My Alaskan Moose Hunt

Theringworm

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This is a cross post form another forum (THF) that I participate in, but I have had many people on here that knew I was going on this hunt so I wanted to report back on my experience. This journey all started about 2 years ago when I had registered to attend the 2018 SCI convention in Las Vegas. This would be my first time to SCI and I was going with the intention of completing a bucket list hunt.......Alaskan Moose. I had researched at nausea various outfitters in Alaska and was looking for an outfitter that had a great reputation, had repeatedly taken quality animals through the years and could provide an experience that I had dreamt an Alaska hunt could deliver. My searched ended at seeking out one individual in particular, and that would be Sam Fejes of Fejes Outdoor Guide Service. Sam has throughout the years taken high scoring Alaskan Moose and if not mistaken still has a client who holds the SCI record. Throughout my discussion with him at SCI I got great feedback and felt certain this was whom I wanted to book with. As the months passed, anticipation grew and then, ........it was time. (I won't go into my gear list as it would be an extensive post, but if someone has specific questions feel free to ask.)

I departed for Alaska on Tuesday Oct 1st, driving into Dallas where I would spend the night so I could catch the earliest flight out of Dallas Love Field to Cordova Alaska. With layovers in Seattle and Anchorage I would finally arrive in Cordova, AK where I would spend the night and then get picked up early the next morning to fly out to the outfitter lodge.
 

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Theringworm

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Upon arrival to the main lodge, we were openly greeted by the staff and guides, assigned a room, unpacked, checked zero on our rifles and sat down for lunch. Immediately after lunch it was go time as we were assigned and met our guides. They did a quick pack shake down and then were assigned rough estimates for Super Cub departure out of camp for that day so we wouldn't get dinged another day on the "no hunt on the day you fly rule". There were 4 of us in my group and we met a 5th hunter upon our arrival into Cordova. We each had our own guides and departed our separate ways. I was the first to get to camp but the last one to leave. All of the years of waiting and day dreaming were closing in on what would turn out to be one of the craziest, luckiest, most fortunate hunts of my life.
 

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Theringworm

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Day 0: My 22 y/o pilot turns the Super Cub down into the trees where we meet a murky river bottom that is locked in by a mountain side to the East and tall evergreen trees to the West. We snake above the river maybe a 50-75 ft above the water. The "pucker factor" was real as I wasn't sure where we were landing or what was around the next river bend. We passover, what appeared to me to be, a perfect landing spot on a straight wide open rock bar and instead continue to cruise the river channel until coming to a descent bend with a river bar hugging the West side. The Super Cub suddenly drops, we are now "hovering" above water and then he starts to skip the fat inflatable tires across the water top ever so delicately to slow the plane down as we suddenly approach the rock bar and touch down, quickly coming to a a halt as we turn around the river bend. There, I meet up with my guide, grab my pack and rifle and head into the alders and spruce forest to camp about a quarter of a mile in. My guide tells me, "yeah, we used to have camp right back there on the river bed but it was a major highway for the bears who kept coming into camp so we decided to move it further into the interior." Seriously I thought, as I now had my head on a swivel walking through the dense forest looking the the bears he had just described. No, I have never been to Alaska, but not being on the top of the food job was a constant concern of mine the entire trip. Get to camp, everything is already setup for me. I just had to unpack and get ready for dinner. We shared some stories, got acquainted and then it was off to bed around 8pm. Wake would be 6am and I immediately thought, "well I get to sleep for 11 hours however there is a 3 hour time difference. I am sure I'll be up at 2 or 3am,.......and I was. Not sure if I slept much that night. Every sound in the forest had me a little nervous. I did hear a few moose callas way in the distance and immediately thought, "hmm, that's at least a positive sign that there are moose around."

Day 1: 6am came slowly and yes I had already been up for hours. I would guess maybe 10 mins after my guides alarm went off I was out the tent, dressed, pack ready and guide in hand. We down some oatmeal and discussed the game plan. He said we would follow the game trail into the interior, about a .5 mile walk, where we would come the the edge a massive open marshy meadow. On the edge of this meadow we would pick out a giant spruce tree that we would climb to gain some elevation and glass the marsh for moose. I am thinking, 1) short hike in waders - no problem, 2) Climb a tree - he probably means 10 ft up a ladder onto a platform with chairs..check ...check. Weather was clear skies. How hard can this be. Well.........my assumptions weren't entirely accurate.

0.5 mile hike, yes it was a cake walk. We got to the meadows edge, found a tree and the guide went up first. No, there was NO ladder. There were NO chairs. It was an 80 ft spruce and he went all the way to the top. I thought to myself, last time I climbed a tree I was 12 yrs old. Number one injury to hunters is falling out of a tree. I have a family and a career. Am I seriously going to do this? Up I went. It wasn't 5 minutes later and maybe 10 ft up before my guide was now descending and said, "wrong tree....that one right there is the right one." So down I went. By now I am certain I have heard a bull moose rake his rack on a tree some good distance from us. The excitement was building. And now, bull moose were being heard in the distance, what I thought was 1-2 miles away.

