KENAI - For many hunters, the only thing greater than the excitement of stalking and eventually bagging a big bull moose is mounting their prize so the hunt can be relived in their mind each and every time their eyes fall upon it.
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Not all hunters will know the success of bringing down a trophy-sized bull, though, but thanks to the staff of Trustworthy Hardware and Fishing in Soldotna, hunters and non-hunters alike can imagine what the experience is like when they enter the store by gaze up at an unbelievable huge ungulate brought down by Chuck Winters, of Soldotna, last fall.
"I just got it back from the taxidermist the first week of March and took it over there to hang," Winters said.
He shot the brown behemoth on Sept. 12, 2006, in Game Management Area 23, above the Arctic Circle, in an unusual series of events. Winters' hunting partner, Matt Chambers, had just shot a big bull of his own. In the excitement, the two men were preparing to high five each other when the realized Chambers moose had not been alone.
About 20 yards south of the moose Chambers had shot, a second and massive bull stood from behind the grasses and brush. Winters said he knew right away that it was not an average bull. He quickly unslung his rifle, chambered a round and shot the moose.
The moose weighed roughly 1,500 pounds, and Winters realized his bull might be more than just big, it could be among the biggest. After drying the rack, he had it measured to determine if it could be placed among the biggest Alaska-Yukon moose racks in the Boone and Crockett all-time record book - a record keeper for North American trophy hunters.
Racks are scored - given a number - by using five measurements, and by their symmetry. The measurements are taken using the width of the spread, the width of the palms, the length of the palms, the circumference of the bases and by counting the number of actual points on each side. To make the Boone and Crockett record book, a moose rack must score at least 224 points, and the current record holders rack scored is 261 points.
"My moose was 240 and an eighth, which makes it 50th of all-time, which is still pretty impressive considering there;s several hundred moose in the book," Winters said.
Boone and Crockett also publishes a record book every three years to keep track of the biggest bulls taken within this time period, and Winters said his bull ranked fifth in that book.
News of Winters success spread fast throughout the community, by word of mouth and by pictures traveling electronically over the Internet.
"I had a lot of people asking where it was," he said.
With that in mind, Winters wanted the moose mount to end up in a central area where many people, residents and tourists alike, could enjoy and be inspired by it. He decided to work with the Trustworthy staff to hang the mount in the store.
"Trustworthy is a good business, run by a good family. A lot of people go there to shop, so it seemed like a good place for it," he said.
Winters said he was also recognized by Boone and Crockett for successfully making it into the record books. He has been asked to attend their invitation-only dinner and awards banquet, where record book hunters are formally inducted and honored.
However, Winters said the event conflicts with his avid Alaskan hunting schedule.
"It's Nov. 4," he said. "That's moose hunting season, so I doubt Ill go."
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