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Victory from the Jaws of Defeat

December 2018
Story by Robert Grantham
State: Alaska
Species: Moose - AK Yukon

I realized two years ago that in order to continue to hunt western big game I had to make a lifestyle change and get into shape. As a result and knowing my need for constant motivation, I decided that my 50th birthday present to myself would be an Alaska moose hunt. I decided to book my hunt with Matt and Emily Thoft of Ovis Outfitters.

September finally rolled around, and I found myself headed to Anchorage. Shortly after arriving in Aniak, I met my guide, Mikey Thomas, and we were loaded up in two Super Cubs and headed for camp. We quickly pitched our tents in some nearby brush a short distance from the short runway and got settled in.

On opening morning, Mikey explained that we would primarily be glassing the adjoining basins and doing very little calling since the rut really had not kicked in yet. For the majority of the next eight days, it was either raining, foggy, or windy. As such, we only got in two full days of hunting. Consequently, we spent seemingly endless hours in the tent. Finally, the weather let up on the evening of day seven and we were excited for day eight, only to have the rain set in again just prior to daylight. At this point, I realized I had greatly underestimated the difficulty of this hunt.

The morning of day nine was simply beautiful. While our morning efforts were largely unproductive, the improvement in the weather had lifted our spirits. During lunch, we talked about our options for the afternoon and decided that we would go north and overlook an area where we had seen a decent bull a couple of times. After an hour of no action, Mikey spotted a bull that had just popped out of the timber. A quick look through the spotting scope revealed that this was a true giant. The problem was that he was 2,500 yards away and traveling into some brush with only a couple hours of light left. Then we finally caught a much-needed break. The giant ended up bumping into another decent sized bull and they immediately became enamored with one another. Realizing that they were totally consumed with each another, and more importantly, staying in one spot, we realized that we very well might be able to make it to them before dark. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, we were off.

As we closed the distance, we briefly lost sight of the bulls only to later look up and realize that apparently the fight was over and now one of the two bulls was headed directly towards us. Evidently, this bull had gotten heated up during the battle and was headed for a seep at the bottom of the hill to cool off and recover. Once he lay down in the seep, we were able to get a better look and realized that by divine intervention it just happened to be the giant. Once we closed the distance to 200 yards, I told Mikey that I was good and quickly got into a prone position using his pack as a rest. After a few grunts and cow calls, the behemoth reluctantly stood and faced our position. We were quickly running out of light, but he finally turned ever so slightly, allowing me to settle the crosshairs of the .300 Jarrett on the point of his left shoulder. After a quick follow-up shot, it was finally over.

It was not until I walked up to the fallen monarch that I realized just how huge he was. I was amazed at his huge fronts with four brow tines each, big, wide paddles with awesome points, and a 68" spread. I would like to thank Matt, Emily, and Mikey for helping make a lifelong dream become a reality.