The Alaskan / Yukon moose are the largest deer that roam North American, with a height at their shoulder of over seven feet. Alaskan / Yukon moose are at least 20% bigger than Eastern moose found in eastern Canada and northeast United States. These monsters of Alaska and the Yukon can reach weighs of over 1,800 pounds. The antler spread of these largest members of the moose family can typically measure over six feet, with top record trophy antlers reaching an amazing 7-foot in width. That's enough to make anyone want to go on a Yukon Moose Hunt. Going on a guided moose hunt had been one of my life long dreams. A dream that took root while I was a 14-year-old boy, listening to my Dad telling stories about his horseback guided Elk hunt in the mountains of Wyoming. My Dad had always wanted to go on a moose hunt, but never managed to make his dream come true. I was determined not to let this happen to me. So, when I booked a moose hunt, with Koser Outfitters located out of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, I was doing it (in part) as a tribute to my father. My Dad had giving me his prized Springfield 30-06 hunting rifle sometime before he passed away. A rifle he had personally customized, by hand crafting an oil finished walnut stock and glass bedding in the barrel. He purchased this bolt-action army rifle for $20 through the NRA back in 1958 and I recall clearly the day his rifle arrived at our house. The rifle had be dipped in hot grease, and then wrapped with gaze by the manufacturer, an apparent standard used by the US Army to keep these WII vintage rifles in pristine condition. Actually, he received two rifles, one for himself and one for me. He had the barrel turned and the receiver cut down on his rifle, but pretty much left my rifle the way it came, with its original wood stock. I still have both of these rifles and use them every hunting season. There can surely be nothing more prized to a hunter, than the rifle his father used to hunt big game. This 30-06 rifle embodied a lifetime of father-son hunting memories for me. So it was with great passion, when I told my Native American moose-hunting guide James, "I want to kill a moose with my father's rifle" He simply nodded, but I sensed he understood and appreciated the significance of my comment.Another "Living the Dream" Article by David G. Duncan
Two Monster Bull Moose in the Denali ParkIt was in the summer of 2004, when my wife and I headed to Alaska, pulling a 17-foot utility trailer setup for camping, behind our GMC Suburban truck. It was a do-it-yourself rig, but I was very proud of all the innovations I had built into the trailer to make our two-month vacation traveling in Alaska an enjoyable adventure. I told my wife, "I want to capture the spirit of the old time pioneers that first braved the Alcan Hwy." Being the adventurous wife she is, she supported me whole-heartedly. There have only been few occasions, during my life, that I have felt the spirit of the wild talking to me. Each of these times, a strong and clear feeling or premonition, about an upcoming event, had calmly settled over me . The photo above, of the two monster moose taken in the Denali National Park, came about as a result of one of these magic moments. I have real difficulty explaining it, other than I believe the spirit of the wild can speak to us, if we listen closely. On this day in mid August I had completed a 160-mile long round-trip bus tour into the Denali Park. I had wanted, in the worst way, to see some moose. I did see eleven grizzly bears, several big horned sheep and caribou, but no moose. I had left the park headquarters on the first bus to leave on a tour that day. When the later buses caught up to us at the turn-around point, I took the opportunity to quiz the passengers, on whether they had seen any moose. Almost immediately, I learned a monster bull moose had been seen near mile 16. It just so happens, you can drive your personal vehicle a short distance into the park and mile 16 was just before the point where private transportation is restricted. So, that evening, my wife and I parked at an overview near mile 16, in hopes of seeing the bull moose. Over the course of several hours, we saw beaver swimming in a nearby pond and a cow moose silhouetted against the skyline as she walked along a distant ridgeline, but no bull moose. As darkness began to approach at about 10 PM, my wife grew increasingly impatient; especially since there had been no new visits stopping at this overview for at least the pass hour, she waited to leave. In response, I pointed across the valley, just beyond the beaver pond and told her, "Keep your binoculars pointed toward that heavily wooded ravine, because that is where a bull moose will appear" It was with a feeling of calm certainty, that I spoke these words, not just wishful thinking. So when, right on-que, two monster bull moose slowly walked out of the ravine, I was not in the least bit surprised. I do wish now, I had had a proper telephoto lens to capture these magnificent animals. Watching them, we could easily estimate the spread of their antlers at seven foot, just by comparing their antler spread, to the distance from the ground to the top of their shoulder ( 7 ft.).
