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Last year I took a nice bull moose on a solo hunt to Alaska. Since I was ineligible to draw the same tag this year I had to find a new spot.
After the D-beaver float plane lifted off from the lake it dropped me at, I was alone for the next 15 days. This time I brought a raft with oars to get across the mile long lake, and better reach moose habitat. There were multiple such lakes in the area that I would hike to that also provide extensive shore lines providing huge advantage for packing out meat. Soon after pitching my tent, I looked up at the towering hill the rose 1000 feet above me. This would be my lookout!
After blowing up my raft, I cruised around the lake and caught northern pike. There were other small bluffs I could reach at the north east portion of the lake and further increase my visual and calling range. I arrived at this hunting spot, and scouted two days before the start of the moose season. Right away I realized that there were not as many moose in this area as I had hoped for. It was quite simple- from my 1200 foot perch I could see 360 degrees, had good visibility down through the spruce and open timber, and incredible range to my calling.
On the third day of the season I saw my first bull. He was about a half mile away and responded to my calling from the saddle of the lookout hill. I heard his response grunts to my calling, and his antler raking was also audible to me. While continuing my cow and bull calls, he started coming in my direction. He locked up at about 600 yards. It took me the rest of the morning to coax him to the base of my hill. While trying to keep tabs on the bull and gain more visibility, I climbed from the saddle up to the peak. The bull went silent.
Keep it coming. Thanks for posting.
After waiting and glassing most of the afternoon, the bull’s sporadic grunts held my attention for hours. Around 4 PM, I could hear increased grunting and antler raking from the spruce thickets below. Knowing the bull was up from his nap, I increased my calling frequency. Realizing he was climbing up toward me, I dropped down off from the peak to the saddle to meet him half way. At 200 yards I could see he was at least 50” wide, but had weak palms. He could be legal, but his antlers and body mass told of an older bull with poor quality antlers that I could not definitive say was wide enough. I decided at that point not to shoot the bull, but hoped to call him near for good videography. He eventually climbed up to me, where I had positioned myself for a good cross wind. He passed my position at less than 20 yards. After passing me, I grunted him back to look for me. He responded with grunts of his own and antler raking. I could see this old bull had many tumors on the skin of his side and hind quarters.Probably virus induced epithelial growths like warts. With his ears laid back and obvious frustration building, for safety reasons, I remained silent. He eventually found my form standing 15 yards away, and his active tongue told of efforts to catch my scent. He became very nervous and turned to slip away. Only after retreating slowly for 30 yards, did he break into a run and trotted down the opposite hillside and disappeared.
During the next five days I saw only one more small bull and two cows. After calling from the lookout late in the evening, I returned first thing in the morning in hopes of catching the attention of any bulls that may have committed to my calling from the previous day. It worked. I watched another bull leave his smaller bull companion and come to my calling. He ran at times only to stop and rake his antlers through willow brush. This commotion spooked a caribou bull which I had been watching. The caribou got out of the way of this rut crazed beast as he freight-trained up toward me. This bull had a long hanging dewlap, indicating a younger bull. His antlers had more tines than the older bull I called in earlier, but his antler width were still only around 50 inches that left me less than confident about legality. As he approached, I had to once again release the grip on my bow and focus the video camera on this would be prey. I again had to hold back as this bull also passed at close range. He was magnificent as his muscles bulged and defined the boarders of his shoulder blade. I focused momentarily on the low flat spot just behind the shoulder where my arrow should have struck. Seeing this animal through the camera’s viewfinder was not natural, and several times I found myself pulling away and taking in the sight with my own eyes. Once the bull passed me uphill, the wind caught his nose and my scent carried on it put him in full alert. After looking at me briefly, he turned and ran away, tracing the escape route taken by the older bull a few days earlier.
Looking forward to the rest of the story Mike!
The bull I shot last year had a couple of those type of tumors as well. Interesting to find out the cause of them.
It was good to visit with you at the Deer Classic this past year. Your book made the long flight to Africa this year go a lot faster. Great read!
Good or bad, just keep smiling. Just great to be here.
These two close encounters defined my hunt. Experiencing rain nearly everyday and very few other moose sightings, I left my Alaskan home with a feeling of effort given, and rewards received other than fresh meat.
Great photos. Looks like a great time!
That would be very close to my ideal hunt. What an incredible experience. I would love to do something similar.
T-roy , there are pockets where these papillomas are more prevalent on the moose. They spread by contact and even potentially by biting insects. They say it doese not hurt the meat etc. Both of these bulls may have been legal (especially the one with 4-point brow tine), just not what I was hoping for and/or too close to call for a >50 inch spread. Both just had very weak palms.
It was good to see you in Iowa as well. Mike
I have gone on 2 to 3 week solo hunts in remote areas of Alaska or the western Rocky state nearly every year for the last 20 years or so. You have to be happy in your own skin to do it. Ha!
Thanks for taking us along, never jealous of the fine bowsiters who go on these great hunts just enjoy the words and pictures very much!
This is awesome, I love seeing these type of hunts. Incredible experience no doubt. I'm sure you've inspired more than just myself, thanks for that.
