Alaska drop camp for moose
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My 2013 VT Moose Hunt
Shiras Moose Attack
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I'm going to Alaska in September for moose (2013) My question is for those that have done this is what would be on your packing list. What did you bring and not use and what did you not bring and wish you did? I'm thinking 10 days as there will be travel time. Gear is provided except for food and sleeping bag and weapons and such. 100 lbs is the personal weight limit per person so that is what I would like to hear back about. The other thing is costs outside of the hunt like getting your trophy home and all of the costs that one doesn't even consider outside of personal airfare. Any help would be greatly appreciated from some of you that have done this before. Brand names of gear that worked for you types of optics needed and I guess anything helpful. I have a ton of gear but up till now only hunted the lower 48 mostly for elk and deer. The hip wader thing would also be another question someone could answer as they weigh alot given the weight restriction. Would you use regular fishing waders to save weight? Bob.PMs are Ok!
I am going this fall and have spent a ton of time thinking of it all. still not sure on a few things. I will send ya my stuff when i got a few minutes
check out the alaska forum on monstermuleys.com
Bear Spray for sure.... :-)
I lived fulltime in Alaska for 10 years. I still have a cabin there. Its a wild place. Thats what makes it special. Looks like slim23 is planning the same thing...maybe team up with him on research. I would for sure do your homework. Things go bad fast when you are in a drop camp if you are not prepared. I would not buy anything but the best quality cause depending on what part of Alaska you are going to, its your life... survival. Its not only wet in Alaska its real wet, just be prepared and knowledgeable of how hypertherma can kill you.. fast. Main thing, watch Jerimiah Johnson a few times right before you go...and enjoy! Alaska is a very, very special place. It is wild and savage at the same time.
"A complete guide to float hunting Alaska" by Larry Bartlett is a good book to get you thinking of all the possibilities. Not totally a bowhunt deal, but sound advice to hunting Alaska.
One thing that is often overlooked in these gear lists is the knowledge and tools to take care of your trophy. You can't just drop it off at the taxidermist and let him take care of it. You need enough salt to take care of the cape. Take the time to visit your taxidermist to learn how to preserve your trophy in the field. Actually practice caping whatever you can, even if it's just a road killed doe. Trust me, you don't want your first caping experience to be in the middle of a swamp, in a steady drizzle, feeding the white sox flies, trying to figure out how to get the hide off ALL the way down that nose!
I wore waiste high neoprene waders with separate boots and I thought it was a good choice. Neoprene is not as durable as rubber waders but they were light weight and could easily turn them inside out if got wet inside. The guys that had rubber hip boots and went over had a hard time drying them out. Good rain gear. If not walking much and just hunting along rivers Helly Hansen Impertech is a good choice. Bug spray and head net. Definitely a knife sharpener and a saw big enough to cut antlers off. Moose hide is thick. We only had a small Gerber bone saw and it took forever to cut antlers off.
Hey Pete! I found a wealth of info between the He---he--he's :) I am sending you an email.
Huntingbob, with a 100 lb limit per man and no need for camping gear you can really bring everything you have and then some. If you are hunting lakes and river systems then full blown waders hip or chest will be in order. If you are hunting small river drainages and only using them to cross you may get away with Wiggies or more durable slip over systems.
Most of your regular hunting gear should work, but invest in good rain gear that breathes such as Sitka or Kuiu.
The link Mule posted... I had already been to, but thanks for the help. I wasn't looking for anyone to do my homework only asking for suggestions as to cost for someone that has not done this before and not thought of like the cost of getting your meat antlers and cape home. Also what brand of stuff meaning hip waders and an over bag for a sleeping bag do I need a spotting scope or will binos suffice. I will be in unit 18 out of Bethel AK and was told I don't need the same rain gear as crab fishermen. So will sitka or a similar type work for those that have hunted this area? The transporter told me just get the dryplus from Cabelas and I'll be fine. Thanks to the guys that had a positive reply. I guess I'll keep digging and get all my stuff put together before departure and I have plenty of time. If you choose to post something that is positive and helpful I would appreciate it as this is my first trip to AK and need some input as I have not done this before. Particularly if you have hunted area 18. I'm not a pro at the Ak hunting and am just looking for a little advice. I was told the elevation is at almost sea level to around 800ft. So the hiking seems to be more in swampy type marsh areas.Bob.
