2018 in the book: Back safe and sound

AKDoc

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May 16, 2015
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Alaska
Been back from my 2018 moose hunt for a week now, catching my breath and digging out of the deep hole at work. Thought I’d do a quick write-up, which is something that I do not typically do. I know there are many who enjoy writing up their hunts and posting pictures, but that’s not been my history. I’m sharing here in the spirit being a good member of this forum and in response to some who voiced interests in hearing how the hunts went.

My time in the field was a two-parter in remote Western Alaska: (1) a 7-day pack-raft fly-fishing float on the upper 45 miles of a remote and beautiful river, and (2) an 11-day moose hunt on one of a hundred lakes in Unit 18.

The fly-fishing pack-raft float was outstanding. We didn’t see another person from the time we were dropped off at the headwater lake on floats, until we were picked-up from our same pilot on a lake a half-mile from the river, seven days later. My wrist was sore from setting the hook on the third day. We caught countless Dolly Varden trout, rainbows, and silver salmon. It was the best fishing ever…it was fantastic, and the wx was crazy good for the entire trip. The river was also loaded with grizzlies, who had been enjoying the various salmon runs through the summer and were now hyperphagic in preparation for winter. We saw 11 grizzlies for the first ten miles of the float. One had to easily square 10+. There were bear trails on each side of the river and piles of bear crap loaded with blueberries pretty much everywhere along the river. All the bears were well behaved with one exception…I got charged, which was a first for me. We camped on the gravel bars and extended gravel shorelines of the river to be out in the open. Early one morning at first light I was awakened by a bear intensely huffing outside the tent…close. I quickly got out of my bag, grabbed my pistol, zipped down the door of our tipi, and stood-up with my pistol. The bear was 13 yrds (stepped off later) and looking right at me, huffing away. As I pointed the pistol at him, I told him to get out of here repeatedly for a couple of seconds. He didn’t budge, but instead charged forward to 9 yds, where he stopped and continued huffing. I shot the ground in front of him after he stopped, but he didn’t budge or even jump and kept huffing. I was taking-up slack on the trigger to shoot him (he was just too close), when he turned around and went back about 20 yards into the brush where he ran back and forth from left to right, huffing away for about 15 seconds, and then vanished. It looked like a 4, maybe 5-year old grizzly…essentially an adolescent…the worse (second only to a sow protecting her cubs). There was a freeze that morning, so I got back into my sleeping bag to get warm, and believe it or not I was able to fall back to sleep. Anyway, like I said it was a first for me in over 25-years living and hunting in Alaska. I’ve taken my share of grizzlies out hunting for them, so I really didn’t want to shoot the bear, but he was just too close…it ended well for me and the bear.

The moose hunt was our fifth year in a row with Renfro, doing a drop off. We did the pack-raft float through Renfro as well. Can’t say enough good things about Wade and his family. My hunting partner and I (both residents) pay the money for the experience of being out there without other hunters around. It is worth every penny to us. We never see another person the entire time, and we bring back all of our meat, which gets shared with seven families. We aren’t looking for the biggest bull, and I truly have no issue at all with trophy hunting, which I have done myself in Africa. I appreciate nonresidents coming up to have a hunt of a life-time and bang a monster…they’re out there for sure. We always harvest either two or three…a resident can take two moose in Unit 18 and one can be a cow, which we have done and did this year. The area of Unit 18 where we were this year had been relatively warm for the month of September, so the rut was appearing to be running a little later. I took a good sized cow without calf on the fourth hunting day, who had come to my cow calls. We had seen a couple of bulls way further out, and heard a couple much closer but never came out of the timber. As I was humping the last load of meat from the cow back to camp the next day, we heard multiple wolves calling…and they were very close (within 500 yards), but we never saw them. We also didn’t see another moose come out for five or six days as the wolves worked the kill site and howled nitely. The wx was not ideal, e.g., very windy, rainy, and no freezes or frosts where we were. On the last day of the hunt, the wx was particularly not our friend. I managed to do some cow calling in the afternoon when the wind and rain calmed down a momentarily before cranking back up again. Probably got 4-5 calls in total. In the last hour of light of that last hunting day, a bull appeared on the ridge across the lake, approximately a half-mile away. I told my hunting partner that I was going to call it to our camp, which is exactly what happened. I had to turn him twice, but he came all the way around the lake, and I dropped him 20 yards from the meat pole we had made for hanging the cow meat, which had been picked-up several days earlier. We were up until 3am with headlamps butchering and bagging him. Our excellent pilot picked-up the meat the next morning, and came back to get us. We were fortunate to get in that day because the wx was marginal. I don’t think anyone else made it that day. We were kindly invited for a moose heart dinner at the pilot’s house, who we have gotten to know over the years and greatly respect and appreciate…it was our cow moose heart…we give him the hearts every year.

The cow and bull were large bodied, and we shipped back around eleven hundred pounds of meat. The rack was typical size we’ve been taking each year, e.g., high forties, low fifties. My hunting partner said he is buying me a bottle of top shelf Irish this year. Oh, one other first for me on this trip. During the moose hunt, I saw a musk-ox grazing about 700 yards out. Never before seen that when moose hunting. Took a bazillion pictures of him, but none turned out…just a gray blob.

I hope everyone else had a safe and enjoyable hunt this year...I still have a black-tail hunt on Kodiak with my daughter in November!
 

realunlucky

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
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Location
Eastern Utah
Been back from my 2018 moose hunt for a week now, catching my breath and digging out of the deep hole at work. Thought I’d do a quick write-up, which is something that I do not typically do. I know there are many who enjoy writing up their hunts and posting pictures, but that’s not been my history. I’m sharing here in the spirit being a good member of this forum and in response to some who voiced interests in hearing how the hunts went.

