Magnum sized power in a non-magnum cartridge, without the heavy recoil. This sweet little round sits in the middle between 6.5 Creedmoor (6.8W being 22% heavier) and the 300 Winchester Magnum. This caliber was engineered for precision accuracy, flat trajectories, and hard long range knock down power for big North American Animals. The 6.5 Creedmoor loses energy down range, with some draw backs for lethality for bigger game at longer ranges like moose, elk, and brown bear. This is similar to a 270 bullet – but the new bullet weight and construction in the 6.8 Western is the 277caliber updated with 165-170GR offerings for better ballistic coefficient. Long Range energy like a magnum, but less recoil. Magnum energy, magnum weight bullet in a short action platform. Less Recoil with all the perks of a heavier hitter.
All I can say is, I can’t wait to chase spring bears and fall adventure with the new 6.8 Western on my back.
Buck Fever Theory has taken hold of my hunting interest. What makes a hunter shake uncontrollably, his heart explode through his chest, his head clear on purpose but lost in the fog. Moments when you are absolutely certain the target animal can hear your heart and feel your thoughts. How do you control this powerful feeling? I’m not exactly sure but that’s what I want to explore. For me this isn’t about shot process or beating target panic. This is about conquering my instinctual response to an intense situation. Specifically I’m examining my fight or flight response.
I listened to great audio book a friend recommended to me called “The Rise of Superman.” This book took aim at individuals who experience FLOW, a state in which you control the flow of adrenalin in near perfect decision making. The author spoke mostly on extreme athletes who completed stunts or feats such as free solo climbing, Olympic athletes performing runs with tricks that have exponentially grown in difficult over the past two decades, and jazz musicians performing music accustitcally in sync without knowing each other’s notes. The extreme athlete performing in near life or death performances, the do or die mentality. All of these extraordinary capabilities fascinate me, and I couldn’t help but apply them to my life. I’ve experienced a few life or death situations being born, raised, and living in the last frontier. In moments of dire circumstances, there was no buck fever, there was no hesitation, there was only do or die. Facing down charge bears, giant bull moose coming to call in deep rut, and climbing faces for sheep and goats that humans do not belong.
Growing up playing contact sports, my exposure to Adrenalin occurred daily. My flow of Adrenalin doesn’t exist from day to day as I grow older as I’m not impervious to pain as I thought I once was. Every decision I make is to minimize the impacts that ache the injury’s from a past athletic life. I throw myself into hunting and can’t help but feel like I’m applying all of the athletics and fullness I train for to the activity that makes me truly happy. Hunting makes me feel young. Buck fever is ever present in my life here in Alaska. But nothing rocks my world like a wild whitetail entering and leaving my life like dust in the wind. Whitetails from a tree stand with a compound or a rifle, I can keep her together until after the shot. But for some reason with a stick bow in my hand, my Adrenalin spikes beyond control and controlled breathing and focus on anything but making a good shot go right out the window.
I don’t know what it is that separates the weapon choice and the way the Wiley Whitetails effect on me. This year I decided I needed to hunt them in the ground. Every aspect of the hunt and out smarting these animals is critical. There is no other choice but to be damn near perfect to get under 20 on the ground with one of the most instinctually sharp animals on earth. I wanted to test my theory of Adrenalin flow that I experience with animals here in Alaska. I would try and flip my fight response versus my flight response to an animal encounter on the ground. If I could convince myself, it’s me or him much like the bears and moose I encounter in close quarters… then maybe just maybe I could get to full draw, pic a spot, and let that buck have it. I need the Adrenalin flow pegged out, the thought of life or death and the need for perfect decision making.
Now it’s hard to say that Whitetails will give you that “life or death” situation as they are extremely afraid of hunters, even if they are enraged with the rut. They generally snap to consciousness once they get a sniff of human odor. They still most likely will approach down wind to confirm their suspicion of human tampering. You can fool a few of there senses, but not their nose even if you do practice a scent free approach. I will say this, I had several encounters on the ground and my nerves were calmer than ever. Put me in a tree stand with a stick bow and my nerves fall apart. Eventually I will get the monkey off my back by taking a whitetail with traditional archery equipment. One thing is for certain, I feel more comfortable eye to eye with these beautiful beast than 20ft up watching them pick apart the scene like a forensic scientist. More on this theory as I analyze buck fever through traditional archery whitetail hunting. It will happen someday, just not this 2020. I can’t thanks Todd of Mission Kansas enough for all the time effort and energy he spent showing us the ropes in Kansas, I’m certain I’ll be back to Kansas.
The leaves are growing in Alaska much like the moose and their antlers. Spring turns to summer and fall quickly approaches, the smell of deciduous trees and yellow leaves will soon follow…MOOSE Season(will soon be here). Here are 8 tips and tactics to help bring home that monster Alaska Bull moose you’ve always dreamed of.
