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Thread: Packing out a moose - solo

  1. #1
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    Default Packing out a moose - solo

    So I have read with interest folks wanting to come up and moose hunt solo (Don V, that new in shape fella posting today). These folks (and I don't blame them) want to get them a moose on a hunt but are going solo from what it looks like.

    While it is possible to pack out a moose solo, it has to SUCK. The moose I have guided have all taken two days to get the meat to the landing strip. That's with two packers, myself, and some of the hunters. Moose are usually 1-2 miles from the strip and we are in a bone in area. Whole quarters come out and they are heavy. My personal moose have all been out to the truck by noon (bow tags on base).

    So questions are -

    1. How many trips does it take to get out a moose? (9 for us with cape+horns, 2 light loads)

    2. Bone in or boned best? (I leave bone in)

    3. How long will it take a solo person to butcher a moose? (2 hours for me with a partner)

    4. How far would you shoot one from the strip solo?

    I was reading over the posts and realized that without some guidance these guys may let enthusiasm outweigh common sense.

    I want stories if anyone has 'em. Floats may be a better bet for a solo trip.
    Mike
    www.coffmancoveak.com
    Prince of Wales Island

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Without going into a lot, I think solo moose hunting on foot is not feasable. It would take a long time to butcher, and hope it lays down in an forgiving area without having to move it much. The pack would be brutal. Even if it was only a mile, one guy to haul out a moose would take a couple days of very hard work that most of us physically couldn't do.
    People get high hopes but often get the big let down when they pull the trigger and the work starts. If you had a atv then I would think it is not a problem going solo since your rig is going to do most of the work.

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    dont know for sure how many i have done solo...a bunch! but

    when byt my self... its 9-11 loads every time.. i leave bone in. for ease of packing... and normally its dark out.. my most memrable.. was 110 yards from the truck... 1000 yards around the beaver pond.. across the log.. and a 9 foot brown in the area... in the dark. 14 hours..

    typically anymore its 2 hours from knife cut to bagged and ready to go.. packing.. is a long painful process..
    "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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    I packed out a moose solo last year, wasn't a huge moose, but it wasnt a spike fork either. It is not that hard for me to do alone. It was a .6 mile packout. I did it in 5 trips, bone in, no cape. Took about an hour and a half to dress. I am not in that great of shape, but I do consider myself pretty tough and I have a lot of determination.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoose35 View Post
    I packed out a moose solo last year, wasn't a huge moose, but it wasnt a spike fork either. It is not that hard for me to do alone. It was a .6 mile packout. I did it in 5 trips, bone in, no cape. Took about an hour and a half to dress. I am not in that great of shape, but I do consider myself pretty tough and I have a lot of determination.
    I was wrong, I did it in 6 trips, I remember now, I was going to try it in 5 trips, but it wasn't worth it to make that last load so heavy.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    Solo Moose archery hunt: Packed out a 61" bull off the haul road (DM920), took 13 different trips, and 2 1/2 days....loved every bit of it, and I'd do it again........if I ever draw again.....

  7. #7
    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    While I have never done it solo,It can be done.I have butchered a few moose bye myself while I have been waiting for hunting partners to catch up with me.Never packed a rear quarter were it has to be bone in,that would be a challenge for my skinny butt!I allways bone those out our I can't move em.I'm sure having to move a whole moose is impossible for most first time hunters,but it can be done.I know I have had more than a few moose that I've felt like I packed the whole moose.One time that sticks out in my mind is when we got a young moose close to the road,we gutted and got a gang of guys to help.Bye time we got to him we only had one other besides my hunting partner.On the first trip back the one guy fell in a small creek with a front shoulder.We finally got back to the truck finding the others drinking beer saying it's to swampy.The guy that fell in said he was getting hyperthermic...BS...well we finally got him packed out bye sun down and I learned a lesson on packing buddies!!

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    Its tough enough for the experienced to solo moose hunt, so I would definetaly not encourage it for the first timer. Just think back to the first downed big bull moose you eversaw and how overwhelming that could be.Just a lot of factors to be considered,time to get it out,distance,bear activity(it can be tricky to chase a bear off your kill) weather,type of terrain and such.Without that second set of hands the little things like holding a leg up become that much more difficult alone also..

