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Thread: 2008 Ak moose (hunt)

  1. #1
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    Default 2008 Ak moose (hunt)

    I'll save some of you the trouble, don't go scrolling down for the moose, he aint dead yet, that said....

    I decided on a moose hunt in late 2007. I had been on 2 unguided caribou hunts without firing at an animal. I figured I would just try to mix it up a little.
    I did not know where to start so I lurked on this sight gleaning what info I could from the multitude. I learned I needed help and I learned 2 names: Mike S. and Larry B. I spoke to both of them and was impressed by both. I chose Mike.
    Mike gave me alot of information for free, but not all of it. We had several talks about my hunt and finally settled on a river and a transport service(both recommended by Mike).
    At the same time I was sifting through replies to invitations I had placed on various sites. My friends were too broke or lazy to go so I needed a buddy.
    I settled on a great man from Penn. His name is Mark. We compared gear lists and goals and reduced our expenditures.
    We never met face to face. We talked on the phone almost daily-ramping up our excitement.
    I was in Morocco on business 4 weeks before the hunt so my wife sent my gear to Alaska for me ( I had packed it 3 weeks earlier)!
    The first week of September I flew back to America, kissed my wife, and flew to Anc where I met Mark for the first time at the airport. Happily he was not a little guy bent on running me into the ground. We flew to Aniak together and spent 1 night double and triple checking our gear. With a huge amount of help from Mike S. we were ready!
    The next day we checked our rental rafts from Ak downstream, PERFECT.
    Loaded up and flew to our river, inflated our canoes and set out on our Ak adventure.
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    Default days 1 and 2

    That first evening we rafted about 3 miles down the river to a good looking spot to camp and hunt. I think we both showed a little fear in setting up our tents that first night. Fear of the unknown, bears, rain, snow...
    Next morning we both got in 1 raft and hunted across the river (always take both rafts). I neared the top of the ridge and sat down to glass and call for moose. Within 1 hour I had seen a cow and calf but no bulls. I could see a huge amount of country but my buddy never showed up. After a couple of hours I became concerned as I had never hunted with him before. I made my way back to camp and found him there reading. It was near noon. I made 1 cast and caught the biggest pike of my life! I released it, we broke camp and headed down river again.
    This time we made camp on the downstream end of a sandbar(like mike says). We slept more easily this night. We did not see any elevated places to glass from the next morning so we broke camp early and rafted for about 6 hours. we did stop and spot and make some calls but, really, we must have sounded really bad! We found another sandbar with excellent elevated ridges nearby and many large oxbow slews. We knew this was the place, camp and much needed sleep...
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    Default next couple of days

    The following morning we split up. Mark went up to the top of a goodlooking ridge to glass while I chose to walk some slews. Wow! I got creamed by bugs! I had to have sounded like a dozen men trying to slosh through some of that mud. I did not even see any fresh sign, I was longing for the 2 moose I saw the first day. Later in the day we joined forces and took a short walk but only saw a fox.
    The next morning we again took 1 raft across the river(CMON!) Mark had seen some really good looking country up on the ridge so we went up there. Totally fogged in til noon. I called my butt off in the fog but got no action. Later I moved down the hill to a better spot where I could see for miles and miles. I called and called, nothing. Later, about 4pm I saw Mark above me to the east and we met up again, compared notes and headed back to camp with a plan to move on tomorrow. Arriving at camp early, we fished for a couple of hours and made some calls-I must sound pretty bad.
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    Default couple more days

    We awoke early the next morning so we could pack up and float in the dark. We floated a very long way or so it seemed. We had a destination in mind and we did make it. We did stop and glass a couple of times and we made several attempts at calling. During 1 slow stretch we both laid back on our rafts. We were both startled by a crashing near the river to our east. We bailed out of the rafts in hot pursuit. I think I will never waste my time doing that again. It was thick, there were bugs, tall grass with a water base, just a bunch of reasons to not follow a sound in the forest. No Moose.
    We fished as we floated and discovered that every pile of alders made by beavers, of which there were many, held at least 1 pike. Also we found where a small stream met the river right on a slow bend. All of the ingredients came together. We probably fished there for 2 hours and caught at least 20 pike each! I am serious, 20! We did reach our intended camp which was probably too steep but we camped anyway for 2 days.

