Moose hunt 2018 Advice


Nov 1, 2010
I felt like maybe I was unintentionally hi-jacking the other moose thread so I thought I should start a new one.

I'm going on my first moose hunt with Papa Bear Outfitters out of Bethel AK this September 19-29th. I'll take any advice I can get on preparation (physical and other), hunting methods, gear, and getting meat and antlers home.

It will be a drop camp hunt from a location Papa Bear chooses. From there we are on our own to hunt for 10 days unguided. The Outfitter provides a basic camp (tent,cots,chairs,cookset,boat) and we provide everything else. We have a 100lb/man weight limit for all our gear and food.

A little background: There are 2 of us going on the hunt, myself and the friend I've hunted with since grade school. He will be 41 and I will be 39 when we leave this September. While I could sure stand to drop some weight both of us are active and able to pack elk quarters without issue. I understand moose are a whole different size of critter. I work full time on a family ranch and can't saddle my horse right now without envisioning having to quarter him and pack him out! Ranch work is good for strength but home cooking is bad for my weight.

I usually start actively getting in shape for my western hunts in July because I will spend long hours in a tractor cab then putting up prairie hay and I'm not getting much physical labor in. I alternate T25 cardio, lower body, and full body work-outs with 3 mile hikes through the hills with a pack and try to get in 4-5 days a week of one or the other. T25 days I do step-ups onto a crate with a weighted pack after the work-outs has my legs already tired. As the hunt approaches I up pack weight on my hikes until I'm carrying 80-85lbs. The last couple weeks before the hunt I back it off again to 35lbs to prevent an injury right before I leave.

We are both shooting 300 win mag rifles with 180gr AccuBond handloads.

For waders both of us are buying Simms G3 waders and boots. I am going to end up doing chest waders to get the best fit, and he is going with the G3 pants. I have a short inseam and the chest waders have more fit options. Past that I'm looking at First Lite Aerowool base layers and a SEAK rain jacket from them. Most of my other gear will be a mix of First Lite, Sitka, and Kuiu stuff that is all synthetic and dries quick. I've had people recommend that over wool who have done the hunt in the past which surprised me. They said the wool dries slower and the synthetic performs better except next to skin.

Sleeping bag I'm planning to use my Kifaru 20 degree Slickbag, and maybe take my HPG Serape (poncho/sleeping bag) to use as a blanket over it. I've had some people recommend a 0 degree bag for late September.

Right now we are planning to use the outfitters tent instead of taking our SeekOutside 8 man tipi and stove. He recommends going without fire at camp to avoid spooking moose with a fixed camp so the tipi offers no real advantage. I'm still not 100% sure on this, I'll miss my stove a lot in that wet environment. I also know better than to doubt the expert though, it makes sense.

For a pack right now I'm looking at just using my Exo 3500 with the crib meat hauling attachment to save weight. I can remove the bag and pack meat with just the crib & straps. 100lbs without all of camp sounds like a lot, but food, gun, optics, waders, clothes, everything adds up pretty quick even with good lightweight gear. Also if we get put in an area where a motor for the boat is an asset any fuel we buy from the outfitter counts against our 100lbs. I have a Cabelas Alaskan pack frame I could also bring. The Exo handles the 85lb loads I train with well and is the most comfortable pack with light loads I've ever tried. I understand moose quarters will be the largest things I've ever attached to a pack though.

Anyway, that's a start on giving everyone something to critique. I can tell you the rest of the stuff I'm doing wrong later!
Packing a whole moose hind quarter is an experience. They are HEAVY. I've had some super heavy loads on my EXO 3500 and I don't think it's the best for super heavy loads but your not going to pack a moose too far typically.

