One of 10 names drawn in a state-sponsored youth hunt, Kilina Klaich, 10, of Anchor Point, shot her first moose on a hunting trip with her family near Delta.
Going hunting isn't new for 10-year-old Kilina Klaich of Anchor Point. Hunting has been a family event since her parents Steve and Bea Klaich were married in 1992. It has continued to grow as a group activity with the birth of each of the couple's four children.
Nor was the hunt earlier this month Kilina's first successful hunt.
"I shot two ptarmigan last year," she said.
What Kilina brought home this year, however, was considerably larger than a ptarmigan. This year she brought home the meat from a 700-pound bull moose.
She credits her father with teaching her how to shoot. Her brother, Blake, 12, has inspired her with his successes, which include bear and caribou. In addition, Kilina also has completed a hunter safety course taught by Tom Hagberg.
Armed with that knowledge and experience, Kilina entered her name in a State of Alaska youth moose hunt. Hers was one of 10 names to be drawn, allowing her to hunt from Sept. 7-10, in the Bison Range Youth Hunt Management Area near Delta Junction.
Arriving at the two fields approved for the hunt, Kilina and her family spent the evening of Sept. 7 exploring the area. They spotted one moose. They also spotted three grizzlies.
"They were all the same size, but we're guessing it was a sow with two older cubs," Steve Klaich said. "We changed where we were walking and they crossed the trail and went into the trees."
The next day, Kilina and her family returned to the area early in the day, but the hunting effort proved unsuccessful. They were back again in the afternoon and resumed looking for a moose that fit Fish and Game's requirements. It could be a bull or it could be antlerless. If a bull, it had to have a spike-fork or 50-inch antlers or antlers with four or more brow tines on at least one side. If antlerless, it had to be a cow without a calf.
"There was a real healthy moose population up there, but all the cows we were seeing had calves with them," Bea Klaich said. "Then we ended up finding a forked-horn bull that walked right out in front of (Kilina)."
Carefully preparing for her shot, Kilina aimed her Winchester Model 88 .243 with the help of a shooting stick.
"They allow an adult to back up if necessary, so my husband got ready for a back-up shot," Bea Klaich said.
Waiting until the bull turned broadside toward her, Kilina pressed the trigger.
"She did a really good job placing her shot right behind the shoulder, into the lungs," Bea Klaich said.
Shooting the moose didn't mean Kilina's work was finished.
"She helped skin it and once we got home, she helped cut and wrap it," Steve Klaich said. "She was involved in the entire process."
The hunter safety course Kilina attended was taught by Tom Hagberg.
"I teach everybody from 10-year-olds to 70-year-olds," Hagberg said of the course that is required in some states and on all military bases in Alaska.
Kilina's hunting success did not surprise Hagberg.
"I did this class last year and two girls got black bears and then they each got sheep. For a couple of young girls hunting with their dad, they did real well."
For information on future hunter safety courses or to sign up for the muzzle-loading course, call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 262-9368.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I really appreciate Fish and Game making this opportunity available to the youth of our state," Steve Klaich said. "It's a wonderful opportunity for kids."
With daylight beginning to fade, Kilina and her family quickly began the task of skinning the moose and preparing to pack it out of the area.
"Where Kilina ended up shooting the moose was just a half mile from where the bears were the previous night, so we were glad to be out of there before dark," Steve Klaich said.
Now, with the meat wrapped and in the freezer, Kilina is still enjoying "the entire process."
"We had hamburgers and burger on pizza," she said. "It was good."
A muzzle-loader certification course also will be offered Oct. 13 through Kachemak Gun Club. The fee is $20.
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