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Thread: My First Moose

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default My First Moose

    It's -37 and has been for days, I never wrote about this hunt and thought I would share. My good friend Charles ask me if I would go on a float hunt for moose with him. I of course said yes and ask him the plan. Charles and I were in the Army together at Fort Hood and both deployed to Iraq when it started. Charles went back to train the Iraqi SF and was wounded by a sniper. After he recovered he ask to be sent to Anchorage, this is how we came to be together for this hunt. He had hired a hunt planner (which I highly recommend as a novice) so we had the maps and a good idea of what to expect. This particular float had only been done a few times. The other hunters had used smaller inflatable canoes and had floated down an alder choked stream to a floatable creek. We had a larger raft and knew that would be a tough job. So we saw that our air taxi would airdrop us our gear at the floatable creek. With the plan being to fly into a small strip above the creek and hike down a few miles to the floatable creek and meet the plane that would air drop the bulk of our gear including the raft that alone weighed 120lbs for just the raft. Charles ask me to go in July so of course we stayed on the phone talking hunting, guns, gear, ect… We bought all the videos and watched those together, read all the Alaska hunting books, used this website extensively ask questions and got great advice.
    We got together and weighed all our stuff and prepared it for the airdrop. We each planned our own meals and planned a couple group meals.

    We met at 40 mile air in Tok to spend the night and fly out the next day. We paid our transport fees and discussed the logistics of getting us in the field with our gear and the date and location of our flight out. They weighed all our gear and we put it up for the night. We walked over to the restaurant across the highway and had dinner. After dinner we checked out 40 miles hunt office and looked through their hunting photo albums, getting us pumped up of course.


    Day 1
    We carried all our gear over to the flight line and staged it to be loaded. We loaded up in a 206 and away we go. After a short flight we are at the dirt strip, as a pilot myself, I see where he is going to land and get kinda freaked out. We power land on a postage stamp and we are down safe. The places these professionals can land are amazing to me, but they do it everyday. We unload our packs and get ready for the 3 miles down to the creek. The first part of the hike down was not to bad, there was a game trail that followed the ridge down and the footing was good. Then we hit the tundra, I was so thankful that we did not have to carry all that gear from the strip, and we did consider that option. The mile or so across the tundra was miserable, almost spirit breaking, after what seemed like forever we made the drop point.

    We had a snack and drank several bottles of water each trying to stay hydrated. We both had gotten exhausted crossing the uneven swampy tundra. After we had rested we made a windsock and marked the drop zone with orange trash bags. After a short wait the plane appeared, the pilot made a few passes and lined up for his first run. His helper pushed one of the bags out and it landed with a bounce right on target. The next run out came the raft and then the same over and over until it was all on the ground. The plane flew by and with a wave of his wings was gone.



    Now that little trickle of fear set in, I ask Charles if he thought it was all okay, he said he thought so. We started unpacking all the gear; the raft was in perfect condition, not a scratch. We lost a few food items that exploded on impact, but everything else was fine. After a few hours we had camp setup and had burned all our packing material.
    Last edited by stid2677; 01-11-2009 at 19:55.
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Day 2
    We were up at daylight eager to get started. We had to travel several miles down stream to get to our hunting area, we did a lot of dragging today until we got to the river after that it was not so bad. We floated hard and made it to our hunting area a day before the season opened. We made camp and took time to take a breath and take it all in. We had beautiful scenery and a clear running river. After camp was up we scouted the area and found a lot of sign. We called that night and had a bull come in the dark and grunt at us as he crossed the river, it was too dark to see and the night before season opened. We had dinner and made our plans for the next day. We haunted this first camp hard but never saw another moose.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Day 5
    Up before daylight and in the blind, spend several cold hours calling, still have not seen anything in this spot. Head back to camp and have lunch and take a nap after camp chores. We both head out early today for our afternoon sit, the weather is changing and it is one of those days you just feel that game will be moving. I decide to hunt up on the side of the ridge tonight, wanted to see more area. Not long after reaching my spot over looking the river, I see a wolf across the river out or range but still something to watch. He is trying to dig up something, I thought about trying to get on him but the river was too deep to cross without the raft, plus I had a feeling that tonight’s the night. I enjoyed the show. I called a few times and settled in for a wait. Down by the river I thought I saw a flash of something white. I scan with my binos and that is when I saw him standing behind a tree thrashing it. I watched him for several minutes and he continued to rake the tree giving me a head on shot. I cow called to him and he threw his head up and started walking to me all stiff legged, waving his head side to side. He was right by the river, so as soon as he turned I let him have it with my Benelli R-1 300 WM, BOOM, BOOM, still on his feet, BOOM, BOOM, last shot broke his back, all 4 in the boiler room. After the last shot he fell out of my sight. I knew he was down and find it hard to put to words my feelings. As I neared him I was in awe of his size, this thing was a horse with antlers; I could hardly move the head.
    Charles came to see what all the shooting was about and was happy to see me with my bull. We took some pictures and cleared the area around the bull and started a fire. There was bear and wolf sign everywhere and we were nervous to say the least. I hike back to camp and get my game bags, axe, and frame pack. I take a pain bill for my back because it is already hurting and I have some serious work ahead. When I get back to the kill site Charles has the fire going and he and I get started butchering at 5:00pm and we were done with all but cutting off the head by 8:30pm. We stacked the quarters on a bed on driftwood and covered it with a tarp. We got back to camp and had dinner and crashed exhausted.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Day 7

