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Camping out in the Cold -Arctic Circle Style

Actic Circle Colville River

In the early 80's 6 of us took a trip up to the Colville river in the Alaska wildlife Refuge to go moose hunting.  It took us three different flight segments to get there, finally landing on the "mile stretch" on the Colville river about an hours flight time above Umiat, a native village.  We flew in two twenty foot freighter canoes and enough food for two weeks.  This was in early to mid September.  The flight in was through Anuktuvik pass and the scenery was awesome to say the least, but the destination scenery was a little boring - lots of tundra, tussock grass, a relatively slow moving river and small alder bushes along the fiver bank.  On the far side from camp, was a higher bank, about 100 feet high, that actually had a coal seam on it, of very poor quality coal.  The willow trees were scrawny so making a fire was difficult, but doable.

 

We had two tents, one of which had a propane heater in it, and ours, with no heater, and a broken zipper, so the door was open all the time.  We didn't have super down bags, as we were afraid if they got wet they wouldn't be warm, so to get the temperature up in the bags at night, we would put some big round river rocks in the fire and then pull them out of the fire, wrap them in a towel, and insert them into the sleeping bag a few minutes prior to climbing into the bag for the night.  It worked like a charm.  The temperature would get down to zero at night, and we got a little snow once in awhile, but it was very bearable, as they say.

 

We eventually wound up killing 5 moose and pileing them up on a bunch of sticks about 100 feet from camp, surrounded by some cans on strings, with rocks on them.  There were lots of Grizzlies around, a few wolverines, wolves, foxes.... just lots of things that could disturb a meat cache, but they never did

 

One night, Harry got up in the night and put on some special strapped boards that looked a little like a bear print and walked around the tent, then took them off and hid them.  Squats, who never had been on an adventure like this in his life, went out later, saw the prints and was scared out of his mind.  A few bear stories didn't help matters.  It was on this trip, looking at the enormous head of a Grizzly, as he was ambling to where I was, that I decided that i was going to get a bigger caliber gun than a 30-06.

 

they say the Grizzlies are smaller up there, but I saw a couple running down from a low hill and cruising across the tundra, with the folds of their fur flapping in their stride, and they sure looked big enough to me.

As it turned out, that was all I needed to down, in one shot, a 78" spread moose, however we never found the bullet hole, so I think it must have gone up his nose and right into his brains and then mushed that up.  It was about where I was aiming as he was facing me dead on with his head above the willows, but his body hidden by them and not wishing to deflect a bullet in the brush, I aimed for right between the eyes.  He dropped out of sight so quick, I wasn't at all sure I had hit him..

 



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