Pam and I are heading down that long grey ribbon to Spirit River, Alberta to hunt moose the week of October 23rd. The moose hunt was set up in January and I was disappointed that I was placed on a standby list for this year, but confirmed in 2019. We came home one evening and there was an e-mail from Mike Ukrainetz stating the the person he was holding for the week of October 23rd this year had backed out and I could have the spot. That was an easy decision as we did not want to wait over a year to make this hunt. So, we are confirmed to make the trip up to Spirit River for a first class moose hunt with Mike’s Outfitting.
Friends ask me who is going with you on this trip. This can be a dangerous animal. When I tell them my wife Pam, is going along and her job is to keep herself between me and the moose. After all she has gone gator hunting with me, elk hunting with me, and this will be the first for both of us. This is a three day drive and we will be going up I-29 to Fargo, then across N.D. to Dickinson our first overnight stop. Next stop will be Lethbridge, Alberta. We will leave the easy driving of the interstate and move north and then west to stay on the prairies of Montana and avoid the 4 lanes of I-94 that weave through the mountains of western Montana. Boring and not real scenic as the westerly drive would be, it would also keep us out of the elevations and mountain weather. We are not interested in the sites, but making time across Montana. Anyway, we have been in the state before on our travels. After Lethbridge we overnight in Grand Prairie and meet Mike at the motel the next day and it is off to the lodge. It will be three days total driving. Just as a sidelight and they pay me nothing, but we like to stay in Comfort Inns and they are plentiful on our trip and have a free breakfast.
What I know of this animal is that they are really big and can get really mean. Now that is interesting as I enjoy shooting dangerous game. The main element of the animal is they are number 1. on the wild game meat menu with Caribou number 2, and Elk number 3. I have shot numbers 2 and 3 and so it is time to sample number 1. There is a plethora of information about the animal on the net and so additional research began.
The moose (Alces alces) is the largest species in the deer family. They are distinguished by the broad, flat antlers of the males. Other members of the family have twig like configuration. Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose’s range over time. Currently most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, and Russia. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears. Unlike most other deer species moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Slow – moving and sedentary, they can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.
Moose populations have declined dramatically in some of the temperate climates of North America. They remain stable in arctic and subarctic regions. Besides wolf predators, moose can be infected by bacterial infection by parasites from whitetail deer. The whitetail deer populations have grown and moose have not developed a natural defense, to liver flukes, brain worms, and winter tick infestations.
Canada has the largest population with an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 moose. Newfoundland has an estimated 150,000 that was descended from four that were introduced in 1990. The United States has an estimated 300,000 with Alaska have about 200,000 as reported by the state’s Department of Fish and Game. The balance is scattered throughout the Rocky Mountain states with Wyoming having the largest share in a 6 state area. The Northeast has an estimated 50,000 in 2007. The balance is scattered throughout the upper Midwest. (Source Wikipedia)
An adult moose stands 4.6 feet to 6.9 feet high at the shoulder which is more than a foot higher than the next largest member of the deer family, the elk. The bulls will weigh from 800 to 1500 pounds. That is a lot of meat. Before we go, I will call the processor to see if he has additional coolers to help me bring meat home. The trip back will be a race against time. However, I have taken as long as 2 full days coming back from an elk trip and the meat was still solid. My coolers are supposed to keep things solid up to three days with dry ice.
The moose is a herbivore and most of it’s energy is derived from terrestrial vegetation consisting of forbs and other non grasses, fresh shoots from trees such as willow and birch. They also consume a good quantity of aquatic plants. They lack upper front teeth, but have eight sharp incisors on the lower jaw. They also have a tough tongue, lips and gums, which aid in the eating of woody vegetation. The upper lip is very sensitive, to help distinguish between shoots and harder twigs. have been known to dive underwater to find plants on lake bottoms. They are not grazing animals, but browsers like giraffes. They eat relative low fiber foods and unlike most ruminants, they cannot digest hay and feeding it to a moose can be fatal. The animals varied and complex diet is expensive for people to provide and free-range moose require a lot of forested acreage for sustainable survival. That is probably one of the reasons it has not been domesticated.
I have never had an elk or a deer charge at me but as I read more about the animal they are not usually aggressive towards humans. However, if provoked or frightened they will attack and according to one source, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined. During the mating season is when the aggression is at it’s peak. The Anchorage Visitor Centers warn tourists that “a moose with its hackles raised is a thing to fear.”
I have been told moose tastes like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor. It is comparable to red meats of beef, deer, and elk. With a low fat content it has a high protein content similar to elk and deer. Because there are just two of us, we like to have our burger put into half pound packs rather than pound. If you need a pound use two packs. We take the back straps and the tenderloins but the rest of the animal we have ground into burger. We used to do roasts, but it just did not work out and our friends and family we give meat to prefer burger. When I told Mike this fact, he wants the roasts if we do not want them and will have some roast moose for us to savor at the lodge. He said you will change your mind.
As I have now finished this article, it is time to take out of the freezer some elk steak to be tenderized and marinated for tomorrow night’s dining extravaganza.
When Pam and I get back in November there will be full report of our experience.
Good Hunting, Good Fishing, and Good Luck, Hank
Moose Chili (You can also use Elk)
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil (or what ever oil you prefer)
- 1 – large onion – chopped
- 5 – cloves garlic – chopped or crushed
- 2 – pounds of ground moose meat
- 2 – 14 ounce (398 ml) tomato sauce
- 1 – 28 ounce (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
- 1 – small can tomato paste
- 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can white kidney beans – drained
- 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can black beans – drained
- 1 – 540 ml (14 ounce) can chick peas (garbanzo) – drained
- 8 – medium fresh Mushrooms
- 1/2 – green bell pepper – chopped
- 1/2- red bell pepper – chopped
- 3 – red chili peppers – diced
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 – tablespoon diced parsley
- 1 – tablespoon diced thyme
- 1 – teaspoon of coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup Red Wine
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tusker Beer
In a 5 quart or larger Lodge Dutch Oven add your cooking oil (in our case coconut oil) and heat over a medium heat. Add onions and sauté them until they are opaque and softened. At this point add the garlic and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Be sure to not burn the garlic.
Add the moose meat to the Dutch oven, cooking and stirring until the meat is browned.
While the meat is browning, in a blender combine the tomato sauce and mushrooms and blend to a finely chopped consistency (not purée).
Once the meat has browned, combine the tomato sauce mushroom mixture, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, black beans and chick peas. Increase the temperature and heat until boiling.
At this point you will want to add the: green pepper, red pepper, chili peppers, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper, sugar and wine.
Cover and simmer for at least one hour.
While simmering, make up a batch of cornbread and brown basmati rice to serve with your moose dish.
Drink the Tusker Beer.