06/19/2019
Mest with black bear
Francis Mest took this beautiful Continental black bear while hunting moose in a Newfoundland.

Editor’s Note: Love real wilderness hunting? Francis D. Mest recently filed this hunt report on a moose adventure that is affordable, challenging and downright fun. Thanks for sharing, Francis!

SCI member Francis D. Mest says his combo moose and black bear hunt in Newfoundland was the hunt of a lifetime. Mest hunted with Bob Efford of Efford’s Hunting Adventures in September 2017. He reports taking a Continental (inland) black bear and an Eastern Canada moose. Although he also wanted a woodland caribou, there were no tags available during his hunt.

Efford’s operates several remote wilderness camps and one drive-in camp. Their drive-to lodge is just northwest of Gander, Newfoundland. The other camps are based near lakes and require bush plane access. Efford’s operates its own commercial air service, called Clarenville Aviation Limited and owns several bush planes used for in their operations.

According to Mest, this is a true wilderness hunt, with hunters flying into “big country” where they must hunt hard in spite of good game populations. He was lucky to shoot his black bear the first day of the hunt from a lookout while glassing for moose. He did not take his mature bull moose until the fifth day of his hunt.

While other guides in camp used electronic moose calls and lured moose into shooting range for their hunters, Mest says his guide manually imitated moose calls and relied on spot-and-stalk methods. “Look-and-walk would be a better way to describe it,” he says. “I shot my moose walking out to the boat after glassing all day and not seeing anything. Always be ready!” He says he would have liked his guide to have used an electronic call and recommends hunters bring their own.

The skull on Mest’s black bear officially scores 19 9/16 and ranks 52 in the Record Book. The hide measures six feet and six inches from nose to tail. His moose has a 36 6/8-inch spread with 17 points and good paddles. It unofficially scores 278 and ranks 130. Larger bulls had been killed the week before in the same camp; two green-measured 41 inches wide. Others were smaller than his moose. Mest says he saw some 50-inchers while glassing, but they were too far away to stalk.

Mest advises that this is not a trophy hunt but an opportunity to take a mature moose. “This hunt is for the guy who wants to kill a bull moose and not spend $19,000 to do it,” he says. He encourages hunters who go on this hunt to shoot the first bull they would be happy taking if it were the last day of their hunt. One of the hunters in camp went home empty-handed, holding out for a 45-incher.

Shots ran from 75 yards to 250. Mest warns that hard rifle cases cannot be taken on the bush plane and that hunters should sight-in their rifles upon arriving at camp. He says his scope was bumped on the plane and had him shooting 13 inches high. “If not for my guide telling me to shoot lower, I would have not gotten my bear,” he says.

mest with moose
Mest says this moose hunt gives hunters an opportunity to take a mature bull moose in real wilderness without breaking the bank.

He warns that weather can be problematic here. He lost half a day of hunting on two different days due to fog, and another full day due to heavy rain. The guides would not hunt in fog for fear of getting lost, and Mest suggests bringing a handheld GPS to mitigate that problem. He also points out that the area is boggy, making the walking “tough.” He says a good pair of industrial quality rubber boots are a must here, and he recommends good quality shooting sticks, which he used for walking and glassing as well as shooting.

Accommodations were in a wilderness log cabin that Mest describes as very comfortable, featuring an indoor bathroom with hot and cold running water, generator power for lights and propane gas kitchen appliances. A wood stove provided heat. He says the cook was very good, and he gives him a 9 out of a 10 star rating.

He says Efford runs a good operation, despite a problem that caused a shortage of guides at the beginning of the hunt. Mest says there were four hunters and only three guides. “They made it up to the two hunters who had to share a guide. One of them shot his bull on the first day. The other passed on five bulls and went home empty-handed.”

Overall, Mest is happy with his experience. “I work for my money and this was the best hunt I have ever been on,” he says. “Efford gave me a good hunt opportunity at the camp I was in. The bear was a bonus. I would hunt with him again!”

Postscript: According to Efford, his camps typically produce moose from 30 to 40 inches wide.  His fly-in hunts for six hunting days run $5,850 and include guiding, meals, transportation to and from airport or hotel, floatplane to and from hunt area, trophy and meat preparation, plus boxing for shipment home. His five-day ground accessed lodge hunt is $3,900. 

He also offers a limited number of trophy moose hunts that he says have produced moose from 43 to 59 inches. This hunt is done from wall tent camps with few to no amenities, is in rugged terrain and physically demanding. This adventure goes for $9,000.

These hunts take place from mid-September to the end of November, depending on the package selected. Efford’s Hunting Adventures is an SCI convention exhibitor. Interested hunters can check out the company website at effordshunting.nf.ca or call 709-543-2274.--Barbara Crown

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