So when do we get the full blow-by-blow story of your adventure?
Not until I thought about deep fried halibut and cold draft beer.
That sure beats eating your tag :)
I'm going to relay the story here more like an article. I don't think you can really appreciate it when done in a half dozen posts, so sit back for a longer read.....
I've been hunting Alaska every year for moose, caribou and/or black bear for almost a decade now. Those years have given me some insight and experience which ultimately led me to seek new and different places to hunt, with new challenges to face. I hunted solo for caribou in 2015 and was diverted from hunting by a wild multi-day storm which kept me in survival mode on a mountainside in eastern Alaska. It all ended with a snowstorm and I flew out after 7 days of being alone in all of it.
For 2016 my pilot decided to open a new area by creating an airstrip along an unnamed stream in a valley known to hold plenty of good moose. The area had never been hunted due to lack of access. Somehow I earned the invitation to hunt this new valley for the first time. During our discussions my pilot gave me plenty of detail regarding the terrain, moose numbers and what to expect. He also wanted me to hunt it solo and use a bow. Check and check....I can do that! I got busy planning and readying gear. After some discussion I decided I needed at least 10-12 days in there to learn what the area held...about moose movement...and to get an opportunity to kill. With schedules and all figured in, I ended up planning for 13 days of hunting alone.
The time passed quickly as departure day neared. On September 7th I flew to Fairbanks and set the wheels in motion for the hunt....a hunt the likes of which I couldn't foresee ever happening. What follows is the story of that hunt, as factual as I can make it. There won't be any embellishment or stretching of the truth: I'll tell it as it played out. Airplanes, rivers, longbows, sharp steel and big moose.
Faster than I can say it we were headed for the airport in North Pole and lifting off. I never get tired of bush flying and the endless expanses of tundra below. Flat terrain gave way to hills and low mountains as we entered wilderness territory. Eventually we flew through a low pass and entered the upstream end of a drainage...the one I would hunt. Almost immediately I began seeing moose below along the valley floor and up on hillsides. I scanned the topography carefully as we soared down-valley and circled the area for a better understanding. I liked what I saw...and in some cases didn't see. There were no beaver ponds...perfect. The valley was narrow which lent itself to bowhunting nicely: easier to get on a walking bull in narrower settings. Most amazingly were the number of shed moose antlers spotted from above. I counted at least 6 antlers visible from the air. Something like that pretty well confirms you're in a superb area.
A very large bull was standing on the side of a hill which had been burned 8 or 10 years previously. He was no more than 400 yards from us as we touched wheels and braked to a stop. I couldn't help but grin as I unloaded my gear while watching him watch us. I knew I was seeing a moose see his first humans ever. A few exchanges of words and suddenly the Cub was airborne and cutting out of the valley. It wasn't a new feeling to me...no profound “I'm alone” moment happened. I simply grabbed my gear and began looking for a suitable campsite.
First morning: My camp is situated so that I can basically hunt as soon as I'm out the door. I woke early and made breakfast, then slipped into the gray dawn of a chilly morning. The first of many sunrises definitely didn't disappoint...
I spotted a couple cows but no bulls, so opted to play it loose and do a bit of sneaky exploring. I needed to get more familiar with this area and see what pieces of the puzzle might be revealed. I passed my camp at 10 am and noted the frost was still heavy in the shade.
The day ended with no bulls spotted, but I knew they were around. Moose are that way. You might see nothing for 2 days and then have multiple chances the next day. I wasn't concerned. I spent some spare time doing camp chores and making sure I had things ready for the hard hunting days ahead. I sat on a rock pile as the evening alpenglow settled over the valley and warmed my spirits.
I began to think and it came to me again. This is hunting as it was meant to be...old Alaska and undisturbed. I was an interloper but my task was to blend in and become another predator awaiting an opportunity. How many men will ever see an undisturbed part of this state in their lives? How many will hunt it with a simple bow and arrows? Alone and unfettered? The simple gravity of it was amazing and left me feeling thankful in many deep ways. It was also not lost on me that...not very many miles away from where I sat...Glenn St. Charles and Fred Bear along with several other notable bowhunters hunted 'old Alaska' in the late 1950s. I likely flew in through some of the same valleys and drainages as they did. Wood arrows...hand-sharpened broadheads....some bushcraft...it all seemed so appropriate at that moment.
As I moved about the valley I kept my camera handy and took advantage of photo opportunities.
