The Golden Age of Monster Moose is Now

Moose Racks
Guide Jim Rae holds Jan Boenicke's monster bull moose rack at camp in the Yukon. "There were giants in the earth in those days" -Genesis 6:4 Today there are giants, too, giants called "moose." The moose is larger than any deer species that ever existed, rivaled only by the extinct giant deer, or "Irish elk." The giant deer surpasses the moose in antler spread (a maximum of 12 feet versus 6½), but the moose's antlers, at top weights of over 80 pounds, are actually the more massive. No moose is truly "small"; but there are an awful lot of monumental moose on the loose of late, including a potential new world's archery record, taken barely three months ago. It is a golden age for outrageous racks.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
A bull moose stands head and shoulders above brush in the "Burn," an area of some 4,000 square miles in Canada's Northwest Territories. To grow massive racks, bulls need habitat rich with food but where other moose are scarce. A bull moose's antlers are "luxury tissue" that demonstrate the health of both the animal and its habitat. According to moose expert Dr. Valerius Geist, for a young bull to grow superior antlers it must mature in a low-density population of moose and "in habitats rich in deciduous forage, primarily willows that grow in the flood plains and deltas of silt-laden rivers." Silt is extremely fertile soil and fewer moose mean less competition for the best food. But achieving low moose density is, like comedy, not pretty. In Geist's words, moose left to their own devices will enjoy "phenomenal birth rates." So to produce tremendous antlers, a moose population has to experience at least a decade of severe calf predation, usually carried out by bears. The poetic irony is that the grizzly's claws grow unmatched moose antlers. So as numbers go down, more trophies go up. The moose pictured here are all the Alaska-Yukon category of moose, the world's largest, coming from a wide, but related, geographic area of northeast Alaska and Canada's southern Yukon and southwest Northwest Territories. And the first one is the best of all.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Rene Langlois, "The Rack Man," poses with the new world record Pope & Young Alaska-Yukon moose. The top moose of 2008, and of recent years, was that taken by Quebec bowhunter, guide, and hunting-video producer Rene Langlois. Langlois, 48, who dubs himself "The Rack Man," and who people say is to hunting moose what the "horse whisperer" is to training horses, has been at it for three full decades. He has taken 40 moose himself, and guided other hunters to nearly 50 more. Twenty years ago, Langlois switched over exclusively from the rifle to the bow, and has used it to take 25 of his moose. This past September, while working for MacMillan River Adventures in the southeast part of the Yukon Territory, he successfully guided young hunter Steven Simard to a trophy moose. With that hunt completed, on the 18th Langlois went out after a moose of his own; and late in the afternoon, about ten miles from the base camp by boat across Earn Lake, accompanied by Simard, he spotted a moose about 500 yards from the shore. After landing, Langlois began to call and to use wooden "antler paddles," which he markets to imitate the look and sound of a moose's rack going through the brush, as he stalked up on the bull. At the same time, the bull began coming toward him, attracted by the calling.Courtesy of René Langlois, hommepanache.com/english
Moose Racks
The Rack Man stands beside his 6-foot-plus trophy. After only 20 minutes, Langlois and the moose met at eight feet. Drawing back his Matthews Drenalin compound, Langlois drove a Carbon Express Maxima arrow tipped with a 100 grain Rage broadhead into the moose's vital area. The huge bull wheeled and galloped off a thousand yards before collapsing. Now Langlois and his companion had to quarter up the bull and pack it back to the boat; and when they returned to camp, they found they had 1560 pounds of moose. Even more impressive was the rack. Its outside spread was 76 ½ inches; and its final Pope & Young score was 249 5/8ths, ranking it as the all time number one archery moose. Luckily, Langlois was able to have the hunt videoed for everyone to see.Courtesy of René Langlois, hommepanache.com/english
Moose Racks
Jan Boenicke with a trophy bull he shot in the Northwest Territories last fall. This 66 4/8-inch moose was taken by German hunter Jan Boenicke in early October, 2008, while hunting with South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., in the NWT's Mackenzie Mountains. While brewing coffee in spike camp, his guide Jim Rae gave a cow call. As they drank their coffee they smelled the scent of a rutting moose and stepped out of the tent to find an enamored bull 150 yards away. Rae and Boenicke, who was wearing only a pair of Crocs camp shoes, stalked closer and ended up with a moose that scored 247 2/8 B&C points, placing it near 15th in the all-time records bookCourtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Jan Boenicke back at camp. The rack stands over 5 ½ feet tall.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Another shot of the Boenicke bull.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Eric Pawlak with his Alaska moose, the number one bull of 2007. In 2007, Eric Pawlak applied for a limited draw tag in northeast Alaska and got a license. He hunted in the first half of September, traveling by boat along a river, glassing meadows and calling. On the third day of his ten day hunt, Pawlak took this 64-incher that scored 229 6/8ths and was recognized as the No. 1 moose of the year by the Alaska Professional Hunters Association. Pawlak hunted with a rifle but says that if he can ever draw again, he'll take his bow. Pawlak is the manager of Cabela's Trophy Application & Guide Service--T.A.G.S., 1-800-755-TAGS (8247).Courtesy of Cabela’s T.A.G.S., cabelas.com
