Slick Trick Broadheads
Between Heaven and Hell in Alaska
Caribou
Contributors to this thread:
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
Ben 10-Jan-17
wild1 10-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
drycreek 10-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
bud 10-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 10-Jan-17
Mule Power 10-Jan-17
midwest 10-Jan-17
Mark Watkins 10-Jan-17
TD 11-Jan-17
t-roy 11-Jan-17
BULELK1 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Jasper 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Treeline 11-Jan-17
Scoot 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
otcWill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Brotsky 11-Jan-17
SBH 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Paul@thefort 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Scar Finga 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
intelinvestor 11-Jan-17
Steve H. 11-Jan-17
BOWNBIRDHNTR 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
elkmtngear 11-Jan-17
Chip T. 11-Jan-17
Razorsharp123 11-Jan-17
orionsbrother 11-Jan-17
Scoot 11-Jan-17
Brotsky 11-Jan-17
elk yinzer 11-Jan-17
TREESTANDWOLF 11-Jan-17
Ironbow 11-Jan-17
Ken 11-Jan-17
buzz mc 11-Jan-17
tacklebox 11-Jan-17
midwest 11-Jan-17
CurveBow 11-Jan-17
GhostBird 11-Jan-17
buckfevered 11-Jan-17
Mad_Angler 11-Jan-17
Shiras 11-Jan-17
Grubby 11-Jan-17
rooster 11-Jan-17
W8N4RUT 11-Jan-17
drycreek 11-Jan-17
HUNT MAN 11-Jan-17
Flincher 11-Jan-17
Paul@thefort 11-Jan-17
stick slinger 11-Jan-17
Treeline 11-Jan-17
Surfbow 11-Jan-17
Beav 11-Jan-17
TD 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Jim Moore 11-Jan-17
LKH 11-Jan-17
sticksender 11-Jan-17
Bowboy 11-Jan-17
Julius K 11-Jan-17
cnelk 11-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 11-Jan-17
Rick M 11-Jan-17
stick n string 11-Jan-17
Chief 419 12-Jan-17
Marsh 12-Jan-17
Grunter 12-Jan-17
BULELK1 12-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 12-Jan-17
gottoohunt 12-Jan-17
loesshillsarcher 12-Jan-17
APauls 12-Jan-17
Butternut40 12-Jan-17
Bullshooter 12-Jan-17
MuddyBull 12-Jan-17
simek 12-Jan-17
Mad_Angler 12-Jan-17
Drop tine 12-Jan-17
TurboT 12-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 12-Jan-17
BOWUNTR 12-Jan-17
TD 12-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 12-Jan-17
gobble50 12-Jan-17
bill v 12-Jan-17
deerslayer 12-Jan-17
Ambush 12-Jan-17
Alexis Desjardins 12-Jan-17
JRABQ 12-Jan-17
SBH 12-Jan-17
Kdog 12-Jan-17
Kevin Dill 13-Jan-17
BagginBigguns 13-Jan-17
At 13-Jan-17
BloodSoakedBerber 13-Jan-17
Sage Buffalo 13-Jan-17
AT Halley 13-Jan-17
bowcrazyJRHCO 13-Jan-17
Aftermerl 13-Jan-17
Florida Mike 14-Jan-17
From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
What follows is a story which pre-dates my 2016 AK solo moose hunt....

I'll preface this by telling you I wasn't planning to do a story about my 2015 trip to Alaska. I've had about a couple dozen emails and messages asking me for it...so here's the accounting. I'm not going to gloss it up or make it prettier than it was in reality. I don't consider myself much of a writer and I often find it hard to pull out the correct words needed to convey what's happening. My writing grammar probably needs work, but I write it the way I'd tell it. It's a story and it isn't perfect. It's pretty long, so up-front apology on that. It might take me a while to get it done...lots of images and such...so feel free to comment or question along the way. The time-frame is August, but the story really starts much earlier...back in late winter when I decided to challenge myself somehow. You can get a clue from the picture. I'm well over the double-nickel, so getting in shape is a primary concern.

