Moose are the most sought after big game animal in Alaska. Heavy bodies and long-legged, with a drooping nose, moose are the largest members of the deer family. They range in color from golden brown to almost black, depending upon the season and the age of the animal. Full-grown males (bulls) stand almost 6 ft (1.8 m) tall at the shoulder, and males in prime condition weigh from 1,200 to 1,600 lbs (542 –725 kg). Adult females are somewhat smaller and weigh 800 to 1,300 lbs (364 – 591 kg). A 1,600-lb (726-kg) moose will dress out at about 950 lbs (431 kg), yielding approximately 500 lbs (227 kg) of meat.
Only bull moose have antlers. The largest moose antlers in North America come from Alaska, the Yukon Territory, and the Northwest Territories of Canada. Trophy class bulls are found throughout Alaska, but the largest come from the western portion of the state. Moose occasionally produce trophy-size antlers when they are 6 or 7 years old, with the largest antlers grown at approximately 10 – 12 years of age. In the wild, moose rarely live more than 16 years.
During fall and winter, moose consume large quantities of willow, birch, and aspen twigs. In some areas, moose actually establish a "hedge" or browse line 6 to 8 ft (1.8 – 2.4 m) above the ground by clipping most of the terminal shoots of favored food species. Spring is the time of grazing as well as browsing. Moose eat a variety of foods, particularly sedges, equisetum (horsetail), pond weeds, and grasses. During summer, moose feed on vegetation in shallow ponds, forbs, and the leaves of birch, willow, and aspen.
Hunting Tips - The Hunt
Going out to “get a moose” is a fall ritual for tens of thousands of Alaskans. For beginning moose hunters, the most important thing to keep in mind is that moose are huge. PLEASE check with your guide/outfitter what equipment you will need to bring and also refer to our Gear Clecklist, Believe me, it will help save your trophy and emense headaches.
When choosing an area to hunt and a means of transportation, remember that you will have about 400 to 700 lbs of meat and up to 65 lbs of antlers to transport from the kill site to home. That's why many seasoned Alaskan moose hunters say “never kill a moose more than a mile from a vehicle of some sort.” The reason is that you will have 7 to 9 heavy backpacks of meat to carry and will have to walk several round trips between the moose and your vehicle—half of that with well over 50 lbs on your back.
The key to good moose hunting is knowing where bull moose will be during the fall hunting season. Many new moose hunters confine their scouting trips to summer months. However, many moose hunters are disappointed come fall when bull moose cannot be found on summer ranges where they were abundant in July or August.
No matter where you are scouting, keep alert for rubbed trees. Bull moose begin rubbing in early September to clean velvet off their antlers. Later in September they continue thrashing trees as a display of dominance. Such sign, even from the previous fall, indicates that bull moose use an area during the fall hunting season.
Droppings are another sign of fall range use. In summer they resemble cow patties—in winter, pellets. In fall, droppings appear as partially loose patties and partially pelletized. This reflects the seasonal change in diet from leafy to woody forage
Moose have good senses of smell, hearing and eyesight to help protect them against their natural predators—humans, wolves and bears.
To avoid detection by moose, paying close attention to wind direction is, perhaps, of greatest importance. When “still hunting” or stalking, hunting with the wind in your face will be more productive than hunting with the wind at your back. Doing the latter carries your scent ahead of you toward your quarry.
When “still hunting” or stalking, using wool or synthetic fleece clothes will cause you to be quieter than clothes made of hard finished cotton or polyester. Jeans can be quite noisy. So can 60-40 cotton/polyester windbreakers and similar fabrics.
When glassing for moose, avoid sitting on skylines or out in open areas. Sit below skylines and near stumps or trees to break your outline. Moose can see and react to you from at least as far away as a quarter mile.
Hunting Tips - Techniques
No matter what technique you choose, hunt very early and very late in the day; this is when bull moose are most active. Eat breakfast before sunup and dinner after sundown and maximize your hunting during prime times
Stand Hunting/Glassing – When hunting in the mountains, select a spot with a good panoramic view of the hillside you are on, as well as the sides of other hills across drainages. Look for movement, dark shapes or white spots in your field of view. Seldom will you have a clear view of a whole moose. Most often you will just see a head, antler flash, or a part of a moose's body amid thick vegetation. Listen carefully early and late in the day for antler clashes, mating grunts or breaking branches which should alert you to the presence of a bull. Use a high quality pair of binoculars and a spotting scope on a tripod.
Floating – Floating silently down rivers and creeks in a raft or a canoe is a very pleasant way to hunt moose. The object is to float quietly around a bend and see a bull eating willows on a gravel bar, drinking, or walking on a riverside trail. Good maps or aerial photos reveal side sloughs, meadows and ponds to stop and look over.
Road and Trail Hunting – Each fall hundreds of moose hunters can be found cruising Alaska's highways in trucks or trail systems with four-wheelers, hoping to see a bull alongside the road or trail. Most of these “cruisers” are unsuccessful at taking a moose and spend a great deal on gasoline. Instead, use roads and trails to get into good hunting country but then park your vehicle until you need it to haul meat.
