When September rolled around I got sick with a bad case of moose fever. It’s an illness that could only be cured by chasing moose around with high power rifles. Most normal human beings don’t hunt moose in the mountains due to the fact the animal weighs 1500lbs but because of my fever I found it to be a good idea at the time and went with my two trusty moose flushers.Flushers and Vegetarians
A moose flusher is a special breed of dog that can be used to not only find the moose but sound like them as well. I have two such dogs. Cleo is one part black lab mixed with two parts sloth. She is trained in limb snapping, tree chewing, and snoring. After years of training as a trail walker and small dog attacker she was perfect for moose flushing.
Ivy is the brains of the operation. She is trained in hole digging, cat turd eating, and rolling in rotting salmon. She is half chocolate lab, half springer spaniel, and half crazy.
A good moose flusher should sound like a moose. By tripping and bumbling through the trees they disguise our movement as an entire herd of moose. Both dogs have been known to make moose grunting noises during a long strenuous poop that sound like bulls in the rut. They bend to just the right body shape with feet tucked tightly into a clover shape and then work one out under pressure while gritting their teeth and grunting. No matter where on the mountain you might be the moose flushers will instinctively end up in the river canyon 2 miles below you splashing in the half frozen river. This helps flush any moose attempting to get a drink straight up the canyon to the shooter and often times helps saturate the meat with adrenaline, which I have found to make the meat taste very delicious.
We started our hunt with some moose grunts from Cleo then in 5 minutes we did some more moose grunts from Ivy followed by 3 more sets of the same grunts by both dogs and we hadn’t even left the parking lot. After I cleaned up the mess by kicking the piles into the nearest yard we headed down the trail. The two moose flushers did their best imitation of barking moose and made a few holes on the way up to try to catch moose that may be sneaking in from behind.
As a professional moose hunter I like to try and talk the moose in to my moose ambush sight. The first call sounded like eeeeeeeeeoooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwffffffffffff. Both dogs looked at me and started laughing out loud, falling over from the pain in their sides. After the canyon quit echoing with laughter I let out another one eeeeeeeeeyyyooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwffffffffff. Coyotes started howling and birds scattered.
The moose flushers went into sneak mode and stayed behind me doing as I did. It was like a hunting musical with synchronized stalking. Suddenly we saw MOOSE ZILLA. It walked with a gangster lean and was making a move on some lovely moose ladies not less than 200 yards away. We went into movie slow motion chaos. I Ninja rolled to the side for a better view, Ivy in full flight over my head, Cleo ducking and rolling to the other side. I flipped my scope caps, Ivy worked the safety on my rifle, and Cleo took aim. Boom goes the first shot. I wasn’t sure if I had hit the bull or not so I took 3 steps to the right to avoid my bullet hitting me on its return path from around the globe. I aimed for the shoulder and the second shot knocked it over faster than a dandy lion in a wind storm.
Apparently the 300 mag had killed it the first shot but the bull was so dead it forgot to drop. Ivy ran up the hill to start rolling in the dead moose carcass, I cheered and Cleo was dragging her butt around in a joyful circle.
Bad things happen when you shoot a moose, suddenly moose fever is cured, and moose panic sets in. “OH CRAP WHAT DID I DO?” I now have a 1500lb animal on the ground, I am by myself 10 miles from the road and it gets dark in 4 hours. “Why, Why, Why”? And I am going to get eaten by a thousand pound brown bear. Oh God save me from the misery.
I cut on the moose until blisters formed on my fingers and my back hurt from bending over which was about 30 minutes. There was sniveling, crying, whining, and whimpering. My flushers were on bear patrol and doing a fine job judging by the snoring. At one point I decide it was too much to carry and tried to get my flushers to eat it all. I shoved huge chunks of raw meat into their mouths and I started cheering. “CHEW, CHEW, CHEW, EAT, EAT, EAT, GO, GO, GO” I clapped my hands in a steady rhythm and stuffed more and more in. But after about 7lbs of raw moose meat Ivy started doing the fur ball dry heave. Cleo began gagging and drooling and I knew it was no use.
Close to dark my moose flushers were giving me that look when they know we are about to die. I have seen that look before on a rafting trip and I knew it was time to start heading back to our vehicle. Cleo’s specialty is trail walking. She doesn’t waste time trying to find birds in heavy brush and instead enjoys wandering the trails in search of an easy meal, like a week old Twinkie in a dirty wrapper. I put her in the lead on the way out knowing she will not leave the trail for any reason. About 20 minutes after it got dark we are suddenly in the bottom of the canyon near the river and climbing through alder thickets for fun which is one of the many joys that Alaskans experience from time to time. It was a long hike with wolverines nipping at our heels and wolves gnawing on our shin bones the entire way. Or at least that’s the way I remember it.
Everyone was impressed I shot MOOSEZILLA and gave me lots of encouragement like “You did what?” and “IDIOT, you shot it back there?” I found that it is actually easier to get someone to paint your house than it is to get help hauling out a moose.
I got the A-team on this job. The A –team isn’t that cool group that shoots things up and has a guy named MR. T although that would have been cool. This team was specially designed to haul moose. They were the special forces of Alaska adventure. We had three 14 year olds with a very sarcastic sense of humor. They would sing the same annoying song for 4 hours strait completely surrounding my head so I couldn’t escape just to laugh when I plugged my ears. We had one 12 year old that can make over 400 annoying sounds and noises and drive his mom crazy in a single bound. We had one crazy sheep hunter that gets the name super hero based on past adventures a dog that is like a tank and a vegetarian that hates to hunt, fish, and camp. With a team like that what could go wrong?
The hike was like nothing I have ever experienced, the 14 year olds made horrible jokes and songs, the 12 year old complained about things I didn’t know you could even complain about, and the vegetarian gave me looks like( I hope you know what you are doing, and you seriously owe me). The ravine made a lot of people really happy especially since I may have slightly forgot to tell them about it.
There was moaning, groaning, and a plot to kill me in the making. I showed them the rope I had brought to climb down with and they all had that funny look in their eyes as they looked at a tree just above my head.
Everyone enjoyed the pack out especially the vegetarian. If there is one thing I know how to do that’s show a lady a good time. The vegetarian at this point has had the worst trip of her life. She has fallen in devils club, got her feet and hands wet, and sprained her ankle so bad she almost couldn’t walk. Now she is dealing with a vegetarian’s worst nightmare. 70lbs of blood soaked moose carcass dripping down her back, six stinky boys with juicy moose steaks on their minds and 500lbs of moose meat to process in the next few days. It must have been vegetarian HELL!
We were all at certain death when we reached the final leg of our adventure. It was at that moment when the lights from heaven shined down, angles began to sing, and everything went into slow motion.
OOOOOOOooooooyyyyyeeeeaaahhhhhh lllllllleeeeeettttttssssss gggggoooooo gggggguuuuuuuyyyyyssssss. WWwwwwaaaaaiiiiiiiitttttt uuuuuuuuuppppppp yyyyyyyooooouuuurrrrrrr gggggooooiiiinnnnggggg tttttttoooooo ffffffaaaaaassssstttttt.. We began to trip and stumble in delirium, going in different directions in a mass panic, packs were flying off, kids were screaming, women were crying, and I was rolling down the mountain gaining speed with every flip. OOOOHhhhhhh CCCCrrrrrrraaaapppppppp lllllloooooooookkkkkkkkkk oooooouuuuuuttttttttt… It was like a bad dream and I could feel every rock, stick, and tree root. I had made it out alive and once my pack was off I could almost float on air. After I wiped the blood and tears away we headed for taco bell. If there is one thing I know about kids, it’s that they can eat more than I can afford. Taco bell eventually kicked us out when they ran out of tacos and hot sauce but not before the feeding frenzy was complete.
It was the hardest hike I have ever done and I told myself I would never do it again but heck I don’t feel so bad now. I wonder if the bears are eating the left over moose? I could probably get back up there before dark I think? Sure I could carry a 100lb bear, right? I feel a fever coming on.