1) Physical and Mental Fitness This is the most underrated portion of any hunt in Alaska. The physical aspect of lugging around 90 -120 pounds of dead weight in the backcountry is incredibly tough. Not only do you have to be physically strong, but mentally fit as well. The weather, the bugs, and the terrain will push anyone to their breaking point. This is where the mental toughness/fitness kicks in, just cause you have the strength doesn’t mean you’ll have the mental tenacity to deal with the elements. Digging deep is an individual decision to persevere, and overcome. That being said, a moose hunt will test your physical and mental fitness before you pull the trigger. Here is a 6 week strength and training program provided by Nate Svedin(Physical Strength and Mental Toughness Guro) that focuses on core weight lifting to get you strong for the hunt of a lifetime. As Nate says, “Be Savage. Stay Savage.”
2) First 10 Last 10 Rule: A wise old moose hunter once told me that if you’re not prepared to stay overnight with your moose in the field, your not prepared to kill a moose. Ok, this grizzled old dude was hardcore by most standards hunting with an osage orange stickbow, so you have to imagine this guy was tuff – that’s right – t-u-f-f – heavy on the F. I have shot moose at all times of the day, but most of them have occurred in the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of the day. This is critical, you have to find yourself in that juicey little swamp at dark in both the morning and the evening. Back strap over an open fire will prepare you for a cozy evening under a blue tarp. Having the right gear in your pockets at all times helps. Talk about building mental toughness!
3) Gear – What to have in your pockets at all times. The moose love the peanut butter. No, not the food but more so a description of where they live. The alder and willow choked banks on Alaska’s rivers and swamps are thicker than a bowl of oatmeal. The moose can hide in plain site right off the edge of the river and you won’t see them. Carrying a back pack through the alder jungle gym can be a pain. So, I like to leave the pack frame in the boat and go light bringing just the essentials. Chest Waiters – Rain Jacket – Rifle (12 rounds of ammo some for the moose others for bear protection and some extra just to be safe) – binoculars – bic lighter (fire starters) – sharp knife – knife sharpener – head lamp – 100ft of 550 paracord – and three tree climbing screws to get you in a tree above the swamps.
4) Knowing how to Judge moose Spend time on Alaska Department of Fish and Games Website. They have so much information on moose hunting it will make your head spin. Point is, many people come back from the hunt of a lifetime with a similar story. “We had a big bull come into camp, but I couldn’t tell if he was 50 inches wide or not.” The more moose you look at, the easier snap judging one in the field will be. Follow the hashtag #moosehunting to get an idea of what big bulls look like. Check out these links for more information.
5) Pack Raft and Water Sources Throw a small raft in your kit such as an Alpacka Pack Raft. Having a light weight raft will extend the viable range of the dreaded pack out. I’ve used rafts to cut a 2 mile pack out into a half mile pack out, using water sources such as beaver dams and slow moving creeks. Save your back and use water to your advantage.
6) Rifle and Ammunition Selection 300 Calibers are a preferred using nothing less than a 180GR solid bullet. I have been using a 300WSM XPR with 190r Expedition Big Game Long Range the last few season with great success. You can get a way with less gun and less bullet, but in all reality there won’t be much meat loss from larger caliber rifles on an Alaskan Yukon Moose. Knock down power and reliable expansion is what you need, tracking moose through swamps and thick cover can be about as hard as tracking a hog in a brush row. Shoot till you watch the moose go down. I’ve seen moose eat up a 200 grain bullet, fall down, and pop up minutes later headed for the Canadian border.
7) Technology and Research Knowing where you are is critical, with modern topographic and satellite technology getting lost in Alaska is becoming more difficult. OnxMaps offline feature allows you to save maps to prevent using all your cell phone battery. Know where you’re at, increase your odds. Real hot tip…. Check out Alaska’s Moose Management Reports and see what harvest objectives are for the area you are hunting, this will give you a good idea of moose abundance in the area your hunting.
8) Calling Techniques I’m a big believer in not trying to be as quite as you can. Moose have satellite dishes that carry sound into their giant ears. When they hear silence and creeping, they think predator. Walk hard and act like a bull moose, I act like a teenager moose that just started lifting weights. Threatening enough, but small enough for a bigger bull to want to lay down the law and show him who’s boss. Scraping – raking. The entire season scraping works and it’s a technique that doesn’t involve moaning like you have kidney stones and a hernia. Save your self some money on the fancy calls and make a birch bark call in the field, or use an old milk jug with the bottom cut out. When the moose are ready to come in, trust me they come.
The only way to bag a bullwinkle is to find yourself with a tag in your pocket, plenty of OTC opportunity for a wild man adventure in Alaska’s back country. Good luck and hunt hard.
