First Moose

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
This was my third season in the bush, but only second season of hunting due to residency issues my first year. Last year I was only able to hunt after school for a few hours and saw plenty of cows, but no bulls. Then I fractured my elbow playing basketball (second time last year) and I lost the last week and half of the season.


Every year the Tribal Council takes our students to a week long cultural camp in our unit. The kids get to do all the work and us adults provide advise/instruction on what to do. I learn a lot from the elders that attend and some of the other people. Occasionally I get to share a little bit of advise (I usually keep my mouth shut and observe). This years camp was only three days long and it was fairly hot, however it was a paid hunting trip so I got to hunt anyways. Saw plenty of bulls and one of the students even used my rifle to fill his tag (He got to drop a bull with my rifle before I did) and I took a backseat hunting while the kids and elders hunted. It was still great and was able to observe 3 bulls quartered, though I didn't get one. I did shoot plenty of grouse and ducks though.

After cultural camp, I knew my time was running short because of job responsibilities and I wasn't able to take time off work. So I bummed a ride from one of my students and we went out on Wednesday. It was rainy and miserable in his open jon boat. After an hour and half of heading up the Innoko, we finally arrived in our hunting territory. I was focused on the edge of a lake that we had entered looking for a bull when my hunting partner pointed to my left at a cow. As I was turned to look a big bull popped up maybe 30 yds away in a willow/spruce tree thicket. He was staring right at me. I threw my rifle up and visibility sucked. Rain was all over my glasses and my scope yet I had a perfect shot. Click...I didn't have a round in the chamber. I've always hunted with a round in the chamber but weapon on safe, until this year. However 30 years of habits are hard to forget, which is throw weapon on fire and squeeze. By time I chambered a round, the bull was running and I fired anyways. I knew I shouldn't have shot, but I took a chance. Missed. Went in to the thicket to look for blood or anything else. Nothing. Climbed a tree and saw 5 cows. Then I knew I should have held my fire, and called him in. Oh well, all I can do is learn from my mistake.

After the miss and the calling attempts for an hour, we decided to relocate to another lake since we figured he left our area by crossing the slough on the other side. Saw a bear and her cubs. Saw plenty of cows. Ended up back in the village after 10:30 at night. Scary ride back to village with no lights and the nasty weather, but we took it slow and luckily my partner knew the river (Though, I should have convinced him to let us camp).

Friday rolls around and I made arrangements to hit the unit hard this weekend. Bought 20 gallons of gas and loaded up for a weekend of hunting. Friday night saw lots of cows and another bear with cubs, but no bulls. We pulled up to camp and unloaded all our stuff. Didn't make any plans for the next day (I was told that I shouldn't make any plans). We awoke and headed out bright and early. It was cold. 33 degrees. Went back to where I missed the big bull and saw nothing but ducks and geese, however I was hunting moose, not birds. Parked and called a little bit. After about an hour and half we decided to call it quits for the morning. We headed back to camp and made breakfast. Decided to go cut some firewood for my partner's dad and have his camp stocked with wood. After cutting and packing the wood to moose camp it was 4:00 pm. Perfect time for hunting. Loaded up,but left axe and saws in camp because of his family tradition of letting moose sit an hour before cutting up, and went hunting. Rounded a bend on the Innoko and saw three cows and and a few calfs, and I was getting anxious. Then I saw something about 500 yds away. I pointed and said, "There's a moose. It's a moose!!" I meant to say bull, but moose came out. We cut the engine and I prepared for my shot. Rather than risk him running away, I pulled out my shooting stick (great idea for shooting on the water btw) and took a kneeling position. The boat was moving up and down like crazy and I was worried I'd miss (expert marksman while in the Corps, so a little ego issues after missing on Wed). I slowed down and took a few deep breaths. At 180 yds away I squeezed the trigger. 180 grains of 30-06 down range. The bull dropped like a sack of taters. Right on the bank. In the grass and thankfully not in the muck (I sunk to my knee when I jumped out of the boat). We decided to go ahead and quarter him without the axe or the saws. I was aiming for his throat/chest area and never found the bullet wound. He had pink blood pouring out of his nose and mouth (thought the bullet went through his chest area and through lungs, but it didn't) and he was kicking a little bit. Put a 5.56 round in the back of his head, then cut his throat. He wasn't big...but he was legal (any size bull area) and he did not stink. He was my first moose. Tradition here is to leave the gut pile covered with the hide, then place head on top of hide facing east. My partner then started his own tradition. Grabbed a hand full of willows and placed inside of mouth. Send him home with his last meal.
 

Attachments

  • First Moose.jpg
    First Moose.jpg
    39.1 KB · Views: 0

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Congratulations. That will be a good eating moose.
Yep. I kept getting asked if I was going to look for a big one or what...

My answer was I'd prefer a smaller one for the better taste, but I would take whatever was offered to me. I'm pretty sure that big one would have been good as well, but with five cows, he probably stunk to high heavens and back. We also have two small freezers so I was limited on space since one is already full with fish and veggies. I won't be able to give as much away as I wanted to, but should be tasty.
 

Catch It

New member
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
2,148
Reaction score
172
Location
Juneau
While you may be in an area fortunate enough to be picky, don't sweat a big moose as far as taste. Our group has popped em from 32 to 65 inches and every one has been excellent and fatty. Our season ends Sept. 15 in the DLG area and I've never had one smell rutty by the 15th.

Congrats on your first moose, and you'll be glad you didn't get the big one, but not because of the taste. I had a bud that his first moose was a 60 inch, beauty. He has yet to eclipse it, althought he still loves to hunt them.

