Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 32

Thread: Ship Creek moose

  1. #1
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default Ship Creek moose

    There will be more of a story later, and pictures of moose #2; we're back from a successful Ship Creek hunt. It would be an absolutely brutal pack on foot, going the route that we went!

    A friend with horses took me up Ship Creek Valley, and we connected on 2 very nice bulls the afternoon we rode in. It was about a 5 hour ride, and the same packing back out. I cannot imagine hiking in and out of there several times to pack out a moose by foot!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Member AKFishOn's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Eagle River (Home!)
    Posts
    1,285

    Default

    Awesome, looking forward to reading the story. Congratulations!

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States
    Posts
    148

    Default

    Sweet! Awesome bull!

  4. #4
    Member B&C 04's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    South for Now
    Posts
    436

    Default

    Congrats on the hunt!!! Your right, horses are the key back in there.. Look forward to the whole story.

  5. #5
    Member Marc Taylor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage, AK
    Posts
    1,279

    Default

    Congratulations on a fine moose!

    Taylor

  6. #6
    Member Huntress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Somewhere between here and there.....
    Posts
    1,173

    Default

    Congrats Steve! Tell your better half that I said HI!
    "In the interest of protecting my privacy I will no longer be accepting Private Messages generated from this site and if you email me, it better be good!"

  7. #7
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    It began as a conversation in church last year, then was renewed after an unsuccessful flyout hunt in September, then in an Anchorage parking lot about a month ago. Carrying my sleeping bag and a lawn chair, I walked over to a small group of fellow hunters, who were lining up at the door of Fish and game. We chatted about hunts past, and the upcoming hunt, wishing each other luck if we were fortunate enough to get a permit, and participate in the hunt. During the night, one of the F&G employees carried coffee through the line, and chatted with us a bit. In the cold predawn hours it was very welcome! By the time the office doors opened at 8 am, there was a line of nearly 150 hunters, hoping they would be among the first 100 in line for the permits. I was number 25, my friend 28 or 29.

    Sunday the 24th finally arrived. My friend, Israel, had spent the day Saturday driving around picking up horses. We left church together, with my wife, and drove to his house. There we loaded the 6 horses into his trailer, packed up our hunting gear, bade our families good-bye, and hit the road. 6 horses shifting their weight in the trailer behind us made for an interesting ride, so we traveled along at a sedate pace. We arrived at the trailhead just before dark, and by the time we finished tying up and feeding the horses, we were working by flashlight. We warmed up homemade sourdough crust pizza for dinner, then crawled into our bags, with alarm set for 5 am.

    I came awake with a start at 4:56 am, convinced it was 8 am and I'd overslept! The moon was so bright that it seemed like early dawn inside the tent. We quickly got up, rolled up bags, and got to work. By 8 am we'd eaten a cold breakfast, had a cup of hot coffee, and were tying off the last of the pack horses. Fortunately for me, Israel's an expert horseman and ties a mean diamond hitch! I've forked a horse a couple times in my life, and the last time was about 15 years ago for a brief lap around a corral.

    Just before leaving, Israel mounted my horse and rode him around a little bit, making sure the kinks were worked out of him. When he went to back the horse, disaster was narrowly averted. The horse didn't feel like backing up, so instead he folded his rear legs, laid back and rolled over onto his side. Israel stayed with him, only leaving the saddle as the horse stood back up. They landed on my rifle,. but I didn't see any damage. Until I wiggled the scope. The entire eyepiece was moving! Well, its an old scope that just kills what I'm aiming at, but gives me an excuse to upgrade! We were just glad there were no injuries to horse or rider!

    We hit the trail at 8:40, not very long after daybreak. Several hours into the ride, which was nicely uneventful, (other than me rolling off the horse as the saddle let go) we ran across 5 men with one horse and a tent. We rode past quickly, as their horse was acting up at the sight of ours, and ours were also getting skittery. It turned out they were going up with one hunter who had a permit, to help him pack out a moose, and had decided it was way too much. We ran into the other part of the group up the trail further.

    We finally topped out of the ravine we'd been climbing, and I found myself pleasantly surprised that I could stay on the topside of the horse. There was a small tent just before the imaginary line marking the hunting boundary, so we knew we weren't the only hunters up there. We rode on past, and Israel said, "There's a cow!" I grunted a few times, and when I gave a deep bull grunt, she stopped, perked her ears, and peed impressively. Unimpressed, we continued on down the valley, after watching for any accompanying bulls. Attachment 41055Attachment 41056

  8. #8
    Member joefish00000's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States
    Posts
    510

    Thumbs up

    nice job! cant wait till i get my first moose.