Outfitter Pete Koser and his familyShortly after our trip into Denali National Park, my wife flew back to Michigan from Whitehorse. Now on my own, I boarded a turbo-charged 1,000 hp Otter, on floats, to fly to one of Koser Outfitter's five hunting camps. Their five hunting base camps are strategically spread out over their hunting concession, which totals over 10,000 square miles. They hunt a different camp each year, which ensures there will be plenty of mature bull moose to be harvested, when they return to hunt after a five years absence. The camp I would be hunting out of was on a beautiful lake teaming with Grayling. This base is located near the South Macmillan River system and approximately 150 miles north of Whitehorse.
An aerial view of base camp.It takes the outfitter three days and two nights to travel by horse from the closest town of Ross River in late July. They packed in supplies with a string 30 packhorses. The outfitter's family and all the hunting guides would remain at base camp until late September.
Terry, our young horse wrangler.It was the day follow our arrival at the Box Canyon camp, that I was able to harvest a trophy 58 inch bull. James did not want to spend any more time than necessary in the company of this large party of hunters camped at the Box Canyon. So early the next morning, we headed south over the mountain to a valley that feeds into a lake call Poison Lake. The first photo in this article is a view of our camp at upper end of this valley. It took us half a day to travel from the Box Canyon camp to the Poison Valley camp. After doing a quick set up of our spike camp, James prepared a lunch by cutting thick slices of ham and cheese to fit between slices of home made bread the outfitter's wife had provide us. (In the course of a hunting season Mrs. Koser baked over 400 loafs of bread) We each devoured these Dagwood sized sandwiches in a fashion that would have put a hungry mountain man who had just finished wrestling a grizzly to shame. The only other firearm in our party, besides my Dad's 30-06, was the 30-30 lever action rifle that James carried. It was his practice, to leave his rifle with Terry, so he could protect himself from a possible attach from a rutting bull moose. We said goodbye to Terry and James and I mounted up to head down the valley on a mid afternoon hunt. We only traveled about a mile, when we spotted a bull flashing his well-rubbed antler in the sunlight. He stood at the edge of the tree line, at the foot of the mountains on right side of the valley. We gave him a good looking over through the binoculars and James estimated the bull to be 55 inches. I had told James, after seeing five bull moose on the first day, I wanted a bull with at least a 60-inch spread. So, we continue to ride down the valley and after a short ways encounter a couple of cow moose making their way through brush that reached the height of our horse's shoulders. Stopping on a high knoll, in the middle of the valley, we began glassing the valley down toward Poison Lake. It was only a minute before James said, "Look down there. See that bull moose racking his antler on a small tree" It took me quite a while to find what his experience eyes had found, but finally I got the bull fixed in my binoculars. The bull must have been a good three-miles away! I told James, "He looks like a nice bull and must be at least 60 inches, if his rack stands out so well from that far away" James gave a series of cow moose calls and we both watched to see if the bull would respond. It was amazing to see him raise his head and start moving in our direction. It was a sure indication that we had his full attention. We mounted up and rode about half the distance toward him and tied our horse up out of sight. Then we sat down on the side of a knoll to watch the unfolding drama. James instructed me, by pointing 200 yard down the valley at a small pine tree saying, "When the bull gets to that tree you can shot him" I had my rifle setup on shooting sticks and racked a shell into the chamber. Just before the bull reached the pine tree, he made an abrupt turn and disappear behind a knoll that blocked our view in front of us. It seems like forever, as we waited for our next glimpse of this bull. We both imaged the bull might sudden top the knoll in front of us and stand a mere 40 yards away. Finally, I caught sight of just the top of this rack, as he walked along a game trail below us and to our right. James grouched behind me, immediately exclaimed, "Stand up! Stand up and shoot him!" I know I hesitated for a few seconds, for fear that standing up would spook the bull, but as ordered I stood up to make the off hand shot. I had a full view of the entire bull once I stood up and he immediately stopped to give me a broadside shot at 80 yard. He stood motionlessly, staring directly at us. I place the crosshairs of my scope on his chest, just behind his shoulder and fired. He lurched ahead about three steps and stopped. I racked three more shells into the chamber in rapid succession, with each of these 180-grain A-Frame bullets finding their mark in the side of his chest. My rifle was empty and I was digging for more shells, when James yelled, "Stop shooting he is going down" At that moment the bull turned sharply to his left to head back in the direction he had come, only to crash in a heap after a few steps. James pounded me on my back and excited exclaimed, "You got your moose with your Dad's rifle" Yes, I was on cloud nine and shaking with excitement. We quickly made our way down to the bull, with our horse and to my total surprise James dug a satellite phone out of his saddlebag and asked me, "Do you want to call anyone?" I said, "Sure, I will give my wife a call" It was the twenty second of September, a date I will always remember, as the date my biggest "Living the Dream" moment became a reality.