Yukon moose take more effort than imaginable; here's the first part of a two part story about a particular guided hunt with Remington Country Outfitters.
Ronnie Lambrich, Remington Country Pro Staffer, had always wanted to kill a giant moose for many years. He is an accomplished whitetail, turkey, and elk hunter, with many exceptional trophies on the wall at his home in Madison, Virginia.
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However, he still had dreams of hunting a giant Yukon moose.
When Ronnie called us asking to help him select and secure the best outfitter to hunt for giant moose, we immediately thought of Katmi Guide Service and well-known and legendary outfitter and guide Joe Klutsch.
Joe has been the business for over 40 years and is a legend when it comes to big game hunting. He is recognized for his skills at hunting everything from brown bear to Yukon moose.
Little did we know just how challenging Mother Nature was going to make this hunt; in the end the hard work and preparation paid of with the Yukon Moose hunt Ronnie had always dreamed about.
When we got the call from our outfitter that he had an opening, Ronnie only had a few days to make up his mind and get his gear ready. At that same time, the rains had begun in Alaska, flooding rivers so that they were too dangerous to cross. The outfitter was also concerned about 100 mph winds that were keeping planes on the ground.
Ronnie was packed and ready to go, but Mother Nature had put a wait and see hold on his adventure.
As we waited for the outfitter call, it was like a count down at Cape Canaveral. The window of opportunity was closing fast.
When the final countdown began, Ronnie was packed, ticket in hand, and waiting for permission to launch. The call came, and Ronnie was on his way into the unknown.
After a long flight to King Salmon, Alaska he landed and was greeted by our Remington Country Outfitter Joe Klutsch.
Extremely high winds set in that afternoon, and as expected, there were no planes flying, large or small. After a short sightseeing trip around the area, they settled in Joe's house for the evening hoping for better weather the next day.
It was a real treat for Ronnie to get to listen to the hunting stories of such an accomplished Alaskan guide and hunter. As evening fell, Joe was kind enough to invite Ronnie to spend the night with him in his home.
Daylight brought somewhat calmer winds, but still too much for a small craft to get them to base camp. They were in an hour-by-hour holding pattern along with the pilot, waiting for any small window of opportunity.
Finally, by afternoon the pilot called and said there was enough time for him to get them to camp. They rushed to the airport, loaded all their bags and gear in the small plane, and were off.
After landing on a lava strip at the base of a volcano, they had officially arrived at base camp. But the trip wasn't over. Since weather was still threatening, their stay at base camp was only a couple hours until they got clearance to fly again, on to their next destination: spike camp.
Again they loaded gear into the Cub-style, large tired, two-seater plane that would get them to their final hunting location.
This remote wilderness camp was to be Ronnie's home for the next ten days. It would consist of a small one-man tent, with a slightly larger one for the guides. The tents were nestled into tall willows atop an old WWII landing strip between two vast flats. Across one flat were mountains and across the other side was nothing but brush as far as you could see. The old landing strip was elevated and acted as a multipurpose camping spot and spotting/glassing location for moose.
The food and living conditions were as good as you could ask for, given their location in the vast wilderness of the Yukon. Of course, all the food had to be kept in airtight, lockable containers to discourage the brown bears from coming into camp.
One thing you learn staying in a wilderness camp is how spoiled our daily lives really are. As the days wore on, it became more mentally difficult than they expected.
Clothing consisted of a mixture of warm and dry. It rained everyday. Rubber commercial fishing suits were the best chance at staying dry. Those conventional rain suits that you would wear in the lower 48? Alaska eats those for lunch.
Most days consisted of glassing from both sides of the elevated spine they were camped on. They saw Moose everyday at some distance. Most of them were two to three miles away, and they kept waiting for the right one; a moose that would be close enough to call and eventually stalk.
They had a close call on day three. A moose was traveling the base of the mountain and was going to cross the spine above them about 3/4 of a mile away.
They grabbed their packs and headed out in a hurry to intercept him. They got there about the same time he did and were able to call him in closer.
He was a beautiful animal; legal shooting size but younger than the outfitter likes to take. They did not tell Ronnie not to shoot, they only cautioned him that they thought they could do better. As luck would have it, for the moose and for Ronnie, the bull gave them the slip without a quality shot opportunity.
Part 2 can be found here.