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Thread: Moose float hunt 2008

  1. #1
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    Default Moose float hunt 2008

    Day 1, 8 September 2008

    Our day started early. We dropped my brother off at the Fairbank’s airport at 4:30 AM. We had finished a fly-in for caribou three days prior in the Brooks Range and my brother had to be back in Maryland for his wedding. I will say that butchering seven caribou, recovering equipment, and repacking in three days was a tight turn-around.

    With my brothers caribou meat and guns checked in we say our goodbyes and we were off to start our moose float hunt. We float in two mighty Levitators to our initial planned hunting spot, arriving at around 3:00 PM. The whole time we are rowing I can think of only the hunt from the year before and if the bulls we seen last year would be in the same spot. The two bulls we harvested last year are below. Last year we shot the largest 59½” bull three miles from the river on the top of a mountain. The smaller 39” bull was shot from camp standing on a gravel bar. Before the hunt we had talked it over and decided if the bulls were three miles from the river we would get the bull to the river by calling or by back-pack, even if it did take three days to haul.
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    Day 1, Sep 8 continued

    When we hit our planned hunting spot we found a large amount of wolf and bear tracks. At least three times as many tracks as last year. After camp was setup, we began to glass the mountain for moose. We did not see any moose after an hour of glassing with binos and spotting scopes, so I decided to let my first session of calling begin with my Love Horn. I called for about fifteen minutes while my Dad raked brush and beat trees. I was now sweating and returned to my glassing spot on the gravel bar.

    I began to glass and saw a bull standing in the same spot we had shot the large bull last year. The bull walked out of his bedding spot in the thick cover and heads straight down the mountain towards us. We called for five days to bulls in the same spot last year, and the only reaction we got was; the bulls would get up and push each other around and flash back at us with their massive antlers. The bull, who seemed very interested in what I had to offer, was initially judged at around 45 inches. As the bull became with-in a mile, it was apparent the bottom half of his antlers were still in full velvet. This bull was now estimated in the low to mid 50” range. Night was falling fast and the bull had one more mile to cover before dark. The last mile was out of our site in the tundra and black spruce infested swamp. I hoped my calling would get the bull to us before dark. We cut the distance about 400 yards and waited for the bull to show on the gravel bar. It became too dark to shoot and we hoped the bull would show in the morning.
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    Default Day 2, 9 Sep 2008

    Day 2, 9 September 2008

    After a sleepless night, morning was upon us and the bull had been all over the gravel bar, but no sign of the bull. I let out a series of calls and the bull never showed. We never saw this bull again.
    We climbed to a better spot to glass from for the rest of the day and saw four spike/fork bulls and seven cows. The first day of hunting ended with high hopes of more big bulls.

    the pictures below are of us loading the Levitators in the trailer at my house and the crew at the put-in.
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    Default Day 3, 10 Sep 2008

    Day 3, 10 September

    Day three is spent glassing the mountain. We spot the same bulls and cows from the previous day.

    We tried the Mountain House raspberry crumble desert for dinner. Wow was that good. I will have this fine meal selection along on every hunt in the future

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    Default Day 4, 11 September

    Day 4, 11 September

    We did not see any more shooter bulls and move camp down river. After setting up camp we find some high ground and glass. Instantly we saw three fork horns and a low to mid 50” range bull about a mile from camp. We watch the bulls for the rest of day untill the sun fades away. It was too late to try to harvest a bull and get back to camp before dark.

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    Default Day 5, 12 September

    Day 5, 12 September

    We rose early from our nests in the tent and eat extra portions of breakfast and glass the bulls from the previous day. The bulls bedded up after breakfast and the stalk was on. It took two hours to get to these bulls in their hiding spot in the thick spruce. We walked with-in 75 yards of the bulls before we saw them. Man was it thick in there. The bulls had already spotted us and were moving around nervously. I brought my gun up and find a wide antler filled with velvet. I slowly drop the gun to the chest and remember the large bull was out of velvet. I lowered my gun and found the light shining off the large bulls polished antlers as he turns to walk away. The bulls slowly trot off never offering a clean shot.