  9. #9
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    As we descended toward some beaver ponds and scrubby brush, I spotted movement! The movement quickly turned into a white hat bobbing about in the brush, which soon grew into a cowboy hatted hunter astride a horse. We chatted for a minute or two, and found that he was the partner of the group we'd seen on the trail. He seemed a little disgusted that they had wimped out on him. Personally, I couldn't blame them, as they had hiked, all uphill, about 10 miles into a 12-15 mile trip, and faced the prospect of returning with large chunks of moose upon their backs. Definitely not for the weak of heart! Weak of mind, perhaps.

    We learned that he had seen a couple bulls in that area the previous weekend, so wished him luck and left him to searching for them. The weather had deteriorated, spitting a sloppy combination of snow and rain onto us. We'd proceeded a ways without doing any glassing, and the moosiness of the terrain about us was killing me! My binos were packed on one of the horses, so Israel offered me his, as he attended to important business up the hill. I spotted a very large bodied moose a mile or so away, but with the distance and snow drifting through my field of view, I wasn't able to determine sex. It soon disappeared into the alders.

    Things were looking very good! The approaching storm, though fixing to make us thoroughly wet and miserable, apparently had the animals moving. Israel had a campsite in mind, so we continued on toward it, stopping more frequently to glass. Suddenly, at one of our stops, Israel spotted a bull- a big one! We looked it over, determined that he was very comfortably bedded, and decided to continue on to camp, then ride back up to look for him. It was just a few minutes later, and we heard a shot! The bull was still there, unperturbed, and we couldn't determine the distance or direction of the shot, though it seemed close. Glassing the bull again, Israel spotted another with him. Then I spotted a pair of animals, one bull and one cow. And the bull was huge! We quickly decided that we didn't need the ideal campsite, but something with a little shelter, windbreak, and forage for the horses would suffice... then we'd get huntin'!

    Attachment 41057Attachment 41058

  10. #10
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    We were passing through some stunted mountain hemlock, and found a shallow draw that got us out of the wind, with both shelter for us and forage for the horses. We quickly pulled the packs off them, tied them off to some bushes, and remounted, looking for a way over to where the moose were lying. As we rode, we kept an eye on the two I had spotted. They were about 500 yards away, and soon they turned and left. The cow went first, and the bull stayed well within her wake. They wound and weaved through the alders, and were soon half a mile away and up a steep hillside. All I could see was that the bull was big; the clouds and rain kept me from getting a really good look at him. We passed a dandy shed that was lying in a field, and I though to myself that we could pick it up later in the trip. It had a really thick beam, big, round paddle, and only a little rodent damage.

    As soon as we dropped into the draw separating us from the hillside the bulls were bedded on, we saw the partially skinned carcass of a bull with 2 hunters hunched over it. We hallowed, them, and then rode over their direction. We had located the shot from earlier! It turned out they had come from the tent we'd passed, and they'd been up there a couple days watching moose. They had called earlier that day, and had 3 different big bulls coming, but had hung up a quarter mile away. As they were trying to close the gap, they came across two young bulls, and took the one with bigger paddles. It was the younger hunter's first moose, and he was brimming with pride and adrenalin. So was dad! They told us about the other bulls, and said one looked good, but had an antler missing. He was separate from the other two. Though big, they decided it would be good to shoot one of the young ones that were close to them, instead of looking for something they may never see again. When asked, we said we might be able to help them pack meat back to their camp, as we had 4 pack horses and two saddle horses. We had panniers to pack on one of the saddle horses, if one of us walked out.

    We headed up the other side of the draw, and when we were close to where Israel thought the moose was, we tied off the horses and started walking. He said they were 150 to 200 yards away. I was convinced we would never see them, being as close as that and the amount of noise we had to make in whisking raingear through the brush and scrub pine. After traveling about 150 yards, we saw the moose again, still 200 yards away! Fortunately Israel guessed short! All we could see was the head and antler of one, and the antler of the 2nd.

    I had only seen one antler of the moose that was chasing the cow, and the hunter had said he was separate from the other two, so we were almost certain we were closing in on two very nice bulls! As we didn't have shots at both bulls, much less one of them, we tried to close the gap. Attachment 41059Attachment 41060

  11. #11
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    Because of the accident starting out, I had taken the scope off my rifle. Fortunately it was equipped with iron sites. We weren't sure where it would shoot, other than a ballpark area, and Israel wanted me to shoot the bigger bull, so I was carrying his rifle, and he was carrying mine. We found a clearing on the opposite side of a row of pines that led up almost parallel to the clearing the bulls were resting in. Going as quietly as we could, we slowly climbed to the top of the pinerow. I thought the bulls were still a little higher, then suddenly Israel spotted them again- less than a hundred yards away, still sleeping!

