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“SOLO Moose Hunt” by Austin Manelick

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Everybody had a Bull besides me

It all starts off as a crazy idea but after you get to thinking about it seriously it’s not so crazy after all. After a stellar moose hunting season in 2015 it seemed that everybody had a bull besides me. I helped a few friends and my wife harvest their moose, but I had not yet punched my tag and there was still a little room in the freezer.
Combing through registration hunts and different opportunities on the Alaska Department of Fish and game website I found a registration permit for an any bull area.

Before you know it I was headed to Western Alaska on yet another big game adventure. This hunt required a drop off from an experienced pilot, short
landings and short take offs with heavy loads. Not to mention a pilot bold enough to fly in the dead of winter with variable weather conditions. I picked out an area according to ADF&G biologists that held a sustainable population of wintering moose and found myself deep in the Alaskan wilderness.

After we touched down I set up camp and began to survey the area for signs of life. I spotted a few moose off in the distance about a mile away and came up with a game plan for the following morning. On the flight from Anchorage to a smaller town, the commercial airlines managed to lose my bag and I was stuck hunting in street clothes. Good thing they didn’t lose my rifle or my binoculars and that I decided to wear all of my warm clothes anyhow. The super cub pilot left me with his survival tent and personal sleeping bag, that was very nice of him considering he only had one bag and if he had an unplanned landing he would spend the night cuddling a fire.

Ancient Warrior

The next morning I woke up to total darkness and proceeded to climb the nearest vantage point and locate the moose I found the night before. First light revealed several moose milling around the willow flat in front of me. I picked out the two bulls immediately and started to watch their behavior. One moose was extremely poor looking but had a much bigger frame. The other bull was pacing the cows near him and seemed to have an incredible amount of energy post rut.

You could tell immediately the older of the two bulls. One bull a war torn ancient warrior, the other was the new alpha of the area who had earned breeding rights after many battles. Winter or wolves would claim the older of the two. I made the decision that whichever moose presented the best shot opportunity I’d take. Nearing rifle distance on the stalk the younger bull spotted my movement and caught a swirl of my wind sending him trotting up the river bank that mirrored the willow flats. I laid prone and steadied the rifle on my KUIU pack, the older moose just stood there while the other bull boogied. I ranged my target at 400 yards and squeezed the trigger, the brute didn’t even flinch. He tipped over and fell almost immediately, it seemed he just wanted to lay back down permanently.

I knew hunter's fate

Walking up to the elderly animal I knew hunter’s fate had worked it’s magic, the bulls hip and shoulder bones protruded from his lose skin. His antler was broken at the first brow tine, upon closer inspection his skull was crushed with his pedical growing around his eye socket, this forced his eye out of his skull and exposed to the elements. I suspect he sustained this injury during the summer growing months, leaving the entire left side of his skull weak and susceptible to a broken paddle. This half antlered – half blind moose experienced his last winter. I thanked him for giving himself to me and feeding my family, respect first and last for the game. The half mile pack out to the “new” strip wasn’t that bad, the pilot decided he could land closer to the moose than the original strip where I got dropped at. After eight loads of meat and bone, the super cub pilot plucked me and the moose skull and we were back to civilization in no time. #solohntr #solostories #missionalaska #whatsyourmission

Austin Manelick - Alaska creative

Mission Alaska Living the Alaskan lifestyle one adventure at a time. AK DIY hunting, fishing, and exploring. Be sure to follow along on Facebook & YouTube

Follow @austinmanelick on Instagram

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