3Rivers Archery Supply
Alaska Moose Float Hunt?
Moose
Contributors to this thread:
Hunt98 17-Sep-16
Matt Quick 17-Sep-16
BIGHORN 18-Sep-16
Pete In Fairbanks 18-Sep-16
Matt Quick 18-Sep-16
Pete In Fairbanks 18-Sep-16
Ziek 18-Sep-16
Medicinemann 18-Sep-16
BIGHORN 18-Sep-16
Pete In Fairbanks 18-Sep-16
Nick Muche 19-Sep-16
BIGHORN 19-Sep-16
squirrel 19-Sep-16
arctichill 13-Oct-16
Kevin Dill 13-Oct-16
Charlie Rehor 13-Oct-16
cnelk 13-Oct-16
Rick M 13-Oct-16
Rick M 13-Oct-16
Shiras 13-Oct-16
Kevin Dill 13-Oct-16
Ollie 13-Oct-16
Busta'Ribs 13-Oct-16
Rick M 13-Oct-16
arctichill 13-Oct-16
Shiras 14-Oct-16
Straight Shooter 14-Oct-16
76aggie 17-Oct-16
Rick M 17-Oct-16
Rick M 17-Oct-16
76aggie 17-Oct-16
Kevin Dill 17-Oct-16
Rick M 17-Oct-16
Hugh 17-Oct-16
Rick M 17-Oct-16
mrelite 17-Oct-16
TD 18-Oct-16
Kevin Dill 18-Oct-16
Pete In Fairbanks 18-Oct-16
Hugh 18-Oct-16
HANS1 18-Oct-16
mrelite 19-Oct-16
Pete In Fairbanks 21-Oct-16
TD 21-Oct-16
Pete In Fairbanks 23-Oct-16
From: Hunt98
17-Sep-16
I've have always wanted to do a river float trip for moose. I'm looking for a rough total cost and number of days from door to door (from Minnesota).

What would a reasonable amount be in time and money?

From: Matt Quick
17-Sep-16
14 days minimum. 10 hunting days and 2 on either end for travel. Depending on who you go with expect door to door costs to be between 5-$8000. With travel, shipping meat and antlers home $5000 may not be doable anymore. I shipped a euro moose mount in 2014 from AK to NC and it cost about $900. I think it was fedex. You won't have to pay that until several months after the hunt so that helps.

From: BIGHORN
18-Sep-16
A friend and I did this back in 2001. Never again. It rained everyday except for one. We did a lot of fishing because we lived off of the river.

We pumped up our raft but had to drag it the first 1/4 mile because the flow was very low. We only saw one bull moose and that happened when we were fishing and didn't have our bows or the rifle that we had along. I got two caribou and my friend got one.

We flew in about 100 miles south west of Anchorage. Over a mountain range and along a very long lake which I can't remember the name because it has been so long ago.

18-Sep-16
Bighorn,

That was likely Lake Clark, or perhaps Lake Iliamna.

This thread makes me wonder if it is time for me (the old retired moose guide) to bring out my theory on float hunts, dust it off and post it again.

Any takers?

Pete

From: Matt Quick
18-Sep-16
Let's hear it Pete. Every time I see a thread on a float hunt I always think of your "theory"

18-Sep-16
OK, here we go again...!

If you are thinking of going on a float hunt for moose in Alaska, especially one sold by some of the major air taxis in Anchorage or Soldotna/Kenai, I suggest instead, that you can save a lot of money by doing the following:

1. Put on all your gear. Long johns, insulating layers and a bunch of expensive gortex rain gear. Now put on your hipboots too.

2. Take a cup of sand or light gravel and pour it down into your shorts.

3. Draw a large tub of very cold water. Add a couple bags of ice.

4. Turn on the shower head ever so slightly (on COLD) so that it simulates "light rain."

5. Sit down in the icy cold water under the shower head.

6. Bring some 10 lb weights and start lifting them.

7. Maintain this exercise for a few hours.

There you go! You now have the same "feeling" as being on an Alaska Float Moose Hunt! It is the EXACT same sensation.

But the really good news is that you will have probably seen just as many moose in your bathroom at home as you would have floating some river that 50 to 100 hunters just floated down ahead of you, yet you saved a TON of airfare and time.

