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60-Inch Club

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Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 8:50 pm

FAIRBANKS - Welcome to the 2012 edition of the News-Miner’s 60-Inch Club.

Dedicated to Interior Alaska hunters who bagged a bull moose with an antler spread of 60 inches or bigger, the 60-Inch Club is both a testament to the big-game bounty of Alaska and a tribute to those who were fortunate enough to harvest a small — or large, in this case — piece of it.

Even after 16 years of putting it together, the stories behind the 60-Inch Club never cease to amaze me. Every year I am left shaking my head at the stories from hunters about how they found, or caught as real Alaskans like to say, their moose. Every year I am left wondering when I will be lucky enough to join the Club. This year was no exception.

There are 18 members — three women and 15 men — in this year’s 60-Inch Club. They range in age from 12 to 60. Some are seasoned hunters who have harvested several moose over the years while others are rookies who had never shot a moose until this year. For some, success was a matter of hard work and years of experience. For others, it was just pure, dumb, luck.

The one thing they all in common, besides now officially becoming members of the 60-Inch Club, is that they were in the right place at the right time.

And for those people who think the 60-Inch Club glorifies trophy hunting, it should be noted, as in past years, that most hunters in the club didn’t set out in search of a trophy moose. Most are meat hunters looking for the first legal moose they see and would have been happy with a spike-fork bull. In fact, one hunter who was a member of last year’s 60-Inch Club, Jeff Johnson, told me he wanted to shoot a small bull this year but the first moose he saw was a 63-inch bull.

“I’m not a trophy hunter; I hunt strictly for meat,” Johnson said, “but if you pass (a moose) up maybe you miss your opportunity.”

As anybody who has ever hunted moose knows, when opportunity knocks you open the door, especially if there’s a monster moose ready to bust it down.

I hope you enjoy reading the stories behind this year’s 60-Inch Club as much as I did hearing and writing them.

Contact outdoors editor Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

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