A successful caribou hunt with Webber’s Lodges. Al Maki tells it like it is (was).

Al Maki with one of his two caribou bulls.

Al Maki with one of his two caribou bulls.

Guest Post by Al Maki

Ryan St. John is a well-established outfitter for all of the Arctic species of game. He recently merged with Webber’s Lodges to handle all logistics. Hunts leave by charter flight from Thompson, Manitoba and land at a float plane base just over the Nunavut line. From there hunters board Beaver float planes for a 1.5 hour flight to hunt camps located on the shores of the abundant lakes.

Flying in I was struck by the high percentage of water. It seems that 90 percent of the area is covered by lakes and ponds extending for miles. It didn’t look like any caribou habitat I’d seen or hunted. Camps are comfortable lakeside tents with a mess shed and resident cook. Hunts would leave each morning at daybreak in open skiffs traveling several miles in all directions in search of caribou.

The guides are all Inuit and are very familiar with the area and game patterns. Soon we began to see a few caribou in groups of two, three or more moving along the lake shore and crossing the water at will. My hunting partner and I drew straws for the first shot and I got the draw.

We saw a large bull with his harem of four cows on a small ridge so we beached the boat and made a stalk. They were moving our way but the wind was bad so they winded us and about-faced into the lake to swim to another peninsula. Our guide seemed to know where they were headed so we hopped back into the skiff and traveled down the lake a couple of miles.

Beaching again we scrambled up a small ridge and waited. Sure enough here they were, but they were out a full half-mile with no chance for us to close the distance. Back to the skiff and after a few more miles we rounded into a long bay and beached again.

After hiking a half-mile we crested a small ridge, and although I had my doubts, I was amazed to see our group of caribou moving down toward us. They would pass about 400 yards out. I rested over a small rock pile and waited for a clear shot. I ranged it at 417 yards and took the shot. The bull was hit hard but continued to move off. I shot again and he dropped.

I took another fine bull a day later and all of the hunters in the camp had a great time taking their two bulls by the fifth day of the hunt.

Bow hunting for moose pays off at Small Lake for Kenney

Kevin Kenney with moose taken by bow near Small Lake in Manitoba

Guest Post by Kevin Kenney

I was hunting Small Lake north of Thompson, Manitoba. For the first 2 1/2-days I didn’t have much luck. I never saw a moose. But moose hunting is either hot or cold, and I knew that going in. I did see plenty of sign, so I knew there were moose around.

Two of the other guys in camp actually got their bulls on the first three days. On the fourth day the weather turned more favorable for moose hunting. It started raining and got colder. That morning we spotted what was a definite shooter, probably a 50″ wide bull. We tried to make a move on him but he just disappeared. While it would have been awesome to get on this bull, it definitely lifted my spirits just seeing a huge moose.

On the fifth day we spent the morning working an area near where we had seen the big bull. We hiked in with the wind in our favor and my guide Tyler did a bunch of cow calls and bull grunts. Alas, not one response. Finally, after several hours, we called it quits to get some lunch. After lunch we headed back out with a plan to hunt a different area.

As we were cruising along in the boat, Tyler spotted a bull up on top of the hill where we had been hunting all morning. We knew it was a different bull, but he looked to be a shooter. Tyler eased the boat into a place on shore to get the wind in our favor. Since we didn’t get any responses to our calls in the morning, we opted to just stalk in on the bull. I walked right behind Tyler, so we would sound like a moose walking through the bush.

Once we got within 80-100 yards of the bull we could hear him grunting and raking trees. There was not a lot of time to set up. Tyler moved to a position 15-20 yards behind me. He did not call; he just did some raking with his moose scapula. The bull was very agitated with this! He started walking indirectly toward us in a zigzag pattern. The bull stopped every 10-15 yards to rake the trees and was grunting the whole way in. He was swaying back and forth with drool running out of his mouth.

