The Giants of Last Day Lake
This is the story of my trip to Alaska where I hunted moose and brown bear with George Siavelis of Aniak Alaska. In late August of 1995, I flew to Aniak via Anchorage. In Aniak, I was met by one of George's associates who placed me on a float plane flight into the wilderness of Alaska. After the plane landed on an unnamed lake I met George face to face and our hunting adventure began.
We spent the first day of the hunt just as we would the next several days. Basically glassing all day in search of large trophies. We saw caribou everyday, many of them within a few hundred yards or even tens of yards. One bull caribou that we watched for two days might have made the record books, but I wasn't really hunting caribou. Best estimates put the caribou probably scoring somewhere around 390+. Brown bear sows with cubs appeared and there were plenty of huge tracks along the creeks and lake shore made by large bears traveling alone (some of which were a full 9 inches wide). However we couldn't seem to find the bears who made the largest tracks, at least not in the beginning.
On the morning of the 7th day we climbed up to what was going to be our glassing hill for the day. As soon as we sat down, we spotted two moose below us about 400 yards away. One was a cow and the other a young bull. Shortly after, we saw another bull moose very close to us, but he was too small to consider taking. Later while we were eating lunch, I saw something that appeared to be a huge deadfall out in a small meadow, but I was pretty sure it hadn't been there just a moment before. The spotting scope was next to me and George suggested I take a look through it. "George, you better come look! It's a bull moose and he looks pretty good!" About 100 yards from this bull were two more bulls lying down. After looking over the bulls George got pretty excited and said," John, those are damn nice moose, everyone of those is a wall hanger, perhaps 65-66 inches." The bull was a long ways from camp so we discussed at length whether we should go after him or not. If I took him, I probably wouldn't get a brown bear, but then again it was the biggest moose I had ever seen live, or in any hunting camp taken by any hunter. I could hunt the rest of my life and not get another chance at such a moose. After careful consideration, we decided to go after them!
We took off like rockets. Three miles later, huffing and puffing, we reached the knoll we were aiming for. The two smaller bulls were still out in the open meadow about 400 yards from us. It wouldn't have taken much stalking at that point, and I would have been happy to take either one of them considering they may have gone 63 inches. However, George suggested we go after the big bull by calling him in. I thought this was crazy since the moose were not in rut. George looked at me sort of cocky and said, "He doesn't know that, he's only a moose!" I laughed, and covered my mouth so the other moose wouldn't hear me. We then walked several hundred yards up the hill through alders. George cupped his hands over his mouth and started emitting some pretty weird noises, known to him as cow bawls. He also used several lower pitched noises that sounded even weirder. The big bull thrashed brush and trees as he came towards us. It sounded like he was tearing down the forest! Far reaching antlers first, then a massive body too, stepped out from behind the trees!
As I stood there watching this huge magnificent beast rotating his head, I could hardly believe my eyes. I remember turning to look at George, who was smiling, with his fingers stuck in his ears. Obviously, this was my cue to shoot. I shouldered my .300 none too soon, as the behemoth unbelievably approached even closer. At a dangerously close 25 paces, I let him have it in the front shoulder. You would have thought all hell would have broken loose or at least for the bull to flinch. However the giant bull, now close enough to look up at, merely altered his course slightly, paused for a second, lunged one stride, stopped and just stood behind a tall bush. So I fired into the bull's other shoulder and the huge animal collapsed instantly. George and I stood over the fallen monarch in awe. We both realized and appreciated this great animal and the magnificent trophy that he was. He turned out to be 67" wide with very large palms.
What an impressive animal he was! What a great stalk, and fantastic hunt it had been! The sun had come out and it was a beautiful day. We gazed out over the beautiful, rugged valleys and mountains that as of yet, simply have no names. We were high on the mountain and it seemed we were on top of the world. It was then that we gave our lake a name. "Last-Day Lake!"