacent eating blueberries while awaiting an answer from a bull. Suddenly Butch signaled me that he heard a bull grunt not once but twice. I didn’t hear it because my mouth was too full of blueberries. I stopped chewing and swallowed with one gulp. I did what I now call the choking blueberry call. It was the sickest thing you ever heard. Of course the bull didn’t answer so we moved on. That was the last blueberry I ate the whole trip!

It was 10:30 am. Butch and I figured it was too hot for moose to be moving so we decided to go fishing for walleye. Several hours later we were back in camp with our limit and had a quick bite to eat. I meet with Jody again and although I hinted to Jody that I would like to try a different spot, he encouraged me to “stay the course” and try the same spot we were at earlier that morning. It happened to be one of the warmest days of the year so I didn’t expect to see a moose. I told Butch to go fishing and I was going to walk the road like we had done earlier. I said, “I don’t expect to see a moose in this warm weather anyway”. So Butch went his way back to the walleye and I jumped on my atv and was driving down the tote road we had earlier walked. I got a couple miles down the road and saw atv’s parked on the trail. Bear hunters, I said to myself! I decided to get off the road. The terrain started with clumps of moss surrounded by water. I jumped from clump to clump to get farther into the timber. I realized quickly what Jody was talking about. You just don’t go into this stuff. Being the stubborn hunter I am I continued my trek to a spot that overlooked a little opening. The wind wasn’t perfect for the setup but I decided to try anyway. I cupped my hands and did my best imitation once again of a lovesick cow. After 10 minutes I called with my Primos call. The wind was blowing so I wasn’t sure but I thought I had heard a bull grunt. I waited for 20 minutes calling a couple more times without a response.

I was only 100 yards off the road and I heard the bear hunters fire up their atv’s so I decided to get farther back into the timber. To my surprise I actually found a nice piece of high ground and a major moose trail going through the middle of the trees. I used my whitetail stalking techniques through the trees which crested on top of a small hill overlooking yet another swamp. I slipped into the new swamp and scampered across it to the next timberline. Three hundred yards from the road I set up around a corner of a timberline overlooking a recent cutting on one side and the swamp on the other side of the timber line. I started calling by cupping my hands making a cow call. After waiting 15 minutes and without a response I pulled out my Primos call. This call reaches out quite far and I needed it with how hard the wind was blowing. Another 15 minutes passed and I pulled out my Carlton moose call. After calling I waited another 15 minutes. I was about to call again and looked over my area one more time and noticed something black moving toward me through the trees. I new it was a moose instantly. The moose was 80 yards away. I grabbed my rangefinder and used them as a pair of binoculars. I needed to see if the moose was a bull or cow. I just couldn’t see any horns through all the trees. Suddenly the moose turned his head and there they were. Good paddles on both sides. Using my rangefinder I picked the last tree on the tree line. I figured the moose would walk down the tree line. I found the distance to be 40 yards. I knocked an arrow and laid my bow down on the moss. I was ready and now it was time to make my move. I cupped my hands and whispered a short barely heard cow call. I wasn’t sure if the moose would be able to hear it given the strong winds. To my surprise the moose looked in my direction immediately and started walking down the tree line as I thought he would. I readied my bow. The bull approached my 40-yard mark grunting over and over again. The moose approached my 40 yard mark and stood broadside as if to say here I am shoot me! Suddenly I started to ask myself, “Can I make that shot?” By the time the answer entered my head the moose was on the move.

