Camp Manager Mary Ellen Douchamie and the crew met Kevin at the dock with smiles and warm greetings. After the gear was unloaded they made their way to the main lodge, and Kevin was in awe. The operation they are running at Pine Portage Lodge is as impressive as can be. Besides the beautiful main lodge with a massive dining room filled with the history of the lodge, their shoreline is sprinkled with comfortable cottages in all sizes to suit various party accommodation needs. Their 73 years of operation is evident in how smoothly things run. It is like a well oiled machine built to provide the ideal moose hunt, fishing trip, or wilderness vacation.
Kevin was at Pine Portage Lodge to moose hunt, but his week was much more than that. He was able to enjoy his own roomy cabin kept warm by the wood stove, catch remarkable sunsets over the lake right from the lodge, and eat delicious meal after delicious meal, all while enjoying the, albeit socially distanced, company of the crew and other hunters at camp! Camp life was a treat, but Kevin also was able to take advantage of other things Pine Portage has to offer. Walking the paths behind camp, Kevin was able to bag multiple limits of ruffed grouse throughout his week. The hunting was quick and exciting, and to bring home some grouse meat for his family was an added bonus!
The fishing at Pine Portage Lodge has been the main attraction for many of its guests over the years. Kevin was able to experience this firsthand when Dave, (his hunting and fishing guide for the week) brought him out on Kaby Lake and he caught his limit of walleye as well as some nice size pike! Dave topped off this great day on the water with a tasty and memorable shore lunch at one of their many picnic locations on the lake!
Great camp-life, fishing, and grouse hunting was enough to make this trip a memorable one. But Kevin was first and foremost at Pine Portage to hunt moose; hoping to get a chance at a big Northern Ontario bull with his rifle. And on day one of the moose season, he got his chance.
As the first hint of morning revealed Kaby Lake, Dave and Kevin jumped into the boat and departed from camp. Their eyes scanned the shorelines that could so easily reveal a giant bull feeding on the shallow waters edge. While they boated along to some of Dave’s favorite spots, Kevin would give the odd moose call. If a moose was back in the thick timber, the call could be the difference between drawing out a curious bull, or never knowing it was there. In the early morning the guys saw plenty of wildlife awake on the water, from beavers and otters to loons and ducks all out having an adventure of their own.
It wasn’t long before Dave spotted their first bull. The guys looked through their binoculars across the lake, where they could see a nice bull feeding along the shoreline. As they watched from afar, it wasn’t long before it worked its way further into the woods, disappearing as quickly as they had spotted it. They quickly boated around to the other side of the bay but when they got there he was nowhere to be seen along the shore and he would not come to the call.
It didn’t take long before they spotted another bull on another shore, a big bull out feeding along the shallows. They rushed to the shore and were able to get behind a point so they were out of sight from the bull. Kevin jumped out of the boat with his rifle and tried to stalk the rocky shore. He was hoping to get around the bend and set up for a shot at this nice mature bull. As Kevin rounded the bend, where he thought he should be able to see the bull, he grabbed his binoculars and scanned the shoreline but could not see him. Somewhere along the stalk the moose must have finished feeding and gone back into the woods. And though Kevin waited at the shore for a while in hopes he would come back out, he never did.
After plenty of action in the morning it was lunchtime so Dave brought Kevin to one of Pine Portage’s regular shore lunch spots. This was on an island a couple hundred yards from shore. While they ate, Kevin fired up the moose call every 15 minutes and the call echoed forever through the woods. They both kept an eye on the shoreline. Before they saw anything, Kevin and Dave both heard a grunt coming from deep in the woods. All of a sudden lunch took a backseat and Kevin was getting his rifle set up and scanning the shoreline.
Twenty minutes went by without a sign, so Kevin decided to give a couple more calls. Thankfully Kevin and Dave both heard the moose grunt or else they might have doubted they heard anything. Another 20 minutes went by and still nothing, not even another grunt. So Kevin gave a couple bull grunts and some raking but again 15 minutes went by with nothing. Now Dave and Kevin were starting to wonder if he was even going to come out, but they decided they would give it another 15 minutes and boy were they glad they did! Five minutes later Dave spotted this big beautiful bull emerge from the trees and stand staring at the island. The bull stood there searching for the cow, for what seemed to be an eternity but was probably only a couple of minutes. Kevin was on his rifle and steadied waiting for the bull to present him with a broadside shot. Finally the bull turned and started to walk along the water’s edge, showing some pulled up brush dangling from his left antler. When he paused in his step, Kevin had his moment and took his shot.
With a thunderous whack echoing across the water, Kevin knew he had made a good shot, and shortly after, the bull dropped with a splash into the shallow shore.
After some heavy lifting to get the moose meat into the boat, the guys were on their way back to camp with a beautiful bull moose harvested on the first day of rifle season! Leaving plenty of time to clean and prep the meat to take home, get some more fishing and grouse hunting in, and reminisce about the best lunch Kevin has ever had moose hunting!
This trip was an absolute dream trip for Kevin! The combination of fantastic moose hunting, unbelievable grouse hunting, and then to fish a world class lake like Kabinakagami, I don’t think you could get a better week if you tried! Pine Portage Lodge is a stunning place all on its own, but what makes them even better is the incredible staff that they have running the place! These people are some of the greatest around and they make you feel right at home and part of the family. Kevin will be dreaming of the day he can get back there!