Tag Archives: Moose

Shhhh…I’m hunting moosies!!!

Time to stir the mud and draw up some controversy….

It’s at this time of year that I start getting that itch to hike in the hills and look for large brown moosies. I want to fill my freezer with meat that I know was raised right and is healthy for my family! I was raised on moose meat and I have strong memories of my dad going hunting every fall in Soldotna, AK. I remember as a young person, spending the night at a friends house and wondering why their meat tasted like cardboard. I later found out that it was store bought beef and it was very bland compared to the moose meat that I was used to.

As we move closer to the hunting season, I have the urge to buy a gun, ammo, meat bags, 4-wheeler, and a trailer. I get the urge to secure any item that will help me fill that freezer with healthy moose meat. I know this is not your typical girlie behavior but that is what happens when your raised in Alaska. I remember helping my mom and dad cutting meat off the carcass, cleaning it, wrapping it in freezer paper, and marking it with the date, type of meat, and the cut of the meat.

This is basically what a package of moose meat might look like.
This is basically what a package of moose meat might look like.

Two years ago, we got two caribou and those really helped us to eat right and cut our grocery budget over time. With meat prices going up at the stores, it’s really worth it to spend a little to catch that elusive moose. Yet, moose are one of my favorite animals to watch and photograph and I highly respect those animals. I believe that farmers feel the same way about their cows. If you know how it has been raised, then you know your eating well. You respect the meat that you are eating.

My husband, an Alaskan Native from the Kuskokwim River region, finds it difficult to hunt in the South-Central area of Alaska. Where he grew up, they would climb into the boat and head upriver, usually up the Holitna River, and find a moose hanging out on the edge of the river. Sometimes they were lucky enough to not have to drag it out of the waters edge or chase it too far into the woods. Sometimes they had to work a little bit harder. Lately, though, the people out there are having a difficult time getting anything due to the amount of wolves and bears in the area.

Sleetmute, Alaska. You can see at the top of the picture that the Holitna River flows into the Kuskokwim, which comes from the left-top side.
Sleetmute, Alaska. You can see at the top of the picture that the Holitna River (left-top) flows into the Kuskokwim, which comes from the left-middle side. They run south around an island at the bottom.

In many areas of Alaska, there has been a growing problem with bears and wolves. I will go so far as to say that there is a growing problem with predators in Alaska, humans included. If you think about it, there is now a situation where people from outside specific hunting areas are coming in and hunting for moose. This depletes the already stressed population of moose in those areas. For instance, on the Kuskokwim River, you have an area in the upper river region that used to have a healthy population of moose. Then the lower river people from the ever growing city of Bethel come up to hunt moose and you have a higher amount of “predators” in that area. Then there are hunters that are being flown in from other parts of the state and from out of the state. Add to that the growing population of bears and wolves, and you have a problem. This same situation is affecting the caribou in that very same region.

Imagine a population of moose in a particular region that are already hampered by a growing population of wolves and bears. Now imagine this population is accessible by road. Think about how many people are reaching this region from hundreds of miles away and maybe thousands of miles away if they are non-resident hunters. I bring to light the Copper Valley region of Alaska. The people there have never had such difficulties hunting moose until recently. They are now in competition with the rest of the state and with many from out of the state of Alaska. Most of the “outside” hunters have access to ATV’s and large hunting buggies. They may have RV’s or travel trailers to sleep in. The local hunters do not have a lot of these available to them. With so many ATV’s and other traffic hitting the trails, the moose are being pushed back further and further into the wilderness, to the point that only ATV’s or fly-in hunting can reach them. They also have a huge population of bears and wolves, common predators of the moose and caribou. This leaves many locals without meat for the winter.

