There’s nothing wrong with hunting rabbits, squirrels and other small game. But few hunters drift off to sleep at night dreaming of these critters. It’s big game that quickens the pulse and inspires the imagination. And you can’t talk about big game without mentioning moose. Standing nearly 7 feet high at the shoulder and weighing as much as 1,500 pounds, moose are one of the largest animals pursued by hunters anywhere. And moose hunting in Alaska adds all of the challenges that make for a dream trip. To give you the edge, here are some essential moose hunting Alaska tips and gear.
Despite being elusive creatures that typically inhabit remote lands, moose have a very large range that stretches from the Pacific Ocean, all the way across Canada and portions of the US to the Atlantic Ocean. This swath of North America aligns closely with the range of the boreal forest—the primary habitat of moose. But while they can be found in many states and provinces, moose are probably most abundant and accessible in Alaska. This lures hunters from all over the world to the state’s snowy slopes.
Many hunters—particularly those hailing from outside the state—prefer to rely on the services of a hunting guide when trying to harvest their first moose. This is the easiest way to find one of these elusive animals, as professional guides often understand the movements and behavior of these creatures intimately.
However, other hunters head off into the woods without the help of a guide. A DIY Alaska moose hunt can be extremely rewarding, but you will need to have confidence in your skills and gear. While experienced hunters often have success while hunting without a guide, novices are unlikely to harvest a bull this way unless they have a considerable amount of skill and a good bit of luck too. Moose hunting Alaska will push you to your limits. It’s a good idea to know what you can handle before taking on this challenge.
By nature, moose hunting is a gear-intensive pursuit. Because moose hunts often occur over several days, your moose hunting gear will include your rifle or bow and optics, plus everything necessary to hike and camp. This includes a tent, sleeping bag, camp stove and water purifier. But you’ll also need to make sure you are dressed appropriately for the conditions and quarry.
Temperatures are obviously cold in the Alaskan wilderness, so you’ll want to invest in high-quality hunting clothing. Moose are incredibly wary animals, so it is extremely important that you choose outerwear that provides effective camouflage as well as comfort. Fortunately, NOMAD has plenty of options that will help you remain warm, quiet and out-of-sight as you glimpse the moose of a lifetime through your binoculars.
And that leads us to our next point. You’ll need a great pair of binoculars to locate the moose amid the vast Alaskan wilderness. Most hunters find 8 x 32 glasses to be ideal, but feel free to use a magnification level that feels best for you.
If you choose to hunt with a rifle, shot placement and bullet construction are as important as caliber choice. Whether you choose a flat-shooting magnum cartridge or a big bore cartridge like the .45-70, being able to accurately make the shot when it presents itself is the most important feature in choosing a rifle for big game hunting. A fine shooting rifle and a well-constructed bullet are important tools needed for a successful moose hunt.
Some hunters also have success while using a bow. Note, however, that this method requires skill and patience to draw the animals in close enough for a high-percentage shot.
Of course, you’ll have to find your quarry before you get the chance to test your skills with a bow or rifle. And this is one of the most challenging aspects of hunting these shy animals. Moose hunting strategies include scouting the area beforehand, soliciting tips from other hunters and glassing from high vantage points. But even experienced moose hunters can go days without seeing a moose.
And finding a moose does not necessarily mean you’ll get to take a shot. You will often spot these animals at distances of several hundred yards. Getting into comfortable shooting range may require you to creep for miles to keep the wind in a favorable position.
It is also important to consider the number of moose you find, as you’ll have the best success concentrating on bachelor bulls, who are traveling without a harem of cows. Bulls tend to remain in denser cover when accompanied by cows, and they are also easier to spook, thanks to the additional eyes, nostrils and ears that may detect your presence.
Once you’ve identified your target and slipped into a good firing position, most hunters like to draw the bull in closer by using some type of call. There are as many different moose calls as there are hunters, but most are either designed to imitate the vocalizations of moose or to sound like a bull scraping his antlers against a tree.
Alaska’s big game is an incredibly important part of the state’s economy, culture and recreation. Accordingly, strict laws and regulations are employed to help protect and manage their moose populations. Fines and penalties for running afoul of the rules are severe, so you’ll want to be sure to stay on the right side of the law.
Alaskan residents over 17 years of age must obtain a hunting license to legally pursue moose in Alaska, but a big game tag is not required. Additionally, you’ll need to follow the appropriate schedules and rules in effect in the Game Management Unit (GMS) in which you are hunting.
However, rules for those who do not live in the state are slightly more restrictive than they are for residents. For example, non-resident hunters must obtain a license if they are 10 years of age or older—and a big game tag is required. Additionally, the fees associated with non-resident Alaskan moose hunting licenses and tags are much more expensive than they are for residents.
Whether you’re planning an Alaskan moose hunting trip or something equally adventurous, you’ll need the gear to keep you cool, calm, and under the radar. From high performance base layers to high quality hunting jackets and more, Nomad offers a full range of clothing to help hunters gain the edge they need. Shop today!