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I normally go for moose in September, but after much consideration I decided it was time for a new adventure. I wasn't exactly sure what that might be, but it seemed like a great opportunity to experience something unique and memorable. I spent much of last winter contemplating options and talking to people about ideas. I spoke to the pilot who usually flies me in for moose and told him of my thoughts. We had several rounds of conversation and I finally decided to go after caribou. He gave me plenty of data regarding locations and opportunities...enough that I felt completely confident I would see plenty of game and have my chances. I'm not a guy who usually worries much about getting right into animals, but it's nice to have the feeling you'll be seeing them. Head on straight...I'm going for it.

I initially considered a partner for this hunt but opted away from that fairly quickly. I really felt the need to do something unfamiliar and to challenge myself in ways not done before this hunt. I began to understand that I wanted to go alone and experience the Alaskan wilderness with only myself to rely on. I was concerned about Marilyn's feelings, and decided there was no way I would do this without her complete approval. We talked about it at length and explored every concern or question. I liked her final answer.

“You've spent your whole life hunting and fishing. You have more skills than most guys who go there. You've always been focused on staying safe, and I know that is how you think. I will worry some, but it helps to know you'll be in touch. I think you should go do it.”

From: Ben
10-Jan-17
This is an excellent story! Read it in another forum, don't miss it guys!

From: wild1
10-Jan-17
Looking forward, but right out of the gate, I'm gonna have to ask you what backpack (make and model) are you're wearing...?

From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
Mystery Ranch Metcalf.

From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
So you'd logically think the next step is to plan the hunt, right? Correct....but I haven't told you about the other simultaneous plan we'd been hatching. Marilyn was champing at the bit to go see Alaska and we had a complete do-it-ourselves trip planned. The details of that trip are way too many and too involved to relate here, but priority number one was our trip. The lesser priority was my hunt. In the process we decided to pull a two week tour of Alaska totally on our own (not cruise folks by a mile) and see as much as we could. After that, she would fly home....I would stay another 12 days, hunting for 9 days on my own. That's a big bite right there...gone for most of a month and covering a lot of miles. Don't even ask me about the logistics and gear, between our vacation and the hunt. You wouldn't believe the planning this required to make it all work.

The day we flew out Columbus (Ohio) was a combo of excitement, relief and finality. A long summer of planning was over. There was nothing left to do now but execute all the plans.

The team:

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From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
Our two weeks in Alaska was spectacular. Anchorage, Soldotna, Homer, Katchemak Bay, Iliamna, Redoubt, Kenai, Chugach, Seward, Whittier, Prince William Sound, Valdez, Richardson Hwy, Thompson Pass, Wrangells, Tok, Glenallen, Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs, Nenana, Healy, Denali, Talkeetna....and that is only a partial list of the places and names we visited. We were even in some tiny little burg named Moose Pass one day. (They sell some weird food there.) We burned miles and memories like nobody has ever done. Cabins, hotels, lodges, eateries, shops, harbors, glaciers, mountains, wildlife...all there to consume. I've done a lot of hunting and travel over the years, but this trip was definitely a major milestone. I don't need to recommend it...you already know you want to go.

Productive halibut day on the Homer Spit.

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Bull moose in fireweed. Photography by excited wife.

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The big volcano...Iliamna or Redoubt.

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Salmon pooled up below Russian River Falls.

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From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
Lilypad Lake on a 32 degree morning...Kenai Peninsula.

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On the 3.5 mile trail at Russian River in the Kenai area. Big brownies!

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Sneaky Bou

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Seward Harbor. You had to be there to appreciate it....trust me.

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From: drycreek
10-Jan-17
I'm liking this......

From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
Flying through a high glaciated amphitheater in Denali region.

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On Pika Glacier not far from Denali. If you've never done anything like this, I can't adequately describe the feeling it gives. This is special stuff.

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Turbine Otter on the glacier. Our landing defied the odds.

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A favorite image of mine.

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From: bud
10-Jan-17
Great photos. Really enjoying this. Thanks for posting. One of my dream trips too.

From: Kevin Dill
10-Jan-17
To be continued....tomorrow.

From: Mule Power
10-Jan-17
Oh man this is already good with a long way to go. I'm no cruise ship guy either. Back in about 99 me and the wife did a two week tour very similar. Planes trains and automobiles! Denali etc. We flew out to King Salmon too to go check out the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and of course the grizzlies at Brooks Falls in Katmai. You are right about Seward harbor... I loved it there. The Kenai Fjords tour was incredible. Ok I'll shut up now Kevin and let you continue.

