It's been a few months but I thought I'd finally share the moose hunt my wife and I went on this past fall. She drew DM704 which is good for an antlerless moose north of Fairbanks, in the Livengood area. The hunt mainly borders the road system up there so we planned on working the road early in the morning and late in the evening to catch a cow snacking on the tall grass next to the road. Some of you are probably shaking your heads right about now but to justify the "road hunt" I'll submit that my wife was eight months pregnant at the time... She was determined to go through with the hunt, not willing to pass up an opportunity to fill the freezer. I might also add that we drove up there from Anchorage, stopping every 15 minutes for bathroom breaks. She is quite a trooper; long drives on these Alaskan roads are sometimes uncomfortable for me and I don't have another person inside me!
Anyway, opening morning (August 15th) we hit the road before sunrise and within 30 minutes we had already seen four, yes, four full velvet bulls within 30 feet of the road. We stopped to admire one up close and he stepped onto the road, walked no more than 10 feet in front of our Explorer, and stared at us as if to say "bull season doesn't start for 2 weeks so take a goooood look!" We started to think that this was going to be one of those hunts where you only see what you can't shoot... We continued down the road and after rounding a bend, we saw two more moose about 300 yards up on the side of the road. A quick scan produced no headgear on one of them so the hunt was on. My wife was still snacking on her pop-tart (what a luxurious hunt!) at this moment but she willingly put it down and made the stalk with me. We were in a heavily burned area by this time so we stepped off the road into the charred forest and closed the distance in a very stealthy manner (considering her condition). The bull quickly ran off as we approached but the cow didn't seem too concerned as she trotted a little deeper into the forest but since the low vegetation had all been burned we could still find ample shooting lanes. When we were ~ 150 yards out, I held the shooting sticks and my wife eased off a shot from her 30-06 BAR and drilled the heifer right in the boiler room. Less than 10 steps later, the moose toppled over and our hunt came to an end and my work began... Not sure if you remember mid-August in Fairbanks this past year but it was glaring sun and in the 80's and I felt like I was getting heat stroke the entire time I was working on the moose. The bugs were so bad that I had to wear long sleeves but I was so hot from all the work that I could hardly function. My wife was absolutely amazing as she stuck with me for the entire quartering process and continually doused me with water as I worked. She couldn't bend over since our unborn son was in the way but she gladly held the legs in the air as I worked on them and she was great about holding the game bags and collecting the loose meat as I took it off. Prior to this trip I already had the utmost love and respect for my wife but times like this really make it sink in.
It took almost six hours from the moment the moose hit the ground to the time we had the last quarter loaded on the trailer. We high tailed it to Fairbanks to buy a bunch of ice and keep the moose cool for the long drive home. We spent the next two evenings boning, butchering, grinding, and vacuum sealing and are now enjoying every ounce of that delicious meat.
I'm happy to say that we have a third member in our family now as our son was born on time and healthy with his first successful hunt already under his belt. Looking forward to the future, hoping many more will come...
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