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Thread: Muskox Adventure 2012

  1. #1
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default Muskox Adventure 2012

    I have been wanting to go on a Muskox trip since I got to Alaska and have been putting in for the draws in hopes of getting a permit before my tour up here is complete. After finding out most of the opportunities to hunt them next year via registration and drawing would be limited I decided to pull the trigger and register to hunt unit 22E out of Shishmaref while I still had an opportunity. After a few phone calls I found a guy named Dennis in Shishmaref that would rent me a snow machine with a sled and lodging in a place he was building next to his house. I checked the weather up there for weeks leading up to the hunt and given it was averaging -30 to -40 degrees my hunting partner Chris and I prepped for a very cold adventure!

    When we arrived we were not only greeted by dennis, but warm 10 degree weather and a forecast of nice weather all week. The bad news was that the warmer weather had caused overflows to come up through the ice and Dennis was wary that we would be able to navigate the slushy overflows to get to the hills where we would be hunting. He also informed us that his place was not quite ready and that the principal of their local school was going to let up sleep in the English class for the next two days while the workers were finishing up. Right off the bat this trip was turning into an interesting adventure and we were eager for what the next morning would bring. Here is a picture of our lodging the first two nights, Chris said is best when he told the principal “well I cant say this is my first time sleeping in English class, just never overnight!”
    065.jpg

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Our first morning of hunting started with Dennis giving us an orientation of the snow mobile and some tips for navigating around the ice overflow. Over night the overflow had grown very large and stretched around the island as far as the eye could see. We could tell Dennis was alittle nervous about us heading out but we assured him we would not take any unnecessary risks on his machine and that we would turn around if we could not find a safe route to the hills. We took off with Chris driving the machine and myself riding in the sled and spent the next 4 hours cruising next to the overflow trying to find an opening onto land. It became very disheartening to be so close to land and not be able to get onto it. We continued to press on further and further from town until we found one bridge of snow about 75 yards wide that we could get over and up into the hills. After all the worry that we might have come all this way and not even be able to hunt, we were finally on top of the first ridge of land high fiving and all smiles. Within 20 minutes we had found our first group of Muskox which held 22 animals and three of them being mature bulls. We decided I would go after the herd bull and Chris would go after one of the other two mature bulls if given the chance. Over the next three hours we attempted to get within range of the herd so I could get a close shot with my 50 cal muzzleloader and Chris with his 30/30 lever rifle. All in all we blew 5 different stalks and could never get close without them detecting us, grouping up and taking off. I was under the impression this would be an easy hunt and that the animals would just group up and stare at us, giving us the opportunity to get close and pick one off. Well these animals just would not give us that opportunity so with sunset approaching we decided to call it a night and head back to town.
    After a short ride Chris had navigated the snow machine back to our bridge and we were shocked to find the overflow had engulfed it and we saw nothing but a slushy river as far as we could see. With darkness approaching we sped away further and further trying to find another bridge before we turned off the engine and decided to call Dennis on the sat phone for his advice. Dennis told us of a cabin that we could stay in for the night that was about 4 miles away from us and that we could find another way around the overflow in the morning. We took off toward the cabin and were only about a mile away when we found another bridge to get over the slush. We were then able to navigate back through the night following our trackline on the GPS back to town. That night the temperature had dropped down pretty low giving us confidence that the overflow would stop advancing and we would be able to get back into the hunting area. Here are some pictures of the overflow and the first herd we saw.
    068.jpg074.jpg

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    Member ergoman's Avatar
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    Now I'm stuck here waiting the story, sounds great so far....

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Another picture of the herd...076.jpg

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    The second morning of hunting started off very smooth with us navigating the overflow and getting back over the bridge from the night before fairly quickly. Once up in the hills we tried to find a different group of Ox and after an hour of riding and glassing with no luck we decided to head back towards the group we had seen the day before and give them another try. We located the group in a better position for a stalk and were able to get within range and get two bulls down on the first attempt. After a few pictures and a celebratory cigar we got to work quartering the animals. When we got back to town Dennis congratulated us and told us his place was ready to move in. We took care of the meat in his garage and spent two more nights relaxing in Shishmaref before heading into Nome. The lodging and equipment we rented from Dennis were quality and at a very fair price because he doesn’t take advantage of people like some in remote places would. I cant say enough about the hospitality we received from Dennis and all the nice people in Shishmaref, what a truly amazing experience. Here are a few more pictures.
    082.jpg079.jpg

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    A few last pictures....086.jpg095.jpg

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Good to hear some info on Shish, my son and friend got there this past Friday evening and was supposed to be met by their guide and start their hunt Saturday. As of yesterday there had been no contact by the guide but hopefully he's has finally shown up.

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    Member ergoman's Avatar
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    What does the meat taste like? Great job!

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    Member bigcox's Avatar
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    Awesome Photos and Story! I've had some Musk Ox from my brother, I must say it is pretty dang good. He did up some hunter stix with Jalepeno or Olives, it tasted great!
    You know your not catching any fish when you start talking about the weather...


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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    King, we saw the guide once while we were there taking a few clients out to his cabin. By that point we were already done hunting and we didnt see him again, but there is always the possibility he got stuck because of the overflow. Thats alot of money for your boy to drop for this hunt, hopefully the guide makes it right. The meat tastes great, I'm very impressed. Its funny because alot of the locals told us they didnt care for it, I guess we just acquire different tastes.

