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Hunt Planner: Moose mayhem

Psst, hey deer hunters, after years of chasing whitetails, any of you want a bigger challenge?

Then plan a hunt for North America's biggest deer, the Alaska-Yukon moose.

That's exactly what north Texas hunter Mark Rose did last September, thanks to the urging of his big brother.

"This was my first and only time to go moose hunting," Rose said. "I don't know how many whitetails I've shot over the years, plus a few nilgai (large, imported antelope native to India and Pakistan), pronghorns and other animals that you can shoot here in Texas."

In the year 2000, after looking at Rose' fine collection of Texas critters hanging on the wall, his sibling Gary decided to urge little brother to try a somewhat bigger challenge.

Now fast forward to September 2003 near the Ocean River on the Alaskan Peninsula.

That's where Rose found himself stepping from a small airplane into the Alaskan bush, embracing his big brother's challenge to hunt bull moose with wilderness outfitter Butch King of Wildman Lake Lodge.

While the Aleutian Mountains weren't far away, Rose found an unusual mix of gray tundra consisting of volcanic cinders and a nearly impenetrable wall of alder bushes ranging from knee high to 8 feet tall.

"It was very odd terrain to me," Rose said. "Those alder bushes, they were absolutely woven together. It was extremely tough to navigate your way through them."

The weather, typical of that found on the Alaskan Peninsula in September, deteriorated, however, and made the Texas hunter a day late getting into the bush.

"I was the last one to go," Rose said. "Each hunter has their own guide and the plan is that you go out and set up a spike camp with a backpack type of tent.

"You're remote hunting out of that tent until you have some success. You're really roughing it."

Since Alaskan law prevented Rose from hunting on his first day, he and guide Bill Burwell set up their spike camp.

Once that task was accomplished, the pair set out to battle the alders for the first time and have a look-see with their hunting optics.

After hoofing it into the bush, the pair set up on a good vantage point to begin glassing. It didn't take long before they saw a flash in the artic sunlight of a bedded bull's antler palm.

When the animal finally stood a couple of hours later, the massive bull nearly took the pair's breath away.

"After we saw him, we couldn't believe it," Rose said. "Bill said that was the biggest moose he had ever seen in his life. He called it, too, saying that it would measure over 80 inches (in width)."

Needless to say, after marching back through the heavy bush and gulping down dinner, the Texas hunter drifted off to sleep that night dreaming of a certain monster moose.

When Rose was able to legally hunt the next day, he and Burwell found themselves back on the glassing vantage point.

"We fought our way back through the alders to where we had glassed and voila, the moose was in same spot," Rose said.

The pair quickly formulated a stalking strategy to get Rose into shooting position with his .300 magnum rifle.

That necessitated dropping down into the square valley, negotiating a fast-flowing stream, then fighting their way through the ever-present alder bushes again.

Great plan. Unfortunately, the big, bull moose had other ideas.

"We made it through all of that and got over there and the moose was gone," Rose said. "I guess he heard us coming."

A couple of days later, Rose found himself looking through his optics at the massive bull once again.

"We regrouped a little bit and tried to figure out what we did wrong the first time," Rose said.

"This time, we went down the mountain and went down the stream bed where it was a little more decent walking as compared to the alders."

After traveling down the stream bed about 300 yards, the pair crossed through the alders before slipping up a moose trail.

The plan apparently worked to perfection.

"We got within 120 yards or so of the moose," Rose said. "When we could first see him, he was standing broadside. I quickly popped up my shooting sticks and fired two shots right where it counted, right behind his shoulder."

After a couple of follow-up shots, Rose and his guide walked up to the bull of staggering dimensions and began to get some idea of just how big a moose the hunter had downed.

"When we finally got up (to the bull) and finally touched it, we were so excited," Rose said. "Neither of us could believe it.

"Bill, being such a veteran guide who had guided 60 people before, said it was by far the biggest thing he had ever been involved with."

After the tagging and photo chores were completed, the arduous task of butchering the mammoth big-game animal began. That process took three days total, the first two to get the meat out, and the third to get the massive antlers and cape out.

Just how massive is the Rose bull moose?

First, consider that the estimated body weight of this Bullwinkle was in the 1,600-pound range. In fact, the antlers and skull plate themselves weighed a staggering 68 pounds!

Next, consider that the antler-spread measurement was taped out at 80 3/8 inches. That's not too far behind the bull with the greatest spread in the Boone & Crockett Club record book at 81 4/8 inches.

Finally, consider the official entry score of the bull, a stunning 247 7/8 inches, which ranks the Rose bull 15th all-time in the B&C records. The bull ranks No. 9 all-time in the Safari Club International records, as well.

But to get a true picture of just how big this bull is, consider this fact: So mammoth is the Rose bull that when it returns to Texas from Kansas City, where it is being displayed at the Boone & Crockett Club's 25th Awards Program, it will come to a slightly altered house.

"I had my house modified to hold it," Rose said. "I still don't know how I'm going to get the mount in the door. I think I'll have to take a pretty large window out to do it."

Now, that's big — Alaska-Yukon-moose big!

Top-10 Boone & Crockett Alaska-Yukon moose

(Score, hunter, location, year.)

