The first week of moose hunting season in Haines has resulted in a slightly above-average harvest so far, according to Alaska Fish and Game biologists. Seventeen moose have been turned in by hunters. That includes nine three-brow tine, three spike fork, four over 50 inch rack, and one sublegal moose. One of those moose was especially huge.
Hunter Marty Smith took a 61-and-a-quarter-inch rack moose Monday.
“[At] about 8:30 this morning I guess, climbed up in a tree and sat there, hadn’t seen any bulls at all,” Smith said. “Heard a grunt and started grunting. Pretty soon called a moose in. He hid behind a tree and started walking away. And while he was walking away I grunted a couple really loud grunts at him and finally got him to turn for a split second, and put one behind his ear and down he went.”
Smith says it all happened in about three minutes. He says he couldn’t tell 100 percent if the moose was legal, because the brush was about 10 feet tall.
“Once we stuck the tape on it and seen it was over 61 [inches], it was like oh my god that’s a huge bull,” Smith said.
He says he’s been hunting for about 40 years, since he was five years old with his dad. This is the biggest moose he’s seen while hunting.
“It was one of the happier, better days of my life,” Smith said. “I mean, just once in your life it’s nice to get a really, really nice rack. And this moose is very symmetrical, he’s in the prime of his life and he’ll provide a lot of meat for us, but he’s just a very beautiful moose.”
Smith says he’ll be able to feed more than just his family with the moose. As for the antlers, he plans to eventually display on the side of his house.
Fish and Game assistant area management wildlife biologist Carl Koch says Smith isn’t the only happy hunter he’s seen this season.
“They’re seeing quite a few moose, a decent number of younger animals, a decent number of cows,” Koch said. “Some folks are saying that they’re seeing cows with twins. That’s a sign that cows are in good health. They don’t have two twins when the nutritional condition is poor, so probably they’re in good nutritional condition, which is what we would expect with such a mild winter.”
Koch says the first week of the season is usually when 50 to 60 percent of the harvest happens. He says mild winter weather makes for a larger number of moose in the area.
Koch says hunters also had the fortune of decent weather conditions during the first weekend of the harvest. He says some hunters scout out the moose they want weeks before the season begins. And for many, it’s a family event.
“Grandfathers and sons and grandsons hunt the same areas sometimes,” he said.
For the one sublegal moose that was turned in, Koch says the hunter thought it was a three-brow tine when it wasn’t. The meat from that moose is being donated to Haines School food services, to be served in student lunches.
Koch says he expects the harvest to slow down now that the first week is over. The management goal for the Haines area, Unit 1D, is 25 moose. Koch says last year, the end count was 22, and the highest it’s been is 30.
KHNS will continue with daily moose count updates in our newscasts through the end of the hunting season, which is set for October 7th.