Contributors to this thread:
Headed for Newfoundland
About to go wheels up in Toronto headed for Gander. We were delayed out of Atlanta and I made this flight by literally three seconds! Hoping my baggage makes it too! At least I got a good seat.
I'll be hunting with Conne River through the 8th (hunt starts on the 3rd). I'll be sure to update the thread when I get back!
Best of luck! One of the best places on earth! Enjoy!
All luggage accounted for!
nothing beats a trip to the rock (except an exit row seat).
I'm jelous, wish I was going back! Which guide did you get? Looking forward to hearing about your hunt, good luck.
Astrovan, my guide was Ryan. Gonna post some pics and a recap of things now.
After a stay in Gander on Friday, and a stay at Conne River's drive in camp Saturday, once the fog lifted we were bound for Dollands Pond. Dollands Pond is an archery only camp largely famous for their record book Woodland caribou. Due to population concerns, they have cut all of the caribou tags. But it is also prime moose country.
The setting is incredibly picturesque and the camp amenities are extremely comfy.
The chow hall. Mandy, the camp cook, and Pious, the camp caretaker (and Mandy's husband) took care of us all week. They were great and definitely a highlight of the week.
The setting also resulted in some fantastic sunrises and sunsets.
The first morning broke windy and rainy. We made our way, somewhat hastily, to a lookout dubbed Cigar Rock. Basically this was the tactic for the week (one that I didn't necessarily agree with) -- get to Point A quickly and sit and watch.
The first morning produced two moose in a bog a few miles away and this curious, fearless stag that came right to us. They seem to know there are no tags for the area!
I dressed poorly for the weather that morning, so we hoofed it back to camp to dry and warm-up and prepare for an afternoon hunt. That afternoon we went to the same spot (which was about a half mile behind camp) and had a small bull (a fork horn or, as they like to call them by points in NFL, a four-point). As we originally only saw the body of a moose moving through the cover, we stalked in. Once we got into bow range, we saw he his rack size. I didn't want to burn my tag on a moose of this size on the first day, so we passed.
The second day we took a boat ride to the west of camp and hunted all day there. We walked most of the day getting eventually to a lookout area at about noon. Our walk turned up one moose, another young bull. We sat for a few hours and then hunted our way back to the boat with no other real excitement for the day.
The next day, Wednesday, brought another boat ride. We parked the boat, walked about a half a mile to a knob surrounded by a woods, bog, and a creek and got there just in time to watch two cow moose disappear into the woods. We then sat for 10 hours in this spot, fighting off the bugs and the sun. It was fairly miserable and resulted in no additional moose sightings.
Good deal keep the news coming. Special place
Thursday brought us our longest walk from camp. We left camp at first light, mostly passing up what seemed to be good moose country, to get to the predetermined lookout, a view of which is attached. We arrived after what seemed to be the prime time to be there, and followed it up with a sit for six hours. I was able to convince my guide to get off of the ridge and into some of the woods where it was clear the moose were bedded up for the day.
We fought our way through the tuckamore and set up in a beautiful green forest for a bit. After sitting in a spot for a about an hour and a half without seeing or hearing a moose, I suggested we moved again and try another spot. My guide seemed frustrated at moving again and responded "where?" with a bit of impatience in his voice. So I told him we can just go back and sit his spot we were at before.
We had to leave at about 5 to make sure we made it back to camp before dark, walking the same trail, this time with wind at our back.
No moose were seen all day.
The next day was similar to the last two. This time we hunted two spots, stopping at a third for, you guessed it, another midday sit in the sun. The morning produced another curious stag that came to about 30 yards of us standing in what was more or less the open. Again, I'm sure it would have been different with a tag in my pocket!
My six hour view. I got sunburnt.
No moose were spotted that day either. The weather certainly didn't help, but I don't think we did much to adapt to it as my guide only seemed to really have one play in his playbook.
Saturday was the last morning to hunt (hunts with Conne River are 5-1/2 days). The weather was more favorable, and we returned to Cigar Rock. We did manage to see five moose that morning (basically the same amount we saw the previous five days). Most of those sightings were too far away to do anything, but one young bull decided he liked the sound of my guide's cow call.
He came in from over five hundred yards away. I set up in the only cover I had to try and ambush him. There was a small pond between me and the bull, and if he chose to come to his left around the pond it would have put him at 20 yards from my spot. He went right and took him out of bow range. That would prove to be the last opportunity I had.
I never saw a moose with paddles the entire week I was there, though in sure they're in there.
