By Gus Congemi
I’ve always wanted to hunt Musk Ox, I had a vision of hunting this incredible, mammoth, prehistoric looking animal. I just had reservations about doing it from a snowmobile. That’s just me personally, it wasn’t the experience I was looking for and I didn’t think that doing it like that with archery equipment would turn into a successful spot and stalk. But again, that’s just my opinion.
So, after some research, my friend Mike Oropallo and I started looking at Greenland as an option. We had both wanted to go to Greenland, both wanted to archery hunt and both wanted to hunt Musk Ox. The more we talked, the more it seemed like it could work.
We decided to go in their late fall to the Western part of the country, we would be the last group, the last week of hunting in early September. Many people go to the Southern part of Greenland for their amazing fishing. Our location was in the West, above the arctic circle, very remote and we couldn’t find anywhere near where we were that would be noted for the fishing. The terrain reminded me a lot of parts of Alaska without the super high mountains, but it had lots of rolling type tundra and willows and alders.
Because it was so late in the season, our choice of flights was limited and we opted to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark and stayed a day and a night. We got to experience the beautiful city, culture and talk to people. For me, it’s always great to be able to spend time like this on the way to or during a hunt.
The next day we flew to Greenland, where we were scheduled to be picked up and brought to camp via helicopter. Weather had other plans for us, so we stayed a night in Greenland, flying out the next day.
We had to fly via helicopter due to the time of the year. This area, above the arctic circle, is usually hunted once the river freezes. You can drive vehicles on the ice up river then continue on land to the camp, but at this time helicopter was the only way in.
We got up, boarded the helicopter and took off without a hitch. It was truly an amazing sight, as we were descending through the clouds to land, seeing the Musk Ox on the countryside, and touching down on this picturesque setting of this camp tucked away into the mountains. We were in the middle of nowhere, just us, in this rustic camp with only the water from the glacier lake (but thankfully we did have the benefit of a generator for some electricity). After we unloaded, in this beautiful rustic setting, we start glassing the mountains, and you have this feeling like you’ve stepped back in time.
I’m not very familiar with Musk Ox, but was looking for a mature male. The male and female both have horns but seeing them together side by side it was easier to tell which was male, and which was older by the mass of their horns and body size.
Over the next few days we spent time stalking them. Spotting them was not an issue, but getting close enough to a mature one wasn’t easy. We could get close to lesser bulls and cows, but the mature ones were breeding and aggressive. Once we located a good bull and started the stalk, the cows circle him to protect him, giving me no shot. The older males are just hard to get to.
We spotted a few other good bulls and put some stalks on. I didn’t have a doubt that I was going to be able to take one or get a shot, but it was much more difficult harvesting the bull that I wanted than I thought it would be. We passed on plenty that I could’ve taken but it wasn’t what I was looking for.
Then we spot one bull on lake shore, one I would definitely take, but again he was with a harem of females. So staying hidden from all of these eyes while stalking in would be paramount. We made our way around the lakeshore, sneaking along the bank for cover so we position ourselves downwind. We make our way to him, get about 60 yards off this bull, and put glasses on him. I wanted to make sure he was as good as we had thought, sometimes this time of the year during the rut, they will lose one horn from fighting. Thankfully that was not the case. I popped up over the bank, took a 60 yard shot, got a clean pass through and watched the bull walk off and pile up. We processed him in the field, packed all of the meat out, loaded it all onto the boat and got it all back to camp. We enjoyed a great meal that night, the Musk Ox makes great table fare.
It’s an awesome feeling for me, to see that animal up close, that prehistoric looking, feeling like you’ve stepped back in time. As I said, they are not an animal I am familiar with but as I understand, they are thriving in Greenland. I read that they are native to Northern and Northeast Greenland and were brought to the Western part of the country in the 60’s and thrive there as well.
While we were there, we took the opportunity to take the two hour walk to the polar ice caps. We hiked out onto them, it was amazing. It was also something to have that experience, something I would otherwise likely not visited had I not been hunting the Musk Ox.
Sharing all of this with my friend Mike Oropallo, who was able to take a beautiful bull at 70 yards made it all the better. This started as two guys from New York and a dream. This ended up as a true adventure and I was able to do it my way. I am thankful that I was able to experience all of this, the adventure, the people, the food, the places, has made this a trip I will never forget.