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    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    Swimmer, Congrats on a great Ox hunt... seems like you got 'em all now for Alaska, thanks for sharing the story, always liked reading your stuff...

    Chuck

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    King, we saw the guide once while we were there taking a few clients out to his cabin. By that point we were already done hunting and we didnt see him again, but there is always the possibility he got stuck because of the overflow. Thats alot of money for your boy to drop for this hunt, hopefully the guide makes it right. The meat tastes great, I'm very impressed. Its funny because alot of the locals told us they didnt care for it, I guess we just acquire different tastes.
    CG, thanks for the info and I'm trusting things will still work out but their AKAir schedule probably has been tossed out the window.

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    AWESOME!! muskox is the one hunt story that i actually read in these forums...still an itch in my side. any way you could let us know what your estimated costs were start to finish for the registation hunt?
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
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    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    Heading out Thursday to Nunivak...hope to have as good as success and memories as you fellow Coastie..Care to share any tips that you would have done different or done better...Thanks for your service and Semper Paratus...

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Cool read, ours was a lot smoother then that, we just walked up to them, once they backed up to the hill.. the group we hunted had no calf so they ran the first time we pushed them. but we never really " stalked them" out right walked right to them...

    there was a group above Deering with calf, i walked to 25 yards from while out calling fox.. our 3 were shot the first day out with in 35 yards max range...

    i guess the difference could be how often those were hunted? our area had a limit of 7, and we took for in the 2 days
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    AWESOME!! muskox is the one hunt story that i actually read in these forums...still an itch in my side. any way you could let us know what your estimated costs were start to finish for the registation hunt?
    I asked around here alot over the last year or so and it seemed like most guys were spending between $2500 to $6000 on Ox hunts. I set out to do this hunt alot cheaper and came out pretty good, however I did take advantage of a few benefits given to Military members such as Alaska Air and Era's reduced baggage fees. We planned this hunt for four days in the field and only needed two because we were not hunting for a record trophy, just mature animals so that helped out with cost also. The two of us also used one smow mobile and split the cost of the rental, Chris drove and I rode in the sled. In the end we managed to do this hunt for around $1000, below is a breakdown of costs.

    Flight from Kodiak to Nome roundtrip: 15,000 Ak Air miles
    Era flight Nome to Shish roundtrip: $290 (we booked when Era was doing a special last December)
    Two night lodging in the Shish Highschool: $70
    Two days snow go rental: $250 day ($500 total split between Chris and I)
    Two nights lodging in Dennis's lodge: $125 per night
    Era freight fee: $100 (reduced for military)
    Ak Air baggage fee: $50 (my last storage tote weighed 90 lbs for the overweight fee)
    Ak Air flight change fee: $100
    Total: $985

  17. #17
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IndyCzar View Post
    Heading out Thursday to Nunivak...hope to have as good as success and memories as you fellow Coastie..Care to share any tips that you would have done different or done better...Thanks for your service and Semper Paratus...
    We saved money on our hunt by splitting one snow machine and I rode in the sled both days of hunting. After the first day of sitting on the bare wood sled I was in desperate need of a chiropractor and it felt like my spine was compressed after 60 miles of traveling!! The second day I sat on padding and was golden. If you find yourself in the sled do your self a favor and bring somethig to sit on!! Other than that we were racing daylight the whole hunt and didnt stop to take enough pictures. As far as stalking, they always seemed to see us or hear us approaching the first day so we donned our white tyvek suits the second day and that seemed to help. Bring some extra cash out to Nunivak as Im sure there will some some neat carvings and such floating around that might interest you. And last as with any hunt they always go by too fast so dont forget to take a moment every now and then to take it all in. Good luck on your hunt and be safe, post some awesome pictures when you get back!!!

  18. #18
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    Cool read, ours was a lot smoother then that, we just walked up to them, once they backed up to the hill.. the group we hunted had no calf so they ran the first time we pushed them. but we never really " stalked them" out right walked right to them...

    there was a group above Deering with calf, i walked to 25 yards from while out calling fox.. our 3 were shot the first day out with in 35 yards max range...

    i guess the difference could be how often those were hunted? our area had a limit of 7, and we took for in the 2 days
    Vince, if you notice from the pictures Chris was wearing reflective Arctic gear. I think the Ox had never seen a blue and flourescent yellow figure before and they freaked out whenever we approached! The tyvek suits allowed us to get alot closer the second day.

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    Great Hunt
    Thats some great country behind Shishmareff. Lotta Caribou behind there too in Winter.

    Shish is by the sea, and most meats they get are from Whales, Walrus and Seals, or boxed Chicken from the store, and are a much different taste. Deering folks are the same opinion for the most part, but inland villages really love the stuff, and it makes most excellent gifts.

    Now that cammo you wore....... Gotta wear all black or all white, thats the way, I preferr a black leather jacket and matching skipants....just gottta walk slow and obliqe of the group and they will move aside if they smell you, or ignore you as another Muskox........ till they are where you want em', and often , even if spooked, if they have you in site, they will relax and graze, but keep watching you. Thats when the circle kinda breaks up, and you can get a shot in. I think they do the same when wolves take up camp 100 or so yards away, and thats a great way to hunt Wolves too, if you know where the bands of Muskox are,the Wolves will passs through, loking for the sick, old and wounded. Ive glassed them in a small pack sleeping 100 yards away from a large band of Ox, just ignoring each other.....
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    What kind of mount are you planning on? .....

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