Monthly Archives: September 2013

The study of Caribou patterns in North Western Ontario

Tracking the travels of the elusive Woodland Caribou in the English River Forest

This improved understanding will help the ministry develop resource management practices that will minimize the impact of human development and resource use on caribou.

It is a relatively unknown fact that the Woodland Caribou once thrived in the Wawang area.  Herds lived freely and well fed on the abundance of lichen in the surrounding area.  In the last century, due to logging, hunting and forest fires, the population not only migrated but was also put at serious risk.

In 2012, the Woodland Caribou was escalated from the Species at Risk list to the Endangered Species list in our area.  With the stringent management and extensive research taking place, the Ministry biologists suspect that it may be slow but the Woodland Caribou will eventually once again become prolific in the English River Forest which encompasses Wawang Lake.

With such rarity, it was a real treat to see on right on our very own beach….what a majestic creature!

If you’re not familiar with northern forests, it would be easy to think that forest-dwelling woodland caribou are more or less on their own in these woodlands. But caribou share the landscape with many other species – including other large mammals.

The program is researching ways to maintain healthy caribou populations in the province. Since 2010, program researchers have fit more than 190 caribou with collars that transmit information about their location and movement behaviour in three large study areas. Their objective is to sample animals in relatively undeveloped landscapes, as well as in more disturbed and developed areas, to collect information on how survival, reproduction, habitat selection and movement patterns are affected by human influences. They plan to analyze this information to develop a better understanding of the factors that influence woodland caribou persistence. This improved understanding will help the ministry develop resource management practices that will minimize the impact of human development and resource use on caribou.

A shed radio transmitter collar used to track the movement and behavior of the Woodland Caribou

A shed radio transmitter collar used to track the movement and behavior of the Woodland Caribou

The Northern Mammal Ecology Program at the Ministry of Natural Resources Center for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research studies caribou, wolves and moose to learn what determines the density and distribution of these mammals on the northern Ontario landscape.

The abundance of other large prey species (e.g., moose) and predators (e.g., wolves) on the landscape are believed to influence the caribou density. When intact forests are affected by development or resource extraction activities, these disturbances may cause changes in the abundance, behaviour and the amount of habitat available for species like moose and wolves. These changes have the potential to have a negative impact on caribou density and persistence.

To gain a better understanding of how predators and other prey species might be affecting caribou, researchers are also collecting information on the distribution, density and behaviour of these other species. For example, more than 45 wolves have been fitted with collars that transmit information about their location and movements. These collars have been placed on animals that inhabit the same three study areas as the collared caribou. Information collected focuses on the types of habitat (e.g., forest types, landscape features) that wolves inhabit and travel through, the prey species they eat, and the characteristics of the locations where they catch their prey.

The collared movement data for the caribou in North W

The collared movement data for the caribou in Northwestern Ontario


Researchers have also conducted aerial surveys within the study areas to calculate moose densities and identify the characteristics of locations with relatively high and low moose densities. They are also examining historic information gathered from moose collared in other areas of northern Ontario, to develop a more detailed understanding of how moose respond to different types of forestry practices.

This holistic approach to caribou research – which focuses on the species they interact with, as well as caribou themselves – should provide some important insights into caribou ecology that will help the ministry develop effective caribou conservation measures.

In time, it will become more and more common to spot these animals on your visits up to Wawang Lake….stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled!

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Posted by on September 29, 2013 in caribou, Wawang Lake Resort


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In a Rut: Call ahead

We all know that moose season in Ontario is just about to get fully underway and in anticipation of this event, I have located a fantastic article on the importance of the call.

The call is an often misunderstood and misused hunting necessity that can be the determining factor between success and an empty freezer.  Take some time to check out the article below, originally posted by The North American Sportsman page.  Also check out the other various informative articles they provide 🙂

The Rut & The Art Of Calling

During the first part of September, the rutting season begins. The rut generally starts about the time leaves turn color and may last from a month to six weeks. Both sexes become extremely active, travelling far more than at any other time of year. The bull shakes off his easy going ways and starts to roam outside his home territory. Instead of being a lethargic, detached creature, he is suddenly deranged by the urge to reproduce.

Prior to the rut the velvet is rubbed from their antlers, turning them into gleaming weapons. Once the rut has begun, this animal becomes stately and arrogant — with a very short temper. Anything, including hunters, that gets in his way is fair game.