My camp was situated on the side of this little back channel branch of the main stream. I basically used it as a hidden walking path up and down the valley.
Not long after arrival I found I wasn't the only blueberry admirer in the neighborhood.
Cold gray dawn over the valley on about day 4 or 5.
I spotted several moose hanging out across the valley up on the hillside burn. One of them was a tremendous bull with excessive total width. I watched with interest as he moved along a corridor of scrub spruce and toward a hidden cove of sorts. I felt like I knew where he was heading and might have a chance to play him. I slipped across the valley and into position on a small elevated knob covered with spruce trees. A couple of nasal cow bawls from me and I waited quietly. I never heard a thing, but 15-20 minutes later he appeared headed toward me...hooking brush and looking for the 'other' moose. His path took him to me but well out of bow range. He hung up at about 75 yards and played me until the wind changed long enough for him to smell me. In 10 minutes he was ½ mile away and going. His rack was gigantically wide and I named him him Airplane right then, because that's what he looked like headed away from me. Damn. Big doesn't mean dumb....or slow.
This is what the inside of the burn looked like in one of the more open areas.
That afternoon I nearly intercepted another massive-racked brute as he made his way down the valley. His closing pace was just too fast and I missed getting into position by 50 yards. He wouldn't come to the call and all I could do was grin as he ambled off into the evening.
Well done for sure !
I became less aware of its constant background noise as the days wore on. Some days I saw moose and others I saw nothing but Alaska, which is not such a bad thing really. Always there was something to find, interpret or understand in my quest to learn more about 'my' hidden valley.
I saw no sign of man and no planes flew over. It was almost as though I'd been taken back in time to the age of Pope & Young and dropped into interior Alaska to hunt, survive and tell of my adventure.
Food becomes an inadvertent countdown calendar on these hunts. Each day finds me counting what's left and adjusting my eating to balance things.
If you don't have it, make it. If you can't make it, learn to live without it. If you can't live without it, you might as well give up.
Expiration dates mean nothing. Food labels, batteries....you won't throw something away because of a date. Everything is important.
A stack of firewood is more valuable than a stack of money.
Credit cards can actually be used for reading material when you're bored.
A big handgun is an adult teddy bear at 9 pm.
A few notes on gear: It's important, so I don't skimp. I know guys who do and get by which is fine...until it isn't. Last year's horrendous weather hammered home the need to take the best stuff you can afford or make. I'm near o-c when it comes to this, and hate preventable gear failures.
A good bedroll is important when you will sleep 15 nights on a 26” wide bed. Try it at home. Alaska isn't the place to learn your bed isn't up to the task of helping you sleep. One-third of your trip will be spent sleeping. Your bow will be used less.
Choose your food wisely and bring exactly enough, plus a couple days extra. Better to bring it out than run out. Steve O gave me the line on a superb dehydrated egg product and I brought them. They probably exceed the quality of most restaurant scrambled eggs...very tender and egg-tasty.
I switched from a liquid fuel stove to a canister unit. Mine is a Primus ETA Spider. It is superbly fuel efficient and fast. While heating water I can feel very little heat above the pan. The stove/windscreen/pan/lid combo captures over 90% of the btu output, hence I was able to make one canister of fuel last over ten days without skimping.
Speaking of nutrition, don't discount the value of locally available stuff. Berries count, as do grouse, hares or other in-season edibles. I found these lingonberries (low bush cranberries) not far from camp. They were a delicacy and I added them to my granola along with a few blueberries.
Looking forward to enjoying this.
I'm not surprised you got it done. You most always do. Congrats and God Bless
One afternoon the moose suddenly appeared. 2 bulls and 3 cows showed on the burn opposite my camp. One of the bulls was a stud and the other was darned fine, too. I called to them as they headed off the burn into the valley and generally toward me. The big bull actually trotted off the hill and toward me. I basically flew off my rockpile perch and forded the stream, then headed cross-valley toward a key movement point. I never made it. Moose began filtering out of the trees and moving my way. I was pinned 70 yards from my objective. I settled for a clump of willows to hide my form. And of course you already somehow know the big stud bull walked within ten yards of the key point I hoped to reach. I could only grit my teeth and send him a soft cow bawl. He walked directly to me and glared into the willow clump head-on. I held my breath and waited for the broadside turn. It came and I tensed the string as I leaned out for the shot. Too late...his turn became a 180 degree walkaway and I could only stare daggers into his wide rump. He left the valley and went over ½ mile west up into the edge of the burn. Then unaccountably he began a wide turn and began walking back my way. I lost no time getting to the key point and setting up an ambush in the highest probability spot I knew. 15 minutes later I found him. He had walked directly down the stream and was standing 50 yards from my tent. That was the moment I knew this hunt wasn't going according to Kevin's plan. The bull walked on as the sun dropped low and shadows consumed the valley.
