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I am planning to go on a Moose hunt in Alaska in two years. I intend to use a Winchester Big Bore in 444 shooting handloaded 310 gr hard lead bullets at 2005 measured fps. Is this load adequate? Do some of you experienced folks have any suggestions?

Thanks

Bill
 

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It will do the job at short to medium ranges, around 100-150 yards, that 2005fps is at the mussel right? Many shots in Alaska you have to reach-out beyond 100 yards sometime 300 yards, depends where in Alaska your hunting, If you hunting the open tundra 338/375 mag/300 mag or something like that, for the long shots, If your hunting a tree line ridge, a big boar will do fine 444/450/ 45/70 all good within there ranges max 200 yards, and thats if you have practiced this range and be able to hit mark. Talk to your guide and he will let you know what type of habitat your hunting and what cal's are preferable. You don't want to get into a situation after paying big bucks for a hunt in Alaska and have the wrong gun;) Aim small hit small. RAMbo.
 

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I have to second Rmouleart's post. I've shot moose at varying distances, but being a resident it's a little easier to pass up a longer shot. If you are traveling up here from outside and will have limited time, I would really recommend something that has a little flatter trajectory. 200-250 yard shots are not necessary in most cases (depending on where you hunt), but are not uncommon. I would not want to restrict myself to 100-150 yards if I was hunting in the interior or in western Alaska.

A 30-06 with good 180 grain bullets is fine for moose, as are the various magnums. Moose aren't that hard to kill, but it does take them a while to expire. They aren't stupid either, sometimes it's really tough to get close.

If you are looking to get a real wall hanger, say 60" or better, I'd definitely bring a rifle that is capable of 250 yard shots.
 

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Alyeska,
How far do you have to travel from Amchorage to get into good hunting territory? I'm just curious how good of hunting opportuneities the locals have.
 

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There are a few "secret spots" within a hour's drive from my home (45 miles from Anchorage). Generally speaking, most of the really good moose grounds are off the driven road. Either float trip or fly-in trips. There's a few really good areas on the Kenai, but these spots are getting more and more pressure. The area around Tustemena Lake is still good as is the Killey River drainage. Float hunts on numerous rivers around Fairbanks are good producers. Basically, if you live in or around a population center for very long and spend time outdoors hiking and camping in the summer, you'll come across a little gem of place.

Most of my areas come from work I do in the summer months. I enjoy exploring new places nearly as much as the hunt itself. Typically its a fly-in show, though, and for moose, that can get real expensive. It is more enjoyable for me to get out well away from any roads or 4 wheeler areas.

Moose don't lend themselves too well to backpack in areas from the roads. Not with the terrain and vegetation up here. It can be done, and can be done well, but it is a different world than a morning deer hunt.

To be really effective and effecient, you need access to a plane, boat, canoe, or 4 wheeler. I do enjoy the fly-in hunts that are a week or two long, the best.

I'll add a caveat to that too. I'm done shooting wall hangers. It's just way too much meat for my small family. I usually try to take a spike or forkhorn in an area where the regs allow spike, fork or 50. To really go after a wall hanger, the south side of the Brooks, or around the Revelation Mountains is a good bet. JoelB's brother has taken some really fine moose out of Council, near Nome. There are a few big moose whereever they are found, but for best bet on a real bruiser, I'd try somewhere like Lake Illiamna or Clark or up on the south side of the Brooks. A float on the Porcupine has produced some really nice ones in the past few years.

It's a big state, more than twice the size of Texas, kinda hard to pin down any one spot.
 

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Alyeska,
Thanks for the input. I've been considering moving to Anchorage. From what I can tell the job market is not too good right now. I've discussed it with my wife and she's receptive. I have nothing to tie me to the area I'm in now and pretty well hate it, having grown up in MN, the prairie is no place for me. I moved here on a job transfer about 5 years ago and the branch office dissolved. It's just something I was curious about. It would be a few years down the road one way or the other. I've looked at some areas in the mountain west but the job markets are depressed in all these areas as well and Denver is like LA in the foothills to me. I imagine it's a matter of doing what you have to.