  12. #12
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    Deciding we could get closer if we backtracked, we went back down the trail to a small fork, where it followed the treeline back uphill. We got to the edge of the trees, and found ourselves less than 60 yards from 2 completely unconcerned bulls! We still didn't have a good shot at either one, so we planned our attack and settled into seated shooting positions. Israel scraped a boot against a pant leg while positioning, and his bull bolted upright, showing his one and a half antlers. The other bull, seeing his buddy standing, stood also, presenting a beautiful broadside shot. I planted one in the boiler, at which he lunged forward, startling the other bull who took off quartering away from us. Instead of handing his gun back to Israel, there was no time, so he threw mine to a shoulder and fired. I saw water fly from the hide, and the bull started to go down, stumbling forward 10 yards or so. Just as he hit the dirt, it looked like mine collapsed going into a small gully. We quickly stood up and moved forward, then broke into a run to get to a spot to see down the mountainside. Because of the terrain, we couldn't be sure mine was down, or crashing downhill to get lost in the brush.

    It only took a few steps, and we could see both moose, laying in a shallow gully less than 10 yards apart! It was a great moment. We stood and watched them for a minute, making sure neither one was playing possum. We looked at the time. It was 3:00- just over 6 hours from leaving the trailhead, and hunting was over!Attachment 41072Attachment 41073

    We removed our hats and thanked God for his provision, which had been very obvious from the trip's beginning. After high fives and a good photo session, we were able to position both bulls on their backs for skinning. Our horses were about 1/4 mile downhill, and the packstring was at our campsite, tied tight to some scattered trees, unable to feed or water. We had a choice to make; skin moose now, and risk setting up camp in the dark, or set up camp, care for the horses, and risk skinning moose and riding back to camp in the dark?

    We decided to return to the pack string and set up camp, which caused us to finish skinning the moose in the dark. It was pretty easy to make the call, because when we returned to our saddle horses they were shivering. They had worked pretty hard getting to where we were, with little rest or feed, and it was cold and wet out. We rode to the other hunters first, told them what we had shot, and agreed to meet them at noon the next day to try to help them pack their moose back, too. We were an excited bunch of guys!

  13. #13
    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Spenard
    Posts
    1,232

    Default

    Awesome hunt! You definitely have a reason to be excited. Congratulations. I haven't hunted off horses in a long time - your post makes me want to do it again.
    Pursue happiness with diligence.

  14. #14
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    We set up our tent, staked out the pack horses on grass, and carved out a little sheltered niche in the hemlock for our kitchen, then rode back up to the moose. It was a great blessing to be able to work both moose so close to each other, out in the open, and nearly level! We went to work quickly, as it was after 6, with a little over an hour of light remaining.

    We were able to make quick work of the butchering, but unable to hang the meat out of reach of bears. As infested with bears as the valley can be, we were concerned about that. We did move the meat about 20 yards from the gut piles, and covered it over with a ground sheet I had with. After peeing in the area, we left for the ride back to camp.

    Did I mention that I'm about as green as can be about riding? And now we were riding back in the dark, and my light seemed to barely light the horse's ears, much less the "trail" ahead!Attachment 41074Attachment 41075 The ride was very uneventful- I led the horse up the one really bad spot, and he proved once again to be a very sure-footed mountain horse.

    We made our plans for the next morning, built a nice fire, had a hot bowl of wonderful home made soup, then turned in. 18 hours later, it had been a terrific day!

  15. #15
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    Attachment 41077Attachment 41079

    The next morning we woke to a light covering of snow, crunchy grass, boots and clothing. We headed back to the moose by 9 am, beating our 3:45 hour start up time from the day before.

  16. #16
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    Attachment 41080Attachment 41081

    The morning was beautiful, with blue skies, sun shining on the newly snowcapped peaks, and grass crunching underfoot. Several horses were very troublesome this morning, which caused many delays. Fortunately, none of them were injured by their antics, and we finally got everyone packed up and started down the trail.

  17. #17

  18. #18
    Member Smokey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    3,334

    Default

    Congrats and Great story so far my friend! Like the others I cannot open the pics?
    When asked what state I live in I say "The State of Confusion", better known as IL....

  19. #19
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    Attachment 41086Attachment 41087

    By the time we finished breaking camp and re-packing the horses, the weather had deteriorated. The two hunters from the day before finally arrived about 3, just as we were tying up the final pack. We had sadly underestimated the weight of two moose spread between 5 horses, along with camp gear, and had to tell them we couldn't help with their moose. They took it very well, and wished us luck on our trip, and we said our good-byes. Israel had to lead on foot, as we had his saddle horse packed with moose ribs and camp gear. I took trail position, leading his horse, who can be jumpy at times.