  9. #9

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    Like Bear said, simply holding the rear legs up to make your cuts can be a real beeetch. My first bull moose was on a solo hunt. The pack was 50 ft to the boat, so no problem there. The pictures, skinning, butchering, trimming, and bagging the quarters took me 5 hrs and I was physically whipped when I was done! There were no trees close enough to tie the legs too which makes the skinning and butchering much easier. The bottom line is, butchering a moose solo sucks. Packing them out is a huge chore too. Better know before you go.

  10. #10
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    I do packing in 7 trips. first two= hindquarters, next two= front quarters, next the backstaps, heart, liver, and neck, next the ribs, and last the head (if real tired will cutt off the horns, or if a cow will leave it --Don't like to do either, since have friends that like the head.)

    Longest trip was just over five miles, and took two days (with very short nights).

    I like to leave hide on the quarters and skin the rest. Hang up away from the kill site, then start carrying. If I know there's a bear close by, I will drag some of the guts around a little to make lots of "scent" away from the meat. Worked so far.

    First trip is usually with just my hunting daypack, then rest of trips with a meat frame.

    Note: ALWAYS carry your rifle, or a good handgun on each and every trip.
    I got caught on that one onct, helping a buddy with his moose. He had a rifle and hadn't gutted the kill yet. Somehow, he went the wrong way (to his own moose!) and I ended up looking at a nice Black bear with no firearm. Not happening again!!!

    But honestly, I prefer to bring my moose out in one piece when I can.


    Chris

  11. #11

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    Many guys in AK think they are tougher and the hunts are tougher then anywhere else. I am NOT saying I have done it all etc.

    I will say I have packed out elk 3 miles in 75 degree weather with much more elevation change at at 10,000 feet (ie 40% less oxygen then at typical moose elevations in AK). I had no problem getting the meat out in time, I could have taken 2 elk out in time. You have to use common sense, be careful, be in shape and understand meat care.

    I am sure they are bigger (I assume twice as big but that is likely high). First elk I downed lokoed HUGE, still does compared to deer back in Ohio. A moose is just more.

    I am taking very very careful consideration into not taking a moose if I am not sure I can handle it.

    I plan everything to a "T" and learn all I can about my hunts and it has always rewarded me. I decided a few years ago (actually after reading here about it) that I wanted to DIY fly in moose solo. Drawing the bou tag made my decision easy.

    I would love to be able to pay a packer - it is HARD work but it is almost never a reasonable option so I have packed all my elk out solo. Packing out a bull moose 1 mile is easier then a bull elk 3 miles, a lot easier. More oxygen, 2x (at most) the meat but 1/3 the distance.

    Sorry if that was a little defensive but I am taking it into account a lot. In fact I was lieing in bed imagining the overwhelming sense of the work coming when I see my dead moose down for the first time. (Gotta think positive ). Just like when I dropped a good bull as a snowstorm started in WY, dumped 6 "snow overnight COLD etc. I was very much alone and 2.5 miles as the crow flies from the truck and I was really sweating the horrible drive out 5-10 miles ofbad roads with unknown snow and possibly iced creeks etc.

    I do appreciate the comments and hearing what I can look forward too. I enjoy the work/planning. I can afford a guide but I REALLY want to DIY and do the hard work myself. I love it.

    My personal plan is:

    1. Weather and temps dictate a LOT, Cold/dry and below freezing at night gives me much more latitiude.

    I figure 1 mile in. 6 hours to butcher (hopefully less). I will be paranoid about wanton waste (heard G&F horrer stories). Not that I waste meat down here but I will clean that sucker like an eagle up there. I figure I can carry all the meat out in 5-6 trips (with cape/horns) over ok terrain I pack out 125 pounds each trip (not a lot of elevation gain or marsh). It rough terain/steep 6-8 trips (less weight) 100 pounds or so. I have not sat down and calculated it yet but I have notes about all elk I have taken and time to hike etc and have tossed it around in my head over the years when researching AK. I figure RT is 2 hours with a short break.