It happened pretty quickly. I felt like I was sitting in my living room watching a hunting show on TV!  The bull got to about 10-15 yards and I was trying to figure out how to get a shot off. Tyler was whispering for me to draw my bow, but he could not see that I had no shooting lane from where I was standing. I tried to move a step forward for a clearer shot, but this seemed to alert the bull. He then turned in the other direction and walked perfectly broadside. This time I drew my bow back.

He stopped at 12 yards and I put my pin right behind the shoulder and let the arrow fly. At this angle I had more of a shooting lane then I did on the first shot opportunity, but it wasn’t perfectly open. My arrow may have deflected, so the shot was not great. I ended up being about 3″ too far forward (and a little high). My arrow caught the back of the shoulder blade, so I did not get a pass through.

We both took our boots off to stalk in for another shot. The bull was lying down but still moving his head around and coughing. I was standing about 30 yards from him when he stood up and I was able to get off another shot, but that completely missed due to all the branches in the way. Luckily he fell back down so I could get closer. At 10 yards away he stood again. This time I put my arrow through both lungs. He looked like he was going to charge us, but luckily he just started walking sideways and keeled over.

My guide Tyler did an awesome job! He actually got three moose in four days. (He guided the other two guys in camp first and then took over with me when they tagged out.)

From start to finish it took us about six hours to get the bull out of the bush. We were 250 yards from shoreline and we used a chainsaw to cut a trail in. This made it much easier to pack him out. The moose was caped and deboned in the field.

One of the most impressive things to me about Webber’s Lodges was that their number one concern was putting me on a bull. It didn’t matter how far into the bush we had to hike. Going into the hunt I was worried that all we were going to do was drive around in a boat. Obviously it is a lake hunt, so using a boat is an important part of the hunt. As far as deciding what technique we used, and where we hunted, I just left that up to the guides. Another worry was the fact that I was going to go bow only or nothing. The guides did not see my bow as a hindrance to the hunt.

All in all it was an awesome hunt! By far the most exciting hunt I have ever experienced. It felt surreal, because it was everything I could have hoped for. He was not a huge bull, actually I think he was the smallest moose harvested this year by Webber’s Lodges. He was the only one taken with a bow. My bull was 39″ wide. The other bulls taken ranged from 40″ to 57″. To be honest, the quality was much higher than I expected. I guess now I have a reason to try to go back for a bigger one someday.

I think I am going to be on cloud nine for a while after this. It definitely makes me want to get out there for another hunt. Moose, elk, caribou, any big game animal really.

This type of hunt, when you have to go after the animal, is exhilarating!

Trophy bulls abound in family caribou hunt with Webber’s

John Reimer with sons Dylan and Dalton

John Reimer with sons Dylan and Dalton

Taxidermist John Reimer was on his sixth hunt with Webber’s Lodges this fall and this time he took his sons Dylan (21) and Dalton (20) with him for the first time. An avid hunter who had previously stalked deer, moose, elk, bear, mountain lion and more, John and his sons were at Schmok Lake from Sept. 4-9 in search of trophy caribou.

And they found them!

Dylan Reimer

Dylan Reimer

“The four of us took eight trophy bulls,” said John. “And Webber’s was outstanding as always. Having my boys up there made the experience that much more fun, and what better way to bond with them than hunting together and seeing their excitement in harvesting some trophy caribou. And besides caribou, we saw red fox, cross fox and Arctic wolves. From the camp to the terrain, it’s something you never forget.”

Dalton Reimer

Dalton Reimer

The 49-year-old President of JR Taxidermy Studio in Grunthal, Manitoba, had high praise for his hosts, which of course we’re proud to share here on our blog.

David Martens

David Martens

“Two thumbs up to Webber’s for providing such a place for us to enjoy and chalk up memories we will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve hunted every Western province and throughout the USA and Webber’s is comparable to all the best lodges out there, but what makes them unique is that they’re a family business. They’ve spent most of their lives up north and they’re involved. The meals are first class. And you can’t beat the Webber’s hospitality, whether it’s before, during or after the hunt.”

John Reimer

John Reimer

Thank you John!

Evening at Schmok Lake Caribou Camp. Shel Zolkewich photo.

