Moose hunting in Northern Alaska

Hunting means a lot more than harvesting an animal.  It means getting out, sleeping on the ground, seeing the country, no cell phone noise, and so on. So you go to seek out an animal but you see much more than that.  I don’t hunt for trophies or see hunting that way.  It’s food.  It means not buying protein at the store. Straight from the land and I know where it comes from.  Alaska provides enough for a person to essentially live a subsistence lifestyle.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge …Gail Norton, Secretary of Interior, called it, “a flat white nothingness;” Alaska Senator Ted Stevens described it as “empty… ugly…a barren…frozen wasteland.”  As we glass for moose and caribou, a pack of ten wolves comes into view.  Sitting behind the spotting scope in this photo I see them barking and playing off on the distant bluff.  Yes, they are way out of photo range but still fun to watch this small pack with 4 pups.  Just south of here on our first look we saw a large boar grizzly bear lumbering through the willows on a gravel bar of the Sagavanirktok River

This is a glimpse of the Dalton Hwy and pipeline along the Sag River. More photos of the road trip here.

Pump Station 3.  This is one of eleven stations that move crude from Alaska’s North Slope 800 miles to the Port of Valdez.  Read more about the pipeline here. Not a pretty picture but interesting to see the interface between industry and the tundra.

Here the pipeline arises out of the ground several miles from pump station three. We were scouting some bull caribou in this area.

If you saw the previous post you saw this muskox.  We saw it daily on our trip about 100 yards off the road. These are the animals noted on our first day 10 wolves, 1 muskox, dozens of caribou, 3 cow and 1 bull moose, gyrafalcon,peregrine falcon, northern harriers, short-eared owls, American tree sparrow, redpolls, and ravens.  That’s a pretty cool list. (Edit:I just remembered all the shrikes…I saw one pull on the tail feathers of a narrowly escaping tree sparrow.)

The third morning we spotted a bull moose early on.  We watched him, tried to call him in, but finally settled in Luke sitting and watching near where we had last seen the bull. A goshawk hunted along side us the entire day.

I don’t hunt for trophies or see hunting that way.  It’s food.  It means not buying protein at the store. Straight from the land and I know where it comes from.  Alaska provides enough for a person to essentially live a subsistence lifestyle.

I wish I had a picture of this moose while it was wandering around but we didn’t exactly want to blow the shot with a photo shoot.  He was big boy.  Lots of food for the three of us.

The next morning we went back to get the rest of the moose.  We worked until midnight butchering and carrying one load out.  The next day was clear and crisp. nicest day of the trip.  Are you still here or was Luke’s glory shot enough?

The celebratory dinner.  Fresh moose and red wine.  What a fun day.  BTW- our tent, the Arctic Oven, is a double walled tent with a small stove in it.  Very comfy.  Wimpy and not ashamed we are.

We slept in and packed up the next morning for the long drive home. The adventure didn’t end there.

  ….we saw this flock of sheep, all ewes and lambs, at the base of Atigun pass.  You can see them also in a little movie I made.

Look out Montana, we got big sky country too!

This stretch of the hwy above is known as Beaver Slide.  Only certain sections of the road are paved and the parts that are not are pretty greasy when it rains.  The Slide is scary when its wet or icy.  You can see the dust plumes from the trucks climbing the hill.

Here is another shot of the Yukon River bridge.  Not sure why I needed to put a picture of a bridge in here but I can say the Yukon has a special place in my heart as I paddled its entire length about 15 years ago and have harvest many, many pounds of King Salmon from its waters.  Delicious.

The mighty Yukon River.

This is about halfway between the Yukon and Fairbanks. Nice fall.

Making burger for the winter cache.  No processed factory meat for me this year.

That about wraps it up.  A great trip in every way.  Wildlife, great weather, and good company.  Now its back to the grind (work). Cheers and thanks for reading to the end.

Thanks for visiting.  Share our posts with your friends! Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and share us on your favorite social network below. Safe travels always!!