Great pictures and writing as usual.
Congratulations on another fantastic bowhunting adventure.
Thanks for posting your adventure. Love the photos. Humt
Great read and pix
Good luck, Robb
Being alone is a natural part of our lives and the human experience which unfortunately is fading away in modern society. We need to be alone to maintain self confidence and be reminded to be humble!
Thanks for capturing your hunt for all of us! Good Luck! C
Thanks for showing us that great hunting adventures don't always end with a downed animal. There is plenty of value in the going and doing...much personal growth and reflection. As always, you continue to inspire.
I have been inspired by many solo hunters as well like Paul Schafer, Bart Schleyer, and Roy Roth. There is just some thing about Alaska that draws me in like no place I've been. Just getting there always seems to be an adventure in itself.
This year there was more rain than usual, but it was certainly bareable. Kevin, I heard you had to endure natures rath on much of your caribou hunt this year.
We would still go back in a minute. Ha!
Great stuff, Mike! Thanks.
Great read and photos, Mike. I really look forward to meeting you in person this coming February!
Some times we loose our way, and have to find it again. Alaska and it's wilderness kind of does that for me.
I lost my finger tab on a rock... or is it. Ha! Thanks guys. Mike
Thanks for taking the time to post this up.
Great story and pics, thanks!
As always, I Truly enjoyed the story. Thanks for sharing.
Wow, Great Hunt! Thanks for sharing with us
Thanks Mike... enjoyed the story & photos!!!
Congratulations on the adventure.
Great adventure thanks for sharing Herdbull!
I'm just now reading your book Mike, and especially enjoyed your adventure here. Thanks.
Thanks Mike. Love the way your camo blends in on that top.
I haven't actually read this yet, but can't wait. Thanks Mike!
I mostly wore the Sitka Stratus jacket and pants in Elevation II camo. It can be very windy in Alaska at times, especially on the 1200 foot lookout, so I appreciate the windstopper lining. They were prototype pants with water proof seat and knees because we tend to be sitting in the wet moss glassing for moose quite frequently.
Great hunt! Thanks for posting
Wow! Thanks for bringing us along sir.
Great recap! Really enjoyed your pics. What do you think the spread was on that younger bull?
Great story and adventure. Thanks for taking us along. Love every word and picture of it.
The pike fishing had to be a lot of fun too. Something I do miss out here in Az. Brought back some great memories!
Great hunt, thanks for sharing. That old bull looked to be in pretty rough shape.
The younger bull with long dewlap, I believe was around 52". If you estimate 10 inches the outside spread of his face at the eyes, and then adjust increments of that to the outside spread of the rack it should come very close. However, I would never make that call in the field on this bull. After taking several bulls much bigger, it is easier to wait for a bigger one, but both of these two bulls were too close to drop the string on for legal. Once they got by me and I made no further attempt to align my scent, I could see their eyes bug and nose flare when they realized they had been fooled by a not so love sick cow.
What a great read and even greater adventure. Cool stuff...
Thanks for sharing your hunt!
Mike, thanks for sharing a great hunt. I hope you have many more in the future.
Great pictures and thanks for sharing!
Very nice recap Mike. Looks as though your finger tab was left on your stratus garment, not a rock. Excellent camo pattern.
See you in Kzoo.
What an awesome adventure. Thanks for bringing us along.
Any other events, big bear sightings, wolves, etc? Saw at least one bou... =D
Thanks again... pretty cool....
TD- With low snow fall during the previous two years, the blue berries did not produce fruit due to lack of moisture. I had a black bear tag, but did not see any bears black or grizzly. No berries. This was particularly disapointing given the vast visibility I had. In years past seeing hundreds of caribou would be the norm, but I only saw 12 during my stay. Another disapointment. I could have snuck up and maybe got a shot at the big bull caribou, but there is no nonresident season.
I knew the bow, arrows and pack in that first pick before I even knew it was you.... Ha! Nice write up my friend! Looking forward to our next hunt wherever it may be!? Talk to you soon! Again great write up!
If you ever get a chance to go to Alaska, don't pass it up. Ha
Always enjoy your adventures Mike. Congrats on another great one! Mike
Nice write up Mike!
I just read your article in TBM the other day. Nice tribute to your friend. I wasn't familiar with Bart so I did some google searching and was blown away. What an awesome man he was. Too bad he was taken so young but he did so much in his short time. Wish I would have personally meet the man.
Great pictures! Congrats on a successful trip!
Brettpsu- Yes Bart was a good guy. Here a link to the tribute article I wrote about him. http://www.brothersofthebow.com/html/solospirits.html
great hunting its not always in the kill that dictates a good hunt as seen in this trip !
Thx for sharing your great story and pics. Def quite an experience doing a solo DIY hunt in the wilds of Alaska. Nice to pass on these bulls, but neat to coax 'em in close!
Thanks for sharing your trip.I don't think I could ever do a fly in trip alone.Watching your threads each year gives me the urge to try.Just a lot can happen out there.You definitely have a bigger set then me,lol
Great thread... reminds me why I moved up here this fall. For experiences just like that.
Love the story and photos. Really glad you shared it with us!