Day 7....I'M FINALLY HUNTING!!!!
I woke up kinda' early but my friends slept in. I can't blame them, we had just been through a week from hell!!!
I climbed up on a ridge and started glassing the HUGE valley to the north. It didn't take long for me to spot something brown way off in the distance. It was a cow moose. I watched her for a while and realized she had a radio tracking collar around her neck. I watched her for about 10 minutes and then spotted you youngsters in the alders behind her.
They fed in an open field for a while and then moved on. I was quite excited to finally be hunting moose in Alaska. It sure beat walking...and walking.....and walking.
About a hour later I saw "bone"!!!! It wasn't a big moose, but he looked legal. A moose in this area had to be 50" wide....or have 3 brow tines on one side...or have a spike or fork on one side. This moose appeared to be a spike....and considering the distance we were from the truck, he was definitely a shooter in my book.
I quickly woke the boys up and we made a plan. My friend Kurt stayed back on the ridge to help get us close with hand signals while his bro-in-law Jimmie and I grabbed some gear and headed off in the direction of the moose.
It ended up being a lot farther than I thought. It took us over 2 hours to make our way down into the valley, across the cold rapids, and back up the other side. We had to climb a very steep incline before we got to a relatively flat part of the mountain.
Once on the gentle slope, we quickly realized that we were just below a large boulder which was the last spot we had seen the moose from camp. We gave our legs a rest while glassing the area from the tall grass. Our break was short lived because I spotted the moose bedded in some brush just 250 yards above us.
We crawled to about 150 yards and got into position. We couldn't get a good look at his rack in the brush and we had to make sure he was legal before I took the shot.
I got into a prone position with my rifle ready to go and the wait was on. We sat there for about 30 minutes watching this bull and he would not turn his head so we could get a good look at him.
Finally he stood up and started acting "froggy". I think he winded us and wasn't sure what to do. He stood there for a long minute before starting to walk towards deep cover. I wasted no time sending hot lead in his direction.
As the bullet hit the bull creating a thud, Jimmie cried out..."hit 'em again!!!" I rushed a second shot and missed. I quickly "jacked" in another round and it also found it's mark.
The flow of blood visible from the chest wounds told me that another shot would not be necessary. The bull took another few steps and tipped over.
WOWZA.........I just shot an Alaskan moose!!!! One of my happiest hunting moments
We started heading for the moose and realized that we had forgotten all about Kurt. We didn't need his help with hand signals and forgot all about him in the excitement. I dug my 2-way radio out of my pack (which was our plan after a shot) and called him on the radio. I think Kurt forgot the plan because it took a while to get a hold of him.
Once contact was made, we gave him directions to find us and also warned him about the rough creek crossing with the strong current and bitter cold water (glacier runoff).
Jimmie and I starting climbing up the mountain to find my....our moose. It was harder than we thought in the the tall grass. We looked and looked and I was starting to get nervous. Jimmie found the moose and I descended down to his location. When I walked up on the moose, the first thing I said was "where is the saddle?"
I never realized how big they actually were and I figured I must have shot a horse out from under a cowboy
We were in grizzly country so we didn't spend a lot of time taking pictures. We wanted to take care of the moose and get off the mountain ASAP. I had read that bears have been conditioned to treat a rifle shot as the dinner bell.
We were perched on a pretty steep slope and while taking a few pictures, Jimmie warned me not to get below the moose because it might roll away from us. He had just taken the third photo when voooooom.......the moose rolled away from us and started barrel rolling down the mountain. 100 yards later, the moose had come to rest against a clump of thick brush.
Since we were still pretty high up on the mountain, we decided that getting the moose lower the easiest way possible would save our backs. So.....we pulled him off the brush and sent him tumbling another 75 to 100 yards.
The moose came to rest against a large rock and we decided that was far enough. The slope was still pretty steep so we decided to secure the head of the moose to the rock with a 10' rope and give him one more push.
The moose was now facing up the mountain which made for easy field dressing. As I ran my gut hook up the belly, all of the goodies slid right out of the moose and rolled down below us.
By the time Kurt got to us, we had already skinned, quartered and bagged most of the moose. We removed all of the meat possible (required by law) and loaded our packs. We wanted to make it back to camp in one trip so we loaded them quite heavy.
It took about .000005 second to realize there would be no way for us to get down the mountain in one piece with that much weight on our back. We removed the quarters from the game bags and proceeded to bone everything. Once loaded back in the packs, we felt they were still too heavy considering the terrain but our desire to get off the mountain and back to camp ASAP trumped common sense.
As we started making our way down the mountain, it was one foot in front of the other...slow going the entire way. Whenever we got slightly off balance, we fell. Those falls were not fun because the weight on our backs decided when and where we would fall. The trip down to the creek was brutal.
It was just starting to get dark when we reached the creek. Jimmie crossed first and had just made the 20 yards creep to the other side when Kurt entered the water. The current in the mid-thigh high water was so strong that we had to shuffle. If you unweighted a foot too much, the current would take it down stream causing you to lose your balance.
I felt Kurt was moving a little too fast and just as I started to say "take it easy"..wooooooosh, down stream he went. Thank god Jimmie had taken his pack off because he was able to quickly able to run out and grab Kurt before he tumbled off into the darkness.
Once the three of us were on the other side, our biggest concern was for Kurt. You could see it in his eyes that he was very cold.
to be cont'd...................