Sorry, this is graphic but it's the truth. More and more calves are killed by wolves and bears each year adding to our declining moose population.
Sorry, this is graphic but it’s the truth. More and more calves are killed by wolves and bears each year adding to our declining moose population.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against hunting. In fact, I am a strong advocate of our rights to hunt and feed our families and I support the NRA. But I am also witnessing something that I am not in support of. I do not think that our population of moose should support non-resident hunting and especially since many of those hunters are only after the “rack” and could care less about the meat! I realize that many people make their money by being a guide but that is a profession that is self-defeating. You will see such a large decline in the moose populations that there will be none left for anyone. I believe that trophy hunting should be abolished! Hunting for meat and getting a “big one” is different than just hunting for the rack on the wall and I have seen many who do that very thing.

I am seeing this same thing with our salmon. You see many folks up here fishing for that trophy and not caring about eating any salmon. I see that our commercial fisherman are fishing to earn enough money to feed their families but at the same time, they are fishing to feed the world off of fish that should merely feed Alaskans. And our world population is growing. Are we going to feed the world salmon that was meant only to feed a smaller population of Alaskans? Are we going to try to give a trophy salmon or moose to the world so that they can feel proud of themselves while Alaskans go hungry and eventually have nothing left to hunt or fish?

In the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers, there is a growing problem of the local natives not being allowed to catch salmon. How much salmon were caught by commercial fisherman? I do not know this answer. You can look into that for yourself. But know this, they were there first, they have always been there, and now they are being told that they cannot fish. This means they cannot feed their family. There are declining moose and caribou populations, and now a declining fish population. Recently, there have been battles by the locals out there for them to fight for their rights to fish. It is a bad situation all around. They do not want to see the fish decline but they want to feed their family too.

Again, let me reiterate, I am not against hunting or fishing. I am against mismanagement of such. I am seeing different regions of Alaska trying to support a growing population of hunters and fisherman. I am seeing that they cannot support this. I am seeing us trying to feed the world and we cannot do that. Lets bring to light the beloved dip-net fisheries in Alaska. We are seeing a growing outrage from those regions about the demise of their beautiful beaches and there is another problem.

Let’s look at the dip-net fishery in Kenai, AK. I grew up in Soldotna, which is the nearest town to Kenai. I remember a few dip-netters on the beach in the 80’s but I could literally count them on one hand at any given moment. I could still walk the beach and not step on a salmon carcass or be pooped on by a seagull. Now, flash forward, the beach is so encumbered by fish carcasses that it would take you half an hour to clear enough space to set your chairs and equipment down. The smell? Well, lets just not discuss the smell as I just ate breakfast.

Kenai dipnetting in 2009.
Kenai dipnetting in 2009. You see salmon carcasses all over the beach.

Seagulls are everywhere, clouds of them. This is the problem. The dip-netters are gutting the fish on the beach and that attracts gulls which causes them to litter the beach with their feces. This has recently caused a problem with a bacteria on the skin of the salmon and a warning about making sure to clean them good. The people of the region are upset, and for good reason too! They have to go clean up after all the dip-netters and it’s not a fun job. Why should they have to do that? They are accommodating people from outside their region and they are suffering. 

Can the Kenai dipnetting fishery support this many people...plus the rest of the world?
Can the Kenai dipnetting fishery support this many people…plus the rest of the world?

I am hoping that you are getting my point. Can I find any fish in my local area (Matsu Borough)? Maybe. Not really without a boat or other equipment. Many rivers have been closed to fishing. Have I been to other regions to try to fish or dip-net. Yes. Guilty. Do I catch much? No. I gave up dip-netting years ago after seeing its affects on the beaches and the locals. Do I have any fish in my freezer? No. I am not a great fisherman though, so that is part of my problem. But the same goes for hunting. I find it very difficult to hunt for moose because there are so many ATV’s and hunting buggies; and then there are the hunting regulations that are very confusing. I do not have a “healthy” ATV and it struggles to get very far. It’s a case of drive one mile then work on it for one or more hours, sad to say. I cannot afford a new ATV nor can I afford a hunting buggy.

