Sometimes we just get lucky.
My visit from Lady Luck occurred this past October, when I was fortunate enough to journey northwards for a Newfoundland moose hunt. The purpose of my trip was to test the exciting new Mossberg MVP bolt-action rifle in .308 Win., which utilizes detachable M14 magazines. Scheduled for release midway through 2013, this sweet rifle extends the supremely popular MVP series into the big game arena.
To save you the suspense, the rifle worked splendidly. The hunt was booked with Mt. Peyton Outfitters, located near Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland. Assuming you’re tough enough to handle Newfoundland’s most difficult tasks—walking through abundant bogs, traversing roads rough enough to strand an M1 Abrams tank and grasping the wonderfully distinct Newfie accent—then you can probably handle the toughest challenge of all: departing this wonderful island and its exceptional residents. Newfoundland will likely go down as your greatest hunting adventure yet.
Beg your pardon?
On paper, we share the same language. Yet that doesn’t necessarily mean we speak the same language. To put it mildly, understanding the Newfies can be challenging. Their accent—thick, rich and certainly fascinating—sounds a bit like a drunken Irishman speaking fluent Newfinese, for lack of a better description.
Prior to my departure, my cousin Blake warned me of the difficulties of understanding the island’s speech pattern. OK, I thought. No big deal. I soon found out he was spot on. The Newfies speak in a way that sounds like a simultaneous jumble of Mandarin, Portuguese and English, all delivered without the slightest pause between words. It’s entertaining and surprising, considering Newfoundland lies just 400 miles northeast of Maine.
However, I must be fair and say not all locals are difficult to understand. When they consciously work on speaking slowly, the words flow more like an ambling brook than Niagara Falls. But when they get excited or exchange words with a fellow Newfie, sit back and enjoy the most colorful accent in North America. I’m not kidding; entire sentences will transpire without you deciphering a single word. Not even one!
As you’re probably aware, “The Rock”—as Newfoundland is known locally—is dotted with ample bogs that cover the island like amphibious meadows. They look at first glance like any other meadow you’ve seen, the type in which Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie might gallop and twirl. Set foot upon one, however, and you quickly realize they are a bit less inviting.
Picture shallow lakes covered with a spongy, grassy surface. While moose buoy across this mushy terrain with deceptive ease on humongous, splayed hooves, rambling over bogs on two legs is a more arduous and disheartening affair—similar but much worse than walking on loose sand. Bring comfortable and waterproof hiking boots—I chose Kenetreks—because most steps sink six inches into the murky fluid before bottoming out.
In addition to the cool sound each wet stride produces, you never know when your next step might be a doozy. Instead of a flat surface that dips where you step—like a trampoline set in shallow water—Newfoundland bogs are more Swiss cheese-patterned, with deep fissures lurking like aquatic potholes to catch you by surprise with a sudden knee- or crotch-deep plunge.
Unsettling when it happens to you, the whole spectacle is fairly comical to watch. It helps take your mind off your burning thighs and soaking wet feet, especially when your guide is climbing out of a soggy burrow with a look of mild annoyance on his face.
As difficult as bog walking is—and trust me, it’s a bitch—it doesn’t hold a candle to touring Newfoundland’s vast network of “trails” on four-wheelers. Once built to transport vast stands of timber to bustling mills located on the coast, these paths are now dilapidated and littered with boulders. They are, without a doubt, the most rugged roads I’ve ever traveled.
With gravel the size of bowling balls and natural guardrails of tenacious, face-slapping alder, these roads are simply brutal. Over the five days of my hunt, we bounced and shuddered, hurdled and lurched over 100 miles of trail. Patrolling these game-rich areas perched behind your guide on a gyrating quad is akin to riding a mechanical bull for the duration of Gone with the Wind.
In fact, I wouldn’t doubt this was a critical component of the abdominal workout for the movie 300. And I must point out that I’m young and don’t complain about rough roads—well, I don’t complain much. Nevertheless, these masochistic rides are well worth the aching abs, just as Newfoundland’s scenic grandeur is worth every arduous thump. As a bonus, even if you don’t get a moose, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll leave the island with a Jean-Claude Van Damme-like midsection, which is sure to drive the ladies back home wild!
You’d think after all the challenges you’ve faced at this point on your trip, leaving the island would give you that peaceful, easy feeling. Wrong. Incredible hunting in spectacular country has a way of grasping you and coaxing you to stay just a bit longer. The fact that you’re about to leave newfound friendship doesn’t help either. All of it makes hopping on a jet a difficult task.
I can’t say the hunting is easy—and you will earn every opportunity at a moose—but that’s what makes hunting special and difficult endeavors so rewarding. I earned my beautiful bull—a 46 incher with good paddles and a humungous body—on the last day of the hunt. My Mossberg MVP fired twice—bang, bang! Two hits from Winchester’s 168-grain Supreme E-Tip tipped him over for good. I was speechless. If it wasn’t the most triumphant moment in my hunting career, it was darn close. Right before boarding my plane, I shook my guide and outfitter’s hands, thanked them profusely, and said the truest words I’ve ever spoken: “I’ll see ya soon, boys.”
And I will—just as soon as I can.