Ever since I made my first trip up to the Glen Alps/Flat top area, I had thought about how much fun it would be if you could hunt moose up there. Then last spring when I was putting in for tags, I realized their was a McHugh Creek/Upper Campbell Creek Cow moose hunt. I've also spent a lot of time hiking McHugh to stay in shape, and I've always seen lots of moose. Odds were terribly low, but I figured if I didn't put in, I couldn't draw the tag.
When the draw results came out, I was pretty excited to see I had pulled one of the Campbell Creek Moose tags. It was then when I actually looked at the map and realized this was the Glen Alps/Flat Top area.
For me, this was an ideal tag. The season didn't open until November, so it would not conflict with any other adventures I had planned. It was a muzzloader/shotgun hunt, but I had my scoped deer shotgun I had used for years in MN. Almost as important was it was less than 20 minutes from the house, and the hunt could be done for as cheap as an Alaska hunt gets. This was important as I had blown all my extra spending cash and then some on my sheep hunt.
As November approached, I made a few scouting trips and usually saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 moose. With only 6 tags total, I knew my odds were pretty high. A few good friends were also excited to go along on the hunt, and one of them ended up being out of state the first week of November, so I was pretty nervous about the moose moving out when I didn't hunt the first week. I checked the area midweek, and wasn't excited when I only saw a couple of bulls, but if there was a cow in there, I would be determined to find it.
The night before we were finally going to go, it started snowing, and we woke up to 6 inches of fresh snow. I was a little worried about them moving down into town, but upon arriving at the hunt area, we glassed a dozen moose from the parking lot on the opposite mountain. Where ever they had been midweek, they were back now, and all worries were erased. On the way to the dozen, we ran into another six moose a half mile closer, so we went after those. The first one we ran into was a small bull, and he walked past us unconcerned less than 20 yards away. These moose see hundreds of hikers, and I was feeling a little bad about just walking up to one and shooting it, but I think I found the only 2 nervous cows on the entire mountain. Once past the bull, we made our way for 2 cows that were up the mountain a ways in the alders. These cows saw us coming and made out of there like bandits, I couldn't believe it. Like an idiot, I ran after them, but it was steep uphill, and I could only run so fast. I would just about catch up for a shot, and they would take off again. This went on for almost half a mile, before I was able to get inside of 100 yards, but having the shotgun, I really wanted to be inside of 50. I finally was able to sneak to just over 50 yards, and took the shot.
She spun around when I shot, but just stood there. I didn't think there was any way I could have missed, and contemplated shooting again, but I really didn't want to mess up more meat. About the time I was really staring to wonder what the heck was going on, she fell over dead, and I had my first moose. The rest of the crew had fallen behind when I was chasing them, and when I finally turned around to check where they were at, there was another cow a few hundred yards behind me that was staring at them from plenty close, but she was now safe. Here I am with my first moose.
The weather at this point had completely cleared, and although it was cold, we had a picture perfect, calm sunny day to work in. Another advantage of a hunt close to town is we were able to get on the cell phone, and call in some more troops for the pack out. They were more than happy to leave work, and within a couple of hours showed up with a few more sleds.
Here is a shot of the crew looking up valley.
This next one is looking back towards Anchorage, with sleds loaded ready to head down.
And finally one at the parking lot/trailhead.
It was a great time shared by good friends and some of the best wild game eating I have ever had. That might be due to the fact we have mostly been eating backstrap and tenderloin, but I like to think the whole thing will be that good and tender. The other cool thing is that by the time we were on our way out, the place was full of cross-country skiers. Everyone we talked to was happy to hear our story, and seemed excited we got a moose. It's not often you see a guy with a shotgun on his back up there, with a crew pulling sledfulls of meat, but not one person gave us a dirty look, and that was nice. I doubt I'll ever pull the tag again, but it sure was fun to at least draw it once.