There are some things Alaskans experience that people in the Lower 48 may never witness — such as a brilliant aurora display or a grizzly bear. You can now add moose battle preserved in ice to that list. Even longtime Alaskans were more than surprised to see such a rare sight recently near Unalakleet, a western Alaska village on Norton Sound.

“[It’s] really unique for the old timers here,” Jeff Erickson said in a phone interview Sunday. “The elders ,they don’t know about Facebook but they want to see cameras because they want to see the pictures so bad.”

Erickson took photos of the find in a slough near the Covenant Bible Camp. His friend from the camp, Brad Webster, made the discovery about a week ago.

As Webster tells it, one of his friends from Outside wanted to walk on ice — something he’s never done before — when they discovered the antlers frozen in the water. When Webster first saw it, he only saw antlers and a body and thought someone had poached the animal. Then he took a closer look and saw a second moose frozen in the ice.

“He and I were both kind of in shock after seeing it,” Webster said.

Two moose frozen in ice near Unalakleet, Alaska.

Two moose frozen in ice near Unalakleet, Alaska. / Jeff Erickson

Clues into the mystery of what happened started to emerge when people carved the two moose out of the ice. Erickson and Webster suspect the smaller moose injured or killed the larger moose in the water, based on a puncture wound discovered in the head of the larger moose. They also noticed that the animals had locked antlers, another clue of what may have happened prior to their deaths. 

Erickson thinks the two were stuck together after the fight, causing them both to drown. The two men believe the water froze quickly around the two bodies, preserving evidence of the battle.

Erickson says the photos will provide a glimpse to those from Outside of what life can be like in rural Alaska.

“Reality for those of us that live out in the bush, life is harsh. You’re not always given a second chance,” said Erickson.

Webster says the meat wasn’t good for human consumption, but says it will be used to feed dogs and may be given to trappers for bait. He says there is talk about mounting the heads, as they were found, and placing them at the bible camp for educational purposes.

Joe Vigil can be reached via email and on Twitter