My success with the white sheep had come only with the hardest kind of work, but I now had five really fine heads—which I later increased to six, my limit. I was quite satisfied with the measurements of these horns along the curve, but had hoped to have shot at least one which would tape over 14 inches around the butts, although this would be extreme, for the horns of the white sheep do not grow so large as the common Rocky Mountain variety. They are also much lighter in color. I believe that large and perfect heads will be most difficult to find a few years hence in this section, and the sportsman who has ambitions in this direction would do well not to delay his trip too long; for this range of hills is not over large, and unless these sheep have some protection, it is only a question of time before they will be almost entirely killed off.
HUNTING THE GIANT MOOSE
On September 17 we packed up and moved down the lake several miles, where we made another base of supplies, for we were now going upon the moose range.
The rutting season of the moose begins on the Kenai Peninsula about the 15th of September, and lasts, roughly speaking, for one month. At this time the bulls come from the remote places where they have passed the summer and seek the cows, and the country which they now roam is generally the high tablelands which lie at the base of the mountains just below the timber line. We had timed our hunt to be in the moose range during this season, for then the bulls are bold, and not so difficult to find.
Bull moose differ from the rest of the deer family in not getting together a big band of cows, but pair off. The female remains with the bull only a short time, and then slips away, and then the bulls roam the forest in search of other partners. They are now very fearless, and if they come upon a female accompanied by another bull, fight gallantly to get possession of her. Their sense of smell is rather dulled at this time, for I have often seen their tracks following the trail which my native was constantly traveling.
The calves are born in May or June, and are weaned during the rutting season, for the bulls are very apt to drive them away from their mothers.
The antlers are hardly out of the velvet before the rutting season begins. They are then a light yellowish color, but are later stained dark brown by constant rubbing and scraping against bushes and tree trunks.
The moose of Alaska undoubtedly carry heads far grander than those found in the East. In fact, the antlers of the Kenai Peninsula moose equal, if they do not exceed in size, those from any other part of the world, and it was my ambition to kill by still-hunting a good example of one of these.
Calling moose I have never looked upon as true sport, unless the hunter does his own calling, and I am glad to see that many feel in the same way about this mode of hunting.