3 Types of Moose Hunts

AlaskaHunter

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There are 3 basic types of moose hunts in Alaska: ridgetop, floating, lake hunts.
Ridgetop:
Ridgetop has several advantages:
1) Typically you do not move much, same camp night after night.
2) You can glass much more country, looking for that flash of white antler down in the spruce and willows.
3) Firmer ground makes for easier packing.
The farthest I've packed a bull was 3 miles and that was a ridgetop hunt.
4) Typically cool windy weather so meat is cool and dry.
5) Mixed bag opportunities, for example one hunter with a moose tag, the other a caribou tag. Bears in blueberry patches.
6) Calling from the same locations every day may help draw in bulls from great distances

There are several disadvantages of a ridgetop hunt:
1) You may see a bull miles away and decide to go after him, leading to a long heavy pack.
That bull I shot at 3 miles I ended up packing 3.5 days, a total ~50 miles, half with 60 pounds on my back.
2) These hunts are often transported by super cub which is more expensive, for example another
$1100 for each moose in addition to the $3000 to fly in/out for each hunter.
50 pound limit on gear per hunter, unless you want to pay more $$$ for an extra trip.
With the 50 pound limit, for us typically a small backpack style camp.
3) Sometimes have to drop down substantially to get water if its been a dry summer.

Floating:
Floating has several advantages:
1) Bigger plane on floats so often the entire party is transported in one trip.
2) Easier pack as typically the bull is shot in the river corridor, close to the raft or boat.
3) With a raft/boat much more hauling capacity so a more luxury camp is possible.
4) It is possible to do a DYI float along the road system in Alaska.
5) Abundant firewood along most river systems. No problem getting drinking water.

There several disadvantages to floating:
1) Limited visibility with tall willow along the riparian corridor.
2) The need to move every day to get to the pickup spot on time.
3) With the need to move, long 2-day calling sessions are not the norm
4) If you shoot a bull early, that means keeping the meat dry and loading/unloading 600 pounds every day on/off the raft.
5) Shooting a bull near water sometimes means a dead bull in the water.
We always have waders, 2 jet sleds, at least 1 rope come-along and 200 feet of rope.
A dead bull in ten feet of water can be winched to shallower water and then dealt with.

Lake based hunts:
Advantages:
1) Bigger plane on floats so often the entire party is transported in one trip (therefore less expensive)
2) Calling from the same locations day after day may draw in bulls from a great distance

Disadvantages:
1) You pretty much stuck to one camp spot for the hunt
2) If a private party lands on the lake, competition.
3) Flat terrain sometimes makes it difficult to glass great distances.
4) A bull in the water with no boat/raft can be a logistic challenge.
 

kwyeewyk

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4) If you shoot a bull early, that means keeping the meat dry and loading/unloading 600 pounds every day on/off the raft
Was wondering about this, would you attempt to hang the meat each day or anything to keep from bears or just keep it away from camp? Guessing some places might be hard to hang bear proof?

Lots of good info here thanks for sharing.
 

Akcabin

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I can add my experiences. I'm in south central AK so different terrain. Except the float. You forgot about what happens when you're too overloaded n sink.
Anyhows we have mixed birch old growth to tundra bog. More lowlands. Early morning is on stand doing moose calls. Lots of folks take a break but I usually still hunt through the transition seam between muskkeg n forest. Looking for signs of bull. Or finding where the cows are. How much i call depends on the sign im reading.
I try to move around a bit and call. I do have a few spots with ground blinds that I try to call from frequently, my thoughts are that it can take a while sometimes for a bull to come in.
Evening is spent sitting in my favorite ground blind overlooking a small pond. I do enjoy staying there after dark on evenings when there is some moon light. It becomes a different place n the players are all out. Its a great experience for me , if you haven't it is a nice way to see your surroundings.
I have been hunting in the mountains, ridge riding, thought I was going to die. But nice to have moose, caribou, mountain grizzly and more. And had a moose fall into the Big Su. I had to haul the entire moose to the dump. By the next day it was literally green. Rotten. My suspect is all the bacteria in the Big Su from rotting salmon n such.
Thanks for starting this thread, I'm always interested in learning more.
 

