One of the unique things that we are proud to offer here at Lazy J Bar O Outfitting is our fully outfitted, unguided moose hunt. In addition to our guided Alaska moose hunts, we offer a non-guided experience for experienced hunters who prefer to hunt the Alaskan bush on their own, but without the hassle of having to plan, prepare and set their own camp in a remote, quality hunting location.
We recently spoke with Bryce Hofer, one of our clients who joined us on an unguided moose hunt during the 2016 season. Here’s what Bryce had to say about his experience:
Q: How did you hear about Lazy J Bar O Outfitters and the unguided moose hunt?
Bryce: I was looking for moose hunting opportunities and I found Lazy J Bar O Outfitters on GoHunt.com. I noticed that they are headquartered in Big Timber, Montana. I am from Lewistown, Montana so I sent them a message and Mike got back to me right away.
Q: How was your experience getting to camp?
Bryce: It was a really enjoyable trip. We flew to Anchorage and then to Fairbanks. From there we rented a car drove to Healy the next day. The charter flew us from Healy to camp, which is a quick flight.
I would suggest doing it this way. It’s possible for the charter to fly you to camp from Fairbanks. But weather can more easily complicate this longer flight and cause delays. If you drive to Healy, the pilot can get much more reliably get you to camp the same day. Plus, driving to Healy gave us a chance to really see the culture and get to know Alaska a little better.
Q: What did you experience when you arrived at camp?
Bryce: When we arrived at the Lazy J Bar O base camp, Mike and the guides had everything ready, including the horses and the food. We quickly took off to set up our remote camp. We rode in seven miles on horseback to our camp spot. When we arrived, the packers cut firewood and poles for their wall tent. They helped set up everything that was needed. They had packed a ton of snacks and Mountain House meals.
Q: How would you describe the hunting area?
Bryce: The camp was high up, in a thick area with lots of trees and brush. The ground here has a thick layer of moss and you have to watch your step. It would be easy to roll your ankle. In eight days of hunting we probably counted 20 or 25 moose. Because of the thick vegetation, many of the encounters were within 40 yards. We would often hear them walking when we would stop to catch our breath.
Q: How did you end up finding your moose?
Bryce: The first 3 or 4 days it was terribly hot, in he mid to high 70’s. It was beautiful, but not good hunting. Every day after that it was rain or overcast and got progressively cooler. On day four of the hunt, I missed a legal moose. The moose was only 20 yards away and there was a tree between us. It was so thick that when I pulled up my rifle, I ended up hitting the tree. It was the first legal bull we had seen. It was a large bull and I knew immediately it was legal. When I hit the tree, it was a devastating moment.
Throughout the hunt we ran into eight or 10 other bulls that I wasn’t confident about being legal. I didn’t want to push the limits and risk shooting a 49-inch bull. On the last day of the hunt, it was very rainy. After several days of rain, we were wet and feeling discouraged. Throughout the day we made shelters under trees to stay dry but finally decided to head back to camp. On that final walk back to camp, we spotted a bull on the ridge across from us. We could tell that he was legal and I made the shot at 225 yards, the furthest we’d seen a bull all week. After the mishap earlier in the trip, it was a massive relief. After waiting for the last 15 years for this opportunity, it felt great to finally get it done.
Q: What were your final impressions, and would you recommend this trip to others?
Bryce: I would definitely recommend Lazy J Bar O Outfitters. They were so awesome and had everything we needed. It was an incredible experience and they helped with anything. We had satellite phones to communicate and they would check in from base camp to make sure everything was okay. The packers would bring anything or help us as needed. It was a great trip overall.
Thanks to Bryce for sharing about his experience on our unguided Alaska moose hunt! We appreciate his recommendation. Congratulations, Bryce on an outstanding trophy moose!
We are thrilled to be able to offer this type of experience for experienced hunters who wish to experience a DIY moose hunt. But we help make it logistically feasible, safe and comfortable by providing a fully outfitted camp and the horses to get there and back.