Moose Racks
Jim Phillips shot this 70-inch wide moose in Alaska in 2007. A T.A.G.S. client, Jim Phillips also drew a tag in northeast Alaska in 2007. Hunting a vast flat flood plain, he and his guide were chasing a 65-incher. The bull seemed to want to get out of Dodge, and Phillips and his guide soon saw why when they spotted another bull across an oxbow lake. The guide began cow calling loudly, and the bull started toward them. The hunter and guide closed the distance while the bull went out of sight as it swam the oxbow. The bull came out of the water, shaking itself off, and passed broadside within 17 yards of Phillips. Still, the guide was not certain, until he cow called again and the moose turned its head to look at them. They went after the bull as it moved through a willow and alder break, and Phillips made a double lung shot with his rifle. The end result--an honest 70-inch moose scoring 226.Courtesy of Cabela’s T.A.G.S., cabelas.com
Moose Racks
Jimmy McLean with his bull. Texan Jimmy McLean took this bull on Labor Day, 2008, on the first day of his hunt with South Nahanni Outfitters. The rack had an outside spread of 63 inches and scored 217.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Michael Diekmann with his bull. Michael Diekmann of Germany was also hunting with South Nahanni in a four thousand square mile area of old burn. With his guide Robert Wagner, Diekmann spotted this bull across a small lake after breakfast on the 23rd of September in 2008. They called the moose, and Diekmann made the 200-yard shot across the lake and bagged the 225 6/8-point bull.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Robert Kuntz with his 72-incher. Thirty-nine-year-old Pennsylvania hunter Robert Kuntz got an Alaska tag through T.A.G.S. in 2008; and on the first day of his hunt he and his guide glassed a bull at the far end of a lake. When the moose bedded down, they paddled across in a rubber raft to get a better look. For an hour they stalked downwind of the moose, trying to find where it was lying, hidden in the tall grass. Then the guide spotted it and said it was a shooter. Kuntz made a 150 yard one-shot kill with his .375 H&H. As they came up on the bull, its rack only grew larger. At first they thought it would go 65 inches, but when they got back to camp and put a tape on it, they found that the spread was just under 73!Courtesy of Cabela’s T.A.G.S., cabelas.com
Moose Racks
Urs Hartmann and his bull. South Nahanni Outfitters' hunters did exceptionally well on moose in 2008. Liechtenstein hunter Urs Hartmann got this 62-inch, 216 B&C-point bull on September 17th, the eighth day of his hunt, after taking a good mountain caribou.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Frank Bertram with his bull. Hunting in the "burn" on October 1st with South Nahanni guide Jayo Molnar, German hunter Frank Bertram, a hunting buddy of Jan Boenicke, got this 217-point bull on the first half day in the field.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Bernhard Kittel and his 63-inch bull. This picture doesn't really do justice to this fine moose, taken on September 24th by Austrian hunter Bernhard Kittel (shown on the left with his friend Josef Steinbauer). The bull scored 226 points and had a 63-inch spread. Kittel took the moose on the ninth day of a 14-day mixed bag hunt on which he also took Dall sheep, mountain caribou, and mountain goat.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
Reinhard Hetzenecker hunted nearly two weeks before killing this bull. On September 28th last year, after hunting 13 straight days, Reinhard Hetzenecker of Germany and South Nahanni guide Kaleb Molnar called and worked this bull, which had been with two cows and a calf all day. Hetzenecker killed the 62-inch wide, 224-point moose in the evening, on the shore of "Hipwader Lake."Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
It takes a lot of energy for a moose to grow a rack this big. Here's the Boenecke bull. A few last words about moose's racks: The downside of them, for a moose, is that growing them causes an extreme drain on reserves of calcium and phosphate in a bull's skeleton, threatening it with a bone condition similar to osteoporosis in humans. If a bull cannot replace the nourishment it spent on growing a massive rack, then a hard winter, after a bull's shed its antlers, could prove fatal.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Would you fight this bull? Jan Boenecke poses behind his trophy. The obvious purpose of antlers is to beguile females and to overawe rival males.Courtesy of South Nahanni Outfitters, Ltd., huntnahanni.com
Moose Racks
The giant palms of antlers like these help bull moose hear. Rene Langlois with his bull. Recent studies have shown that the curved palms of a moose's antlers also serve a more functional purpose, however, acting as sonar collectors, like the dish of a parabolic microphone. Bull moose with antlers hear 19 percent better than those without--as when they've shed--letting them detect the mating calls of cow moose at distances of over two miles. Remember, you heard it here first.Courtesy of René Langlois, hommepanache.com/english
Moose Racks
The Rack Man and his bull.Courtesy of René Langlois, hommepanache.com/english

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