Bob, I would stay away from any raingear that is lined inside. Sitka and Kuiu and I am sure others work better. Anything with a liner will wick moisture inside eventually and may never dry out for you depending on the weather.
In the type of terrain you are suggesting I would take good ankle fit hip waders for sure.
Since you have a high wt limit a spotter might be nice just in case you can get high and glass. I am assuming you have a 50 inch/4 brow tine restriction and it might save alot of hiking.
I am not trying to debate the use of bear spray, but you should check the laws about carrying bear spray on a plane. For bear protection I would carry a rifle because most air services won't allow bear spray on their airplanes. If they were to burst on the plane, the pilot's ability to operate the aircraft safely would be hindered. If you are hunting from the road system, you don't have to worry about the FAA regulations if you buy the spray in Anchorage. Unguided moose hunting from the road system is the cheapest way to hunt Alaska.
What type of country are you hunting? If it is in southern AK and early September, watch out for bugs. I generally wouldn't trust anyone's gear but my own. Make sure you have a bull magnet or another comparable call. People generally bring more food than they need. It rains a lot in Alaska. Have good gloves to keep the bugs off of your hands. Consider having a small inflatable raft! Only bring what you need. You will be happier and prouder for doing so. Bring bear spray and a pistol. In many areas I only wore muck boots.
Most of all, enjoy the trip!
Helly Hanson Impertech rain gear, quality footwear (waders, hip waders, boots...), no cotton clothing, 100 foot of rope, a come a long if weight permits, a bone saw, a pair of socks for every two days...
I just did this trip this past season. Seventh DIY trip to Alaska. The hardest part of the whole trip is getting a moose home. It cost us $2000 from the kill site to the table... and I really believe that we did it the most cost effective way possible. Good luck... the planning is part of the adventure. Ed F
what is everyones favorite foot wear for moose hunting? doing some floating but mainly hunting out of camp
Getting more specific with the replies (thanks guys) what brand of boot (hip wader) was what you used and did it fit good like a good fitting boot? What type of rope and where did you buy it and such. Maybe some of us that are on here every day can learn from this thread. I did talk to my Taxidermist tonight as he had done the same trip in 2009 and said it was his most memorable trip ever. He did say to buy the " monkey something or other " bug dope as the that was the only one that worked for him in AK. 100% Deet I guess. I am not sure but he said I could come out and talk with him and he would give me all of his Google maps that he laminated and offered anything he had to use. He did the float trip vs the drop camp and asked to be dropped at the most remote location and they did. So I may do a drop camp in the same area depending on advice from the transporter. BTY the taxidermist friend of mine shot a 62 inch bull with a rifle vs going home empty using a bow. I will do the same but prefer to do it with a bow. So I'll be going out and talking to him in his shop and learning more. He did recommend using as much wool clothing as I can afford and putting my clothes in big zip-lock bags as everything feels wet due to the humidity. (I lived in Oregon and the Phillipines ) so I know that feeling. Does anyone have a good link to merino wool base layers on sale? I've checked Sierra and Cabelas. Any help will be truly appreciated and thanks to the guys that have posted before. I want to go into this hunt as educated as I can be.Bob,
My buddy and I both wore Cabelas Dry Plus breathable waist high waders and they were perfect. The boots on them are certainly not the same as a quality mountain hunting boot, but there really was no need for that in the terrain we hunted. We did a rifle drop camp on a river and had a small inflatable kayak so we could be somewhat mobile. We killed and packed out 2 bulls, one a 64" giant, and had an absolute blast. Just be aware that it's a labor of love and a TON of work especially if you start venturing far from camp.
