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Planning my first moose hunt
Love to hear from some experienced moose hunters. I'm starting to plan my 2020 moose hunt. This will be a once in a lifetime hunt for me. I have been bowhunting elk for almost 30 years, have harvested 22, but know nothing about moose. To be guaranteed a tag, I believe I need to hunt Alaska, BC or Canada? I'm currently looking at outfitters, gear, costs etc, but would be grateful to anyone who can help me out. Thank you.
Full disclosure, I've never gone on a moose hunt but done quite a bit of research.
You can actually do a DIY moose hunt in AK, as a guide is not required, but the logistics take lots of planning, especially once a moose is on the ground.
Going the guided route, generally costs will increase with size of moose. The Alaska-Yukon subspecies is largest and most expensive to hunt. Things get a little cheaper for hunting Canadian moose in BC. I've heard there's quite a bit of difference between northern BC and southern BC. Northern is more wild country and similar to Alaskan hunts. Southern BC is generally smaller moose and could be less remote.
Some relatively inexpensive options in Alberta, and provinces moving east from there. But some of these can be more of a meat hunt looking for the first legal animal.
Then there's Newfoundland. Plenty of moose and unique terrain, but again not the trophy size moose of Alaska and NW Canada.
Again, these are all just generalizations based on my research, but hopefully it gives you a place to start.
Im planning one for 2020 as well. A couple buddies and I are gonna do a float trip in Alaska. Im just starting to look into this so I cant really help but will be watching this thread closely.
I'm in!!! Let's kill some moose!
See link and what I posted earlier this year
Plenty of great outfitters here in Alaska who can help you. From my own perspective, I think hunting on a remote river is best. At least it has been for me. Go as late in the season as you can in order to take advantage of the rutting behavior that will bring bulls in close for a bowhunter. Just know how terribly difficult it can be to deal with a dead moose lying on the ground at your feet. But moose are exciting creatures to bow hunt, and moose meat is the best on the table.
Guaranteed success, albeit smaller body size moose but nevertheless impressive antlers, you will find in Newfoundland. I went there in 2017 and I plan a 2019 trip with the same outfitter/guide. Similar to Alaska, but more comfortable without sacrificing remoteness. The more interesting fact is that you can carry and use both bow and/or rifle in the field. If you really like the moose and it does not want to come in for a bow shot then you can use the rifle. On a 7 days hunt you can use only the bow for the first 4 days and the rifle on day 5 thru 7 to make it happen. The moose population is substantial. If you are interested we could go together in 2020 in Newfoundland or if you need a partner we could go to Alaska (you shoot the moose and take antlers; we split costs and meat). I can call moose, film, butcher, and help pack it out.
In AK the further you get from Anchorage the fewer hunters. The easier it is to get to Usually means fewer and or smaller bulls. Easily accesssd rivers have a lot of resident pressure. Usually if you take 2 flights at least out of anchorage it gets you into less pressured areas. Like a flight from anchorage to a smaller town. Then a bush flight from there. But this cost more.
Step 1: figure out what your budget is.
If you don't know that, you can't start. There are tons and tons of options for Alces Alces out there. The prices range from $4,000-25,000!!!
I did a lot of research on this subject for my first moose hunt back in 2015. I originally planned on going to Newfoundland due to the sheer size of their moose herd. However, after talking to many, many outfitters, I got cold feet and went to Alberta instead. Every single NF outfitter I talked to tried to convince me to bring a rifle when I told them I hunted with a longbow. That did not sit well with me. On the other hand, Alberta is a very, very bowhunter-friendly province and I talked to several outfitters there who understood my needs and concerns. I ended up using Ryk Visscher's Hunting Adventures and I cannot say enough good things about his operation. Not only are all his guides bowhunters, they bowhunt the animal they are guiding you for. I killed a young bull on the third day of my hunt.
What are your goals? Just to harvest a moose? A bull? A big bull? Budget? I think it’s basicslly impossible for someone to steer to in the right direction without knowing at least those two things first. If you are looking for that once in a lifetime 60+” bull and you’re willing to pay for it Alaska/Yukon is prob what you want, but you’re gonna pay. Any moose now the options vary wildly
2020 is basically 'tomorrow' in terms of booking a slot for a good (big) moose hunt. 2019 slots might as well be considered nonexistent except in rare cases. Point being...if 2020 is your year there's not much time to get it figured out and get on someone's list. Most first-timers tend to think a couple years is enough lead time, but the reality is many outfitters and pilots are already 75-90% booked 2 years ahead.
