Did a quick trip down the Tanana that turned into an unexpected overnighter. We left the boat launch at 5:45pm and got to where I wanted to hunt at about 6:30pm. After looking around a creek, we went to another location that has proved well for us over the last several years. Sure enough, upon entering the field I spotted a large lone cow. It went into the woods, and I knew of a trail that would take us right to her. In about 15 minutes I snuck into 40 yards and put one behind the shoulder. She made it 20 yards and took out some trees with a hard fall. Time was 7pm and we were headed back about a half mile to the boat to get the knives, pack and game bags. I was real concerned with time since I didn't want to boat back in the dark, but even with hustling through quartering and packing the moose, we didn't make it back to the boat until 9:30pm with the last bag of meat.
Condition of the cow was best I have seen. 3-4" rump fat, 1" thick backstrap fat and the kidney fat was plentiful. We made sure to saw off the bottom half of the jaw for F&G as well.
Anyhow, onto the interesting part. It got dark, rainy and our visibility was gone about 20 minutes into the boat ride out of there. We hadn't hit the Tanana again yet, and as we were finally getting back onto it, I hit a sandbar that I couldn't see and the work began. We managed to get it off pretty quickly, but it tired us out pretty good. There was one small channel to get us back to the main river, so I got in a couple feet of water, hugged the shore and gunned it. We had enough water to make it out, but found a few overhanding spruce that smacked the boat pretty good. We saw them at the last second and ducked out of the way. No damage to the boat or canopy at least. After that it was slow poke time. I didn't want to get on step, so I limped it for about an hour back upstream. I ran onto sandbars twice that I couldn't see, but since we were going slow I just reversed off of them and moved over. Around midnight, we saw a person flashing a spotlight at us from shore. We went over to see if we could crash next to them for the night, and to our surprise it was a guy with a cabin out there and he welcomed us in for the night. We had the gear to survive overnight easily, but this sure was a nice surprise.
Up at 6am and less than 20 minutes after firing up the boat we were back at the Chena Pump launch and loading the boat. Nice to be back home and have a moose heading to the freezer soon. We are headed back out this Thursday/Friday (with supplies for the guy at the cabin for a thank you) and will try for another moose. We have two more cow permits and when I was stalking the one I shot there was sign everywhere.
Boat lights will be an investment in the very near future.