Yer welcome...! It's my pleasure to have helped out once again!

Pete

From: Ziek
18-Sep-16
I haven't done a float hunt for moose. But I have been on a few moose hunts, and done a lot of rafting. If you want to combine the two, read Pete's post above.

Also, don't be thinking in terms of floating every day to hunt new areas. Rafting takes a LOT of work by itself. Just loading/unloading the boat and setting up/taking down camp, often (usually) in the rain, can be a major chore. It will take significant time away from your hunt, and guarantee that you and your gear stay soggy. Plan on floating to a promising area and hunting for at least a few days to a week. If unproductive, take time off from the hunt to move locations - a float day - and repeat. You also have an additional, major piece of gear that may require attention. To me it's always sounded like a great idea to combine two great activities. Until I actually thought about the logistics.

Also, if you manage to kill a moose early, now you also have to load and unload the meat at every camp. Cleaning the smell out of the boat is impossible, inviting a bear to tear it apart.

From: Medicinemann
18-Sep-16
You forgot to mention the "sweepers" that want to pull you out of the raft, and "high siding" a raft on a brushpile in the middle of the river......but I still wouldn't trade the experience.

From: BIGHORN
18-Sep-16
Pete,

You are right on! And yes, it was Lake Clark. I went on this excursion because a friend of mine couldn't find anyone to go with him and he didn't want to do it alone. I knew NOTHING about this trip that he wanted me to go on with him. Dummy me. And yes, watch out for the sweepers or your raft and all your equipment will be at the bottom of the river and you will be swimming to shore and walking back without a weapon in bear country.

Still want to go? Dummy.

18-Sep-16
Not wanting anyone to think I am just peeing in Hunt98's Cheerios, here is my alternative:

Get a good SMALLER air taxi or transporter to drop you off in good moose country and hunt on foot at a reasonable radius from your pickup point.

By "good", I mean someone who hauls only a few hunters per season and doesn't stack parties of hunters at the same lake, or floating the same river, week after week.

By "smaller," I mean a one or two plane operation, not the big guys who haul hundreds of hunters. Super Cubs, not DeH Beavers.

By "good moose country" I mean a location that YOUR hard-won research shows has a robust moose population where you have a reasonable chance at a legal bull.

I may not qualify as a moose expert, but my journals show that I have carried someone in the neighborhood of 80,000 pounds of moose meat on my back over the years! (And I have had the hernia operations to prove it.)

And no, I'm not telling anyone where I go...

Pete

Good luck,

Pete

From: Nick Muche
19-Sep-16
I love it Pete. You make me smile.

From: BIGHORN
19-Sep-16
80,000 pounds. You must have shrunk about 4 or 5 inches over the years. Ha ha. I think that all of us hunters have shrunk, had a hernia surgery and/or back surgeries. I know that I have had more than my share of them.

From: squirrel
19-Sep-16
But with the right partner it could still be fun!! I'll bet after reading these posts that Pete could make the moose-less campfire more fun. (If you could even get a fire going, of course, all the wood being wet and burned up by the previous hordes) No such thing as a bad hunt, but there are many examples of VERY EXPENSIVE camping trips! Been on a couple of those myself.

From: arctichill
13-Oct-16
Recently finished a ridiculous backcountry float trip! I believe my hunting partner contacted Pete upon our return for coffee, but Pete was busy. Anyway, the hunt was brutal! I loved every second of it! I will do it again. Truth is, I would do it again even if I didn't have a moose tag. I love remote Alaska and the experience that country provides is second to none!

From: Kevin Dill
13-Oct-16
I would love to do an Alaska float trip. It would be for what's IN the river....surf and not turf.

To be honest I've never done a float trip for moose but I believe I've hunted moose enough times...much of it along rivers...to know what I'm not missing. Pete's 'exercise' above is humorous but also not far from the truth. There is enough water in Alaska without deliberately sitting, wading and wallowing in it for 10 days. Keeping gear dry can be a challenge on a land-based hunt over many days. Toss in a raft, river and lots of rain + sweat and you'll probably wonder if you'll ever feel dry and clean again.

