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Big moose

Alaska hunter Israel Payton poses with the huge moose he shot this season.

It’s hard to talk about this year’s big Alaskan moose without at least mentioning Israel Payton’s.

While there were plenty of big bulls taken in Interior Alaska this fall, by far the biggest moose I’ve heard about was taken in Southcentral Alaska.

With an antler spread of 80 inches (when it left the field) this moose is among the biggest reported in Alaska.

Unlike the 14 photographs in this year’s 60-Inch Club, Payton’s moose photo didn’t show up in my inbox. I called and asked if I could include his photo after hearing about it from Anchorage TV station KTUU. Payton lives in Wasilla where he works for an aviation parts business. He’s a member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, and has worked as a pilot, hunting guide, commercial fisherman and in the construction industry.

Payton took his moose during a hunt in mid-September. The hunt took some patience because the moose bedded down in the willows 200 yards away just as he was about to take a shot.

“We waited in the tundra for two hours in the wind and the rain and all of a sudden he just stood up,” Payton said.

Payton shot it with a 7mm Remington Magnum, the same rifle cartridge he uses for hunting all of Alaska’s big game species.

By the numbers, Payton estimates the moose yielded somewhere between 700 and 800 pounds of meat. The antlers and skull alone weighed 105 pounds. While the antlers were 80 inches across in the field, they’ve since shrunk to just less than 80 inches as they’ve dried, he said.

One way to compare this moose with past moose is by using the formulas used by the Safari Club International or the Boone and Crockett Club. Payton said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll enter the moose for consideration in the record books.

Wasilla hunting guide Aaron Bloomquist gushed about the moose’s antlers in a Facebook post this month after having seeing them in person. The moose is impressive even if it doesn’t break any records, although Bloomquist suspects it is the rare type of moose that could do well under the Safari Club or Boone and Crockett criteria.

“It has it all, 80 inches wide, long and wide palms, and just enough junk. It is a couple inches thick in some areas of the palms! I have been in the same room with #1-3 B&C (the top-scored Boone and Crockett moose) over the years and none of them come close to impressing like this thing!”

Payton’s moose is sure to inspire a winter full of debate about how this moose compares with moose of past seasons.

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