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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: SE Colorado via Elk County, PA
Re: Alaska DIY Moose Hunt
A good friend and I did a drop camp Alaskan moose hunt 12 years ago. I was 44 years old at the time - my friend was 51. I thought we were in pretty good shape but the hunt was one that tested us to the max both physically and mentally. To make an extremely long story short, the outfitter/pilot spotted two bulls 20 miles apart so he split us up for 3 days. I killed a nice 62 inch bull the day after being dropped off. The problem was my buddy had the meat saw and a lot of that kind of stuff as we told not to bring duplicates to keep weight down on the Super Cub. I had a pocket knife, a filet knife and a Leatherman. Once I skinned out the top half and cut off the chunks I had to roll it over - keep in mind I am by myself and weigh 175 pounds. I had legs tied to willow branches to hold them up and used the 3 inch saw blade on the Leatherman to cut it's head off - you can't roll a moose over with his head attached. BTW it takes 45 minutes to saw off a moose head with a Leatherman saw. Also you were not allowed to debone the front shoulders or hind quarters and I couldn't saw them in half so I had to pack them out whole. Alaska F&G is serious about wasting meat and they fly looking for kill sites and if too much meat is left on the carcass, you will be fined.
I had to pack the meat and horns about 1/2 mile or so to where the plane could land. Many of the loads had to be over 100 pounds plus I was seeing brown bears so in addition to the meat, I had to carry my 300 win. It took me 2 1/2 days to get all the meat and the head packed out - the outfitter helped by carrying out one load for me. If you think just because you've packed out elk that a moose isn't much different think again - they are twice as big and the tundra isn't an easy place to walk. It was by far the most grueling thing I have ever done and I will never pack another one. When I was done, I was flown to meet up with my friend and was able to help him call in a 53 inch bull and then assist with cutting up and packing of his bull. I will admit he did A LOT more of the work on this one than I did. To make matters worse, he shot his bull across the river and we had no hip boots so we waded using garbage bags in the 38 degree water. I also should mention that it rained 9 of 11 days and we went 10 days without a shower.
Even though we were put in areas with moose, we killed the only two legal bulls we saw. I would not recommend the guy we used primarily due to the condition of his plane and for some other reasons I choose not to discuss on an internet forum.
There is much more to the story but you get the idea. The solitude, the pride of being able to handle what is thrown at you and doing it on our own was all very rewarding. In addition to the grueling physical excersion, there is also the element of danger that keeps you on your toes. For example, it is hard to explain what it is like to return to your tent and have brown bear tracks all around it and then slip inside for a good night's sleep knowing that the closest human was 20 miles away. Would I do a hunt like this again? Never! When it was over my friend said, you asked me on a hunt and it ended up being a survival test. Amen brother but we survived it and it certainly was an adventure to remember!
My advice for anyone considering a DIY moose hunt would be to be perfectly honest with yourself as far as your physical condition, strength and mental toughness. Oftentimes we as men, have egos and a false sense of our abilities and we tend to downplay just how big a task something like a DIY moose hunt can be.
Best of luck if you do the hunt and I hope some of my rambling above helps!