A sexually active bull will travel far and wide in search of cows. Where normally he would quietly retire, he now becomes a beast with a mission; crashing through timber grunting challenges to all. He may fight, but it will invariably be with a bull of similar stature. A young bull often hangs around a more mature bull who has already collected a cow. He’ll keep his distance and will run off if seriously challenged. The transformation that takes place during the rut is a big help to hunters — it keeps bull’s on the move and lowers their usual guard.

evenly matched bulls, eye-to-eyeBull moose are content to stay with one cow at a time. Unlike breeding elk, which collect a harem, bull moose locate a receptive cow, stay with her a few days then move on. Bulls will service as many willing cows as they can find. By the end of the rut he is spent, thin, and bedraggled. He has fed very little in the last 4 to 6 weeks and now must start to diligently feed. Fat must be put on for the winter ahead.

Both sexes are excessively vocal during this cycle in their year. The sawing wail of the cow and the deep, croaking grunt of the bull indicate the seriousness of their intentions. What the hunter attempts to do is imitate these sounds.

During the rut, moose are often hunted by artificial calling. The most common form is comparable to bugling for elk. A horn constructed of birch bark, a commercial call or even something as simple as the cupped hands are generally used to imitate the bawling call of the cow or the grunt of a bull. Even a large plastic bottle (1 gallon or more) with the top cut off and a 3 foot long shoelace placed hanging through a small hole drilled in the bottom works well. The shoelace is wetted and slowly pulled through the fingers. With practice, this call has a reasonable resemblance to a cow’s rasping call. Whatever method you choose can be effective if done right.

two different types of moose callsGood areas for calling are just inside the edges of brush or timber around lake shores and from low, timbered areas leading toward meadows and bogs. Locate a wallow if you can. This is mud dug up by the front hoofs of a rutting bull to a depth of up to half-a-foot and can be several feet in diameter. The bull urinates in it, then wallows in the reeking mess. Sit hunched down in a concealed stand and grunt or bawl with the instrument you’re using. Wait a few minutes and try again. Try for an authentic sound that would be irresistible to any bull within hearing distance.

Another form of calling is to dump a hatful of water into a lake at late evening. At a slow dribble, this noise approximates the sound of a cow urinating — a noise that a rut-crazed bull cannot resist. On a calm day this sound will carry far. With this form of calling, the inexperienced “caller” is probably as accomplished as the veteran. We bring up this method of calling to point out that even unconventional calls can bring in an interested bull.

a calling bullThroughout moose range, calling works relatively well during the rut. To learn the proper sounds of rutting moose, invest in a commercial recording. Spend the time necessary to practice and perfect this “art” form. Few moose hunters are naturally adept at calling and if not done right, you may arouse suspicion rather than eagerness in a listening bull.

The majority of moose hunters are guided. If you fall in this category, it’s likely best to leave the calling to an experienced guide. Your guide will know the time, the probable places, and the circumstances under which calling will work. Done right, there is no bigger thrill than a love-sick bull charging in to your waiting rifle.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in hunting, moose, Wawang Lake Resort


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Bird Brained: Time for a classy dish

Most people don’t know that grouse is considered a fine delicacy around the world.  Below is a savoury recipe that is guaranteed to please 🙂

The Duchess of Devonshire’s Grouse with Rice & Horseradish Cream Sauce



3 grouse
1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celer, 1 bay leaf
Chicken stock
6 rashers of streaky bacon
6 to 8 shallots
Spring onions
Horseradish cream
Basmati rice and a handful of wild rice

-Fillet the two breasts of each grouse and put to one side.
-Sauté 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery (chopped fine) and a bay leaf. When tinted at the edges add the carcasses and enough water to cover the birds. Homemade chicken stock would be preferable but a good chicken stock cube will do equally well.
-Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour, then sieve and return the liquid to the pan and boil rapidly until reduced by half. Put aside.
-Wrap 2 rashers of streaky bacon around each fillet and sear in butter until brown both sides.
-Take 6 to 8 shallots. Slice, and then brown in some butter in a deepish frying pan. When cooked add some stock, and carry on cooking until reduced slightly. Add the grouse breasts and keep turning in the liquid for approximately 4 minutes.
-When cooked, take the breasts out and keep warm.
-Add horseradish cream to your taste, and more stock as needed. Boil to slightly thicken it, pour over the grouse breasts and serve with the rices.

Serve and enjoy!

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in grouse, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort


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In A Rut: Moose Stir Fry

Moose season is almost upon us!  Below is a fantastic idea for a new game dish!



This delicious moose dish is low in fat. The amount of each ingredient is proportional to how many people you’re serving. Using half a pound of moose, as this recipe does, makes two large servings.