I woke to partly cloudy and cold conditions the next morning. Breakfast just like always and then hit the vantage points. Zip except for a long range cow. Never saw a finer morning for moose to move, but that's moose. At 10:30 I decided to cut some brush and wood for a fire that evening. I was making a heck of a racket and not caring at all. Sometimes bulls are intrigued by these sounds and will respond. At this point I wasn't holding my breath. I was there more for moose meat than antler and would have happily shot a paddle horn full of wood arrows. Anyway...you know things never happen when you're expecting them.
The bull was at 200 yards and acting rutty. Pawing, raking and slopping up a rut pit...looking good so far. Then he bedded and that was it. Nothing would get him up and there was no way to pull off a stalk. I could only wait and watch hm thru the glass. Long points and paddles. Plenty of bone up there. I was in anguish, wanting this dude to have a bad day and end up on my arrow. The wait went on for minutes....a lot of them.
I have never been on a moose hunt, and I have never hunted alone for more than a day or two, WOW and absolutely amazing is all I can come up with! You have a wonderful way with words and an uncanny way of describing things! I feel as though I am there with you! I love the descriptions of the camp and the struggles and scenery and your wonderful wife! Best Story I have read in a very long time sir!
Thank You SOOOOO MUCH for sharing this!
OH, and keep it coming!!!!!! :)
Best wishes and God Bless!
Basically all of the photography here is sequential in order. I didn't go back and take supporting images after the fact. I kept my camera in a pocket and shot pictures right along throughout the hunt.
Now back to our show.....
I've said it before. I have this sort of internal leveling philosophy about big game encounters. I figure in any hunting encounter with an animal, one of us will be unlucky. And of course it's almost always me which is part of the deal when you're carrying a longbow. This philosophy keeps me balanced and is a coping mechanism of sorts. I'm never terribly disappointed when I'm unlucky.
So when the bull suddenly rose to his feet and started walking my way I was startled. I didn't expect this kind of good luck. He was coming right into the open and acting rutty. That's when I noticed a big and very available cow headed down the valley. She spotted him and made a beeline to him.
I've never seen a cow moose throw herself at a bull before but that's what she did. Rubbing, nuzzling and licking...she circled him like he was her prince. I guess I stood behind my tree with a slack jaw figuring the unlucky part of this had just been decided. “Really?” A desperate cow bawl would do nothing, but I had nothing else for this bull. I wailed and he came 20 yards...
I can't explain it...why I let it happen. I've been close to plenty of big and dangerous animals before, but this was the peak of insanity. A rutting bull with a cow in tow. 36” away if that. One lunge from getting plowed into the tundra or river behind me. Any sudden move was highly likely to produce a reactionary charge. I could only hold ground and hope it defused somehow. I was on a razor's edge and any sudden move by the bull would've likely caused me to react violently. And then it happened.
Maybe it was the cow's presence, but the bull sort of just jumped at the shot and trotted off 30 yards. I don't think he even felt much of the arrow. He walked slowly and his cow continued to circle him playfully. At 50 yards he stopped...head down...and began to do what I call the moose-hula. Hips swaying...head swinging....and then he just laid down purposely to die. It was as good a death as any bull moose can ever accept. That's what I told myself as I began dealing with the emotions of 12 days of solo hunting that culminated in the killing of an animal I revere. I wanted a good death for him and I did my part.
After approaching the bull and assuring he was dead, I took a few minutes to look him over and appreciate his bulk. I was less interested in his antlers truthfully, as I badly wanted his body for meat. He was in prime condition and I was grateful. I found myself kneeling by him and giving sincere thanks for his sacrifice. I thanked Our Creator for many things, including my safety. I then headed back to camp for a couple sat phone calls and some lunch. I recall walking inside my tipi and sitting down to collect my thoughts. That's when the enormity of it all hit me hard. I let myself take a well-deserved emotional ride. I'm usually pretty stoic.