The standard daily outfit was merino base layer, Sleeping Indian wool shirt and pants, waders on the bottom and Rivers West jacket on the top. Wore this every day, all day and stayed bone dry despite constant rain and boggy terrain.
Parachute cord was all the rope we needed. Nice and light and compact and strong as hell. Good old Uncle Ben's DEET kept the bugs at bay when it got a little warm. The Bull Magnet pulled both bulls we shot and a half dozen or so others into our lap from a long way away and I would never hunt moose without having one handy. Be sure to take a knife sharpener and know how to use it, or bring a replaceable blade knife like a pyranah with lots of extra blades.
I bought some KUIU gear for an Alaska sheep hunt last year. I didnt have it for my moose hunt but wish I did. The merino is far superior to any base layer I've owned, wool or synthetic, and is not expensive for the quality. The Chugach jacket blows away the Rivers West that I wore. It's breathable and sheds the water better than the fleece of the RW. Not cheap, but worth every penny. While you are on their site you may as well check out the Spindrift jacket. You won't find a lighter, more compact insulating layer that will keep you as warm.
The most important thing to take along, by far, is a positive attitude. AK can be brutal in many ways and you can count on being thrown a few curve balls. When things get a little rough or aren't going as expected, take a step back and realize how lucky you are to be there.
I have a Bull Magnet that I don't need anymore.
PM me if interested...
I'm looking at hip waders on line and reading reviews some if not all have mostly good ones but they have a few that are negative. Which ones did you use if you have been to AK and what did you like or not like? The biggest complaint was leaking in the reviews but the most complimented thing was comfortable not slipping off in the bogs. Cabelas sells alot of them and there always seems to be one guy from AK that just hated them.Bob.
i am really looking hard at the muck boot woody marsh hip boots and either simms stocking foot waders or cabelas breathable wader pants with the boots attached. I think the mucks will be a lot more comfortable and user friendly for most hunting and will only wear the waders if i need to. I bought smartwool insulates off moontrail for $40 a piece. cant beat that. as far as clothes i am taking my sitka 90%, cabelas outfitter fleece pants and shirt, heavy fleece vest, sitka stormfront rain gear, and still undecided on another shirt and heavy jacket. I agree on the para cord. Whats the thoughts on packs? Im thinking mystery ranch crew cab or just the load carrier with a bag?
Here's a great way to get your moose home. Used him last fall and it worked great. Cheapest way we found. http://alaskameatexpress.com/
There is no best wader, hip boot or boots for Alaska. Everything is a compromise, and one man's heaven is another's hell. Having tramped a lot of miles in wet moose country, I've never worn conventional waders or hip boots even once. Sure they work, but I simply don't need them for how I do things. I use Wiggy's Waders for water crossings and such. Some think they are flimsy, but I'm heading into my 5th consecutive year of use with my oldest pair. I take care of them, and they keep me dry...not bad for the $60 invested several years ago. If I was doing a lakeside or river float hunt, I'd probably switch out to durable waders. I'd just as soon deal with my Wiggy's Waders as wear hip boots all day, every day.
If you kill a bull, you're not going to get it 1) transported out, 2) cut, wrapped and frozen, 3) head and antlers prepped and shipped, 4) meat shipped...all on the cheap. Cheap is still counted out in hundred dollar bills. Pricey is thousands. Example:
Air transport out meat and head: $0 - $500+
Butchering, freezing & boxing: $200 - $750
Ship meat home: $150 - $700+
Taxidermy prep fees: $100 - $400+
Ship head/rack home: $150 - $300+
The way to save max money is do everything yourself. Travelling to AK pretty much rules out most of that. My partner and I have killed a number of bulls (bow kills) and caribou. We've come to understand that one dead Alaska bull moose means almost $2k spent by the time we have many boxes of meat tucked in our freezers, and the euro-skull on the wall...back home in the midwest.