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ThunderNocked

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North Pole, Alaska
I've done a couple Ridge Top Hunts now - they are nice but definitely a lot of climbing. Its been too hot so the bulls weren't responding to calling. We saw them but couldn't get them in.
I've spent the last two years in different areas moving around each day. on quads - don't think I'm as big of a fan of that. Last year was all borrowed gear so this year hoping to figure out how to do it all on my own again and try to do more sitting/calling.
 

AlaskaHunter

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Was wondering about this, would you attempt to hang the meat each day or anything to keep from bears or just keep it away from camp? Guessing some places might be hard to hang bear proof?

Lots of good info here thanks for sharing.
Quarters are usually too heavy to hang bear-proof. Usually camp is at least 100 yards away.
Cool and dry is the key, so off the raft and hung in the shade. Switch out meat bags if the meat does not crust over.
A tarp to shade over the meat, but allow cool air flow.
If its early in the trip, we spray with vinegar before bagging each quarter.
Also use a big meat pole as we have had a couple crash in the middle of the night from too much weight.
MeatPoleSept2020.JPG
 

AlaskaHunter

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I can add my experiences. I'm in south central AK so different terrain. Except the float. You forgot about what happens when you're too overloaded n sink.
Anyhows we have mixed birch old growth to tundra bog. More lowlands. Early morning is on stand doing moose calls. Lots of folks take a break but I usually still hunt through the transition seam between muskkeg n forest. Looking for signs of bull. Or finding where the cows are. How much i call depends on the sign im reading.
I try to move around a bit and call. I do have a few spots with ground blinds that I try to call from frequently, my thoughts are that it can take a while sometimes for a bull to come in.
Evening is spent sitting in my favorite ground blind overlooking a small pond. I do enjoy staying there after dark on evenings when there is some moon light. It becomes a different place n the players are all out. Its a great experience for me , if you haven't it is a nice way to see your surroundings.
I have been hunting in the mountains, ridge riding, thought I was going to die. But nice to have moose, caribou, mountain grizzly and more. And had a moose fall into the Big Su. I had to haul the entire moose to the dump. By the next day it was literally green. Rotten. My suspect is all the bacteria in the Big Su from rotting salmon n such.
Thanks for starting this thread, I'm always interested in learning more.
Wow! The Big Su is a big glacial river..tough spot to loose a bull to.

I am a believer in the 2-3 day calling routine from the same location:
https://alaskaremote.com/my-3-day-strategy-for-moose-hunting-success

Another potential disadvantage with ridgetop hunts is in dry years, sometimes having to drop down into the bottom
to filter water. I guess that could be an advantage because packing water back up slope
is good exercise, but it takes time away from glassing.
 

Falcon75

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There several disadvantages to floating:
5) Shooting a bull near water sometimes means a dead bull in the water.
We always have waders, 2 jet sleds, at least 1 rope come-along and 200 feet of rope.
A dead bull in ten feet of water can be winched to shallower water and then dealt with.
Really good post. A bull dead in the water is no joke. Next time I go I will have a come-along. We shot one and it ran into water and than swam. Rowed to it and tied paracord to antler as it was sinking. Used a rachet strap to get it out of water all night. Alaskahunter has lots of wisdom here in how to be prepared.
 

Akcabin

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Yeah I spotted the bull with a cow n calf late one evening. Crossing over some small islands in a back slew while calling. It was too dark to shoot so my buddy Rambo n me headed out early next morning. We caught them crossing a braid in the river. Rambo waited until he got up the 6' cut bank then busted him. The moose fell backwards into the river. Down the cutbank n stood up. I took the riverboat across while Rambo watched the bull. I walked down the gametrail to the standing moose threw a rope around his antlers n harvested him. Rambo dad was a butcher so he showed me lots. He skinned that moose underwater. And as stated its glacier fed so silty grey you can't see an inch under the surface.
We lost that moose but spent a month in the woods. All good man
 

BearFoot

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While I hunt ridge top and lakes, a good number of bulls, have been taken in tree stands, in the woods. Moose are where you find them. In high density moose areas, a stand is very effective. When No animals appear while sitting, I slow stalk the areas where they tend to bed. Moose jump when you are close and will run a little bit and turn back to see whats up. It has put meat in the freezer a number of times.
 

Akcabin

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I'm kinda with BearFoot on this thought. Moose don't disappear. After sunrise go still hunting n I tend to call all day from different spots. If it's not dry. Light rain is perfect.
I do spend a lot of time just sitting on the deck of our cabin n doing calls. It's already in a great spot and kinda comfortable.
2 years back our daughter n me flew out for a few days. I had to return home and was surprised to see our son on the plane. The 2 of them had planned out for him to fly out so the 2 of them could put up firewood for the winter n clean up the cabin so I didn't have to. When they got back to the cabin there was a mid 40s bull standing next to the generator shed slash meat locker.
 