If you haven’t moose hunted before then you should know that a moose can pin point the caller to within yards of where the caller stands. That is why if you can move toward the moose as he is coming to you, you may get a better shot. I couldn’t do that because the moose was always in my sight. The moose to my surprise started walking toward me and closed in on 30 yards, then 20 yards and finally 15 yards walking towards me. I didn’t have a shot yet but the moose was well within my comfort range. In my mind I was thinking here we go again. The last moose I harvested was only 7 yards away. This moose was reaching that distance fast. Before I could anticipate the moose’s next move he was on the move again. Veering off to my left the bull approached a broadside position. All the moose had to do was clear a 4 foot pine tree in front of me. My luck held and the moose cleared it and then stopped providing me with a perfect 12-yard broadside shot. With the moose looking in the other direction for a cow I drew my Buckmasters G2 back. Steadying my pin behind the front shoulder I released. With the arrow buried in the bull he whirled around and ran into the cutting. I instantly started to imitate a bull grunt without success in stopping him. I went to a cow call and the moose stopped 60 yards out. I kept calling hoping the moose would drop in my sight. To my surprise the bull responded to my cow call to the point of turning around and walking back toward me. I reached for another arrow thinking what is going on? That moose should have dropped by now. I was second-guessing my shot and wondered where I hit him. Of course only less than a minute had transpired! My adrenaline was getting the best of me! I was using Eastman Outfitters Titanium T1-2 Extreme 3-Blade 100 broadhead which is the same exact broadhead I had used on a wild boar and bear I harvested earlier in the year (with new inserts of course). I had forgotten that these animals are huge and have lots of power. The bull after standing for what seemed like an eternity started to stagger and cough excessively. In a moment the bull went down. I did my silent “hurray” with my hands raised up not wanting to take any chance of spooking the bull and possibly pushing the bull farther away. I walked toward the moose and got within 20 yards. The leg on the bull started to move so I knocked an arrow again. I walked closer and found that the bull had indeed expired. After further examination I found that I had made a double lung shot that hit the tip of the heart. The reason there wasn’t much blood is because the arrow entered behind the leg as it was in a forward position. The arrow didn’t exit because it hit the leg on the other side. My carbon express arrow after downing 3 animals finally had met its match and was broken. I collected the arrow the best I could and said my goodbyes. I still had my broadhead so I removed it for use later on. After all 3 big game animals with the same broadhead and arrow is quite an achievement.

Now finally I measured what I had accomplished. I went on a self-guided hunt and called in my own moose. That is quite an achievement. I don’t believe I could have done it without Outfitter Jody Bengtson and Lukinto Lake Lodge. They put me in a great position to succeed.

The sun was setting and I had to make a decision. Should I gut out the moose or leave it for later or perhaps tomorrow morning. I didn’t have a clue how we were going to get the moose out. I made the decision to leave the moose whole thinking if I didn’t get back that night the bears and wolves would be less likely to smell the bull and perhaps come in and eat it. I hastily made my way toward the road putting up orange tape as I went. I didn’t take the straightest route mostly because I didn’t know exactly where I was and probably because I just shot a moose!!!

I jumped on my atv and road it back to camp. Butch was there cleaning his walleye. I walked in and asked him how his fishing went. He said they were really biting. Butch could tell I was ready to burst. I pulled a Ted Nugent on him and said, “It is moose back-strap time baby!” I went into the whole story of what happened during the hunt. Jody came in and I told the story all over again. Then the discussion started. Should we go after the moose now or wait until morning. With the weather so warm Outfitter Jody Bengtson said we should at least go out and gut it. I agreed but I brought up my concerns about bears and wolves finding the moose. Jody had an answer for that.

Off we went Jody, Butch, Jim Edens (life time friend of Jody's) and myself. We drove in with two atv’s. I had flagged the road with orange tape so we knew where to begin. We found out shortly that orange tape may be bright during the day but at night it was hard to follow and actually find. I had insisted that I put them 10 yards apart. So I am bad at judging distances! After a great effort by the group we found our way back to the bull. Along the way I heard grumblings that this was no quarter mile like I had said. Some were saying it was three quarters of a mile and not a foot less. We found out later it was actually 290 yards by gps. I wish I had a camera video taping those guys making their way across those swamps jumping from moss clump to moss clump. The ground actually moves as you walk!

We got to the moose, and with all lights and eyes on the bull congratulations began all over again. Everyone agreed it was a good bull. The work now had to begin. I talked while I went for my backpack saying it would probably take me an hour to gut this bull out. I think it was the gloves that I was about to put on that sent Butch into action. I didn’t have time to react and I didn’t complain that Butch took the bull by the horns sort of speak. In less than 15 minutes he was done and I heard about it! Then again I wasn’t the one with blood up to my armpits either.

Now it was Jody’s turn to do his thing. While walking a circle around the moose Jody poured diesel fuel. Then walking around the moose again Jody applied after shave to the surrounding bushes. Lastly white bags and can you believe it, dirty underwear were hung on trees around the moose. I had packed in a frozen gallon jug of ice and stuffed it into the belly of the bull for good measure. The point of all this is to put so much human scent out there that it would deter any wolves or bears from approaching the moose. We walked back into the dark each with a light bobbing like lanterns swaying in the wind.