I've come to the conclusion that every navigable or floatable river in Alaska is a target for hunters, whether local, NR, dropped or guided. Rivers are bush highways up there. Bigger rivers are the domain of jet boats, air boats and maybe even outboards. You can't truly appreciate silence until you've had an air boat or 3 go past. You can hear them miles away the same as you can a floatplane. Horrendous to a hunter seeking some wilderness and quiet. I've flown over creeks and rivers which had raft after raft...or boat...heading downstream. In some ways it's become the bush equivalent of road hunting. Competitive and low odds for a true bowhunter.

I still think nothing beats a land-based hunt out in the bush. A decent hunter will get to know the area quickly and spot opportunities in terms of terrain features and moose tendencies. You're hunting all day and not floating past moose you can't see or hear due to low water, high brush, river noise, etc. Your camp can be as nice as you want it. If you kill, your meat doesn't have to ride in a wet raft for days.

I've also never ended the day with sand in my shorts.

13-Oct-16
I've done 6 Alaska float trips (two with Pat) and loved the experience. It all depends on what you are looking to experience. Arctichill had fun and Kevin had fun. Something magical about floating by an all black wolf with a two pound rainbow on your line:)

From: cnelk
13-Oct-16
I am by no means an Alaska moose hunting expert, but with my recent hunting trip there the advice above is spot on.

I didnt want to do a float trip. [see above reasons]

I hired a small, one man supercub operation that knew the area. I flew in to a remote lake, and hunted from shore. The distance to the lake wasnt far. The pilot even mentioned that some guys feel gypped feeling the flight should be longer. He tells them "Do you want to hunt moose, or go for a plane ride?' He only takes a couple guys a year.

There was just a little 'old evidence ' of other humans in the spot we camped.

Never saw another hunter, only saw/heard one other plane go over.

Pick your buddy carefully. Very carefully. And yes, there IS such a thing as a bad hunt, especially with the wrong 'buddy'.

Hunt the last 8-10 days of your season. We set up and called 150yds uphill from camp for 2 days. At the end of 2 days, the area was covered up in moose.

I ended up taking my moose ~1/4 mile from the tent - uphill from the lake.

It will rain.

It will rain.

It will rain.

The hunt is not easy. I talk to many guys guys that have this hunt on their 'bucket list' and many would not like the conditions of the AK hunt.

I would 'go again', but only with a well known buddy that hasnt been and I wouldnt even hunt.

My trip was $4400 door to door, but I had some AK connections, and knew some ways to save some $$$

If you want to go, just circle a year on the calendar and plan accordingly. Or you prob wont go.

 photo DSCN8187_zpsrwxbhtmn.jpg

From: Rick M
13-Oct-16

Rick M's embedded Photo
Rick M's embedded Photo
Gotta agree with Pete as usual. If you really want a chance at an archery moose take a Super Cub. You can always go on a rafting/fishing trip some other time. Do your research and go with a small operation. We did our trip in 2012 for under $5000 and that was with a $750 mistake on shipping the euros home. We could have flown them on Alaska Air for $150.00 and done them our selves.

From: Rick M
13-Oct-16

Rick M's embedded Photo
Rick M's embedded Photo
Number 2

From: Shiras
13-Oct-16
Never done a float, but used transporters 3 times and have 3 bulls to show for it. Have considered a float hunt, but Pete has confirmed my fears and I am fine without the added agony.

I would equate a moose hunt to a woman giving birth the way it is anyway. While it's happening it's painful at times, miserable at others and always exhausting. When it's all over with, all you remember is how great it was and you want to do it again! :)

From: Kevin Dill
13-Oct-16
Shiras...

If childbirth was anything like butchering and packing a 1600 pound bull across a tussock marsh, no woman would let us get in the same room with them. I mean...right?!

;-)

From: Ollie
13-Oct-16
Pete's description is spot on. I did one float trip and it was similar. I used to tell people that if you want to know what it is like to hunt Alaska, put your wool hunting clothes on during a cold fall day, stand outside and ask your wife to spray you with a hose until you are soaking wet. If you are still smiling at the end of the day, you are ready for a trip to Alaska!

From: Busta'Ribs
13-Oct-16

Busta'Ribs's Link
Here's a link to my AK float hunt a few years back.

Highly recommend doing a float hunt at least once!

From: Rick M
13-Oct-16
Busta, without even looking at the link, didn't you have quite a ride on that one?

