Three for Three

By Jim Liden
Alaska, 2011, DIY, Public Land

Jim Liden - Three for ThreeAugust/September 2012 EHJ (Issue 132) - Two years ago, a friend of mine, Jason Hadley, was planning an Alaska moose hunt with some guys from work and I was invited to join the team. I convinced Jason on the merits of a remote float hunt. The amount of planning, preparation and cost of this type of Alaskan adventure quickly reduced the party to three. Along the way, we lost one of our hunting party, but we were quickly able to replace him with a longtime friend and hunting buddy of mine, Troy Jackson.

A bush plane flight into a remote hunting destination is an amazing experience. All the planning and preparation is behind you and the game is on. Once the pilot drops you off, and gets that plane back in the air, you’re truly on your own.

The weather was beautiful and the scenery spectacular. We floated a couple miles from our put-in spot and setup camp. In Alaska, you can’t hunt the same day you fly, so we had time for a little scouting, a good dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Jason and Troy spotted a bull while scouting so we floated to the general area on hunt day one, setup camp and headed out on the evening hunt. Jason and Troy climbed to a good vantage point and Jason quickly spotted a bull. Jason remained at the vantage point while Troy began a stalk. Troy wasn’t comfortable with his calling abilities so he went with a pure stalking strategy. He busted a cow out of her bed and ran with the small group until they stopped, an approach he has used successfully when spooking elk in thick cover. Apparently this convinces the animal that what spooked them was one of their own, and they settle down. Troy was able to close the distance to the bull to 70 yards. At that range he was able to determine the bull had four brow points on the left side and was legal (in this unit a legal bull must be 50-plus inches wide or have four brow points on one side). The shot rang out and we had our first Alaskan bull moose on the ground.

Troy’s bull was an old bull, as he had grey hair everywhere in his hide. The antlers turned up at almost a 90-degree angle half way across each paddle, which resulted in a spread of less than 55 inches. If the paddles had more of a normal, flatter configuration, the bull would have been well over 60 inches.

An Alaskan bull moose is a huge animal. We completed work on the bull around 12:30 a.m. and got back to camp around 1:30 a.m. We were blessed with our first experience of the Northern Lights on the hike back to camp, an amazing experience, particularly for anyone who hasn’t seen them before. We capped off the eventful day with a celebratory shot of Macallan whiskey. The whiskey shot was meaningful not just as a celebration of good friends on a remote wilderness adventure, and the success of taking a majestic bull moose, but also as a tribute to the memory of Troy’s wife’s son, Macallan, who died in a disastrous plane crash.

Jim Liden - Three for Three

For a full account of Jim's adventure, go to page 14 in the August/September 2012 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.