Evening at Schmok Lake Caribou Camp. Shel Zolkewich photo.

Good news for goose hunters!

Geese at Nanuk

Limitless opportunities here…

The Government of Manitoba has decided that geese population control has now reached unparalleled urgency.

Limits on snow geese, blue geese and Ross’s geese are 50 per day, but possession is unlimited! Your only limit is the number of shells you bring along and the pounding your shoulder can take.

Also, we have increased and improved our accommodations at Nanuk Lodge! Already a showplace on the tundra, we hauled in 175,000 pounds of lumber and material to add eight new bedrooms to the Lodge, each of which will feature an incredible view of Hudson Bay!

Brand new look at Nanuk!

Brand new look at Nanuk!

Imagine hunting unpressured goose populations at the start of their migration, in the beauty and splendor of the Northern tundra, all while staying in a beautiful lodge with all the comforts of home. But in a stress free environment that only the North can provide!

Nolan Booth is back at Nanuk and is preparing for an action packed season and we have very limited openings for 2014 goose hunts, seven to be exact. If you are already planning for 2015, contact us and we will look over what options we have for you, including our Spring Snow Goose hunts.

For more information and the latest updates on our goose, moose and caribou hunts please email info@webberslodges.com or call us Toll Free at 1 (888) WEBBERS (1.888.932.2377)

Happy hunting!

As long as you get the desired result, a happy fisherman

Sometimes it’s best not to show your work, even if the teacher tells you to. As long as you come up with the desired result everything will be okay, right? And on that note…

While this is not commonplace at North Knife Lake Lodge, we thought we’d share this photo series of neophyte guide Josh Wright handling his duties as would be expected for a newbie. This boy will go far, a definite keeper, going to be a big star someday.

With a little coaching and encouragement from our experts, that is.

And a very special thanks to guest Bump Williams, who caught the fish!

Guide fussing with motor

Guide fussing with motor

Guest catches fish,  fights to hang on to it,  guide finally notices

Guest catches fish, fights to hang on to it, guide finally notices

Guide offers words of encouragement and yells at guest not to splash him

Guide offers words of encouragement and yells at guest not to splash him

Guide avoids getting his hands dirty and hands guest hook removal tools

Guide avoids getting his hands dirty and hands guest hook removal tools

Guide calmly offers advice to guest on how to remove hooks while chattering about his latest girlfriend

Guide calmly offers advice to guest on how to remove hooks while chattering about his latest girlfriend

Guest finally lands fish,  guide offers to hold fish while guest hurries to clean his hands, just barely making it into the photo

Guest finally lands fish, guide offers to hold fish while guest hurries to clean his hands, just barely making it into the photo

Ultimate result achieved! Happy guest with northern pike caught on a fly!

Desired result achieved! Happy guest Bump Williams with northern pike caught on a fly!

Fish turning on at North Knife Lake Lodge!

Ron Malech Lake Trout catch and release method

Ron Malech displays his new catch and release method for trophy lake trout at North Knife Lake.

We’re off to a great start at North Knife Lake Lodge with the first group of fishermen busy retraining our great northern pike and monster lake trout!

After a very cold winter and late snow storm we were expecting we might well be practicing our “Russian Icebreaker” techniques on the lake, but other than a bit of ice piled on the northern islands there is nary an “iceberg” in sight.

And temperatures have been on the pleasant side to say the least, with most days being sunny and warm temps into the 70s and 80s!

The big fish are turning on and some crazy pike numbers in excess of 200 fish per boat are coming in after the first two days, as well as tall tales of big ones lost and released.

Our resident wolf family is comfortably ensconced in their summer digs up on the esker near the airstrip. We have yet to see the pups but have had some incredible close encounters with Mama and one of the “uncles/aunties” from last reason. What a treat!

World class fishing, spectacular wolf viewing and the finest food and accommodations in Northern Canada all in one fabulous paradise, though that might be a slightly biased opinion!

Dateline June 24 North Knife Lake Lodge

Hot and sunny 28C!