93 thoughts on “Moose hunting in Northern Alaska

    • I have always laughed at them but they do hold the power. I began laughing while counting King and Common Eiders for my Master’s degree. I saw hundreds of Bowhead whales, hundreds of beluga whales, seals, polar bears, and over a half a million migrating birds. An ecological wasteland indeed.

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  1. Love this post! Lucky you with your unprocessed meat- made me laugh. Thanks for dropping by my blog by the way! I think Alaska is fascinating and it would definitely be a place a I’d like to visit. I just went to Norway this summer and there were lots of cross-references to Alaska in the polar museums and landscapes we visited since many Arctic explorers, whom the Norwegians are proud of, also lived in Alaska due the similarities in conditions. Too bad we did not get the chance to go to Svalbard and see (or hunt for that matter) large mammals though. Have you been to Norway? Take care! Will be back to check things out.

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    • Thanks Melissa. Factory processed meat is not funny. Just kidding, I am glad that made you laugh! I see you are in Praha. I want to get there in the next few years with my brother. Your pictures inspire. I have not been to Norway yet but one day maybe. Right now I still like the stark differences in landscapes and cultures outside of the north and will probably keep on that track for a few more years. Do you speak any other languages? See you soon.

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  2. Great photos and story! What does moose taste like? It looks like beef. Also, I didn’t know you could get an insulated tent with a warming stove in it. Wonderful! Wish I could visit so many places, including Alaska!

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    • Every moose tastes a bit different. I would say it is the least flavorful of the large mammals I have eaten. Sheep and caribou are tastier. Again, though, age and season can effect flavor. One thing about game is that it i lean protein. I like that and knowing it was not ground up in a massive factory.

      Those Arctic Ovens are sooooo nice. Its as comfortable as a living room, well, depending on taste. Take care!

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  3. Wow. the photo of the moose is impressive to say that least. I visited friend in Northern Sweden where it is hard to find meat for sale in the supermarket as everyone kills and hunts their own. I had a lovely moose and juniper meal whilst I was there. No moose as it was in the midst of winter, but did track, see and later taste freshly hunted reindeer. Interesting blog.

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  4. Sounds amazing. I’m hoping to live in Canada in a year or so (I’m Aussie) and was DEFINITELY going to schedule in some Alaska time, you’ve inspired me to follow through with that!
    One quick question: is having a stove in your tent safe? I’d heard it can burn the zips and possibly leave you trapped inside. Myth?

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    • This tent is designed and comes with small wood burning stove. In tents not designed for it I would say it is less safe. I do have a friend who has a new lightweight stove design to modify regular tents. If he brings then to market I will surely post about them here….Why are you going to live in Canada? It seems like it would be a nice place to live. A little more laid back than the ole USA. Look forward to hearing from you. Cheers

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  5. Great post and photos!
    My grandfather, father and brother are all hunters. Growing up in Canada, I learned how to shoot a pellet and BB gun at the age of six 🙂 and I’m a girl.
    My brother still hunts and he often uses a bow and arrow. I am not crazy for the taste of moose or venison but I admire his skill and devotion. He makes really good venison salami though.
    Here in Italy we have wild boar. It is very tasty. Our house is in a protected wildlife area so the boar are not supposed to be hunted except by the authorities because there are so many of them! They tear up ancient walls digging for food 😦
    I’m jealous about the falcon sighting, I have a fixation for owls and falcons and want to take a course one day. Alaska is also on my bucket list.
    Keep warm and well, ciao, Leah

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    • Hi Leah, I did not grow up hunting at all and never took to it until moving to Alaska. The moose taken in this post was also taken with a bow by the guy in the photos. You can tell your brother it was a 62″ bull. We did not do anything special with the moose this year but normally I like to make sausage and some other delights. It is a lot of time to butcher that huge animal even with 3 people working all the time for a few days. Now about your pigs. Interesting how regulation works, you have a protected nuisance! I bet those are delicious and would make great sausage and things. Thanks for the nice note. MAybe we can meet for coffee when I finally ride my bike through Italy. Take care!

