A Journey To Remember

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This past year a dream I never thought possible came true. It was an adventure, a learning experience and a memory that I will have forever. Before I knew it I was on my first-ever float plane ride on a fly-in moose hunting trip with Jackson’s Lodges & Outposts! As soon as the plane took off and I seen the smiles of everyone with us, I knew it was going to be an amazing week of family and the outdoors. The views from the plane are breathtaking, showing what Manitoba has to offer.

There were eight of us that stayed in camp; Brian (aka Beaver), his daughter Amber, his son Cody, Cody’s girlfriend Jodie, Justin, Steve from Adventures North, my Dad and myself. This was my first time meeting some of them but I couldn’t have asked for better company, truly amazing people that taught me so much about hunting and the camp lifestyle. We set out with two goals for the week; for the girls to harvest a Moose and to eat the ridiculous amount of food we had brought with us.

We arrived at the dock and all I could think was wow, what a beautiful view! After I walked around inside the lodge I was smiling from ear to ear. All the amenities of home situated in a little piece of outdoor paradise, this is a special place. Once we unloaded all the gear, Dad set up his Humminbird 688 in the boat we picked to use for the week. It made navigating easy and we were able to save all of our good fishing spots, where we hunted, spots we wanted to try later, where we stopped to call for Moose, and the camp location so we could always find our way back safely. The fishing was really great, but having the sonar with us made it even better. We found some sharp breaks in structure where the fish were absolutely piled up. If we didn’t have the Humminbird, we would have over-looked these amazing fishing spots. If I had any advice for someone who is heading up for a hunting trip with Jackson’s, it would be to bring a rod, reel, GPS/Sonar Combo, and a small tackle box. A handful of assorted jigs in a few different sizes and soft plastic minnow baits are really all you need and it doesn’t take up much room. Don’t be like my Dad and try to bring your entire arsenal and use half your weight allowance on jigs…and he wondered why our boat was slower than everyone else’s!

We developed a morning routine throughout the week; Beaver’s up first and starts the coffee while my Dad and I cook up the camp breakfast. We woke up after our first night to see that a big fall storm had blown in, with rolling waves, and a absolutely torrential downpour. We headed out for a few hours, coming back to camp soaking wet and freezing, but it didn’t matter. Dad was out on a hunt the previous year with Beaver and was successful in harvesting his first Moose. Now he has taken everything Beaver has taught him and put it to the test as we ventured out. He practised his Moose call all year long and was getting pretty good at it.

On the third day Steve, Dad and I headed out early. It was a beautiful day, very warm and sunny, total opposite of the day before. We worked our way through the river and scouted a few places that showed sign of Moose so we stopped to call. First spot was a small bay with a long creek. We were able to get quite a ways back, we parked the boat and walked to a big rock-ridge to start calling. The three of us listened and sat patiently but nothing responded. We tried this in a few different places with no luck.

Just before it was time to head in for lunch we decided to try one more spot. We approached a broken beaver dam where we planned to get out and walk to a nearby ridge and call. That idea suddenly changed. Through the opening Steve spotted a female Moose feeding. Quietly we inched up so Steve could get his camera ready to film her, and there he was. Standing to the side was a big Bull Moose with a drop-tine.

Panic and excitement struck the boat as I was fumbling to grab my Grandpa’s 270 Winchester. My Dad was attempting to beach the boat quietly, while Steve was trying to get everything in order with his equipment; it was crazy. I jumped out of the boat onto solid ground and found a good place to make a steady attempt at this beautiful animal. Just as I was about to shoot, the Moose turned his head and now his antler was in my way. Waiting for him to reposition was the longest minute of my life. My knees were shaking uncontrollably. I almost fell over and so many things were running through my mind at that moment. I cleared my head, took a deep breath, exhaled, and squeezed the trigger just as my Dad had taught me. I made a perfect shot and the Moose only made it a few yards.

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Everything after that moment was a blur; I’ve never experienced an adrenaline rush quite like it. My Dad ran up and hugged me, I’ll never forget that moment I think he was almost more excited than I was, and I felt as if I made him proud.

Steve and I stayed with the animal while my Dad went back to camp to grab the crew. Having everyone come to share in the moment was special, they were all so happy and I will never forget their words of encouragement and the smiles we shared that day. It was one of the best days of my life; I get emotional just talking about it still. A successful harvest to feed our families and we couldn’t have been more grateful.

We had the best teacher; Beaver taught us so much about hunting, we took everything he said and put it into action. Hunting along-side my Dad is really amazing, I am proud and happy to learn from him, he has so much knowledge and a natural instinct that can’t be taught.

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Another beautiful day followed, it felt more like summer outside. It was so nice to be in a place with no roads, traffic, and noise. Just the sounds and smells of the great outdoors, it was so peaceful. We fished for a few hours and were very successful; this place is loaded with Walleye. All week it was hard trying to get my Dad to focus on hunting he wanted to stop everywhere and drop a line! “Just a quick pass,” he would say. Casting and jigging soft plastics in the current was the ticket. No Moose today so we worked on goal number two and ate as much food as we possibly could. The lodge is so comfortable and beautiful it was really hard to think about leaving in a few short days. Everyone gathered on the last day to help close up the camp. We worked like a well-oiled machine all week; everyone cooked, cleaned and pitched in to do whatever was needed. In the afternoon the girls processed the last batch of the moose meat together; Jodie and Amber showed me their techniques, I think they could see me struggling…my knife skills are mediocre at best and I appreciate the practise. It was really great to spend time with them throughout the week and I am thankful to have met them.

As the float plane descended to pick us up, it was bittersweet. I was not ready to leave yet; I enjoyed this trip too much I really wanted to stay longer. Before this week started I did not have any expectations. Hanging out with my Dad all week was great, I would have been happy if that was what the entire trip ended up to be. To have my Dad alongside me on a Moose hunt and my first fly-in was just unbelievable.

I have to thank Jackson’s for the trip of a lifetime, from start to finish everything was amazing. Thank-you to everyone for the laughs, stories and memories you gave me. Thank-you to Steve from Adventures North for filming us all week, we can now always keep the memories alive. Last but certainly not least, thank-you to Beaver and his entire family. Thank-you!

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About Author

Amanda Keszler

Amanda Keszler is an avid angler who enjoys spending every minute she can in the outdoors, fishing and hunting with her family. She has been contributing to Hooked Magazine for almost three years now. Recently Amanda was featured on an episode of the Lund Ultimate Fishing Experience television show where she fished alongside her mentor, her father Alex. She regularly competes in Bass and Walleye tournaments across Manitoba and Ontario with her boyfriend Logan. The final year that she was eligible to fish as a youth in the Angler Young Angler fishing tournament in Pine Falls with Alex, they won first place. Since that day she has been hooked on tournament fishing and the challenges that it brings. Throughout the year Amanda targets many different species such as Walleye, Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Crappie, Northern Pike, Lake Trout, and Whitefish. For the past three years she has been giving seminars at the Mid-Canada Boat Show in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “Hunting and fishing with my friends and family creates a bond and lifetime memories that I will always carry with me. There is truly nothing that I would rather be doing than spending time experiencing and writing about the great outdoors."

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