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Thread: Nunivak Musk-ox

  1. #1
    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    Default Nunivak Musk-ox

    Well, with the draws out the forum seems to be loaded with threads by exited hunter about future hunts, but even with all the excitement the forum has been missing one thing, PICTURES OF DOWN ANIMALS! So let's cut straight to the chase and get the pics out of the way first, then we'll worry about the details.
    P1020895.jpgP1020892.jpg

    Headed out to Nunivak last week. Of course it wouldn't be a trip out west if you didn't have a canceled flight. Made it to Bethel on day one and was force to spend the night after a weather cancellation of my flight to Mekoryuk. Caught the first flight out the next morning, met my transporter James Whitman of J&J Outfitters, got geared up and we hit the trail.

    The weather was great so we were able to move fast and cover some ground. Wasn't too long before we came across our first pair of bulls, a really old bull and another mature bull. We glassed them over and moved on to another group we had seen. The second group turned out to be cows and calves. A couple miles away we could see another group on the tundra. We made out way over to find they were a group of five bulls. I spent a long, long time set up on these bulls, mostly because I was so unsure of my judging and I didn't want to make a bad decision. In the end I decided not to pull the trigger on any of the bulls. We moved on to find two really old bulls past their prime down the coast a few mile farther. Another group cows and we called it a day.

    We left the village just after sun up the next morning with a good clear warm day. We headed the same direction I hunted the day before but blew right past the previous hunt area and made our way all the way to the far west end of the island. From a high point, I glassed two groups of ox. We headed to the closest group to find seven bulls including one mature old bull that was very tempting. After studying him for awhile, he just didn't do something for me so I decided to file him away as my back up choice and we headed over to check out the other group I'd seen.

    When we got near the group we actually found there were two groups in close proximity but were all cows and calves. I made the call to run down the coast for another 15 minutes and if there was nothing down I'd seriously think about going back after the previous bull. After running a ways we stopped to glass and I saw two black dots that I was convinced were musk ox, or maybe rocks, no musk ox, rocks?? So we headed south to check out what I was looking at. We rode and rode and when I was convinced they were rock, there emerged a line of backs. The bad part was that it was a large group and from experience, the large group meant cows.

    When I got into a position to glass I was instantly surprised to see two mature bulls in the group. I was even more surprised when one of the bulls clearly jumped out as the best bull I'd seen of the hunt. After a couple second of glassing him I knew he was the bull I needed to take home. After setting up on him a couple different times, he finally stepped out for a clear 75 yard shot. The T/C muzzleloader cracked, sending a 325 grain Hornady round through both lungs and taking out the arteries of the top of the heart. Some pictures, 4 hours of skinning and quartering then a 55 mile snowmachine ride back to the village put us in a few hours after dark.

    Absolutely great and enjoyable hunt. Big thanks to James Whitman for transport services and lodging. I'd highly recommend James to all you guys who just drew Nunivak tags.

  2. #2
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    Very well done, takeing your time and getting what you came for. Yes indeed......Good eating there ;D
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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  3. #3

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    Congrats! That's a hunt I'd love to do again in the future. I didn't have the time to be more picky, but I still came out of there with a dandy bull. I'd be curious to know what he scores if you get him measured.

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    Good bull, looks like his bosses are wide. Sure is fun out there eh?

  5. #5
    Member tiger15's Avatar
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    I tasted that meat the other day for the first time and all I can say is I need to get out there and try to get one of those! Some of the best meat I ever had. Congrats!

  6. #6
    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    Congrats on a real dandy bull! He should meet the B&C minimum I would think. Can't wait to do that hunt again someday.
    In 1492 Native Americans discovered Columbus lost at sea
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    Congrats & thx for the write up. Brings back good memories. I did the fall hunt a few years ago. I too used Mr. Whitman for transportation. What a great guy & worth every penny. My bull died less than an hour after I stepped off
    his boat on a sunny, windless day. And some of the best meat I've ever eaten. For me it was an awesome once in a life
    time hunt. Brings a smile to my face reading your story.

  8. #8
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Congrats on a great hunt! I got back from my Muskox hunt a week ago and have been waiting to see some more ox stories here. Good job and enjoy the meat, its fricken delicious!

  9. #9
    Member Double Shovel's Avatar
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    Congrats on a great hunt! Glad everything worked out - especially the weather! That is a beautiful bull, a prime specimen I would say. Good to hear James is doing well and still providing great service - we used him in 2010 and also had a great experience.