    That is 14 hours packing, 2 hours for breaks at camp, 6 hours to butcher, 2 hours at camp to set meat up (initially). 22 hours. Over 2 days that is 11 hours work a day - less then 1/2 the day. Doable.

    That said I have lots of great ideas at the top is something I thought of doing on my own in CO one hot year with my elk. Submerge in cold water in two contractor bags. Also it is very likely my transporter will be able to get meat on any given day (bad weather no but bad weather usually means cold so meat is ok). Also boning asap cools it fast, prop on logs, in shade on north slope etc.

    That said I am also going to look into other strips - for example if there is a strip 3 miles away and I hunt that direction max pack distance worst case is 1.5 miles.

    Common sense, proper gear, preparation, and being in decent shape are the most important tools.

    I did not read above posts after 1st one so want to see others estimates.

  12. #12

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    Don, if you already dont know this...try cutting them up first before gutting. Take the hide off the back fold it to the belly...much easier for a solo guy! most of my hunts are solo and it works like a champ! Its even quicker with two guys. No fussing with rolling this or that, or having a big gut pile in the way.

    Good luck post how you do!

    Barltett is big on the contractor bag deal, I havent tried it yet, maybe someday! bad weather means wet, not nessicarly cold LOL!

  13. #13
    Member icb12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonV View Post
    Packing out a bull moose 1 mile is easier then a bull elk 3 miles, a lot easier. More oxygen, 2x (at most) the meat but 1/3 the distance.
    Id rather pack that elk 3 miles. Moose- Easier? BS

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonV View Post
    Many guys in AK think they are tougher and the hunts are tougher then anywhere else. I am NOT saying I have done it all etc.

    I will say I have packed out elk 3 miles in 75 degree weather with much more elevation change at at 10,000 feet (ie 40% less oxygen then at typical moose elevations in AK). I had no problem getting the meat out in time, I could have taken 2 elk out in time. You have to use common sense, be careful, be in shape and understand meat care.

    I am sure they are bigger (I assume twice as big but that is likely high). First elk I downed lokoed HUGE, still does compared to deer back in Ohio. A moose is just more.

    I am taking very very careful consideration into not taking a moose if I am not sure I can handle it.

    I plan everything to a "T" and learn all I can about my hunts and it has always rewarded me. I decided a few years ago (actually after reading here about it) that I wanted to DIY fly in moose solo. Drawing the bou tag made my decision easy.

    I would love to be able to pay a packer - it is HARD work but it is almost never a reasonable option so I have packed all my elk out solo. Packing out a bull moose 1 mile is easier then a bull elk 3 miles, a lot easier. More oxygen, 2x (at most) the meat but 1/3 the distance.

    Sorry if that was a little defensive but I am taking it into account a lot. In fact I was lieing in bed imagining the overwhelming sense of the work coming when I see my dead moose down for the first time. (Gotta think positive ). Just like when I dropped a good bull as a snowstorm started in WY, dumped 6 "snow overnight COLD etc. I was very much alone and 2.5 miles as the crow flies from the truck and I was really sweating the horrible drive out 5-10 miles ofbad roads with unknown snow and possibly iced creeks etc.

    I do appreciate the comments and hearing what I can look forward too. I enjoy the work/planning. I can afford a guide but I REALLY want to DIY and do the hard work myself. I love it.

    My personal plan is:

    1. Weather and temps dictate a LOT, Cold/dry and below freezing at night gives me much more latitiude.

    I figure 1 mile in. 6 hours to butcher (hopefully less). I will be paranoid about wanton waste (heard G&F horrer stories). Not that I waste meat down here but I will clean that sucker like an eagle up there. I figure I can carry all the meat out in 5-6 trips (with cape/horns) over ok terrain I pack out 125 pounds each trip (not a lot of elevation gain or marsh). It rough terain/steep 6-8 trips (less weight) 100 pounds or so. I have not sat down and calculated it yet but I have notes about all elk I have taken and time to hike etc and have tossed it around in my head over the years when researching AK. I figure RT is 2 hours with a short break.

    That is 14 hours packing, 2 hours for breaks at camp, 6 hours to butcher, 2 hours at camp to set meat up (initially). 22 hours. Over 2 days that is 11 hours work a day - less then 1/2 the day. Doable.

    That said I have lots of great ideas at the top is something I thought of doing on my own in CO one hot year with my elk. Submerge in cold water in two contractor bags. Also it is very likely my transporter will be able to get meat on any given day (bad weather no but bad weather usually means cold so meat is ok). Also boning asap cools it fast, prop on logs, in shade on north slope etc.

    That said I am also going to look into other strips - for example if there is a strip 3 miles away and I hunt that direction max pack distance worst case is 1.5 miles.

    Common sense, proper gear, preparation, and being in decent shape are the most important tools.

    I did not read above posts after 1st one so want to see others estimates.
    just a heads up If you plan on doing just 5-6 trips your pack will be well over the 125 pound mark,also you may want to leave the bone in till processing as every cut you make leaves that area susceptible to bacteria and such.The terrain you speak of will more then likely no the nice hard pack stuff you may be used to. Dont forget about the alaskan rice(blow flies)

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    Why? Don't you have friends? Really there is kinda cultural element to the moose in Alaska that it should be shared, even the work.

    I have a permit this year for an any bull moose in a hike in only unit. No way would I even want anything to do with a solo haul out. I'd rather go on my six individual deer hunts and carry those out solo. Or a solo sheep hunt. Or a solo goat hunt. Laboring over a giant moose carcass solo. Not!!!

    I applaud your tenacity and respect your intellegence. Your basing decisions on what you've accomplished and experienced. Who am I to criticize you? I'm going to Etloin this year and hiking into those crazy hills for an Elk. I will have friends to help or I won't do it.

    You'll still be plenty man enough after dropping a nice bull and sharing the meat and labor with your close friends. In fact I'd venture to say an even better man for you generosity.

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    Terrain in EVERTHING when it comes to the difficulties of packing out moose. As a "4mer" guide I've literally carried tons of meat on my back over the years. If you have the right pack frame and say a gravel road or river bed it can be fairly easy. But make that same trek with half of it being swamp....well think again. In fact it doesn't even have to be swamp. I have packed more than a few solo, not far from the house. Used to not have much of a problem. But now, much of the beetle kill is on the ground and it's almost impossible to do it at my age. I could but won't.....just like a guy "could" kill a bull in the swamp, or creek, but I REFUSE to do that.
    The main thing I learned when it comes to packing meat is to "shuttle". Meaning........don't try and take huge loads all the way back, but take extra smaller loads not as far each time. You will find that if you shuttle, you will give your body a break each time with nothing on your back as you walk back for the next load. It is MUCH easier than busting your ass trying to get a super heavy load all the way back to the pickup spot at one time. Made a big difference for me, and I can pack meat all day fairly easy if I shuttle.

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    I have butchered a couple solo and packed a couple a short distance by my self - Thankfully they were small. Other than shooting one beside the road I won't hunt moose alone - older and less bulletproof than I once was. While it is entirely possible it is just not my type of hunting - I prefer to hunt with a partner and when moose moving time comes I prefer several. Butchering a moose in ideal conditions is one thing then throw in a few negative variables and the work load compounds quickly. Here are a couple pictures of less than Ideal situations:



    Don't forget the bugs:

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    5-6 solo trips for a good size bull through typical terrain? Good friggin luck. I'm not sure where you are going but most nonresident moose seasons run the first two week in Sept with some stretchiong to the end of the month. It will probably not be cold and if it is raining, it won't be that cold where you can count out it to help with meat.
    Can you do it? Yes but its going to take a few more trips that you are planning. Consider taking a kid's plastic sled and pull it instead of carrying it. IT works across marshy areas but noting helps through the alders.

