My 2018 AK moose hunt

IdahoCTD

Handloader
Nov 4, 2004
2,507
113
My hunting buddy and I drew for a fairly hard to draw AK moose tag this year. We flew in last year and it appeared the wolves ran almost all of the moose off before we got there (we heard them numerous times during our trip) so we were hoping for better results this year. We flew up the night of the 10th and spent most of the 11th gathering tags and groceries for the trip. Our buddies up there let us use their motor home, 4 wheelers, and jet raft for the trip. We got to our area late in the afternoon of the 11th and ran up to do some glassing before dark once we got camp set. We saw 3 cow moose that night. The morning of the 12th we saw 5 bulls and 6 cows down in a willow flat nearly a mile away. One bull looked to have 4 brow tines so we closed the distance to about 1050yds to try and get a better look. I knew he wasn't over 50" but 4 brow tines would make him legal. Our area required non-residents to shoot a bull 50" or wider or have 4 brow tines on one side. Once again it looked like he had 4 brow tines. We decided it was time to get really close to verify it.

Between the initial spotting and closing to 1050yds my buddy ran back and got our waders. There was a pretty good glacial creek between us and the moose that we knew would require waders to cross. We left our perch and bush whacked through the willows to the edge of the creek. We donned waders and had a bit of a time crossing the creek. We forgot our trekking poles and the current in the belly high water was swift with slippery boulders trying to trip you with every step. When we got across we noticed the wind totally shifted directions. Our initial game plan wasn't going to work so we dropped down stream a bit and hiked part way up the small ridge he was just off the end of the last time we saw him. We were about 2/3 of the way up the ridge in the chest high willows when the wind shifted again, blowing right towards the last spot we saw him. We climbed a bit higher and I caught a bull running back through the willows where we had just walked. I ripped my scope cover off, chamber a round, and cranked my scope up. When I found him in the scope I tried the best I could to hold still and count points on his brow tines. He looked back our direction and I saw he had 3 on the near side and 4 on the far side. I was having a hard time holding still so I grabbed a hand full of willows along with the forearm of my rifle to try and stabilize myself. The crosshairs were drifting from vitals to the shoulder as I tried to hold still. When they drifted near the vitals I let him have a 215 Berger from my custom 300wm. At the shot he collapsed. I watched him kick a few times after I chambered another round. He expired in a matter of seconds. The shot went in the near shoulder blade and destroyed the lungs. There was close to 5 gallons of blood in the peritoneal cavity. I've shot my other moose with some big calibers and watched others get shot (2 with 358STA, 1 with 300wm, 1 with 416 Rem., 1 with a 6.5x47L, and 1 with a muzzleloader) . This moose died the fastest out of all of them.

After the high fives my buddy and I worked our way over to my moose. He broke one of the 3 brow tines off the right side horn when he fell. The right side was buried in the dirt a bit when we got there. My hunting buddy had never seen a moose dead before and couldn't believe the size of it. I've been around 4 dead AK moose and several ID moose and I'm still amazed at their size laying on the ground.

We recruited a friend of our friend to help us and it still took us until dark to get it cut up, bagged, and hung in a tree. Just before dark it started drizzling. The hike back with loaded packs was a soggy bush whack through the willows and seemed to take forever since we couldn't really see the paths we took to get there the first time. We found about the worse possible exit possible on the way back.

The next day we figured out a way to get the 4 wheelers up the creek we had crossed. We were still on the wrong side of the creek but we got to within about 6-700yds of the moose. 3 trips each later and we had everything to the edge of the creek. Then we donned our waders and relayed the meat and horns across to the 4 wheelers. By the time we got everything loaded up and out it was late in the afternoon of the 13th. We hung all the meat up and ran up to our perch again to check it out that evening. We only saw 2 cows that night.

The next morning we went up to a new spot to check it out and help our new friend look for sheep. It was his last day to hunt for the season and he had a tag for a controlled use area. We saw 2 cow calf combos and 4 other cows that morning. This was the only morning of the whole trip where the temps were below freezing. You could see the breath coming from one of the cows as she called. We watched them for a bit looking for a bull and then hiked up above the moose looking for sheep. When we got up in the rocks I was dragging butt a bit, my back was sore from prior to our trip and got worse after packing out a ton of moose meat. It was slowing me down. The other two guys were sitting down glassing when I got to them and just after I kneeled down I spotted 2 ewes and 2 lambs running out of the cut below us. We watched them move into a little gully and they got up two more ewes. We had spotted about 40-45 sheep while we were looking for moose earlier as well but all of them were small banana horn rams or ewes with lambs. It was pushing 1pm and we decided to hike down, head back to camp, retrieve the meat, and take it to the locker to get it processed. We got to the locker just before it closed, luckily, and got it all hung up. Without the backstraps, ribs, and tenderloins there was 482lbs of meat. In this area you have to leave the meat on the bone so there was some bone weight there as well but we cut all the excessive bone out we could. After we lined out the processor we shook hands with our new friend and parted ways. He headed home and we headed back to camp.

On the way back to camp we saw a spike bull, legal for a AK resident to shoot, standing next to the road. That is about how hunting goes much of the time. The next day we hunting the same area I shot mine in and then ran back to town to watch the BSU football game. They lost unfortunately. We got back from town late so we sat in the same spot we spotted my bull from hoping the area would mellow out and we would see something new. Well the day before the number of hunters probably quadrupled because it was the weekend and many of the moose hid out.

