- Category: Moose
- Published: Friday, 16 October 2009 21:10
- Written by Greg
Alaska Yukon Moose Hunt
As I hung up the phone with Jim, my hunt of a lifetime was booked with Jim Shockey's Rogue River Outfitters! I’d been watching hunting videos for years, but this particular episode of Jim Shockey taking a gigantic Yukon moose sealed the deal.
It all came together 2 years ago. I’d always dreamed of hunting moose and after watching countless hunting shows, I knew that booking a hunt with Jim Shockey was the way to go. My son would graduate high school in 2009, so what better way to celebrate his graduation than to book a hunt for that very year.
Since I was a kid, my dad and I always talked about going on a hunt like the one I had just booked, but it never materialized. I knew that if I didn’t just make it happen that there would be a good chance my son and I would never have the opportunity to go. Needless to say, we not only went…we scored big time!
Believe it or not, the 2 years of waiting didn’t seem all that long. Between all of the high school sports, various other family activities, local hunting trips and the process of slowly accumulating gear, September 2009 was upon us.
On September 15th, we left Utah on our 2 week adventure to the Yukon! Since neither Dallas nor I had ever been to Canada, we didn’t know exactly what to expect as we arrived in Whitehorse. Looking out the window of the plane as we approached the airport was spectacular to say the least. The high alpine lakes, surrounded by the pine covered mountains, along with the golden birch and aspen trees made for a perfect picture. Our excitement was building as we knew that we would soon head into the remote bush of the Yukon.
View from plane, Yukon
Our first evening was spent over dinner with Jim B. and a group of hunters who had just come out of the bush. Their stories added to the suspense of what the next week would bring.
The next day our journey continued as we piled into Jim’s truck and headed for Mayo. Along for the ride were three other hunters from Texas. Dallas and I enjoyed swapping stories and getting to know Andy, Keith and John. The scenic trip began on the Alaska Hwy, continued along the Klondike Hwy until we reached the small town of Mayo. Along the way we saw three fox, one big bull elk (right along side the road) and best of all, a huge black wolf that slowly crossed the road right in front of us!
Loading the Otter on Stewart River, Mayo, Yukon All alone at Murray Lake...
The float plane was waiting for us when we reached Mayo. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the cabin, threw our gear onto the Otter and away we went! I probably took way to much video of us taking off on the Stewart River, flying over the remote terrain and landing on lake, but it was exciting! An hour after we took off, we arrived at our destination, Murray Lake near Mt. Joy. Since the law prohibits hunting within 6 hours of flying, we spent the next 6+ hours getting to know our guide Scott and our cameraman Steve. Scott didn’t waste any time breaking us in…he whipped up a fantastic lunch…toasted ham and cheese sandwiches!
The 6 hour waiting period was finally over…with a couple of hours of daylight left, we hopped into the boat and headed out on the lake. We hadn’t been on the water for 10 minutes when we spotted our first bull moose of the hunt! We got a great look at the 45 inch bull and continued on our way. After seeing another cow feeding along the shoreline of the lake, we arrived at the end of the lake. We got out of the boat, climbed a small hill and Scott started calling. Within a few moments, Scott’s calls were answered by a bull. After a few more minutes of calling, a small bull emerged from the trees less than 100 yards away, raking the brush with his antlers and grunting back at us. What a rush!
We were about half way up the lake, heading back to camp when we spotted a big bull step out onto the shoreline. He looked to be limping. He continued into the water and started swimming right across the lake. The bull was approximately 40 yards from the shore when suddenly a wolf appeared on the bank, right where the bull had stepped out! The pure white wolf was not alone. The pack of wolves contained another pure white wolf, two pitch black wolves and one gray wolf! They had to be hunting the injured moose.
The bull continued his swim across the lake. He was not only headed straight for a small island, but he was also on a collision course with us. We slowed the boat and waited for him to reach the island. As he emerged from the water, we could see that he had a great rack! After looking him over real good, we decided to pass on the 55 inch bull. At that point, we headed for the wolves. Believe it or not, they were still scouring the shoreline. Now if they just hang around long enough for us to get a shot…
As we approached the shore we got a good look at the entire pack, but 100 yards was as close as we got before the wolves slowly slipped into the brush and disappeared. What a night, three bull moose, one cow moose and five wolves! Not to mention a huge steak and potatoes dinner with sautéed mushrooms and vegetables.
View from our camp looking down the lake...
Morning came quickly. However, we didn’t have to get up much before daylight since one of the benefits of hunting in the remote wilderness of the Yukon is that the hunting starts as soon as you pop your head out of your sleeping bag. Dawn was just breaking over the Yukon as once again the purr of the boat engine propelled us down the lake. We glassed and called. A few hours had passed and we hadn’t seen or heard an animal. Hmm, where were the animals from the night before? We’d motored all the way down the lake and were now back within 100 yards of the island where we had seen the big 55 inch bull when Scott said “I think I saw a moose”. We spent the next 20 minutes drifting in the boat, glassing the hillside. Nothing. The light mist that now fell, combined with the cold fall breeze made glassing miserable. Without the advantage of knowing (or should I say thinking) an animal was on the hillside, the rest of us had mostly given up the search. How long would Scott continue to glass before he gave up? Apparently a few more minutes because that is when he spotted the bull. And what a spot it was! At 1000 yards, one paddle of the bull moose was barely visible through the trees.
In order to get a better look at the bull, we headed toward the shore. Once on land, it still took another 5 minutes before we all got a glimpse of that one visible palm. Sure enough…a bull moose was in fact bedded down a little over half a mile away.
The stalk would be difficult…and fingers crossed…possible. The lay of the land would not allow us to see the bull until we were right on top of him. We really didn’t have any idea of the size of the bull we were dealing with. The only way we’d know his size would be to put a stalk on the bull. We picked out a few land marks and headed for the bull.
Everything worked out perfectly. As we neared a small rise, we guessed that the bull would be just over the other side. We were right. There was the bull at 80 yards. And to our surprise, he was a giant!
Look at those paddles...!
As we positioned ourselves for the video camera, the bull heard us and stood up. Perfect…he was broadside and didn’t seem too concerned. Off-hand was the only shot I had and luckily he was so close that shooting from this position wasn’t an issue. One shot from my .340 Weatherby and I had a 65 inch Alaska/Yukon moose!
Packing out our Alaska/Yukon moose!
The rest of the trip was an absolute blast! We spent the rest of our days catching big lake trout and feasting on moose tenderloin daily.
1 of 30 lake trout we caught that day!
We weren't lucky enough to bag a caribou, grizzly bear or wolf...but we did enjoy the spectacular scenery that each day brought!
Spectacular sunset on a high alpine Yukon lake
Antler spread almost as tall as me...