  • 1/2 lb moose steak
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup celery
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Cooked noodles (excluding seasoning packet)


  1. Slice steaks cross grain and marinade in soy sauce for one day. Throw a little oil into a hot wok to avoid sticking. Stir in moose for about 1 minute.
  2. Add other ingredients, including seasoning, stirring frequently. Add additional soy sauce to coat all ingredients.
  3. Stir in noodles and serve immediately.

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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in moose, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort


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Bird Brained: Opening Week bring BIG success!

So Paul, Rod, Katie, Denise, Adam and little Boone descended on Wawang with the hopes of garnering a dual hunting/fishing vacation….disappointment was not an option!

It was opener of the grouse season and Boone was ready to rock.  Paul, Katie and Rod hit the gravel for a morning of birding with fantastic success!  Both men bagged their limits spotting several large coveys!  Boone was in her element bringing back each bird with excitement and pride.

Adding to the hunt, the group hit Wawang Lake for some hot trophy fishing action…Paul landing a 40″ northern for his efforts!  The group collectively landed their limits as well as 7 trophies!

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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in grouse, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort


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Grin and Bear it: The wait

Each season we spend several hundred hours planning, baiting and preparing our hunters for the prospect of harvesting a bear.  Each season we meet new hunters that are ready and eager to harvest that said bear and every season we meet some that are in for a wait.

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Understanding that bear are as individual as people will give a hunter more perspective into what to expect.  I have commonly met new hunters that assume that just because there has been food placed daily for a couple of weeks ahead of time daily, that predicting when a large sow or boar will come in to take and they will go and sit for that time……WRONG!

Being that our baits generally carry multiples, the pattern of ‘hits’ (baits being opened and emptied) can vary.  Smaller bear can come in and hijack a small mouthful in an attempt to get a treat before the larger, more dominant animal appears.  The larger bear may feed less than daily and come every second or third day and yet another wrench can be thrown in with a travelling sow and cub or cubs.  That sow and cub(s) can travel the distance of several baits and interrupt many which in turn will throw off any marked pattern that may have been occurring up until this point and leave a hunter scratching his or her head.

Weather is another factor that can throw off the pattern of hit times and during the latter part of August and into September, the wind is prone to several directional changes per day and variations of warm, cool and wet days that can play havoc with a bear’s daily movements.

Pair all of this together and now add the moon phases.  As the moon fills, the night time light becomes more prevalent and allows for easier visibility in those later hours and no hunters in the trees.  With all of these factors stacked against a hunter, it soon becomes apparent that this is still a hunt and outsmarting your prey and putting in your time may be necessary.


Don’t get me wrong, we have had bears taken from baits while stands were still being set in the trees but on the flip side we also get those hunters that take their bear on the last day, last hour and last minute of the hunt.  All factors are variables that play into the outcome of an overall hunt.

The moral is be prepared to sit your stand from as legally early to as legally late as possible.  You are dealing with animals that don’t rely on stats or patterns the way we put weight on them.  These animals need to fill their basic instincts when the time suits them and not when it suits us.

You need to ask yourself before taking on such a challenging hunt….is this bear worth the wait?


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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in black bear, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort


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On Target: How to make your own arrows

While doing some of my own research, I came across a fantastic article for all of you archers out there that have wondered about manufacturing your own arrows.

This article is reproduced from, take some time to check them out 🙂 


Building your own arrows allows you to save about 5 to 1 0 dollars per dozen, but there’s an even better reason for building your own. You can experiment with all the components, with the various fletching styles and shaft sizes until you find the perfect arrow for your bow and your hunting or 3-D shooting requirements.

Building arrows is easy and fun, not to mention the satisfaction you’ll gain from taking game with arrows you’ve crafted yourself. Anyone can do it – and do it well. Armed with only a few basic tools and the information offered here, you’ll have no problem turning raw shafts into top-quality hunting arrows.

Nock Installation

Year’s ago nocks were all glued on, now most arrows offer pressure-fit nocks that fit snugly but are turnable. Tunable nocks are definitely the way to go. These systems will make tuning a lot easier, and they hold up to more hard shooting than will glue-on nocks.

Assuming you aren’t going to paint (crest) your arrows, nock installation is the first step in the arrow building process. Use hot melt glue or epoxy when installing bushings into aluminum. When installing them in (or over) carbon shafts, use a rubber-based epoxy such as that available from Beman or Arizona Archery Enterprises (AAE).

