By Michael Duff
Alaska, the wildest patch of ground in North America. If you’ve ever longed for the experience of feeling small, lost or overpowered, this is definitely the place you want to be, especially if you have come to hunt moose. The treacherous terrain can be very intimidating. The North American moose is the largest of the subspecies and covers the Alaskan range. In my eyes and I’m sure in many others, they are like sky scrapers with legs. They stand over 7-feet at the shoulders and a large bull’s antlers can tower above 11-feet.
Sportsman’s News purchases this great hunt every year for their Pro Member Sweepstakes with Renfro’s Alaskan Adventures. They are one of our Platinum Approved Outfitters and have been for over a dozen years. The owner, Wade Renfro, runs one of the best operations in Alaska and has some of the best guides and pilot services in the hunting industry. They put a lot of time and effort into what they do, to provide fully guided and unguided hunts. Since Wade runs an air charter business year around, he gets more opportunity to fly his guide area than any regular outfitter could ever afford to do. He is also contracted by the Alaska Fish and Game to do aerial surveys on moose due to his vast knowledge of the area. So, to say he is overqualified is an understatement. His guided hunts take place in Western Alaska in the Kuskokwim Mountains, Kilbuck Mountains or the Wood Tikchik drainage systems. With Renfro’s, you have the option to turn your moose hunt into a full-blown Alaskan safari, by adding brown bear, black bear, wolf, etc.
Mike Deming, the President of Sportsman’s News and the one who started the Pro Membership Sweepstakes, whom I have known for many years, asked if I would be able to go on this Alaskan hunt and film with Renfro’s Alaska Adventures, along with the 2018 lucky hunt winner. I didn’t think twice when asked to take on this task. This would be my very first time going to Alaska and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to film a moose hunt. I was super excited to help out and be a part of this hunt of a lifetime.
Now, let’s cut to the chase and get to know the Sportsman’s News Pro Membership Sweepstakes winner, Scott Allan of Twin Falls, Idaho.
Scott is an avid hunter and has been on some very successful hunts throughout his life. He shares the passion of hunting with his father, children and grandchildren who can be found by his side on most hunting trips. Scott is a big-time horseman and enjoys backpacking into the back country with his family to camp and fish. Some of his favorite places are found in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Mr. Allan has been an active Sportsman’s News Pro Member for the last two years.
One of the first questions I asked Scott when we arrived in Bethel, Alaska was, “what did you think when Mike Deming called you and told you that you had won this Alaskan moose hunt?” His response was, “I was in disbelief and couldn’t believe that I had won!” He could not wait to go on this hunt and harvest a giant moose. Scott had been looking forward to this hunt from the day he got the phone call back in January. After receiving the phone call and watching the drawing on the Sportsman’s News YouTube channel, Scott shared the link along with a text message to all of his family and friends. He said they were all happy for him and a bit jealous. After sharing the news with them, a lot of them signed up immediately to become Pro Members!
After a very long day of travel for the two of us, we finally made it to Bethel, AK. We were first welcomed by Wade and his crew at the pilot house, where we made sure Scott had all the required tags and gear before setting off the next morning to our rugged destination.
As morning came upon us, we found that a storm had moved in, making it impossible for the pilots to fly the planes. We were left to sit and kill time until the storm either passed or held off long enough for us to safely make our way to the first stop. Once we caught a break in the weather, we loaded ourselves and our gear into a small 4-passenger plane and took off to our moose hunting destination. Once we landed there in the larger plane, we had to wait for over an hour so that the pilots could asses the weather before our final flight into camp on the super cubs.
Soon enough, in the distance, we could hear the super cub engines and it wasn’t long before we saw them coming towards us in the Alaskan grey skies. I looked over at Scott and the smile on his face said it all. We knew before too long that we would be landing at the base camp that we would call home for the next 10-days. We loaded up our gear in the belly of the planes and finally, we were off. Flying at just 200-feet above the ground, we were at the best advantage point we could get, as we were able to see bull moose and grizzlies on nearly every mountain we passed. But as you know, in Alaska, it is illegal to hunt the same day that you fly. As the pilots circled our camp before landing, the level of excitement got higher and higher the closer we got.
When we landed at camp we were greeted by our guide, Greg King, who has over 32 years of guiding in the Alaskan mountains and knows moose hunting like the back of his hand. After we got unloaded and situated at camp, we decided to put our optics to use and get to work. And sure enough, we were glassing up moose in no time. Looking at these giant animals with the naked eye and even through our optics, was very deceiving. We didn’t know if our mind was playing tricks on our eyes or if these animals were actually that big, but we would find out soon enough. Before dark, we had four bulls spotted through our spotting scopes and lucky for us, they were close to camp, which makes for shorter trips when packing out a large animal. We were able to glass up anywhere from 5-10 bulls a day. As dusk fell upon us, we made our way back to the cooking tent to share stories, eat like kings, make a game plan and then hit our bedrolls for a little shut eye.
On day two, we woke up to blue skies and perfect hunting conditions and with bulls in the rut, it didn’t take us long to turn up a big bull within the first hour, but Scott decided to pass on him and several others. Days three and four were not in our favor. With low visibility and pouring rain, we were unable to go out and at this point Scott was feeling regret on letting that first, 60+ inch bull, walk away as it disappeared into the alders.
Day five didn’t start off much better, but we lucked out and caught a break in the storm mid-afternoon and headed back out to where we saw bulls on previous days. As we hunkered in on our only rocky vantage point, Greg was able to make some good cow calls and drew a bull in like it was tied to a string, which happened to be the same bull Scott passed up on day two. We were able to close the distance and get into a position that would allow Scott the possibility to lay the hammer down. At 470-yards, the bull stepped out into the only clearing, swaying his head back and forth, towering over the alders. Scott finally had the opportunity to take a shot, a shot that would grant him success with a 65-inch giant Alaskan moose.
After we knew the bull was down and Scott was able to take a deep breath I asked him, “Is this why you became a Sportsman’s News Pro Member?” and he said, with a big smile on his face, “Absolutely.”
Yes, this was when the real work began. Scott, Greg and I cleared a trail through the alders to gain access to the moose, a process that ended up taking several hours. Once we finally got there, we stopped and admired the actual size of this giant animal. Scott and I were in shock. As Scott studied the bull that he had just harvested, he was very humbled and for a few short seconds, he just let what had just transpired all soak in. After we secured some great field photos, we started the butchering and caping process, which took the remainder of the day. The butchered meat would take multiple days to haul out by the packer, who was not in camp yet. Night had set in, as we made our long journey back to camp, along with a back strap and some tenderloins to celebrate achieving our goal.
We then spent the next 5-days cooped up in our tents due to heavy rain. It seemed that every piece of clothing and equipment was either damp or dripping wet. But, this comes along with hunting and is part of why we do what we do.
Unfortunately, our time was narrowing down on our epic Alaska trip and it was time to come back to reality. Scott and I had an amazing 10-days getting to know each other and the beautiful Alaskan country and Wade Renfro (907-543-1954) and his staff did a superb job The result of this hunt is proof that becoming a Sportsman’s News Pro Member is worth it and a fact that you can’t win if you don’t enter.