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An Alaskan moose tale

November 14, 2014


We had been walking for hours, first on the muskeg that slowed us to a crawl and now deeper into the tall alders on an old game trail . There was fresh bear scat all along the trail and I was half expecting to end up face to face with a bear sooner rather than later. This was my fourth year as an assistant hunting guide and though not overly concerned about coming face to face with a bear it was not why we were walking this little used trail to the lake. The hunter, from Maryland, that I was guiding was after much larger game, sometimes as large as a small horse, his target was the Alaskan moose.

Me an Alaskan guide or hunter….no…..just a man that loves the wilderness and has a taste for fishing. Yes back when I lived in Pennsylvania I ran up and down a few hills in bright orange chasing ‘Bambi’ but compared to Alaskan moose, Pennsylvania’s deer were babies. My first three years living in Alaska were spent as an assistant hunting guide. Hey I did say I like the wilderness and basically an assistant guide was an intern… paid almost nothing and did everything just to learn the ins and outs of the trade.

Anyway it didn’t take me long to learn that to hunt big game in Alaska you either were very wealthy and needed a new adventure or you needed the meat to survive. Hunting moose, bear or caribou was work. You may be in the most idyllic surroundings in the world but it was a hole lot of hard work. From the hours and sometimes days of tracking up and down hills and across boggy marshes to the skinning and butchering of the animal for food and clothing. On top of that you had to get the meat out of the field fast enough so it would not spoil.

Some of the clients that we guided had no idea what was involved. Most thought Alaska was like a big supermarket where one area was loaded with moose and another with caribou or bear and that finding one was simply a matter of a short walk, a well aimed shot and they would be done. Hunting is hunting no matter what state you do it in, you have to find your game. We may be blessed with an abundance of game but we also have a state that is 98% wilderness and almost one third the size of the continental united states.

So here we were on a crisp, cool, sunny day heading down to a small lake I knew that harbored some moose that loved to partake of its many watery plants. We settled in to a spot that gave us an unobstructed view of the entire shoreline and waited. Waiting is an intrinsic part of hunting and as the hours passed we sat silently watching for any sign of our quarry. Evening was now coming on and as the sun changed color from bright yellow to crimson red we saw movement in the trees of the nearby shoreline. Tentatively the moose walked out into the water, turning every now and then as if to listen for any sign of danger.

He was a bull of modest size, with maybe a 50 plus inch rack atop his majestic head, definitely an animal worthy of this hunter. When the moose had found a feeding spot and was content that he was alone he began to feed ignoring everything around him.

I could see by the look on my hunters face
that he had the goal of his quest to Alaska in his sights.
He steadied his rifle,
took aim at the moose and fired….

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jon permalink
    November 15, 2014 9:58 am

    You ever thought about putting together a book of short anecdotes like this one?


  2. November 15, 2014 11:14 am

    Pete, I really enjoyed your post.Tell us more of your adventures.


  3. Terry permalink
    November 20, 2014 3:55 am

    I agree – with both of the previous commenters.


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