Regular glue-on nocks should be pressed firmly into place (without glue) until after the fletching has been attached. When the arrow is finished you can rotate the nocks to the proper orientation so the fletching clears your rest and then glue them in place. Bohning Fletch- Tite works fine for this.

Apply The Fletching

You need a fletching jig, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ve had good luck with the $20 plastic Martin jig I bought more than 10 years ago. Other good ones are made by Bohning, Bitzenburger and Grayling. You have three clamp options: left helical, right helical and straight

(no helical). For hunting and 3-D shooting, right helical is the most popular choice. If you’ll be using feathers, make sure to order feathers from the same wing as the clamp (right helical takes right wing). Vanes are manufactured straight and can be used with any clamp, so you don’t have to specify left or right when ordering.

One of the best fletching adhesive I’ve used for vanes is Fast-Set Gel made by AAE. This is a super-glue product that sets up in only 10 seconds allowing you to use a single-clamp jig and still fletch a dozen arrows in mere minutes. Fast-Set Gel will work on all shaft styles except AFC’s film-dipped carbon arrows, which require a traditional cement such as Bohning’s Fletch-Tite. Of course, Fletch-Tite will also work on aluminum arrows but takes about 10 minutes per fletching to set-up before you can remove the clamp. Fletch-Tite is still the best choice for feather fletching, however.

Place your fletching in the clamp so that its back edge will be about 3/4 inch ahead of the nock taper or nock bushing on your arrow. Adjust the back of the magnet on your jig (the magnet holds the clamp in place while the glue dries) inward or outward until the tail of the fletching sits squarely on top of the arrow. Next, adjust the forward end of the magnet to achieve the desired amount of helical. Easton’s technical representatives recommend four to five degrees of helical. I use a bit more myself – probably closer to seven degrees – but this is only on large diameter aluminum arrows. On smaller diameter carbon arrows I stay closer to Easton’s standard.

When using a straight clamp, (as opposed to a helical clamp) you don’t have as much lee-way and must either install your fletching perfectly straight or with a very slight off-set.

After your fletching is installed, apply a small dab of adhesive to both ends of each for a little added insurance against tearing loose.

You have more freedom to experiment with your fletching style and degree of helical than with any other aspect of arrow building, but it’s still best to observe a few general ground-rules. When making aluminum arrows for hunting, stick with four to five inch fletching. Five inch is a bit better because (in theory at least) it offers a small amount of added stability which can make a difference when shooting broadheads.

Carbon arrows, because of their smaller diameter, work best with shorter fletching (four inch is a good starting point) or you can run into a contact problem when trying to pass long helical fletching through the narrow gap in your rest. You can also experiment with various fletching orientations, such as 70/110 degree four-fletch, (you make this change by inserting a different indexing template into your fletching jig). But the basic 120 degree, three-fletch will do just fine under almost every shooting situation.

Cutting Arrows To Length
Draw an arrow and have someone mark it about a half to 3/4 inch in front of the rest. Cutting arrows is easy with the right equipment, but with the wrong equipment it can be a real headache. For limited quantities of aluminum arrows you can get by with a small rotating pipe cutter. I’ve done it a few times, but I’ve also made some pretty rough cuts, and basically ruined some arrows, in the process. You’re far better off pooling your money with a couple of buddies and getting an electric cut-off tool. You can also take your arrows to a pro shop (that’s equipped with an electric cut-off tool) to have them sized – usually for a price.

Installing Inserts and Outserts
Inserts and outserts (outserts are used with some types of carbon arrows) shouldn’t be taken for granted. Consistent accuracy with broadheads can be difficult to achieve when these components fit loosely. Inserts and outserts should install without any free-play. Usually you don’t have too many options with outserts – you get what the arrow maker offers – but you do have options with inserts. I’ve had good luck with aluminum inserts from Easton and Saunders and composite inserts from AAE. Inserts should have a light press-fit with the inside of the shaft so that each broadhead you screw in will line up perfectly with the shaft.

Aluminum inserts used in aluminum or ACC carbon arrows should be installed with hot-melt glue. Composite inserts in aluminum work best with a rubber-based epoxy, and the same applies for aluminum into carbon (Beman ICS or Gold Tip Graphite XT arrows) or when installing metal outserts on conventional all-carbon shafts. When you’re finished you can install a broadhead and spin test your arrows to make sure the inserts are properly aligned.

Take some time to visit to view their catalogue of parts and equiptment to assist you in your build.