    It took us an hour and forty minutes to reach the other hunters' camp, after one mishap with a pack that was almost really bad. The antlers shifted on hunter, and the horse ahead of him that Israel was leading, Fire, had been acting up all morning. Israel was able to turn Fire, and hold Hunter's pack up until I could ride up, jump off my horse, and help re-shift the pack. We went a little further, then retied the pack, finding that one of the pack ropes had slid off the pack frame.

  20. #20
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Willow, AK
    Posts
    3,360

    Default

    (Well, I just found that my pics aren't loading. I've been using the "insert image" logo, and apparently its not working. I'll check my pm's if anyone can help me troubleshoot.)

    The weather was bordering on miserable, cold, wet snow with a light wind driving it against us. Israel marched on tirelessly, and we soon reached the top of the pass, ready to begin our descent. It was now a little after 5 pm, and we had a long descent ahead of us. Another hunter passed us afoot as we started down, so we stopped and chatted a moment. He had 6 friends lined up to help him pack one out if he was successful. All I can say is I hope they're great friends, love adventure, love moose meat, and have a collective iq of a gnat!

    We started down the trail, and it went very well. Israel can march all day, and proved it on the trip out. All told, he walked somewhere betwee 10-15 miles in the 5 hour pack out. We ran into trouble a couple times on the ride out, due to my inexperience with horses. I was having trouble remembering which hand was "reign hand" and which one was "lead hand." Buddy, my horse, whenever he crossed a creek, would start in tentatively, then run across to catch up to the rest of the pack. I had to reign him in hard to allow flint to follow behind. On a creek crossing near the bottom of the pass, Flint's pack hung up on a cutoff log. Buddy was charging forward, and before I could get him reigned in, Buddy had bucked loose of the log, and was racing up the trail beside me, ears back, head down. I yanked his lead and yelled at him, with Buddy rearing and shaking his head, lunging forward every time I loosened the reigns. I had yelled to Israel "we've got trouble!" as the pack string rounded a corner, but he didn't hear. I finally got both horses quieted, and tied them off to a spruce. I went back to the log, where Flint had scraped one bag out of his pannier.

    The trail was very narrow, steep on one side with trees and the creek on the other. As I approached Flint with the bag, I talked to him, and tried to round him on the steep side. I didn't make eye contact with him, though, and forgot about his feet. Suddenly I found myself on the trail, a dull pain in my leg and Flint's legs flying past my head as he started to kick and crow hop beside me. I scrambled forward and jumped up, running back to the tree the horses were tied to. Flint bucked and ran away from me, fighting the lead rope, dragging Buddy with him. He stopped when he saw me, turned and went back around the tree the other direction.

    My leg was sore, but I just wanted to settle the horses before they got injured or had the pack slip underneath, causing greater risk of injury. Flint finally tied himself up tight enough he couldn't go forward anymore, and I had hold of his lead rope underneath his chin. Buddy was beside him, back on his heels a little, keeping his lead too tight for me to untie him. I started pushing on Flint, commanding him "Back, Back!" when Israel showed up. Israel got between the horses, and moved Buddy just enough I could unclip his lead. While Israel calmed Flint prior to reloading him, I rode up to the pack string to unhook and keep them from tangling. Fire couldn't be trusted to stay calm, and Hunter with the heavy pack was shifting around, causing the horse beside him to push into Fire. I got Eclipse, the middle horse untied, retied her to a tree near Fire (Fire had the hots for her, and liked her nearby- if too far away, he would get wild trying to get back near her), and stood back to assess the string. Buddy was standing there calmly, like nothing had happened, the pack string was standing quietly, so I hobbled back up the trail to Israel.

    I had made a quick assessment of my leg injury, and determined it was just a bruise which might stiffen me up a little. Boy howdy, did it ever! Flint connected just above my left knee on the side of my leg. We finished reloading and retying Flint's load, and found he had calmed down very nicely. Israel asked if I wanted to stay status quo, and I just shrugged and said "yup, lets go!" The horses seemed to be over it, so I was too! Apart from having to mount from the right side only, now, I was fine.

    I led Flint on a tighter lead after that, and we soon had to turn on the flashlights again. Flint tried bolting a couple more times, but a quick yank on the lead a shout settled him each time. He did buck a bag loose once more, and I stayed astride Buddy while Israel ran back and reloaded him. He had bolted past me, in a replay of the earlier action, but I was able to reign in Buddy and get a short lead on Flint right away. When Israel got there I was holding Flint's head to my leg talking to him and scratching his ears.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •