We left Valdez on a Monday and stayed the night with friends in Wasilla. Turns out the Wasilla Sportsman's Warehouse is the only place, other than the fish and game office, that carries the locking tag for muskox. We stayed in Anchorage one night and got our 6:40 AM flight and arrived in Bethel at 8 AM only to be put on hold due to weather and runway conditions. We finally made it to MYU at about 2:30 that day (Wednesday). We spent the afternoon getting our gear sorted and visiting with the transporter, Abe David, and his family.
We left MYU on snow machines at around 11 AM the following morning (Thursday). Marianne fueled up the sleds before we left, but one was the wrong one. My partner Dave was riding it, an older 340, and had a little mechanical trouble so Abe ended up riding that one. The upside is that Abe let him ride the nice new 700 Polaris with suspension. I was riding a brand new Polaris Shift, nice ride for a preggo mama. Needless to say, Abe was a bit stove up the next day, but I think we all were. I appreciated the fact that Abe riding the older beast in the lead on the rough terrain kept our speed down to a nice pace for me.
We rode about 90 - 100 miles total. We saw one pretty big bunch, maybe 20 animals, but they were on a hill and took off running. Abe said the hills are icy so we kept looking. I didn't want to get myself in a bad situation being 7 months pregnant. We went another 10 miles or so to some dunes on the spit, and came upon several small groups. Distance is deceiving there! Even with flat light, those dunes that looked like they were "just over there" seemed to be much farther, maybe 5 or more miles? We got to the dunes and saw several smaller groups... Take your pick! At this point Abe falls back so Dave and I can hunt. I left it up to Dave because he is the more experienced hunter and he had his binocs. He chose the group furthest south and we went in, finding 5 bulls bunched together. 4 nice ones and a young one, still lots of fuzz on his head. We rode closer to them then we got on one machine and had to reposition several times waiting for the shot at the bull I picked out. Without fail they would line up and I couldn't get a shot. But they stand their ground, don't run too far. It gave me time to really look at the animals and pick out the one I liked the best, the straightest boss, nicest coat and nice horns with black tips. He liked staying in the middle always protected. He knew he was something! But finally, the bulls on the ends separated and my guy turned broadside. Clear shot, no chance of hitting another one by accident.
We were packed up and under way at 5:35 PM. We stopped several times and Abe took some nice pictures, including a partial sundog which I will have to get from him because our camera was packed away under the tarp in the sled. Beautiful sunset too. We arrived back to Mekoryuk at around 7:30 or 8, all of us pretty spent. We wolfed down the wonderful chicken dinner in silence.
We decided the next morning that we should get out while the getting was good so we arranged to be on the plane at 10:30. We made it back to Anchorage that day but our gear and meat and one gun case stayed the night in Bethel. We saw them put it all on the plane then we watched them take it all back off. This was probably mostly due to the fact the Fur Rondy was starting and planes were full. Everything was in Anchorage by 1:30 the next day and everything we had marked FREEZE was stored accordingly. In all we had 3 coolers, two 24 gal action packers and 2 XL duffles, plus gun cases. The meat fit nicely in the coolers, just over 200Lbs, and the front cape fit into an action packer, the rear and the horns into one of the XL duffles. The other action packer and duffle were our gear.
If you're looking for a transporter I highly recommend Abe David of Nunivak Island Experiences for his hospitality and knowledge of the animals and the island, not to mention his entertaining stories. He was aware that I was 7 months pregnant and took good care of us. He shared some video with us from some of his past clients that were helpful as well. His number is 827-2002. If I get the opportunity to do this again I will definitely go with Abe.