As a hunting consultant I am often in conversation with clients looking to go hunt moose for the first time.
Moose hunting is something that even the most well traveled high budget hunters only do a few times in their lifetime. Not because they aren’t enjoyable, but more that they are a bucket list species, once you have gotten the one you are looking for, most call it good. Most hunters are rookies at booking a hunt, and I find that many of them don’t have the proper information to find the hunt that would satisfy their trophy quality expectations, physical condition level and budget. With every client, I speak to, I give them my two cents on how to decide where to go and how much money to spend. The goal of this post will be to have a written form of that overview. I hope you find this helpful.
There is a lot of grey area in the moose hunting sub-species classifications so I won’t argue those points but simply break it down based on regions starting south and going north. Keep in mind that as moose progress north, they have adapted to the cold by increasing their body mass and their antler size has followed suit (general rule is further north you go the bigger the moose).
Shiras moose found mostly in the Rocky mountains of the western US is the smallest of all the sub species. It’s also one of the most difficult tags to draw. Some states like Utah have moose tags you can buy but you’ll pay a pretty penny for them. Those hunts often will require very good physical condition and the hunts will run around $13,000 with guaranteed tags. Average bulls on a good hunt will run about 30-40 inches wide.
Maine moose are considered a Canadian Moose and can be a very tough draw as well. The hunts are around $4,500 if you draw a tag, or you can buy Governor’s Tags for around $12-$15,000 at auction. Shooter bulls there are 38-50 inches.
Canada moose can be broken into three quadrants in my opinion. Everything east of Saskatchewan, as a general rule, will have smaller bulls from 20-40 inches but the prices can be from $4,000-$7,000. Buyer beware on these hunts as it has been my experience that many of these hunts can be a train wreck and you really have to know who you will be hunting with before you book. Be very careful of cheap hunts in this area. WITH MOOSE YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!!!
The second portion of Canada is Saskatchewan and Alberta. Many of these hunts are associated with agriculture and have a decent amount of resident pressure on the bulls limiting trophy quality to 20-40 inch bull averages. There are pockets that produce better bulls but for the most part this is just a moose hunt. What I do like about these farm country hunts, like in the Peace River country of Alberta is you will see many bulls during your hunt. It’s a great spot and stalk hunt and can be conducive to archery as many times you can ambush bulls coming out of the fields. Hunts here range from $5,500-$7,000.
Lastly, British Colombia, in my option stands alone in the moose world in Canada in producing large bulls with a good bang for the buck. The key to moose hunting in British Columbia is getting remote by horse, or float plane. The further back you go the better the bulls will be. Bulls in BC, especially northern BC can push over that magical 50 inch mark. A 50 inch bull in the Prince George are is defiantly a shooter and north of Smithers a guy can get into 60 inch bulls. The key to BC is to get remote. Hunts for bulls in BC that average 40-50 will cost between $7000-$10,000 and further north with 50-60+ inch bulls a guy will pay $10-$14,000 and likely have a extra fee for a float plane.
Let’s talk Alaska bulls. (I’m leaving out Russia because those hunts are just not consistent enough and bulls are mostly hunted from helicopters and not a hunt I like to associate with). Alaska is also all about remoteness and even then you may be competing with resident hunters in some areas. Good Alaska moose hunts will run from $14,00-$22,000 and most good ones will average around 55-65 inches with some bulls pushing up to 70 inches. Many of the best areas are on draws and in my opinion this is one of the best ways to hunt AK bulls if you are patient enough to wait till you draw. Alaska’s high costs are all about plane flights. It’s very expensive to get you remote, but even more, it’s expensive to get your moose back out.
In conclusion, it’s important to realize that moose are one of the most fragile species to weather, predation and habitat conditions. If you will be hunting a hunt reliant on calling in dense terrain, pray for cool weather or it’s likely you won’t even see a bull. It’s nice to hunt areas that have both spotting capabilities along with calling as hunting strategies in case it gets warm. It’ll increase your odds. Also know that there are not many hunts anywhere where you will see more than just a couple bulls on your hunt. The moose per square mile with their sedentary ways makes for most hunts to be lots of work to see a few bulls. This is one area where I see a ton of misinformation very often.
I hope you find this helpful. My favorite hunts for moose can be found here.
Happy hunting… Marc Warnke 208 867-6675