This story really starts last year when we went out from a very common pullout along the Denali highway to look for a caribou, but more importantly, potential moose hunting areas. 6 years ago I had shot my first moose from here, a dumb spiker who came within a mile of the highway and suicidally stood out in the open, as spike-forks often do. My hunting partner’s great uncle had found him and helped us get down to him after a rotten, hellacious hunt which I previously documented on this forum.
Last year, we set out from the same place, finding a new water crossing we had never knew before which opened a whole entire new are to us. While we had good suspicion about this area being good moose turf, our exploration was cut short when a fine caribou jumped out of the brush 50 yards away from us. The rest of the day was spent getting this big bull all 5 miles back uphill to the truck without any tie-down straps. (always take straps or paracord, no matter what you think your plans are). Being 2 days before moose season, we drove to our typical hunting area southwest of the MacLaren Lodge. On opening morning, I made my big mistake. After years of hoping for a 50” bull to materialize in our spot, I hoped too much and shot one that was 48.5” with the velvet on (47” stripped).
We did the right thing and got him to the troopers ASAP, who were surprisingly respectful, gracious and easy in dealing with me. Trooper Simeon and Dahl were great professionals and from their treatment and the judges actions, I could tell they were trying to almost reward you for doing the right thing. At least, for your first mistake.
With that in the backdrop, we headed out again into the antler restricted Unit 13 last Sunday. After much mulling, we decided to not go to an any bull area, but to try one last time in Unit 13, leaving the MacLaren drainage behind. After hunting there for 5 years, we had only pulled one legal moose out of there and passed on countless others. We were hoping to find a place that could be referred to as a ‘honey hole’, but tempered our expectations. The one thing we knew for sure is, any big antlered moose better have the brow tines, or convince me that he’s near 60”. I will not make that mistake again.
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