Anchorage, Alaska - Hunters took to the Anchorage Hillside today, opening day for the first moose hunt there in more than 20 years. State Fish and Game are attempting to reduce the moose population so, until the end of November, hikers will share the trail with hunters.
As the city of Anchorage wakes, up at the Glen Alps parking lot, Dave Fountain and Mark Jones arrived and geared up. They begin a short walk to the hunting grounds.
"There's a lot of work to it, especially once you get the animal. You don't realize how much an animal weighs till it's on your back in pieces," said Fountain.
Fountain is one of four hunters permitted to target moose in the first Hillside hunt in more than 20 years.
"That's why they're opening this, 'cause they got so many animals, too many animals," said Fountain (right).
Once on the Powerline Pass trail, they find a target-rich environment. It doesn't take long for the two to realize that they've got some competition. A big brown bear has its own sights on the moose they're eyeing. While the two men watched, the bear maneuvered close to the prey, and then the moose would flee.
"If the moose is foolish enough to get in the bears' way, the bear would take him down pretty easy. Matter of fact, a bear that size be a little bit easier than most," said Jones.
After about a half hour, the bear moseys off and Fountain and Jones take up the chase. While hunt goes on, hikers work their way up Powerline Pass and they're not thrilled about the new hunt.
"It is a little bit scary thinking about coming out here with people shooting," said Sandy Estenson, hiker (right).
Meanwhile, Fountain and Jones find a group of three moose. Fountain works his way in for a shot, and then he notices one has what appears to be a collar monitor.
"It ain't the type I'm used to. I don't know if they use different ones in different places or not. It kind of looks like it's just got rope around its neck," said Fountain.
As he questions whether it's OK to shoot a collared moose, from out of nowhere a dog appears and off go the moose. They follow them into a dense thicket of trees, at which time, some of us are thinking more about the bear than the moose.
Fountain spots a bull hiding in the trees. But for this hunt, one can only take moose without antlers. He spots a cow, but he wants the one with the collar because he feels it's too tight and thinks the moose may not make it through the winter. But that one does not emerge.
"If I had to shoot one of the two animals I would have rather shot the one that looked like it wouldn't survive over the winter time because of the collar and maybe the collar wasn't that tight it just looked awfully tight to me," said Fountain.
The moose sightings evaporate and the two head back to the car. They are confident, with a little patience, they will get their moose.
"If I was out and today was the only day, the moose without the collar would have been dead," said Fountain.
The moose season runs through the end of November. Only black powder rifles and shotguns with slugs are allowed. All the hunters have to pass a firearms proficiency test before they're allowed to participate.
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