Moose are not native to Newfoundland and Labrador. They’re actually an introduced species (The story of how Moose were Introduced to Newfoundland is surprisingly fascinating). Approximately 115 years ago in 1904 Moose were first introduced to the island of Newfoundland when just two breeding pairs were brought from the mainland and set loose close to the town of Howley in Western Newfoundland near the community of Deer Lake. The introduced moose were originally captured in New Brunswick and brought over to Newfoundland by boat.
Since their introduction, moose have thrived on the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador. The lack of natural predators combined with an abundance of food helped the moose population explode and thrive. The development of the forestry, and in particular clear-cutting, further helped Newfoundland’s moose population explode since moose thrive in second-growth forests, a byproduct of forestry and clearcutting. Just 25 years after the first introduction of these two moose breeding pairs, Newfoundland opened its first moose hunting season.
Getting a moose in the fall during the moose hunting season is a tradition for locals in Newfoundland and many participate in the sustainable moose hunt. A moose is a large animal, with some adult males weighing over 700 kilograms. A successful moose hunt will often provide meat for an entire family for the better part of a year, a big deal for anyone and a necessity during pre-confederation Newfoundland when most locals relied heavily on subsisting off the land and sea. Back then people didn’t have a lot of money, but high-quality food like moose, cod, and berries were in no short supply.
Compared with beef, hunting a moose not only provides a huge cost savings, but the quality is also second to none. These days, standard beef comes from a feedlot where cows are fed a diet of corn and antibiotics. Unless you’re spending a premium on grass-fed organic beef, eating a steak from your local grocery store means you’re also eating a lot of pesticides that get concentrated in fat from the cow eating a diet of low-quality production feedlot corn, along with the stress hormones and antibiotics that are pumped into these animals to help them survive the less than ideal living conditions cows have to put up with in commercial feedlots. It’s no mystery large scale commercially produced meat is of lower quality than wild game subsisting on a natural foraged diet, and that means choosing moose that spent its life eating organic food in the wild forests of Newfoundland is not only tastier than factory meat but also way healthier.
With a population of over 125,000 moose, the island of Newfoundland boasts the largest concentration of moose in the world. It’s a great place for moose to live, and it’s also one of the best places to go moose hunting. Globally, big game hunters don’t have huge success rates, but in Newfoundland more than three out of four hunts end up successful, making Newfoundland one of the easiest places to bag a moose during moose hunting season.
With the moose population continuing to explode, the province of Newfoundland has been issuing progressively more yearly moose licenses with the 2019 moose hunting season seeing close to 30,000 moose hunting licenses issued. That’s a lot of meat.
Traditionally in Newfoundland, it’s been against the law to buy or sell moose. You could hunt and kill a moose for your own consumption and it was legal to give part of your kill away to friends and family, but it was strictly prohibited to sell moose meat commercially. Recently, however, special licenses have been issued to allow certain businesses and processors to buy moose meat from hunters, process it, and sell it to the public. Allowing people to buy moose has been a real game-changer in Newfoundland since not everyone hunts or has access to a friend or relative that’s willing to give them moose meat. It’s increased the access the general public has to the high quality and tasty meat, but depending on how it’s processed, you may not be getting a product that’s as healthy as you think.
You can buy moose steaks and roasts, which are just pure moose meat, and one of the healthiest choices, but you can also buy things like moose pepperoni, moose sausages, and even moose bologna. When you get into the more processed products, like bologna, even though the prime ingredient is moose meat, depending on where you get it from, there may be other surprise ingredients in the meat that may seriously limit the health benefits people seak when choosing moose meat over commercially farmed meat like pork or beef. If you’re at all health-conscious, understanding the ingredients is important when buying a processed product like moose bologna since not all bologna is produced equally.
Some producers of moose bologna and sausages pay a lot of attention to ingredients, using all-natural and sometimes all organic ingredients. Other processors may mix in lots of nasty things like nitrates, sodium erythorbate, artificial flavor, and MSG, taking a lot of the healthy out of moose meat. Often times things like moose bologna, moose salami, and moose pepperoni are made with a blend of other commercially sourced meats, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors that are known to be unhealthy and sometimes even carcinogenic. So be fairly warned, just because one of the ingredients is wild moose meat doesn’t mean there isn’t other unhealthy stuff mixed into the products you’re buying. All commercially produced processed meat will have an ingredients list printed on the label, so be sure to pull out your magnifying glass and read up on what your processed moose meat is made of before you decide to buy it or put it in your body. There are a lot of options out there and some are better than others.
If you really want to have control over what you’re eating, it’s not that complex to make your own bologna or sausages with all-natural ingredients. If you’re a little adventurous with cooking and want to try your luck at making your own all-natural moose bologna, here is a recipe that you’re sure to love:
Moose Bologna Recipe
- 3 pounds ground moose meat
- 1 cup ice-cold water
- 1 tbsp salt (use Newfoundland sea salt for the best flavor)
- 1 Tbsp raw organic sugar
- 1 Tsp natural liquid smoke
- 2 Tbsp minced organic garlic
- 2 Tbsp minced white onion
In a big bowl mix together all the ingredients
Put all the ingredients into the freezer for 15 min to make them super cold without letting them actually freeze
Take out the cold mush out of the freezer and roll it into two equally sized logs
Wrap up each log tightly in plastic wrap and tie each end tightly so that it looks like a giant thick sausage.
Put the logs into the refrigerator and leave them there to settle for 24 to 48 hours
Fire up the oven to 325°F
Take the logs of cold compressed moose meat out of the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and put them on a baking sheet inside the oven.
Bake the moose bologna for 30 min, flipping the moose bologna rolls halfway through to ensure they cook evenly
After 30 min, turn down the oven to 225° F and bake for an additional 1 hour and 45 min.
Remove from the oven, let it chill to room temperature, and then store in the refrigerator for a max of three days before freezing what you have not consumed.
To cut the moose bologna, use a sharp knife (we prefer to use a ceramic blade) and be sure the moose bologna has chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 min before slicing to make slicing the moose bologna easier.
There are many ways to enjoy moose and you can find countless recipes on the internet so feel free to experiment and enjoy. Moose meat is a great alternative to beef and is almost always a crowd-pleaser. Bon Appetit!
What’s you’re favorite way to eat moose? Post in the comments below or share your favorite recipe so that we can all enjoy it as much as you do.