From: midwest
10-Jan-17
Looking forward to this one! You're a lucky man to have a wife that likes to do that sort of travel. And she's a doll!

From: Mark Watkins
10-Jan-17
Great storytelling, pics and trip so far.....bring it on Kevin!!!

Mark

From: TD
11-Jan-17
Gotta be careful..... watch out for those folks in Moose Pass and Seward after a long winter..... =D

From: t-roy
11-Jan-17
Looking forward to this thread Kevin! My wife and I did the helicopter glacier landing flight tour near Denali in 2006. My wife's favorite part of our honeymoon tour that year...aside from watching me "chum" while we fished for halibut!

From: BULELK1
11-Jan-17
Another great thread Kevin!

Good luck, Robb

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Enjoying a sunny sidewalk café in Valdez...waiting on a beverage!

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I had spoken to my pilot about the possibility of getting Marilyn up in his Super Cub. On a warm and fine evening he called and said, "Let's get her up!" Here she is getting pre-flight safety instructions.

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Intrepid woman...first time in a Cub. Hell...I know I wasn't grinning like that the first time I buckled in.... !

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One of our favorite stops is Pike's Landing in Fairbanks. Eating on the patio was a sweet treat.

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From: Jasper
11-Jan-17
This is great Kevin; love the pics! Looking forward to following along!

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Departure day for Marilyn was kind of a sad one. My partner was going home and I was staying on. It had been heaven. We celebrated our great trip with one last dinner at Pike's Landing, and then it was time. The airport goodbye was long and meaningful. I knew she was concerned and I didn't cover it up. It was hard to walk away. Fairbanks Airport is pretty small and I drove out to a neighboring business where I parked. Watching her Delta take wing, I nodded to myself that it was good, and my hunt was starting.

Back at my room I poured the final glass from a bottle we'd shared. I looked at my gear and knew I was ready. I quietly toasted the success of our trip. No matter what happened from this point...I was satisfied. I had a few hours to contemplate the hunt before sleep. Tomorrow it begins.

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From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
The Hunt

At 6:30 the next morning my pilot picked me up. We tossed my gear in his truck and ten minutes later we arrived at the hangar. I caught up with an old friend and chatted briefly as the Super Cub was fueled. I loaded my gear and we lofted up and away in no time. I rather enjoyed that flight...it was probably the finest bush flight I've ever experienced. Imagine two Super Cubs heading into the bush and low mountains of eastern Alaska...pilots talking back and forth...I was adding dumb commentary as required...and we flew steadily east by northeast into the rugged Fortymile region. The Cubs eventually separated and we began doing a reconnaissance of various caribou areas. We flew over domes and rugged cliffs, up and through passes, and soared above wild quiet expanses of alpine tundra. From the air we located a few bands of Dall sheep, one of which was watching a black bear navigate the steep slope below. We spotted multiple moose including a nice bull just coming out of velvet. The caribou were spotty, just as they should be in late August. They were scattered and holding high...the migration yet to begin. After flying through and around many possible hunting areas it was time to make a decision. Based on visuals and feedback from my friend/pilot I made my choice. “Take me to Judith Pass”. My friend and pilot told me I'd chosen well. I heard him say something about tricky winds and short takeoffs which could make for problems in unfavorable weather, but by then it was a moot point. The rocks and tundra were looming larger by the second and less than a minute later we were bouncing to a stop. I clipped out of my flight harness and stepped into my new world, surveying the terrain and surrounding mountains.

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From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Judith Pass is a treeless pass which separates the headwaters of two rivers. It is rough country. Think lots of rock, steep mountainsides, cascading streams, a few alders below, and far below is the black spruce taiga which holds moose. It is severely lonely country without a tree to rest against. The only sounds you'll hear are those of the wind, the fast water below and maybe a raven croaking somewhere above.

