When it comes to Manitoba’s rugged north, there are a few things that come to mind; Out of this world Canadian Shield views, endless lakes, pure remote wilderness, and epic Manitoba Moose Hunts. These most serine reaches of the province provide some of the best moose habitats in the country – and the quality and quantity of moose across this region speak for itself.
Located in the heart of all this is Agassiz Outfitters. Agassiz is owned and operated by the Liske family, and over the years they have become renowned for some of the best Manitoba Moose hunts – and season after season their guests head home with some of the biggest bulls in the province.
When the Canada in the Rough’s Keith Beasley locked in his trip to chase these Manitoba Monsters with the Liske’s, he knew he was in for a treat.
My Manitoba Moose Hunting Adventure – Keith Beasley
The story of my latest moose hunting adventure in Northern Manitoba is one that I thought was headed for tag soup. We faced challenging conditions during our river moose hunt along the Churchill River. But, as I have witnessed many times before. The rewards often come after some hardship and of course lots of patients.
The tradition of hunting brings me across this great country of ours and there are many different styles of hunting to be had. As nice as it is to enjoy all the comforts of home while out in the wilderness. There’s something special about roughing it a little. Maybe it’s something buried deep inside my ancestral genetics. But, when I’m sleeping on cots, wrapped up in my sleeping bag, heated by a wood fire. It just feels right to me
Agassiz Outfitters: Epic Manitoba Moose Hunts
Agassiz Outfitters is located in northern Manitoba, and while they offer hunting for black bears and waterfowl. They also have some of the prettiest moose hunting territory in Canada. And moose is exactly what I would be targeting during my week hunt with them.
Owned and operated by Rick Liske and his wife Colleen. Agassiz Outfitters is a family-run outfit, even their sons Brendan and Jordan are now a part of the guiding crew.
In late September, I headed to Thompson Manitoba, where I met Colleen and some of her crew at the floatplane base. We got all our gear loaded into the turbo twin otter and we were soon lifting off the water, soaring into the sky. As I looked down upon the immense boreal forest and the many smaller lakes and rivers that dotted and cut through through the terrain. My excitement grew for what was to come. The hour flight flew by. No pun intended. And before I knew it we were touching down at the main camp.
Agassiz Outfitters’ main camp is located on an extremely isolated point of land. Along the stunning and historic Churchill River. There’s guide quarters, hunters’ cabins, and the main kitchen. The pole framed structures are made of cut and treated black spruce logs, wrapped in heavily insulated tarps, and outfitted with wood floors, bunks, and wood-burning stoves to keep you warm at night.
In the Air and Down the River
For our trip, the main camp was just a quick stopover. As we would be heading to a spike camp located upriver. Our guide Jordan Liske arrived shortly after we touched down. We packed his boat with my gear and boated upriver to what we would be calling home for the week. Very similar to the main camp, the spike camp’s main building was assembled from spruce logs and insulated tarps. While I would be staying in a large Cabela’s outfitters tent pitched on a wooden platform, outfitted with cots and a wood stove.
After getting my gear unpacked I assembled my bow to do a little target practice. This week my goal is to harvest a mature bull moose with my compound bow. After letting a few arrows loose and feeling confident that my sights were still on after all my travels. Jordan took me for a little tour of the area to see the many possible locations we would be focusing on.
The Hunt Begins
The following morning Jordan had a hearty breakfast fully cooked as I stepped into the kitchen from the dark. After enjoying a tasty meal we boated up river as the sun was just about to break the horizon. We scoured the river banks for any sign of moose. But we didn’t see anything during our boat to our first calling spot. Situated on a small inlet, with the main river on my right. Jordan called from slightly behind me, hoping to entice a bull with his cow bawls. After a few hours of calling and waiting patiently and not hearing any responses. We headed back to camp where once again Jordan cooked up a really tasty lunch.
Memorable Manitoba Moose Encounter
In the late afternoon, we decided to head back to the same location, in hopes that a lonely bull had heard our morning calls and had moved into the area. With about twenty minutes of light left, we heard a loud bark. If you aren’t familiar with this response from moose it’s one that almost sounds monstrous. As I readied myself and clipped my release into my bow I caught movement to my left. Before I knew it I saw a moose running right at me. Unfortunately, there weren’t any antlers on its head. As I look past the charging moose I saw another dark brown figure moving towards me. I soon realized I had a cow and calf coming into the call, surprisingly lead by the calf.
The brave and energetic calf stopped at fifteen feet and made a quick turn into the inlet. Ferociously plowing through the water for ten yards where it stopped to look back in our direction. As water dripped off its body it gave a heavy shake, sending water droplets in all directions. The cow then also crossed the water to the shore on the other side and the calf followed her into the old burn. We held our breath in hopes that a bull might follow them but tonight they were traveling alone. Still a great encounter to be had and one I won’t soon forget.
Back in camp that night Jordan once again outdid himself with an extremely tasty dinner. I went to bed with a full belly and my mind buzzing from not only the exciting encounter we had that night. But, the possibilities of more exciting moose encounters to come.