From: arctichill
13-Oct-16
In the NM forum there is a thread entitled Mrelite. Lots of photos and descriptions of our experience. To each his own I guess?

From: Shiras
14-Oct-16
If it was like that Kevin, I am not sure they would ever let a man impregnate them! :)

14-Oct-16
Pete,

The more times I hear your "shower" explanation the closer I get to seeing if Rick is interested booking your shower in AK! Lol.

Hopefully Rick and I can get something on the calendar to come back to visit sometime soon.

DJ

From: 76aggie
17-Oct-16
I am not the brightest bulb in the pack but I just got home from a 10 day float and am already planning on another in 3 years. I loved it. Yes it was cold. Yes it was wet. Yes it snowed a bunch. Yes there is sand in everything I own. Rafting for many miles is not a lot of fun especially against the wind. (You can be blown to a complete standstill by the wind even on a flowing river.) We only saw one group of three other hunters on the river other than an Alaska State Trooper who landed a Super Cub on a sand bar to check us. Me and a buddy went on a gun hunt. No bulls but we should have taken one. Saw two bulls, six cows and one Grizz. One bull was not a shooter and was between 45 to 48 inches. My buddy called in one and had him broadside at 300 yards but was not sure he would make 50 inches. We were very cautions in field judging a 50 inch moose after knowing a trooper could swoop in on us at any time. I saw him some time later and felt he was 53 to 55. My buddy went off after him but got within 75 yards but no shot because of the extremely dense vegetation along the river. Same bull came out broadside to me at 402 yards. I did not shoot as I was expecting a shot any moment from my buddy. Shame on both of us. Next time we go, if you have a shot, take it. We had good equipment which is absolutely necessary. If you don' t have quality gear, stay at home. Each of us had about $4,800.00 in the hunt. That was largely for the air taxi and license fees. It does not include motel and food in Fairbanks on the front and back side. This does not include our airline flight. Mine cost me nothing as I got points from Alaska Airlines. Cost will soar if you intend on shipping a mount back to the lower 48 or all of your meat home. Our plan was to each ship 100 lbs of meat home and donate the remainder. Specialized clothing is expensive, don't kid yourself. It can make or break a trip. A bunch of freeze dried food is not cheap either. We only supplemented it with Arctic Grayling. No moose ribs sorry to say. When you are cold, freeze dried food ain't so bad. The only thing we will change the next hunt is bringing our adult sons and a different tent. The one we had served us well but I will be soliciting reviews on the equipment threads regarding personal experiences with Kifaru tepees. I recommend to anyone to go. Take that with a grain of salt. Pete is apparently from Fairbanks so I am sure he knows a heck of a lot more about moose hunting than I will ever know. This southern boy really loved it and cannot wait to go back.

From: Rick M
17-Oct-16
76aggie. Do yourself a favor and at least research a cub hunt. We went 2 for 2, passed up smaller bulls, blew chances at bigger bulls and saw 15 plus in 11 days.i would rate our hunt as 25% of the effort of an elk hunt until you get a bull down.

Glad you had fun and kifaru tipis with a stove are pretty comfy when it is wet and cold.

It is all about getting in the right spot.

From: Rick M
17-Oct-16
76aggie. Do yourself a favor and at least research a cub hunt. We went 2 for 2, passed up smaller bulls, blew chances at bigger bulls and saw 15 plus in 11 days.i would rate our hunt as 25% of the effort of an elk hunt until you get a bull down.

Glad you had fun and kifaru tipis with a stove are pretty comfy when it is wet and cold.

It is all about getting in the right spot.

From: 76aggie
17-Oct-16
PM sent to Rick M.

From: Kevin Dill
17-Oct-16
As noted, I think float hunts are fine and fun most of the time. I agree with Rick totally about the Cub. Just know that any hunt you go on could be a bust. I think there will be a lot more busts on float hunts for guys who are truly bowhunting and not willing to gun one down. Give me the stationary hunt in a good moose area every time.

From: Rick M
17-Oct-16
Kevin,

Crashed my phone and lost your number. Give me a ring to catch up.