What are the realistic opportunities for the full variety of Alaskan game? Bear, sheep, goat. I'm kind of curious if these are attainable hunts. I've heard the fishing is world class as well. I don't know if you've lived anywhere else to compare Alaska to, as far as weather and other things.
 

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The economy in Anchorage seems to be okay right now, as far as I know. If you have a skilled trade or professional degree, the market is pretty open.

As far as hunts are concerned, yeah, you can hunt brown and black bears in the Prince William Sound or Kenai Peninsula or drive up into the interior. Like I posted before, if you have access to something that will really get you off the road, you can get to some prime spots. Planes are best, or a nice boat with a cabin for sleeping. Boats need to be pretty sea worthy. You may go out on a day that looks calm, but the weather changes so fast up here that you really don't want to get caught in open water in something that can't take a big storm. Moose hunting is better on the Kenai and interior, but the Elemendorf and Fort Rich hunts bring in some big animals from time to time. There's big moose in the Copper River Basin, which is about a 3 hour drive from Anchorage, from there you can reach some good moosey areas on 4 wheeler. Same deal with caribou. A really good hunt is the southside of the Brooks for Caribou and Moose during September. If you are doing a float hunt, you really have to watch the ice, though. One day everything is nice and warm, the next the river is frozen and you are a thousand miles from anywhere. You can pick up either a black or grizzly with some luck like that also.

Sheep is a little different. Nearly everything along the roads is hunt by drawing permit, and I put in every year and have never been drawn. It's a fly out hunt for the most part, whether you hunt the Chugach, Brooks, Alaska or Wrangells. There are a couple of places that you could backpack in, but those tend to get quite a bit of pressure and ram size isn't great.

Goats can be hunted a number of ways, one of the best is to take a boat into the northeastern sound and live aboard the boat. Or do the same thing around Day Harbor out of Seward. Both have nice billies. Fly in hunts are good also, especially on the northern gulf near Cape Yakataga or Yakutat.

Deer hunting is great on the islands in the Prince William Sound, especially Hinchinbrook, Montague and Knight. Green Island holds a lot of deer, but is so dang brushy is hard to see anything. Of course, the ABC islands and Prince Wales in Southeast Alaska has good deer hunting. Probably the biggest deer are on Kodiak Island, along with the biggest bears. Afognak has some Roosevelt Elk that were transplanted and hunt is by drawing.

Hmmmmm, lets see, couple of good herds of bison up here that are hunt by drawing. These are wild herds, no fences. I think there is some drawing hunts for Musk Ox too.

The fishing is the best in the world. King, Red, Silver, Pink and Chum salmon, monster rainbow trout, lake trout, Arctic Char and Dollie Varden in the most spectacular scenery. Grayling in just about any river or lake big enough to hold a fish.

The biggest concern for hunting here is like anywhere else, time and money. You really need to reserve week or two for each hunt. It is still wild and rugged, there aren't many roads, comparatively speaking. So a week is pretty much a minimum for most hunts except maybe a spring hunt for black bear or a fall deer hunt.

Winters aren't that bad. The past three have been really mild, but the one before that, Girdwood got 14 feet of snow in one weekend. You get used to the temperatures. Most people have trouble with darkness.

Anchorage isn't a bad place to live, especially if enjoy going to the movies and stuff. It is expensive though. Check some real estate for housing costs in Anchorage. Not the prettiest town, but nothing like Chicago, LA or any real big cities. Fair warning though, the politics in Alaska are fairly liberal. You won't get away from anti-gun, PETA, Greenpeace, Sierra Club types up here. You will move right into their kitchen.
 

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Alyeska,
I lived in MN until I was about 26, the home of the late Paul Wellstone. He was one of the most liberal senator and was re-elected a few times. If memory serves, MN was the only state in the county that Mondale carried in the presidential election. There are plenty of liberals in that state, be assured of that. I'm of the opinion that all larger cities are hotbeds of liberal activity. You need look no further than the red/blue map to see it.