My time in the field was a two-parter in remote Western Alaska: (1) a 7-day pack-raft fly-fishing float on the upper 45 miles of a remote and beautiful river, and (2) an 11-day moose hunt on one of a hundred lakes in Unit 18.

The fly-fishing pack-raft float was outstanding. We didn’t see another person from the time we were dropped off at the headwater lake on floats, until we were picked-up from our same pilot on a lake a half-mile from the river, seven days later. My wrist was sore from setting the hook on the third day. We caught countless Dolly Varden trout, rainbows, and silver salmon. It was the best fishing ever…it was fantastic, and the wx was crazy good for the entire trip. The river was also loaded with grizzlies, who had been enjoying the various salmon runs through the summer and were now hyperphagic in preparation for winter. We saw 11 grizzlies for the first ten miles of the float. One had to easily square 10+. There were bear trails on each side of the river and piles of bear crap loaded with blueberries pretty much everywhere along the river. All the bears were well behaved with one exception…I got charged, which was a first for me. We camped on the gravel bars and extended gravel shorelines of the river to be out in the open. Early one morning at first light I was awakened by a bear intensely huffing outside the tent…close. I quickly got out of my bag, grabbed my pistol, zipped down the door of our tipi, and stood-up with my pistol. The bear was 13 yrds (stepped off later) and looking right at me, huffing away. As I pointed the pistol at him, I told him to get out of here repeatedly for a couple of seconds. He didn’t budge, but instead charged forward to 9 yds, where he stopped and continued huffing. I shot the ground in front of him after he stopped, but he didn’t budge or even jump and kept huffing. I was taking-up slack on the trigger to shoot him (he was just too close), when he turned around and went back about 20 yards into the brush where he ran back and forth from left to right, huffing away for about 15 seconds, and then vanished. It looked like a 4, maybe 5-year old grizzly…essentially an adolescent…the worse (second only to a sow protecting her cubs). There was a freeze that morning, so I got back into my sleeping bag to get warm, and believe it or not I was able to fall back to sleep. Anyway, like I said it was a first for me in over 25-years living and hunting in Alaska. I’ve taken my share of grizzlies out hunting for them, so I really didn’t want to shoot the bear, but he was just too close…it ended well for me and the bear.

The moose hunt was our fifth year in a row with Renfro, doing a drop off. We did the pack-raft float through Renfro as well. Can’t say enough good things about Wade and his family. My hunting partner and I (both residents) pay the money for the experience of being out there without other hunters around. It is worth every penny to us. We never see another person the entire time, and we bring back all of our meat, which gets shared with seven families. We aren’t looking for the biggest bull, and I truly have no issue at all with trophy hunting, which I have done myself in Africa. I appreciate nonresidents coming up to have a hunt of a life-time and bang a monster…they’re out there for sure. We always harvest either two or three…a resident can take two moose in Unit 18 and one can be a cow, which we have done and did this year. The area of Unit 18 where we were this year had been relatively warm for the month of September, so the rut was appearing to be running a little later. I took a good sized cow without calf on the fourth hunting day, who had come to my cow calls. We had seen a couple of bulls way further out, and heard a couple much closer but never came out of the timber. As I was humping the last load of meat from the cow back to camp the next day, we heard multiple wolves calling…and they were very close (within 500 yards), but we never saw them. We also didn’t see another moose come out for five or six days as the wolves worked the kill site and howled nitely. The wx was not ideal, e.g., very windy, rainy, and no freezes or frosts where we were. On the last day of the hunt, the wx was particularly not our friend. I managed to do some cow calling in the afternoon when the wind and rain calmed down a momentarily before cranking back up again. Probably got 4-5 calls in total. In the last hour of light of that last hunting day, a bull appeared on the ridge across the lake, approximately a half-mile away. I told my hunting partner that I was going to call it to our camp, which is exactly what happened. I had to turn him twice, but he came all the way around the lake, and I dropped him 20 yards from the meat pole we had made for hanging the cow meat, which had been picked-up several days earlier. We were up until 3am with headlamps butchering and bagging him. Our excellent pilot picked-up the meat the next morning, and came back to get us. We were fortunate to get in that day because the wx was marginal. I don’t think anyone else made it that day. We were kindly invited for a moose heart dinner at the pilot’s house, who we have gotten to know over the years and greatly respect and appreciate…it was our cow moose heart…we give him the hearts every year.

The cow and bull were large bodied, and we shipped back around eleven hundred pounds of meat. The rack was typical size we’ve been taking each year, e.g., high forties, low fifties. My hunting partner said he is buying me a bottle of top shelf Irish this year. Oh, one other first for me on this trip. During the moose hunt, I saw a musk-ox grazing about 700 yards out. Never before seen that when moose hunting. Took a bazillion pictures of him, but none turned out…just a gray blob.

I hope everyone else had a safe and enjoyable hunt this year...I still have a black-tail hunt on Kodiak with my daughter in November!
Really appreciate the write up. Congratulations on a great moose season. 7 families that's a bunch of pressure to make it happen.

Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Feb 10, 2013
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I'm really glad you are safe. I talked to Nate, the pilot, on our flight back and he told us the Grizz story. Man, that is scary. I will be posting a summary of our hunt and our group had an amazing trip too.
 

live2huntelk

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2013
Messages
187
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Location
Ohio
First off, thanks for taking the time to write it up so others like myself can enjoy and learn from. Write ups like these help hunters looking to do a moose hunt with researching outfitters such as Renfros. I am in the booking stage of a DIY moose and greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences. I sent you a PM.
 
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