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  6. I’ve eaten moose –and elk –and caribou –and thought they were all very good. I grew up eating venison and the occasional squirrel pot pie or rabbit casserole. The cardio docs love it when you tell them that because their philosophy is “if it runs, it’s good.” My particular claim to fame is that I once cooked an errant rattlesnake. (dusted him with a little Shake’ n ‘Bake and he tasted just like chicken!) Thanks for sharing the insider’s look of your adventures with us grocery shoppers! Mitchell Kyd

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  7. Hi Michael,
    Your photos brought back memories of growing up in Kodiak….my Dad was a bush pilot there in the 50’s and 60’s – we ate a lot of moose, venison, salmon, king crab and salmon…. Thanks for liking my blog! 🙂

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  8. Great photos! I sure miss that fresh salmon and picking berries. We had the opportunity to eat moose, caribou and elk, as well as venison. Nothing like it in the world. I lived in Southeast for 8 years. Everyone should experience Alaska during their lifetime. And thanks for the follow. Sure appreciate it.

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  9. Love Alaska! I have traveled there three times and plan to get back to parts I haven’t been to before..beautiful place. Thanks for sharing. It reminded me of photos that my husband and son-in-law took on an elk hunt in Wyoming..

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  10. I found your Alaskan hunt photos and journal very interesting. My father and brothers hunted through Northeastern Ontario for many years and I had many close encounters with moose in the bush there myself with neither gun nor camera. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Happy to shareI think most of my encounters have been without gun or camera. Now as I get busier and busier I find that much of my outdoor time winds up being on a hunt. I have not been to NW Ontario but I imagine it is very beautiful and maybe there is a Neil Young song playing in the background. Do you go back there often?

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  11. That’s for checking out my latest blog. I think you were mentioned in it. Bottom line, we and our companions are all brothers and sisters. We care enough to struggle a bit to get out there in the last of of our wilderness. And around the campfire we tell the stories of the great beasts and the unsurpassed beauty of the rugged terrain, all the while painting the cave walls of our minds so that others can go there too.

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    • You bet. I love that spirit. I think people need to spend more time outside. I know my time outside is less and less all the time. I just talk about it it online!

      I think it is interesting also how the lack of hunting pressure from humans is increasing deer population sizes. The real information gets lost so often and the people are spoon fed by their favorite interest group. I think that is one of the big reasons I left wildlife studies behind. The sheer extremes, left and right, both lying.

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  12. Nice article – long time since I was there, but it sure brings back good memories. Love the place as it’s one of thoses WYSIWYG environments – “What you see is what you get” – love it! Thanks for posting and your Like to my little site too.

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      • Sorry so long to reply. First saw Alaska on a Denali/Fairbanks/Glaciers/cruise thing as folks do. Liked it so much we extended and had look at Katmai Nat Park for Brown Bears – also checked out Lake Clark. Spent a few weeks in all – great Country!

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      • Sounds great. Good idea going to Katmai, I am sure it was worth it the minute you were so close to those bears. That is one of the highlights of tours I ave guided. Ah um, well I have yet to make it to Lake Clark but hope to one day. Have you seen “One Man’s Wilderness” about Dick Proenneke? If not, you must. Cheers

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  13. What an awesome hunt and trip. I loved the pics and wish I could have been there to see all the wildlife. Not much like that in Virginia. My husband has always wanted to go to Alaska and hope some day he will. Hope you are ready for winter!

