Moose in the Bush
Larry Potterfield looking over the rack of a very nice harvested moose. (MidwayUSA photo)
The Alaska moose (a.k.a. Alaska-Yukon moose) is the largest big-game animal in North America. They are very interesting to hunt, and as a bonus, they live in some of the most remote and beautiful places you will ever see. For these reasons, and more, this was a memorable hunt.
Bull moose are huge, by any standard; if a trophy bull was standing nearby, you would have to look up to see the top of his shoulder. A big bull moose might weigh six to eight times more than the average man, so compare that with a 150-pound whitetail or a 500-pound elk.
Getting to moose country typically requires a string of horses, an Argo, a boat, a raft or a Super Cub and sometimes, more than one of the above might be required.
Larry cooks fresh moose over an open fire. (MidwayUSA photo)
There are lots of ways to hunt moose; you can glass from the hills into the bottoms, call them in (during the rut), bump into one on the way to or from camp, or float down a river and catch one in the water or meadows alongside. Moose are often in the thick willow brush and in my experience, shooting distances are short. Since moose aren’t thick skinned, a well-placed bullet from a 30-30 Winchester or 300 Savage has worked fine, though I prefer something with a little more punch; bears and wolves live there also.
With a big bull weighing over half a ton, even two people can’t just turn him over and start field dressing. As a matter of fact, gutting isn’t even normally part of the process. First, you take the quarters off the side that’s facing up, then roll him over and remove them from the other side. Finally you get to the filets and back straps, the meat between the ribs and on the neck. As you might guess, it takes a while to process a moose. And for me at least, fresh moose meat in the bush – over an open fire – is always a special treat, if we have time for a break.
There are two lessons you will learn, or hear about, on your first moose hunt: First, no matter how challenging a hunt might be, the hard work begins when the moose is on the ground. Second, never shoot a moose that will fall in the water, because processing a moose in the water is a cold and miserable experience.