By Joseph Robertia
Bagging an opening-day moose is the hoped for — if acknowledged as improbable — goal of scores of hunters donning their camouflage and orange vests and heading to the woods Aug. 20. For Randy Adkins, of Kasilof, the unexpected became reality this year when he shot a spike-fork bull just hours into the rifle-hunting season opener, and not more than few miles from home.
“I was pretty lucky,” he said. “It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
Adkins, a carpenter, decided to take the day off of work, bolstered by the idea that there seemed to be an abundance of young bull moose on the move this season.
“I’ve seen a lot of legal bulls between home and Soldotna, more than ever, so I thought my chances were a little better this year,” he said.
Adkins got up at first light. Pink and blue were just starting to show in the sky above, and the air was still cool and damp. He wiped the dew from the seat of his four-wheeler, hopped on and set off for a large swamp a few miles from his home, where he thought he could use his binoculars to glass for big, brown movement.
“It was about 8:30 a.m. and only about three miles from my house when I first saw them,” he said. “It was two moose a couple of hundred yards off the trail.”
Adkins quickly killed the motor of his machine, and slowly began working toward the animals to get a better look.
“It looked like a spike-fork still with its mom, but I wanted to be damn sure it was legal,” he said.
He moved toward the pair of ungulates that were still munching on young shoots, apparently unaware they were being stalked by a bipedal predator. Adkins got to within 70 yards before they caught wind of his presence.
“They were on to me,” he said. “The mom spooked and ran about 20 yards, but the young bull just stood there.”
Adkins got a good look at the animal and determined it was legal. He checked his line of fire and saw it was safe to make a shot, so he put away the binoculars and unslung the .338 Ruger from his shoulder. He set the crosshairs for a clean heart-lung shot, exhaled and pulled the trigger.
“He stood there, so I knelt down and boom,” he said. “I got him in one shot.”
The bull dropped so close to the trail that Adkins was able to use his cell phone to call a few neighbors to help him hoist the moose onto the four-wheeler, so he didn’t have to sweat and struggle to pack it out on his back.
“It was the second-easiest bull I’ve ever got,” he said.
The first and easiest bull Adkins harvested came two days into the season, but that was nine years ago while tending to his sled dogs.
“I was out feeding my dogs when they started acting up and barking,” he said. “I looked up and saw a young bull just behind the yard.”
Thinking the moose would spook at the sound of so much noise, Adkins went about his business and finished feeding his dogs, but as the young bull still lingered, he put down the feeding bucket and picked up his rifle.
“I dropped that one right next to my driveway,” he said. “That one was definitely the easiest moose I ever got.”
A few years after bagging that bull he killed another moose in defense of life and property in his front yard. It had come during a cold winter night and was attempting to stomp several of Adkins’ sled dogs.
Startled by the scene, he grabbed the closest thing he could reach — a piece of firewood about 4 inches in diameter. Adkins, who is known around Kasilof as an expert when it comes to tossing horseshoes, flung the chunk of spruce. It hurdled end over end and collided with the young moose’s forehead. The throw dropped the 600-pound animal dead in its tracks.
“That one doesn’t count, though,” he said.
While getting a moose on opening day — and the past one just a day later — was serendipitous, Adkins said other hunters may not want to envy him.
“I’m really not that lucky,” he said. “Those are the only two moose I’ve gotten in 22 years.”