Another bull was chasing cows in the valley and he headed my way when he saw me walking out. I played with him a bit but he was far too willing to threaten me so I gave up after some good pics and video. I had to talk to him to convince him it was time to go. All the moose backed off a couple hundred yards but I could see them for hours. The rutting and chasing was impressive. Cow moose were moving around and squalling like alley cats in the valley. I set my bow down and snapped a few pictures.
For the record I'm getting less and less about true 'trophy pictures'....the grip and grin variety. So many of them just seem to be glorifying the hunter's accomplishment. I try to keep it more about realism and documenting....portraying the moments after a kill. Hard to explain I guess. You'll seldom find me seeking the lens. Anyway.....
For the record I didn't measure this bull and haven't measured a big game animal in years. I stopped all the numerical stuff a while back and I simply kill what I like without verifying anything by use of a tape. That's me and that's how I hunt now.
If there was a Bowsite Hunting Adventure award, you surly would receive it.
Like your choice of gear too. Kifaru makes some great stuff.
Best of Luck, Jeff
Time to get cutting.
No easy way to do it, but there are certainly ways to make it harder. It starts with completely skinning one side of the bull, followed by removal of the front and rear quarters. These are so heavy on a mature bull that it's usually a 2 man job. With one man I had to get creative, and so I devised a pole system to help me leverage and balance the quarters. It worked pretty well and saved me huge effort.
The finished rear quarter is off and laying on my sil-nylon tarp I sewed before the hunt.
One big beautiful backstrap.
One half is complete. I like to photo-document my work in case of future questions about meat recovery. I use the gutless method always and it works. Even the interior tenderloins come out easily and without gutting. Done correctly there is basically no contact with the internal abdomen or contents.
By the way, I recovered the other section of my fir arrow after removing the rib meat. The broadhead was lodged in the opposite ribs.
It was dusk by the time I had half the bull done. I headed for camp and some dinner. Tomorrow would be long and physical.
The bull died with his body parallel to a small gulch. I needed to flip him but doing so would put him in the gulch. No chance of that, so I needed to pull him. Pulling gear is part of my kit now, so I went to work. I set 4 anchors in the ground in a semi-curve, then attached a double pulley to the anchors.
Next I made a 'moose noose' and slipped it on his leg above the hoof. I clipped in a carabiner holding a single pulley and a locking device. The rope I used was 3/16 Dyneema with over 5,000# tensile strength. I used this rig to turn the carcass 90 degrees and away from the gulch.
More work. I had to flip the carcass next. I had a plan and used it. A pole (and noose) helped me elevate the rear leg and get the hip up some. I got it as far as possible and 'set' the pole. All that remained was for me to hopefully have enough strength to raise the front leg/shoulder and power the whole mass up and over. It worked and I triumphantly flopped his body over. Skin...quarter...bone...bag...work steadily until completed.
I ended up with 10 bags of prime moose meat. A quick breather and I started backpacking the meat to the staging area. I spent the rest of the day packing meat and the head, followed by setting up an electric fence. It was a 13 hour day and I was definitely beaten down at the end...but I had done what I set out to do. I slept like a dead man sleeps.
All the work was done by the end of the 21st. Bad weather held me in camp until the 23rd when my pilot sailed in and got me out. I hadn't seen another human in 15 full days. I was almost unprepared for conversation. Meat, antlers gear and hunter eventually made the ride out. I recall taking a last look at my valley before climbing into the Cub. I knew I would miss it soon. It's now a part of my hunting life and memories.
Moose hunting is tough. Solo hunting is tough. Combine them and you've got yourself a challenge. Doing it with a bow only makes the killing less likely. I know I beat the odds several times here.
Old Alaska. I never thought I'd see it. That river never leaves me now. I woke up in camp on the 23rd. By day's end I was in street clothes and sitting in a fine restaurant with friends. There was no sign I was a hunter. The restaurant was noisy and I enjoyed the people....the televisions....the chatter. Still...there was a moment where I dropped away mentally and the sounds faded. I was back standing along my river and hearing the steady gurgle and rush over rocks. Longbow in my hand....the sun was warm on my face. Then I heard laughter and my name....and the valley became a memory until my hopeful return.
Thanks for following my adventure.
I have stayed solo for up to 10 days while elk hunting here in Colorado but without a good book or two, I might go insane. How about you?