We get to the "right tree" 10 ft away from the "wrong tree" and my guide goes up first telling me to wait 10 minutes and then follow. I sit there waiting, bull moose calls still going and seem to be getting little closer but yet so far away. I get to about 30 ft in the air (no rifle, or pack, just binoculars) and convince myself there is no reason to go up 50 more feet when I can perfectly see all I need to right here. So I stopped, and began to glass. The moose calls continue to get closer and louder and I am glassing more and more, but nothing. Not 10 minutes later the moose calls are even louder and my guide is rapidly descending the tree. My initial impression was, he must see a moose. I don't, but maybe he does and we need to reposition. As he nears me I quietly ask,...."can you see him, what do you see". He somewhat loudly whispers to me in a stern voice, " I AM SORRY TO RUIN YOUR HUNT EARLY". My reaction was one of confusion. Have I already pissed off my guide in no less than 20 minutes of hunting? What did I do? I just asked if he saw a moose. He promptly follows with, "GET DOWN, we are going to go kill an F&%King big moose."

20 minutes in I mind you and "it's on". I hurriedly, in geriatric fashion, bounce my way from limb to limb to the bottom on the tree. My nerves are going crazy, heart beat racing. No time for ear plugs, fumbling to get the rangefinder out as my guide directs me out in to the opening of the field. I am like, wait, we are just going walk out into this field with zero cover. That ain't possible with a whitetail or elk. What in the world is he thinking. The bull moose call is now getting really loud. My guide tells me to hurry and he saw him go in to the forest and is headed our way. We have to hurry and get set up for when he pops out on our side. I immediately check my turret elevation making sure its at 0. Then check to insure my magnification is on low power. It's daylight but you aren't able to see the sun and looking into the forest edge was casting dark shadows. I grab the binocs and am searching but see nothing. I switch to the rangefinder again but am so frazzled I have forgotten to click the yardage button to actually get a range and just throw it back down and grab my binoculars. My guide tells me, there he is. Yardage is about 150. I still see NOTHING. I continue to scan the forest edge and then ......boom.....there he is. All I can see is his muzzle, steam ascending from his nostrils and then the rack. I have never seen a moose in person, no clue how to judge one and my guide had said nothing more than we are going to kill a big moose. Not once did I ask about size or score. I was simply there to hunt moose and new they didn't shoot anything 60" or less which was good enough for me.

Now that I had located I switched over to the rifle. Scanning my shooting lenses he needed to walk out about 30 yds to fall int a 5 ft window where I would have a shot. I also realized I had nothing to rest my gun on. I had planned on using my trekking poles but I never pulled them out of the bag. Why would I have, it was an easy .5 mile walk on level terrain on a good game trail. I attempted to kneel but quickly realized the grass reeds were now above my hand as they stood 4+ft in height. Standing with a free hand shot was my only option. A few more steps and he was now in the window and immediately turned straight towards me. My guide says, now, and I promptly tell him, I don't have a shot. He is head on right at me. He then says move out in to the meadow some more. Uhh.....the moose is looking right at us dude, seriously? Yes, my guide starts to call back, alternating a bull land cow call. He takes out an antler and begins raking some of the bushes close by. He tells me to get ready, he just needs to clear the next lone spruce tree and you'll have a shot. What seemed like an eternity worked just as he said. The bull was inquisitive and began to work his way around the tree. Two more steps.........POW.........I let the .28 Nosler and the Nosler 175 grain Accubond LR do it's thing. Without question I was shaking like a leaf. Crosshairs were definitely moving up and down but I felt like it was a good/great shot. I immediately knew I had hit him. The bull jumped straight up into the air. My guide confirmed my suspicion by commenting that it was good shot, but suggested I chamber another round. As he was saying that I was already in the process of doing so. In my haste, I short stroked the action, not ejecting the spent cartridge and proceeded to try and load a subsequent round. I now had a jam. I frantically finger picked the jam apart and chambered another round. By this time, the bull had walked behind the loan spruce. You can tell he was struggling as his breathing was loud and labored. And then..............CRASHHHHHHHHH. I knew he was down. But because we didn't see him go down we only waited a minute or so and began to circle around the spruce. It wasn't until we were doubt 10 yds from him could we see his left palm sticking up through the grass reeds. It was finished. 0748 in the morning, roughly 30 minutes in to my Great Alaskan Moose hunt adventure on the first day, I had killed what would turn out to be an absolute giant.
 
