Some things I learned on my first moose hunting trip:

mcseal2

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I'll add to this later but have a few minutes while my wife is getting ready to type a little about what I learned on my first AK moose hunt. We hunted with Papa Bear Adventures and had a good hunt. I took a bull I was very happy with and my buddy shot a smaller one late in the hunt.

We had a lot of rain early. It rained at least 3/4 of every 24hour day for 4 days, and then the sky cleared up and temps warmed up into the upper 60's for highs. We also had a full moon. When the rain quit I shot my bull that evening, before it got warm. We called in another bull the next morning while it was pretty cool and somewhat cloudy. Once the temps warmed up with clear skies and the full moon we never called another bull. I am thinking that the moose did like whitetail would at home and primarily moved and rutted at night, slept or at least were lethargic during the day. With the cooler temps but lots of light that seems logical at least to a rookie moose hunter like me.

This was a drop camp DIY hunt. I would encourage anyone doing it to ask questions before leaving town if you have them about anything. Do a good inspection of the gear the outfitter provides and ask any questions you have before heading into the field. My buddy and I had used gear like what they had and had no issues, but it was something we thought of one evening at camp. How many people today have patched a tire or would know what to do with the tools provided with the raft? How many people have trouble-shot a 2 stroke motor? We grew up as farm kids plus fished a lot with old boats and motors, and my buddy had an inflatable raft for a while. It's stuff we knew but we both know a lot of people with different backgrounds who would not have had that experience. We took our own tent, but if you use an outfitter provided tent make sure you can set it up before you are in the field with a high wind and rain. Self reliance and experience are a big help on a hunt like this and can save frustration and time for hunting.

Take some tarps. We had a 10x10 Seek Outside tarp over our cook/lounge area at camp. We pulled the middle tie out on one side lower than the rest and put my 10L folding bucket under it to catch rain water. It was a lot better tasting than the swamp water we filtered before and after the days of rain, plus saved our water filter some abuse.

Have a good water filter and back-up filter elements. We used a Katadyn Base camp 10L filter. The first new filter element we had (only previous use was flushing it with well water at my house) was very slow from the start. I think the first 10L of swamp water took 12 hours to run through it. We even pre-filtered the water going into the Katadyn bag through a screen I bought off Ebay to help save the filter after having an issue on a Canadian fishing/canoeing trip in 2013. The second filter element we tried was fast, it worked like it should have. If I use that filter again I'll take the filter we used this trip plus a couple spares. I had a Steripen in my pack to treat water as needed if I re-filled my water bottles during the day but never ended up needing it.

Wife is ready, will be continued later....
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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I'm back. I should have mentioned this earlier probably but I took a write in the rain notebook and pen on the trip so I could document the trip a bit. I used part of it before the trip for tips I'd write as I asked questions here, watched videos, read books, etc over the last 3 years waiting for this hunt. The rest of it I split up between packing lists, a section for a journal of the hunt, and a section for what worked and what I'd change on gear. I'm using that to make this post and update my gear lists as I hope to do this hunt again someday.

I'll focus on gear here, there are way more knowledgeable people on here than me on calling and hunting strategy.

I took a 3oz bottle of Sawyer 100% DEET and was glad I did. Bugs were an annoyance when the wind went down but not really an issue.

Simms G3 chest waders and G3 boots worked great for both of us. I wear a size 11 normal boot and went with a size 9-11 stocking foot on the waders and a size 12 boot. I think that was about right. Flipping the waders inside out and letting the foot dry when we could was a good idea.

We both had synthetic sleeping bags and Thermarest X therm ultralight pads. I used a Kifaru 20 degree Slickbag and my buddy had a Mountain Hardware Hyperlamina 0 degree I think. They worked great and we dried socks, base layers, and gloves in the footboxes without noticing any moisture build-up in the bag.