It took ten minutes to unload my gear and get the Cub away. I don't recall any particular feeling of aloneness or gravity as I watched him float away down-canyon toward the spruce below...I've been alone in Alaska many times. Besides, I had work to do: “Well....I decided on this, so I can only blame me”. I wasn't going to camp where I landed. My campsite was to be farther up in the actual pass. That meant a backpack trip, and considering I had 75 pounds of gear it meant two backpack trips....I had to get working. I filled my pack with 40 pounds of gear and shouldered it. There's not much point trying to describe what it's like to be well over the double-nickel in age, while hammering up a big rough shale slide through alders and fighting for balance. In the end I climbed about 800 vertical feet and went a mile or two into the pass. On the way up I paused to shoot a picture or two. The tiny lake far below is about 3/4 miles away at this point, and I had started my trek near it. I recall surveying the drainages and distant mountains...the realization I had all this to myself was amazing. I noticed my shadow and struck a noble pose for the image.

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From: Treeline
11-Jan-17
Yet another totally awesome tale, Kevin! Waiting for more!

From: Scoot
11-Jan-17
This is really great stuff Kevin! I'm thoroughly enjoying the telling of this grand tale...

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
I was seeing caribou as I packed upward into the pass. The strategy was to camp above and within striking distance of the various benches and trails traversing the pass. From my camp I would watch for bulls and then drop down to intercept them. It was a simple plan but not as easy as it sounds.

I continued to advance in both elevation and distance until I was a good long ways from our landing strip. I liked what I could see and decided I needed to find a campsite. “Good lord....I forgot to bring a bulldozer.” I found a bench which wasn't really level...more like 15-20 degrees angle...and looked for a place to pitch the Sawtooth tipi. Every spot was either wet or bulging with rocks. I finally compromised and selected the least rocky spot I could find. I dumped the pack and flopped on a flat rock. It was 11:30 and I needed a lunch snack. I cut a chunk of salami....you know that good Genoa stuff by Boar's Head.....and opened a granola bar. “This is pretty good. I'm sitting alone in Judith Pass eating lunch. There are caribou walking below me. The sun is warm. I have another load to haul, but I'll get it done.”

My brain was in neutral...lulled by the comforts of sun and scenery. My legs were tired. The food tasted divine. “I think I see another caribou coming. Wait a second....uh oh.”

I grabbed my binoculars and verified what my unaided eyes had seen:

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From: otcWill
11-Jan-17
Gonna go out on a limb and predict this will be about as good as it gets. Thanks for sharing, Kevin!

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
This was the last in a long line of remote possibilities I envisioned. We had flown through the pass 3 times...no bear. It didn't matter....I had my very own camp grizzly sauntering my way at 250 yards and closing steadily. I grabbed the camera and snicked off several images.

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Big and blonde..."Jeez-o-pete...that sucker is big!" The wind was wrong; he was upwind and couldn't smell me. The situation was wrong: I had intelligently decided to leave my big handgun far below for the second trip. After all, bears don't usually find themselves attracted to airplanes and all that clatter. I had a can of pepper spray and a few minutes at most. I needed to make a decision, so I decided; I sat there and ate my salami and granola bar. “If this dude crosses that rocky slide and gets on my side he'll be at 125 yards or so. I'll give him until then. If he gets under 100 yards one of us is going to look bad.”

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Well of course he didn't stop and when he hit the 100 yard marker I did something which is instinctively very difficult to do. I stood up, yelled some bad-bear talk his way, and I raised my arms high in an effort to look big and bear-proof. I swear I heard him say “You gotta be kidding”....and he just stared at me. I clicked the safety off the spray can (not comforted) and continued the propaganda assault. He took several steps my way and I suddenly realized that my two arms overhead might just happen to look like a Wilbur-sized bull caribou, so I pulled my arms down and curled them over my head. He started making steps in a sort of circling way, and I did the same hoping he would get my wind if this lasted long enough. “Hey bear!....Hey bear!.....Get outta here!.” He dropped his head low and eyeballed me hard....I thought “Crap....here he comes!”...and then he lost it. He lost his nerve and bolted down the mountain and into the alders. I thought he looked bad doing that, but I wasn't laughing. I needed a drink for my dry mouth...I blamed the salami.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
I had no choice except to beat it back to the landing strip for load number two. I wasn't thrilled about leaving my first load up there unattended with a snoopy bear around. I hoped he was too ashamed to show up again. I loaded the second load and stripped down to just my long johns for the big hike and climb. I know...not pretty...but it beat having a heat stroke and being a piece of paralyzed bear bait. I made it back up and nothing was disturbed. By dark I had camp established and my electric perimeter fence up. I even found a small source of spring-water which I improved by digging it out some and then rocking the lower side to dam it up. I was able to walk 30 yards from camp and dip cold spring-water which I never filtered. Such luxury is almost unheard of up there!