We stayed until the 20th last year and had a few nights in the single digits. I was in my thermals in my 10 degree bag.
First and Foremost, dont go out there without your stove!
You will need it to dry out, in 93 it was -10 there on Sept 22nd. The woodsmoke theory is mostly BS. :roll:

I guided just East of there for years, we whacked a ton of BIG bulls out of there! I was hunting on the Kipchuck. River and it is a great drainage, next valley over is headwaters of the Aniak River another beautiful valley. Curley Warren used to guide off Aniak Lake and left a hell of a mess there when he pulled out but I imagine the state has cleaned it up nowadays? That area has DNA potential for monster bulls, I shot my first "biggie"IMAGE00029.jpg
Out there when I was a pup! That whole Buckstock Mts country, south of Aniak, and East of Bethel is a gem of an area. (y) Lots of bears and used to be plenty of Caribou. Here is a 70"ER I got for Harry Combs of Lear Jet fame from the Aniak River.IMG_1727.JPG That's Kirk Gays old pre 64 in 300H&H that did the trick. Peters 220's one shot.
Good luck!
PS you may want to search my post "packing meat" where Scotty and I discuss the pro's n cons of packboards ?? Some good info kicked around in that post. There is no easy way excluding a helicopter! But the old adage " go often and go light" my advise is take 50/60 lbs twice instead of staving yourself up trying to go any distance with 100lbs........ we had " pumped up" guides in increadable shape that could pack a whole forward quarter off a big bull (175lbs) a 1/2 mile before sitting it down for a break, but there are very few that can do it!
A 30/06 with 180s has flounced thousands of Alaskan
Bull Moose and is more than ample out to 250 yds. I have used 180/200/220gr bullets from my 30/06 to dispatch Moose and found them all to work great! However I personally have likely killed more with my .338 simply because I was always carrying it as a backup
gun. Today I would hands down, just use the Whelen /250
Speers : misson over. (y)
Good Luck , I am going to predict right now " you will do well" be safe &shoot straight.IMG_1996.JPG
I can offer this...
.300 with 180 Accubonds...that'll work just fine.

Take real rain gear, Helly Hansen guide coat over waders or hip boots is tough to beat...some days your "waterproof and breathable" jacket will be fine, some days it won't. I'd take a 0F bag. Better to sleep too warm than too cold.

Packing moose quarters on anything other than a rigid frame sucks, well on a frame it still sucks...just less.

Shoot moose close to camp or the not shoot a moose in the water. Trust me on this.

Opinions vary on the second shot. Shoot once and let the bullet do its job, do not expect to drop a moose on the spot. The second shot usually sends them running for the nastiest hole they can find to die in, if you give them a minute they usually die right there.

I don't get the "no fire in camp" thing...we have forest fires up here every year. It's not like the moose don't ever smell smoke. I just don't usually find moose to be all that wary- even in pressured areas. During the onset of the rut they get positively stupid. I've had them come running to the wooing sounds of a chainsaw or walk into camp grunting and snotting. Check out the video "Love, Thunder and Bull".
+1 on not shooting moose in the water. Really bad idea. Been there, done that and you can keep the t shirt.
You'll need fire.
Talk to your outfitter and his pilot about alternative lakes in your area he can land on to pick up your moose. Most likely be a cost involved. If they will do it have the pilot show you the lakes and where he can beach the float plane. Just because he can land on the lake doesn't mean he can access the entire shore line.
My guess is his first response will be don't hunt that far from camp.
Rain Gear. The very best Gortex product I own is my Simms wading jacket, second best is my Sitka Jacket. There is something about Alaska rain, particularly in September. If it's raining all day I wear the Simms over the Sitka if I'll be wadding. If not, real rain gear.
You'll be good with G3 waders. My opinion, the best available. I would suggest buying them a little over size, easier on and off.
If you are at the top end of the medium on their chart, buy the large.

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mcseall2 best of luck on your hunt. I hope it turns out to be an amazing trip for you guys. Please remember your camera's and extra batteries as we expect to see plenty of pictures to walk us through your journey.
I don't know a doggone thing about moose hunting, but GOOD LUCK!

I'm very excited and happy for you. I'd love to hunt moose someday. A couple of us here in Washington are working on organizing a 2019 do-it-yourself Alaskan moose hunt. Fortunately the fellow I'm working with has made several successful moose hunts in Alaska.

Best of luck on your hunt!

Thanks everyone.

