Recently, Bryce Winn and I went on a two-week Idaho trip. The plan was to fish and duck hunt the first few days and then hunt for moose and bear. This schedule depended on what came first, though.
We fished and duck hunted the first five days, and then the hunter before us, Jack Fenwick, killed his moose. We helped him bone and pack it out. Now it was time for Ron to start moose hunting and for me to start bear hunting. If we both got lucky fast, then I’d also get a chance to moose hunt.
I’m not saying that you have to have a guide to be successful to moose hunt in Alaska. However, because of the logistics, it’s almost necessary. I had a buddy who went on his own and took his mom. They shot two moose and had them loaded in a raft. They were in the front raft and had the moose in the rear raft.
So to get into the backcountry, it’s smart to hire a guide who is decked out with gear, but yes, sometimes you can rent your gear and do it yourself.
Now let’s get into how to hunt. One popular way to hunt is to find some elevation and set up and glass. In flat areas, you may have to climb a tree to be able to see over the brush.
To glass all day, you’ll want good quality optics or you’ll get a headache. I use Leupold optics and have had good luck with them. For a spotting scope, I use their Gold Ring 15-30x. For binoculars, I use their BX3 Mojave Ultra HD Pro Guide 10×42 binocs.
After you spot a potential target, you have to make a decision. Is he in a spot where it’s possible to get him out? Moose are huge, and if you’re by yourself, packing one out can be problematic. I was by myself when I shot my very first bull. Luckily, I was able to get a 4-wheeler to him, but in Alaska you’ll likely be in marsh-type land along a river.
Another popular way to hunt is to set up in some brush and call (I just discovered a super lightweight portable blind by Ameristep). This works during the rut. To call, use a cone to amplify the sound.
Many hunters also have a piece of plywood screwed to a 2×4 and beat it against the brush to imitate a bull thrashing around. Alaska Master Guide Charles Allen with Alaska Expedition Co. also moseys along holding the paddle up above his head imitating a bull strutting along.
Here’s another point you have to consider. Where we hunted, we had to fly in 1 1/2 hours. You’d have to have your own jon boat with a motor or rafts to get upstream to where the moose hung out. And how would you get all that gear up there? Hire someone to fly you in and drop you off?
And don’t forget, you’d have to have all of your camping gear to boot. You could do a DIY hunt, but it’d be tough duty and take some planning. And if you popped a raft, I don’t see how you’d ever get out.
Let’s wrap up on the meat. I love moose meat. Plus, it’s so big you can market it out like you would a cow. You can get big tri-tips, flap meat, skirts and so forth, so you don’t have to just grind all of these smaller cuts. This gives you a variety when cooking it.