From: Hugh
17-Oct-16

Hugh's embedded Photo
Hugh's embedded Photo
Ive only done one and it was a great learning experience. I had to rely on the experience of my brother to pick the right gear. We did 5 days on a lake then portaged 1/3 mile to a river and began to float, well drag actually for the next 5 days. The beavers and low water caused our river to have much less water than we thought. That first day we pulled the raft over 50 times. It wasn't till the last day we got to where we could float/paddle all day. I would do it again, slightly different gear(more synthetics), but it was a very cool experience to know that we were self suffiecient for 10 days and unreachable except by helicopter if something went wrong. Soaked and cold many times, but worth it.

From: Rick M
17-Oct-16
Hugh, did you see or kill a bull?

From: mrelite
17-Oct-16
I just did an Alaskan float hunt and had an absolute blast! it was remote with no other interference of people whatsoever, I think we floated about 80 miles. I do think that having the right gear is mandatory when it comes to a float hunt, it is no place for gear failures. I can't think of a hunt that I wouldn't love to do, I may be a little weird but I love the hardships that some hunts provide, I like easy ones as well but its the tough ones that I crave. I do agree that a float hunt has some issues for being successful, we experienced it first hand and finished the hunt with no kill but really what hunt isn't like that, it either happens or it doesn't, all you can do is be prepared to give it your best and have fun doing it. The only thing this float hunt lacked was the kill, it was an awesome area! we did see 3 huge bulls the day before the hunt and one during the hunt that was right at 50 but to close to chance it and one 35" that I called in twice in one day at two different locations on the river, we also saw an uncountable amount of caribou and a mama grizz and 2 cubs.

I did a drop hunt two years ago and there were more issues with that hunt then there was for this float hunt, the drop hunt was a great experience and a not so good experience at the same time, they flew some locals in before us and they killed 3 bulls within the 2 mile radius of the landing strip, the moose had moved out of our area and we spent the whole time unsuccessfully trying to get them to come back, bears had also moved onto the carcasses. The area they dropped us off was a good area if others hadn't been there and killed right before our arrival, the other issue was the camp area, it was no different then some of the trashy public campgrounds in the lower 48. I was told about the people when we were at the airport getting ready to fly out, the transporter has a stellar reputation but I felt stabbed in the back.

As much as I have learned about Alaskan moose hunting I am still at a loss for how people find a good place to do a drop hunt with a small transporter and without it being a lucky pick.

From: TD
18-Oct-16
Another issue is how many opportunities for bowhunters on these float hunts? No disrespect, I'm 100% behind a rifle hunt, whatever a person chooses..... but for someone who is going to bowhunt or eat a tag..... opportunities measured in hundreds of yards are not opportunities for them....

Would a transporter tell you if or how many groups in the area before you? Or maybe be able to give you some intel as to what areas they likely had covered?

From: Kevin Dill
18-Oct-16
mrelite...I agree with you that picking the right air transporter is a general mystery. I guess it's akin to mechanics. If you know there are 20 mechanics in town how do you decide which one gets their hands on your expensive truck? When you do narrow it down and find the guy with a stellar reputation for honesty and great service, he's never sitting with an open schedule. He's booked up. Superior air transporters are the same. Really good ones don't need to advertise and they usually don't have many openings. Hunters who want to head north 10 months from now are left to pick from whatever they can find for a transporter. Booking 3-5 years out (or getting on his list and bugging him steadily for a spot) is how it's done. There is no formula or method...a guy just has to look everywhere, ask everyone, keep repeating it.

Just for the sake of saying it: Belonging to a national organization of hunters can be a huge help. I'm not talking about a website or carrying a membership card. Making/having friends can sometimes lead you to opportunities you would never find otherwise. Nothing beats a personal recommendation and lead-in.

Think about this: a stationary group occupies an area for 7-14 days and they are the only ones there. A pilot gets 1 or 2 uses of that area per moose season. A different pilot or outfitter puts a group of guys on a river at specific intervals. He can put more guys out (more $) and chances are they will never see another group. It looks like pristine country. No way to know a 60"er was killed ahead of your group. You don't see another human and it feels like a wilderness trip. I've known a good number of good bowhunters who went on float hunts and had a blast, but their success rates (bow only) don't compare favorably to the ones who were placed on the ground in good moose country and left to hunt it for 10 days or so.

