Calling all moosePhotographer Paul Sundberg of Grand Marais has successfully called in moose seven times over the past several years. He can offer several tips for finding and calling moose.
By: Forum Newspapers, Lake County News Chronicle
Photographer Paul Sundberg of Grand Marais has successfully called in moose seven times over the past several years. He learned calling by listening to tapes created by Mark Braaten in the 1990s. Braaten lived near Duluth at the time but has been living in Alaska for the past few years. He’s still selling his moose-calling DVDs.
Also, note that Minnesota moose are getting harder to find. The population has been slowly declining for a decade. Do some advance work before you go and try to find out where people are seeing moose to increase your odds.
Here are some of Sundberg’s tips for finding and calling moose.
-Time of year: The only time of year that one can call in a bull moose is when the moose are in their mating season. That peaks at the end of September and the beginning of October.
-Time of day: Early morning, shortly after sunrise, and at dusk are the best times to call, Sundberg said. The wind is usually calm at those times. Moose can hear your calling better, and you can hear them respond to your calls better.
-Where to go: Minnesota Highway 1 from Murphy City to Isabella is a good stretch, Sundberg said. Look for boggy areas where mud is churned up, so-called moose wallows. Pull off the highway and set up at the edge of one of these wallows to call.
The Stony River Forest Road between Minnesota Forest Highway 11 and Isabella is good moose territory.
Try the “Grade Road” (Forest Road 170) from the Sawbill Trail to near Devil Track Lake north of Grand Marais.
Another good road is the Bally Creek Road near Grand Marais. Take Minnesota Highway 61 and turn north onto Cook County Road 7 and follow it to the Bally Creek Road. It’s a 14-mile route.
Take the Caribou Trail (Cook County Road 4) north from Minnesota Highway 61 near Lutsen. That’s another moosey road, Sundberg said.
In the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, moose often frequent slow-moving creeks in boggy areas between lakes.
-Check for tracks: If you’re driving along a gravel road, look for tracks along the road’s edge. The fresher the tracks, the better. See which way the tracks are going and where they re-enter the woods. Try to find a clearing nearby, or simply call from the road.
-Calling techniques: It’s difficult to give a calling lesson in print. Sundberg tries to imitate a love-sick cow who’s calling to let bulls in the area know where she is. Using a birchbark or commercial megaphone to amplify your voice, say the letter “r” or the letter “I” in a grunt that begins in your belly. Repeat that sound six or eight times. Then listen.
If the day is quiet, a bull can hear your call from as far away as a mile or more. The bull often will respond with a grunt to let you know he’s coming.
If a bull is coming, repeat your cow imitation at intervals to keep him interested. As he gets closer, call less frequently.
If you don’t get a response to your original calling within five minutes, move on, Sundberg said. If a bull moose is in the vicinity, he will typically respond promptly.
-Obtaining or making a megaphone for calling: Many hunters use a cone-shaped roll of birchbark fastened in some way to amplify their voices. Sundberg uses a Fiberglass commercially made model called the Bull Magnet Guide Model. It’s available from the Alaska Remote Guide Service in Wasilla, Alaska. Go to www.alaskaremote.com or call (907) 376-9568.
-A word of caution: Bull moose are unpredictable during the rut, or mating season. They have been known to act aggressively toward humans, and more than one person has had to shinny quickly up a tree to seek safety. Make sure you have an escape route handy, a way to get to a tree or back to your vehicle.
The alternative is to call from a portable or permanent stand, but, of course, this limits your mobility to some degree.
Another word of caution: Sundberg reminds moose callers that Minnesota’s moose season typically runs the first two weeks of October. This year’s season continues through Oct. 16. A total of 105 moose hunting parties of up to four people each is hunting in this bulls-only season. If you’re calling during moose season, be sure to wear some blaze orange, ideally more than just a cap. If you see another vehicle parked nearby, move on to another area to call so you don’t disrupt a hunting party.