Being the youngest in the family has its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage when it comes to hunting in our family is the oldest usually gets the first opportunity to harvest each of the different species. Nathan knew his turn would come and took it in stride, always happy for his siblings. He was the last one to take a black bear, next to last for caribou but now it was his turn for moose.
It’s September 2013 and another family moose hunt. It was Sagen, Thor, Jens, Nathan and me hunting in our old favorite area. The trip in was one of the best, not a single problem. So much can go wrong with the four wheelers on our wilderness expeditions. About six miles in we set up the camp at our regular site. We had a wall tent and two sleeping tents. Almost like home!
The first couple of days were spent about five miles up the creek drainage spotting and doing some moose calling from our favorite creek-side spotting bank. Having no luck there, on day three we moved further up the creek to another good spotting area. It didn’t take long until we spotted some caribou a couple of miles further up the creek on the hillside. We had a caribou tag so we took the four wheelers up as far as we could and stashed them by the creek bank. We got out the 45 power Leopold spotting scope to check out the size of their antlers. Nathan had already killed a nice caribou when he was eleven so we were looking for something larger. The largest one was definitely a shooter. We had already closed the distance to little less than a mile so we made our plans for the final stalk. The wind was in our favor and we had patches of willows and alder between us and the caribou which gave us good cover. Thor and Jens stayed back and watched so they could signal us if the caribou moved. We took off and it didn’t take us long to get about 200 yards from the caribou. After Nathan got set-up, and with a slow squeeze of the trigger the .257 Roberts Ackley Improved 120 grain Nolser Partition bullets did their job. After all the high fiving was over we made our way over to the caribou. It was an impressive caribou with beautiful tops, scoring 386 B&C points.
Thor and Jens watched the stalk and after the caribou went down they made their way over to help out with the pack. The more the merrier when it comes to packing a moose or caribou. Once back to the four wheelers, we strapped on the meat and started our long ten mile ride back to camp.
Nathan and Jens were riding ahead of us and about a mile up from camp as they came around a bend in the trail; Nathan spotted a moose in the creek bed. He showed Jens and they jumped off the four wheelers and waited for us to catch up. We were quickly losing light so Thor and Jens grabbed their rifles, slipped through the alder and the next thing we knew Jens had a 44” bull moose down. The moose fell in the creek so we had our work cut out for us. After taking a few pictures we decided we needed to take the caribou meat back to camp and eat supper before coming back to butcher the moose. We used headlamps and the lights from the four wheelers to see what we were doing. Butchering a moose in the creek is challenging enough but doing so in the dark just added another level of difficulty. We were able to use the winches on the four wheelers to pull the moose out of the creek, which helped. All in all it went well and we made it back to camp around 2 AM. We hung all of the meat on the meat poles and called it a night.
The next morning we slept in and later that day the boys cleaned all the meat and junk off the skull plates of the moose and caribou.
Two days later we were way back up the creek at our second spotting bank. Around mid-day Sagen spotted a moose on the hillside in front of us. It wasn’t a big moose but since we had an any bull tag we decided that Sagen, Nathan and I would go for him. Thor and Jens again would stay back to signal us if we had problems locating the moose. It was at least a mile from the creek and about 500 feet up on the hillside. Knowing the tundra was going to be soft I voiced my opinion that it may be too far of a pack. Sagen and Thor assured me that Thor could get his “Yamaha Grizzly” four wheeler up the forty-foot creek bank and would make it most of the way up to the moose. I was not convinced but told them I was only going to do one load off the mountain. After going through the small brush sinking 3 to 6 inches in the tundra I knew for sure I wasn’t going to like the pack.
As we were getting closer to the moose we turned to look back toward the creek and we could see Jen’s coming after us. At first we thought he was just going to join us for the stalk but he yelled for us to wait. He told us his dad had spotted a bigger moose about a half-mile to our right in a small drainage. There were a couple of mounds that stuck out from the mountain itself and with the wind in our face we climbed about a hundred foot up one of them so we could see into the small drainage. The moose was eating in the willows and was with a cow. His antler spread looked to be close to 50” and again Nathan could shoot any bull. I used my Leica 800 range finder and discovered he was 265 yards at about a 30 degree angle. My custom .300 Winchester Magnum was sighted in for 200 yards so I told Nathan to hold on the top of the moose’s shoulder. You could hear the thump of the 180 grain Nolser Partition bullet on his first shot. It took two more hits to put the moose down. The massive bodies of moose can take a lot of lead before they hit the ground. We were all pretty excited for Nathan who now has a giant caribou and his first moose. Not a bad hunt for a 14 year old. We made our way down the hill through the willows and alder to the kill. It was really a nice moose with a 46” spread. That was the second largest of the five moose the kids had taken in this area.
Now for the work! All I could do was think about packing this guy off the mountain. At 69 packing a 100 pound quarter through the willows and down through the mushy tundra for a mile and a half was not high on my list of things to do. I knew that it wasn’t going to be fun. As we were skinning, every now and then I would hear a faint sound in the distance which sounded like a four wheeler coming up the mountain. About 45 minutes into the butchering the noise got louder and all of a sudden less than a hundred yards appeared Thor on his old “Yamaha Grizzly 600.” I couldn’t believe he made it!! I would have bet anyone money that he couldn’t do it. I told everyone I would kiss him if he made it, but I reneged. I felt like it when he rolled over the five foot high willows stopping beside the moose. I was saved from what I had remembered in the past to be very painful. It was looking like it was going to be one of my hardest packs but turned out to be one of my easiest of all time. I didn’t have anything extra and I was walking down the hill. We did however have a little excitement on the last part of getting off the creek bank. The front tire of thee four wheeler got lodged sideways and it took all of us and the winch to get it loose.
On our way back to camp that evening we checked Jens’ moose carcass in the creek bed. It had been dragged out by a grizzly. There were still some bones left with a little meat on them so we decided to return at dusk and sit on the hill above the kill and see if the bear would come back. It was a great set-up if he came back before dark. Everyone was pretty excited since none of the kids had killed a grizzly. As the light was fading so were the prospects of seeing the bear. Finally it was too dark to shoot so it was time to head out. As we were leaving we spotted a dark shadow coming off the hill on the opposite side of the creek. It was the bear but the light was gone so killing a grizzly wasn’t going to happen on this hunt. With that we headed for camp.
What a wonderful trip for Nathan and Jens. Overall it was a blast!! More precious memories with my family. God is good!
Nathan currently has his own YouTube channel that he calls an Alaskan/Gaming channel. He did a Q & A interview with me which is posted on my site in videos. If you are interested you can also click the link below to get to his channel.