My best, Paul
Did you ever see the bear that had the blueberry blowout?
Paul...no book or things like that. I really don't want anything to take my mind off the overall setting. I think I'm pretty capable of just being there and staying focused on my tasks.
I never saw a single bruin. I did see 3 wolves above camp one day, and watched one bed for 15 minutes.
Appreciate the comments.
This is on my bucket list, but solo would not be for me.
As commented before for a person that has done this so much would love to see a total gear list on what you use.(and the egg recommendation)
Kevin Dill's Link
My gear list is fragmented, abbreviated and changes every year. Sharing it would be pointless. I'd have to spend hours retyping and making it coherent. I've done it so much most of it comes naturally now. I don't mind answering some specific questions though.
The eggs are OvaEasy and they're superb. Link included.
Congratulations and thank you for sharing it HERE!
First off I don't have any supporting images to speak of.
I bought 150' of 3/16" 100% Dyneema rope. It's stout enough to winch a Jeep or truck.
I bought a small single pulley and a double pulley. Both have aluminum sheaves. They are Bluewater units.
I bought a CamJam XL (XT?) which is a combination carabiner/pulley/locker. It's not really a pulley but serves the same purpose. It has a locking mechanism which holds the rope from back-slipping when you pull. That's important.
A couple of decent sized quality aluminum carabiners from REI are handy.
Since moose die where they will, you're not guaranteed of a stout tree or other anchor in exactly the right place. You need ground anchors. I brought 4 pieces of 18" aluminum conduit to drive in the ground. The problem was rocks after about 12". The anchors held but they bent in a couple cases. So I'm still looking to improve my anchor system. I just ordered some Wolf Fang anchors to try during the off season. In any event I would bring 4 anchors every time to distribute the pulling pressure.
With a single pulley, double pulley and the CamJam I can create a 4:1 pulling advantage. After the first pulley, every pulley basically reduces pulling effort by 50%. It's not entirely that simple, but 3 pulleys will allow me to pull 1000 pounds of resistance with 250 pounds of effort. A fourth pulley drops that to 125 pounds. Things like friction, angle, pulley efficiency etc will all reduce the advantage somewhat.
Also you could theoretically use 550 (pound) paracord to pull 2,000 pounds in a 4:1 system. That's because there are essentially 4 lines traveling between the pulleys and each of the lines is handling 1/4 of the total load...or resistance.
All my pulling gear goes in a zippered bag just big enough to hold it. That way I've got it all if I need it.
One day I hope to stand in old Alaska! Hunt
Incredible adventure and you're writing skills are stellar!
On my hunt I decided early on to limit myself many ways. Close, sure shots only. Don't go in bad places to chase huge bulls. Try to kill close to camp and the airstrip. Play it conservative every day. Better to come home with no kill than break myself or leave a wasted bull in the brush somewhere.
Finally: be sure you've got the skills and tools needed to do the full recovery. This is NOT the time or place to butcher your first moose or find out if you can pack 700 pounds of meat and head. You'll need to work hard and steadily for many hours. You need to be the kind of person who can problem solve and devise while working. Despite all this you're still depending on a degree of good luck. The chances of bad luck after the shot are significant.
I see you had the scapulas in your meat pile - did you bring those home and may I ask what for?
I got nothing. Truly speechless.
Grateful for the share, brother!
habu john....PBS is the reason I have the opportunity to do these kinds of hunts. Thanks.
Congrats, and thanks for sharing Kevin.
"Throw in a couple of pulleys & I can at least move a moose!" (Kevin Dill)
There's not much I could add to what's already been elaborated by the other posters. Simply awesome in all respects Kevin!!!
Congratulations and thank you for taking the time to share your incredible adventure with us!......Troy
Congrats.... to say the least. very well done, all the way around. Thanks much for takin' us along.... a bowsite classic.
You did great sir.
Thanks for sharing
Good luck, Robb
Thanks so much for sharing the experience!
A lot is made of being alone out there for extended periods. I think that all boils down to level of experience and personality. Some guys simply would go bonkers being alone that long. That's not a negative; it's just how they are wired. I'm apparently wired differently. I've always tended to hunt alone and avoid group hunts or noisy camps full of buddies. I get crazy being around the hyperactive storytellers and those who think an extended hunt is defined as 5 days without Facebook.
Been on here almost 2 decades now, and your story is definitely top 3. Outstanding!!!!
