Bob, Kurt and I tried our hand at moose hunting on opening days (Sept 15-16). I talked with a few people familiar with the area and got the general layout of the land from the cabin to where the moose might be. We loaded our gear and headed to Amalga harbor for the trek to our hunting area. When we got there, the parking lot was full, and it was pea soup fog. We waited about 4 hours for it to lift. When we could see about a mile we thought it had lifted and so headed out. Only to find that it was just a break in the fog, and soon we were out in Lynn Canal in more pea soup fog. All eyes looked for boats while I traveled by GPS in flat calm water all the way to the cabin. We found the cabin easily, and got settled in. The cabin is located right on the beach, so no long packs of gear and camping equipment. Bob was on for dinner than night, and we had asparagus with steaks cooked over charcoal in the fire pit.
There was more fog the next morning but by about 10 am it had lifted enough to see. The three of us headed out. It was about a mile and half or 2 mile hike from the cabin to the mainland over connections between land masses that were islands at high tide and connected at low tide. We saw bear tracks in the sand – maybe a sow and 3 year old cub or so. We also saw what looked like canine tracks of either a small wolf or coyote. Geese were honking and flying regularly around the bay, and terns were diving on balls of feed in the bay.
It was kind of the blind leading the blind as we tried to decipher where we were an where my friend had told me to hunt. When we finally found some moose scat in a small copse of spruce trees looking out on a little bog of alders surrounded by more spruce, we spread out and I tried to cow call. I’d never really done it for real, but had watched some you tubes on it and practiced the days before we left. I found a patch of high bush cranberries, then called and picked for awhile, called again and picked for awhile, and more of the same. After maybe 45 minutes, I figured we’d move so I shouldered my pack and gun and headed over to where Kurt and Bob were. Kurt signaled to me that there was a moose Bob had seen, and when I got close enough to whisper he said a big cow had come in. When we got over to Bob, he said the cow had moved on, but had definitely come in to my call, advancing each time I called again, until finally drifting off. I hoped there might be a bull around so I scraped a tree with a scapula and might have bull called (I forget) but no more moose. Kurt didn’t see the moose, but heard it walking in the boggy ground. I had not a clue, and was pretty happy my first try called in a moose.
That was the only moose we’d see. We kind of drifted around from meadow to meadow, and it looked alot like Gustavus to me. We timed our return to have enough land between the islands and were none too soon as the lowest of the land bridges was awash not long after we crossed it. We were all bushed at the end of a day of several miles of hiking, and got right into the PBR as soon as we made the cabin. Kurt made a fantastic dinner of coho salmon with rosemary on top and lemon slices on top of that cooked in a cast iron fry pan over a wood fire with a piece of tin foil placed loosely over the top. We had some rice and squash Kurt cooked in water with butter.
The next day Kurt’s knee had had enough so he decided to stay put at the cabin. Bob and I realized we could use the boat to cut maybe 3/4 of a mile or so off the walk through the islands and make it so we didn’t have to worry about making it back before high tide. We found some meadows we hadn’t hunted the day before and did some more calling. I wanted to get us over to another area between 2 rivers where we were told most of the moose hunting occurs, but ended up getting us semi-lost for about 2 hours walking around in some old second growth forest, walking around in a circle before I realized my GPS was not hooked to the satellites so the position I would see from time to time was false. When I realized this, I put Bob in charge of navigation. He figured out where we were, put the sun at 2 o’clock, and quickly got us back to a great area to call. It also held a bonanza of cranberries and I picked a full gallon bag there. But no moose.
It got to be late in the day as we headed back to the boat. We went on the wrong side of the peninsula we had anchored the boat, and so had to walk around it back to the boat, but it turned out not to be as far as we feared. We came across our tracks on the beach from the day before, and a bear had walked in our tracks at some time over the past 30 hours.
When we reached the cabin, Kurt had had a great day. He’d met a guy fishing in his skiff who was familiar with the area so got a little more intel on the area. Unfortunately, he’d not made dinner as planned, so I took over as it was my turn anyway and Bob and I were in more of a hurry to rehydrate with PBR than eat right away. I made moose burger with beans and onions and spices and cheese melted in at the end in the cast iron pot over the wood fire and then we went inside and made burritos with them. I was surprised at how salty it came out, and Bob said the canned black beans likely made it that way, so I’ll remember that for next time. Two days of flat calm weather with a little rain over night and perfect weather for hiking. We told stories the rest of the night until the Jim Beam was empty and went to bed.
We got up when we felt like it the next morning, and had muffins Bob had brought with my cherry jam with coffee for breakfast. We gradually started packing up our gear and carrying it out to the beach on another bluebird morning. We loaded up and then cruised the entire bay hoping for a wayward moose out on low tide but did not see any. It was a flat calm run across Lynn Canal back to Amalga Harbor, and I am really happy with my new boat, although still a few kinks to work out. I’m looking forward to taking Sara back there, perhaps a great place to spend Christmas.