Love, Thunder & Bull

Len Backus

Staff member
May 2, 2001
This is a long range hunting story if you consider what a long range it was from my home in Wisconsin to Alaska.

On page 1,144 of the big hard-bound Cabela's catalog from this past fall you will see a moose hunting video titled as above. Footage of my 65 inch Alaskan moose being shot is included along with that of my son.

When my son, Andy, graduated from college in 1997 I told him I would take him on the hunt of his choice to celebrate. What sacrifices I won't go through for my children!
He chose moose in Alaska and I chose outfitter Wayne Kubat from Wasilla, Alaska. In mid-September we met Wayne and headed out by four seat plane to the small strip where Wayne's Super Cub was stashed. One at a time Wayne took us further into the wilderness NW of Wasilla and we set up camp in sight of just the very top of the Mount Denali's peak. The flight took us over dozens of small lakes and ponds, sprinkled here and there.

Upon reaching our camp we landed and there we met Wayne's guide whose name I have forgotten so I'll call him Jim. Jim was a retired air force colonel who owns his own Super Cub. His plane was parked a hundred feet or so from our tents. Quite an interesting guy. The fact that he chewed tobacco and was unshaven was incongruent with the fact that he was very articulate and obviously quite intelligent.

Upon arrival we put our stuff in the biggest tent and then followed both guides a hundred yards from camp where Jim and Wayne proceeded to call for bull moose. Moose can hear from a very long distance and the guides alternated between blowing through Wayne's home-made fiberglas moose call and then using an axe to pound against a tree. Wayne makes and sells these calls, named "The Moose Magnet". The idea, this late in the day, was to bring in a bull through the night from a mile or so out to a spot closer to our camp.

The next morning at dawn Wayne climbed up into a strap-on deer stand attached fifteen feet up in a tree 50 yards from our tents. He was taking first turn at spotting for bulls that may be within sight as dawn broke. Meanwhile, Jim cooked breakfast and Andy and I ate. After a while Wayne came down and Andy went up the tree to take his turn spotting. I was still putting my stuff away and organizing my gear when Andy whispered down to us that he saw a bull coming our way.

Wayne and Jim quickly left the tent but it still took me another minute or so to find my hat, cartridges and other stuff but soon I was on my way. Andy was down from the spruce tree by now and we all scurried a couple hundred yards to an ambush spot. I was to be the first shooter and by now I could see my first Alaskan bull moose. BIG, aren't they! He was coming down a small hill quite purposefully toward our position.

I was carying a rifle chambered in .416 Weatherby. This is more gun than you need for moose but I had gotten it for a future dangerous game hunt and wanted to try it out. Kneeling behind some brush, I took a shot at the monster at about 125 yards.

In the video, Wayne narrates and says something like: "Watch closely and you will see the fur fly when Len Backus hits this bull with his .416 Weatherby." I knew the lung shot meant the big bull was dead on his feet but he didn't seem to know it. He changed direction and started running. I stood and got off one more shot as he neared a big stand of trees where he then fell. Walking up to him, he looked even bigger. His antler spread measure 65 inches. While Wayne video taped, I said something really erudite into the camera like: "Well, he's bigger that a breadbox!".

The next day we saw no moose and the guides tried their evening call routine again. Then the next morning Lady Luck apeared again. Andy shot his bull moose and we celebrated the end of a fine father-son experience.

[ 01-12-2004: Message edited by: Len Backus ]
Man , that about made me well up.

Its a great thing that a father and son can share such great moments and memories

I wish my father hunted , luckly I had a great Uncle.
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