2023 Moose hunt

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
3,047
670
Had a difficult moose hunt this year. It has been a very wet fall. Trail conditions have been pretty poor.

I took a week off for a long trek in to a spot I’ve been hunting for years. It’s a long trip back on SXS, almost 20 miles to the area we set camp. There is a particularly nasty hill about halfway. It’s steep, winding, and long. At the best of times it’s rough, especially with a meat trailer, but when the hill is wet it’s a slimy mess.

There was a break in the weather and we got out without issue. The weather was pretty decent for the first few days. Only spotty showers with gaps a cloudy sky’s.

First thing we noticed was that moose numbers were way down. I’m guessing the winter kill this year was pretty bad. Deep snow and a long winter. Normally we see 20-30 moose a day in this area. It’s high ground and with a good spotting scope you can see for miles. We were only seeing 6-8 cows a day with a few sub legal paddle bulls. No mid age animals, no small bulls, just calves and older cows, and sub legal paddle bulls of 42-47” spread. To be legal a bull has to be either a spike/fork on either side , have 4 brow tines on one side, or be over 50” wide. It’s a pretty tall order.

Hunting pressure was down too. Only a few other groups in the area. With enough area that we aren’t stepping each others toes.

We saw several good animals. A huge grizzly that I spotted at 1200 yards but gave us no opportunity as it climbed up and over the mountain never slowing down. I also saw a pair of caribou bulls, one probably the biggest bull I’ve seen. Wide, tall, back scratchers, and lots of points on his tops. This unit was closed from caribou hunting this year. I also saw a Wolverine playing tag with a pissed off cow moose. That was pretty cool to watch. A second smaller grizz doing the hungry hungry hippo eating berries. I’ll never get tired of watching them chomp along eating berries. They must get as much leaves and stems as they do berries.

The downside of the trip was we did see two sub legal bulls riding out on wheelers. One that wasn’t even close, maybe 36-38”. The other was a 46-47” bull that I had watched thru the spotting scope at 753 yards for almost 2 hours trying to will him that extra 4”. I could have told you how many eyelashes that bull had in either eye. Combined with the fact I remembered that SXS watching me glassing that bull and I could easily tell it was the same bull as they rode out with the meat getting muddy and the rack under a tarp. Enough was visible for me to know it was the bull I had been watching, and the extra room in the back of the SXS only confirmed my size estimation. Nothing worse than seeing illegal moose riding out on the trail.

Heavy rains forced us to pull out early. I didn’t think we could manage that hill if it got much sloppier. As it was the hill was about more than we could handle. My buddy went first and had lost a cooler half way up the hill, when I can up I tried to miss it but the ruts wouldn’t allow it and I ended up high centered on the cooler. By now one of the ruts was running like a river with water. While trying to get the recovery gear my machine started to slide back rolling up onto my left leg. Making me an impromptu tire chock. Several long winches later we topped the hill. Unfortunately ripping a side wall of my SXS tire and a badly bruised ankle and limp.

The tire held enough air to make it a mile or so between filling and we limped out to the truck.

The highlight of the hunt was my new tent and stove was a winner. I picked up a cabelas alaknak 12x12 tent and a camp chef alpine stove. We were warm and dry every night. Even with the constant humidity and frequent rains we were warm and able to dry out our gear. This is after 20 years of suffering thru constantly damp and cold camps. It’s worth the weight.

We didn’t get an animal but it was still a very good trip. Quality time with a good friend and my wife. The most beautiful country in the world. A gift to behold. Hoping to get out another quick trip or two before seasons end. I’d at least like to check some berry patches for a bear or two.

Hope you are all having a good season.
 

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Some more pictures, I am planning on getting a phone scope for next year.
I have a fantastic spotter and these pictures just don’t do it justice.
 

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Nice write up and sounds like it was a decent trip even without a legal bull Bear. It has definitely been another wet one up here. I've got another two weeks before I head out to camp for the final week of the season down on the Kenai. Hoping for some better/colder weather by then. Sucks on the guys with the sub legals. Happens way too often. Did you happen to report it to the troopers?
 
Excellent report , people just don't understand how difficult it is to get around in Alaska. The advent of ATV has dramatically changed access but as noted 20 miles is a long trip when some one hasn't been there before with a dozer.
I experienced some of those hunts wet and cold when I was younger, give me a wall tent and big wood stove any day.
Glad your injuries appear to be minor, thanks for the report.
 
I truly appreciate the writeup. I've come home more times than I care to remember without game but filled with rich memories. It is always a refreshment for soul and body to have time in the bush, and you do have a great AO.
 
Nice write up and sounds like it was a decent trip even without a legal bull Bear. It has definitely been another wet one up here. I've got another two weeks before I head out to camp for the final week of the season down on the Kenai. Hoping for some better/colder weather by then. Sucks on the guys with the sub legals. Happens way too often. Did you happen to report it to the troopers?
There was an old timer on a 4 wheeler that was taking photos of machines to turn them in. I have seen and talked to this old guy for years out there and never fails to impress me on where he can go with a Honda 420 rancher on stock wheels! He will normally stop by and say hello when we cross paths.
 
Sound like you had quite the adventure. I bet next year will be your year.
 
Great story, and nice pictures. When I was younger, I saw an unsuccessful hunt as having wasted all the money I spent on tags, gear, etc. Now, things are a bit different, and I value the overall experience just as much. Sorry to hear you got banged up, and upset about the illegal harvest. Thanks for sharing - I always find these sorts of things to be motivating.
 
Thanks for sharing the story and photos. Sorry you didn't spot a legal bull. Good news about the tent and camp stove. It sounds like they got a thorough testing.

Are there any sort of game check stations that would spot the illegal bulls? Are those hunters "Scott Free"?

Dan
 
338 Win Mag
225 Nosler Part
78.0 RL 19 HE Load
WW Brass with Fed215GM primer
Christensen Hunter Carbon Rifle
325 yards off Shooting Stick
40” Great Meat Bull
03 Sep 23
Rain all day 01 Sep in Tent
Rain stopped late evening 02 Sep / Bear came into moose stand growling at me could not see him for shot due to vegetation quit moose hunting went back to camp 100 yards away.
Bear Alert real high during night sleep ! Shotgun and pistol close .
03 Sep 23 very nice early morning hunt less than 1 hour on stand and less than cup of coffee before cow and calf followed by this bull came into view 500 yards away. Shot taken at 325 yards. 2 hunters stopped by and provided Bear Watch while I quartered. The perfect size moose for hunting Solo back home with camp and moose by midnight.
 

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Bear,

Glad to read about the tent.
Alaska was slow to issue my nursing license so I’m planning to be up there in January. That should give me some time to scout for next season.

Sorry you didn’t fill your tag but I’m glad you were able to get out. Hope the ankle heals OK.

Vince
 
Bear,

Glad to read about the tent.
Alaska was slow to issue my nursing license so I’m planning to be up there in January. That should give me some time to scout for next season.

Sorry you didn’t fill your tag but I’m glad you were able to get out. Hope the ankle heals OK.

Vince
You have to establish residency for one year before buying resident hunting license unless you desire to pay non resident and non resident tag big money . Their also a brow tine restriction for non resident in most zones.
Bring a good ATV and trailer long enough to haul ATV and meat wagon together ! Best —your 1st year get with someone and just go with no plan to hunt and help . Suggest get a good pistol Glock 20 for bear defense. If you need help in setting up Glock pistol for Alaska let me know !
 
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