I left a bit disappointed in the hunt. Not because I didn't punch my tag, but because of the way we hunted. We hardly walked. We mostly sat. We seemed to pass up good cover to get to the guide's predetermined spot. He only seemed to know how to hunt one way, and that seemed to be a common experience across many of the hunters. I think all of the guides there don't really understand bowhunting. They seem to get away with a lot because of the prime area they hunt.
The other three hunters in camp all punched their tags on moose (the racks of their moose are in the attached pic), but I know they felt the same way (i.e., they punched their tags despite their guides, not because of them). I'm fairly certain they left more upset than me. There were also issues the week before in camp that required them to send out a different guide. The hunters in the other fly-in camp seemed to be a bit flustered with the way their guides hunted too. There were a few good ones, but until the guiding situation is addressed and they are a little more bowhunting savvy, I'd be hard pressed to pay to go back.
The camp and the area are fantastic. The outfitter, Dave, seemed eager for feedback in order to make things better. Pretty sure the guys in camp gave him an earful when they flew out before me. But I think Dave genuinely wants to get things cleaned up. Hopefully things get better, because it really is a special place and I'd love to hunt it again one day (hopefully with a caribou tag in my pocket as well!).
Some more pics from the week...
I've been to Dolland Pond 4 times and spent many hours at Cigar Rock. In most archery moose camps a 75% success rate for the week on bulls would be most welcome! Sorry you did not have a good hunt! I hope to be there again next year! Such a beautiful place! C
Were those other moose bow kills. I assumed not. If they were you guys have little to complain about. That would be excellent for island.
Charlie, I happened to find a P&Y measurers business card with your name on it in my room. I wondered how long it might have been there! And no doubt 75% is tough to beat for a moose camp. It says a little something that folks left a bit disappointed with that kind of success rate.
Grant, we heard a cow bawl the first day and a few moose sounds the rest of the days but not what I was hoping for being it should have been prime time for it. My guide did a bit, but not as much as I would have thought. He seemed to rely on one type of call for long stretches (i.e. All bull grunts, all electronic cow calling, and all using his mouth to cow call) when I thought he could have mixed up the calling some -- try one type and then use another if it doesn't produce a response.
Grant, those were bow kills. And I'll respectfully disagree that just because their hunts ended in dead moose that there weren't things that needed improved. I've had incredible hunts where I came home empty handed and I've had hunts where I tagged an animal but left unsatisfied for one reason or another.
One guy was happy with his guide. Two of the other guys that killed basically had to constantly battle with their guides to abandon their way of hunting and hunt more like they wanted. I had more "patience" with my guide and I think I paid for it with regards to the chances I had -- it's partially my fault for not being more assertive with my guide but that's not how I roll (and frankly, I don't think it should be necessary).
Again, they felt their guides were more of a hindrance than a help and killed their moose despite them, not because of them. The hunter in camp the week before refused to go out another day with his guide after day three because of some of the issues I described. Dave flew out a new guide and he killed his bull the last day. So again, just because the hunt ended in a kill doesn't mean there weren't issues to be addressed. In short, I believe this has been an archery only camp for three years and I think the guides are still coming to terms with how to bowhunt. Some guides are more open to feedback. Some have been at it for a long time and are less open to it.
I'm not trying to come off as sour grapes. I think it's important to know what people might be getting that book the hunt. Again, I also think the outfitter is eager to improve the situation and I expect things to get better.
you're absolutely right, but in the end going 75% in any camp with bow is good. does not mean the experience was good though. I was wrong in the post above
No worries, Grant. It really is an incredible area and, depending on how discerning the hunter is, is almost a guaranteed opportunity at some moose, regardless of how good or bad ones guide might be. From a success rate, Dollands was 60% on the year. I believe they said they were only 10% last year.
I never saw a bull with paddles, but I would have been ectstatic with any of the moose that were taken and I know there are bigger ones left in there! I'd go back in a heartbeat with a little more confidence in what I'd get for a guide. They'll get there. I have provided much of this feedback to him as he asked for it and plan on writing a longer note with the good, the bad, and the ugly to him. Dave really wants to make things as great as possible there.
hunted with same outfitter last year with a friend of mine. Both of us had a caribou tag, my friend a moose tag. I bow killed a very good caribou with a guide who did extra efforts for me, nothing bad for me. My friend had no opportunity for moose and caribou with a poor quality guide( i have traveled world wide included lots of time in north america, my friend and a very little experience and like you he was too friendly with his guide) i agree with you: you can have an unsucess hunt and be happy and shoot game and be desappoint. That was my case last year, especially about the way my friend hunted..i see i'm not the only one...but again for me the problem was not the outfitter, it was the poor quality of my friend' guide, mine was perfect...and of course the results were not the same for both of us.