My camp, looking down into the drainage.

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The view up the mountain; image taken with 'dramatic' setting.

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Knowing the grizzly was up there gave me a few pauses as darkness fell. I knew the odds were against him coming back, but the odds were also against having him walk up on me two hours after landing. I adhered to my usual ritual of handgun readiness and placement for night use. I drifted off to sleep while hoping the hungry night prowlers would stay away.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
I opened my eyes as gray dawn infiltrated the tipi. No bear. No gun needed. I kept it close though...just in case...and that later proved to be a smart practice.

Hunting Day 1 was beautiful. Sunny and warm. Plenty of work to do around camp and time to hunt as well.

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I spotted several big bulls but none I could reach and then hope to pack out on my own. Two very large bachelor bulls actually fed lazily near the landing strip in the evening and I considered a move to kill one of them. The biggest problem was the massive amount of ugly shale boulders and alders I had to navigate. I went for it. Halfway to the bulls I rolled a rock and had them staring my way at 150 yards. It was over...their suspicion was obvious. I headed back to camp as a light misty rain started to fall.

Along the way I noticed plenty of evidence that the blueberries were as irresistible to the bears as they were to me.

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From: Brotsky
11-Jan-17
Man what an adventure! Great story so far Kevin, looking forward to the rest. Thanks for sharing this with us, the stuff dreams are made of for many bowsiters me included!

From: SBH
11-Jan-17
This is awesome. What an adventure. Thanks

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Hunting Day 2...the dream of it...was interrupted by the sound of steady rain and some wind in the night. Toward 4 am it rained hard and steadily. Not good. I slept in but the rain didn't quit. At 8 am I got up and looked outside. I was in a foggy cloud and couldn't see 30 yards. “Damn. Oh well; oatmeal is a good distraction.” After breakfast I was working on some gear and generally occupying myself in the tipi, when I heard a peculiar sound. I knew it was an animal and it was approaching. I could hear a sort of repetitive whining sound, and I realized suddenly that it was already in camp. “Bear”...and I picked up the handgun laying nearby. I eased the hammer back and two-handed the gun toward the sound which had now stopped. “If I see the fabric bulge I'm going to ventilate that exact spot” was what I told myself. I would have, too...but in a few more seconds I heard a snuffling woof and then another as it departed. I carefully unzipped and checked outside just in time to see the rear bumper of my grizzly going beyond a rise and then out of sight in the fog. “Crap! I didn't come here to play whackamole with a bear in the fog.” I suspect the electrified fence and wet conditions may have played a key part in the big bear's sudden departure....but I'll never know.

.

The weather remained in various stages of semi-terrible most of the day. There was a mid-afternoon break and I got out for about two hours. I spotted some good bulls but too far for a try. I also spotted a large band of 22 Dall sheep on the opposite mountainside at my elevation.

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I took the sight of the sheep as a good omen...I knew I was in a very special place in which many species overlap. Caribou, grizzly, black bear, Dall sheep, moose....all could expect to be seen at any moment in time.

The cloud ceiling was very low most of the day, making it tough to see anything beyond 100 yards most of the time. The weather was acting weird and I opted to remain fairly close to camp...within a half-mile. The rain cranked up again just at dark and I hit the bedroll after a good meal.

From: Paul@thefort
11-Jan-17
Keven, Well, at least you had plenty of rocks to throw at the bear if needed.

You have mastered your wording with great thought and passion for the adventure and the hunt. Not bad for a buckeye. I am surely enjoying this.

Tricia and I will be in Columbus this late June to visit daughter and son in law.. Maybe we can met up and share a glass. my best, Paul

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
It got wild in the night. The wind speed picked up and the tipi was noisy. Fabric was flapping and actually making snapping sounds as wind gusts hit. I guessed it was at 30 or 40 mph and remember thinking that it was a hard blow. I had no idea what was coming. By 3 am the wind was roaring and the tipi was rocking. The center pole was bending and flexing like crazy...bad enough that I had an arm out of the bag so I could grab the pole and brace it during gusts. I thought the whole shebang would fail at some point, as this went on for hours and hours. At daylight things settled for a bit and I stepped out. The world up there looked decidedly dramatic and dangerous. Clouds were scudding over the mountains and wild fog banks were swirling up and down the drainages. The two streams I could see were roaring with cascading falls and wild whitewater runs. Water glistened on everything in existence, and every rock was shiny black. The sound of the wind overhead was ominous....you could just sense that this wasn't over. It was a reprieve and there was more ahead...a lot more. I ventured out a mile or so and captured a couple images when the clouds parted.

