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Calling all moose

In the arctic stillness, on the far side of the river, an unmistakable racket echoed in the bright afternoon: the thrashing of a bull moose stripping velvet off his antlers and honing his moves, prepping for the rut.

The Arctic Refuge remains an unspoiled American treasure—for now [by E. Donnall Thomas jr.] “Here still survives one of Planet Earth’s own works of art. This one symbolizes freedom.” —Lowell Sumner National Park Service biologist, 1953 I will never forget the first time I dipped my toe in the Arctic Ocean. Despite the early August date, a mountain snowstorm had kept us grounded on Barter Island at the beginning of a Brooks Range sheep hunt. Since we were hunting with longbows, the smart money was on the sheep. With nothing else to do while we waited for the weather to clear, I wandered up to the local medical clinic. A young physician with several years of experience in Native communities, I was able to give the friendly staff some advice on their new ER equipment. Then I headed to the beach. Although I’d spent time on six of the seven…

I started back toward camp in lengthening shadows. With the slippery going along that narrow, loose-cobbled beach near the Hubbard Glacier, I was focused more on my feet than the brushy cut bank a few yards to my right. Weaving toward the bank to get around a scattering of boulders, I glanced through a break in the alders, up into the eyes of a female grizzly and her yearling cub.