Akcabin

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While I hunt ridge top and lakes, a good number of bulls, have been taken in tree stands, in the woods. Moose are where you find them. In high density moose areas, a stand is very effective. When No animals appear while sitting, I slow stalk the areas where they tend to bed. Moose jump when you are close and will run a little bit and turn back to see whats up. It has put meat in the freezer a number of times.
Around our area of old growth the transition line between the muskkeg, black spruce n old growth. They can lay down in the ferns n poke their heads up to peak. We've harvested them in their bed. There's usually a game trail to follow. 1B4CA75F-86FE-47BB-BD26-1B7606663F41.jpeg
Notice the chaga on the birch tree near the top left. If you haven't tried foraging the new fiddle head fern heads that are growing under the plant you may want to dig one up n try them. Kinda bitter but little fern heads.
 

tdoubled

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Alaska moose is on my bucket list. This was a helpful summary of different approaches to doing a hunt. Thanks for sharing.
 

MITCHMO

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Lake Michigan
I did a ridge top hunt and loved it. Dry, good vantage point, no bugs, and lots of moose. Your points are spot on though Alaskahunter.
 

AlaskaHunter

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Bull moose have amazing ability to pinpoint locate a calling location.
Big bulls also sometimes try to circle around to scent the caller. So I usually call with that in mind.
I like a "water routine" sloshing with waders to sound like a cow, pour water like a urinating cow,
a four-note cow call, wait, slosh, a four-note cow call, then up to my glassing location.
Glass looking for a flash of white antler, part of the horizontal back, etc. not the whole bull.
If the wind is out of the west, I would glass from A, call at the arrow.
Otherwise, glass from B and call with a water routine at the arrow.
Calling_Locations.JPG
Bow hunter Alex Guthro has an excellent 6-hour DVD on moose hunting tactics:
https://moosemadnessproductions.com/moose-madness-series-content/
Bow hunting it is helpful to have a caller in back and the archer up front as the bull responds to calling.
 

OntarioHunter

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There is a fourth method. I cruise the bush till I find a fresh track in the snow and follow it. Hunting them that way can be very challenging. Moose are primarily solitary animals. If they hear something coming on their tracks, they are usually gone. And almost never stop! They'll even eat on the run if being followed. I suspect it's because we have a healthy wolf population with nothing else to eat but moose. The key is stealth and the right clothes that don't make noise. I shot two different bulls in their sleep, one less than twenty yards in doghair alder. There was a cow standing next to him and brush was so thick I couldn't see her. Another time I tracked a moose into a choke cherry grove where it was feeding. Turned out to be a cow that eventually walked by me so close I could almost read the numbers on the biologist tag in her ear. A helluva lot more rewarding than tricking a horny moose into showing itself by calling it in with a megaphone.
 

AlaskaHunter

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There is a fourth method. I cruise the bush till I find a fresh track in the snow and follow it. Hunting them that way can be very challenging. Moose are primarily solitary animals. If they hear something coming on their tracks, they are usually gone. And almost never stop! They'll even eat on the run if being followed. I suspect it's because we have a healthy wolf population with nothing else to eat but moose. The key is stealth and the right clothes that don't make noise. I shot two different bulls in their sleep, one less than twenty yards in doghair alder. There was a cow standing next to him and brush was so thick I couldn't see her. Another time I tracked a moose into a choke cherry grove where it was feeding. Turned out to be a cow that eventually walked by me so close I could almost read the numbers on the biologist tag in her ear. A helluva lot more rewarding than tricking a horny moose into showing itself by calling it in with a megaphone.
Sounds like you are quite the still-hunter! That would be a very rewarding accomplishment.
We rarely have snow during the legal season and tracking likely would be an cow or non-legal bull.
I our units the only legal bull is spike-fork and 50+ inches/4 brow tines so most bulls and cows are not legal and it can take 2 weeks of sorting thru bulls to find a legal one. In 30-years I've only seen 2 spike forks in our area.
 

Zootownelk

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Great info- Bucket-list trip for me as well. I think I'd lean towards ridge top if I were going now.
 

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