IdahoCTD I was curious about using your Exo packing moose since I have the same pack. Did you use the crib, the space between the frame and bag, or the bag itself? I haven't had to pack meat since buying the pack last year. My buddies muley ended up being 300yds from a 2 track so we just threw the quarters over our shoulders and carried them down to it. I didn't tag out that trip, and the only other one we had last year was whitetail. I packed up to 85lbs in it ok training but that was gear in the bag plus a 50lb bag of cattle mineral, a much different load than a moose quarter. I would be really confident packing an elk quarter with it, but moose quarters are so big I was curious how you attached them to your pack.

I will be in a bone-in unit so I can't bone out the quarters. I wondered about splitting the hind quarter into 2 pieces but cutting through all that meat to get to the femur gives that much more surface for spoilage to occur on. Those of you who pack moose, do you typically take a hindquarter out as one really heavy piece, or break it down further?

I'd rather figure this out now than when I'm looking at a dead one! I would imagine a lot will depend on where the moose drops, but I want to have a plan if it's not in an ideal spot.

I bone everything out here in ID and I packed out 5 elk last year on my EXO. I've had well over 100lbs on my pack with elk before. My buddy and I took a 6 point bull out in one trip uphill last year. We didn't get a moose in AK last year so I never got to use it for that. I run the meat between the frame and bag as I don't have a crib.

I would check to make sure you can cut some meat off the bone. If you can I would cut through the meat adjacent to the bone and take it in two trips. The bad thing is the front quarters weigh dang near as much as the hind quarter on really big bulls.
I checked the regs and it shows in Alaska unit 18:

"Meat taken before October 1 must remain on the front quarters or hind quarters until removed from the field"

I need to figure out exactly what that entails to be legal. The quarters are going to be really heavy in one piece. In swampy terrain that could really be a challenge!
IdahoCTD that was quite a pack-out taking a whole bull in 1 trip uphill with 2 of you!
I was pretty spent after that pack out. My buddy is 5 years younger and about 35-40lbs heavier and plays tennis all the time so he has an advantage over me. The physical strength part is probably as important as the stamina when your packing out that much weight. My lumbar pad was too low for that weight and the bars in the frame started rubbing my low back. I tried to tough it out instead of fixing it and I paid for it.

I can't believe they won't let you cut some of the meat off. Like Earle said, the quarters can weigh 175lbs. The average person can't lift that much much less pack it anywhere. Hell that's as much as I weigh.
I'm pretty strong, back in high school I could bench and squat more than anyone else at the school. That's been about 20 years ago now though! Ranch work keeps the muscle built up, most things I latch onto still move. I emailed the outfitter to see how people usually pack quarters, hopefully he has a better method he can share.

I am thinking of switching to my larger 18" Wyoming saw instead of the smaller saw I was thinking of taking and just making the quarters into 2 more packable pieces. Cut through the meat to the femur and saw through it. Not my first choice but I will follow the law. Need to see what the outfitter says first.

The buddy I'm going with is taller and slimmer than me. He can out-travel me on shorter distances and doesn't get winded as quick, but he has hit the wall a few times when we are on really long hikes or packing elk quarters. I haven't hit that wall yet where I don't feel like I can just catch my wind and keep going. I know the heavy quarters would be really tough on him if we don't split them.
I use to be one of the stronger kids in high school too, and was even stronger in my mid to late 20's, but now I have IBS and I'm on a really restrictive diet to manage it. When I started this diet I lost 35lbs in the first month, from 205 to 170lbs. That was 2 years ago. At 6' 170lbs is really skinny for me. My lungs are great but that kind of weight wears me out. My muscles gas out if I go too overbored and on that last pack out it was my back where the frame was rubbing. I made it to about 400yds of the UTV and my buddy came and grabbed my pack. Boy was I glad he did. I would of made it but by then I wasn't moving too fast. I generally out hike my buddy with low weight but he can out do me with a heavy pack. He has a Eberlestock pack and he has loaded it so heavy I can barely lift it to help him get it on. He usually hauls more meat then me and I take the horns. I bet he had 120lbs of meat in his pack plus his gear, and he doesn't pack light, when we packed that 6 point bull out. I probably had 80 to 90lbs of meat, plus my gear, and the horns with the skull.