I did talk to the Alaska meat express guy tonight and his web says $700 but he told me on the phone $750. He said Ace air cargo would transport the meat from Bethel to Anchorage for .35 cents a pound and keep the meat and antlers in the freezer for his pickup. I guess when I get a little closer to the hunt I'll check with there prices to Anchorage. The other thing is his route does not come close to home in Colorado. I would have to drive to Billings Mt to pick it up but if that is what I have to do and it is the most economically way to do it I will. Only a day drive up and back even quicker with two people driving. Has anyone shipped there meat home via UPS or Fed-ex? what was the cost per pound? I did talk to my taxidermist and he shipped his meat home via fed-ex and the meat beat him home. But he did say when I asked him about the price he said I made enough money at that time I didn't care. He shipped a little over half at about 400lbs. Has anyone used Ace Air Cargo before?Bob.
I just went to Ace Air Cargo's web site and fees for 800lbs of meat and antlers (Total weigh) was $323.85 all inclusive.BTW that price was from Bethel to Anchorage. Any Ideas as to total cost versus just shipping it home via the other way? Add $750.00 to it and it still might be cheaper. I'll be investigating this soon so if you know something pipe in and I'll add more as I learn more.
What airline are you flying? I've always flown Alaska Airlines and last year we flew 300# of meat home with us as extra baggage for $300 (3 overweight plastic boxes @ 100# ea). Then we flew almost 400# (meat and cape) home with Alaska Air Cargo (known shipper) for about $350. None of the meat was frozen and the cargo actually beat us home by one hour. Meat was in excellent condition. Lots of ways to do it.... just telling you how I got it done. Ed F
Triple post... darn phone...
What we do:
We visit our meat processor in Fairbanks just before flying into camp, and we leave a work order with him.
Our pilot flies the moose meat out and delivers it to the processor.
By the time we get back to town, the meat is either finished or close to it.
We budget one entire extra "do whatever" day in Fairbanks after our hunt. This gives us time to deal with things...like antlers, meat, etc.
The head gets dropped off for a Euro skull.
On our way to the airport (home), we stop and pick up about 300# of prime meat in 50# waxed/insulated boxes x 6. Label every box to fly. I get 3, my pard gets 3.
Check the frozen meat in as baggage along with your other gear. Pay the fees.
Fly home and drop the boxes into the chest freezer. No problem up to 30+ hours in September.
Pay for Euro skull and have it shipped via truck when finished.
We've done this successfully a number of times, and we'll keep doing it. We try to eliminate as many people, bugs, holdups and connections as possible. Every time something changes hands, you've increased the risk of things going wrong.
We tried going the cheaper route...once. It cost us money and wasted meat, due to the willfull mishandling of our meat and our money. I'll pay more and sleep better...thanks.
Love eating that FREE wild meat.....!
Same with my backyard whitetails Pete!
I'm with you Kevin and Pete! It'd be cheaper for me to eat prime beef every day!
I have always wondered if putting frozen meat packed in dry ice on Greyhound would work. I live in oregon and with a couple days of travel dry ice would keep it frozen im sure. Greyhound at one time did this not sure if they do still.
we are planning on donating all but 100# of meat per person for our trip. just enough to have a good supply but as was stated earlier i can eat alot of pork and beef for what any more would cost
Bringing meat home to my family is part of the deal for me. If I worried about the cost per pound... hunting would not make sense. IMO... budgeting to get the meat home is part of the planning. Like I said, there are many ways to get it done. Keep asking questions and soon you'll be in Alaska standing over a downed animal.... knowing exactly what you have to do... no better feeling than that. Ed F
Ed I'm with you. If I'm gonna go all the way to Alaska and harvest an animal that big I'm gonna try to get it all home if I can afford it and including all of this in my planning for expenses. Bob.
