With the province’s moose population in a downturn, many moose hunters are needing to change wildlife management units (WMUs) in order to be successful at getting an adult tag. If you’re considering changing WMUs, here are a few strategies that will help when making that change.
Check the Data
Look carefully at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s data provided in the hunting regulations. The regs list the number of tags that are available by WMU for the coming season, and the number of applicants there were in each WMU last season. Use this data to help guide your choice of a new hunting area.
You really have 2 options—pick a unit with fewer moose, but also fewer hunters with adult tags in that area, or pick a spot with more tags available but that is likely to have more hunter applicants.
The first option is a good one if you’re a local hunter and can ferret out pockets of moose in units with less hunting pressure.
The moose won’t be evenly distributed in the zone, but with work you can often find areas of high moose concentrations within square kilometres of moose-less landscapes.
The second choice is normally the best for travelling hunters.
Scout For Success
To be successful when hunting in a new area, you need to have at least a base knowledge of the area.
Get logging road maps and check out Google Earth . Do as much pre-scouting as possible using these tools.
Sandro Fragale, a moose hunter from Thunder Bay, was part of successful group this fall by changing units. His group used mapping technology and put the time in to find overlooked spots that other hunters missed.
“One of our group members used technology to find brand new logging cuts that other hunters didn’t know were there, and then we found moose in those cuts. That’s where we arrowed our bull,” he said.
Scouting from space using mapping software, then confirming on the ground with boot leather is key to success in modern moose hunting.
Another good resource to look into hunting areas is the Crown Land Atlas. This is useful for all types of hunting, not just moose.
When booking time off work for the hunt, even if you have looked at the area via maps and satellite images, plan on 2 or 3 days of scouting, even if it means sacrificing hunting time. Two days hunting in a good area is better than 4 in a poor one.
Look for places where moose hunters may have camped the year before. Knowing this will help you avoid hunting pressure and give you clues to moose locations.
Once you arrive you’ll likely encounter problems, such as other hunters in your area, roads that are no longer passable, and other issues. Stay positive, work hard, and change locations and strategies as conditions dictate. Remember, the last day of the hunt can be just as good as the first.
If you hunt hard and still fail to fill your tag, at least you will know the area better for the next hunting season.
Change is hard, but in today’s moose hunting conditions, it’s necessary. If you plan right, you might not have to cancel your traditional New Year’s Day moose chili!