The Canadians surged ahead of the Americans today giving a strong showing with three Master Angler lake trout caught and released using their advantage of home “ice.”

Ron Malech astounded us with his unorthodox but very effective airborne release style claiming that this technique is favoured by all the fishing Hall of Famers.

He was later spotted recuperating on the lodge couch, no doubt exhausted from his spectacular performance. Fishing partners Tim Burt and David Brandt also scored on trophy lake trout and Reagan Caskey held up his end of the boat with some very nice northern pike.

New wind power at North Knife Lake Lodge welcomed by June snowstorm, wolves

June snow in Manitoba

Snowstorm at North Knife Lake. June 4, 2014.

by Doug Webber

June 4 started with a feeling of excitement. I was getting ready to fly to Thompson to pick up Danny, the man who was going to install the final pieces of equipment that would give us a major infusion of power into our existing solar power system at North Knife Lake Lodge.

The newly designed ultra-efficient 3,500 Watt wind generator is in its final stages of installation. The associated cabinetry and controllers are state of the art and in some cases, clearly innovative. The specially designed blades are environmentally friendly, as they are low rpm and have the exceptional capacity of negative bird strikes. During the three year trial run of the wind generator, not one bird was struck.

As I prepped the airplane for the flight, the matriarch of the resident wolf family poked her head out of the bush across the runway to see what I was up to. As I warmed up the engine, she scooted across the runway about 100 meters away, obviously intent on a mission that likely had something to do with food.

It was a clear beautiful day and the flight to Thompson was uneventful, so I was able to enjoy the gorgeous panorama of another Northern Manitoba spring as it unfolded around me. While waiting for Danny’s plane, I had time to run a few errands, pick up parts, groceries and fuel for the trip back. Danny arrived and we climbed aboard for the flight back to North Knife Lake.

As we came in for landing I noticed the momma wolf standing by the runway watching our progress. Despite the presence of a strong cross wind, I managed to pull off an acceptable landing and we coasted to a stop at the “terminal building” where the road leads to the Lodge just a quarter mile away. The wolf continued to watch us, and as long as we ignored her, she was content with our presence. Any attempt to approach her would see her melting into the forest.

A quick supper after Danny was settled in brought about the usual end-of-day tiredness. We checked the equipment we brought and crawled off to bed.

The expected cruddy weather arrived in the middle of the night. Flying back to Thompson for the additional bodies we required for tower erection was out of the question. There was a lot to do, with the mounting of the equipment and the hooking up the control charger. As the weather deteriorated over the next three days we got the Internet sorted out and set up for monitoring the equipment from the Lodge. From the office we could now see what was happening in the Battery Room, where all the solar and wind charging takes place.

View from North Knife Lake Lodge balcony during June 2014 storm.

View from North Knife Lake Lodge balcony, June 4, 2014.

During the storm, the wolf continued making her rounds near the Lodge. There were new tracks morning and evening through steadily increasing snow cover. We expected to see the pups make their first foray out into the world shortly after the storm had run its course and the snow had melted back into the ground.

New birds continued to show up on a daily basis. The loons, mergansers, mallards, pintails, Canada geese and bald eagles are all prepping their nests and getting ready to lay eggs. We also saw Pine and Evening grosbeaks, two or three species of warblers, Bank and Tree swallows, nighthawks, redpolls, robins, various gulls and peregrine falcons.

Some of the birds are residents and others are just passing through. Pine martins, mink and foxes are evident in the sand and occasional sightings confirm their presence. Beavers at the creek and south river are sending numerous bark-stripped branches downstream, indicating healthy numbers.

The continuing storm compromised the completion of the windmill project, as high winds were detrimental to the raising of the tower. As with many projects in the seasonal lodge business, a few weeks or months delay may be the outcome, but all will get done.

Danny’s unique skills in the alternate energy arena are necessary to make final adjustments once the windmill is producing power. As his departure day drew near and the storm continued, with eight inches of snow already on the ground, resignation of the inevitable began to take hold.

