In Canada, we offer both Barren Ground and introduced Greenland muskox hunts.
Our Muskox Hunts in Greenland take place on the northern and eastern coasts of the island.
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Subspecies of Muskox
There are two commonly recognized subspecies of musk ox: Barren Ground Ovibos moschatus moschatus, and Greenland O. moschatus wardi (also referred to as ‘white face’ musk ox). By the 1920s, muskox had disappeared from Europe, Asia, and Alaska. The only remaining muskox were in Greenland and Arctic Canada. International concern over impending extinction of this animal led to an effort to restore a population in Alaska.
For hunters after their North America 29, these two categories of musk ox (Greenland and barren ground) were combined into a single category. Musk ox from Alaska, Canada, and Greenland are all eligible for entry into this single category recognized today.
Barren Ground Muskox
An adult Barren Ground bull stands about six feet tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 1,000 pounds.
- Mainland hunts for Barren-Ground muskox take place in the province of Nunavut, between the villages of Cambridge Bay and Umingmaktok. High scoring bulls come out of this area every year. There is a good possibility to take an Arctic wolf on these hunts.
The smaller Greenland musk ox bull stands four and a half to five feet tall at the shoulder and weighs up to 800 pounds. Cows are smaller than bulls in both subspecies.
- The region around Kangerlussuaq, Greenland has the largest herds of musk ox in the world. Kangerlussuaq has an ”inland” climate with warm summers and cold winters. It is located above the polar circle and has an arctic climate. Winter and Spring/Summer hunts are available here, and you can combo with caribou (reindeer), or choose to hunt the “Arctic Five”.
- Cambridge Bay is on the southeastern end of Victoria Island, and is home to the introduced Greenland subspecies of muskox. SCI does recognize them as “Greenland” muskox and this region has over 200 entries in the record book. Our outfitter holds the current number two, and is tied for number three in the record books. Fall, spring, and summer muskox hunts are available here. *Fall hunts can be combined with Arctic Island Caribou.
- In 1930, conservation groups in Alaska captured 34 Greenland muskox and relocated them to Nunivak Island, a large island in the Bering Sea. Luckily, they thrived there, and by 1968, the herd had grown to 750 animals. They were later trans-located to establish new herds on the Seward Peninsula, on Cape Thompson and Nelson Islands, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and on Wrangel Island and the Taimyr Peninsula in Russia. By 2000, almost 4,000 muskoxen existed in Alaska. In recent years, the herds in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and adjoining areas have declined slightly.
Trophy Expectations on Muskox Hunts
The muskox is a stocky, long-haired animal with a slight shoulder hump and a very short tail. Both sexes have horns, but the horns of bulls are larger and heavier than those of cows. Mature bulls are about 5 feet high at the shoulder and weigh 600 – 800 pounds. Cows are smaller, averaging approximately 4 feet in height and weighing 400 – 500 pounds. An 800-lb muskox will dress out at about 480 pounds, providing roughly 275 pounds of meat.
Field Judging Muskox
To determine bulls from cows, look at the biggest bodied animals first, then look at the base of the horns. If the bases (boss) have almost grown together, it’s a bull. Now that you’ve determined the sex, let’s take a closer look.
- Mass is the first thing to check. Like we said before, when viewing from the front, the boss shouldn’t be very much space at all.
- Make sure that the mass continues along the length of the entire horn. The tips should be thick and blunt, or “broomed” like a bighorn sheep.
- Look at length next. The horns should drop down along the side of the heads and the tips of the horns need to come up above the eyes. *how the animal is holding its head can create an illusion, so be careful with this method. *Remember, lots of mass will make the horns look short.
- The most important part….LISTEN TO YOUR GUIDE! They’ve seen hundreds of bulls, and know better than you.
How to Score a Muskox
A muskox is super simple to score. Add up the length of each horn, two width measurements, and two circumferences and you’ve got the total score.
Pick Your Hunting Season
The best time for muskox hunting, according to most hunters you ask is in September. By then the hordes of mosquitoes are gone, but the Arctic winter has not yet set in.
Spring Muskox Hunts
If you want to experience the traditional Inuit culture in the Arctic, you need to do a spring hunt.
- The conditions will be extreme…extremely cold.
- You’ll be hunting either by dogsled or with snow machines.
- The muskox will be herded up and once you find a herd, this hunt isn’t that difficult because they circle up with the young in the middle to fend off predators.
- A spring muskox hunt is all about the adventure.
Summer Muskox Hunts
If braving an Arctic winter isn’t for you, maybe a late summer hunt is more up your alley.
- What makes summer hunts awesome (other than the weather) is that the rut will be in full swing, peaking in mid-August. The bulls will be butting heads in competition for breeding cows. It’s quite a spectacle to behold!
- This is a fun spot and stalk style that is perfect for bowhunters.
- Hunters tend to worry that the hides will not be prime this time of year, but muskox keep their dense fur even through the summer months.
Fall Muskox Hunts
The fall muskox hunts are much like the spring hunts, but the weather isn’t quite as extreme.
- You’ll be hunting via snow machines or ATV’s pulling an Inuit sled (Komatik), covering lots of ground looking for mature bulls.
- One great thing about fall hunts is you can combo them with an Arctic Island caribou if you’re hunting in Canada, or a reindeer if you’re hunting in Greenland.