As we closed in on the beach all I could see was boiling brown. It looked like there we deer everywhere on the beach. The first thing I remember about hunting was Dad telling me “keep the barrel in a safe direction and follow me”…. Couldn’t believe he trusted me with a rifle at 8 years old and to hold it on my own. Respect was given at an early age. He looked me in the face and told me, “shoot the biggest one you see.” I nodded, put the cross hairs on the buck and let that 6mm get vocal.
That moment changed my life forever, at first I was a fishermen, then immediately became a hunter, its only now that I’ve realized what being a true sportsman is. 20 years later I find myself sitting on a plane en-route to Kodiak, a famous Sitka blacktail deer location known for it’s big bears and buff beach dwelling bucks. Jumping on the bush plane at the seaside docks I knew I was in for a treat. Late season hunting can produce some of the best bucks on Kodiak aka “The Rock”. Winter weather and colder temps bring on the rut, snow fall covers herbaceous alpine food and forces the deer into lower country concentrating them to elevations more suitable for day trips from base camp.
This year I decided to target the later portion of the season post rut/end of the rut/secondary rut. Big bucks tend to be lower right at the snow line eating as much food as possible and keeping an eye and their nose towards any of the last receptive does (mainly young deer and fawns) that may come into estrus. With a shorter light cycle, deer will move all day long. Getting light around 9:30am and complete darkness around 4pm presents logistical challenges of harvesting and getting your deer back to base camp. Later season also provides a better chance at not losing your buck overnight to a hungry bear as some of the bruins have called it quits for the winter and head into hibernation. Although last year, my wife and I saw quite of a few big bears at our kill sights around Thanksgiving day.
This year I only spotted one bear from the air, he was feeding on a nearby salmon stream and had no concern for the Dehavilland Beaver we were flying in. Never spotted that big boy on the ground but we knew he was there. I tagged two bucks within the first two hours of the hunt and then spent most of the next day glassing from base camp, slicing and dicing my bucks, and looking for a nice mature deer to “tag out” on. On the third day, I was up and out of the tent well into dark, not that tough to get out of the tent at 800am though. Basically sleeping in and waking up to blacktail cruising the hill side all around the tent. I noticed a rather large “big fork” with in striking distance of camp. He appeared to be the biggest bodied most mature deer within glassing distance of camp. There were a few other smaller forkies and a couple of branched bucks, but none of them looked as big as this bad boy. I figured I’ll let the other ones grow and come back next year for a 4×4 jumbo buck of my dreams.
The chase was on, getting the wind right was my first priority, second only to moving slowly and appearing “non-threatening”. You have to remember these deer seldom see people and the only major predator they look for is monster volkswagon size bears that can’t move as quickly as themselves. I’ve found moving slowly, very slowly, you can almost walk directly up to deer within that 150-250 yard rifle shooting range. Well that game plan didn’t work so well on this mature buck, guess he knew better than to sit there and watch a Kuiu clad hunter walk right up to him and poke him with a bullet. He was with a doe but still looking for danger, go figure. The new game plan would be to circle up mid mountain above tree-line and descend on the unknowing buck. An hour later I spotted him sneaking into an alder patch. The rolling mountainous terrain allowed me to close the distance in a hurry, trotting down mountain to the last place I saw him before he slipped into the small alder patch.
I laid my pack down and looked for movement. Like a ghost I caught him slipping through the brush. He stopped in an opening and stared straight at me. I ranged the brush line at 250 yards and knew my 270 Win topped with a 3×9 Vortex scope could make the shot without having to do any fancy bullet drop compensation formulas. I squeezed off the trigger and thuuuuwaaap, he dropped in his tracks. I was more than pumped to say the least shaking and experience buck fever after the shot. Didn’t understand what happened to me with this deer versus the first two I shot. Was it the body size? Was it the big fork? Was it the thrill of the chase? When I dropped down into the alder infested bottom and laid my hands on the buck I knew immediately why….. all of the above.
Slicing the buck up and putting him on my back I had a mile or two trek back to camp, giving me ample time to reflect on the adventure, exploring new country, and making memories that will last me another 20 years or so. I thought back to all the hunts I’ve been apart of on the Alaska’s biggest Island. I remembered my first buck with my dad, my wife’s first buck, and all the beautiful deer I was fortunate enough to harvest on the trip. This place is overwhelming, and I know with all my heart I’ll be back sooner than later. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll track down that buck of lifetime. One thing is for sure, the adventure never ends.
