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The big catch

October 6, 2012 Hunting

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Chuck Mager from Chicora, took this 61" bull moose on Sept 25,2012 in the Wrangell Mountains, north east of Anchorage, Alaska.

CHICORA — Traveling across the country for a hunting trip — only to discover the season was closed — would be upsetting to some.

It proved beneficial to Chuck Mager.

Mager, 51, of Chicora scheduled a trip to Alaska to hunt mountain goat in 2005.

“I got off the plane and my outfitter told me that night the hunt was closed down, that the quota had been reached,” Mager said. “I stayed there for 10 days anyway.

“I got to see the area, saw how rugged the terrain was. It was good that I saw what I was getting myself into. Next time I went out there, I was better prepared and in better physical shape.”

That was in 2006 — and he got his goat.

Mager returned to Alaska in 2008 to go moose hunting. He was stranded in an Alaskan village for three days as the pilot crashed a plane twice while coming for him.

“The pilot wasn’t hurt ... The pontoons on the planes get smashed up by the rocks sometimes. It’s fairly common there,” Mager said.

No moose was bagged on that trip, but Mager made up for it on his fourth attempted hunting excursion in Alaska late last month.

He bagged a bull moose with a 61-inch spread, weighing approximately 1,400 pounds.

“The guide said it was the first bull moose with a 60-plus inch spread taken there in years,” Mager said.

It’s certainly not the first big game bagged by Mager.

He and his wife built a small trophy room in their home where Mager has 17 animal mounts. Included are an elk, caribou, antelope, mountain lion, kudu and impala, among others.

Mager has taken hunting trips to South Africa, Canada and Wyoming. His first trip was to Canada in 1993, hunting black bear.

“We didn’t get one there, but we headed on up to Quebec and got caribou,” he said.

The moose hunt was a bit more challenging.

Mager flew into Anchorage and rented a car. He drove 300 miles — the final 42 on a dirt road — before taking a 35-minute flight into the Wrangell Mountains.

“We were back in there pretty good,” Mager said. “They had just gotten two feet of snow, but it began to melt while we were there.

“We set up camp, packed clothes and a lunch, and hiked six to eight miles in search of a moose. We had to wade across rivers, the whole bit.”

About 300 yards away, Mager said he and the guide were watching two bulls fighting.

“It was incredible, seeing two 1,400-pound animals going at each other like that,” he said. “Once that settled down, we were about ready to leave when we heard something moving.

“The bull appeared, charging right at us, and I got him.”

Mager admits his big-game hunting years are winding down.

“It takes a lot of money to do this — that moose hunt was probably between $13,000 and $14,000 — and it’s hard finding people to go along,” he said. “I pretty much go alone with the guide anymore.

“I wouldn’t mind taking one more trip to Africa. I’d like to get a grizzly. After that, I’d consider the job just about done.”

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