The first hunt I ever did with my dad was in 1981, he drew Delta Bison, and he shot a super nice bull. We started doing annual hunts in the early 90’s, right after I got out of college. Over the past 25 years we’ve done annual moose hunts, a couple bison hunts and a few caribou hunts up the Denali.
A couple years ago I did what I thought was the last moose hunt with my Dad . It was the hunt where I was “stalked” by a grizzly on three separate occasions, and we finally ended up shooting the big bruin right in camp on the last night of the hunt. I wrote about this several months ago.
Our annual moose hunts are what you would consider extreme logistical hunts. We travel a long way, through extremely rugged conditions, using very rugged means of transportation – in multiple forms. Due to the huge challenges and our equipment, we are able to access virgin areas with no hunting pressure and great game populations.
Well my dad is 74, and diabetic, but fairly fit. This year my younger brother (Californian who hadn’t hunted with us in 14 years) joined our moose parade, along with another family member and a forum member. A week before the hunt I was successful in talking the old man into joining the group for one last hurrah.
Four days into the hunt and I tagged our first moose, a nice bull that went 56 inches and 3x4. One down, one to go. We were seeing lots of animals, several shooter bulls, but nothing really gave the old man an opportunity to tag what would most likely be his last moose. Case in point, I witnessed a 40 inch bull and cow walk a ridge to a mountain top that was darn near 5,000 feet.
We were having extremely warm weather and we are worried about meat spoilage, so we decided to cut our trip short by two days. Don’t worry; the old man quips on our last day, we’ll get something. About 10 am that morning we spot a super nice bull. He’s 3x3 but certainly wide enough. We only get a 10 minute glimpse and he ghosts back into the woods. Oh well, I guess we are down to our last evening he says. Like most areas, we are early morning and late evening hunters, following the typical moose pattern.
About 2:30 Dad decides to take his customary afternoon nap. Looking over the killing fields we notice a cow and calf heading down the trail. Five minutes later I spot a flash of horns. Could it be? Yep, big bull is out and on the move. The cow is leading him to slaughter. I run to roust the old fart out of bed. He quickly dresses and runs down the trail with the other forum member. My family member and I follow them a few minutes later to make sure we have full force in case the bull changes gears and gets off track of the normal trail.
"Urgh", "Urgh", we can hear the bull grunt with each step, on the usual trail, which is 150 yards to our left. Its remarkably similar to the sound of a 74 year old man huffing it down the alder infested trail. Dad gets in position at our customary stump, “urgh” “urgh” continues the bull, heading down the path. He gives us the slip momentarily by taking a higher trial. To the right we see the cow and calf in the opening ~ waiting. The other forum member and I decide to head down the trail further in case he doesn’t present a shot to dad. Just as we’re in place, the bull steps into an opening.
Crack goes the old man’s .308, sending 165 grains of Nosler partition through the bull's boiler room. Another follow-up to the ribs and his bull is down. He measures 57 on the nose and has the biggest bases of any moose I've seen.
I often tell my wife that nobody can rub you the wrong way like family can. My relationship with dad is no different. We are both stubburn mules and we often get on each others nerves. No matter how many times I tell myself to let it go, it always happens on our hunting trips. This trip was no different. But looking back, the time we spend together is very special, and you never appreciate it during the momement.
It was an incredible thrill to be part of this hunt, sharing the experience with my dad and my brother and another forum member who is heck of nice guy. The old man has 60 years of Alaska stories, and every year we hear new ones. I will treasure those stories long after he is gone.
Packing up the last day, with two days of hard work until we are home, my dad tells me “if I’m alive next year, I’ll join you again. I sure hope that is the case. Good Job Dad! You never cease to amaze.