Hunters List: 3-9 Vortex Rifle Scope, 10×42 Razor Bino Alaska Guide Creation Bino Harness 270 Win Kuiu Camo and 7200 icon Pro Pack Caribou Game Backs Hilleburg Tent – Namjat Work Sharp Sharpener Skeleton Optic Sunglass
“Oh no!” I tell my wife as I spot two hunters who appeared to be pursuing the same caribou bulls we were stalking. I think and hope to myself that they’re chasing the group of sub-legal sheep that were feeding above the caribou. We continue our stalk and run into the other hunters on the leigh side of the ridge that led down to the sheep and caribou. We asked the couple what they are hunting and they replied “We’re chasing sheep!” in a defeated tone as we all watch the group of rams crest over the next ridge. They continued marching onward towards the rams and bid us good luck. An unsaid understanding as fellow weekend warriors to another, we’re all looking to notch our tags and fill our freezers.
I look at my wife and say, “well, we’re back on the stalk!” We closed the distance on the two bulls we spotted from the opposite side of the mountain. We slipped and dipped into the direction we last saw the bulls bedded. We scooted down the mountain on our booties until we could only see the bulls’ branched antlers sticking out of the low laying willow brush. The two bulls were both unaware of us and happily sleeping. Jordan decided to wait for the larger of the bulls to stand up before she took her 150 yard shot downhill. Minutes turned to hours as we waited patiently for a standing broad side shot. The mid morning mountain thermals shifted and both the bulls stood up. Jordan made a perfectly placed shot through the vitals and down went her first caribou. We hugged. We smiled. We admired the beautiful bull caribou laying just down the mountain from us.
The party had really just begun as our camp was up-mountain 5 miles and we had a long pack out ahead of us. They say all the fun stops and the work begins when you pull the trigger, and I partially agree yet I’ve learned to love and savor the “suck factor”. The heavy load is a right of passage and an honor. It’s part of the experience. I smiled and told my wife “It’s not your’s unless you pack it out.” She ponied up making two trips to the kill site packing meat. The first trip she took a shoulder, the last trip she packed out the skull and cape. She earned the soreness and blisters that came with the bounty of meat and bone. If it was as easy as shooting the animal and driving a four wheeler up to the kill site, then everyone would do it.
ATV access across Alaska has grown exponentially since the 1980s. Although many hunters luck out each year and shoot game just off ATV trails, I have found there is greater opportunity for hunting success off the beaten path. For this hunt, we relied on the quads God gave us to haul the caribou back to the ATV accessible area and made one heck of a memory in doing so.
Jordan’s father, Vince was also with us on the hunt, he hung back during the stalk and watched things unfold from the ridge above. He then joined us to help field dress and pack out the bou. After we got home from the hunt, the three of us enjoyed reminiscing on all the details from the adventure. One of the things we laughed about was our night of siwashing – an old military term for sleeping out in the elements while not being fully prepared. In other words we packed light to cover some ground to find animals but found ourselves a little too far away from base camp to return for the night. We all slept huddled up together under a tarp held up by our trekking poles. When we weren’t shivering, we were busy doing jumping jacks and push ups to keep warm.
Vince brought up the point that the hunters we encountered on the stalk weren’t visible from our initial vantage point. Vince thought it was cool that Jordy and I didn’t interrupt the other groups stalk on the sheep and/or the caribou. We had waited patiently until they came back up the ridge to the packs they left behind. I told him, “that’s the only way to be an ethical sportsman.” You must wait your turn.
Road system hunting has became increasingly competitive in the state of Alaska, it seems like the majority of the “legal” animals has someone chasing after them. From long range shooting, to bigger badder boats and ATVS, to the most spruced up airplanes, it seems Alaska hunting has been taken to a whole new level. Guided hunts versus unguided resident hunts, territorial disputes, land access issues, regulation changes etc. The information that can be found on the internet and hunting articles bread a whole new hunter, a hunter with a radio GPS, someone with satellite texting and calling capabilities, who has no fear of being too deep in the wilderness. As Alaska’s population of hunters grows and technology changes, its always important to remember the basics of competitive hunting and being a sportsman.
No matter how you do it, make it safe and ethical, and feel great for all of those involved and those who may become involved on the hunt. Make and share memories that will last a lifetime, make someone else feel good they made the decision to get off their couch and get into the field. I know that my wife will cherish her first caribou that’s in our freezer and on our wall. I know my father felt happy to see his daughter and son carry the flame of the next generation of sportsman. I feel remarkably happy for my family and the opportunities we still have to chase wild animals in the state we call home.
It’s been too long fellow hunters…. The team has been working on new projects and focused on launching them through different social networks. For the latest and greatest up to date content check out mission_alaska on Instagram where we have exclusive photos, videos, and stories of the Alaska Sportsman lifestyle. If your interested in short films check out our new videos through http://www.huntervids.com, they have a library full of hunting videos from across the country that will entertain any day dreaming outdoorsmen. Here is a link to one of our goat hunts on Hunter-Vids.