    This was a good spot. Mentioned in an article by a writer of good repute.
    Rain, rain, rain. We hunted high, then we hunted low. I personally sat on a huge oxbow slew at the bottom of a birch sidehill for 9 hrs in the rain calling intermittently. I saw some sign, no Moose.
    I returned to camp, wet, cold worn out and tired of that spot. Again we planned to leave early the following morning. We awoke and were on the river just after first light....
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    Default half way done

    That morning we had gone about 2 miles when I heard some noise off to river left up around the next corner. I signaled to Mark that something was ahead but he had heard it too. As we floated around the corner, there he was! Probably a year and a half old, small hand sized palms bull moose. In the trees I could hear another! We floated slowly with rifle ready. finally the second one came out. Dang!! Probably 2 and a half, bigger palms and much bigger body but still too small. After remaining tantalizingly close for several minutes, they finally crashed into the underbrush. We exited the rafts and hunted the area for about an hour but never saw another animal.
    We got back into the rafts and floated on down the river. It was an easy class 1. not too deep, I could not have handpicked a better float.
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  6. #6
    Member sbiinc's Avatar
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    Default good story

    still a good story nik, sounds like you guys had a great time... guess you'll be back.

    b

  7. #7
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    Default Awesome

    Great story. it is always amazing how may bugs there still are during hunting season.

    Besides your self professed bad calling, what do you think were some things that you regret/could have done differently? What was the high point(s) of the trip and what was the low(s).

    All in all how would you rate this trip given the expense and time involved?

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    Default Very NICE!

    I like the photos. I never seem to take enough and none are this good. What a pretty place to go. Now just where did you say that was?
    Thanks for the story.

  9. #9
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    Default days seem to mesh together

    Later that day we found another spot we could camp. I had found the spot on Google earth and it looked promising. The area had burned out a few years back but still looked nice. Just before we stopped for the day we met 2 other hunters rafting the river. A fella about 45 or 50 and his dad. I am not sure I have ever seen happier men. Rowing down the river with smiles on their faces. Truly having the time of their lives.
    That evening we camped on a sandy bar across from an old trappers cabin. There were alot of bear tracks and wolf tracks on the bar, and a couple of bear pies. Awaking to rain had become the norm and the next morning was no different. While my buddie remained in camp, I moved to the ridge to our west. It may have had a good view of the surrounding country, I'll never know. Too much fog. I moved around with the moss sucking at my feet with every step. I would lift my foot higher than my ankle, step forward and down. for a net gain of about 3 inches. I moved around the knob till I was below the fog and still had a good view. lots more rain. If only I had seen 1 moose for every gallon of rain that ran down the crack of my @55! On my way back to camp I took a quick look at another mans dream. The cabin had been built in the early 80's and probably only used 1 or 2 years then abandoned. Also had a small root cellar. I took photos and tried to make heads or tails of what I saw. Someone had had a dream and followed it this far, then discarded it. Must have been a tragedy in the family whether financial or otherwise to lead to this. I was saddened by it, yet, emboldened to follow my dream of doing the same.
    Since it was still raining and foggy we decided to move still further down the river. While I was hunting the other raft had passed us but we caught them early in the afternoon. We talked about fishing, a small antler they had found, shots we heard(they were sighting in), the Alaskan dream.
    Since they had the lead we volunteered to back off and follow but the younger man waved us by and we rowed quickly to put space between us. I wish we had not. Mark and I are nons. A legal moose for us must have 4 brows or be 50" wide. The other men were residents, any bull was legal. 20 minutes after we passed them, we saw a nice bull on the edge of the river. Rats!! only 2 tines on each side! I looked and looked for a couple of smaller tines but none existed. We floated past trying not to disturb him but he finally broke back into the bush. Mark said, "Man, he looked wide enough!"
    OH Man! I am such a Baffoon. Every source I had encountered said "Count the tines, don't rely on spread". I was so caught up in tines I never even glanced at the spread! I did take 1 photo from a ways off and will post it. Bull is in lower left and ears are visible. small photo, low quality, you tell me? Do I deserve a kick in the sack?
    Spent the rest of the day trying not to puke.
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    Default last days

    We camped that evening on a small island bar with a huge amount of sign in the area. We spotted a cow on the bank and tried to call out any friends. Every time I called she came running back out but never had any company. Next morning I hunted upstream but found no moose, lots of sign. I used my GPS to get back and I was VERY disappointed! I could see camp with my own 2 eyes yet puter was saying to go another way! Being sure of myself, I followed puter to see where it would take me(a sign from GOD?) I needed to go about 1/3 mile but walked almost 2. At the end of it all I finally just put it in my pack and walked to camp. In camp I checked my backtrail on the puter and it had me zigging and zagging and crossing my backtrail several times. It will stay in my pack but will not be my primary source. The rest of that day and most of the next were spent in the tents trying to stay dry. After 2 nights on the bar we left early on the morning of the 19th. We had about 3 miles to the takeout but another 2 days to hunt and 3 days til takeout. So, as we approached our takeout I phoned the taxi to change our takeout to 15 miles downstream. I was told that taxi was already on the way!! 3 days early!!! What the he11! The previous day my partner had called and scheduled an early retrieval due to personal reasons. I wanted to stay. I wanted to hunt 2 more days. I had promised my wife I would not come home empty handed....again!!!! I am however a responible person. I was not prepared to be alone, nor was I prepared to pay additional for another flight. And I had just spent 12 days in the rain in a tent. Going home was bittersweet, but the correct choice.
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    Default conclusion