I've heard mixed feelings about floorless shelters for moose hunts. We chose to take our Seek Outside 8 man for the 2 of us. The outfitter's tents weigh 32lbs and ours is about 18lbs with 2 liner halves, wood stove and accessories, stakes, lines, etc. Our tipi worked perfect for us and freed up a little weight for other items. We did not use the stove. We did not have a real level place to put a floored tent, but just set ours up over the humps and the foot deep moose trail running through the best spot we found. We staked it as best we could and pulled some grass and ferns to stuff in the gaps (like the moose trail) under the tipi. We used 18" Kifaru SST stakes for 12 of the loops and 10" imitation MSR Cyclones for the others and guy outs. The outfitter provided Cabelas cots that sat 6" or so off the ground. This set-up gave us stand-up room and some room to spread gear and cots out inside. We could get waders on and off standing if needed, it just worked well for us. I would take the tipi again.

At least for the area we were in rubber boots are the only camp shoes that would have made sense. We did not take any regular pants, just our Kuiu Yukon rain pants and Tingley lightweight rubber boots. My size 12 boots weighed 24.5oz for the pair, so they are easy on the weight limit. I usually wear size 11 but went up a size buying these for camp shoes for the trip and was glad I did. It made them very easy to slip off and on. I'd go with a sturdier boot if I expected to hike and hunt in them, but these worked great for camp shoes. Having them and the rain pants (vegetation was wet for at least 70% of the trip even when not raining) let us wear those items around camp and turn our waders inside out to dry a bit of the condensation that would build up in a day of hiking. We could only cover so much ground the way the terrain lay near our camp so we ended up hunting the mornings and back at camp by early afternoon on most days. We would eat our bigger meal that took a bit more prep then and go back out to hunt until dark. Around dark we would return to camp and do a quick Mtn House, Hawk Vittles, or similar meal before heading to bed.

Camp food was mostly freeze dried for meals and fairly light but high calorie snacks. We ended up about 25lbs per man for all our meals, snacks, and drinks. We figured on being around 3000 calories per day for 10 days with that, and having 3 or 4 extra freeze dried meals in case weather stuck us in camp to long. I can send my Excel food file to anyone if they PM me an email address, I won't try to put it all here. Individual food packages for snacks seemed to go good with the freeze dried stuff. I liked stuff with some crunch go with the freeze dried, stuff like little packets of honey roasted peanuts, chex mix, etc. Beef & Cheese sticks from Jack Links were also quick to go each day from the snack bag. Lots of stuff tasted good that isn't in my normal diet at home. We never finished our snack bags on any day and kinda planned it that way so we would have some carry over in case we got stuck there longer. We had a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and Montreal steak seasoning that we used to fry up some tenderloin in camp that sure hit the spot! We also split up a #10 can of Mountain House chicken into smaller vacuum sealed portions that we added to our bigger meals on some days. We figured on one bigger meal we'd share and one freeze dried packaged meal each day. The bigger meal was simple too, just a little more food and prep. For example one day we put Mtn House Noodles and Chicken packages with extra chicken over Idahoan mashed potatoes. Another day we added Mtn House chicken to a Bear Creek soup. We didn't want to have a whole lot of scent from cooking, wash a lot of dishes, or spend a lot of time and effort at it. That Mtn House #10 can of chicken rehydrated extremely well and had good flavor. It was bigger chunks than what their meals have in them. We did rehydrate it longer than it said to. Next time that would go great in some of the Knorr pasta sides like their alfredo.