TD...Rifles will always yield more opportunities of course. I tend to think a float trip with a 'bow or go home' mindset is lower odds vs a stationary hunt. I 100% could kill a fully mature bull every year with a rifle where I hunt. It wouldn't even be a question of if. It's pretty cool to kill a moose based on your knowledge of an area, and I think a bowhunter benefits from that more than a rifle hunter.

18-Oct-16
As it turns out, I KNOW there are decent opportunities for float hunts! But most hunters (and especially NR hunters) don't take the time to sleuth them out. They get on websites and see photos of smiling successful hunters and figure that will be them. One reason there are photos of a handful of smiley hunters with dead moose on those fancy websites is that those transporters put HUNDREDS of hunters on the rivers they use. If you haul out and insert 300 hunters, a few of them are going to accidently kill moose! Unlike guides, who are limited to specific areas, transporters can haul a bunch of hunters and when the area is cleaned out, they just move their operations. YOU don't know if they did that. Actually, you don't know how many hunters are in front of you on any given river. And the places used by all the big outfits get HAMMERED with floating hunters. It all LOOKS like there is a moose behind every willow bush, but if the the first 4 or 5 parties down that river shot all the 50"+ bulls in that corridor, there wont' be one for you to shoot unless it has moved in to fill the void. A lot of NR hunters don't stop to realize that there is "a lot of fresh air" inbetween moose in even the best habitat in AK. It's not like there is a moose on every square mile of terrain. Far from it. The next problem is that most float hunters expect a big bull to be standing on the gravel bar around the next bend. Oddly, most of those moose aren't standing there waiting for someone to shoot them. They are OFF the rivers and you have to actually hunt for them (who would have guessed...?) A lot of float hunters get a little mixed up about how there daily schedule should work! From black dark until 9 or 10 am, you should be hunting, not floating or cooking breakfast, or breaking camp. Break camp and float during the middle of the day. Be hunting again (off the river) from about 4 pm until black dark. Bottom line is that if you float from good hunting spot to good hunting spot, during the middle of the day, on an uncrowded river, you MAY have decent chance of killing a bull if there are any left there. A "decent spot" in my opinion, is a place with adequate sign, a few cows around and a nice high hill to glass the decent spot from. Still, I would almost always choose being inserted by small aircraft (wheels or floats) in good moose country far from where the residents with 4-wheelers and NR with rafts are, with a decent place to glass from. I'd spend every day on that observation point watching for the bull I wanted. But that's just me! Pete

From: Hugh
18-Oct-16

Hugh's embedded Photo
Hugh's embedded Photo
We saw I think 4-5 bulls on that trip, none in bow range. My brother had an any bull tag whereas I had a traditional spike/fork/50" tag. Our hunt was hampered by the low water as mentioned above and the rut had not kicked in. We came up on a bull with 4-5 cows and called, but he gathered up his harem and walked away. Another time we called up a bull out of his bed that had to be pushing a mile away. He stood and looked towards us for 15 minutes but never came in. On the last morning, my brother had done some calling and we were breaking camp. I hadn't put my contacts in so my vision was screwy. I looked off towards a mountain and there was a big spruce in between us and the mountain. I saw antlers and what I thought were two moose near the tree. I thought the tree way off due to my lack of vision. Turns out the tree was only 150 yards away, and it was a bigger bull moving to get our wind. By the time we got rigged around and ready to cross the river he was gone. I don't think I would do that river again, simply didn't have what I would call great habitat. But it was a challenge. We did take a rifle for bears in case they came in but we never saw any, only footprints and scat. 5 miles to the west of us, there was an outfitter who I think tagged out almost 100% on both moose and bears, go figure. It was cold and wet, but look at the smiles!

From: HANS1
18-Oct-16

From: mrelite
19-Oct-16
There you go again Pete, telling it like it is!

Thanks Kevin, I'll get started working on my next trip, hopefully in 2 to 3 years I can make it happen one more time. I can't believe how much I want to go back!

21-Oct-16
If I knew as much as some people think I do (AND was willing to put up the money to fly out from town,) I would have a freezer full of moose meat!

Meanwhile, Emma Lee has a rifle cow tag that is good until Nov 20. Thus, hope springs eternal!

Pete

From: TD
21-Oct-16
Shot em all out of the garden already? =D

23-Oct-16
TD,

I moved to a new place a few miles away. Gotta start training them all over again....!

Pete

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