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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A couple of weeks ago I spent 11 days up the Nushagak River here in SW Alaska. I live in Dillingham so this is "home field" for me. I was trying to find a moose for the freezer, just as I do every fall. This year was different: my hunting buddy of many years took a job in MN and moved over the summer. I put out a few feelers for fellers to hunt with but those went unanswered. So for the first time in a long time on a fall hunt, I hunted alone. I have no objection to doing such but Alaska can be very unforgiving; hunting with someone is much safer, IMHO.

I had two rifles with me: my MXLR in .338 Marlin and a 1947 Savage 99 in .300 Savage. My .338 has been my go-to for over a decade; I now have 25 animals covering 9 species with it. I really wanted to kill something with my 99 but I opted to only hunt with it during dry days, and those were few and far between these days. So the .338 saw the bulk of the action. Ammo was factory ammo (Hornady) for the .338 and handloads with 130 grain Barnes TTSX for the.300 Savage.

Hunting here is always a blessing, and this year was no different. I saw soooo many cool things: beavers, otters, porcupines... I am an amateur birder and hunting seasons is always good for that. I saw really cool raptors like harriers, goshawks, eagles, and ospreys. I had one osprey eat his dinner fairly close to me one morning. Again, there is always so much to see and take in.

My game plan was simple: hit a couple of sloughs I've had success in during the past. I planned to stay as much as the last two weeks of the season (season closed September 15). The bulls start getting interested in the cows during the last few days of that time frame. To access sloughs I hauled around a small Zodiac with a 6 horse on it. I parked at the entrances of sloughs and putt-putted my way to wherever I wanted to go. I should mention that our game management unit, for residents, is any visible antler, so antler size is not a restriction. I'm not very discriminate: I like meat so I'll take the first one that presents an opportunity.

I saw a crap-ton of cows, and cows with calves, over the first week or so. The one bull I saw, on my third day, was a good one - maybe 60" or a little over? - but I couldn't get him to come close enough. He hung up at 400 yards and that's just a bit farther than I feel comfortable.

The 13th turned out to be an eventful day. That morning I had a cow and calf feed within 60 or so yards of me, while I took photos. Then, while leaving, I tripped and fell. I'm a clumsy sort and I fall a lot. This time was different. Unseen by me, there was a ten inch diameter stump, chewed to a point, under the grass. The first contact after the fall was my rib cage with the stump. It freaking hurt. A lot. I made it back to camp, took a bunch of acetaminophen, and tried to shake it off, but it didn't subside at all. Still... I was there to hunt, so hunt I did.

That evening I went into a new area of a slough that's not always accessible; this year the water was high enough. I set up with the wind in my favor; the meadow in front of me looked promising. At a bit after eight, I went into a brush thrash/bull grunt sequence and a few minutes later a bull poked his head out of the trees maybe 400 yards to the NE of me. His body language said he was interested, and he headed my way. So I eased off on the volume of my efforts and let him come. Finally, at 130 yards he gave me a broadside shot and I took it. In a bit of luck, he ambled another 20 yards closer to the slough after the shot.

A fellow from our town was mauled pretty bad a few days before this, just a few miles below my camp. I was fully aware of that as the sun started to set and the bull was on the ground. I decided to gut him, get him cooled off, and come back in the light of day to cut him up and get him out. Let me tell you... I am not sure I've ever gutted an animal that quickly, and certainly not a moose. I got it done and headed back to camp. Coming out of the slough I passed a small bull at under a hundred yards. It never rains, but it pours, right?

The following day, as I was headed back, a friend of mine from church was coming up river to help his family take down their camp. He had heard about my bull - and ribs - from my wife. He helped me cut it up and get it packed out. A second friend who was hunting nearby helped with the packing too. I am extremely grateful for the assistance they provided.

It turns out a storm was moving in so I followed that friend back to town. It was a bumpy, "sporty" ride back, with a strong south wind on the bay, whitecaps galore, and rollers larger than I normally like to be out in (I have an open skiff by the way). I got plenty wet, but in the end all's well that ends well.

I took three days to get it cut up and put in the freezer, with some help from my youngest daughter. At my wife's insistence I went to the hospital to get checked out, and it turns out I have a couple of cracked ribs. This week is a time to rest up just a bit. On Sunday that same daughter and I head out for a caribou hunt for her, at one of my very favorite places on earth. The game plan is to get her a caribou and maybe me a brown bear (I am taking my Marlin GBL for that), and to shoot some ducks and geese. She is recovering from back surgery so yours truly gets to do all the heavy lifting.

My apologies for the length of this report. It was a lot shorter in my head. Oh, and the bull... he taped right at 50" - my second largest.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't have a final weight, and there is a caveat. I gave away a front and hind quarter to a couple families at church that needed meat. I did not weigh the steaks and roasts and such. I can tell you that I packaged 124 pounds of burger. That's straight moose - no pork fat added.

Thank you for the kind words JL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It sure feels like it most of the time (living the dream). In a rare moment of absolute clarity, I realized that whitetails (in my home state of KS) and a teacher's salary (my former profession) were only going to take me so far, and so shortly after college I moved to Alaska.
 

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It sure feels like it most of the time (living the dream). In a rare moment of absolute clarity, I realized that whitetails (in my home state of KS) and a teacher's salary (my former profession) were only going to take me so far, and so shortly after college I moved to Alaska.
Hats off to you for doing something exceptional 👍 Hope the latest storm didn’t tear up your neighborhood too badly!
 

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Chuck Norris move over. You've got company.

That's Iron Man work from you. Two weeks hunting and the last three with broken ribs.... Strong work!

Congratulations. Nice moose and good eating!

Thanks for the write up.
 

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Nobody really realizes the size of a moose until they have one down. I miss Alaska every day ... except when I see the high in Fairbanks for a particular day is -40. Good job on feeding your family. Most hunters in the lower 48 don't realize that, if you don't get a moose or several caribou, it's a mightly lean winter. When you live close to the earth on the last frontier, hunting is not necessarily a sport.
 

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Good story. The bright side of the cracked ribs is that it wasn't a leg or ankle, or something else that could have immobilized you..
I rarely hunt alone, and regardless, I always carry a PLB (personal locator beacon - like a mini EPIRB), in case of an immobilizing injury or a snake bite. I'm particularly careful around October and November when the weather is starting to warm up and the snakes are more active. Apparently Australia has 20 of the 25 most deadly snakes in the world. Regardless, I give all snakes a wide birth.
 
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