The other factor is weight. A bull with 85-90 lb hinds is so much more enjoyable to pack out than a big one with 120 plus hams

Nice work, and as sayak said, be generous. In those little villages it all comes around.
 

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Give plenty away! It will come back to you I assure you.

While you may be in an area fortunate enough to be picky, don't sweat a big moose as far as taste. Our group has popped em from 32 to 65 inches and every one has been excellent and fatty. Our season ends Sept. 15 in the DLG area and I've never had one smell rutty by the 15th.

Congrats on your first moose, and you'll be glad you didn't get the big one, but not because of the taste. I had a bud that his first moose was a 60 inch, beauty. He has yet to eclipse it, althought he still loves to hunt them.

The other factor is weight. A bull with 85-90 lb hinds is so much more enjoyable to pack out than a big one with 120 plus hams

Nice work, and as sayak said, be generous. In those little villages it all comes around.

I agree. I'm still giving some out, just not as many pounds...same percentage though.
 

MarineHawk

New member
Joined
Mar 14, 2009
Messages
1,956
Reaction score
178
Location
Virginia
... The boat was moving up and down like crazy and I was worried I'd miss (expert marksman while in the Corps, so a little ego issues after missing on Wed). I slowed down and took a few deep breaths. At 180 yds away I squeezed the trigger. 180 grains of 30-06 down range. The bull dropped like a sack of taters. Right on the bank. In the grass and thankfully not in the muck (I sunk to my knee when I jumped out of the boat). ...

Congratulations Yukon Cornelius. Great shooting Marine. Every Marine is allowed to miss one shot over the decades. I missed on one running animal not too long ago, and felt exactly the same way. Semper fi.
 

Anythingalaska

New member
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
660
Reaction score
22
Location
Sitka, Ak
Congratulations on your moose! I really like your tradition with the hide/head etc... There are guys down here in SE who do something similar with deer. They leave the head somewhere fitting with greens in it's mouth out of respect for the animal.
 

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Congratulations on your moose! I really like your tradition with the hide/head etc... There are guys down here in SE who do something similar with deer. They leave the head somewhere fitting with greens in it's mouth out of respect for the animal.
Funny thing. I had never asked about the head facing east until this year. I've only seen a few people place the hide over the guys the way my student did. And when he placed the willows in the mouth, I'll admit that I got a lump in my throat. I've never gotten a lump in my throat over an animal before. I've always hunted for meat. Never a trophy. Just something else about this moose.
 

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Congratulations.............you even look like Yukon Cornelius!
I got the nickname back in 2009. My second year teaching. My principal thought I looked like Yukon Cornelius and the name stuck. My daughter even thinks she has a daddy doll(YC doll).

When we applied to teach up here we found out the school we were heading to was on the Yukon. It all made sense. Lol.
 

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Congratulations Yukon Cornelius. Great shooting Marine. Every Marine is allowed to miss one shot over the decades. I missed on one running animal not too long ago, and felt exactly the same way. Semper fi.
I beat myself up over that miss. All week. I laughed about it. The kids laughed with me. Secretly I was hoping for a one shot kill. Had to redeem the Marine in me.
 

Amigo Will

New member
Joined
Nov 8, 2008
Messages
7,769
Reaction score
484
Location
Wrangell
Follow the culture and many more great hunts will come your way. Congrats for sure and this will help the bride understand gun stuff needs.
 

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Follow the culture and many more great hunts will come your way. Congrats for sure and this will help the bride understand gun stuff needs.
Lol. My bride is a Marine as well. She didn't get out this year because of child care issues. But her gun is coming up this summer.
 

andweav

New member
Joined
Dec 16, 2009
Messages
1,123
Reaction score
140
Location
fishhook, ak
Very good looking moose and thanks for sharing the back story to the harvest. We are all humbled at times, but you can be proud of that one!
 

sayak

New member
Joined
Jun 16, 2006
Messages
6,117
Reaction score
643
Location
Central peninsula, between the K-rivers
Funny thing. I had never asked about the head facing east until this year. I've only seen a few people place the hide over the guys the way my student did. And when he placed the willows in the mouth, I'll admit that I got a lump in my throat. I've never gotten a lump in my throat over an animal before. I've always hunted for meat. Never a trophy. Just something else about this moose.
Must be a Yukon thing. My wife would have killed me had I not brought home the head. She loves the nose, tongue and, yes, the eyes. The meat around the skull makes a good soup. We only left hide and guts, and, in disdain of head hunters, we often left the antlers (didn't target trophy bulls). Never heard of that custom, but maybe it's different up there.
 

Yukon Cornelius

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 29, 2013
Messages
1,531
Reaction score
40
Location
Alaska
Must be a Yukon thing. My wife would have killed me had I not brought home the head. She loves the nose, tongue and, yes, the eyes. The meat around the skull makes a good soup. We only left hide and guts, and, in disdain of head hunters, we often left the antlers (didn't target trophy bulls). Never heard of that custom, but maybe it's different up there.
The nose is normally taken as well. We didn't know how to cut the nose out. We did take the tongue (one of my favorite parts). I never thought about the meat around the head for soup. I do bet that is tasty.
 

aktatts

New member
Joined
Jul 13, 2014
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
Location
Aniak, Alaska
The nose is normally taken as well. We didn't know how to cut the nose out. We did take the tongue (one of my favorite parts). I never thought about the meat around the head for soup. I do bet that is tasty.

Love me some moose nose jelly :) we actually are jellying the whole head this year can't wait.

Where are you from Yukon? Im going to be snow machining over towards holy cross this winter when the season opens again.
 
Top