I have been meaning to do a write up on our family hunt since late last September but here it finally is: Let me start off by saying how lucky I am to have both of my parents, both in their mid-70ís, who still love being in Godís country sleeping on the ground and partaking in filling our freezer year. I moved out of Alaska 20 years ago and am once again able to join my parents and brothers in the annual fall moose and caribou hunt as the camp cook and animal spotter. My parentís moved to Alaska at Statehood and this has been a part of our lives ever since. Any ways this last fall there was good, bad and ugly to our trip.
The Good: We had been seeing lots of moose and a few caribou but hadnít connected on any yet. All the moose seemed to be in the 36-45Ē range. Early one afternoon a moose materialize in one of the swamps below our favorite spotting area. There was a flash in the light so it looked as if it had antlers but not big ones. We got out the spotting scopes and low and behold it was a spike/fork. After over 20 years hunting this area we had never taken a spike/fork. We quickly broke out our stalking packs and headed down the hill to put on a stalk. It took nearly an hour to reach the edge of the swamp but he was still in the middle of the swamp. We wouldnít be able to get any closer than 350 yards without being in the wide open. We decided this was our best chance and so my brotherís friend BJ took the shot and then another and we had our moose down in the swamp. Six long hours later we had him hanging at our meat pole near our spike camp.
Two days later after dinner most of us were sitting around the camp fire just before dusk when we heard two shots from the direction of our spike camp and we all looked at each other and said ďwell it sounds like it could be a long night.Ē We got on our 4-wheelers with all the cleaning tools and headed out. We were met by my little brother John who was very excited as he had just bagged a beautiful 50Ē 4 brow tine on each side monster of a moose. They had seen the moose from spike camp and gone down to see if they could call him out of the timber. He was full on in rut mood. After a few calls they had decided not to push him too much and wait until morning to really pursue him but he decided to pursue them. He came at them hard and fast, grunting the whole way. John said that when he finally pulled the trigger at 50 feet all he could see was antlers in his scope, so he just centered his cross hairs in the middle of the rack and pulled the trigger. 225 grains dropped that boy in his tracks. We finished hanging him on the meat pole by main camp about 2 AM.
The Bad: We never did get any caribou this year. This is only the 2nd time since 1985 that we havenít harvested caribou out of our valley. We spotted a really nice bull on the mountain side across the valley and spent 3 hours trying to find him only to get back to camp and look through the spotting scope again and see that he hadnít moved more than 100 yards from where we first saw him. He wasnít meant for us. The only other bull we had a real chance at dad couldnít get a shot off at because two cows shadowed him all through his shooting zone.
On the way to retrieve the first moose dad rolled his 4-wheeler and got pinned underneath it. There was a lot of fear that he had really hurt himself and with possible broken bones but after getting the machine off of him we found that nothing was broken but he had bruise a couple of ribs and would be uncomfortable but okay!
Two days after getting our second moose it started to snow. We had over 6 inches and no letup in site and it was 8 degrees. We decided it was time to head out and count our blessings for what God had let us harvest and take care of the meat. On arriving at the meat pole we were surprised to find the entire moose was gone!!!! Huge bear tracks all around in the fresh snow. After some discussion we decided to chamber up rounds and be LOUD and follow the tracks a ways. 75 feet from the meat pole we found a neatly stacked pile of moose quarters. We stole back the moose minus one rib cage that was missing. The meat had some bite marks in it but was salvageable. So a bad turned into a good!!
The ugly: We saw way more hunters than we usually see and I am ashamed to tell you that we also saw a lot more garbage and debris left by them. Fire pits with garbage in it just left behind. Candy wrappers thrown alongside the trail, and a few pop and beer cans. Come on guys we can do better than this!!
All in all a great trip with family and each of 5 families had about 200 lbs. of meat in their freezers for the winters. The other great thing that happened is that all my mom wanted for Christmas and her 75th birthday was her own rifle so she can harvest her own animal. We got her one and I know that the first 10 days this year will be spent trying to get mom in front of a moose or caribou. I canít wait for September 8th!!