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Thread: Amount of moose in 2006

  1. #1

    Default Amount of moose in 2006

    I am curious as to what the fellow hunters feel about the amount of moose seen this year, compared to the past. I for one hunted the point Mckenzie area hard as i had a cow permit. I can say we saw significant fewer cows there this year then last year. On the other hand a group of friends went into Eureeka and they got three spike forks in a week and saw one large bull. Last year they saw more larger bulls. Petersville the moose were very few several cows and saw one small bull. We hunted all the way back to Kahiltna glacier. This seems to be about the same as the last few years. Sheep creek valley to the north fork we saw two small bulls and one cow. This also seemed to be about the same as it has been the last few years. I am going to head out with the call and a camera next week and see what happens. Any other reports of increased or decreased moose? As far as caribou the start of the season showed quite a few at Eureeka and they were heading west and were on the Denali by early September. Not many but moving that way. Curious if anyone saw any caribou at the start of the season on the Hicks creek trail to the left of the lake. 20 years ago we always saw bulls there. Reports? Thanks Chef

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Well, it's not a scientific sample, but in 3 days of hunting 14A near Big Lake I also saw fewer cows (and no bulls). Last year I would say that I saw 6-8 moose per day. This year I saw 2 cows each of the first two days I was out, and then nothing the last day. I don't know that you can draw any overall conclusions from that, but it certainly wasn't encouraging.

    -Brian

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    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    I hunted in unit 20B for 8 days, typically plan on 10. Normally I see 4-10 cows per day. I am not a trophy hunter and since this area is any bull I take the first bull I find. My partner did not score and it took me 8 days. We did not see but 1-5 cows per day this year and the 5 included 3 calves. It wasn't the same as the norm.

    I don't typically hunt the Petersville area but I did take the wife and boys there 1 day. Driving in we saw 2 bulls, 1 mid 30's and the other mid to upper 40's. It was fun to see the wife get excited and watch these bulls walk away.

  4. #4

    Default Lot of Big Bulls

    The antler restrictions are really beginning to pay dividends. A LOT of really nice bulls are now showing up, where only ten years ago, you would be hard pressed to find a legal 36 incher. Fifty and sixty inchers are plentiful, all along the headwaters of the drainages on the south slopes of the Alaska Range.
    The secret is finding them. Here is where they are. They are at the HEADWATERS of the drainages. They are on the EASTERN banks of the drainages and very close to the glaciers. If you have access to a boat or plane, they are readily accessible. Some areas are fairly accessed by track rigs or wheelers, but very few. Don't waste your time, heading out to the flat tundra or rolling hills. This is where most of the moose winter, but in early fall they are at the headwaters of the drainages.
    The Big Susitna River offers one of the best opportunities for this. Launch off the Denali Highway. Go up either the West, Middle or East Forks and it is pretty easy to find a good bull or grizzly. A few wolverines on the West Fork. They are really coming back strong. Not nearly the number of wolves as in the recent past.
    The Nenanna offers the best opportunity for wheelers. Park near the lodge before the Butte Lake trail and take the trail to the north. The trail splits and goes to either the Nenanna Glacier or the West Fork of the Susitna Glacier. You can't go wrong with either. If you have an Argo or floatable ATV, you can easily cross the rivers and expand your range to either side of the rivers. They are not real bad. Mostly braided and fairly shallow, but you do have to pick your way around and choose your fording areas wisely.

  5. #5
    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default moose

    Well I havented hunted the same area twice but for what its worth I did a fly in float trip solo (3rd time) & first year saw lots of mixed cows & calves 1 legal bull 2nd trip same but lots of bulls also, this year called up 1 bull 50-55in
    4 brows on the right but passed on him at 40 yrds. He just wasnt as big as what I have taken before. But as fate would have it I saw no other moose & i hunted hard called, glassed ect. Few to any sighns of moose I did note a lot of bear tracks & sighted 3 different grizzys on my trip all along the river.

  6. #6

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    We saw 2 bulls and 5 cows during our 8 day float, lots and lots of bear and wolf tracks. I think the weather had a little to do with this years lack of bull moose sightings along the river corridor.

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    The trend I noticed over the last two years is more mature cows with no calves. I don't have hard #s, but can safely say that well over 50% of the cows I saw this yrear had no calves, & I only saw one set of twins in the areas I hunt.
    This is all in the Kenai area. My theory is brown bear predation due to increasing brown bear populations, but I'm no biologist. kind of a scary trend to see.