Interesting story on another forum recently. Hunter (and partner) killed AK bulls on a float trip. Weather didn't cooperate and some meat spoilage happened by the time they could get to a pickup point. There was simply no option to get the meat out anywhere else along the river. Troopers got involved and a very hefty fine was assessed for about 100 pounds of smelly meat deemed unfit for human consumption. Rack confiscated and hunting privileges suspended. Later the troopers and court reduced the penalties but the message is clear. Be careful what you get yourself into. If you kill it, you're responsible to remove all the meat AND get it all out in good condition. Weather, schedules, and other difficulties aren't an excuse for having meat spoil. Don't kill it if you aren't 100% sure you can salvage it, even if it means ending your hunt early and spending additional money to get the meat out in good condition.
I hunted moose in the Yukon last year with Yukon Big Game Outfitters. Absolute trip of a lifetime. Yes it is expensive but I can't say enough great things about every aspect of that hunt!
Northern BC or Alberta would be my choice for moose.
When it comes to moose, listen to Kevin.
He is right about getting booked. Out pilot in AK is 3 years out now on booking so I would get on it and find something ASAP. Even as repeat customers we put our deposit in when we left in 2016 for 2019. We thought we could get in on 2018, but he was full already.
My first once in a lifetime AK moose hunt was in 2012. Next year is #4. It's addictive!
No need for a guide if you are capable in the field. Last sept the pilot service we used had to report a father son team that had one of their 2 bulls spoil due to too much for them to handle and getting in over their heads with 2 moose down. Charged with Wanton waste of meat. a VERY serious charge in AK. But if you know what your doing it’s just a BIG deer. Pretty easy to hunt them in the rut. You do not need moose hunting experience. You just need good gear to make it fun. And a strong back helps. Like others have said it all depends on your means and goals. Is the experience enough or is killing a bull a must. For me, being dropped off to hunt on my own up there is the goal. Then trying to stumble into a willing moose is nice too.
As Kevin says most legit drop services are booked into 2020 already. Maybe u can be put at the bottom of the cancellation list for 2020. Or 2021. This also gives u time to save for a better pilot service, purchasing gear, etc. I would be Leary of an outfit that still had room in 2019. They either take too many people. Or they don’t have repeat customers for some reason.
Try to get in with papa bear in bethel alaska. I've been a couple times and it by far for the money is worth every penny.
I've been on six moose hunts. Three to Newfoundland, one to BC, one to AK and one to the Yukon. Killed moose on all 6 hunts. All guided...I agree with most of what is said above. Go to Newfoundland if you just want to kill a moose. Great people, great country and fairly reasonable price wise as far as guided moose hunts go.
If you can swing a guided AK or Yukon Moose hunt with a reputable outfit, you will more than likely kill something BIG if that is a priority. I've hunted AK/Yukon moose with two very reputable moose guys and the results speak for themselves. Killed two giants.
DIY in Ak is very doable with research and a reputable flight service. BUT you better be able to manage logistics. Though I haven't done a moose drop, I have done a caribou drop and if you are looking for adventure and an awesome, rewarding experience a drop may be the way to go IF you are a "logistics" guy. Kevin's story above should be an "eye opener" for anyone wanting to go DIY.
In order to narrow down what you are looking for, budget and what you want out of it are the first two questions you need to answer here.
You guys are sooooo awesome, God bless you and thank you, I cannot believe all the great input here. My gear is the best money can buy, from ultralight pack tent to $400.00 boots, to Western Mountaineering mummy bag. As far as my goals, very simple. I want an opportunity at a 55" plus bull, in a perfect world, I want to hunt Yukon moose, but that is not a deal breaker. As far as my budget, If possible I would like to hunt for at least 10 days, and keep the total cost under $15,000. Not sure if that is an option? I'm 52, but I 'm in excellent shape, I run and workout every day. I have never hunted private land or with an outfitter, and could care less if I'm in a canvas wall tent or a bivouac sack 10 miles from the nearest road.
Private land is the best, but it’s hard to find private land for Moose so your streak will live!!!
You might look into a horseback hunt in Northern BC they are Canada moose but up close to the Yukon border they get pretty big.
55 plus you have to focus on Alaska or the Yukon. Can that be done other places, yea but the odds are long.