This will be in that feature.
I don't know what else could compare to what you did and how you did it. I really don't.
Simply the best.
I had rigged something similiar but your plan is an improvement and I will modify mine! Great idea and that is coming from an Engineer.
I had rigged something similiar but your plan is an improvement and I will modify mine! Great idea and that is coming from an Engineer.
Thank you so much.
He wrote about it on the PBS site, but it took him a few months to even come back to the surface and start posting again.
His knack for being humble and yet conveying deep thoughts is inspiring.
DonV...chalk it up to some experience (rural life) and plenty of pre-hunt research. One of my biggest challenges hunting solo was how to handle a dead bull; the weight is incredible.
Bou...(Grant)...appreciate your comment as one of the elder statesmen here. I know you've hunted a little bit and get it.
Jaq...lots of value in 30 days of elk hunting my friend, regardless of outcome. Congratulations.
Steve...I find our discussions always lead me toward a greater understanding of some aspect of the hunt. I love your 'HQ'.
DJ...We Buckeyes don't go up there to mess around and get scratched up. Get it done and get home to big whitetails. From moose noose to deer and a beer.
Mark...You and I would probably have fun on a hunt. Pranks are fun right? Undoubtedly the wild-thang hunt I was on last year figured in to this moose hunt. I actually recorded a 'last message' on my phone during that hunt...just in case I didn't walk out. I admit to being a tiny bit debilitated afterward. But this...this recent hunt...was a triumphant victory by comparison.
Extremely well written, and thank you for sharing the info you did, as well.
Great discipline on your knowing what your limitations are and something anyone planning a moose hunt should heed whether you are solo or not. Our pack jobs this year were .24 & .49 miles as the crow flies for the two of us. I could not imagine doing the half mile solo (let alone dressing the bull solo).
Adapt and overcome I think are great words for remote moose hunts in many ways. Your peanut butter knife reminds me of my spatula I made 2 years ago on our moose hunt, or the improvised cot leg we made for the one that somehow was missing when we got dropped off. We had no elevation changes where were this time so we made our own by getting up in the fir trees.
Your pulley system intrigues me and something that I think I will look into for future hunts. Anyway, a huge congrats to you for a great hunt, fine trophy, outstanding story and pictures. I guarantee that there are many people that think they would love to do what you just did, but only a very small handful that have the mental and physical fortitude to pull it off. I don't count myself in that small handful that could do it solo.
I did a drop hunt in the Brooks Range for bou in 2006. Most memorable hunt I have ever had. Before I went I thought, "If I don't get a bou, at least I was in AK walking the same range Bear and St Charles once did". Your story brought me right back to my hunt. It lasts forever!
Thank you very much for the story and a wonderful thread for this site.
I echo the sentiments of the others and truly appreciate you sharing this experience with us. The physical and mental toughness required to achieve this accomplishment is hard for this Northeast deer hunter to comprehend.
Hunting alone gives a guy plenty of time to think about more than just hunting...or at least the success/killing part of it. One thing I've thought about many times is scale. When you think of moose you think 'big' creature. But see one walk around in a big stretch of valley in Alaska and he actually is very small...no larger than a cricket in a hayfield. He's just a speck of protein with life trying to stay alive and procreate the species. If he dies it's no big deal; the equivalent of the cricket dying. Something smaller will find and consume him but it's really a crumb-sized thing when you see the scale of it all.
A solo hunter is like a tiny tidbit of life trying to exist and not get harmed or consumed in all that vastness. 3 wolves would eat your body and scatter your bones in a few hours. A whisky jack is a beautiful bird but he would peck and eat your eyes soon after your death. You don't mean much to Alaska, unless you count the value of your body in calories.
I thought about this a lot while sitting and watching. I know I'm a bit abnormal though.... ;-)
Thank you for sharing Dave
Thank you for allowing us to "join" you on your hunt. For many of us (me specifically)this may be as close as I ever get to a solo moose hunt.
Did I miss it? Because I didn't see where you named the egg product you were eating...
Awesome experience all the way around - photos, adventure, on your own, great trophy... It just doesn't get any better! Congratulations for a job well done!
That hunt is definitely on my bucket list! Even though I have broken down and packed out a ton of elk and a couple of Shiras moose, the challenge of getting an Alaska-Yukon moose out without any help in bear country is pretty daunting!