I've been fishing on the Churchill river before in Northern Manitoba and have experienced the very short nights in the summer. How many hours of daylight do you get during the peak of winter? I realize you're a bit north of where I was on that fishing trip, but not too much. I would imgine that the winter temperatures get brutal when you get away from the coast.

I've been looking at the employment opportunities and I don't think there would be a problem finding work comparable to what I have here and the housing costs according to the state website seem very comparable. I would prefer to live outside of town a ways, but I'm not sure what the logistics of that are. Is it feasible to build/buy outside of town, or are the property/building costs astronomical? I like the conveniences of town, like most people, but the quality of living outside town outweighs the benefit of being able to order a pizza in my view.

I grew up in the suburbs of St.Paul/Mpls so I'm accustomed to the city, but had the priveledge of being able to be in the north woods every weekend I wanted to. The biggest drag in NE is that there is virtually no public land, and what there is of it is not much to talk about. They first numbers on your liscense plate here tell what county you live in. Farmers see the numbers that correspond with the city and are hesitant to give permission to hunt based on the many negative experiences that they have likely had in the past. I've been met at farmhouse doors by visibly armed farmers more than once when looking for permission to shoot prairie dogs. No, I didn't pull up in a low rider blaring rap music either. :) I would imagine they see what happens on the news and are rightly concerned. I don't blame them.

What do you like least about where you live?

What do you like the most?
 

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Many commuters live in Eagle River, Wasilla and Palmer. Traffic is heavy during peak hours, and winter driving is like playing Russian Roulette with the other drivers and moose. Land prices in those areas are much more reasonable than Anchorage. Seems like now everything is high. Don't expect anything over 5 or 10 acres for sale on the road system. Even though Alaska is the largest state in the Union, only about 1% is available for purchase/private ownership. The Feds control about 67%, the State about 21% and ANCSA Corporations about 12%. It does actually leave a little less than 1% for private ownership.

Daylight around Southcentral in the summer peaks where it never really gets dark. It gets a funny twilight, but not dark. We're gaining about 5 1/2 minutes of daylight per day, now. Of course Fairbanks and northward, the sun does stay up 24 hours for while. Just the opposite in the winter. Since you grew up in MN, you would be able to handle the temperature of the winters in southcentral really well. The darkness causes problems for some, but as long as you stay active, shouldn't be a problem.

What I like most about where I live (Girdwood) is that it is a beautiful little mountain valley. Out my backdoor is the 500,000 acre Chugach State Park and to the north of my house is the 5.6 million acre Chugach National Forest. All told though, the total wild, undeveloped acres just around my house would be in the 10's of millions. I have bears in the yard in the summer, moose in the winter. Sheep just over the ridge from my house. Plenty of berries and salmon a short distance away.

What I like least about it (Girdwood), is that it is a resort community and it can get very liberal. Girdwood boasts Alaska's top ski resort and we have our share of ski bums, hippies, environmentalists, and animal rights folks.

Alaska is (even much more so - southcentral Alaska) a lightning rod for environmentalists and animal rights folks. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conserving our environment, but there never seems to be a balance with Alaska. Everybody wants it all locked up. Because there is so much federal land up here, folks in D.C., Florida, New York, etc.. have as much say in what goes on where you live as you do. It's hard to put into words without offending, but it is very political and each end of the spectrum is not out for the good of Alaska.

Each and every part of the state is extraordinary, whereever you plant your feet, I think you'll be happy. Just ask yourself what your needs are and what services do you require from a town.

If you want, send me an email and I can fill you in in much greater detail. Kinda feel like we hijacked this thread.
 

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What a meat eater looks like.



This is what Aleyska means by a meat eater. Just a small moose. 7600 .35 Whelen, 225 grain Sierra, 9 yards.
 

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Yup, that's exactly what I'm talking about. Good pic, Dave.
 

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That looks like a lot of meat, even more if you didn't have something to carry it with! I've got the .35 Whelen. What does a "little" moose like that weigh on the hoof and how many pounds of meat?
 