Day 2 of the Moose Hunt
As the sun rose over the trees the next morning it lit up the orangey-yellow tamaracks that framed the long skinny bay where we hunting like freshly ignited candles. Their bright colours glowed and the still water glistened with the reflection of the rising sun. Jordan broke the serene silence as he pretended to be a cow walking through the water. Dawned with chest waiters he took long forceful steps, splashing loudly. Even filling his hand-made birch bark moose call with water and raising it high above his head and tilting it to let the water run out of the mouthpiece. Resembling a moose relieving itself. He followed up his artful display with a series of cow bawls before retreating back into the thick pines in which we were hiding in. As pretty as the morning of day two was. We never did receive any answers to our calls.
Bad Weather incoming, But the Hunt Continues
Back in camp, we checked the weather on our satellite device. What we saw was a forbidding forecast for the next several days. Rain was coming and it didn’t look like it would be letting up any time soon. Accompanying the rain was constantly changing wind directions. We knew this would make it extremely difficult to keep hunting in the style we had been practicing so far. When you sit and call an area you need the wind to stay in the same direction. This is so you can properly plan where you sit to help avoid detection from the skillfully trained nose of a moose.
Moose Hunting on the Churchill River
After discussing our options, Jordan suggested we switch our attention to the river. In past seasons they have been very successful harvesting many mature bulls as they fed and worked the easily navigable shorelines. The problem for us this year though was the water levels were over ten feet higher than previous years. Erasing almost all visible shorelines and only leaving flooded willow bushes framing the river’s edge. Which would mean we would have to shoot from the boat with a rifle rather than a spot and stalk with the bow.
With few options available to us due to the unforeseen weather and high water levels. We headed upriver rifle at my side. After a while, we stopped and started to float back down. Jordan rowing as we went to keep us on course and as quiet as possible. Near the end of the night, we spotted a cow and calf feeding in the flooded willows close to camp. We had a great experience with them, but as luck would have it they too didn’t have a bull accompanying them.
Rain or Shine, The Hunt Continues
Over the next couple of days the rain would come and go, sometimes a drizzle, some times much stronger. The wind performed as expected as well. Changing directions at least twice a day and as drastic as north to south. We explored the river as much as we could, floating and glassing the heavily timbered shorelines. We managed to spot a number of cow and calf pairings during our floats. Which was a promising sign of a good calf recruitment year, but the bulls seemed to be hiding somewhere else.
Big Manitoba Moose Spotted!
On day five Jordan decided we should head back to the river in the afternoon. After spending a few hours calling over a stream system that had a couple of old burns on each side of the water. We began floating down the river past some rapids.
Not long after I spotted a cow and calf on the water’s edge. As I picked up my binoculars to view them closer Jordan spotted two white paddles towering sixty yards above them. As I focused my gaze on the white sheets of plywood. The bull we had been working so hard for appeared. Hidden behind a thick wall of trees I readied my rifle as Jordan did his best to keep the nose of the boat pointed straight at the bull. With little time to make my shot due to the speed of the current. I settled my sights on the bull and waited for an opening in the trees. As I spotted my opportunity at a clear window I took my shot and found my mark. I reloaded and managed to make a fleeting shot into the bull which put him down on the spot.
Manitoba Moose Hunts: Success with Agassiz Outfitters
Jordan and I were both amazed at what just happened. After many days sitting and calling as well as floating the river and not seeing or hearing a single bull. Within a matter of seconds everything changed for us. This time changed for the good.
As we walked up to the bull we both were once again amazed. This time at the impressive size of the body and antlers it sported. The antlers were 50 inches wide with many points and had swooping fronts. A true Manitoba mature bull for sure. We spent some time admiring the great animal and talked of the appreciation we had for it.
Since the weather was going down to cold temperatures that evening. We were able to leave the bull overnight without the worry of the meat spoiling. We headed back to the bull first thing the following morning accompanied by the rest of the Agassiz Outfitters crew. After a few pictures, the crew got to work processing the bull. Breaking it down into quarters and removing as much meat as possible. Then wrapping the fresh meat in cheesecloth, before it was hauled down to the waiting boats.
A Perfect End to one of my Favourite Manitoba Moose Hunts
Though I’ve been hunting for many years now and have had more than my fair share of hunting adventures. I still find it amazing how things can change so fast on a hunt. In the end, the act of harvesting a big game animal is only a matter of seconds or minutes. We spend ninety percent of the time searching in vain for the species we are after. But, at the same time experiencing beautiful scenery and learning valuable life lessons like patients, faith, and trusting your gut.
A big thanks to Jordan, Rick, Colleen, Brendan, Bob, and Bryan for all their help with my great river moose hunting adventure. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a true moose hunt in the northern wilderness of Manitoba. Please give the great folks at Agassiz Outfitters a call. I know it will be an adventure of a lifetime as it was for me.
For a great Moose Hunting Recipe from Canada in The Rough, Check out the video below!
For more information on Manitoba Moose Hunts at Agassiz Outfitters, visit the Agassiz Outfitters website.
Check out our Big Game Hunting page for more information on Manitoba Moose hunts.
For More exciting Manitoba hunts from Canada in the Rough, Visit their YouTube Channel.
Celebrate the experience of hunting in Manitoba, submit your harvest to the Manitoba Master Hunter Program.
Written By: Canada in the Rough – Keith Beasley