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It was about this time that I began to think in terms of my own safety and security instead of hunting constantly. I knew the weather had me isolated and I needed to be careful. Knowing there was a persistent grizzly about the area made me keep my senses on alert. Planes can't fly in weather like that, and a guy is on his own in a solo camp.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Hunting day 3 was mostly a lost cause. I spent most of the day sitting in the tipi while the weather raged off and on. Whenever it stopped I would pop outside and glass if possible. All of the photos were taken during the extremely short breaks in the storm. It wasn't bad for 30 minutes and then clouds and heavy rain would occlude everything around me. I took a couple short walks and munched on a mixture of crow berries, low bush cranberries and blueberries. I snapped a few pictures and evaluated a nice bull. He was all the way across the canyon and climbing the opposite mountainside.

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I watched him with plenty of envy. He was big and he was safe from my desires. He bedded down at dusk and so did I. It rained all night and a wind gust slapped the tipi hard enough to jolt me upright at 2am. I sat there and listened. I felt vulnerable and momentarily stupid for doing this trip alone. I wished I wasn't having to endure the wild weather, and I knew none of it was within my sphere of control. Whatever would happen would happen, and I had to endure. Before I could develop those feelings further I thought I heard a low growl outside camp. It made me shudder and I reached for the gun. I heard it again, closer....then farther away. I strained my ears but all I heard was the howling wind. Maybe I imagined it...maybe not. Crazy weather and stress will do funny things to a guy. I slumped down and into a fitful sleep filled with crazy dreams unrelated to anything I was experiencing.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Hunting Day 4 did give me a 3 hour opportunity to get away from camp. It happened just after noon. I decided to swing around the mountain and look into a different drainage. I geared up and headed out, but first I repaired my electric fence which had taken a wild ass-whipping from the freaky wind gusts. I was hiking up and around the mountainside gaining elevation when it happened. I looked up and ahead to pick my route and magically there were two very immense caribou racks bobbing above the rocks. One was in chocolate velvet and the other had just shed...his antlers were a very striking blood-stained tan color. They were at least 200' higher up the mountain and feeding my way. I made a quick calculation of speed, distance, elevation and likelihood.... then ignored it and went for it. I did a pretty good job. I ended up gassed and positioned below a rock clump as they approached.

.

It was so steep that I was inclined against the rocks on my left side and had my right boot dug in to keep from sliding down the mountain. I was probably 1500 vertical feet above the landing strip and could barely maintain footing up there. I didn't have much time to decide. I thought about it and I knew it would be a foolish risk to kill a large bull so high up...and alone. I found my answer as they arrived. The bow was up and cleared the rocks. Two of the biggest bull caribou I've ever seen fed past me at 20 yards and my arrow stayed on the bow. Yes...it was a hard decision. Yes...it stung to watch their rumps feed away. Yes...I made the right call. You'll see why in a bit. I munched some of the abundant blueberries and glassed the Dall sheep opposite my perch. I thought about my hunting life and the decisions I've made. I thought about Marilyn who would be disappointed for me to come so close. I rolled a rock off the hill and headed back to camp.

The country is far rougher and steeper than it appears.

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I hoped the storm was over, but it was again raining before darkness fell. I had braced every tent peg with big rocks and done all I could to secure the camp. By 11pm the winds were again roaring and at midnight the worst of it arrived. The tipi fabric was shuddering and popping in huge wind gusts. The noise was almost deafening. The fabric flap which covers the stove jack was holding securely, but the speed of the wind had it buzzing like a kazoo in the night. The center pole was bowing and bending like it might collapse at any moment. I fought it for hours, doing everything I could to save things. I realized that this had gone beyond an irritating inconvenience. If my shelter was lost I would be on my own to manage until someone could finally get to me, and that wasn't going to happen until the weather improved. If the worst happened I would need to activate my PLB and await some sort of rescue...not what this guy wanted to see happen. Somewhere toward 3am I think I just reconciled that things were now up to a power beyond myself. I couldn't control the storm or Alaska. The tipi had survived everything to this point. My fatigue was extreme. I offered a quick prayer for my safety, and then I pulled my beanie over my ears and slipped completely into my bag. My last thought was something like “I'm going to sleep. If it blows down, I will deal with it then.” I slept like I was dead.