1. 261 5/8, John A. Crouse, Fortymile River, Alaska, 1994
2. 256 6/8, William G. Nelson, Beluga River, 1997
3. 255 0/8, Kenneth Best, McGrath, Alaska, 1978
4. 251 0/8, Bert Klineburger, Mount Susitna, Alaska, 1961
5. 250 3/8, Dyton A. Gilliland, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, 1947
6. 249 6/8, Josef Welle, Mother Goose Lake, Alaska, 1967
7. 249 3/8, John R. Johnson, Tikchik Lake, Alaska, 1995
8. 249 2/8, Henry S. Budney, Alaska Range, Alaska, 1967
9. 249 1/8, David B. Parent, Granite Mountain, Alaska, 1982
10. 248 7/8, Loren G. Hammer, Farewell Lake, Alaska, 1967

Top-10 Boone & Crockett Canada moose

1. 242 0/8, Michael E. Laub, Grayling River, British Columbia, 1980
2. 240 2/8, Albertoni Ferruccio, Teslin River, British Columbia, 1982
3. 238 5/8, Silas H. Witherbee, Bear Lake, Quebec, 1914
4. 227 4/8, Donald F. Blake, Cook County, Minnesota, 1985
5. 226 7/8, Tim Harbridge, Whitecourt, Alberta, 1978
6. 226 6/8, Richard Peterson, Halfway River, British Columbia, 1977
7. 225 0/8, Carl J. Buchanan, Driftwood River, Alberta, 1960
8. 224 1/8, Roy M. Hornseth, Nipawin, Saskatchewan, 1959
9. 223 7/8, Pierre A. Lachance, Buffalo Lake, Manitoba, 1985
10. 223 5/8, Native American, Island Lake, Manitoba, 1980

Top-10 Boone & Crockett Shiras moose

1. 205 4/8, John M. Oakley, Green River Lake, Wyoming, 1952
2. 205 1/8, Arthur E. Chandler, Fremont County, Wyoming, 1944
3. 200 3/8, Aldon L. Hale , Lincoln County, Wyoming, 1981
4. 199 3/8, Reed T. Fisher, Elk City, Idaho, 1957
5. 199 0/8, Amos E. Hand, Park County, Wyoming, 1946
6. 195 5/8, Alfred C. Berol, Atlantic Creek, Wyoming, 1933
7. 195 1/8, C.M. Schmauch, Beaverhead County, Montana, 1952
8. 194 4/8, Jack A. Anderson, Jackson County, Colorado, 1995
9. 188 4/8, Vicki Grover, Madison County, Idaho, 1976
10. 186 3/8, Curt Mann, Sublette County, Wyoming, 1972

Sources: Boone & Crockett Club Records of North American Big Game, 11th Edition; Boone & Crockett Club's 24th Big Game Awards; and Boone & Crockett Club website.

Top-10 Pope and Young Alaska-Yukon moose

1. 248 0/8, Dr. Michael L. Cusack, Bear Creek, Alaska, 1973
2. 240 4/8, Sam Smith, Galena, Alaska, 1995
3. 229 1/8, Rick Schikora, Doghouse Creek, Alaska, 2002
4. 227 7/8, Ted Brown, Earn Lake, Yukon Territory, 1995
5. 227 6/8, Larry Oppe, Koyukuk River, Alaska, 1998
6. 227 2/8, Ryan Hoerner, Salmon River, Alaska, 2002
7. 226 1/8, Randy Ulmer, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, 2002
8. 224 6/8, Larry D. Jones, Koyukuk River, Alaska, 2000
9. 224 3/8, George Faerber, Lake Iliamna, Alaska, 1974
10. 224 2/8, William C. Shuster, Mosquito Flats, Alaska, 1998

Top-10 Pope and Young Canada moose

1. 222 1/8, Charles Roy, Cap-Chat, Quebec, 1988
2. 218 1/8, Randy V. Lijenquist, Dease Lake, British Columbia, 2001
3. 217 2/8, Fredrick J. Gimbel, Birch Mountain, Alberta, 1994
4. 214 3/8, Wayne Carlton, Chevis Creek, British Columbia, 1988
5. 214 0/8, Dennis Odian, Dixie Lake, British Columbia, 1997
6. 202 1/8, Tom Close, Tatsamenie Lake, British Columbia, 1997
7. 201 4/8, Peter Halbig, Mt. Lady Laurier, British Columbia, 1968
8. 201 2/8, Fred Robinson, Hutt Twp., Ontartio, 1986
9. 200 0/8, T.J. Conrads, Disella Lake, British Columbia, 2001
10. 199 3/8, Jan Collins, Turtle Mountain, Manitoba, 1994

Top-10 Pope and Young Shiras moose

1. 185 6/8, Richard E. Jones, Sheridan County, Wyoming, 1987
2. 185 5/8, John Harvey, Big Horn County, Wyoming, 1996
3. 183 7/8, Scott A. Wodahl, Johnson County, Wyoming, 2002
4. 180 3/8, Kenneth K. Fordyce, Fremont County, Idaho, 1983
5. 177 5/8, Gerald Madsen, Madison County, Idaho, 1998
6. 177 1/8, David Cederberg, Bingham County, Idaho, 1995
7. 176 1/8, Benjamin L. Michelena, Johnson County, Wyoming, 2001
8. 174 7/8, James Keller, Caribou County, Idaho, 1992
9. 174 3/8, David C. Cole, Bonneville County, Idaho, 1987
10. 174 2/8, Larry Hoff, Idaho County, Idaho, 1991
10. 174 2/8, Brian L. Paulsen, Caribou County, Idaho, 2000

Sources: Boone & Crockett Club Records of North American Big Game, 11th Edition; Boone & Crockett Club's 24th Big Game Awards; and Boone & Crockett Club website.