    Charles wanted to move after I killed my bull, I wish we had stayed there longer I’m sure we could have killed another Bull there. We got up early and packed and finished the bull by removing his head and antlers. We lined the raft over to the kill site and loaded up the bull. We floated hard that day; towards the end of the day I learned a lesson. The raft was heading into a sharp bend I was standing holding the raft by the bow trying to keep it from slamming into a sweeper in the bend when I was dragged in over my head, freezing cold water filled my wader because I had no belt on. I was just able to reach shore without drowning. I was wearing fleece under and was able to drain the water from my wader and continue on. We found a good spot and stopped to hunt. We had an awesome camp and in a good spot. We started to hunt together now and hunted hard for a few days.



    I was getting worn down from the pace and told Charles I was going to sleep in the next morning. He was up before light and out the door. He returned and said that he had seen a small bull and a few miles off the river. We ate breakfast and I started to clean up, Charles wanted to try to find a straight trail to where he had seen the small bull, I ask him to wait and I would go with him. He did not want to wait and headed off, I finished breakfast and was washing my pan when I heard a noise by the river. I looked over to see a bull caribou looking at me. I looked at him and he just looked back at me turning his head from side to side, trying to figure out what I was. I dropped my pan and went for my rifle and he took off back the way he came. He was running by the river and I was on a game trail above it, with trees and brush between us. We ran down the river this way until I had a opening, I shot and missed I planted my feet and fired again breaking his back and fired once more to end it quick. Charles came running back, to see what was wrong and could not believe his luck; he would have had this bou if he had stayed. He wanted to move again, so went back to pack camp while I butchered my caribou. The bugs ate me alive while cleaning this animal, I had left my bug spray behind trying to cut weight thinking that the bugs were done for the year, boy was I wrong. Over the next few days the bugs had my hands so swollen that I was afraid that I was going to have to cut off my wedding band. We get everything packed including the meat the raft is now getting heavy. We find another spot to hunt and setup camp.
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  5. #5
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Day 8

    This hunt is work at this point with daily requirements to tend the meat. We find a few good spots and continue to hunt hard into the night and up early each morning. Charles is feeling the pressure and we are hunting hard to get him a bull. As the last day of the season comes and goes we except that we were blessed to take the animals we did and that was all the land was going to give us this trip. We Packed up and floated to the take out, ever mindful that if we passed it we were in trouble. We arrived at the take out to find a few others waiting to fly out. We got the tent setup and the raft packed and the meat hung. I had to debone the meat to fly it out, that took me awhile. After I got done we all sat around the fire sharing stories and pictures. I cooked up a bunch of moose and we shared an adult beverage and had a great time.

    Day 10
    Hunters came and went while we waited our turn. While there I saw how unprepared some hunters were. One hunter’s gear got left and he had a moose cape in a black plastic bag, that thing did not smell good the next day. We waited a day and a half for weather and to get our turn. I was glad to get out because the temps were getting warmer each day. We made it back to Tok and got everything loaded up. We split the meat made sure we both had transfer forms and Charles headed back to Anchorage and I to Delta Junction to stop at Delta meats. I loaded my moose and caribou in game bags and strapped it to a hitch haul. I get to Delta meats parking lot and get ready to spend the night in my RV. During the night I feel the RV shaking, I think I’m dreaming but it won’t stop. I look out the window and a gigantic dog in chewing on my moose. So this dog and me fight all night over this meat. Finally at 8:00am they open, I go in and say I got a bunch of meat and she says can’t take it until Thursday and its Monday. So I rush into Fairbanks and finally find a place that will take it. The temperature was in the low 70s and I had to get the meat cold.