Sunday the 16th we went for a good hike in a new area with a bunch of sign but it was all a couple weeks old. On Monday the 17th we tried another new area and only spotted a few cows. The two buddies we hunted with the year before showed up that afternoon along with one of their brother in-laws and another friend. They got a hot tip on the location of a full curl ram and the two of the grabbed the 4 wheelers and took off after it. They left us with a jet raft instead. So we took it to the river and gave it a spin that night. We saw a few more cows and made a plan to check out a area up the river the next morning. Tuesday morning we ran the jet raft up the river and spotted 6 cows with about a 40" bull. We came back, ate lunch, and decided to run even further up the river that evening. We got word that our buddy bagged a ram that afternoon and they blew a stalk on a good grizzly that morning. That evening we ran even further up the river to check out another spot. We saw a cow and calf from the river and decided to give the area a good look. We hiked a few miles above the river and spotted another bull with a good group of cows just before dark. We couldn't get a good look at him even with a spotting scope at 1050yds. We hot footed it back to the river and got there about and hour after dark. The trip down this low braided river after dark took forever. We had to clear the pump about 4 or 5 times and didn't get back to camp until about 11pm. The next morning was socked in and delayed our departure about 2 hours. We hiked into the same area and found the bull in the early afternoon after he got up from a nap. He started feeding a bit in the tall willows and it made it hard to judge him. Once we got a good look at him we could tell he was only about 45" wide and had a spike brow tine on one side and 3 points on the other. We glassed them all for a bit to see if another bull would show up. During that time we spotted 2 groups of caribou. Several of the bull caribou were sparing and chasing cows. This bull was the only one we saw that was even acting remotely rutty. He walked around checking cows but never pursued them. We got back just before dark that night and checked out our buddies ram. He was a tight curl 7 year old ram that was 36" despite being 2" past full curl. The next morning was the last day and we headed down to a new spot after the fog cleared. We spent several hours glassing and never saw a moose. We called it a hunt after that, packed up, and headed back to Fairbanks.

Overall it was a good trip. We got 1 moose (it was 44" wide) and saw a ton of moose. I'm sure we saw well over 100 cows and calves, but only 8 bulls the whole trip, 5 of which were on the day I shot mine. I think the ramped up hunting pressure towards the end of the trip pushed a lot of the moose into hiding. The rut never really kicked in and the weather was crazy warm compared to last year. Daytime highs averaged the mid 50's. Last year was around 35-40 by the end of our trip. Also the trees didn't really start losing their leave fast until the last few days. We came home earlier last year and most of the leave were off the trees by then. I called Hodgeman aka Mike while were were up there and he said everything had been about 3 weeks late this year. After spending 12 days up there I would totally have to agree with that assessment.
 

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ShadeTree

Handloader
Mar 6, 2017
2,904
1,581
Good story and good bull! Quite an experience and a big congratulations on your success!
 

Thebear_78

Handloader
Sep 30, 2004
2,953
342
Congrats on an excellent hunt. What unit where you hunting? Did that berger exit?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

sask boy

Ammo Smith
Nov 4, 2007
6,000
5
Thank you for a great story along with the photo :wink: it sure sounded like you had a great time (y).

Blessings,
Dan
 

IdahoCTD

Handloader
Nov 4, 2004
2,507
113
The Berger didn't exit but I wouldn't expect it to at 250yds after plowing through a shoulder bone. Most of the time they won't exit on a elk inside of 500yds shot through soft tissue. They aren't known for being a in and out bullet. They go in and destroy stuff inside like the Amax's do. The damage they do in the lungs is impressive. I wouldn't want one with a charging grizzly but I bet it would hammer a broadside grizzly.
 

DrMike

Ballistician
Nov 8, 2006
35,454
2,216
Excellent account of hunting in the northernmost state. Fine example of Alces alces, by the way.
 

NYDAN

Handloader
Sep 17, 2013
1,336
384
Congratulations on a fine moose. Thank you for sharing an excellent story with us.

Dan
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,763
1,756
EXCELLENT!

Hearty congratulations. What a reward for all that hard work. Just terrific!

Guy
 

IdahoCTD

Handloader
Nov 4, 2004
2,507
113
Thanks guys. This is my 4th trip to AK and I finally got one. We've done everything on the cheap most of the time but in the long run it would of probably been worth it to hire a air charter. I could of shot a forkhorn bull on the coast the first year we went but instead let a older friend shoot it. I was also there when another friend shot a 68" bull they called in on the Yukon river. I got pretty excited by the numbers of moose we saw on our first full day but the bulls just weren't there. Since the opener was on Labor day weekend I'm sure quite a few bulls got whacked then and/or they just never came out with the late rut.
 

mcseal2

Handloader
Nov 1, 2010
723
4
Congrats on a great hunt. I talked to a lot of guys who went this year and everybody said the warm temps negatively impacted their hunts. When the rain/clouds cleared out where we were it got hot and there was a full moon to boot. I just don't think moose moved much in the daylight, they could rut and feed at night in the cool, clear, full moon light and lay up during the day.
 
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