The larger saw will be nice if you have to cut quarters in half.
It sure looks like you are going on quite the adventure :wink:. I am sure by the time you leave you will have a good grasp of what it is going to take to have a successful trip (y). A good waterproof camera can always be used. I have done some big bush Moose hunting over the years, a good stove and a warm sleeping bag are almost always number one and two on my list.

Thanks everyone.

I talked to the outfitter on the phone today. Moose quarters and ribs have to stay on the bone and we can't cut quarters into smaller pieces. We just need to be tough and very picky where we shoot one at! He sounded like a heck of a guy and we had a good conversation. I think we will take our SeekOutside 8 man tipi after talking to him. The tents they use weigh 32lbs so switching to ours and taking the stove in case we need it still frees up a lot of weight for us. The 2 guys I talked to this week who have been on the hunt before who had tipi shelters said they loved them. I might use some of that weight to take my Cabelas Alaskan frame for meat packing instead of just my Exo. I could keep it with the kill kit in the boat and use it after getting the first load out with my Exo. I could go to a smaller daypack if I take the frame, but the Exo is just about as light as any daypack I have, plus more comfortable and it has the dry bag I can button inside to protect gear. I might think a little more on a lighter daypack option, but I don't know if I'll look to hard.

One guy I talked to this week said they used an Alaskan frame as a board and had one guy carry each end to pack out heavy quarters. They thought that was easier than packing it on their backs. I'm not sure that sounds easier to me unless it's a short pack-out.

IdahoCTD you sound like my buddy I hunt with and I sound like yours. We seem to make a pretty good team.
A plastic kids sled might make it easier on the muskeg. 175lbs on your back in that stuff is a recipe for hurt ankles. Pack frames do handle heavier loads better than the EXO and similar packs. I've destroyed a few pack frames with ridiculous loads in the past. I weighed the head and cape of my ID bull moose when I got home, and it dried out, and it was 147lbs. It snowed the night I shot him and it was soaking wet when I packed it out. I took out 3/4 of a spike bull in one load once too. I shot a 33" buck several miles from my dirt bike and hauled it out plus all my camping gear in one trip. That was probably one of the worst trips walking through rock slides. That buck had to weigh 350lbs live. It's still the biggest deer I've ever seen by a good margin. We packed a 67" AK bull moose from the canoe to our camp, about 400yds, without pack frames and that was one brutal pack. Plus another 63" bull from the middle of a pond to our camp.

I am going to try and do some lifting this year to see if I can keep a little more weight on me.

I think your making the right decision about the Seek and stove. The stove is really nice to wake up with and to dry clothes out.
I think you have definitely been on some worse pack-outs than me. I have not had that many rough ones, haven't had that many western hunts either. I went elk hunting unsuccessfully once in college and then it was a few years before I got back out there. I shot my first elk in 08 and my second in 13. The unit we hunt is taking more points to draw all the time. I get in on packing more than just mine on those trips and have packed some deer out on other years. The last elk my buddy shot though the local guy we hunt with up there said was on his top 5 of worst pack-outs and he guided for 25 years. They didn't realize it was a box canyon when he shot it and we had to go up and down through a bunch of side canyons before crossing and starting back down. We earned that one but it makes a good story now.

Your big muley sounds like a bruiser both in body and rack! Some awesome moose too I hope we see something on that scale.
I've killed at least one elk every year but 5 since '89. It took a few years to figure them out at the beginning and I chose to not shoot one a few different years in there. Had a few 3 elk years and probably more 2 elk years then 1. My dad, two buddies and myself killed 6 elk in 9 days last year and 8 plus a cow moose the year before with my wife's. Been on a lot of pack outs over the years. Probably over 100 total if I had to guess. I should draw in UT this year again for cows and if I draw a extra tag here in ID I'll have 4 elk tags again for the second time. The ability to buy non-resident tags here plus a few drawings here and there makes it pretty easy to get a lot of tags.

I think you'll have fun in AK. It's pretty addictive up there. Make sure to practice calling. Moose are really dumb in the rut. One of the guys from AK, that we hunted with last year, called me yesterday to invite me up for a caribou hunt the end of August, a couple of weeks before the September moose hunt.