Thanks for sharing, Jim
You have my admiration and respect for taking this on by yourself.
As cool a story as I've read on BS.
Some truly outstanding pics and a great moose to top it off.
I'd love to do this.
A tip of the hat to you, Sir!
I've been reading bowhunting forums since the advent of the internet and it becoming commonplace; I fondly recall listening to the beeps, whines and whistles that signaled a connection to fellow hunters who shared the same passion as I did.
A former journalist who wrote for a variety of papers and magazines, I worked my way to editor at a couple of those; I eventually began teaching rhetoric and composition at a D-1 university before leaving for another career field. I still write features for a bevy of magazines, including Petersen's Bowhunting.
I say all that not to highlight me, but to highlight YOU and what I'm about to say: That, sir, was the one of the finest pieces of storytelling I've ever had the pleasure to sit down and lose myself in.
Your tale stirred deep carnal cravings to be deposited onto one of our Creator's most majestic canvases and to test myself against its unforgiving ways. I gleefully acknowledged my emotions rising up in a crescendo with each sighting of a bull, only to be slightly let down with the passing of each opportunity -- after all, you were in Alaska.
Thank you for allowing us a brief respite from the constraints of civilization, and to allow hundreds of us to tag along on your solitary adventure. I think we would all agree that you were in the true "civilizaton" that we all yearn for.
I picked up my moose meat today and delivered it to my meat processor. Next to the last step until the journey ends at my freezer. I've already started planning next year's hunt.
Playing my cards close right now, as a lot is still undecided. I'm going back to the same valley but there will be a new wrinkle. I've never been one to do things the same way, over and over again.
One of these days I might take some time and relate my near-disaster caribou hunt from 2015 for you guys.
What a gem, just superb! Thank you so much for sharing your hunt, I think most of us know how privileged we are to be taken along for the ride.
You might see yourself as just an ordinary guy, but to me you are a rare combination of Philosopher, Hunter, Gentleman and Storyteller. You do all of it so well, and I really appreciate you allowing us in on (what I suspect was) such a personal adventure.
This line is a perfect example of the philosopher part: "A solo hunter is like a tiny tidbit of life trying to exist and not get harmed or consumed in all that vastness. 3 wolves would eat your body and scatter your bones in a few hours. A whisky jack is a beautiful bird but he would peck and eat your eyes soon after your death. You don't mean much to Alaska, unless you count the value of your body in calories."
I know you have a lot of moose meat. I suggest you make some Corned Moose with any brisket meat and Mooso Bucco with the shanks.
I hope all of you have a great season. KD
One thing that really sticks out is your description of how small organisms are on the landscape. I often am hit by how insignificant a human [or moose] is when embedded in a mountain range or vast wilderness. Hunting to kill can sometimes seem so hopeless. But then, like meteors hurtling through an immense galaxy, sometimes there is that chance, close encounter or even a spectacular collision! Moments that leave us humbled and exhilarated with self worth at the same time.
Thanks for putting us a few scant feet behind you, as your own "spectacular collision" unfolded.
This is how hunting should be. I am so tired of the bravado, arrogance, and feeling of entitlement so evident in most hunting tales. Thanks for being real. That is so difficult to find nowadays, especially in an election year.
I know your gear list is constantly changing but I am curious which camera you used on this trip. Thanks again.
Question - you're back there with the brownies, you've done it before, and you're completely comfortable with the whole scenario. The .44(?) lets me know you're no Timmy Treadwell, but what is your thought process on hanging with large predators?
Thank you so much for sharing your adventure.
I guess a book has been written on the topic. First I know the odds of an injury encounter are very low. The bush flight is statistically more likely to result in injury or death. I don't obsess about predators but I do take logical (my logic) steps to protect against avoidable encounters. I do things that some might disagree with, such as keeping all my food in my tent, cooking and eating in there. True wilderness bears don't have a natural attraction to human food and those odors. I figure the easiest way to condition them to want human food is to put it 100 yards from my tent and have them get into it. I have never had a bear raid my camp after a decade, even though they are around.
I'm careful (not obsessive) to be watchful for bear sign and bears when out and about. If I think an encounter is more likely than usual I will tend to avoid thick cover and places where we might surprise each other. Staying in the open (as much as possible) is one key to not getting surprised by a bear. Nothing is perfect and there is always a chance of things going wrong. Ultimately I think most fears are unfounded based on the real odds. You're not really 100% safe anywhere in daily life.