A pocket knife of some kind is a must. My buddy had his Grandpa's knife he packed in a ziplock in his pack so he didn't get it rusted or lose it and he borrowed mine a bunch of times. There are just dozens of little things where a sharp folding knife is handy from opening slippery wet food packages with wet hands, cutting cordage setting tarps, trimming a shooting lane in a calling spot, you get the picture. I normally carry a fixed blade knife hunting but I didn't want to when wearing chest waders. I ended up taking my Zero Tolerance 452CF since it's pretty light for it's blade length. It was a great choice for me, I used it a bunch both on moose and for little stuff.
We took more knives and tools than we needed to. I like knives, saws, and axes and had never processed a moose before. I also tend to build stuff to improve a camp site if time allows, it happens more on fishing than hunting trips for sure. I had a little extra weight to spend taking our tent and used some of it on extra tools. What we ended up not using in the field is any of our smaller replaceable blade knives. We did use a Outdoor Edge Zip Pro to make our big cuts through the hide. It worked great at first but the AUS 8 steel was dull before we finished and we switched to a normal knife. I re-sharpened it at camp and we used it again on the second moose for most of the hide cuts until it dulled again. Moose are big and have really thick hide. We both found ourselves using sturdy knives with a 4" or 4.5" blade the most. My buddy used my Bark River clip point hunter in 3V steel most of the time on my moose while I used my folding Zero Tolerance 452 in S35 the most. On his moose he used his Grandpa's old Kabar folding hunter that goes on all our trips for sentimental reasons, and I used my Bark River. All of them worked well. Smaller knives like the Tyto or Outdoor Edge Razor Lite we had just didn't seem to work as well on an animal this big for us. We never needed the Worksharp field sharpener I took along, just a few passes every 10 minutes or so on the ceramic steel I took kept these knives working well. The Kabar with the older carbon steel needed hit more frequently than the newer "supersteel" knives, but it never needed a stone either. Even back at home when I gave them a good cleaning and oiling last night after another 6 or so passes on the steel on each side and a quick stropping on my jeans they are shaving hair off my arms again. I was very impressed with them.
To be fair, having to many knives we tried meant none but the Bark River really got used as much as they would have if we'd had less of them along. We may have needed the sharpener if we had used one knife each on both moose. I'm sure using the Zip Pro for most hide cuts saved the edges on the other knives a lot too.
We also took the larger size Wyoming saw with a couple wood and a couple bone blades. We only used one of each. The wood blade came in handy cutting an area to work out around my moose where he walked back into the brush before dying. We were in a bone-in unit and used the bone saw blade on legs below the knees, removing the rib slabs, and for removing the heads. One blade did both moose and was still working well. Making the initial rib cuts was a little tough, having a smaller straight saw would have been better for that I think. Once we had a rib or two cut the saw we had worked great.
I also took my Gransfors Bruks small forest axe. It was darn handy to have around camp. I cut a few saplings to raise the ridgeline on our kitchen tarp, a few to make a standing height shooting tripod to keep at camp, two to make stakes to anchor our boat in the swamp, drove tent stakes with it, some for a makeshift pallet to get airflow under game bags of meat, lots of stuff. I did all my noise making right after the plane dropped us and we got the tipi set up so I wasn't disturbing the area again later.
The Outdoor Edge replaceable blade Razor Lite was handy back at the lodge cleaning all the meat off the skulls. I liked having the expendable blades for that. The ceramic steel works great on them too, we only used 2 or 3 blades total.
Going again I'd take the Bark River Clip point hunter, ZT 452, Wyoming saw, GB axe, and ceramic steel. I'd also take a Havalon Barracuta with the longer blades and the saw blade. I think the smaller saw would have been handy a few times and the fillet blades would have been handy in places getting all the meat off the bones in larger pieces, having a bit less trim meat. A 4" Rapala fillet knife might be even better than the Havalon.
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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For rain gear we both bought First Light SEAK jackets last fall when ASAT was discontinued and they were marked way down. They worked very well for us. I took my Sitka Cloudburst jacket too in case we wanted to rotate it through if we got to much rain, give the FL ones a chance to dry, but we never needed to. The Kuiu Yukon rain pants were also really impressive. We walked through, sat on, and knelt on a lot of wet stuff with them without ever having anything soak through. The full length zippers make them easy to get off and on. We picked them up last year also when they were in the outlet store on their website for a big discount. Really most times a Helly Hannsen Impertech rain jacket would have worked just as well. It would have been fine sitting, but a few times the pit zips and some breathability were nice when active.

We both used Darn Tough full cushion boot socks and were happy with them. We took lotrimin cream or powder and treated our feet daily and never had any issues there either.

For packs my buddy had an Eberlestock Mainframe with batwings. It worked well for him except the straps were barely long enough for the bigger loads. He couldn't fit the two rib slabs from a moose for example under his straps but a hind quarter would just fit.

