Another horse ride with guns turns into something more…While I have hunted the CCUA a bit for caribou, I had never gone back looking for moose. Something I’d always wanted to do, but we’ve had pretty good success in our other area that I just figured , why mess with success. Well this year, we messed with success just to try a new area. We decided to wait till Sunday the 6th to drive up to the Denali Hwy, as we figured it would be a bit busy up there with a new season and a three day weekend. Besides, it gave me a day to go after ducks before this hunt. After a 6 hour drive, we arrived at a camp site along the road and in the area I wanted to give a shot. Weather was gorgeous, and we had time to get everything set up and organized for the next day, have a nice camp fire and chill out before we went to bed. Alarm went off at 0400, so I could go outside and get the feed to the horses, then went back to bed for an hour more. We got up, dressed, had a quick breakfast then began tacking up. I believe we left camp right at about 0645, which was a bit later than I wanted to leave, but thought no big deal, its only the first day and will be more of a scouting/familiarization day anyways. So, we head in the general direction of interest for about an hour when I seen a couple of cows up ahead about 400 yards. So we get off the horses to have a better look, and discover that there are also two bulls with these cows. One is a small paddle bull, the other is smaller than that. The brush in the area was about chest high to me, so it was not real easy setting up the spotting scope in an area that gave me a view of the moose. While I was moving around trying to get a better look, I notice two white things on the side of a black dot about a mile further up the draw we were working up. I knew he was going to be close, so my attention drew toward him. I did still want to see if either of the small bulls were legal, but Deb asked me “what are you doing?” I told her I was trying to get a look at the small bulls in front of us, she said “why, that’s the bull I want (pointing up the hill at the bigger bull)”. I said ok, lets go. So we continue to head up toward the bull, and I had a little hill in mind to stop at and “park” the horses at while we went up on top to get a look at the bull. We get to the spot, and tie up the horses, then sneak to the top of the hill, and immediately spot two cows in front of us at about 400 yards. I said to Deb “well, his girls are right there, so he’s close by, lets get set up and wait it out”. We watched and waited for about 20 minutes and no one moved, so I tell her “ok, I’m going to make some noise and see if we can get the bull riled up”. So I took my old shoulder blade and lightly rake the brush. Did this twice and out he pops to the right of the two cows. I had the spotting scope on him and looked him over to see if he was legal. At the same time, Deb had the rifle set up on a tripod and had him in the scope. While I looked at him, she kept saying things like “I have a good shot, I can take him from here, I can make this shot, do you want me to shoot?”. All the while I was saying things like “I don’t know, he’s close, but just cant tell…..if he’s 50, he’s right AT 50 and no bigger……Just dont know....” and so the “conversation” went for about 15 minutes. At that point, he began losing interest in seeing who the intruders were and began to walk away. I began to scrape and grunt at him, which made him turn back around and begin pawing and making a wallow, and raking his antlers in the brush…but he just wouldn’t come closer. I kept looking him over, trying to size him up, all the while having the repeat of the same conversation earlier…Then I seen a little point on his brow tines (which he had 3 and 3), and said…”he might have a 4th brow tine, but if he does, its very marginal”….and the conversation continued. At some point shortly after, and against my better jugdement I tell her, Ok, I THINK he’s legal, if you got a shot, take it”. My range finder just wouldn’t give me a distance on him, but at one point I did get a range on a cow that was just beyond where he was standing. That range was 436 yards, which is a looooong shot. I figured he was at about 400 yards, so I tell he to aim just at the top of his hump. The shot goes off, and I see him lurch and then hear the Pawaaaack of the hit. I see that his fron leg is broken just below his chest. He moves a couple of steps, but is still broadside. I tell her to shoot again, and she aims higher and fires another round. She shoots, but I don’t see a reaction to a hit..right away. He moves a couple steps and begins to get unsteady, then the hind end falters and he hits the ground, and that’s it. So, I have her guide me to him, and realize that I left my tape measurer in the truck…..4 miles away…so I use anything and everything I can to try and determine the width…gun barrel length, boot length….etc and determine…that this is a futile effort..that he’s right in the ball park of 50. I think he’s there but just cannot be positive without a tape ( ie...time to start sweating). Looking at the brow tine, its definitely 3 and 3 only. We take a bunch of pictures
and do the only thing we can, and get him apart then loaded up on the horses.
Once loaded up, we begin our long 4 mile walk out. The walking was not real easy, as we were breaking trail through the brush most of the way. But after a few hours, we made it back to the road and get to camp. We take the load off the horses, then quickly grab the tape…..and the measurement is………..
50 and ½ inches!!! Whew! We look over the regs just to make sure we measured as required, and we were right on. Talk about making a lucky call. So the rest of the day was spent getting the meat put away, feeding horses, then having a nice celebratory dinner and a bottle of wine. We drove out the next day and had an uneventful trip home…which is just the way I like it.