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Outdoor Safety In Alaska, #2: The Moose, The Bear, The Safety!

OK…this is the second post of two about the Alaskan hunting trip a buddy of mine went on with some of his family. 

As they worked their way around the tundra, they saw tons of animals out there in the middle of nowhere.  How amazing it must have been.  From a red fox, to many game birds, they tracked the moose from here to there and everywhere.  For such a enormous creature, the Alaskan moose is very illusive.  With an attitude of, “I own this place” many of the moose in Alaska just work their way around the area, feeding, lounging and being what they are.   I have seen a couple of moose in Utah, and they always look like a horse at first glance.  Tall, dark, and handsome, this majestic creature is challenged by few.  Man is their worst enemy, and rightly so. 

I asked Brett what were some of the safety measures they used while on the hunt and what were the major concerns out there?  Well, humans are not the concern out there, its really about the wildlife.  The Alaskan Brown Bear, what we call the “Grizzly” down here in the main land, is all over the area and will actually take a moose here and there.  So imagine what an easy kill a human would be for a bear. 

I asked about sleeping arrangements, traveling, technology and so on.  Here are some of the things Brett mentioned to me: 

1. Safety on the Hunt – Scanning for bears is the main thing.  Having a good pair of binoculars and enough people to keep the eyes moving around all the time.  Once again, we find, as well as in the concealed carry industry, Awareness is number one. 

2.  Technology – Besides the becons they used, the ones I mentioned in the first blog post, they also used walkie-talkies, with at least a 5 miles coverage. Usually that means on a flat area, but it will also depend on the quality of the gear.  Good flashlights were a must, as well as having many spare batteries in the camp. 

3.  Supplies – Rain Gear, (2 pairs in case one gets wet, keeping dry is a must) Waiters, (besided the regular rain gear, for going through streams)  GPS, (2 of these as well, just in case) Batteries, (lots of extras) Beacons, Knives, Ammo, Bug Repelant, Headlamps, Water, Food, (they used MRE’s mostly) Dry Clothes, (as one of the crew didn’t have waiters, and almost got hypothermia) 4 wheelers, (easy for travel and packing the meat back to camp).

These are just some of the basics, but most important stuff for safety that Brett mentioned.  They were on “bear watch” all night as well.  Someone, or two people, always stayed up and watched for bears.  The problem with being out in the tundra…is that there isn’t anything to build fires with.  Having lights and lanterns with lots of extra batteries is essential for the trip.  I won’t go into the beacon technology again, but I was amazed at how cool and life-saving the stuff is now a days.

OK…so there was the moose…they had finally tracked it to a location a couple of hundred yards away.  Working their way to a better shooting spot, they settled in for the reality of the hunt.  With congrats and hugs all around, they got up and went to get their Alaskan moose.  What we would call a “record moose” is an average take for the people of Alaska.  Personally, I find that simply astounding!

Since the moose was in some brush and such, and being on a small hill, their first directive was to get into a safe position.  Bear sign was everywhere, so the moose being the only kill that afternoon, was important to all of them. 

Posting someone on the highest vantage point, armed with a rifle and binocs, the others decided to make quick work of the moose.  Unable to really take their time, they had to leave some meat out in the tundra, mostly due to hurried skinning and such.  Luckily, the work was done in a couple of hours and now, as Brett said, the real work began.  Since they were near a stream, the one they had to cross to get to the moose, the one that put one of their group in a near state of hypothermia, (no waiters…bummer)  they began to rig a rope-pulley across the water to the 4 wheelers.  As the meat was cut and sectioned, one person would take it to the river and attach it to the rig to cross the water.  This was done for a long time until all of the meat was finally loaded onto the 4 wheelers.  The whole time, they had a watchman on the highest point, close enough to sound the alarm in case the big “grizz” decided to come and investigate.  Awareness, once again, the key point of the hunt.  Supplies, smarts, equipment, and having someone experienced with them, were all essential to the success of their amazing adventure.

Brett said, “It was like Yellowstone with a gun, the only difference is that we could shoot alot of it.” 

Happy to be home and showing the photos of such an amazing adventure, I have to thank Brett Michaelis for the interview time and the advice on learning opportunity when it comes to outdoor safety and personal preparedness. 

I hope this can give some of you out there a good look into ideas and safety measures for your next hunt in the great outdoors.  Love it, live it, learn from it!

Damon Thueson

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