When you can't find what you're looking for, sometimes taking a peek from a different perspective can open up a whole new world of possibilities.
That tactic worked like a charm for 11-year-old Kristyn Brown of Soldotna, helping her take down her first moose -- a bull with a 69 1/2-inch rack -- Oct. 1 during the past season.
Brown was hunting with her 14-year-old brother, Jared, her father, Tim, and a family friend, Mark Miller, near Cottonwood Creek on the south shore of Skilak Lake. Both Kristyn and Jared had drawn moose hunt permits for the area, and after setting up camp above the tree line, the party scouted and glassed the surrounding hillsides for three days.
"We had gone down to the tree line where some small alders were and sat there in the morning," Tim said. "We did see quite a few moose about two miles from us, but we just decided those moose were too far for us."
With some bad weather setting in, the group considered heading back to base camp, but chose to check out one more spot before packing up.
"We had already been there, and we hadn't seen any moose," Tim said. "We just happened to be on the upper side of a small patch of stunted hemlock. As we made our way around and cleared to the right, there was a bull lying down in front."
Because they figured they would just be scouting the area, Kristyn and Jared had left their guns back at camp. Tim said the bull saw them before they saw him, and it would have been too far to run back to camp for the rifles and still have a shot at the bull.
Instead, Kristyn borrowed Miller's 300 Winchester Magnum and moved into position for a good shot, a jaunt of several hundred yards.
"The whole time we were trying to tell if he was legal," Tim said. "We ended up on a small knob on the ridge, and we had determined that he was way big enough."
Kristyn said she was nervous taking the shot because the Winchester was different than the gun she had practiced with, a 7mm-08.
After figuring out how much pressure was needed to pull the trigger, Kristyn fired three shots and, it later was determined, hit the bull twice at a distance Tim estimated to be 250 yards.
Without anymore ammunition, Miller and Jared went back to camp while Kristyn and Tim kept an eye on the moose, which had moved into a timber stand.
"He started tearing everything up with his antlers," Tim said, adding that he was worried Kristyn hadn't hit the bull at all.
The bull eventually moved into a meadow and laid down, watching his backtrail.
"I said, 'You know, it looks like he's trying to get up. You may have hit him,'" Tim said.
When Miller and Jared returned with more ammunition and the 7mm-08, Kristyn chose to stay with the Winchester and dropped the moose.
Kristyn said the rack, which measured 69 1-2 inches, was the biggest she'd ever seen.
"It caused quite a fuss when we brought it in," Tim said, adding that there were quite a few surprised faces when he announced it was his daughter that bagged the moose.
Tim said the experience was worth all the effort.
"This is the first time the kids have really got to go on their own hunt," Tim said.
"They've gone hunting with me, but this time I was just there helping. I wasn't hunting at all. It was a lot of fun."
Kristyn said she enjoyed learning about all the different aspects of a hunt and thanked everyone who helped out, including her grandfather, Tom Domina, who ferried the party across Skilak Lake.
Kristyn said the rack will be mounted and displayed at the new house into which the family is planning to move. Meanwhile, there's been plenty of moose meat served in the household.
"It's probably the bratwurst we had made," she said.
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