Back at camp we celebrated the harvest and talked about how in the world we were going to get the moose out of the timber. The next morning the same group got together along with Mike Gauthier. Mike has been employee at Lukinto Lake Lodge for three years now. He does everything from fixing boat motors to retrieving moose and his help was much appreciated. Jody, Jim, Mike, Butch, Rex Kates (another long time friend of Jody's) and I took two atv’s back to the orange flag once again. The six of us stood looking down the hill to the swamp and water wondering how in the world we were going to get back there with an atv. No one really had experience with this terrain. The rule of thumb is to try and call the moose close to roads so you don’t have problems like this. Dummy me actually went into the timber! Mike jumped on the atv and said there is only one way to find out. Down the hill Mike went and hit the mossy waterbed with great determination. Mike found out that as long as you didn’t stop you could keep the machine going. Once you stopped the atv would start to sink. That is not a good thing. Zigzagging through the swamp following my orange tape Mike weaved his way all the way to the moose. We got on the two-way radio and gave the go ahead to bring the other atv in. Arriving at the scene we found the bull to be fully intact. We all agreed that it was the right move to come out last night.

Three of us picked the head of the moose up as far as we could. The atv was backed up to the moose and tied down. In addition we ran the winch from the front of the atv underneath across the skid plate and around the neck of the moose. We attempted to drag the moose with the Big Boy atv. The front end would pop straight up without success. We put three guys on front of the atv to keep it down. The problem was the ground was so soft the atv couldn’t get any traction to pull the moose. Mike came up with an idea where we would put the second atv in front of the atv pulling the moose. Then we could run the winch from that atv under it’s skid plate and hook it to the atv with the moose. The theory is that one atv can help pull the atv with the moose. It sounded like it would work so we decided to give it a try. We all applauded Mike because it actually worked. The only problem was we couldn’t take any turns, not very easily anyway. No problem, we just cranked up the chain saw and cut a path through the trees when needed. We got hung up a couple of times on stumps but with a little bit of man power we were able to make it work. It was a definite team effort. It was overwhelming to me the efforts these guys put forth on my behalf. I can’t say enough about the character of these gentlemen. We got the bull out to the tote road after more than an hour. From dry land one atv pulled the bull back across the wash out to the truck. Now we all stood there scratching our heads on how we were going to get the bull into the back of a pickup. I made the suggestion that I back my atv up backwards into the bed of my truck with the winch facing out the backend. I then hooked my trailer up and we used the winch to pull the moose up on the trailer. It really worked slick.

Back at camp we quartered the bull with help from everyone. We hung all pieces in the walk-in cooler. From start to finish we worked 4 hours straight and finally got the bull in the cooler to start the aging process. Two days later we took the bull quartered to the butcher who packaged the whole moose overnight. We actually spent more time taking care of the moose than the hunt itself.

I fulfilled my dream of calling in a moose myself. All you have to do is have faith in yourself. Do your homework, by talking to your outfitter if you have one, contact local biologists and use the Internet too. All these tools helped me be successful on a hunt of a lifetime!!

Comments:

I can’t say enough good about Lukinto Lake Lodge and Jody Bengtson. He provided me a good opportunity to harvest a moose on a self-guided hunt. I spent 5 hours hunting moose and the rest of the week fishing. You can’t ask for a better self-guided hunt. Jody's suggestions on how to locate moose and walleye were right on. I was extremely fortunate to harvest this bull. The weather was really warm and the moose weren’t really moving.

What can I say about Jody, Jim, Rex, Mike and Butch. Each person worked their tail off on my behalf. I not only have incredible respect for each of them but now we have a connection for life. A new friendship has been forged between us and now our lives are intertwined. I expect it was like this two hundred years ago when people gathered together for hunts and shared stories over campfiles. I will always remember this hunt and the great people I met on this wild adventure.

Lukinto Lake Lodge is a triple crown for the sportsman. Lukinto Lake Lodge offers great walleye, northern and splake fishing. You have to keep an eye on your fishing line the minute you put it into the water from June through October. Starting in mid-August bear season is in full swing. Black bears are plentiful and active baits await the bowhunter. Lukinto Lake Lodge bear hunts also include a boat, motor and bait for your stay. Packages for either a bear or moose hunt include everything you need to hook those walleye.

This hunt I was shooting as always my Buckmasters G2, Timberline no-peep, Timberline Power Glow Extreme Sight and Trophy Takers arrow rest. New to this years setup is Carbon Express arrows and Eastman Outfitters Titanium T1-2 Extreme 3-Blade 100 broadheads. All of these products performed extremely well. I was especially excited about shooting Carbon Express arrows and Eastman Outfitter Broadheads. I used this new broadhead three times now this year shooting a California wild boar and a black bear earlier in the year. They performed magnificently. I look forward to using all of these products in the future.

 

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