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    Default Question

    I have James Booked for Feb hunt and I'm on my own. You said in your posting that it took 4 hrs to skin, etc. Was James or anyone else allowed to help you. This would be a lot of work for 1 person or did you bring a guest along? Any tips on skinning quartering by your self? How about once you are back to his house. Was there any help available?

  11. #11
    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default Nunivak Musk-ox

    I quartered mine in the field and brought it back on the snow go. I wore a thin pair of wool gloves with rubber dipped palms & used the heat coming off of him to keep my hands warm. Just take one side at a time and take breaks to move around and warm up and you'll be fine on your own. I then loaded up the meat and put snow on top to insulate and prevent freeze burn. As for the transporter I don't think they can legally assist you in any way beyond transport. Good luck

  12. #12

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    A transporter won't be able to help you field dress, you will need to do it by yourself. I managed to get mine caped, quartered and in the sled in around 4 hours, but I've done several moose and dozens of caribou on my own. Bring a few knives so you don't have to sharpen. If James is guiding you and not just a transporter, he should be doing all the work and would probably appreciate a little help from you.

    I kept my hands warm and clean by using thin butcher gloves, and putting thin latex gloves over the top of them. When it is too cold out, the latex gloves will freeze and become brittle. I've gone so far as to warm them in my mouth to put them on. Once on, get them in the critter and they will stay flexible and won't break. I've used this technique in 30 below on caribou and it works excellent.

    I managed to get my cape (shoulder mount only) with the head still attached into a large hockey bag and brought it home like that. I let a friend use the bag for his, but he had the full cape for a full body mount and it did not fit in the bag.

    Make sure you dress warm for the ride to the village off the plane. I didn't realize it was so far and froze my butt off by the time we got to the village.

  13. #13
    Member IndyCzar's Avatar
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    I caught mine over there in Feb...Skinning out took us about 2-3 hrs but there were three of us working and we used a battery powered sawsall for the major bone cuts..We butchered then loaded up in waxed fish boxes...Helped insulate on the ride back...I brought back 252 lbs of meat, and 140 pounds of hide and skull, (should be included in upper half of B&C)...We are having a full body mount done...I can send you some pics that my wife took while we were skinning, kind of gives you an idea and sequence we followed...working around the horns is pretty intricate work...Again it depends on what you want to do with hide and skull...Euro mount?, shoulder mount?...full body... have that idea before you go when its cold...

    Good hunting and best of luck

  14. #14
    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    As a transporter you can't help judge game or help with field dressing. Did you hire James as strictly a transporter or as a guide. One of the few guide licenses for the island recently became available and after 25 plus years of assistant guiding then transporting James was finally able to get a guide license.

    Bring a good sturdy skinning & quartering knife, a caping knife, and a good fillet knife. That's right a fillet knife. It's the only way to skin the side of the head where the horn drops down next to the skull. Oh, and don't forget your bone saw like I did. Leave the hide in a single piece. You'll use the hide to wrap your meat up in the sled so it doesn't freeze solid on your ride back to the village.

    Do some research on judging musk-ox before you go. I had really warm weather when I was there 15-20 degrees. I just wore some thin liner gloves for while skinning and with the warm temps my hands stayed comfortable. I lucked out with wind as well.

  15. #15

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    Bring lots of knives. Their underwool is full of sand and will quickly dull your knife. I've killed three muskox and all three have been like this. The bulls are big, but not that hard to handle. If you have rope, you can tie it to your snogo to roll the muskox over/hold legs, etc.

  16. #16
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    Good point on riding from the airstrip into the village. Be dressed warm when you leave Bethel and have your face mask, hat, goggles, etc handy when you get off the plane.

    James has an enclosed back porch with a couple of freezers that make great tables for boning out meat. If you don't want to skin the head you can take it out intact. I'm pretty sure that dang head took me two hours to skin out. James has a friend that will skin the head out for you for a price.

  17. #17
    Member AK Wonderer's Avatar
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    Good point on riding from the airstrip into the village. Be dressed warm when you leave Bethel and have your face mask, hat, goggles, etc handy when you get off the plane.

    James has an enclosed back porch with a couple of freezers that make great tables for boning out meat. If you don't want to skin the head you can take it out intact. I'm pretty sure that dang head took me two hours to skin out. James has a friend that will skin the head out for you for a price.

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