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Thread: Sharing 2011 AK Float Moose Hunt Experience

  1. #1
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    Default Sharing of 2011 AK float moose hunt adventure

    I want to share my 2011 AK float moose hunt experience with the forum membership. Mike (Strahan) is probably saying to himself.. "it is about time!".

    I spent a lot of time on this site during the planning and preparation phases of my hunt. I benefited greatly from the posts and several of the members who were willing to share their time, experiences and friendship. I want to return the favor.

    The story was published in this month's EHJ - 25th Anniversary Public Land-DIY Issue. I'm going to leverage the material I used in the EHJ submission to share my adventure.

    Story...
    This is the long version I originally submitted to EHJ. I had to cut it down significantly to satisfy Adam (editor)! But I wanted to share the long version of the story with the forum members, since this version includes more detail, doesn't pull any punches, etc.

    I will include pictures and a video in my next posts...

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    Default Pictures of 2011 AK float moose hunt adventure

    Pictures...

    I have lots of amazing pics. I'm not sure how best to show them. I placed many of the best pics in an album on this site, so let's try that first...
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...p?albumid=2112

    I have more pics on my PhotoShop site. Following is the link for anyone that is interested in seeing more...http://www.photoshop.com/users/loneg...09b41137a8d7fd

  3. #3
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    Default Video of 2011 AK float moose hunt adventure

    Video...

    This was my first attempt at true video editing and producing. It was quite a chore and learning experience. Hind-sight being 20/20, it is a bit over stylized, but given the steep learning curve and need to cut it off at some point (80+ hour time investment), I was happy with the results. It is a 2 hour video, so block off some time, grab a beer, sit back and enjoy...

    http://www.huntvids.com/video/4011/2...oat-moose-hunt

  4. #4
    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks Co for the great write-up and pics. I'm ready to go again after this.

  5. #5
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    Default Story summary

    For those pressed for time, following is the shortest story version. I'll also post a few of the picture highlights.


    “YEEHAW, YEEHAW, YEEHAW!!!”
    [3 for 3 on remote AK float moose hunt]

    Two years ago, a friend of mine, Jason Hadley, was planning an Alaska moose hunt with some guys from work. I was invited to join the team. I convinced Jason on the merits of a remote float hunt. The amount of planning, preparation and cost of this type of Alaskan adventure quickly reduced the party to three. Along the way, we lost one of our hunting party, but we were quickly able to replace him with a long time friend and hunting buddy of mine, Troy Jackson.

    A bush plane flight into a remote hunting destination is an amazing experience. All the planning and preparation is behind you and the game is on. Once that pilot drops you off, and get’s that plane back in the air, you are truly on your own.

    The weather was beautiful and the scenery spectacular. We floated a couple miles from our put-in spot and set-up camp. In Alaska, you can’t hunt the same day you fly, so we had time for a little scouting, a good dinner and a good night’s sleep.

    Jason and Troy spotted a bull on the flight in. We floated to that general area on hunt day one, set-up camp and headed out on the evening hunt. Jason and Troy climbed to a good vantage point. Jason quickly spotted a bull. Jason remained at the vantage point while Troy began a stalk. Troy wasn’t comfortable with his calling abilities so went with a pure stalking strategy. He busted a cow out of her bed and ran with the small group until they stopped, an approach he has used successfully when spooking elk in thick cover. Apparently this convinces the animals that what spooked them was one of their own, and they settle down. Troy was able to close the distance to the bull to 70 yards. At that range he was able to determine the bull had 4 brow points on the left side and was legal (in this unit a legal bull must be 50+ inches wide or have 4 brow points on one side). Three shots rang out. We had our first Alaskan bull moose on the ground… “YEEHAW”!

    Troy’s bull was an old bull. He had grey hair in his hide. The antlers turned up at almost a 90 degree angle half way across each paddle. This resulted in a spread of less than 55 inches. If the paddles had more of a normal, flatter configuration, the bull would have been well over 60 inches.

    An Alaskan bull moose is a huge animal. We completed work on the bull around 12:30am and got back to camp around 1:30am. We were blessed with our first experience of the Northern Lights on the hike back to camp, an amazing experience, particularly for anyone who hasn’t seen them before. We capped off the eventful day with a celebratory shot of Macallan whiskey. The whiskey shot was meaningful not just as a celebration of good friends, a wild remote wilderness adventure, and the success of taking a majestic bull moose, but also as a tribute to the memory of Troy’s wife’s son, Macallan, who died in a disastrous small plane crash.

    The next day was all about packing Troy’s bull a third of a mile to the river through nasty Alaskan tundra and marsh. It took 8 trips (total) and all of the afternoon to complete the pack-out.

    We were floating a bend in the river late afternoon on hunt day four, when Jason and Troy spotted ravens circling over the river bank. Suddenly a pack of wolves emerged from the willows. Two of the wolves unexpectedly started toward the raft. Troy shot twice from the raft. When I arrived on the gravel bar, Troy was taking care of two wolves.

    There was a moose carcass 40 yards off the river. The carcass had been claimed by a grizzly bear, as most of the carcass and gut pile had been buried. The wolves had been feeding on what little remained.

    While we explored the scene, the remaining wolf pack started howling no more than a quarter mile away. It was getting late in the afternoon. We had no desire to camp in the vicinity of a grizzly bear claimed moose carcass and a disturbed wolf pack, so we moved down river a couple miles before establishing camp.

    Just before dark, a wolf pack began howling close to camp. A smaller wolf pack responded across the river. With the events of that day still fresh in my mind, the howling of the wolf packs in the remnants of the days light, stamped the essence of raw wild Alaska in my memory forever.

    By hunt day six, we had floated down the tributary to the main stem of the river system. We set up camp a couple miles below the confluence. From a good vantage point, Jason spotted what he believed to be an antler paddle in the willow flats below. I joined him and confirmed it wasn’t a figment of his imagination. We were running out of daylight, so we quickly executed a stalk. I decided to back out of the area and pick up the stalk the next morning when a small bull materialized out of the willows 15 yards in front of me. He looked at me for a few heartbeats and went back to eating. Just then a larger bull moved in behind him grunting. This was a mature bull, but I couldn’t make out the width or number of brow points through the willow and approaching darkness. The wind swirled and the grunting stopped. Neither bull crashed out of the area but the game was up for the night. I backed out and returned to camp in the dark.

    The next morning found me across the river from the previous night’s encounter hoping to call the mature bull out of the willows onto the gravel bar. The bull was still in the area chasing a cow. The bull presented two shot opportunities, but I couldn’t confirm he was legal. I had to let him walk for a second time.

    Jason and I were starting back to the same area for our evening hunt when Jason said, “there he is”. Sure enough, I could see paddles across the river. Jason crept to a spot across the river from the bull. He used a log and his pack to steady his rifle. The solid rest allowed him to determine conclusively that the bull had “a bunch of brow points” and was legal. We had our second big bull moose down… “YEEHAW, YEEHAW”!!

    Similar to Troy’s bull, Jason’s bull wasn’t particularly wide, due to the antlers turning up half way across the paddles. Apparently this is a genetic in the area. The big brow palms made up for any missing width. The left brow palm had six points and the right brow palm had five points.

    We got back to camp around 12:30am and again enjoyed the Northern Lights while celebrating with another shot of Macallan.

    We were told before the hunt that if we took one bull we would have had a successful hunt. If we took two bulls, we would have had a very successful hunt. By that standard, and the bonus of taking two wolves, we had already experienced a very successful hunt. We had two hunt days left and were hoping to make it an incredibly successful hunt by taking a third bull.

    We got on the river early the morning of hunt day ten. We were in good country and every river bend held the promise of a third bull. We settled on a bivy style camp that afternoon since the weather was fair. After securing my raft, ‘making water’ and dropping my gear on our gravel bar camp spot, I headed out on my evening hunt. There was abundant sign in the area. I primed the surrounding country with cow calls and bull grunts before returning to camp just before dark. Shortly after returning to camp, I thought I heard a grunt in the distance. I heard it again. I waited for a third grunt before looking over at Jason who was working on his moose cape. He confirmed with a nod that I wasn’t hearing things. The bull was hot and on a beeline toward us. It didn’t take much coaxing before the bull was 40 yards away from us and camp. Jason grunted. The bull stepped into a shooting lane. I took the shot. A second shot put the bull down within 40 yards of camp and the river.


    We were overwhelmed with excitement until Troy yelled out from the willows that the bull only had three brow points per side and his rough calculation was that the bull was not 50 inches wide (an illegal bull). That shut the celebration down in a hurry. After rough measuring the bull, I accepted I had apparently taken an illegal bull and would report the violation to the Alaska G&F when we got back to Fairbanks. There was nothing to do other than accept my fate and honor the bull, the trip and my hunting buddies by taking care of the bull and caring for the meat. I stayed up late that morning reflecting on the trip and events of the evening. I turned in about 4:30am.

    I returned to the bull early that afternoon to remove the antlers and bring them to camp. Once removed from the carcass, we could more accurately measure the antler width. We used the gravel bar sand and a straight stick to mark the widest point perpendicular to the skull. When we laid a tape measure to the marks in the sand, the width measurement was 50 and a quarter inches… a legal bull. Now we could truly celebrate. “YEEHAW, YEEHAW, YEEHAW”!!!

    The only reason I can come up with for actually pulling the trigger before ensuring the bull was legal was the excitement associated with calling the bull into camp, my bull-fevered mind, and the sight of an Alaskan bull moose at 40 yards through a Zeiss rifle scope (huge) got the best of me. Hind sight being 20/20, I should not have shot that bull. I had let three bulls walk earlier in the hunt because I couldn’t confirm they were legal. Regardless, taking a legal Alaskan bull moose is one of the highlights of my hunting experience. I wouldn’t trade that bull, or the adventure we enjoyed, for anything.

    On the morning of our take-out, the mood was bitter sweet. We floated 55 miles in 13 days, set-up and hunted from 7 camps, took 3 Alaskan/Yukon bull moose and 2 wolves. We knew we would soon be leaving an amazing place and a true once in a lifetime experience was coming to an end, but we were ready for some pizza, beer, a shower and a real bed.

    We arrived at the pick-up spot on time, but no pilot. After a couple hours of waiting, we finally heard the whine of a bush plane engine. Time to head home… “YEEHAW, YEEHAW, YEEHAW”!!! (One “YEEHAW” for each bull!)

  6. #6
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    Default Picture highlights #1

    Troy took the first bull on hunt day 1...
    He also took 2 wolves on hunt day 5...


    16-(HD1,YC) Troy & Bull Moose.jpg

    55-(HD5,YC) 2 Wolf (cropped).jpg

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    Default Picture highlights #2


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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Default Sharing 2011 AK Float Moose Hunt Experience

    Badass hunt man!
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  9. #9
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    Default Thanks!

    I want to thank Mike for his hunt planning expertise and for putting up with me for 2 years during the planning and preparation process (I can be a bit anal in my hunt planning!)... thanks Mike!

    I want to thank Moose of Blue Moose Rafting for supplying our 'big raft' and for his additional assistance along the way... thanks Moose!

    I want to thank Dan Mortensen. He posted a great hunt summary with videos several years ago. I'm sure it is still available on the site and being used by AK float hunt green beans in dreaming and putting their hunts together. He was a big help to us in river selection and completing our planning and preparation for the hunt... thanks Dan!

    And most importantly, I want to thank Jason and Troy for helping to make one of my bucket list dreams a reality... thanks guys! I don't see how we can possibly top this... but it will be fun trying!

  10. #10
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by COGriz View Post
    I want to thank Mike for his hunt planning expertise and for putting up with me for 2 years during the planning and preparation process (I can be a bit anal in my hunt planning!)... thanks Mike!

    I want to thank Moose of Blue Moose Rafting for supplying our 'big raft' and for his additional assistance along the way... thanks Moose!

    I want to thank Dan Mortensen. He posted a great hunt summary with videos several years ago. I'm sure it is still available on the site and being used by AK float hunt green beans in dreaming and putting their hunts together. He was a big help to us in river selection and completing our planning and preparation for the hunt... thanks Dan!

    And most importantly, I want to thank Jason and Troy for helping to make one of my bucket list dreams a reality... thanks guys! I don't see how we can possibly top this... but it will be fun trying!
    It was a true pleasure working with you guys. You jumped right in and made my job much easier than it could have been. Congratulations on a great experience! It was especially nice reading the whole thing from front to back; it brought back some memories.

    I encounter a lot of folks in my hunt consultation business, but your group stands out as one of the most capable groups I've worked with. You were teachable, quick learners, and never held back from any of the many tasks involved in putting this hunt together. It worked flawlessly.

    I hope we see you guys up here again, and don't forget that once you are in our planning program, subsequent hunts are free.

