Larre revisits one of his favorite topics—moose hunting in Alaska. Adventures in this episode include misadventures with vehicles, being temporarily stymied by a rushing river, and what it was like to miss the experience of September 11, 2001.
When I first moved to Anchorage in the early 1980s, a column in the Anchorage Daily News told of an outraged woman who’d contacted the newspaper. A young bull moose had been visiting her neighborhood on a regular basis, and one day it showed up minus its antlers. She was mortified that someone would be so cruel as to cut them off. Here’s a reminder: antlers are shed annually and horns are stuck on permanently. Moose and deer have antlers. Goats and sheep have horns.
Maybe becoming familiar with that moose made it seem like a backyard deer or rabbit, but moose are massive. An adult male can range from 1,000 to 1,600 pounds and stand nearly 6 feet tall. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, more people are injured each year by moose than by bears. Who would—or could—wrestle a moose to take off its antlers?
Moose wander through towns of all sizes in Alaska. When our son Rob was born at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, we watched a moose grazing outside my ground floor window. There are still areas in the city that have enough moose traffic to warrant warning signs for drivers.
Males keep to themselves all spring and summer while their antlers are growing. In early September the antlers dry out and the boys are ready to fight. Despite this asocial tendency, a large male will gather with a harem of up to 5 cows in the fall.
To be of legal hunting size, the spread of the antlers must be at least 50 inches, or the moose must have 4 brow tines on one antler. The spread is measured from the farthest tip on one side to the opposite tip, perpendicular to the center line of the skull. The largest Larre’s group has bagged was our son Bill’s 71-inch moose.
Of all the wild game Larre has brought home over the years, I think moose meat is the best tasting. That could be related to where Larre hunts them, as a leafy diet produces a mild flavor. Moose that eat mostly twigs and conifers have a more gamey flavor, I’m told. It’s very lean (0.5 grams of fat vs. 17 grams in filet mignon) so you need to be careful not to overcook and dry it out.
Last fall Larre's friend Jason shot a 66-inch bull, and Larre brought home one hind quarter and one shoulder for 250 pounds of meat. I contend that moose meat is more expensive than beef when we factor in all the travel and equipment costs. Larre says it's not expensive—it's priceless.