Moose Hunt Essentials

Moose hunting is a very popular outdoor activity here in the Yukon.

Often it is done from a well set-up base camp with most of the creature comforts. The hunters return to base at the end of each day and it is one of the hunts that the whole family can be part of and enjoy.

A typical moose hunt is usually a little easier on the body than, say, a sheep or goat hunt high in the alpine. It’s kind of like a “senior’s hunt”, because most of it is spent sitting down and fairly relaxed.

Usually you are in a boat, a vehicle or a location that gives a view over a considerable area. During the rut, the moose often can be called and come to you (chasing them almost always fails).

Any moose hunt becomes a work bee after the animal is down. They often fall exactly where you had hoped they wouldn’t, such as in a swamp, down a steep bank or 50 feet out into a lake or river.

field dressing a moose
Larry Leigh field dressing a moose.

This is where the prepared hunter shines and the newbie learns a few lessons the hard way.

Not too many years ago, two men were convicted of wasting meat after abandoning almost all of a moose that had died in the shallows of one of our very cold rivers. They were ill-equipped in both clothing and field dressing equipment.

Apparently they had started to field dress the moose, but the task was much larger than they were prepared for and, after becoming somewhat hypothermic, they just abandoned the moose completely.

Had they been prepared (by taking the Moose Hunting Workshop for example) the moose would not have been totally wasted and their record (and perhaps their consciences) would be clean.

The average Yukon moose weighs 1,100 pounds on the hoof. They are much bigger on the ground in front of you than they were in the rifle-scope before the shot.

The law and hunting ethics require that you take all the edible meat as defined in the Hunting Regs Summary.

To do this the most convenient way, you should be prepared and have your gear with you at the kill site. Moose are dressed out every year with pocket knives or Leatherman tools, but you won’t ever want to repeat that operation.

On a moose hunt, I always carry a weatherproof medium sized hockey-type bag. Weatherproof is good because the bag gets soaked in the boat and often sits in the mud at the kill site.

Contained in the bag are three inexpensive 8′ x 10′ poly tarps, two or three 30′ to 50′ good quality no-stretch ropes, an axe, a combo saw (meat and wood), a couple of carabiners, a “come-along”, 10 or so cheesecloth bags in a waterproof bag, bug spray and seven or eight 6′ lengths of strong cord, each with a loop tied in one end to hang the quarters or meat bags up off the ground.

The tarps are to put the pieces on as you cut them off to keep them clean, and also to cover the carcass if you are forced to leave it overnight. They are also to cover (with a clear air-space) the bagged meat back at camp.

I carry two knives. One is a multi-tool (Leatherman, Gerber, SOG) for all cutting chores during the hunt. The other knife is a very sharp, high-quality knife that is only used on the game animal. It is not used for anything else.

Where space allows, I always have a pump 12 gauge shotgun containing a bear-banger up first and slugs thereafter. It sits, action open, within easy reach at the kill site.

The quick, clean death of the animal and your prepared and thorough approach to field dressing will make the meat as tasty and delightful as it should be.

Remember the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared”.

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