Alaskan Joe Brewer set out for an extended hunting trip with his son and a friend in early September. Their plan was to hunt moose, caribou and bear in an area far off-road near the Canadian border, about 30 miles south of Eagle, Alaska.
The early days of their trip did not meet their expectations. Despite changing locations and tactics, they saw few fresh tracks or signs of animals, with the exception of wolves. On the fifth day of their hunt, their persistence paid off, but bad weather and their remote location made returning home a challenge.
Fortunately, Joe and his son both purchased inReach® satellite communicators before they left for the hunt. The devices proved to be indispensable to their safe return home. This is the story that Joe shared with Garmin about the final day of the hunt.
Never Give Up
We woke up on Wednesday with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Moose had been spotted — 2 bulls and some cows — far across a valley the day before, and we planned to head out to them. It took about 2.5 hours to get there, but we arrived about 7:30 in the morning.
It felt good. The area was full of caribou sign. In the valley below us, my son had seen moose the day before. Finally, we were getting on some critters. We decided that I would stay up near the wheelers and call, while my son and friend went down a ridge to have a better vantage point of anything I called in.
The day started out great. I called and glassed, and then glassed and called some more. I just knew something was about to show up. In between calling, I texted my wife from my inReach to let her know we were safe, and she again assured me she was praying for safety and success. Having these inReach devices was a new and comforting experience for us.
At about 6 p.m., I received a text from my son via the inReach, “It’s over we are heading back.” I could feel the disappointment in his heart as I read those words. I called one last time, not sure why, but heard nothing and saw nothing. I simply sat and waited for their return so we could make our way back to the trucks or set up a spike camp for the night.
As they approached, I heard a voice. I couldn’t tell what was said, but then, suddenly, BOOM, BOOM and after a short pause, BOOM, BOOM. I quickly texted to see if my son and friend were OK and what was going on. He responded, “Bull moose dead at my feet.”
The shooting had started about 150 yards from me. They said I had called in a huge bull, and neither they nor I had seen it at first. It had never grunted. It had snuck in completely silent. We have no idea how long it was in the area. Fortunately, my friend had seen the moose and told my son, who quickly whipped his rifle into action and brought down the magnificent creature.
After that, the real work began. By the time we unpacked our supplies, drove the 6-wheeler to the moose and quartered it up, loaded the meat, drove back up to the other wheeler and reloaded the supplies, it was about 12:30 a.m. It was raining, and my friend was wet to the bone. I could tell he was getting very cold. So, we decided to head back to the trucks and sleep in the cargo trailer again. We needed to get warm and dry as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, our inReach devices accurately showed the day’s traveled route, which we used to navigate back to the trucks. This became very important as fog set in, and we couldn’t see more than 10’ in front of us. Following my son on the drive out, his tail lights were simply a red glow. I zoomed in the view on my inReach device map, so we were sure of our tracking and slowly followed our route back to the trucks.
We arrived at the trucks at about 3:45 a.m. If it hadn’t been for the inReach devices, we would have spent the night on the mountain in the cold and rain. My friend was wet, shaking and close to hypothermia. The ability to navigate so accurately back to the trucks saved us from a cold, wet night in the mountains — and perhaps even worse.
The next morning, we packed up and headed home with coolers full of meat and hearts full of memories. The inReach literally saved our bacon.
To access the Iridium satellite network for live tracking and messaging, including SOS capabilities, an active satellite subscription is required.
NOTICE: Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of satellite communications devices. It is the responsibility of the user to know and follow all applicable laws in the jurisdictions where the device is intended to be used.