""Greyhound offeres service to Fairbanks??? ""
Sorry I posted this Greyhound "idea" before really doing any research so far the furthest north I can find Greyhound service is Vacouver B.C. Again Sorry just trying to think outside the box :)
It wasn't a shipping issue, so much as a meat processing one. Here's how we learned a terrible lesson:
My partner shot a great bull out in the boondocks of central Alaska. He shot this bull so perfectly...it ran 75 yards and collapsed totally dead. Not even a drop of blood in the nostrils...that's how quickly it died. We jumped on the butchering job quickly, and by dark we had 8 beautiful bags of meat hanging 150 yards from camp. The temperatures were cool and the meat glazed perfectly. We called our pilot on the satellite phone and advised him.
A day or 2 later, our meat got picked up and flown out. We trusted our pilot (a really good guy by the way) and he took the meat to a brand-new butcher house outside of town. He'd heard it was new...well regarded...and best of all, pretty cheap! This butcher house even agreed to haul the meat to the airport and ship it home via air freight. We were smiling and heating the skillets in our minds as we left.
Little could we have guessed what eventually transpired. Tanana Valley Meats took in a very large number of big game animals that September. They got behind on paperwork, and on butchering. They were storing meat wherever they could stash it...some was placed outside in non-refrigerated containers. The paperwork got lost. Meat spoiled. Some guys got the wrong meat, and some got tainted meat. Rotting meat was discovered on the premises. Ugly, and it got worse.
They charged us for butchering and shipping. Our meat came in tainted. Bloody packages and unusual odors. We were one of many customers beginning to make threatening noises in their direction. Suddenly the phones went dead and the doors got locked. They shut down and filed for protection from creditors. The whole business was a mismanaged sham, and tons of meat got wasted. The Fairbanks Newsminer reported on it several times.
So...you take a gorgeous bull moose in prime condition and treat the meat like it's gold. You do everything in your power to make sure your job is well done. You try to save some money or cut a corner, and these things can happen. We ate no moose that year, despite the butchering, backpacking and baby-sitting. We lost money. The only thing that came home in good shape was the skull...because we dealt with a shop with a proven history of keeping their word.
What did we learn? Don't leave a damned thing to chance. Cross your "T"s and dot your "I"s...and do every one of them 3 times to be sure. Above all...don't go cheap unless you KNOW the guy's word is gold AND he has a history to prove it.
Kevin, thats great piece of advice. Thats the most important thing I tell hunters going to Ak. Have a plan A, B and C.....My first trip to the Brooks range found us sitting in 10 degree temps for 3 days waiting for a transporter to get us to our location. (Ours died in a accident flying in a sheep hunter) We never got to our river, with all our maps....you get the point. Back-ups plans in Ak are 100 % Mandatory!
Exactly Mike! Lots of things can happen (right and wrong) on these trips. When things go wrong, you have to have a strategy. The BEST strategy is to make Plan-A as bulletproof at possible. That often equates to extra homework, questions, references, labor, time and money. It's really worth it though. Little compares to sitting down to a fine moose filet and glass of vino, while admiring the rack hanging above the fireplace.
A lot of guys get shocked on their first successful moose hunt...especially a non-assisted hunt. I think a rather high percentage of guys think about spending money up to the point of "I killed a moose!" They fail to do enough research on the continuing costs (time, work and money) to get that dead moose out of the bush and into their lower-48 home. If you're a hands-OFF guy...no problem using up a couple thou on that dead bull, as you employ people to transport, care, deliver, butcher, wrap, box, ship, fly, taxidermy, etc.
That's an awful story Kevin! My heart goes out to you for sure! Did you ever get any good meat back?? I think if I'm ever lucky enough to kill a moose I'll just stay in the bush and eat it until it's gone and then call for the pilot to come get me.
We had no meat at all from that great bull. It sickens me because I know how hard we worked to get it to the butcher in great condition. I remember how exhausted I was at the end of the day. I didn't kill a bull, but went home feeling very good about all that high protein, organic moose meat coming. I took a lot of pride in how we handled things. It was a real setback for me to acknowledge that our meat wasn't fit or safe to eat.
It's probably a good thing I don't live in Fairbanks. I would have definitely been very rough on this shop. A year later we deliberately drove to Tanana Valley Meats, hoping to have a little kerfuffle with the manager. The doors were locked and the shop was out of business. I didn't have a match....probably another good thing.
