Well Saturday started off like many before it. I loaded up every gun I own, several thousand rounds of ammunition, my wife, 3 kids and our dogs in my new truck.
We hit the road a little later than I had planned, and I realized before I left Anchorage that I didn't have a moose tag. Even though we were going shooting, I figured it would be in my best interest to be legal if I came across a bull standing on the side of the road.
I went to Fred Meyer but found out that they weren't open till 7 so I went to Eagle River Wal-Mart and got a tag. It was 7 before I got back on the road so I relented to the fact that I probably wasn't gonna see a moose... I just relaxed and took in the Fall colors on my drive North!
We stopped at Eureka and had breakfast and then continued on to Lake Louise road. When we reached the first tower my wife noticed a moose standing about 25-30 yards off the road to our right. I got out with my binos and looked at the rack to see if it was legal. It turned out to be a fork horn.
It was positioned in such a way that didn't allow me to see it's head or tail. All I could see was horns and kill zone!
So we said a short prayer of thanks and I gave her the camera to video me taking the moose. I retreived my .375 from my truck and loaded it while I walked to the rear of the truck. The meat was already in my freezer as far as I was concerned!
I decided to walk as close as possible and make a good video of me stalking and taking the moose! So I exited the roadway and began my stalk, keeping the trees between me and him. Once I made it about 20 feet off the road I heard a man yelling to me "stop, don't shoot, it's a decoy.... Alaska State Troopers.... save your ammo, Sir!"
To say that I had a lot of mixed emotions about the situation is putting it lightly! At first I was surprised then a little disappointed, then I was slightly embarrassed that I almost shot a decoy!
The Troopers approached me and I unloaded my rifle and waited on them. I recognized the first Trooper as the one that took the report from us this winter when my trappin' buddy "Steve" had a trap stolen. So I told him I recognized him and he remembered me. They checked my licenses and tags and told me that I "was a great example to my family and to other sportsmen!" They told me that I "did everything right!"
Trooper #1 introduced me to Trooper #2... all in all it was a very pleasant experience, other than the fact that I didn't get any meat out of the deal! They told me I was free to go, so I went to the end of the road and shot off a lot of ammo!
In retrospect I guess I could have done things differently and I could have ended up with a ticket or worse, but I chose to do things legally! I explained to my kids that even when you don't think anyone is watching, that you should still conduct yourself like there are Troopers in the bushes watching you!
It was a great lesson for me, and my family. Tuesday night I plan on kicking around some fields North of Anchorage, so maybe there's still a chance that I can legally fill that tag! We'll see!