I was worried about this with my Exo pack and crib attachment too. I ended up doing a lot of research and buying a new pack for this hunt and a couple future ones where I will be packing really bulky loads. I love my Exo for most stuff, but got a Kifaru for this. I bought a Kifaru tactical frame, Nomad 2 bag, Grab it 2, and added 3 extra compression straps to the frame. It worked awesome I thought. The Kifaru hip belt helped me get the weight off my shoulders even wearing slick waders. The compression straps were more than long enough for any loads and they secured them all pretty well. Hunting clothes and gear that couldn't get wet stayed in a dry bag between the bat wings, as well as the Camptime Roll A Chair that the outfitter provided. Gear that could get wet went inside the Nomad 2 batwing pockets. I wouldn't change anything for another trip as far as my pack goes.

On a side note, be careful helping each other get to your feet with heavy packs on. We loaded a front quarter off my bull in my buddy's pack and a hind quarter in mine for our first trip out. We got the packs set like we wanted and then I helped him up first, then slipped into my pack and he helped me up. The long front quarter shifted a little in his pack and it came forward over his shoulder and cracked me over the head as he helped me to my feet. I saw stars and staggered a little before catching a tree. It left a goose egg and a healthy caution to make sure that didn't happen again!

Our moose averaged about 3.5 hours each to break down and get laid out on the tarp. We have taken a lot of animals apart together and I felt like we were making pretty good time. Once we got to a spot where it was necessary I did a lot of muscling things around while my buddy did a lot of the cutting. He is more limber than me and I'm stronger than him, it's a system that has worked for us. We took every scrap of meat we could and took pictures of the backbone after just in case we needed proof. Once a moose is down it is hard work. Once they were broke down it was 8 heavy loads to get one moose to the boat and 2 trips with the boat to camp. Our pack loads we took each quarter individually, both rib slabs together, trim meat and neck meat together, loins and tenderloins, and the head. We are both doing Euro mounts and did not keep capes.

For clothes I mostly wore this as my upper body system:
FL Aerowool Wilikin, Sitka Core LW hoody, Kuiu Peloton 240 hoody, FL SEAK rain jacket
I added to that as needed my Kifaru Lost Park Puffy.
I layered all these items up or down as needed. Calling with the wind in my face the little face mask built into the Sitka Core LW Hoody was a nice feature once I started using it. It was surprisingly warm and didn't interfere with my calling.

Lower body it was:
FL Aerowool boxers, 150wt base layer, and 200wt base layer. Then Darn Tough full cushion boot socks and Simms G3 boots and waders. I had Kuiu Kenai puffy pants too I wore under the waders or Yukon rain pants on occasion.

We had really mild conditions for this time of year with no frost and only a few mornings or evenings we could see our breath. I still used all these clothes at times with the wet strong wind. I would recommend going warmer than you think you need to for a hunt like this.

A few clothing things I'd change for next time would be adding my FL Ucompaghre vest. I wanted an insulation layer less warm than the Kifaru LPP at times, something I could walk in for a short distance without removing. There were even a few times I wanted it under the LPP. For my bottom half I wish I'd have got some of the Simms fleece pants like Kevin Dill recommended I do. I should have know better than to not listen to him! My buddy did and he was comfortable the whole trip with those under waders and over Aerowool 200 base layers. The waders are more breathable than I realized when out in a strong wind which is a good thing, but it needs to be layered for. I had worn mine several times training but not in that much wind sitting still for extended times. I did pick up a good trick though that really helped. My Kifaru pack rain cover is big enough to put over my legs from my waist to boot tops sitting in the camp chair and it cuts all the wind and really makes a difference. With the gear that needed protection from my pack in the dry bag the pack didn't really need the rain cover anyway. I also might take a silnylon poncho tarp. That could have been a good wind layer and rain protection when sitting in the chair calling in the rain. It would drape over both me and the chair and let my pack cover stay on my pack. One day from 2pm to dark when it was dumping rain and blowing sideways I used my Promaster 525 tripod, some handy brush, and my Kifaru sheep tarp to make a shelter to glass and call from. I was ready to not have rain pelting me for a bit, but not ready to go back to camp and quit. I tied the tarp low on the wind side and a bit higher on the front, and used the tripod right next to my chair to raise it enough to sit under comfortably. It wasn't ideal but it kept me hunting and not moving as much.