    Absolutely Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I will do it again, hopefully several times.
    I learned a lot and feel I can do this truly ON MY OWN!
    If you are concerned that I did not mention Mark enough, Mark prepared for and worked hard on this hunt, His hunt is his story to tell, I will respect that.
    It is with great sadness that I leave the bush, those of you who have been there know of what I speak. Happy, yes, to see my loved ones, but sad nonetheless.

  12. #12
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    Default Follow-up

    To answer a couple of questions...
    Without a doubt I will be back.
    About bugs.... a headnet is a must but does not usurp the need for deet, and lots of it! I turned my headnet backwards also, seemed to help.

    FBH,
    Next time I will take more easy foods that require little or no prep. Crackers candy, sardines etc. it just works better for me.
    Next time, better raingear. more matches.
    Maybe hunt with someone with experience-I can do it alone-but why?
    Probably spend more time totally focused on moose-less fishing.
    High point? I don't know buddy, more like a plateau. Went straight up till I got on the plane on my way up, leveled off for 12 days, then crashed by coming home 3 days early. Maybe seeing the 2 small bulls, maybe the big bull, hard to say.
    As we left the river there was a very big bull off to the west of the river about 1000 yards from us, wished I had known that...

    Ak River Rat,
    Get out your map of Alaska, go about 5 inches to the west of Anchorage, That's it!!
    For more detail, feel free to contact Mike S. He can tell you how big a map to buy so the scale works.
    I am 0 for 3 now, and couldn't be happier!

  13. #13
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default

    Most Excellent, Nik.

  14. #14
    New member akhunter02's Avatar
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    Default Dang

    1st Yes, a kick in the sac is in order, but when in dought never pull the trigger

    2nd Finding a good hunting partner is harder than finding a good wife. I would NEVER hunt with someone I didnt know, NEVER! Ive hunting with friends that after one hunt I have never hunting with again.

    Thanks for the post

  15. #15
    Member Berto's Avatar
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    Thumbs up thanks

    for the play by play. i was curious to hear your hunt story but never asked...great photos! it sounds to me like you have learned much and are now due to harvest your first AK big game next trip.

    DIY caribou would provide an almost guaranteed harvest, but getting a nice bull moose would certainly be far sweeter...

  16. #16
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    Default

    Keep Swinging Nik,

    Enjoyed the story. I have had many trips that ended without taking any game. Better to kick yourself for not taking a shot at a sub-legal bull, then to have to come back to Alaska for a court date. Keep at it, took me several trips to connect and I still have dry runs. I had a no moose float hunt this year as well. Plus gives you an excuse to come back and try again. You can't have too many trips of life time IMHO.
    Remember my friend, it not the destination its the journey along the way.

    Happy Hunting

    Steve
    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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  17. #17
    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Default

    Good story Nik!
    I am glad you took time to tell this story - it makes one feel like they are there with you rather then just jotting down a short paragraph!
    I would say never to a stranger as a partner as well, but it sounded like your only option and you apparently do a good job of checking out things so this time it worked well. I think alone could be a recipe for disaster, there is a big difference between I did not enjoy my partners company and perhaps a health mishap!
    Of all the critters I have hunted it is appearing to me moose are far underated - perhaps it is from the vast and hostile landscape they dwell in, it makes them tougher - at least to find. I found elk easy to hunt but hard to find as well.
    Cabin story was good insert - always wonder what happened when you come across another mans vacated place. Nice how you treated it with both respect and interest.
    Congrats on having a fulfilling hunt!

  18. #18
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    Thumbs up Well dun

    Love reading post like this. Even though you came home empty handed looks like you had a blast and the fishing was great. keep trying you will get lucky one of these days. hoping to connect my self wheni get back from iraq next fall last chance for me since i will be leaving the state for another duty station. congrats on your trip and great pics.

  19. #19
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default great story

    Thanks for taking the time to share the detailed story with us. We are starting to see more of them and yours was well told. I think that you probably made the smart decision on the moose, better safe than sorry but I will say that he does look close. I'll bet that you could have put a rack stretcher on him to get that last inch or two!!

  20. #20
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    Default Iditarod

    Looks like the Iditarod, I used to have a camp right next to the old cabin. This river has been really hit hard. It used to be great but now it is done until something changes.. Nice pictures.

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