    My Dad tells us when we arrived at camp that the bulls trotted off at least 2 miles. My Dad watched the whole episode unfold through the spotting scope. Disappointed and knowing we have spooked the only bulls we have seen in this spot off we decide to move camp the next day. I lay in bed that night, disappointed in myself for having a nice mature bull slip away from my finger tips. I lay in bed also glad I had the respect for a beautiful creature to not take a bad shot and make the bull suffer a horrible death. I also pondered why I did not settle for a fork antlered bull. Two of the fork antlered bulls were very impressive. The fork's antlers were right at the 50" mark. I had never seen fork antlered bulls with such wide antlers

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    Default Day 6, 13 September

    Day 6, 13 September

    As we pack our gear in the mighty Levitators I tell the guys I want to stop at every bend and glass the mountain. After a couple hours of stopping at each bend we finally see a moose. I had just stepped out of the Levitator and looked on the mountain and there was a huge bull. I did not even need binos to see this guy from two miles away. He was slowly walking off the top of the mountain, head held high as if he was the owner of this beautiful place.

    We watched the bull for about an hour as he checked numerous cows. I called for about 15 minutes from the rivers edge and the bull showed no interest in us at all. The bull finally bedded up and we lost sight of him. John and I decided we going after this bull. I thought to myself that this is why I did not get a chance to shoot the last bull. A larger bull was waiting for me down river. I estimated this bull to be right at the 65” mark. We walk ¾ of the way up the mountain and walk into a cow. We had been staying in a depression way to the right of the bull to keep out of sight and have the wind blowing at us. This cow screwed everything up. We were about 400 yards from the bull and now had to go straight at him in the thickest, nastiest stuff. We head straight at the bull based on the last place we seen the bull. We never see this bull again. We head back to the river. I am even more disappointed in myself for blowing two stalks.

    When we return to the river, my Dad tells us that the bull was 50 yards away from us when we changed direction. If we had not changed direction the bull would have been in the open in the same depression as us. We ended up parallel to the bull and he caught our wind. This bull lived to see another day.

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    Default Day 6, 13 September Continued

    Day 6, 13 September Continued

    As we walked back to the river we hit the tree line and I noticed a trail in the edge of the woods that was as deep as caribou trails that have been traveled for thousands of years. The only difference is this trail is filled with moose tracks. We decide there is more than one bull in this area and begin setting up camp.

    We had the tents set up and were clearing brush when Rory says there is a bull in the river grunting at us. I looked and a large bull is standing in the river grunting. Rory and I grab our guns and after one shot each the bull was down in the middle of the river. The bull then started floating down the river. I threw on my waders and headed down to pull the bull to the shore. I yell for the guys to bring my pack and gun. I get to the bull and drag the bull to the waters edge. Rory made the killing shot and he fills out his harvest tag. We begin winching the bull out of the water and take lots of pictures. The winch is a lifesaver. The bull is still in a couple inches of water and we start caping the bull and taking the legs off.
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    Default Day 6, 13 September Continued

    Day 6, 13 September Continued

    We all hear a bull grunt up river. We all look at each and all simultaneously ask each other if what we heard was another bull? Another bull is grunting. I grab my gun and begin grunting back. The bull grunted back for about twenty seconds and then the willows starting moving like a tornado was hitting them. I pull my gun up. I can only see the tops of the bull’s antlers and the willows flying in all directions. The bull continues to walk towards us in the brush. My heart is pounding uncontrollably at this point. John starts smashing brush and the bull steps out in the open facing us.

