AK: Michigan hunter survives after Alaskan moose hunt adventure ends with plane crash

Michigan man on Alaskan moose hunt adventure survives bush plane crash (hometownlife.com)

10/10/2022

Casey West left Michigan and headed into the Alaskan wild for an unforgettable adventure.

He feels lucky to have gotten out alive after it ended in a plane crash.

“It was an experience,” West, a 36-year-old Brandon Township resident, said. “Hopefully I never have this exact experience again, but it was an adventure.”

West, a nurse at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc, was excited and worry-free as he set out on his lifetime dream of an Alaskan moose hunt.

This was a stark contrast to his wife, Samantha, who increased her husband’s life insurance policy ahead of the trip. She was concerned over the safety of a bush plane, the biggest risk of such a trip, with about 10 crashes per season.

“That is the only way to get around out there — flying by bush plane,” West said.

Her fears were well-founded, although West noted that flying by a bush, or float, plane is the only way to get around Alaska, and a car accident would be more likely.

Usually.

West and his two traveling companions arrived in King Salmon Sept. 11. The following day, a bush pilot flew them without incident to Unit 9E, a game management area in the Alaska Peninsula.

The trio then hiked a half-mile to set up camp in tents. The next day, the hunt was on and West wasted no time getting his moose, described as the hardest hunt he’s ever done.

“I was not prepared for how big these animals are,” he said, noting that he had shot elk before, but the moose was twice as large.

The moose was easy to spot from nearly 2 miles away, and West stalked the animal until he was within 140 yards, from where he got a clean shot. It took two full days to pack out more than 700 pounds of meat from the kill, carrying it in a backpack as he slogged miles through boggy terrain where he sank to his kneecap with each step.

It was cold, wet and miserable, he recalled. Conditions were about to deteriorate dramatically with a tsunami and 50-70 mph winds forcing them to shelter in the tent for two days.

Chaos would resume the next day when one of the hunters nearly got trampled by a bull moose that did two fake charges, coming within five feet. Due to hunting restrictions, the animal was not large enough to kill.

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