I'm not going with someone that is a newcomer to flying hunters in! Papa Bear Adventures has come with some great reviews including my taxidermist that did a float trip with Steve Powers in 2009. If you have gone with them I'd like to hear more. I think the cost of getting the meat home is part of the trip for me. The antlers are another case as if it isn't a P&Y bull I'll split the skull.Bob.
Splitting the antlers is a good thing! A lot of guys reject that on emotional or aesthetic grounds, but it's the choice of each man. If you do split them, be sure that anything...and I mean EVERYTHING...that can smell or bleed is either completely dry/wrapped/frozen etc. Be sure you check with the airlines, as some will not let you fly antlers unless they are separately boxed, padded and etc. Be informed, as is always the case.
You can box the split antlers and USPS Priority ship them too...though I'd prefer they fly home with me. If doing a Euro skull, all bets are off on taking them home. I'd leave them there to be done, and then shipped later.
Don't make a mistake with this. The airlines and shippers will throw these things in the dumpster if something goes wrong. You'll never see them again. I've seen THAT happen too.
Thanks Kevin I'll keep that piece of advice in mind while doing my research. I'd hate to see my rack in a dumpster.
To each his own on something like this. I can tell you that Kevin Dill, Pete in Fairbanks, and New York Bowman helped me out tremendously on this hunt. These individuals perspectives were priceless when preparing for this hunt. PM me and I'll email you my gear list for our hunt. We were located on an OxBow lake, so we were not floating a river. I do think that your gear varies depending on the hunt.
That being said, we found that Helly Hansen Impertech II Jacket and Cabela's Gold Plus chest waders with a good rubber wading boot (chota)were essential to our comfort and ultimate success.
If your using a raft, make sure you bring several patch kits in case you spring a leak and don't forget a Wyoming saw.
We all have opinions from our experiences, but if you don't do anything but listen to Pete, you'll be OK. Pete has been there and done that more times than all of us other guys put together. He won't sugar coat the facts either.
Thanks Pete for all your help over the many, many years! Dang, you gotta be gettin' really old! :)
Old enough that I have carried thousands of pounds of moose meat on my back and paid for it with a couple of hernia operations!
Thanks for pointing that out, Terry.....!
Helly Hanson Impertech is the best rain gear for AK hands down! It can and will rail steady and hard for days at a time. Lotsa of high end rain gear will eventually leak and get you wet and damp. HH with not...point blank. Its what all the guides use. I learned this lesson hard.
If you want a foolproof plan to get your meat back to the lower 48...drive up and back and put a chest freezer in your truck bed or on a trailer behind your truck and run it off a generator for a few hours a day and or plug it in at night at a hotel or power source.
I brought back an entire freezer full of salmon, halibut and moose back this way. Drove from Anchorage to Colorado Springs. We would stop at hotels and I had a 100' extension cord i used to plug the freezer in at night...freezers were duct taped shut around the tops. We drove 10-13 hrs each day and just plugged them in at night. No generator used during the day but I have heard of guys doing this.
I looked at driving too. I don't want to do that unless there are 4 or 5 of us going due to drive time. Much cheaper getting up and back with gear and meat capes and antlers. Then I have to research the Canadian rules as far as bringing back a bear ?? (should I get one) Not fun as I have heard if not impossible due to some world law that doesn't matter to me. I can add a black bear tag in the $200 range and a wolf tag for $30. Probably not gonna happen for a wolf where I'm going but the Black Bear is a possibility. Everyone says they want to go with myself and the guy I hunt with every year, but we will see when it comes time to drop the deposit dime! Some of these guys think they can say "yes I have the money for the Hunt" and have never put down the deposit! Amazing! We will see soon how many will actually go.
Great thread with good info. I too am planning on AK moose in 2013. Lots of excel spreadsheets and saved threads on my desktop trying to put myself in a good position to have a successful hunt. Love all the positive replies. There are a lot of great people here.