Problem is in the AK and Yukon, 15k probably won't get you into a "primo" outfitter. You could, however, get into a good BC outfit up North along the Yukon border for your budget with the chance to take a good moose. If you decide you want to go the "Outfit" route, you may want to call a booking agent, tell them what your needs/wants are and see what your choices are as well.
Appreciate all the help guys, great stuff. I'm leaning toward a DIY Yukon moose hunt. I'm a very experienced hunter with quality gear and I do enjoy logistics. If I can setup a drop camp hunt with a reputable outfitter in a good area I would be happy with that. Having said that, $20,000 on the right hunt would not kill me.
You can probably two two DIY moose hunts for close to or a little more then 15k...that's a lot of days in the bush to get a big moose arrowed.
Call Bowhunting Safari Consultants and get those guys to help set up a hunt for your.
Also, it my be beneficial to be ready for a cancellation hunt !
I like the way you think man. DIY is the ticket. I hunted Colorado this year for my first DIY elk. Three weeks on the mountain got me a monarch (7x7) elk bull. I did walk about 60 miles to find it and I have the boots to show as I went from 9000 feet to 12000 feet. I am your man for the job. I have all the equipment and weaponry in stock ready to hunt. Let us do this.
Happy Saturday guys: After several of you mentioned the importance of booking early I did some more research last night, and came up with some figures, please let me know if they are accurate and what else I'm missing: I looked at Papa Bear Adventures & Wade Renfro Adventures in Bethel, as well as Alaskan Quest in Anchorage. I'm looking at a 10/14 day hunt in a drop off location, not a float trip hunt. Here are the approximate costs I came up with using my own gear and supplying my own food. Once your moose is down, I assume you call for the brush pilot to come and haul it out, is this correct? What am I missing????? Am I allowed to carry a hand gun while moose hunting?
Round trip airfare to Anchorage or Bethel: $1,200.00 Brush pilot flights in & out of hunting location: $ 2,000.00 Hunting license & moose tag: $1,000.00 Meat processing & transportation of meat & antlers home: $1,000.00 Tip for brush pilot: $500.00 Misc gear: $1,000.00
While the specific costs quoted might vary somewhat, the rough total between $6k and $7k is pretty much right down the centerline for a good DIY hunt. If $7k is a comfortable number for you, I'd say you're ready to find the right transporter and get on his list.
If you pay Renfro or Papa Bear you call or text them on Sat phone to pick up meat. It’s included in the price. One moose one bear pickup per hunter. Yes you can carry a pistol. To avoid hassle you can rent bear spray cheap there if it’s not used it’s cheap. Book early enough to get the last 10 days. Which in that unit runs till Oct 1st. Much stronger rutting behavior due to the amount of bulls. Sixlomaz sounds like some one that doesn’t mind a little suffering. Plus if you invite him he might let you in on his elk honey hole :)
Suffering is what makes me stay alive. I have marked 3 different honey holes where elk seem to congregate while pressured by hunters. Solid intel.
Perfect, sounds like I'm in the ballpark anyway, thank you very much. I'm not sure what to think of SixLomaz, I killed 5 bulls in Colorado and never seen one that resembles the beast he whacked, beautiful bull dude, congrats.
The Alaska Fish & Game updated their 'Is this moose legal?' video this year.
Its a great 25 minute video to watch - see link
Even a blind hunter gets a big elk bull once in a while given enough field time. I worked hard for it as I failed 8 times on other elk before I got to that one. The packing out was hard as I put 20 miles on my boots that day to get the meat in the truck. I used the gutless butchering method plus some rib breaking to get the organs. I have a tip to share with all hunters using meat bags. Before the trip soak them in a very concentrated solution of citric acid (powder for human consumption) and water for 24 hours then dry outside in shade, . No flies / wasps will ever sit on the bags (use quality synthetic bags not the cheese cloth kind). The meat will also form a thin hard crust while cooling hanging from a tree.
Nahanni Butte Outfitters might cost you a little more then $15,000. I went 2 years ago and it was $17,000 but, it is a hunt of a lifetime. One of the best outfitters and one of the best areas for BIG moose hunting.
New Brunswick non reisident moose tags for outfitters were drawn this morning.....If your looking for 2019 moose hunt in one of the best Provinces in Canada, check out the Natural Resources website. As for other areas Conne River Bow hunting only camp would be recommended, if they are not already book for 2020. TH