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Voyageur's Best Features of 2006

Small Adverisities

Small adverisities didn’t spoil a successful moose hunt
by John Grones  |  November 21, 2006

Hunting has been proven to be one of the safer sports, but one never knows — especially when participating in a fly-in trip to Lake Seseganaga, Ontario in Canada. On a particular moose hunt early in October, four men were very thankful they had taken the proper first aid precautions.

The moose hunt was organized by Palisade  resident Gary Rognrud. He along with his friend and neighbor Chuck Remick joined Ron and Brian Johnson for a hunting trip they will never forget.

“My cousin Ron and I grew up hunting together and fishing with our dads,” said Gary. “We’ve kept a relationship for years.”

Gary went on to share that the moose trip came about when a group of guys from Duluth cancelled their trip. “The owner of Rusty Myers (Fly In Service) called and asked me if I had anybody that would be interested,” Gary said. Prior to his retirement Gary used to fly clients into Canada for fishing trips. “I said, ‘Yeah, maybe I can round up a few guys.’ It didn’t take long and I had Chuck, Ron and his son Brian.”

Gary noted that in Canada each outfitter has a certain number of hunting licenses. It is a package deal. “This particular year, the package included a license to take two bulls, a calf and a cow,” Gary added. “And if we get a moose, they will fly it out free of charge.”

During the trip, Brian kept a log of the events.

October 7, 2006 — Brian’s log: We flew into Lake Sesegonaga, great weather today. In the Cessna Caravan the flight was under an hour from Fort Frances. Unpacked gear and went out and found plenty of walleye for dinner. No firewood! We knew that a front is to hit by mid week so we gathered a big haul of wood. We strung our cloths line inside the camp. That will be handy with the wet weather coming.

October 8, 2006 — Brian’s log: Hoped to get a lot of moose scouting in but we were turned back by tropical storm force winds- All Day! At least the sun was out. Too windy to fish, got in a little moose scouting but saw nothing and very little sign. Decided to try a spot in the morning that we haven’t scouted yet.

The day of the hunt finally arrived on Sunday, October 9 and it didn’t take long for the group to find signs of a moose. “Ron and Brian found a lot of fresh tracks in a large bay,” said Gary. “They decided to get on shore and do some calling and it wasn’t long before they called this huge bull down a hill. Brian had a 30-yard broadside shot.”

The moose was shot at 9 a.m. and it took the four men the rest of the day to cape, quarter and haul the critter back to camp by boat and hang it. It wasn’t long after the great day of hunting that a large front moved in and dropped snow on the area.

October 9, 2006 — Brian’s log: We boated to the new spot early this morning and Dad and I started calling as well as banging on brush and small trees. Not long after the calling started I heard the big bull coming down a hill. I could see his large rack of horns.

He was grunting all the way and finally stopped 30 yards away and we stared each other down. It seemed like a couple of minutes until he blinked and turned to walk away offering a nice broadside. Got a nice lung shot with a .338 Win Mag and he crashed down after about 50 yards.

Unbelievable trophy bull moose. Our rough measurement says 52 inch spread. Took over three hours to quarter and cape him out, but got it done. Thanks to Chuck’s chain saw we were able to cut our way down the hill as there were downed trees all the way.

Back at camp we unloaded the meat and Chuck’s chain saw was back at work cutting the right size tree to hang the meat on in the fish cleaning shack. We called Rusty Myers on the satellite phone to inform them of the kill and moose pick up but it was Canadian Thanksgiving, no one at work at the base so we left a message. What a day!

Tuesday, October 10 — Brian’s log: Tried new moose spots and found lots of tracks. Too windy to call effectively so sat and waited all afternoon. Nothing came so got back in the boat. When we got out of the bay we spotted a big bull moose. Decided to leave him for the other two in our party.

So much for our string of one nice day in a row. Wind, wind and more wind. Even a couple of snow showers moose cape and rack sitting on the end of the dock waiting for the plane. Quarters nicely hanging in the fish cleaning shack.

Electricity gave up the ghost today. Have to do the rest of the trip on lanterns and flashlights. Everyone took showers as it looks like the water will be freezing after tonight.

 Wednesday, October 11 — Brian’s log:  Windy and cold with snow. Woke this morning to about two inches of snow and all of the water pipes frozen. No more showers this week! Found another promising spot but no moose sightings today. As usual too windy to fish and it’s really getting cold.

