Nin Ridge Guides

Karl Braendel 
Alaska Registered Guide
Kodiak Brown Bear Hunting

Moose Hunting

                              

   It could be said that moose, along with caribou, deer, and salmon are the sustenance that powers rural Alaska. Because of it's size a moose can provide enough food for a family of four to build most of a year's menu around, and consequently, is much sought after, with cow moose permits being one of the hardest draws in the State. In many places residents are jealous of the pursuit of moose and caribou by nonresidents, and they have even managed to get some areas closed to outsiders. In times of plenty this issue flies under the radar, but after a real hard winter (which we haven't had for ten years now) when seasons and opportunities are restricted, tempers flare.

I live in a rural area which has some really good moose hunting at the present time. I've been doing hunts for about five years near Chickaloon which replaces my previous area in the Alphabet Hills which was closed to nonresidents about 7-8 years ago and reopened on a “very limited” drawing permit basis for 2010 due to higher moose numbers. I'm happy to say that I now much prefer Chickaloon to my old hunting grounds, where other recent rule changes have resulted in 100 “any bull” drawing permits being awarded to residents, and last fall this brought plane loads of these permittees descending onto Kelly Lake which for years we largely had to ourselves. After a couple seasons of these “any bull” hunts the larger bulls will be hard to come by.

One thing that separates us from at least 90% of moose hunters is our willingness to pack moose. Some people physically can't do the work of course, but many others are just mentally intimidated. I have a good working relationship with my neighbors and therefore am able to do my hunts without noticeable resentment in the community. Part of this acceptance is their realization that I'm hunting places they are not going to pack a moose out of themselves, and they see that my family is eating the meat from these moose - a moose we'd be hunting for ourselves if we weren't guides.

While reasonable winters are important to the moose population, the biggest change that resulted in the present high numbers of big bulls was the spike/fork 50” spread rule adopted some ten years ago. The effect has been outstanding. In essence, a big bull needs at least a 50” spread, or 3 brow tines to be legal.

The area we are hunting is a steep, benched mountain side habitat, largely forested, but opening up a little in the upper reaches. We do some sitting and spotting in the more open country, but still hunting is the mode in the thicker woods, and we are always employing different calling techniques from cow in estrus moans to bull impersonations and simulated fights. It's an exciting hunt! You'll use your ears a lot listening for the sounds of bulls wracking their antlers in the brush, and their “un-uk, un-uk, un-uk” grunts. As the rut progresses you'll hear the moaning of cows which almost always signifies that there are bulls present around them. Unlike most Alaskan moose hunts there are no extra travel charges connected to ours. We pick you up in Anchorage and return you there at the end of your hunt.

While moose season opens in August, we don't start hunting until about September 13th after the weather has cooled down and the rut is picking up. In recent years the end of moose season has oscillated between three dates: September 20th, 25th, and the 30th. Right now it is the 25th, which is ideal. My moose hunts are booked as 10 days long, but by starting on the 13th we have a few extra days left in the event we haven't killed one by the 22nd. We've been doing one hunt a year, but have plenty of country for two hunts.

This is a physical hunt, especially if we are to utilize all the moose range available to us. However, it would be possible to hunt some of the lower country and still have a reasonable chance at a moose. Never-the-less, you'd still have to be capable of climbing some steep hills every day, and while the client is normally expected to help pack their moose to where we can reach it with our tractor, argo ,ect., we can arrange for packer help if we are aware of this ahead of time.

Moose are the biggest animals most of us get to hunt in Alaska; they are quite a bit larger than a big Kodiak bear, and mature bulls will go to 1500 pounds or better. They have a reputation for being relatively easy to kill, but your bullet has a lot of work to do in the penetration department, so strong bullets are called for like the nosler partition, swift A Frame, barnes X and the premium loads from Winchester and Remington etc. We've killed many moose with the 270 Winchester using 150 grain nosler partitions, obviously the 300's and the 30/06 work, but the 338 Winchester might be about the ideal moose cartridge.

Moose are one of my favorite animals to hunt, even if they'll wear you out once you get them down on the ground. Up here there's nothing quite like calling in a big bull that comes in snapping off limbs one minute and then moves silent as death the next. Your heart will be pounding in your chest.