By Jessianne Wright EBS Contributor
BOZEMAN – For Rory Egelus, the recent installation of his record bull moose mount in the showroom at Mortise + Tenon Woodworks is an opportunity to honor the animal and the tradition of hunting.
“I think displaying it here in a public place allows people to view it and appreciate it,” said Egelus, who owns and operates the rustic furniture store at Four Corners.
Egelus harvested the bull moose last September on a family hunting trip in his home state of Alaska. From Montana, he took a series of commercial flights to the village of Aniak, Alaska, meeting his father, brother and a close family friend on the way.
From Aniak, the crew flew out in two small bush planes—piloted by Egelus’ dad and friend—to the Innoko River that flows into the Yukon. During the 10-day hunt, they stayed on a houseboat complete with four bunks and a propane burner stove.
“We were out in the middle of nowhere,” Egelus said, adding that each morning, the party would take a skiff to land and spend the day looking for bulls with binoculars and spotting scopes. “The number one strategy?” he said. “Patience. Being quiet, sitting, glassing.”
Near the tail end of the trip, both brothers successfully harvested mature bull moose after calling them in by tapping shed antlers against trees to mimic the sound of another bull.
“They think you’re another bull and they want to defend their territory,” Egelus said.
“We could hear it before we could see it,” he added, describing when they called in his bull. “Trees were moving, brush was rustling, our hearts were racing. We could hear him snorting and kicking up grass with his horns.”
Egelus estimated the bull weighed 1,500 pounds, and he brought back every bit of the meat—between 600 and 700 pounds.
The 2017 trip was his first successful moose harvest, and he couldn’t be happier with the result. The freezer is still full, he said, adding that his favorite way to prepare moose is burgers with barbecue sauce.
He elected to have the hide and antlers mounted by Larry McMurphy of Woodland Taxidermy in Palmer, Alaska. The mount was shipped to the lower 48 in a 5-foot crate.
The mount is a strong representation of a Boone and Crockett hall-of-famer. Officially measured with the record-keeping Boone and Crockett Club, Egelus’ bull tied for 49th in the world—meaning it’s tied for the 49th largest bull moose ever recorded.
For the Boone and Crockett Club, moose are scored based on the size of their antlers. This includes the width between each antler, the circumference of the beams, the length and width of the palm, and the number of regular and atypical point formations.
Egelus’ moose has broomed antlers on the top, a situation where a portion of the antler is worn down from rubbing against brush and raking against trees.
The Alaskan moose is different from the subspecies of moose in Montana. Known as the Alaska Yukon, it is the largest moose subspecies. Montana’s Shiras moose inhabits the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. and Canada.
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” Egelus said. “To be successful, not because it was a trophy moose, but to be successful for both me and my brother and to spend time with my dad … it’s an experience my brother and I will never forget.”