Nothing quite rivals the site of a moose in the wild, huge and gangly, head often raised over its forage, strings of vegetation hanging from massive antlers. The moose is the most sought after big game animal in Alaska. Over 7,000 are taken each year from a population of approximately 175,000.
Licenses, big game tags, duck stamps and hunting permits are available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Wildlife Conservation and are obtainable online. Purchase ahead of time and bring them with you. Licenses are good from the date of purchase through December 31 of the license year. Big game tags are necessary for nonresidents if you plan to hunt brown/grizzly bear, black bear, bison, caribou, deer, elk, goat, moose, bull musk ox, sheep, wolf or wolverine.
Alaska is divided up into 26 Game Management Units (GMUs). Each unit has separate regulations and sets its own hunting seasons. A map of these units and the regulations pertaining to them can be found on the web at http://Wildlife.Alaska.gov. Click on the GMU of interest and a document defining the seasons will open. A complete copy of the Alaska Hunting Regulations can also be downloaded at the ADF&G site.
Alaska moose season generally runs from as early as the 1st of September until as late as the 20th of September, depending on the hunting unit. Legal horn size varies between units, but has been for the most part a 50 inch spread or 4 brow tines. Check the regulations of the unit you are interested in hunting for more information.
* Mature bulls can weight over 1500 lbs. A kill can yield 400 to 700 pounds of meat and 65 pounds of antlers to transport from the kill-site. Seasoned hunters recommend never taking a moose more than a mile from your vehicle.
* A properly sighted rifle of adequate caliber and a well-placed first shot from a good rest is the best way to avoid having to trail a wounded moose. A rifle capable of shooting a bullet of 150 grains or greater at 2500 fps or more is adequate for moose. A lung shot is the best shot for dropped a moose quickly.
* Some moose are migratory; some are permanent residents of an area. Any one area may have several sub-populations with varying migratory habits.
* Hunt very early or very late in the day.
* Moose have excellent sight and smell. Avoid being visible in silhouette, such as on a ridge. Avoid noisy clothing, such as jeans. Fleece clothing is quieter. Stay downwind.
* Successful hunting is knowing where bull moose will be in the fall season.
How To Find a Moose
Moose are found throughout Alaska, except on the Aleutian Islands. They prefer forested or shrubby habitats and generally avoid the openness of the tundra. They are most commonly found in southeastern or interior Alaska and their density can range from 1 moose per 30 square miles to 5 or more moose per square mile.
Their favorite habitats by season are:
Summer – commonly seen in open meadows and around water eating aquatic plants and drinking large amounts of water.
Fall – Diets change late august to early September to include woody browse of willow, aspen, poplar and birch. Migratory moose move to fall ranges for the rut.
Winter – remain in rut areas and feed on low shrubs early winter. Late winter, mountain moose move to valley bottoms and lowland burns where they forage on willows along rivers and creeks.
Spring – Diet shifts back to herbaceous plants and leaves. Migratory moose move to calving areas and summer ranges.
How To Scout for Moose
Scout in summer and hunt legal bulls on the opening day of the season.
Scout after the end of the fall season. Bull moose tend to stay near rutting areas for a month or two following the rut. Once you locate a fall concentration area, hunt there the next year as late in the legal season as possible.
Find and utilize fall migration routes. Rivers, creeks and low mountain passes are preferred routes.
Keep alert for rubbed trees. Early in September, Bull moose begin rubbing the velvet from their antlers. They continue to thrash trees in late September as a sign of dominance.
Watch for droppings. Summer droppings resemble cow patties; winter droppings are pelletized. Fall droppings are a combination of the two.
Stand Hunting and Glassing – Select a panoramic view of a hillside. Don’t scan with binoculars. Pick a spot, search it carefully, then move to a new area. Listen early and late for antler clashes, mating grunts or breaking branches.
Floating – Floating down rivers and creek in a canoe is the most pleasant way to hunt for moose. Plus, you have a method of getting the meat back without carrying it on your back.
Road and Trail Hunting – Cruising the highways with trucks or four wheelers. Mostly, an unsuccessful and expensive method. Park vehicles and hike in.
Calling Moose – The four basic sounds made with megaphones made from birch bark, cardboard or a milk jug.
* 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
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