    Best regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Default Sharing 2011 AK Float Moose Hunt Experience

    Bull number two is a beast. And nice wolves. Thanks for sharing. What a trip.

  12. #12
    Member Grayling Slayer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sharing 2011 AK Float Moose Hunt Experience

    Thanks for sharing that video. With just over two weeks I'm getting excited for the season to open. I bought my Pro Pioneer this summer and this year will be a couple day shakedown run off the road system in preparation for a fly-in adventure in 2013.

    I've been hunting around Fairbanks for over a decade, but just now getting into float hunting. Short of having your own plane it seems to be one of the best ways to get away from the crowds and increase your chances of success.
    "I'd rather be fishing!"

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    AWESOME trip!
    Tried to watch the video, but keep getting a error message. Is it working for everyone else?

  14. #14
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    You got to do something pretty special and see a part of Alaska that many do not.
    Congratulations on a VERY successful hunt. Thanks for sharing.
    BK

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    Great Write up! Thanks for the Props! My Pook Boat! It was fill :-) as always excellent work! Glad I did not screw up the picture with the tripple moose at Wright Air eh.

    Be Safe and keep up the great work. Nicely done.

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    Default Playing favorites!

    Moose, when did Troy slip you that $20!? Jason and I didn't realize until we got home, and saw the pictures, that you let Troy set-up 3-5 yards closer to the camera! No wonder his bull looks so big! BTW, the website looks great!

  17. #17
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    Great hunt and thanks for sharing the pictures, that looked like an awesome trip... congrads on a successful hunt guys...

  18. #18
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    Default Pro-Pioneer

    Quote Originally Posted by Grayling Slayer View Post
    Thanks for sharing that video. With just over two weeks I'm getting excited for the season to open. I bought my Pro Pioneer this summer and this year will be a couple day shakedown run off the road system in preparation for a fly-in adventure in 2013.

    I've been hunting around Fairbanks for over a decade, but just now getting into float hunting. Short of having your own plane it seems to be one of the best ways to get away from the crowds and increase your chances of success.
    Grayling, enjoy that PP! I really had fun with mine on the trip. The floating certainly added an additional flavor to the hunt. Not only did it allow us to move to new country when to our benefit, but it was just fun in itself to be on the water. I think Troy was afraid I was going to tip and drown myself if I got too much on the PP. I never had a close call or once felt under-boated. Since I didn't take my bull until hunt day 10, I didn't have meat and antlers on the boat until the morning of take out. I only had the 2 front quarters, the antlers and all my gear, but would have had no problems putting the 2 hind quarters on there as well. It's a fun tough little craft. Jason used it one day (the day we had all the rain - the day before the 'Kifaru tipi in the fog' shot). He said he really enjoyed it. I look forward to taking it on a NW MT rut whitetail hunt one of these days. Maybe next year. I am going on a ME moose hunt toward the end of September. I'm going with a buddy who drew a tag on his first attempt. I offered the PP and a semi-guided/outfitted hunt by me, but he didn't seem to have any interest in the full DIY experience or being on the water, so decided to go fully guided (cheap in ME). Should be fun regardless, but I was looking forward to taking the PP into the North Woods of Maine!

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    Default Hunt planning offer

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    It was a true pleasure working with you guys. You jumped right in and made my job much easier than it could have been. Congratulations on a great experience! It was especially nice reading the whole thing from front to back; it brought back some memories.

    I encounter a lot of folks in my hunt consultation business, but your group stands out as one of the most capable groups I've worked with. You were teachable, quick learners, and never held back from any of the many tasks involved in putting this hunt together. It worked flawlessly.

    I hope we see you guys up here again, and don't forget that once you are in our planning program, subsequent hunts are free.

    Best regards,

    -Mike
    Mike, I'm going to be taking you up on that offer one of these years! I'm sure I'm going to start itching to return in pursuit of that elusive 60"er... once I recover! Or possibly the Inside Passage spring black bear hunt we talked about briefly. Kind of nice to have a bit tamer hunting season planned for this year... ME moose, WY trophy Red Desert pronghorn and a 4th season CO mulie rut hunt. These are going to be some fun hunts, but certainly a little less western than last year's Ak adventure. I was just thinking the other day that we had already shipped our gear up by this time last summer (just reminiscing a bit...).

  20. #20
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    LOL! darn it I thought no one notice. Keep up posted on your hunts Great Stuff.

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