Story and photos by: Austin Legg
In February 2022, my friend Kaleb and I booked a last minute cancellation Muskox hunt in Greenland.
This was not just any Muskox hunt, this was a WINTER hunt. Most who know me know I hate the cold. So when I found out we were going to be above the arctic circle and temperatures could be as low as -30 degrees, I knew it was going to be tough.
The most common question I get is why Muskox? To be honest, I don’t have a great answer. It has just always been my #1 bucket list hunt. For as far back as I can remember, a Muskox hunt was something I wanted to do more than anything else. I think it's because a Muskox is an animal that doesn’t look like it belongs on earth. They survived the ice age and are built to thrive in the harshest climates on earth. Everything about them reminds me of a time thousands of years ago when the world was completely different. I think the idea of hunting them is almost like a brief look into the past. It is hard to explain, but I’ve just always wanted to hunt them.
As I said, this hunt was last minute. Kaleb and I had the hunt booked and airline tickets purchased within days, but that left only about three weeks to prepare for the trip. We quickly realized we needed a ton of gear!
My packing list was pretty complex. It centered around Kryptek gear, of course, and included the following:
- Baselayer: Kryptek Theos Merino Top & Bottom
- Layer 2: Kryptek Arma Fleece Hoodie & Bora Pant
- Layer 3: Kryptek Njord Jacket & Njord Pants
- Layer 4: Kryptek Ares Jacket & Aegis Bibs
- Layer 5: Kryptek Aegis Jacket
- Layer 6: Overwhites. Jacket. Pants. Gaiters.
- Accessories: Kryptek Vellus Gloves, Briareos Gloves, Balaclava, Lined Beanie, Alaskan Hardware Ushanka Fur Hat, Alpaca socks
- Sleeping Bag: Kryptek Klisia 0 degree
Watch Austin review his gear here.
Getting to Greenland is no easy task. You have to book flights to Copenhagen, Denmark and then book a separate flight from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.
Here was my flight schedule:
|Sunday, March 6th||Monday, March 7th||Tuesday, March 8th|
Kaleb and I were picked up at the airport by the outfitter. They were waiting at the airport with a sign that had all of our names on it, which I thought was a nice touch. We were transported by truck from the airport to the hostel. The guy who owns the hunting outfit also owns the Youth Hostel. Lucky us.
We made a game plan for the week, ate a hearty caribou lunch and then got dressed up to go out into the Arctic. It was only about 0 degrees, but knowing we were going to be sitting still in the wind, I dressed as warm as possible. We then headed to the hunting camp via snow machine. The camp is about 50km SW of Kangerlussuaq. The trip took just over an hour of riding out along the frozen fjord. Arriving at the cabin we couldn’t help but realize how remote this place is. No electricity, no running water. They have kerosene burning heaters and a wood stove. They keep the temperature in the cabin very comfortable however, which was surprising given the temps outside.
Meals for the day included a cold breakfast (cereal) and sandwiches for lunch. The outfitter made us a hot meal for dinner. Mostly muskox meat with instant potatoes or something simple like that. Everything was very simple, but we sure didn’t go hungry. It was fun to be able to eat muskox, caribou and some other things that aren’t normally options for us in the US.
Wednesday, March 9th: HUNTING DAY- We had a goal to harvest three muskox
The muskox hunting area was actually about an hour-and-a-half snow machine ride inland from the cabin. We found out right away you have to glass the muskox from a long way away and then stalk them. The sound of the snow machine will spook them up and over the highest mountains. It didn’t take us long to learn that lesson and we quickly set our binos out a mile or two from the machines and started spotting Muskox. The trick would be closing the distance dressed with so many layers. I guess it wouldn’t be a hunt if there wasn’t some amount of hiking and physical exertion.
This outfitter will ONLY allow hunters to harvest mature bulls with two full horns. They work hard and take extra time to make sure everyone shoots a trophy animal.
Right away we glassed a few bulls up on the side of a high mountain. That time of year, the bulls are in bachelor groups. So once you find a group, it's realistic for you to harvest a few of the mature bulls in the group. It was approximately 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the course of a mile to close the distance, but we were excited to start a stalk on these bulls. Eventually, we were able to sneak in to rifle range while the bulls bedded down.
We found a nice little rock outcropping at 215 yards from the bulls and I was able to prone out and get a nice solid rest. Muskox anatomy is actually a little different. You have to aim a little bit higher than you’d expect. The hair that hangs down off of their body is deceiving and can cause people to take bad shots. With the bulls bedded down though, myself and another guy in our group were able to catch our breath and settle into nice, controlled shots. My first shot absolutely thumped the bull. I couldn’t have asked for a better shot, but the bull stood up and began walking away. When he turned again, I took two quick follow up shots to put him down. The other shooter made quick work of his bull as well. Both my bull and the other shooter’s bull went down within 15 yards of each other. These animals are VERY tough. Even with a 180gr bullet from a .30-06 these animals do not want to go down.
It was now Kaleb’s turn. There was a second group of bulls about 800 yards away. We were able to sneak in on them even after the previous gunshots. Kaleb proned out and as he was getting ready to pull the trigger, the bulls began butting heads. We sat and watched to see who would come away as the winner. Kaleb wanted to take the alpha bull in the group. Once they were done- BOOM. Kaleb had his bull.
When we got back to the cabin, we skinned the animals all the way out and prepped the capes to be frozen for future transport. Hearts and lungs were used as bait for the arctic foxes. This was actually a major highlight for me. Watching the foxes come into the bait was fantastic. I shot a beautiful charcoal arctic fox on that first hunting day.
It is interesting to mention on this first day alone, we saw lots ofcaribou, ptarmigan, foxes, muskox and hares. The entire Arctic Five could’ve been killed on the first day alone.
Thursday, March 10th: HUNTING DAY- We went out again.
Following the same blueprint as the day before. We killed two additional muskox. So in two hunting days, all five hunters had harvested mature bulls. Again, we brought the animals back, skinned them, etc., exactly the same as the day before. That night, Kaleb shot a beautiful white arctic fox. I've never seen an all white fox in person before, but wow! What a beautiful creature. The foxes run rampant in that area with all of the dead animals that get skinned and cleaned at the cabin. So it was actually good to do a bit of predator control.
Friday, March 11th: HUNTING DAY- With our primary goal complete, we now turned attention to some of the smaller game.
We went out ptarmigan hunting that morning, shot a few birds, returned back for lunch, then went out ice fishing. Ice fishing was a blast and we caught a ton of fish! The Fjord Cod were a blast to catch and it was so interesting it only took them about 10 minutes of being outside in the arctic air before they were frozen into a solid brick.
I was nervous that day to be out on the ice. Standing still ice fishing in that type of weather I knew would be brutal. But with the right gear it was actually comfortable. We were able to stay out on the ice for a few hours and had a great time.
Our trip was a total of 10 days with 3 hunting days, 2 days chilling in Kangerlussuaq, and 5 days of flights and travel!All in all this was a fantastic trip to an amazing part of the world. I will never forget it.