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    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Default I agree...

    with AK. We saw less cows/bulls, but in part I believe it was due to weather. Our area hadn't had its first frost yet and it usually has frosted/snowed during our hunt.

    Tim

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Trends take decades to interpret

    Unless you've hunted the same area for a long while, it's hard to garner any real interpretation about overall moose populations from what you saw this fall.

    I've lived and hunted the same place for 25 years.
    Here, in my area of 25B, I'd say the antler restrictions have had an overall negative effect on moose sex and age composition. One difference about the last couple of years is the warmer temps in September. This fall was incredibly warm. Also, it's the latest I've seen leaves stay on the willows along the riparian zones. (It was the earliest green-up we've ever seen too, in May!) I'm not sure how warmer temps affect moose movements, since the rut is photoperiod dependent, but I sense it's doing something. It sure affects meat care and when we can take moose and keep the meat without a freezer. There may be more winter hunts in our future unless we want to jerk and can moose every fall.

    In general, if you hunt an area and see a lot of wolf and bear sign, that is indicative of plenty of biomass available for them to retain good numbers. While wolves can and do use alternate prey like hares and voles, they don't retain the same numbers very long as they do when large amounts of biomass are available in the form of ungulates. I view lots of wolf and bear sign as generally a good indicator about the biomass available.

    Last winter on the trapline, and this fall, was the least amount of wolf sign I've seen here in 25 years. And this fall was the least moose I've ever seen and we hunted long and hard. Also did our usual informal aerial survey in a cub after hunting season, and it was very depressing. Of course, you miss a lot of animals without snow cover to see tracks, but the trend is saying things are bleak here.

    And then, something surprises you, like this pic below that offers hope for seasons to come. Chalk this trio up and it will be five moose total we saw all fall. This momma has been hanging around most of the summer, but we thought she might have lost one of her calves. Glad to see them still going strong, real porkers too, one bull calf and one cow calf. Now let's hope for not too much snow this winter.
    Best to all,
    Mark



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  10. #10

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    I have to agree with bushrat, even though I didn't SEE that many moose, I am 100% sure that they were in the area, just not real close to the river I was on. We did see a fair amount of moose sign but a lot of it was old and since we didn't have lots of time to spend off river we hunted the area's that appeared or felt "moosey". Thats where we saw sign that was fresh but still, we couldn't find the moose. I was thinking that since the river corridor is generally cooler than the flats or open area that we'd see more moose but that was not the case. I hunted one of my favorite spots this past Saturday with a friend and saw plenty of animals, probably over a dozen cows and a few calves and it was chilly, 24 degree's and that had the moose moving. We also had 2 hunters that were not 50 yards from us spot a spike/fork and they went down and shot it, from what I coud tell he was following a cow around and that gave him away to the hunters.

  11. #11

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    I saw more moose on my caribou hunt out of Kotzebue than I did Caribou. Several VERY nice bulls. Fun to look at an take pictures of... too bad they weren't in season.

  12. #12
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    Default Timing is EVERYTHING

    Moose are on a schedule; they are subjected to a thing called photoperiodism; meaning that they go into rut when the sun and moon tell them to. The other parts of that influence to rut timing are localized populations of cows to small bulls and predator/hunting pressure along with the weather. It's a common misconception that when the termination dust starts to show that it triggers the rut. There's lots more to it than that. As far as the population differences; it can be any number of things... They are there, just not visible; they aren't there YET; they're not going to be there due to predators or hunting or whatever. The last few years it seems like the normal good road hunting areas are now normal sparsely populated subdivisions. Pt. Mckenzie for example has seen a lot of new residents both seasonal and permanent. Also, there's been a lot more traffic out there due to the closure of the Kenai river earlier this year so access to the Little Su increased. Not only that, but hunting licenses (it's rumored) shot up the last couple of years and one could conclude that the extra hunters have dwindled the populations some. All of this has been the concensus of opinion from the guys that I've talked to about it. This isn't just me making this up; but a concerted group of opinions based on long-term residency and experienced locals.

  13. #13
    Member AKBighorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance in AK View Post
    . I don't have hard #s, but can safely say that well over 50% of the cows I saw this year had no calves
    No expert here, but if I remember correctly at one time in unit 14 they wanted to maintain a minimum ratio of 1 bull to 10 cows. That being said if 50% had calves this year, then the other 50% were ready to mate. Visa versa next year not including calf mortality. Just a thought as to the numbers without calves.

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