3RD Strike Bull
The sun seemed to hang forever over Cook Inlet before it finally disappeared behind Mt. Redout. Across the trail I caught a movement of a large animal feeding along the brushy hillside about 200 yards away. A quick check told me it was the bull I had seen early that same morning and the evening before. This time there was enough daylight to see the three brow tines on both sides.
It was the 5 th.of September, 2004. My wife Lin and I had set up camp deep in the lower Caribou Hills of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. The 68,000 acres belongs to the Nilnilchik Native Council. We have been hunting their property for several years because it is close to home and we always harvest our winter’s meat without fail. It is only 60 miles from our camp to our home on the Kenai River, which makes it easy to take a trip back to town for supplies.
The hunting season started out with my neighbor, Dan, hunting from his wheelchair. Dan had a head-on with a drunk driver a couple of years ago which left him with most of the bones in his body broken, and the loss of one leg. The other leg is not able to bear his weight for more than a couple of minutes. He bought a Polaris 6x6 which he can ride without having to use his weak leg due to the controls being on the handle-bars.
Dan did very well hunting for a few days riding his 6x6. He was able to cross the swamps, roll over logs, and navigate through the deep grass. I have never seen such a display of courage and determination.
An infection in his lungs finally sent him back to town and under a Doctor’s care. I had not known that his lungs had also been shredded in the accident, and an infection was a serious situation for him. He went back to town only because it was what he “had” to do.
I hunted alone for several days because Lin had to be in town for her job. One of my rules is to never hunt alone in the bush. It is never safe with the bears or hidden sink holes. If it wasn’t for the dependability of the Hydro-Traxx, I would have never considered doing it alone. The tall grass also hides downed logs and stumps that can trip or damage your machine. I seldom push out beyond what is safe. A break-down miles from camp at dark can be very hazardous. Yet, I found myself alone in the bush with an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Sometimes things get a bit unpredictable and we must go on until things improve. It will cause you to be a little more careful and not take any unnecessary chances.
I suppose that it does do a man good to be alone once in a while. I found an inner strength takes over and it makes you more aware of your surrounding. It seemed that I became as much of a predator as the wolves and bears that were there.
Late one evening I came face to face with a large black bear that was coming down the trail towards me. Neither of us wanted to give up the right-of-way. He finally decided to cut to the left as we were about to collide. I thought that he must have not known my e-mail address, which is the “oldbearhunter”. Then again, if he had of known he might have decided to even the score. I was glad he headed for the brush. It was too close to be doing any hand-to-hand combat with a bear that big.
I was also amused to find a fresh set of brown bear tracks which showed that he had followed me off of the ridge the day before. I especially don’t care for bears that do those things.
I was happy to see my brother, Gib, come in to spend a few days helping me. The first morning we walked up to within 40 yards of a very large bull feeding. The bull only had two brow tines on each side which made him illegal. I still think he was over 50 inches wide, but I have come to the decision that a bull has to be huge before I will shoot him. I take a lot of pride in being able to judge the width of a bull’s horn, but I also know that they always look much wider than they actually are.
I let this big fellow feed off into the brush and safety. Next year he will be very large if he makes it passed the trigger-happy hunters this year.
The weather was very hot the first weeks of moose season. It makes very hard hunting and slows the beginning of the rut. The smoke from the Glacier Fire was so thick that it looked like I was in the middle of the fire. It burned my nose and eyes and it made it difficult for the moose to smell predators, which made them skittish.
Moose always amaze me with some of their tricks. They bed down in the tall grass on the ridges and on the open hillsides. You can walk or drive passed them within a few yards and they won’t budge. The only way you will see the big bulls is if you are out there at the crack of dawn, or just before dark. I don’t mean while you can see clearly, but when it’s still so dark that you can hardly see at all. Otherwise you are wasting a lot of your time. The small bulls will venture out a little earlier and some times during the day with the cows. The big fellows stay hid until the rut draws them out, and then you might find one standing in your camp while you are chopping wood.
Lin took some time off and came to put me in order. We have had many moose hunts together and not only is she a good cook; she’s also an accomplished bear and moose hunter.
She was with me the evening before and saw the bull first. It was so dark that we could still see the horns at 40 yards but it was difficult to tell if he had the three brow points necessary. She told me that it looked like three brow tines but we did not want to take a chance on killing an illegal bull.
The next morning we were back there while it was barely light enough to see. The bull had been feeding in the bogs all night as was headed back up to cross the trail and bed down on the brushy ridge above the trail. Once again it was still too dark to be sure of the brow tines and the bull crossed the trail and headed back up into the brush.
That evening we were back there early and hid in the brush near the trail. I was surprised to see the bull feeding along the hillside just after sundown. I watched him feeding towards us for about 200 yards. I was able to get a good look at him at 50 yards and let the air out of him with one 300 grain Nosler through the neck from my old 375 Mag.
I was able to wench him down the bank and into my AATV trailer. The next morning I shot some good film of Lin skinning and bagging the moose in the back of the trailer. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

George “Bubba” Hunt, author of “The Wilderness Trail”

Preview of the Widlerness Trail HERE