In time however, all this will be in the past and our carbon footprint at North Knife Lake Lodge will continue to shrink as we bring the wind generator on line. Stay tuned for the conclusion of Project Wind Power at some time in the near future!

June 7, 2014 Update: We put the blades on the windmill yesterday and with it resting on the barrel it was producing a couple of amps of power, which is going right into the batteries!

 

First spring flight to North Knife Lake Lodge in 2014

Springtime at North Knife Lake

Springtime at North Knife Lake

by Doug Webber

Well, the first 24 hours were pretty exciting. I landed on the ice at 5 p.m. in 25˚ C temperatures. Yes, the ice is still right up to the shore. I parked 30 meters off the end of the dock.

The first thing I noticed was the massive amount of fallen trees, mostly tops. There must have been a big ice storm in late winter or early spring. Next were wolf and bear tracks, and it soon became evident that Mr. Bruin had been busy.

Several screens were compromised and a bunch of stuff at the back porch was “rearranged.” I did a quick check inside the Lodge and found nothing amiss, but I did have three voles and a squirrel that paid the ultimate price for breaking and entering.

As I was checking out the tree damage from the upper deck of the Lodge, a bit of movement near the shop caught my eye. I’m sure it was the same momma wolf from last year checking the place out. Looking for a handout maybe? She may have caught sight of me, as she soon disappeared into the trees and that was the last I saw of her.

Half an hour later as I was preparing supper and noticed a black bear coming down the path from the shop. I had put some goose carcasses out for the momma wolf and the young freeloader was coming in for a bit.

I grabbed the shotgun and fired a couple of scare cartridges his way. He took off as if all the spooks in Hades were on his tail! I’ve got a hunch it was the same juvenile delinquent that trashed the Lodge. If he comes back again, he’ll make a nice rug!

The next morning I took a hike out to the runway with my faithful bucksaw and cut up over a dozen trees that had blown down across the road. There was very little erosion damage on the runway and it looked pretty well the same as it did when I left last fall. There were a lot of moose signs (both tracks and nuggets) up and down the runway, including two sheds from two different bulls.

I had placed a salt lick out at the runway hoping to attract moose, but from all the wolf scat around it, it looks like the wolves have taken it over. Quite a few bear tracks were intermingled with the wolf tracks. They appeared to be about the same size as the ones around the Lodge.

A Peregrine Falcon flew over to check me out as I walked to the creek to see if any ice was left. Only a little back bay by the beaver house had ice on it and it was open almost right to the lake. Pike fishing will be just great!

There were a couple of Canada geese nesting nearby as well as mergansers, mallards, and a few other species I didn’t get a good look at. There were also a couple of different warblers, as well as an army of yellow-shafted Flickers around the Lodge. It seems the Flickers like our accommodations too!

Well, after that epistle, I am all rested up again, so I’m off to haul some more “stuff” up from the airplane and get rid of a few more trees. Looking forward to our first guests of the season at North Knife Lake Lodge!

Have a nice weekend!

Living off the land at North Knife Lake

Reimer and Webber Family - Enjoying life in the north!

Family time in the North!

by Mike Reimer

The Reimer and Webber families, like most in the North, have spent a lifetime enjoying nature’s bountiful harvest. In our case this includes big game such as moose and caribou, several species of freshwater fish, as well as a variety of wild berries used to complement these delicacies.

Our version of Saturday afternoon grocery shopping does not mean driving to the mall in a minivan, but rather involves a snowmobile, a boat or good old foot power. There is no healthier more satisfying way to put food on the table than harvesting fish, game and berries for the winter while immersing yourself in God’s wonderful creation. And of course, there is no such thing as a bad day of hunting or fishing. Sure, the wind might be blowing the rain sideways at 60 km an hour or whipping the snow into a windchill of -50°C, but that can be exhilarating!

We have had many great outdoor adventures over the years with friends and family, highlighted by the exceptional top-of-mind experiences that most often involve our children. Several, okay many, years ago (yikes!), we decided to spend a family Christmas at our remote fishing lodge on North Knife Lake.

