And as the season opened, one store in Midtown Anchorage reported a brisk business. Mountain View Sports catered to a steady crowd of people buying camouflage clothing, ammunition, rifles and especially scopes.
Those rifle scopes -- with magnifications of 3-power of more, seem to be a big-selling item this year. "Everybody's goin' into really high-quality HD stuff," says Chad Smith -- a clerk at the gun counter at Mountain View. "It just makes your shots that much easier," he adds. "A good, clean shot -- so you can make a kill on the first round."
Meanwhile, many of the customers inside the store seemed happy. "Yeah, I'm excited about moose hunting season," said Bob Zacharski of Eagle river. "Yup, gettin' away from work for a while -- 2 weeks of less stress", he said smiling.
A lot of people apparently agree with Zacaharski's assessment. "A new, 5-year report by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows a 9% increase in hunting nationwide," says Robert Fithian of the Alaska Professional Hunters' Association. That increase has occurred over the last 5 years -- after what had been a nearly two-decade-long decline in hunting.
And Fithian thinks he knows why hunting is on the rise, "Primarily people enjoy healthier food and healthier lifestyles."
It is true that these days some Americans are shying away from animal products produced on so-called "Factory Farms" -- places where animals are herded tightly together to live in their own excrement and eating foods that evolution never designed their digestive tracts to tolerate. They're also worried about the injection of those animals with subtherapeutic levels of antibiotics.
For people concerned about such issues, eating the meat of a wild moose avoids those concerns.
It's also true that Americans spend more and more of their lives, these days, dealing in virtual-reality -- computer-generated worlds. That leaves many longing for a taste of nature's brand of reality:
Being outdoors, in the elements hunting for food and facing a certain amount of risk, discomfort and even danger.
Most hunters who head out into the field over the next 2 weeks won't even get to bag a moose. Only about 25% of the 30-thousand hunters who head out this season will actually make a kill on a moose.
But that doesn't seem to matter. Some hunters say they just don't care whether they bag an animal. "It's a kind of a remote area that we'll be going to this year," says hunter Bob Zacharski. "And hopefully, we don't see a lot of people, so it's really a quiet, stressless period of time."
That sentiment seems to summarize much of the appeal that hunting holds for people. Over the next two weeks, hunters like Zacharski will get to experience the remote places of Alaska.
Many of them experienced the stress of the shopping centers, instead.
Evidently, in modern society, before you can go hunting for moose, you first have to go hunting for bargains!