Sept. 20 was the last day of moose season for the majority of the highway system, or so I used to think. It turns out that in today’s moose-hunting world you can hunt with a general harvest tag clear to the end of September in portions of some road accessible units.
A word of advice: Sit down in a quiet place with a good map before you sharpen your knife or check the rifle. Alaska has some of the most confusing hunt regulations imaginable. A GPS will do you little good. A thorough knowledge of river and creek drainages will be necessary.
A good example is Unit 16A and B, which has eight separate moose hunts. Four of the hunts are on harvest tickets, the other half on permits. Unit 15 has 18 separate hunts. Eight of them are on a harvest tag.
Should you wish to hunt with your kids, remember that in Units 7, 13, 14,15 and 20, hunter education courses are required for anyone under 18 who is not under the direct supervision of a licensed adult who was born before 1986 or who has completed a hunter education course.
Hunting areas can be daunting in themselves, but antler restrictions will add another layer to your hunting enjoyment. A spike/fork bull or one with a rack measuring more than 50 inches with three or four brow tines is pretty common for a legal moose in much of Alaska. I would rather not get into a discussion over that, although I will agree that some type of restrictions are necessity.
Bring good glass with you on your hunt. To be considered a “tine,” the projection must be at least one inch long and longer than it is wide.
A successful hunt is relative to the individual, but if you get a moose, remember that the meat comes in first, the antlers last. Moose are heavy, thus some hunters bone their meat in the field to lighten the loads. No matter how you cut it, that is not a great idea. You cannot keep boned meat in the field or at home. You can bone the neck and the ribs if the meat comes home within 48 hours with the intention of turning it into hamburger or stew meat. Otherwise, leave the bone in.
Strong packers can take an average moose in four pieces. Six chunks is more reasonable and eight portions, not counting the head, heart, liver and sundries, also can be done with judicious cuts.
In recent years, more folks are leaving behind some of the best cuts of the moose. I am the only one in my house who will eat liver, but many who disdain the liver like liverwurst. It seems pretty wasteful to toss 20 or 30 pounds of good food; we all know someone who likes liver.
The heart is another of the innards commonly left in the field. There are many ways to cook a heart. Boiling is the easiest. Thin-sliced moose heart makes great sandwiches. Heart can also be fried. Slice the heart thin, dip the slices in egg and then roll them in a mixture of flour and spices. Cook it hot and most will agree that this a dish to die for, one way or another.
Tongues and kidneys are rarely utilized by the hunters of today. Tongues are best when boiled and skinned. Kidneys can be fried. Peel the kidneys first, then soak them for a couple hours in vinegar. Rinse thoroughly and then fry them. Go heavy on garlic. Tell the kids to close their eyes, or better yet, don't tell them what they are eating.
This season, like every year for the past five, I have found game left in the field. Two years ago, a friend and I brought out half a caribou that had been left. This season the dog and I found a moose with a front, hind and backstrap remaining in the woods.
There is no excuse for this. Game wardens cannot address this because by the time they are aware no one is coming back for the rest of the meat, the hunter is long gone.
The idea that the antlers must be the last part out was an attempt to combat the problem. However, there are almost never Fish and Game field stations, and hunters are rarely checked once on the highway.
Hunt responsibly, be well-versed in regulations, carry good glass and utilize all of the animal you take. A respectful hunter is a credit to all and will go a long way toward promoting goodwill among the nonhunting public.