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  14. Reblogged this on thisoldtoad and commented:
    You take me back too when my father, would tell me about all his stories about Moose Hunting. You brought back that familiar taste of game. God rest his soul! Thank You!
    *
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    toad

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    • Hmmm, well every moose is different and it NEVER tastes like chicken. Sex and age are the biggest factors. The moose we have, old male. No fat and chewy. We are actually going to grind more up bc even the prime steaks are a bit tough. The first successful moose hunting trip I was on we got a yearling. The entire thing was like tenderloin. So delish!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sounds good! I’ve never tried moose, but have tried kangaroo (lean like rabbit, but tastes like venison), crocodile (very… rich), ostrich (like good steak, really) and springbok, which is probably one of the nicest steaks I’ve ever had. Oddly, I think of myself as mostly vegetarian but, when I travel, I do like to sample the local delicacies! When in Alaska… the moose should probably beware 🙂

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      • I have not had croc or roo but have had deer, sheep, moose, lynx, polar/black/ and brown bear, bearded seal, spotted seal, Bowhead whale, Grey whale, Beluga whale,grasshoppers, and a very small creature in Cambodia. Maybe a rat. Let me know when you are coming and I will thaw some steaks.

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  26. What great photos and what sounds like a fabulous trip. It is hard to capture the stark beauty of the north slope in photos, but you’ve done a great job with these.

    I spent some time there when I was working (oil industry). I remember imagining a green expanse and was shocked to see how wrong my expectations were. It looked more like a moonscape in many places! But so beautiful and wild.

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  27. Your photos are brilliant, amazing colours,… a real inspiration to visit Alaska, I’ve been up to Svalbard and N Norway and these remind me of those places, as does the amazing life-style you lead which fits the environment. I teach about the tundra to my Geography classes here in my school near London in the UK and your pics, (if I may use them?) are spot on – pipeline, animals, people and everything! One question my students WILL ask is about hunting. In the UK no one hunts for food. There is no tradition and no wildlife resource available to do so. Native red deer populations in N Scotland are culled, not primarily for food, but due to over-population and over-grazing caused by the absence of any natural predators. There is also plenty of fishing and shooting but I think most would agree these are mainly for sporting purposes here rather than for food on the table. So I would guess that most people in the UK (and Europe?) would not initially understand the need to shoot a moose. There was a vociferous debate in the UK about the need to hunt foxes (with hounds) and there is great controversy now over the need to cull badgers (linked with spread of TB to cattle). So you can see we are not a population at ease with hunting or killing wild animals in the UK. Indeed, I’m afraid many of my urbanite students would probably recoil in horror at your pic of the moose because they would not initially understand the context. So we have some learning to do… ! This blog post will help. Can I ask if hunting is controlled in Alaska and are moose populations healthy enough to allow unrestricted / sustainable hunting? I understand the Gwich’in hunt caribou so presumably they can hunt other animals freely too? There are lots of questions I’d love to ask … I’ll have to leave these to when I visit! all the best and thanks so much for this blog, it is a real window into your fascinating world and an education for those of us who live in such different parts of the planet.

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    • I responded to this a while ago but it seems it did not go through. You can use whatever you would like from my blog for educational purposes. There is no unrestricted hunting. Hunts are managed for sustainability and thus far it seems pretty good here. Though I have never had my own photo taken with an animal I shot, I ask you to ask your students who recoil at the image if they know where their meat came from. I know where mine comes from and its not a farm. I grew up an anti hunting hippie. Now I am a hippie hunter. You never know where life will lead you.

      Take care

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      • Sorry to miss previous reply; many thanks for your reply to my question, a very helpful response. I respect your way of life and the decisions you make regarding hunting and wildlife in Alaska. I am sure you consider these issues more carefully than most of us living in entirely urban settings. The food chain through supermarkets is most certainly morally questionable and, as you say, few of us think about it, so your message is clear and will stimulate some great discussions in class. Sincere thanks again, and I look forward to seeing more of you amazing posts.

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      • That’s great. You can tell them that I come from the same background growing up in the suburbs of New York. If there is one valuable lesson I have learned in life it is that if you are going to follow, do your own research and make sure you know what you are following. I could ramble on an on about that.

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  28. Good post but I was wondering iif you could write a litte more on this topic?

    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.
    Many thanks!

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