Finding an excellent moose hunting area is done through reconnaissance, sometimes to an extensive and exhausting degree. My brother Jared and I have spent the last three years in a moose hot spot and in reality could probably hunt there for several more years. Our obsession with new adventure however has had us doing recon runs into a completely different and untouched terrain!
We’ve been hunting a lowland where the swamps meet the hills but this new place is where the trees meet the tundra and the tundra to the rocks.
In the way of this dreamland was over 20 miles of dense black spruce and a thick under story of alder in the big timber. Below you see Jared starring at yet another wall of alders and a deadfall spruce.
Total number of hours brushing in is over 40! From sweltering heat to heavy rains we banged around in the brush trying to gain access. The first time we ran in together but the last three 70 mile round trips I have done alone. On the third trip in I finally reached the area we were interested in hunting and within a few minutes of glassing I spotted a mid 50 inch bull with 3 cows, a good sign! During the run I did last week I was able to set eyes on 3 excellent bulls, a couple cows, and a monster caribou! This was what I needed to see to know that coming back in here would be worth the sweat and blood. I was excited to be cruising country that no one else had been in.
There’s a bull in the center of that photo, one day I’ll get a real camera and stop using my phone.
Not all news was good on this last run however. At mile 27 my trailer tire got a 1 inch cut in the sidewall and I couldn’t get it to plug. I unloaded everything that I’d really need and stacked it on the XMR and continued on for another day leaving the trailer behind.
Number one and most obvious sign that no one has been there, moose and caribou sheds are EVERYWHERE! No hunter in their right mind will leave sheds behind! I was like the crazy squirrel on the movie Ice Age, running to each antler, picking it up, hugging it, and then burying it! Not really burying them but I did find so many that I had to find a secret place to stash them!
Number two sign, though above tree line on extensive plains and ridges, it’s all to rough with rocks and tussocks for an airplane to land! From a far it looks smooth and grassy but once your on it the terrain is brutal. I could rarely go over 4 mph without bouncing myself right off the wheeler.
Number three sign, no navigable water nearby. Other hunters wouldn’t be able to boat in and then hike up! Actually a hunter could hike in but it would take weeks to pack a moose out.
When your running recon for a new moose spot here’s the 4 major things that I consider:
Pressure: Pay close attention to ground that is 3-5 miles away from high hunting pressure. Moose will often move away from the heavy traffic areas for a little relief be it wheeler and truck traffic or boat. I’ve been hunting only 4 miles from the road that wheelers run up and down all day long and no one has a clue I’m there!
Browse: Look for a place with good willow or a very young boreal forest. You’ll find excellent browse in burns 5-12 years old. Older than 12 years and the stuff is just to thick and is much to tall to see over. Here’s a good resource for finding a burn to hunt, fire.ak.blm.gov Click on ‘maps’ then on ‘fire history’. Over on the right hand side where it says ‘2014 fires’ hit ‘click to change’. Change the year back 5-10 years or so and click ‘update fire display’. Zoom in on the map to where ever you are interested in. My hot spot is also within a burn! Doesn’t have to be a giant fire, even as small as 50 acres will provide good browse! I’ve heard a few times that bulls wont eat preceding the rut, well perhaps some don’t but I have seen with my own eyes bulls eating during this time. Besides, the cows they are after will be eating so browse is important to find.
Water: It doesn’t take much but they are going to need something. A wet wallow, a creek, even a little spring bubbling up works. I’ve never shot a moose more than a half mile from a water source.
Access: If you want a good selection of moose you want a low to no selection of people! See what I’m saying?! Go the extra mile to make sure you are hunting ALONE. The trail sucks, so what. There is no trail and you’ll have to pack meat back out, awesome, starting packing. Find that nook, seek out that cranny and bring out that stellar moose! There are those who succeed and tell magnificent stories and there are those who wilt at the first obstacle and tell how they ’could have.’ What ever, I rarely buy a ’could have’ story. More like ‘should have’, make 2015 your year, stake your claim!! Remember the Ethos Motto, Sweat a lot, bleed a little, and cry if you must.
With that said, we’re down to one month before opening day on moose! Have you done enough recon to ensure your freezer will be full this winter? Are you going to stomp the nay sayers and doubters?! Go do it, don’t fail this year! And if you do fail let it not be because of your lack of effort. Also, this years Adventure Kryptek giveaway will not be based on width but on ‘total number of brow tines!’ I’ll have the prize picked out soon and will get back to you just before season!