Armed with the information above, you could now have a weekend hobby 🙂


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Bear Down! Down in 4 hours…time for a dish to celebrate!

bearroastHibernating Bear with Black Magic Sauce
2 – 3 # bear roast (depending on the size of your crock-pot)
Brown well on all sides. Place in crock-pot with a cup or so of water and salt & pepper. Cook on Hi for 3-4 hours.

Turn down to Lo. Add potatoes and carrots in large cubes. Add more water if necessary. Cook another 3-4 hours. Don’t lift the lid any oftener than necessary. Remember, he’s sleeping!

Serve the following on the side or skip the veggies and add to the roast when you turn down the heat. If you decide to add to the roast, don’t add more water to it as you might if you are going to add veggies.

Black Magic Sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 T butter
Add and simmer 4 minutes
1/2 C cabernet
Add and simmer 5 minutes
1 tsp salt
1 – 2 tsp pepper
1/1/2 tsp dry mustard
3 packed T brown sugar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
11/2 T lemon juice
1 C prepared brown gravy


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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in black bear, recipe, Wawang Lake Resort


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Bears down! The bear highway

So as promised, we figured we would share the details of both Dave and Tim’s hunts!

I cant go without saying that this year’s batch of hunters fortitude has been tested over and over.  With weather that seems to be taunting them by cold raining one day and jumping to 80+ degrees and sunny the next, these guys have been putting in the hours and time after time have in most cases been rewarded.

On Saturday, Dave, Tim and Jason made the long drive up from Iowa to try their best to outsmart a couple bruin and get a day or two of fishing in.  Optimism high and clouds beginning to hang low, the stands began to be assembled for the drive to the baits.

Each man had a different weapon but all agreed that failure was not an option.  The first day was a shorter than normal sit of only 4 hours and all were thankful that it was a restful sit as they had a long drive before and had sat long enough 🙂

The men arrived back in camp late after a dark trip through the woods.  Dave was ecstatic to let me know that his bait had proven effective and he had spotted an average sized bear that he had decided to pass on and Tim and Jason both had heard but not spotted activity.

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The next day, the three went out, excitement and weapons in hand.  The weather had cooled down and was determined to hold that mercury low for the day.  The boys had layered and knew it would be a good, long, cool day.  The day wore on for us here at the lodge as we completed one task after another waiting for the telltale early truck arrival signalling a downed bear.  As we waited and watched, the clock ticked on.  The sun had already set and the boys were already 30 minutes passed the expected arrival.  We would give them 30 more minutes before setting out to ‘track’ our hunters.  As the minutes dragged on, I had begun to assemble my gear, ready for the drive out with Terry.

At 11:20 pm, a set of headlights pulled through the trees and the truck slowed to a stop in front of my door.  I emerged to a truck full of smiles, not only had Dave taken his boar of 368lb glory, but Tim had taken his as well!!

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As we iced the bears down for the night, I had the chance to go over the hunt with both hunters, as a returning hunter to Wawang, Dave was so excited to tell me about all the bears he saw on ‘the bear highway’ today.  He couldn’t help but beam when he told me about the sow and cubs that came for two visits that day as well as the mid sizer that came in between.  He said that with all the action on the bait, it was very simple to decipher the size of his boar.  He was clear that it had trumped everything else that had come for a visit and was so proud to share the pictures.  “There were just bear everywhere I looked!” he repeated.


Smiles all around, Tim spoke up about his hunt and was proud of his harvest, though it wasn’t as big a bear as Dave’s, the tell white half chevron of white on the chest that made a winking emoticon made it very simple for me to dub this boy ‘Winky’ .  Both had prime hides and will make for not only fantastic stories but beautiful mounts to be enjoyed for year after year.

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Jason was so proud of both of his hunting buddies and is determined to add to the celebration list so stay tuned!!!

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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in black bear, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort


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Bear Down! Just saw him for a Smidge

There once was a man named Randy
who had harvested some bears that were dandy

He came to Wawang to keep up the trend
but Mother Nature had bested him in the end.

Three days in his stand, weapon in hand steady
he knew he was more than ready

He had one day spotted a monster and and waited
The bear sensed him too and hesitated.

As he ambled on, Randy knew that chance had gone
but soon the hunt would be done.

The next day he spotted a wee bear on the road ridge
who Randy himself knew was just a smidge

As he climbed his stand that final day
All reservations had melted away

A bear was now in his site
looked like it put up no fight.

But as the shot rang out from the ridge,
it caused him to twinge
As he soon came to realize he had taken Smidge!

Sense of humour in hand
we all knew you would be his fan
Smidge and Randy smiled for pictures as only they can!

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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in black bear, hunting, Wawang Lake Resort


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