I want to fish and put salmon in my freezer, but I don’t want to hamper the fishery or put another region into stress. I want to hunt and fill my freezer with meat, but I don’t want to be part of the problem for another region and cause its locals to not be able to eat. Can I hunt locally? Well, that’s a good question. I am trying and, so far, not doing so great with it. I see both sides of the story and am hoping that we can find some answers to this situation. I would like to find some sort of answer to this problem but I am only one person, and it is going to take everyone working together to communicate and understand. So let’s get to work and figure out how to feed the people of Alaska first; giving the locals a better fighting chance to provide for their families.

In the meantime, shhhhhhhhhh……….I’m hunting moosies!!!

My target!
My target!

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

I am sharing this great site and think its a great place for tourists and locals alike to visit! And right nearby is the Portage Glacier, Whittier, and much more! Here is some more information:

 

The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center is a nonprofit organization  dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, public education, and quality animal care. AWCC takes in injured and orphaned animals year-round and provides spacious enclosures and quality animal care. Animals that cannot be released into the wild are given a permanent home at the center. Come be a part of these exciting programs and watch these animals display their natural, “wild”, behavior. Coyotes peer out from behind the brush while a bald eagle swoops in on the salmon remains left by a grizzly bear. Wood Bison plod through 65 acres of tidal flat terrain, as part of a program that will one day restore the species to the Alaskan wilderness.

AWCC has provided care for hundreds of displaced animals because visitors like you have made critical contributions in the form of admission fees, donations, memberships, and gift shop purchases. AWCC encourages you to visit the center with your walking shoes and camera in hand for an educational Alaskan experience to remember. We thank you in advance for your support and assistance in preserving Alaskan wildlife.

AWCC provides numerous ways to experience the Center. Individual guests can walk the Center’s campus via a 2 mile loop that provides excellent viewing opportunities of all the animals. Visitors may choose to drive the loop as well, getting out at different photo and viewing locations. Some choose to join our exclusive Behind the Scenes Tour, which takes guests into back of the house areas and throughout the Center with their personal naturalist guide. Educational programs are offered throughout the day, such as Prickly Points about Porcupines, Hershey the Ramblin’ Reindeer, and various moose calf, deer fawn, and musk oxen calf feedings.

baby moose
Baby moose found at: http://www.alaskawildlife.org/

Top 15 Alaskan Rumors

Are there really penguins all over Alaska? Is Alaska cold and dark year round? Do they really live in igloos? Does Alaska ever get sunshine? Is there snow year round? Do the Eskimos’ really kiss with their noses? And do you have pet polar bears or wolves? Let’s just see if I can debunk a few of these rumors about Alaska!

I have lived in Alaska nearly my entire life and, in fact, I am married to a Native Alaskan (he is actually Eskimo/Athabascan and no, he does not kiss me with his nose…most of the time.) I have great insider information and can handle pretty much any rumor or question that is out there. There have recently been a lot of reality TV shows about Alaska; however I feel that they do not dispel these rumors and they actually will add to them. Now we shall sort through some of the top 15 Alaskan Rumors and questions that I have heard throughout my life.

#1. Do Alaskan’s live in the snow year round? Well, yes and no. Most Alaskans do not live in the snow year round and, in fact, may have warmer temperatures than many places in the northern states of the U.S. Some very remote villages up on the North Slope of Alaska can receive snow year round, although it is somewhat rare. You can access snow and glacier ice in some areas of the mountains and along glaciers. So for the most part…No, we do not live in the snow year round. Winter for where I live lasts from about October to April. And during the summer, in the interior of Alaska, it can reach high temperatures of 80-90 degrees! Granted, in those same places, it is common for it to be -50 degrees for weeks at a time.

-50 below
Fairbanks, Alaska at -50 below zero.

 

#2. Do you live in igloos? No, we do not live in igloos. As you can tell from my answer in question #1, we do not have snow year round so it really wouldn’t be practical. Also, I have never actually seen a real igloo, other than one that my kids and hubby made for fun and a huge several story building built to look like an igloo. Igloos were built by the Inuit people of Canada and a few other places. The igloo building skill has been taught in the past as part of survival training to help the military and other people survive cold weather situations.