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Theringworm

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My guide said, "you sir just killed a monster". What 60"+ bull isn't a monster I thought. My guide promptly followed with, I bet he is 75" wide. I quickly called B.S. He then proceeded to inform me (and he would know as I am sure this ins't the first time he took rough estimates of moose) that his wing span from finger tip to finger tip is 63"s. He then straddled across the rack and demonstrated there was ALOT of room yet to go to reach his other side. I just sat there in disbelief. IMG_3924.JPGfullsizeoutput_d2d.jpegIMG_3973.JPGPA140044.JPGfullsizeoutput_d2f.jpegIMG_3929.JPGIMG_4003.JPG
 
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Theringworm

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He officially taped out at 76.5 inches.

I consider my self an avid hunter. A skilled hunter. A prepared hunter. I trained hard for this hunt as I knew it would be very challenging physically with hiking through ankle to waist high water. I dropped 20 lbs in preparation for the hunt so I could give my self the best physical advantage possible. I practiced shooting, (though not off hand) to insure I could reliably hit anything inside of 500 yds (though I knew a shot on a moose would likely not stretch out past 300yds). I did as much as I could to prepare myself and be ready for this hunt. And some times.......little to none of that preparation factors in, but instead its LUCK. Pure and simple Luck. The right place at the right time. It all just went our way that morning. The whole experience is beyond words. I try to capture here in words, but words do not do this experience any justice. Just a lucky guy, in the right spot, doing the right thing, no mistakes to screw it up and it just happened. It owes little to noting to my hunting skills but yet it means the world to me and will be a memory of a lifetime.
 
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Theringworm

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I also had a black bear and wolf tag. Heard wolf's twice, and they would respond to my guides call, however they never came any closer. We did find where they had bedded one morning on the beach, a whole pack of them but never saw or heard them. The black bear was very elusive in the area we were hunting. The second day I moved from moose camp, to the lodge, then to the mountains/higher elevation to hunt for bear and wolf. We only saw one black bear that was a shooter, and he was an absolute tank. Closest we got was 1300 yds. We made a play on him the second day as it would have put us back in camp the first evening we saw him well after dark if we would have been successful. My guide wasn't strictly opposed to getting back to camp late, however he much preferred walking back with enough light that would allow him to interpret shapes and animals. That 2nd day, we basically switched spots with the black bear. We were where we had left him the night before and he popped out just south of the ridge we had been on the day before. The black bears obviously are second fiddle to the Brown bear, which were everywhere. We had to chase off a 4-5 yr old off the meat we had packed down to the gravel bar awaiting the flight out. It was a tense moment and something I was uneasy with. He eventually let us be but not after some intense standoffs and some serious jaw clapping. About 30 mins later the Super Cub arrived and flew me out. Brown bear number 2, a 9.5-10ft bear was already on my carcass as we flew over. So about 24 hours after the kill. That seemed about the average time for them to find the kills. The other guy in camp had one on his in about the same amount of time. However, guides repeatedly told stories of bears showing up while gutting/quartering the animal.

I spent about an hour one day fishing for Coho salmon. Limited out in about an hour. Caught about 20 total in that period of time, but could only keep 4 which was the daily limit there. Had some friends fishing with us as well.

We spent 3 days stuck in the lodge as a major storm rolled in and they pulled us off the mountain just before it hit. 50-60mph winds and an absolute down pour of a rain storm. It didn't let up for almost 3 days. I went back out and hunted 2 more days for black bears in a different spot along the coast. Never saw a bear, but did see fresh tracks. All in all, absolute amazing trip. I would highly recommend Sam Fejes to anyone. They kill monsters and have a great habitat for them. Thanks for letting me share my adventure with you.

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dakotaduner

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What a moose, Congratulations. Great photos along with it. You prepared and were ready for everything that this hunt was to bring you. Timing is everything and a little luck is ok to. Thanks for sharing your hunt with us
 

Gnatboy911

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You are a talented writer, thank you for taking time to share! Congratulations on a great animal and great hunt.

Did the other guys in camp get good bulls also?
 
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Theringworm

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We were a party of 4 and then there was 1 lone hunter from Michigan. The hunter from Michigan shot a 65" bull. Him and myself were the only two successful. One guy in my party had a shot at a 64-65' bull but when he went to chamber a round his magazine spring broke and wouldn't push the round up enough to chamber it. By the time he had it cleared the bull had trotted further away. They called to get him to stop but he rushed the shot and missed. Another guy saw several 62-65" bulls but never got off a shot. The 3rd gentlemen was more focused on getting a brown bear and sat over both of our kills but they couldn't outsmart the bears as the wind was always swirling and blew their approach.
 

cruzer17

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Nice write up, and very nice Bull. Thanks for sharing.

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