I took my Promaster 525 tripod, Outdoorsmans pan head, Outdoorsmans shooting rest, and Kowa 55mm spotter. We did use the spotter a few times and I was glad to have it but honestly it wasn't needed. It would be one of the first items I'd cut if I needed to for weight in our unit with no width or tine restrictions. My buddy or I set the tripod up in front of our chairs to use if we needed to make a longer shot before calling sessions. I ended up taking my moose of the tripod/shooting rest at 300yds kneeling. I would take the tripod or at least Primos 25-62" bipod shooting sticks if I went again. There isn't much opportunity to shoot close to the ground so the extra stability is nice. My buddy took his bull at 500yds from the sitting position with his pack frame as a rest. I don't think shots of this distance are normal, just what we ended up with. We had a couple smaller bulls earlier in the hunt much closer. I was glad we had the capability to reach when we needed to. We were both shooting 300 win mag rifles with factory Nosler 180gr E tip ammunition and were very happy with it's performance. We usually hand load Accubonds for these rifles but they shoot this ammo really well. We shot them at an elevation similar to what we would hunt in Alaska and verified our turrets from 300 to 600 yards before the trip just in case we needed to reach. From our camp site we could see a mile long meadow about 450 yards deep.

I used my I phone 5 and Kindle to have books to read without weighing a lot. I read a lot while whitetail hunting, I've found it helps keep me still, quiet, and patient to stay in the field. I am pretty good about listening while reading and stopping to glass regularly. I've also found that having the clock on the phone helps me keep from calling to often. I used an Anker 26800 battery pack to charge the phone every night and found that between reading and sparing use of Onx maps I'd go through 50-60% of my phone's internal battery each day. I carry a Dark Energy Poseidon in my pack in case I need to charge my headlamp, steripen, or phone but I never had to use it. The Anker was stored in a gallon ziplock in my tent and it only used half it's charge to keep me in power the whole trip. It was overkill, but I didn't want to worry about having enough.
I used a dry bag with spare layers as a pillow and put a FL Aerowool T shirt over it as a pillow case. That gave me an extra shirt if needed and made a comfortable pillow.

For luggage we took 2 plastic totes, one with food and one with most of our group items like the tipi, tarps, etc. These totes made good tables under our cooking tarp. I bought Kuiu Taku gear bags for the trip. I got the smallest 2000 size for my carry on bag, and the largest 9000 size to use as checked luggage. I put my Kifaru pack, waders, boots, almost all my personal gear in the big bag. The small bag I took my optics, tripod, batteries, all my breakable stuff in. They worked great for me. The big bag I used as a closet in the tipi and it was really handy to be able to open wide to find gear inside. I had several smaller dry bags inside to organize gear, but it was so much handier to get stuff found in than the taller, narrower roll top dry bags I've used before. I can't say it's waterproof enough for a float hunt and constant exposure to water, but having it in my tipi gave me peace of mind that my stuff would stay dry. I want to get back to Alaska several more times plus will use them in the tipi on western base camp hunts so I felt I could justify the cost.

Well that's most of what the journal had in it. I'm sure I can add stuff as I think of it but that's most of it. I got a ton of help from people way more knowledgeable than me from this site planning my hunt, thought I should return the favor. I'm no expert moose hunter so I figured I could help more on the gear side than the strategy side. I will answer any questions and have a food list and revised "after trip" gear list I made up while it was fresh in my mind on Excel I will email to anyone who wants them. Hope this answers some questions and helps some people looking to do a hunt like this in the future.
 
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realunlucky

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Appreciate your after hunt recap of how everything preformed. I been thinking of doing a moose hunt for awhile now. Congratulations on a great hunt

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AKDoc

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I'm really happy to hear that you had a safe and memorable hunt...and you banged a nice looking bull. You prepped well and it worked out. The wx was not helpful this year...we lived with it as well on our hunt. Turned out to be a record warm September in that part of our state this year, but you did it! Congratulations to you sir!
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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Thanks everyone. I got so much good information from people here, I figured I should do my part and pass on what I could.
 