Andreanoff Igloo
We made an igloo and the kids decorated it with Christmas lights.

 

#3. Does everyone own sled dogs or Alaskan Huskies? Well, there are a lot of them up here, but not everyone owns them. I do think that it is common place for me to see “dog yards” full of sled dog teams or huskies walking with their owners. My current dog is a mixed breed and is ¼ husky (also ¼ white german shepherd and ½ black lab.) I do live near the Iditarod Headquarters area and I have worked up in Nome when the sled dog teams from the Iditarod have come into town. Actually most people drive cars or ride snowmobiles (aka: iron dogs or sleds.) Do we get around by sled dog teams? Not really. I mean, they used to use dog teams not that long ago in Alaska as transportation but now most folks drive cars or trucks. I have, however, ridden on a dog sled that was attached to the back of a snowmobile as a sort of sled. Now that is awesome fun!

huskies
Happy huskies love to pull the dog sled.

 

#4. Do they have paved roads in Alaska? Yes, throughout a large area of Alaska, they do have paved roads. They have highways, stop lights, and even roundabouts in some of the more populated areas. There are a lot of dirt roads and trails in Alaska. Most villages do not have road access at all. Some villages are so remote that you can only reach them via airplane or boat. These remote villages are known as the Alaskan bush. Some villages have dirt roads and some even have cars or trucks that are barged or flown in. Almost all villages have a small runway. But for the most part, they use snowmobiles, ATV’s, and boats. Sometimes they will make roads on the ice between villages and those are known as ice roads. They also have train tracks through some of Central Alaska.

Ice road
This is the ice road on the Kuskokwim River near Bethel, Alaska.

 

#5. Alaska is nothing but an immense wilderness. Well, yes and no. Yes it is an immense wilderness, but it is also villages, cities, and lots and lots of tundra. Alaska’s population is around 730,000 people with nearly 300,000 living in the Anchorage area. Alaska has the most coastline of any state and is covered with lots of lakes, creeks, and rivers. Alaska also has the largest mountain in North America whose name is Mt. McKinley, but it is known as Denali by the locals which means “the great one.” It’s also great to know that you can fit Rhode Island into Alaska 425 times.

Seward
On the beach in Seward, Alaska.

 

#6. Do you have pet bears or wolves? I would have to say no to this one. However, I have heard rumors of folks breeding wolves into their dogs but it is most definitely illegal. It is illegal in Alaska to possess a wolf without a special permit granted for research or education purposes, and illegal in all circumstances to own a wolf hybrid. I would assume the same goes for bears. I have heard about foxes being kept as pets but those also will get taken away if caught. Do not, in any circumstance, feed wild animals in Alaska. Believe me; I have seen tourists try to take a picture of their child feeding a caribou a lollipop. Not smart!

Bear warnings
Bear warning sign found at the Exit Glacier campground in 2013.

 

#7. Do you have penguins walking down the street? Absolutely not! Penguins are from the Southern Hemisphere. We do have Puffins in many parts of Alaska; however they will never be walking down the street. I actually have to go to Seward or Whittier and catch a small cruise to get to the puffins or go visit the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, Alaska.

Puffin
Puffin walking. Signs in Alaska usually say “no puffin” instead of “no smoking”.

 

#8. Alaska is not part of America OR Alaska is an island near Hawaii. Seriously? Yes, seriously. I get this question or statement quite a bit. Some people think you actually have to have a passport to be in Alaska. Alaska IS part of the United States and in truth was a state before Hawaii was. We are part of the Continental United States, although we do have Canada between us, and if you plan on driving to Alaska you will need a passport to drive through Canada. You can fly to Alaska without a passport though. And no, Alaska is not near Hawaii, no matter what the map says.

Alaska
Alaska is huge and sits near Russia and borders Canada.

