Hunting trips can be enjoyable and productive right out back or just down the road in most places around Western New York.
Our big-game hunt trips to northern Quebec, South Africa and various northwestern states all have provided vivid story sources about the trophy takes, but those outings also resulted in recollections of the people and places met and seen on the way there and back.
While on a northern Quebec caribou hunt with Niagara Falls hunter Al Lewis last winter, Lewis recounted the good times he had while hunting at Newfoundland Wilderness Lodge way out on the east end of that massive Canadian island.
The prospect back in December looked great for a continent-wide run in September. The Outdoors Writers of America staged their fall conference in Alaska and Jean and I are booked for another South Africa trip sometime in March, 2013.
We had to cancel trip plans to the Alaska wilds, but I learned a ton of new things about hunting and about Canada’s great northeastern provinces during the Newfoundland run.
Our destination was to area 64, which lies up in hill country along the Northwest Gander River. Owners Tom Sargent from Grand Falls-Winsor, Newfoundland and Dylan Steffan of Karthaus, Pa., bought out a lodge along the river’s edge that looks something like the Genesee River and its valley might have been some 300-plus years ago.
But to get to this northlands nirvana, we had to do some driving and ferry boat riding before we traveled some 76 kilometers off the hard road to the lodge.
Think of ferry crossing and one might think of a big boat that took a few cars and people across a short stretch of water.
Our crossing from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland on 90 miles of the Atlantic Ocean took about seven hours on calm seas. The Marine Atlantic ferry boat we took (one of three that make this crossing) is bigger than the average ferry boat. An official said that on full passage, the nine-story vessel can accommodate about 80 tractor trailers, around 350 road vehicles (cars and light trucks) and close to 1,000 passengers. Nighttime trips afforded a rest during the 1,700 mile trip from home to the lodge.
If you would like to look at something nice in Newfoundland, wait for daylight and look out the window. Or step outside on a moonlit evening. From the moment we pulled off the ferry crossing and began heading up the coastline, thoughts of everything from early Scottish settlers to the sinking of the Titanic less than 200 miles away accompanied the views of steep, stony hillsides, bays and tidal backwaters, inland lakes teeming with brook trout and landlocked salmon and forests stretching across high peaks and hanging bogs.
Moose barrier fencing lined the major highway with elaborate escape gates for the big beasts as Lewis and I drove the last five-hour leg of the trip to lodge.
My chances at actually getting a woodland caribou were slim. Herd numbers of caribou have diminished in many northern Canada areas. Nonetheless, but I bought the ‘bou tag as part of a moose hunt with Steffan as a guide. Lewis, the only veteran moose hunter at the lodge, was initially set up with Sargent.
The other two hunters with us this week was an enjoyable father-son team of Scott and Brian Leinbach of Williamsport, Pa. All took filled tags and all had exceptional outings, even on days when no game was seen or taken.
Look for the hunt results on next week’s Outdoor Page.