Something Charlie Rehor said raises a flag with me..."I've been to Dolland Pond 4 times and spent many hours at Cigar Rock." That suggests to me an outfitter that is perhaps caught up in doing things the same old way regardless of whether the moose are there or not. Just because it was a good spot once, or paid off for somebody else, doesn't warrant sitting there hours upon hours hoping to relive the past. You might get lucky, but from what you've described in your recount you might've been better off to move, call, and be more aggressive than just sitting and hoping. It's frustrating to be in that situation because you want to have faith in your guide, but at the same time you want to see some country and be proactive...especially considering what these hunts cost. Tough call..
Will you go back to Newfoundland???
I am sending in a deposit for a 2019 hunt this week( first opening avaible,) Just came back from the rock after a great bow hunt. If your thinking of going again there is an opening in a prime week right now and there is room in the camp...shoot me a pm I wouldn't mind the company of another bowhunter if you want to give it another go.
French, sounds like a very similar experience. Everything else about the hunt was great -- the setting, the logistics, the lodging, the food. Being my first time hunting moose and first time hunting the country, I was probably a little too patient with my guide. That said, when I attempted to be a bit more assertive and intervene it only made things awkward.
South, we sat at Cigar Rock for two mornings (we probably would have sat there all day if not for the weather on the first day and the last day only being a half day hunt). We actually saw eight of the eleven moose we saw during the week from that spot. That spot was better because it was closer to camp and we could get there at a decent time. And I'm happy to sit when it's clear an area is producing. But when it's not working like the other four days in between, I think it absolutely would have been beneficial to move and be more aggressive. There was no adapting along the way when, to me, it seemed like there was opportunity to. I still want to hunt woodland caribou in Newfoundland and I probably wouldn't hesitate to hunt them with the same outfit for caribou -- it seemed to me that the caribou hunting would have been better suited to the way the guides like to hunt than the moose hunting. As far as moose hunting, I'd do it again with a guide that showed the capacity to adapt and be a bit more aggressive when the situation called for it.
Trial, are you hunting with Conne River at Dolland Pond? My guess was you are because I'm pretty sure they said they were booked through 2018.
No I am not hunting with Connie river. I was just speaking to the outfitter and he expects to be fully booked for 2019 shortly after Harrisburg, which I pretty much his par at this point. The trip my dad and I just came back from we booked almost three years out.
I would never rebook with a place I was not totally thrilled with in all regards the first time around. Just too many options out there to settle or compromise that they will figure it out. They may but not on my dime.
While there are a lot of outfitters in NFL, there are few that have archery only camps. I hunt there annually and I’ve heard disgruntled archers complain about camps that are rifle and bow. The complaints run the gamut - rifle hunters had the game spooked, animals hunted out, hunted from ATVs, riding roads instead of walking in the field, guide not having camo or not being quiet or not knowing what to do when it’s time to stalk. I point this out because, personally, I want to support an outfitter that strives to provide a good bow hunting experience. Bigeasygator, unfortunately you didn't get that. Sounds like you gave Dave feedback. Good. I know Dave and know that he wants each and every client to have a good hunt. I’m sure he’ll make adjustments going forward. While that will help future bow hunters, that doesn’t change your experience. BTW, it took me three hunts to get my first moose and three more to get my second. I took a few caribou along the way but moose were very elusive for me.
I can tell you from many many seasoms of hunting Newfoundland, started hunting ther in late 80's and only missed a few hunts. Moose are reLly difficult to kill with a bow . The country is really thick. They don, always call into bow range. You generally have two choices when hunting the rut, sit in a place you can see along way and try to ambush them or get one to cooperate and call within bowrange. 2nd option is to hunt in the woods, which is pRticularly difficult because the wind does not keep blowing from one direction. They generally smell you becore you can see them to get a shot, contrary to popular belief. They are far from a gimmee with a bow. The bigger they are the more difficult. There are very big moose on the island but they are extrememy diffi ult to get a shot at with a bow.
My advice is to communicate with your guide on how you would like to conduct the hunt. But keep in mind , whether the guide hs archey experience or not there, is pretty much immaterial, the challenges are the same regardless