It was a beautiful experience highlighted by wolves howling at night to the Northern Lights, hauling northern pike in through 5-foot thick ice, enjoying fireside chats, sliding down the esker in -40°C, dream watching roaring fires in the Lodge fireplace, and bathing kids in the metal wash tub!

And just when we thought nothing more could be added to this idyllic setting, the caribou migration showed up. This was too good to be true, and soon our oldest daughter Rebecca, who was 10 years old at the time, started bugging Dad to let her “catch” a caribou. We were not going to let all that fresh meat just walk on by!

Father and daughter slipped out the cabin door early the next morning and quietly trekked through the snowdrifts down to the lakeshore. For several minutes we sat snug in our goose down parkas watching a long line of caribou file across the ice, their ankles clicking loudly in the frigid morning air. It wasn’t long before a shot rang out from the rifle of our young huntress and one of the caribou stepped out of line and fell to the ice.

The sound of the rifle brought sisters Karli and Allison and Mom Jeanne dragging little Adam on a sled down to the shore, where we soon had a roaring fire of driftwood warming frozen fingers. The next couple of hours were spent on those rare teachable moments you sometimes get with your kids. Each part of the skinning and butchering process was carefully analyzed and discussed in much detail, while choice bits of caribou sizzled on sticks over the open fire.

Outdoor life, as good as it gets!

Goose Stew with Cheese Biscuits for crisp fall evenings and cold winter nights

Bubbly hot stew for those cool fall evenings or cold winter nights. Goose Stew on page 22 of Black Currants & Caribou and Cheese Biscuits on page 49 of Blueberries & Polar Bears, by Helen Webber & Marie Woolsey.

Goose Stew with Cheese Biscuits - Black Currants & Caribou

Goose Stew with Cheese Biscuits!

Goose Stew Ingredients:

  • 10 goose breasts, cut in chunks, (if you are using Canada Geese 6 breasts should be enough)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup (250 mL) dry red wine
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) salt
  • 1 tbsp. (15 mL) Dymond Lake Seasoning (DSL) OR 1 tsp. (5 mL) seasoned salt, 1 tsp. (5 mL) seasoned pepper
  • 6 cups (1.5 L) beef stock (and water to cover)
  • 3 cups (750 mL) sliced carrots
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery
  • 5 cups (1.25 L) diced potatoes
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) flour
  • ½ cup (120 mL) cold water

Goose Stew Directions:

  1. Combine the goose, onion, garlic, bay leaves, red wine, salt, DLS, and beef stock in a large pot and simmer until the meat is tender, 2-4 hours. Add water to cover as needed.
  2. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes to the meat mixture in the pot; return to boil and simmer until the vegetables are just barely tender, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  3. Thicken the stew with paste made by adding the ¼ cup (60 mL) of flour to ½ cup (125 mL) of cold water.

Serves 6-8.

Cheese Biscuits Ingredients:

Occasionally, you want a change from traditional tea biscuits. A hint of cheese gives a tasty alternative. These drop biscuits are ideal for the busy cook.

  • 2 cups (500 mL) flour
  • 4 tsp. (20 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp. (2 mL) salt
  • ¾ cup (175 mL) butter OR margarine
  • 2 cups (500 mL) finely grated cheese*
  • 1cup (250 ML) water

Cheese Biscuits Directions:

  1. Put flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Add butter and cut in with pastry blender until fairly well blended. Small lumps are alright.
  2. Add cheese and stir in with fork, carefully separating any cheese that has lumped together.
  3. Add water all at once and stir with a fork just until blended.
  4. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons (about 25 mL) on to an ungreased baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10-12 minutes. Jagged peaks on the tops of the biscuits will be browned. Remove the biscuits from the tray immediately.

Makes 15 large biscuits.

SERVING SUGGESTION: Serve warm for an evening snack or to accompany a light lunch. Or with goose stew :)

*Use Cheddar or Mozzarella or a mixture or experiment with any hard cheese. Cheese should be only loosely packed when measuring.