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My best guess

was about 900 pounds. The next day I shot a 44" with my 629 .44 mag. at 65 yards. That one was about 300 pounds more but it is hard to tell because of the location of the animal. The first one I was lucky. He was nine yards to the the boat. The second was obviously closer. He was wounded about a mile up stream, by my partner, tracked through the willows and I finally hit him in the head from about 65 yards as he reached the other side of the river. DO not shoot moose in the water. We ended up cleaning him right there and end up crossing the Yukon at 1:00 a.m. in the morning on a pitch black night.

A rear moose leg is hard even for me to carry. I am only 51, 5'11" and in fairly good shape. It takes 2 to lift a pelvic section. We strained all we could to get the hide and head up on shore and it was a back breaker.
 

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Nice 625 pd 4 year old bull taken 2002 2nd day of moose season, we got him out with a ATV ;) Shot with a 30/06 180 factory RP corelok at 50 yards, First two shots where right in the boiler room, didn't even react till the 3rd shot, he wheel around and dropped, all shots where in the lungs, 180grainers did very well went in small came out 3 times bigger;) Aim small hit small. RAMbo.

 

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Dave,
I have no envy of you trying to pull an animal the size of a "beef" out of the water. What is the most common mode of hunting in your area? I can run a canoe, but a canoe that can hold 600-1200lbs of Moose is a little different animal than I'm used to. Are quads a reasonable/acceptable means of getting into/out of hunting areas with your reward? I really like to hunt without the use of a motorized vehicle, but I realize that in some instances there is no other reasonable way. Do you have Mountain Lions in AK, or just woofs? I congratulate you on taking meat animals, as it seems "below" many hunters I have encountered. I often wonder why many lower 48 hunters apply for doe/cow liscences when they have no intent of shooting one. The management of wild game is the greatest asset in the favor of hunters down here. I've yet to taste "bad" wild meat that was cared for properly. Have you ever shot and ate a grizz? Are they worth eating? I know sheep, goats, and caribou are good eating from some friends who are financially endowded in a generous manner, but there was never any bear brought back home.
 

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I shot that one up on the Yukon where hunting from a boat is common. There are many sloughs off of the main rivers so you can park and then access them through the willows. This was luck as he came right out on top of us. I was using a Lowe 17' roughneck that year and a 30 hp Honda. Some peple use 4-wheelers but the regulations are different all over the state.

We have Lynx but as far as I know no mountain lions. But then again as soon as you think something is not here, there it is. There are even mule deer here in around Tok.

I have not shot a bear but this year that will happen this spring. I moved out of the Bering Coast to the interior and am now on the coast. The hunting changes all around the state. We have few moose down here as compared to the interior. But on the other hand, we have a lot of bears. Some people eat grizz and blackies. The spring bears are preffered as the fall ones are very fishy smelling. Moose are great eating. When I mooose hunted it was all meat hunting. IF we got commercial meat in the village it tasted like saw dust and was very expensive.
 

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I've had both grizzly and brown bear that was shot before the salmon runs started and they are quite tasty if cooked in crock pot. Really good with a little spicing up.

One time of dressing out a 1500-1800 lb moose out in the middle of a swamp with the thick mosquitoes, no-seeums and gnats, and I vowed to only take meat animals from then on. Packing a 120 lb hindquarter across tussocks or windthrown timber on a steep brushy mountainside is no fun. It is work. Meat moose are perfect for my small family and we usually still give quite a bit to our extended families. Makes room for the deer and sheep in the freezer. Don't forget, you'll need space in there for salmon too.:p
 

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I thought Alaska WAS a walk-in freezer.... LOL....
 

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MikeG,
I tell you, here in southcentral Alaska, it can get really hot during the summer. Shoot, last year we had nearly a whole week in the 70's.:D

The interior of Alaska does get really hot, Fairbanks, Tok, and other interior communities can see temps in the 90's.

Wouldn't doubt what Texas didn't have more snow than us this winter. We had the U.S. downhill Nationals canceled in Girdwood this year, and snow had to be trucked in for the start of the Iditarod in Anchorage. Most of the snow events and competitions were cancelled during the Fur Rendezvous this year. Ho-hum. Quite the boring winter this year.
 
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