The plane was supposed to come in from Savant and pick up the moose but weather did not cooperate. We are really burning up wood now. Good thing we cut and split a big stash on Saturday and Sunday!

 Thursday, October 12 — Brian’s log: Getting the main snow event today (we hope). We sat for a couple of hours in the latest good looking spot, but nothing. Too windy to call again. Back to camp by noon. Too windy, snowy, cold and generally crappy weather to get out for anything in the afternoon. We had to make a shovel using the dust pan and the handle from the broom secured by the duct tape. Duct tape is a must on every trip. The new shovel works very well, the snow is really starting to accumulate today!

Moose cape and rack are collecting snow at the end of the dock. No way for a plane to fly today. One day of hunting left and it doesn’t look good to fill our remaining three tags. Drain froze up today so we had to cut the PVC pipe under cabin to drain dishwater.

The trip seemed to take a turn for the worse on Friday, October 13. The group had already experienced cold windy weather. Not only did the group lose their solar lights, but the water pipes froze and the snow started to accumulate — then to top things off, they had a small accident. “Chuck and I went out in the afternoon to split some kindling wood. We are splitting away and Chuck’s finger got in the way and the ax was there,” said Gary who felt awful about the accident.

“It was just about off,” added Chuck. “But you know what? Dr. Gary taped it up real good and it grew right where it is supposed to be.”

“We did the best we could under the circumstances,” added Gary. “We couldn’t get out.”

“The weather was too bad,” Chuck added.

“We just got into the cabin, sprayed the antibiotics, taped ‘er up and switched beds so he could lay there with his hand up,” Gary noted.

One of the blessings was the fact that Chuck had brought along pain killers. “My wife (Donna) said, ‘You take these with you just in case.’”

Apparently, the pain killers worked. “It didn’t seem to hurt,” Chuck said.

Gary was pretty concerned and really struggled with the mishap. Fortunately, he has always carried a first aid kit along on all his trips. “Thank GOD I’ve never really had to use it until this trip.”

According to Chuck, Gary couldn’t even eat that night he felt so bad. “I ate,” Chuck said as a matter of fact. “It was an accident.” 

   Friday, October 13 — Brian’s log: Close to a foot of snow on the ground by now and still coming down. One of our party cut his finger bad splitting wood today and to add insult to injury another shot of snow hit us in the afternoon. The storm is not done with us just yet. No plane.

As it turned out the storm was 3,000 miles long and spanned all the way across Ontario and into New York. Over a foot of snow accumulated at the camp. Chuck noted that Gary actually created a shovel using a dust pan and a broom handle.

By Saturday, the skies cleared and the plane was able to come in to pick up the moose and Chuck. The plane immediately took Chuck to Fort Francis, where a cab was waiting to take him to the hospital in International Falls.

When Chuck crossed the border he had an interesting conversation with the patrol officer. “They asked me where I was from and where I was going. I told them I was going to the hospital. ‘My friend, behind me somewhere, hit me with an ax.’”

“He asked me if he was still my friend. I said, ‘Yes he is.’”

The doctor at International Falls was quite impressed with the work of the camp Doctor, Gary. “He said give it a week and see how it looks,” concluded Chuck. The doctor thought he had a 70 percent chance of keeping the end of his finger.

 Saturday, October 14 —Brian’s log: Finally the skies clear! The beaver came in at 10:30 am and picked up the moose meat, antlers and our wounded friend. We were all very thankful that we had a break in the weather to get him back to Fort Frances. Our plane got here at 1:30 p.m. so we will be off to Fort Frances.

We all survived a lot of adversary and a huge storm that lasted all week dumping over a foot of snow. Should have a lot of stories to tell from this experience. Going to mount the big bull when we get back. Just barely squeezed the cape and antlers into the beaver.

We will remember this trip for a long time.

It has been three weeks and Chuck still has his finger. He has gone to a few more doctors, a specialist and even took time to go pheasant hunting. “The specialist looked at it and cut some skin off,” said Chuck. “They said I will lose my finger nail.”

Overall, the trip was quite an experience and despite some of the discouraging moments, all four men had a great time. “All told, it was a great experience for all of us,” Gary said. “We had to put up with a lot of adversity.”

“Nobody complained,” Chuck noted.

“There were just a few anxious moments waiting for the plane after the accident,” Gary concluded.

As for Brian’s bull moose, the rack measured 54 inches and was the largest bull registered at the Rainy Lake Sports in Fort Frances as of October 14.

This article first appeared in the November 21 issue of the Voyageur Press.