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Airman trades leftovers for live game

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- While most families were busy recuperating from their day-long Thanksgiving feasts, one staff sergeant donned his cold-weather gear, grabbed his compound bow and headed outside in search of a bull moose.

Staff Sergeant Kyle Curtis was fairly confident he would get a moose; he just had to find one.

"I saw a moose two days earlier, but misjudged the distance when I shot over him, and he spooked," said Sergeant Curtis. "It's hard to judge the distance in the snow, but I was confident I would make the shot if I saw him again."

Despite extreme temperatures, which dipped to 30 below zero, Sergeant Curtis and a couple of good friends braved the weather in search of an Alaskan moose.

"I was waiting on the edge of a field when I saw the moose walk out," Curtis said.

As the moose plodded across the field, Sergeant Curtis slowly drew back on his bow. When the moose was about 40-45 yards broadside of him, he released the arrow.

"I hit the moose perfectly behind the shoulder and he ran about 50 yards before falling down right at the edge of the field," the 13-year hunting veteran said.

Once the moose was down, the real work began as Sergeant Curtis and several of his friends began field dressing the moose.

"It took us about three hours to cut up, drag and load the moose into the truck," he said. "Once loaded, we dropped it off with a meat processor in Fairbanks to be butchered."
Sergeant Curtis offered some advice for new hunters interested in getting out and hunting in Alaska.

"For first time Alaska hunters, you need to get with someone who has hunted in Alaska before," he said. "The temperatures and terrain are extreme here. A person could get into a lot of trouble real quick. Hunting here takes dedication, time and hard work to find these animals."

Curtis and other hunters were able to hunt moose during a week-long hunt Nov. 21-27. The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game opens the Fairbanks Management Area every year for one week in November in order to control the moose population around town.

"I wasn't able to get a moose in September, so this was my only option, and it sure was worth it," Curtis said.

This was Curtis's first moose and first Alaskan animal to take with a bow.

For more information on Alaska hunting regulations and seasons, visit http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/.