    Summary
    I learned a ton on this hunt; from now on I always have a head net and deet. I wear a belt with my waders and I don’t try to drag stop rafts. Moose are big and a lot of work more than most realize. Handling meat for days gets old fast, have a plan if it gets warm to get it out. Two hunters and gear plus a couple animals are a raft load. Buy good gear Alaska is tough on gear and a remote hunt is no place for failure. Swift rivers are hard to cross even shallow ones and even harder in the dark. I try to camp and hunt on the same side.
    Charles and I had a great hunt and enjoyed fine conversation and debate, You really get to know someone when you spend a few weeks in a tent and raft with them. This hunt really gave me the float bug. For those this may inspire please, Alaskan river are dangerous and are to be respected. Prepare yourself and have a blast.

    I recommend this website as well as Mikes Book “Float Hunting Alaska’s Wild Rivers”
    Buy a quality raft and go hunting, IMHO Alaska’s river are no place for cheap pool rafts.

    Happy Floating
    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default great story

    I guess that i caught you still trying to finish it and can't wait to read the rest of the story. Thanks for taking the time to share it. I love the longer stories and the pictures. Just wondering how it came about to do the air drop thing? I think that I really would have been afraid of breaking things. Were either of you experienced in doing that kind of thing in the military? Can you share some more details of the precautions taking to do it. How did it effect the price and logistics with the transporter? Thanks again!!!

    P.S. you pushed reply before I did!!! You got me......
    Last edited by tboehm; 01-11-2009 at 20:04. Reason: fix post

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    Member Torpedoshooter's Avatar
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    Default Great Post

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for your service!

    Rich
    CDR USN Ret
    I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That oath had no expiration date … Congress must use a different version that does.

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    Member lab man's Avatar
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    Good story. How did that caribou taste? Everyone says they're unedible during the rut, but I've never tasted the meat. So??

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    Most excellent story.
    I read it twice.

    I seldom hunt Moose, but once inna while I do, so I know that getting one next to water,and having a boat of sort to move it is a HUGE help.Thats a smart way to hunt.

    Well done!

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    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Steve that was another outstanding writeup! You really are getting the hang of sucking the rest of us in to your stories so it feels like we are right there experiencing it with you. Sounds like you and Charles had one heck of a hunt even if it involved a bit of hard work and a few clouds made of bugs. Thanks!

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    excellent post steve!! great reading, especially this time of year!!!!

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    40 Mile does airdrops into another area and we ask them if they would do this one. We bought those cheap blue sleeping pads and used them and massive amounts of orange duct tape to pad and secure everything for the drop. They did not charge anymore for it other than the air time and I of course tipped the pilot and bomber well, sure saved my broke old back. I was a helicopter crewchief in the Army so we just landed and then threw it on the ground LOL

    Steve
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    Steve, thanks for the story, I heard that story on the phone but it was a great story to read also. I am getting the bug again. I might try another float hunt in 2010. I have an elk hunt scheduled for this year. I did a Black bear hunt last spring in South East Alaska. Harvested a real nice 19 14/16 black. That was a great hunt also. Thanks again for the story and pic's

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    Member gusuk1's Avatar
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    great read and advise

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    Supporting Member AFHunter's Avatar
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    Steve,

    Thanks for the story. I have heard the story of the hunt before, but I had to read it.

    I found myself laughing outloud when you included the dog bit at delta meats. You survived miles of wilderness filled with wolves and bears with no incidents. You got to civilization and had to put up with a mangy dog wanting your meat. Too funny.

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    Member GreenTea's Avatar
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    Default Excellent story

    Thanks for posting, really appreciated it. Pictures were great too.
    Well done!

  17. #17
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    Steve, another great writeup with pics.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Much better story than the latest rags at the news stand plus great pics.The wadders part is a true danger and had the river been swifter I'm affraid a much sadder story would have been told.I've lost a few friends in swift water without wadders just from the glacier silt filling there clothes and weighing them down.You don't even see it in the crystal clear water

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    Fun story - thanks - made my dull afternoon pass by while being tied to a desk for sure!
    I have learned one valuable lesson hunting the north country - have a back up bug net besides the main one - they are light, cheap, and priceless! I HATE BUGS!
    Try one of the thermal cells - they work great!
    Thanks for sharing....
    Randy

  20. #20
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    Default Very nicely done

    Very nicely Done Steve. Great story, great pix, and great advise.

    Many hunters overwhelm themselves by trying to take more game than they can handle at one time. Usually it's because they are trying to save money. Myself, I'd rather make a couple trips where I can handle all the meat than end up wasting some, even if it costs more.

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