Calling Moose – Whether you glass in the mountains, stalk on foot or drift in a boat, moose calling can help you to locate and even attract a bull moose. Many hunters use a combination of four basic sounds:
* Antler scraping on trees and shrubs in early September
* Pre-rut bull “gluck” in early September
* Bull challenge, or “mu-wah” in mid-September
*Cow call, a nasal melodic whine, late in September
Some hunters make a megaphone of birch, cardboard or plastic to direct, project and add resonance to their mouth calls. To mimic a bull's antler scraping, you can use a yearling antler, the brow palm from a mature bull, a shoulder blade or an empty plastic milk jug.
In early September before the rut, bulls tend to group up but are not yet fighting. Antler scrapes on brush and soft “glucks,” a nonthreatening bull call, work well. Bulls may either come in to you slowly or respond by antler scrapes of their own. If a bull responds but won't come in, you must go to the bull, scraping lightly on brush as you approach from downwind. He will think you are just another bull coming in to socialize.
In mid-September, usually after the 10th and often not until at least the 17th, mature bulls become more aggressive toward each other. Their antlers are hardened and testosterone levels are increasing as the rutting time approaches. Antler scraping and “gluck” calls still work, but a full, powerful bull challenge can be especially effective. The sound is a deep “mu-wah” from deep in your belly, issued three or four times in succession. Make sure you hear bulls in the area challenging each other before you use the challenge call so that you don't intimidate them and run them off.
A bull with cows a long way off will usually not leave the cows to come to you, so you go to him, scraping and challenging. When you get close, he may charge, so be ready. A bull without cows of his own is more likely to come to your call, thinking you may be a bull with cows. Spend at least a half hour at a calling place, because bulls can be called in from over a quarter mile away.
Late in the month, cow calls can be used to attract lone bulls without cows, and many hunters use the cow call exclusively with good success. North American cow moose have evolved to be more vocal than European moose. This is an adaptation to ensure that bulls and cows get together during the short rut, given the extremely low densities of some moose populations here. The call is a melodic, nasal “mo-ooo-ah” which starts high, goes low, and ends high.
Hunting Tips - Shot placement
Before a hunter takes a shot, it is his or her responsibility to be sure they can make a clean and accurate shot, so use a weapon you can shoot accurately.
Heart & Double Lung Shot
Alaskan game animals will quickly die when both lungs and/or heart are hit by a bullet or arrow. The best shot placement is when the animal is broadside to the hunter or slightly facing away. A heart-lung shot from either position will likely puncture both lungs.
Hunting Tips - Where
Moose are found through-out the state of Alaska except on the Aleutian Islands. they occur in suitable habitat from the Stikine River of Southeast Alaska to the Colville River on the Arctic Slope. They are most abundant in recently burned areas that contain willow and birch shrubs, on timberline plateaus, and along the major rivers of Southcentral and Interior Alaska.
Refer back to Alaska Hunting for the map of hunting units. Each unit will give specific information about the area, bag limits and more.
Hunting Tips - Summery
This is not a substitute for the Alaska Hunting Regulations. For more complete infomation read the regulations and the permit hunt supplements. They are available at Alaska Department of Fish & Game offices and establishments that sell hunting licenses and tags. Always Check the Alaska Hunting & Trapping Emergency Orders before planning to hunt an area or species as restrictions may apply. Click Here - For more information on hunting Alaska Moose Click Here - For information on permits for Drawing hunts, Regrestration hunts, or General Season hunts
* Bows, Firearms, Cartridge, and Ammunition for Hunting Alaska:
The rifle you bring hunting should be one with which you are comfortable. many hunters have been convinced that a .300, .338, .375, or .416 magnum is needed for personal protection and to take large Alaska game. This is simply not true.
1.Rifle/handgun: State regulations require that rifles and handguns must fire a 200-grain or larger bullet, which retains at least 2000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. A .30-06 with a 220-grain bullet is about the minimal weapon that meets this specification. Please do not bring your favorite firearm and expect to use it if it does not meet the above criteria.
2.Muzzleloader: Muzzle-loading rifles must be .54 caliber or larger, or at least .45 caliber with a 250-grain or larger elongated slug. Further, for safety reasons, those hunting with muzzleloaders must also have within easy reach a smokeless powder rifle meeting the centerfire rifle requirements listed above.
3.Bow: Longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows are permitted, but they must have a peak draw weight of 50 pounds or more. Arrows must be at least 20 inches in overall length, and tipped with unbarbed, fixed or replaceable-blade type broadheads. Arrow and broadhead together must weigh at least 300 grains total weight. As with hunters using muzzleloaders, ADF&G strongly recommends that bowhunters have a rifle close at hand.
* If you are planning on packing out moose meat, caribou meat, or a brown bear hide weighing hundreds of pounds, you can carry a 9- to 11-pound rifle including scope. A rifle of this weight in .300 or .338 magnum can be mastered with a lot of practice.
SUMMERY: You can’t go wrong with a stainless steel bolt-action rifle chambered for a standard cartridge that you are comfortable with and can shoot accurately, loaded with a high quality bullet