 

#9. Are the mosquitoes as big as birds? Welllll….no. Although they can get pretty big and they can be so thick that you can’t hardly breathe without swallowing some. When I lived in the bush of Alaska, I have been through times where the mosquitoes were so thick that you would tip your coffee away from you to spill out the mosquitoes floating on top, and then take a sip. In fact, it was so thick that you wished you had more than a mosquito net for you head, because a body net would have been awesome! I have also heard folks be surprised that we even have mosquitoes up here because they think it’s too cold for bugs to survive up here. Oh and DEET? They eat that for breakfast!

Alaskan mosquitoes
Alaskan mosquitoes big enough to pick up a bear.

 

#10. Have you been to the North Pole or have you met Santa? Well, yes, I have!! The actual North Pole you mean? No, I haven’t been there. But there is a town in Interior Alaska named North Pole and it is the home base for Santa. I have been to his house and I have met his reindeer. I have pictures to prove it. If you ever have a chance to come to Alaska, I recommend a drive up to Fairbanks and then on to North Pole. It is worth the drive.

North Pole
Santa Claus house in North Pole, Alaska.

 

#11. Do you have fast food in Alaska? That is a massive Yes! We have almost all of them. We don’t have them in the bush but in most of the larger towns and cities, we have them. You can pretty much count on getting your fix if you stick to the more populated areas. I, however, prefer to eat caribou burgers!

Fast food here!
The city of Anchorage has everything including fast food.

 

#12. Can you ride a moose? Absolutely not! And if you try, you will most likely end up in the hospital. I have seen where some folks have been charged and trampled by them. They either end up in the hospital or dead. I literally get them looking in my windows but they can be dangerous even with the window separating us. View from afar, and again, do not feed them.

moose charge
Angry moose charging a snowmobiler.

 

#13. Is the ground really frozen year round? Yes, it is. Permafrost is defined as ground that remains at or below 0°C for at least two consecutive years. The depth of permafrost is different for different parts of Alaska. The reason why trees do not grow very big in many areas is because the roots cannot grow very deep and, instead, they spread out. Some areas where the permafrost is not very deep, the earth will not be capable of having any trees at all. The ground also heaves a lot during freeze and thaw seasons causing the roads to buckle and houses to shift.

permafrost
This is what permafrost looks like in the tundra.

 

#14. Are there really 3rd world living conditions in Alaska? Yes, in some villages there are, but they are getting better. You see, some areas with tundra cannot have septic tanks or underground pipes because the ground has permafrost (see above) and therefore you have either pipes running over-ground to a containment area or you use honey buckets or outhouses. What is a honey bucket? Well, it’s what you use indoors (a 5 gallon bucket) during the night and then in the morning you dump the honey bucket in the outhouse. You get the idea. So yes, in many ways, the villages in the bush do have 3rd world conditions, but they also have game systems, TV’s, phones, and microwaves.

honey bucket
Alaskan honey bucket.

 

And finally #15. Is there 24 hours of darkness year round? This question is tricky. Yes, in the winter in some northern areas, it can be dark 24 hours. In my area, an hours’ drive away from Anchorage, it is about 20 hours of darkness in the middle of winter. Also in the winter, you will need sunglasses because the sun doesn’t really rise above the horizon and will reflect off the ice directly into your eyes. However, in the summer, we can have up to 24 hours of daylight! At summer solstice in Fairbanks, they have the Midnight Sun festival with baseball at midnight without lights. You can hike till very late at night because you can see all night long. This really isn’t that great for those that want fireworks on the 4th of July and for those that are sensitive to light when they sleep. The sun doesn’t really go directly above your head in Alaska, but rather it skims around the horizon in a large circle.

winter sun
Watching a days worth of sun in the winter.

As you can see, there are a lot of rumors and myths about Alaska. I hope I have dispelled some of them and answered your questions. I love this state and I have lived and traveled all over Alaska, and my husband has worked on the North Slope from time to time. If you have any more questions, you are free to ask them in the comments section below and I will do my best to respond.