    I put the crosshairs on his chest and hope the bull turns broadside. The bull let out a few more grunts and turned broadside on the gravel bar and I gave him three rounds from the .338 Winchester model 70. I was out of bullets and the bull slowly continued to walk towards the river. I jammed three more shells in the gun. I thought I had missed the first three shots. I could see the bullets ricocheting off the river behind the bull. I put three more rounds in the bull and he finally fell over back-wards dead. We began to celebrate in dis-belief of the fact that two mature bulls had been harvested so close to each other. These bulls were shot 30 minutes apart and they both fell over dead in the same spot. It is now 9:00PM and we have two bulls down in the river. We winch my bull to a couple inches of water and I look up and see two more moose standing in the river. My Dad grabs my gun as we tried to decipher the size of the moose in fading daylight. The moose move out of a thicket and what we thought were horns was just brush. A triple was not to be.
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    Exhausted and borderline hypothermic we finished butchering both moose at 5:00AM the next morning. While butchering my bull we discover that all six of my bullets hit the bull in the boiler room. Two bullets went through the heart and both shoulders. Four bullets went through the lungs and both sides.

    Below is a view from our camp. The two green tarps are the resting spots of the moose. Both moose were dropped atthe end of the gravel bar in the center of the picture.
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    Default day 7, 14 September

    Day 7, 14 September

    We wake late in the day and begin the chores of fleshing and turning lips and ears. At dark I was finished with my moose and half way done with Rory’s moose. I bring a cheap little grill and match-lite charcoal just for fresh loins. We celebrate our harvest with a couple shots of Blackberry brandy and inner loins while we prepare for the marathon to the take-out point.
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    Day 8, 15 September
    We are unsure how long it is to the take-out, so we packed camp in the dark and we floated on the river with our harvest at daylight. Our pick-up is scheduled for 4:00PM and we do not want to be late. The weather was cold and raining all morning. We stopped twice to build fires to reheat frozen appendages. We spot three more moose on the river as we floated this day. One was a bull in the mid 40” range that my Dad decided was not worth the cost of a plane ride for him. We arrive at the take-out at 2:00PM with nasty weather. We start to make camp and the skies begin to clear. It was 7:00PM and I figured we would be in heaven another night. Camp fire going and lies being told, a plane circled and the easily identifiable helio courier of Wright Air arrives to take us to civilization. Wright Air made the extra effort to get us, the moose, and most of our gear out that night. My raft and cooler were left for a back-haul the next day.
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    Thanks Dad, John, and Rory for an awesome hunt. I can’t wait to go on this hunt again next year. Next year my wife will be along on the trip. She has filled a couple cow tags and wants to harvest her first bull. Hopefully I can fulfill her request.

    I attached a picture below of the of the only bullet recovered from Rory's moose. The bullet was a 230 grain Winchester fail safe chambered in .338.
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    I added a picture of the back straps of my moose. MMMM these are so good.

    I always butcher my own meat. I know I get my own meat back and the meat is cut the way I want it. I did donate some of the meat to families in the local community.
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    Default

    Very nice story and photos, dude. Way to go and congrats!

  16. #16
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    Default I'm guilty

    Envy is one of those bad sins that I am guilty of. Thanks for sharing your story with us and you all are to be congradulated on a great job and a wonderful hunt!!

  17. #17
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    Default AFhunter

    Great story with pictures. So, inquiring minds want to know, did you see any Bears?

  18. #18

    Default Strong Family unit there...

    Partner, you're a lucky man. Has nothing to do with the taking of those fine game animals. The luck I refer to has to do with being the recipient of the seeds and investment of time & money your father sowed during past years. Recognize the value of those float hunts and understand that these are the best times of your life. "The Backstraps of Life"

    As Tboehm said, I too am green with envie, both for the opportunity you have and the strong family unit to share it with. Of course the hunting is certainly awesome too.

    I am blessed for just having ridden along vicariously with you through the read and photos. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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    Default moose

    Wow congrats on the great moose!! Gotta Love the LEV!!

  20. #20
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    Thumbs up Great story

    That was a great story and great adventure. Especially having your dad along for it. Congrats to you and your hunting party.

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