8 Tips for Moose Hunting
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.
Is this moose legal? Video
Moose Hunting Orientation
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.