Wolves are of no concern to me. I see them almost every year and they are spooky as coyotes.
Kifaru Sawtooth. My cot is an 8 year old LuxuryLite which has proven to be the best investment in sleep I've ever made.
I built my own electric fence. I used stout carbon shafts cut to create 2-piece posts which screw together. The posts have guy loops at the top so I can brace them if needed. My insulators are made from black rubber fuel line. Wire is poly-aluminum braided conductor. I used a Speedrite AN20 charger and my ground rod is a 7" aluminum gutter spike that weighs nothing. I keep all of it (except the posts) in a small kit bag.
As for other animals and meat....I'm not a guy who needs to keep up the killing and trying to find people or places for meat. I don't kill more than we can eat or provide to others. Throwing out meat is a travesty and makes me feel guilty any time I've had to do it. When the freezer is well stocked I tend to become a very selective and careful hunter.
The bull scares the bahjeebies out of me though! Did the thought, "I sure hope he's legal" ever occur to you?
Not once. I focused entirely on killing him, except for about 45 seconds of thinking he might be about to kill me. Imagine being 3 or 4 feet from a cape buff looking right at you...except he's 6' tall at the shoulder. It's one of those moments you truly have to experience in order to know how you'll feel and react.
Appreciate the comments again.
Your way with words and storytelling, and just the brief mentions of a near disaster caribou hunt from 2015 have me chomping at the bit to hear that story as well.
I am currently contemplating a solo trip but unfortunately I just don't think I have what it takes to be in such a remote situation alone. Just don't have enough experience.
Great read; a hardy accomplishment to be certain. Thanks for the writeup.
This was easily the best story I've ever had the pleasure of sinking into... Your generosity to share this, and way with words is a treat for all of us, so for that I thank you!!
In fact, this is so inspiring that now I have to experience a hunt of this nature. My life will feel incomplete if I don't, so thanks for that as well :)
I hunted an area twice. It was 50" or 4 brow tines. My group killed 4 bulls over 5 years. 2 of those bulls were undersized (I was not the shooter in either case). We had to turn those bulls back to the DNR and the shooter received a ticket.
I have done five solo elk hunts in CO, and loved every moment of each of them, even though I never was able to arrow an elk. The close encounters I experienced were well worth the time spent traveling to and from, home and the remote locations.
Thanks for sharing
Thank you for reading and hopefully enjoying. I've already begun working on my 2017 trip plans and feel pretty good there's another adventure waiting. KD
What an incredible, honest, transparent recount of a true adventure. A sincere thank you for sharing it with all of us. This is by far one of the best hunting stories that I can ever remember reading. The quality of writing and photography is simply outstanding.
Fine work my friend.
Pat can you save this somehow???
I’ve said it many times before but these posts need to be gathered in one spot so they are easier to find. They need to be protected.
Great writing Kevin!!
Thanks for taking the time to re-pic!
Would you please tell me what you wore for boots?
Congratulations, and thanks again!
Kevin, we need some more stories, please!
I grew up hunting in Moose country.
For many having children is a way of leaving a mark on this world. But I have to say Kevin that by writing this thread you’ve certainly left yours. It will live on forever.
I’ll be north of Fairbanks in 22. Quite a long wait but I’m booked solid until then. I’m glad I have so much time to prepare. I’m totally obsessive about planning my hunts. Reading this story is truly a part of my preparation. I’ll be reading it the day before I jump into a bush plane too. Thanks a million brother!
Another adventure is currently in the planning stages as I write this. There are still several balls in the air with 6 months (can you believe it?) to go until the next hunt. Some very crazy things happened last year which could play into what we do this year. But it feels like a special season coming, and who knows....just maybe it will be story worthy.
One thing that isn't story worthy: The last 2 days I've made trips to my favorite river in an attempt to pick up a couple nice walleyes. But sadly, I'm no better at catching walleyes than I am at killing moose. Good thing there's some halibut and sockeye in the freezer.
The equipment: Caribow Featherhorn 2 piece longbow 64# at my length. Tapered Douglas fir shafts from Surewood Shafts. Abowyer Wapiti 175 gr. broadheads. Arrow weight unknown. I shoot both eyes closed-instinctive on 4' shots at dangerous game.
Need my last pile wood the season a bit. Will make a few Selfbow take downs. Really want to make a few static take downs.