  19. #19
    Member sheep man's Avatar
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    I've had the pleasure of a few solo moose hunts,i'd say it boils down to what your confort range is and as always mind set....know what you can put your body through,and be in the best shape.
    I ♥ Big Sheep

  20. #20
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    Don,
    I guided a couple very experienced elk killers on moose who said the same basic thing you are. They wanted to help pack ........cause they have done 100 elk and it's just a bigger elk. One guy took two steps with his front shoulder. Done. The other helped but one load from each moose. Don't compare it to elk. I've killed elk myself and Its not in the ballpark for quarter weight.
    Besides if u have this all figured out why do you have like 5 threads going? You have no idea how many nr drop camp (diy) moose hunters get in over their heads (trooper visits) Prob over half of first timers in my experience.

    Also since u have a bunch of posts about secret spots in 20A thought it would be worth tellin you there aren't any. Been hunted real hard for 50 years. Guys at my Hayes air are top notch tho.

    My .02 but thought you should have REALISTIC expectations. good luck and hope you return safe. Don't forget to post back here.

    Quote Originally Posted by DonV View Post
    Many guys in AK think they are tougher and the hunts are tougher then anywhere else. I am NOT saying I have done it all etc.

    I will say I have packed out elk 3 miles in 75 degree weather with much more elevation change at at 10,000 feet (ie 40% less oxygen then at typical moose elevations in AK). I had no problem getting the meat out in time, I could have taken 2 elk out in time. You have to use common sense, be careful, be in shape and understand meat care.

    I am sure they are bigger (I assume twice as big but that is likely high). First elk I downed lokoed HUGE, still does compared to deer back in Ohio. A moose is just more.

    I am taking very very careful consideration into not taking a moose if I am not sure I can handle it.

    I plan everything to a "T" and learn all I can about my hunts and it has always rewarded me. I decided a few years ago (actually after reading here about it) that I wanted to DIY fly in moose solo. Drawing the bou tag made my decision easy.

    I would love to be able to pay a packer - it is HARD work but it is almost never a reasonable option so I have packed all my elk out solo. Packing out a bull moose 1 mile is easier then a bull elk 3 miles, a lot easier. More oxygen, 2x (at most) the meat but 1/3 the distance.

    Sorry if that was a little defensive but I am taking it into account a lot. In fact I was lieing in bed imagining the overwhelming sense of the work coming when I see my dead moose down for the first time. (Gotta think positive ). Just like when I dropped a good bull as a snowstorm started in WY, dumped 6 "snow overnight COLD etc. I was very much alone and 2.5 miles as the crow flies from the truck and I was really sweating the horrible drive out 5-10 miles ofbad roads with unknown snow and possibly iced creeks etc.

    I do appreciate the comments and hearing what I can look forward too. I enjoy the work/planning. I can afford a guide but I REALLY want to DIY and do the hard work myself. I love it.

    My personal plan is:

    1. Weather and temps dictate a LOT, Cold/dry and below freezing at night gives me much more latitiude.

    I figure 1 mile in. 6 hours to butcher (hopefully less). I will be paranoid about wanton waste (heard G&F horrer stories). Not that I waste meat down here but I will clean that sucker like an eagle up there. I figure I can carry all the meat out in 5-6 trips (with cape/horns) over ok terrain I pack out 125 pounds each trip (not a lot of elevation gain or marsh). It rough terain/steep 6-8 trips (less weight) 100 pounds or so. I have not sat down and calculated it yet but I have notes about all elk I have taken and time to hike etc and have tossed it around in my head over the years when researching AK. I figure RT is 2 hours with a short break.

    That is 14 hours packing, 2 hours for breaks at camp, 6 hours to butcher, 2 hours at camp to set meat up (initially). 22 hours. Over 2 days that is 11 hours work a day - less then 1/2 the day. Doable.

    That said I have lots of great ideas at the top is something I thought of doing on my own in CO one hot year with my elk. Submerge in cold water in two contractor bags. Also it is very likely my transporter will be able to get meat on any given day (bad weather no but bad weather usually means cold so meat is ok). Also boning asap cools it fast, prop on logs, in shade on north slope etc.

    That said I am also going to look into other strips - for example if there is a strip 3 miles away and I hunt that direction max pack distance worst case is 1.5 miles.

    Common sense, proper gear, preparation, and being in decent shape are the most important tools.

    I did not read above posts after 1st one so want to see others estimates.

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