Close Search

An Ice Age Adventure

November 2023
Story by Austin Legg
State: Greenland
Species: Muskox

When people talk about going on their bucket list dream hunt, it usually involves a 70" Alaskan moose, a 10’ brown bear, or one of the sheep species. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say a muskox. In fact, when I would tell people mine was muskox, more often than not, I would get teased for it, so let’s address that question first. Why muskox? I hunt because I love adventure, and the idea of hunting a prehistoric-looking beast that survived the ice age and that our ancestors hunted for thousands of years always felt like the epitome of adventure.

It was February 2022, and I was at the Western Hunt Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was determined to find an outfitter and book a muskox hunt while I was there. I settled in on a hunt that I thought was reasonably priced and reputable, but for some reason, I still had some hesitancy to book. I asked the outfitter for an hour to think it over and walked away. I then asked a friend of mine what he thought about the outfitter’s hunt and price. He said, “Call Russ Meyer at Outdoors International and see what he thinks.” Our friend, Russ, works as a hunting consultant, and I knew he would be a great resource to at least get a second opinion.

When I called Russ, he seemed very confused when I asked about Greenland muskox. His response was, “Why are you calling me about muskox?”

“Isn’t this what you do? You’re literally a hunting consultant. I want to know if this is any good.”

“Right, but why are you calling about muskox?” He sounded very confused.

By this point, I wasn’t sure which one of us was more confused. I was about to hang up when he said, “I’m confused because one of my hunters called me this morning and canceled their Greenland muskox hunt and now I am scrambling trying to find a replacement. How did you know about this?”

Well long story short, you can call it an act of God, or fate, or whatever you want, but Russ had a cancellation price on a hunt that started in three weeks. I jumped on the opportunity!

After four long flights, on March 8, 2022, we arrived on the giant, frozen rock known as Greenland. We were picked up at the airport by the outfitter and transported by truck from the airport to a hostel. We made a game plan for the week, ate a hearty caribou lunch, and then got dressed to go out into the arctic. It was about 0 degrees, but knowing we were going to be sitting still behind a snow machine in the wind, I dressed as warm as possible. We then were transported to the hunting camp via snow machine. Upon arriving at the cabin, you realize how quiet and alone you are out there. No electricity, no running water. They had kerosene burning heaters and a small wood stove.

Our first hunting day was Wednesday, Marth 9th. We had five hunters in camp, and we had a goal to kill three muskox that day. The muskox hunting area is actually about an hour and a half even further inland from the cabin. You have to glass the muskox from a long way away and then stalk them on foot. The sound of the snow machine will spook them. When they spook, they run up and over the highest mountain and disappear, so we had to glass them from one to two miles away.

The nationwide meat hunt for the people of Greenland takes place prior to the open hunting season, so by this point, these animals had been hunted, chased, and shot at for weeks. They were incredibly skittish and would run, surprisingly quick, at nearly any sound or movement.

Eventually, we glassed a few bulls up on the side of a mountain. Glassing them was surprisingly difficult! I am used to glassing at long distances from hunting in the West, but when you’re glassing in near zero temperatures with an icy wind, you can only look through your binoculars for very short bursts. Plus, at that one to two-mile distance, the muskox look very similar to all of the brush and boulders. It actually took me some time to adjust my eyes to what we were looking for. This time of year, the bulls are in bachelor groups, so once you find a small group, it is realistic that you can kill a few of the mature bulls.

I was in the first group of three to put a stalk on the bulls we spotted. It was approximately 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of a mile, and we were able to sneak in while the bulls bedded down around midday. We found a nice little rock outcropping at 215 yards. I settled in, got proned out, and made a nice, solid rest. Muskox anatomy is actually a little different. You have to aim a little bit higher than you’d expect. Plus, the hair that hangs down off their body is deceiving and can cause people to take bad shots.

My first shot absolutely thumped my bull. I couldn’t have asked for a better shot, but the bull stood up and began walking away, so I took two quick follow-up shots to ensure a quick death. Both my bull and the other shooter’s bull went down within 15 yards of each other. It was now my friend, Kaleb’s, turn. There was a second group of bulls about 1,000 yards further up the mountain. We were able to sneak in on them even after those gunshots. Kaleb proned out, and as he was getting ready to pull the trigger, the bulls began butting heads. We sat and watched to see who would come away as the winner. Kaleb wanted to take the alpha bull in the group. Once it was decided who the dominant bull was, boom! These animals are very tough. Even with a 180 grain bullet from a .30-06, these animals do not want to go down!

We field dressed the three bulls and then loaded them onto homemade sleds that were pulled behind the snow machines. When we got back to the cabin, we skinned the animals all the way out and prepped the capes to be frozen for future transport. We ate the prime cuts for lunch and dinner for our next few days out at the remote cabin. The meat can’t be exported, so it is donated to the local Greenlandic people in the village.

The muskox hearts and lungs were used as bait for the arctic foxes. This was actually a major highlight for me. At dusk, we would scan the horizon watching those foxes come into the bait. Their colors would range from white, black, and charcoal colors. You could see them running in from a mile away across the frozen fjord, trying to get a piece of fresh muskox organ. I shot a beautiful charcoal arctic fox on that first hunting day.

On the first day alone, we saw a lot of caribou, ptarmigan, foxes, muskox, and hares. The entire Arctic Five could’ve been killed on the first day alone. I had no idea just how much game there was in Greenland.
The next day, we followed the same blueprint as the day before. The two remaining hunters killed their two muskox. In two hunting days, all five hunters had killed five mature bulls. That night, Kaleb shot a beautiful white arctic fox. The foxes run rampant in that area with all of the dead animals that get skinned and cleaned there at the cabin, so it was actually good to do a bit of predator control.

We went out ptarmigan hunting the next morning and shot a few birds. We returned for a hot muskox lunch and then went out ice fishing. It was a blast, and we caught a ton of fish! The Fjord cod were a blast to catch, and it was so interesting that it only took them about 10 minutes of being outside in the arctic air before they were frozen into a solid brick.

The last major highlight was being able to see the Northern Lights. I had never seen them before, and they were absolutely breathtaking. It was about -30 degrees, so we would have to look for five minutes and then run inside to gather around the fire, but those five minutes outside were spent completely silent as we all stared up in complete awe.

My Greenland experience was amazing. I had heard people say killing a muskox is like killing a cow. That it will just stand there and let you walk up to it. Maybe that is some people’s experience, but my experience above the Arctic Circle in the winter couldn’t be further from it.