Azone

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Great amount of information. How did your meat hold up in the rain? I assuming you had everything under tarps and hanging. The logistics going into handling a 1000lbs of meat off two bulls seems daunting to say the least.
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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They flew in and got my meat after I got it packed out on day 7, and did the same with my buddies, took the moose and us out on day 11.

As far as meat care in camp I didn't have any trees big enough to hang quarters from so I cut some some smaller ones on day 1 around 6" in diameter. I used some natural humps in the ground to set those on to build a frame, then set smaller ones across and built somewhat of a pallet. That let airflow under the meat and I put my Seek DST tarp over the top for shade and to keep rain off. It wasn't ideal but was the best I could do with what I had. It was plenty for the short time I had the meat in camp anyway. I put it where it would get some wind to help keep everything dry and cool.
 
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mikkel318

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Here is our camp with a tipi too. If you don't mind, I will piggyback on your form with some of the stuff we learned too. I went with Renfro's from Swpt 14-24. We saw Papa Bear planes go over us quite a few times. I'm kinda doing this as a test to see if pics upload better through Tapatalk


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mcseal2

mcseal2

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I'd love to hear about your hunt and learn more myself, go for it.

Good looking tipi and camp. We did not have any trees of that size, just brush pretty much.
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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It's not the most glamorous subject, but another item I was glad I had along was a bottle to pee in at night in the tent. I used a 32oz Gatorade bottle. When going outside requires putting on a rain coat, rain pants, and mud boots plus unzipping the bug netting over the door and letting in a fresh batch of bugs it is a darn nice option to have.
 

mikkel318

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We were supposed to be dropped at a "pretty swampy" site by the pilot, but we hit some rain and low clouds on the flight out. He quickly changed his mind and asked if we wanted to go to a small lake near the edge of a forest. I was thrilled to hear we might have wood to burn. We were covered in blueberries with the ability see quite a bit of country.

We saw a couple moose near the lake and a black bear on the flight in. My friend shot his 30" moose on the first night about 200 yards from our tipi. I shot my 45" bull on day 4 about a half mile from camp.

Gear I loved:
-Silky BigBoy 200 Saw for wood and bone
-Benchmade Nestucca cleaver and meat hook
-24" NiteIze gear ties -Held the hind quarters on the meat pole
-GSI 8" frypan -Seared the hell out of moose tenderloin.
-Trekking poles
-Tennis balls for the bottom of my helinox chair

Useless crap I packed:
Small Sawzall - left at Hangar
Tripod for binos: left at Hangar
Pants and Rainpants: waders or long johns the whole time

I would gladly share my gear list with anyone who is interested.


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pjohnson8168

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I will play too, we went with Renfro's from 9/7 - 9/18 and battled the same warm weather as others mentioned. I will echo everything mcseal has said, pretty much a copy of our experiences. A buddy downloaded Onyx ahead of time but we were just outside the area we were dropped off, for anyone going I would highly recommend having them, they would have been invaluable.

We ended up getting our moose but the overall number of moose we encountered was relatively few.
 

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mcseal2

mcseal2

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We had the OnX 150 mile map with less detail for our area, but did not know what smaller map to download ahead of time. We ended up on a different spot than they planned for us as there was already a camp in our original destination. It's public so that is always a possibility. I actually had the whole unit downloaded on the 150 mile map and figured if I could I'd get the detailed one for where we hunted. I had to save 5 of the big 150 mile maps to get the whole unit but I was glad to have what we did. I ran my phone in airplane mode the whole time and went through around 50% battery per day on my I phone 5 between that and reading.
 

TheGrayRider

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Mcseal2, do you have a gear list you could share online or PM me? I am hunting with PBA in September 2019 and am open to any and all recommendations. Thanks in advance, TheGrayRider.
 
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mcseal2

mcseal2

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Mcseal2, do you have a gear list you could share online or PM me? I am hunting with PBA in September 2019 and am open to any and all recommendations. Thanks in advance, TheGrayRider.
PM me an email and I'll send it to you. It's an Excel file with weights and doesn't copy/paste well to the forums
 

VernAK

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Something I've learned on my 49th moose hunt:

There's getting to be too many hunters in the bush and too much ORV stuff!
 
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