Somewhere in the predawn I woke to fabric draping my face and realized the tipi had failed. I roused myself and slowly understood I was still deep in my down bag and it was only the inner lining I was feeling over my face. The tent was up...the wind had slackened to maybe 20 mph...and I gratefully closed my eyes.

From: Scar Finga
11-Jan-17
EXCELLANT !!! Please keep it coming!! You are a much bigger man than I am, I know I could do a night or two out alone like that, but I don't think I could do 8-10 days. Especially with a big griz running about. Great Pictures and a wonderful wife, you are a blessed man!

Scar.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Hunting Day 5, I woke at dawn to a broken sky and the mountains looked forbiddingly dark. The wind had settled down to a mere 10-20 mph. I was still exhausted. I hadn't had any opportunity to bathe or any of that since my arrival, so I felt...grubby. I would do that today if possible. I thought about the caribou from yesterday and what would have happened if I'd shot one. Glad I didn't have that to worry with. I felt simultaneously strong and weak. I had toughed it out so far and I knew my capabilities, but this cooped-up-in-camp routine wasn't helping me physically. I decided to eat breakfast and maybe call my pilot for a weather report. Hot granola with blueberries is a mood-altering meal, and I felt pretty good as I fired up the satellite phone.

Me: “Hey what's going on in town?”

Him: “It's been just awful down here. You wouldn't believe the weather.”

Me: “ Whatever you've had is a cakewalk compared to Judith Pass. What's the forecast?”

Him: “More of the same for at least 2 days. Then it turns cold and nasty. They say the wind will blow.”

Me: “I'm still up on the mountain. The wind has beaten me to a pulp.”

Him: “You probably ought to get off there and get down low. Maybe hole up in the spruce for a couple days. I'll get you out when this is over.”

Imagine that. Two more days to endure....it felt like a sentence to hard time. I needed to act. I looked at the sky and it wasn't that bad. A critical decision; as fast as possible I sorted my gear into need-it and need-it-less piles. I broke camp loading my pack with the need-it pile. Everything else I bundled and covered with a tyvek tarp which I securely rocked. I left the weary and battered electric fence in place to guard the cache until I could get back. I shouldered the heavy load and headed down.

On the way around the mountain I suddenly realized I just might not ever get back up there. My gear cache might have to be lost if I couldn't catch a break from Ma Nature. I snapped a quick photo....

 photo AK 2015 053.jpg

Once off the mountain I realized the spruce were still a long way below me. Reaching the edge of them wouldn't help much; they were small and sparse at first. I would need to drop another quarter to half mile into them to find true shelter. “This is it. I'm camping here.” I went to a low place off the landing strip and into some light brush. I put the tipi up and was basically getting things adjusted when the mist turned to rain and the wind started. The first gust yanked 3 stakes and almost parachuted the Sawtooth into the Yukon. I stomped them down immediately and started looking for stones. I ended up having to carry 16 stones an average distance of 50 yards each. If you do the math I covered 1600 yards of walking to amass enough big stones to secure my tipi. It pounded rain and wind the whole time. Once inside I had some lunch and a nap.

This picture has little meaning to anyone except those who understand how the smallest things can be so appreciated.

 photo AK 2015 060.jpg

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
My tired brain wasn't processing things accurately, but I could tell the wind was getting crazy. You could hear it moaning and roaring up in the pass and heading downward. I knew it was going to be a day and night of hell, but I wasn't out of tricks yet. I felt pretty sure the rocks would hold. The fabric had no issues....none. That left me to worry about the center pole. I grabbed my arrow case and removed 3 shafts. Using 550 paracord I tightly bound the shafts to the weakest area of the aluminum pole. It worked, and the pole had noticeably less flex after that mod.

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All throughout the previous 3 days the temperature had remained relatively decent. In fact, it felt almost warmish-tropical at one point in the storm. Now I noticed the temperature was declining and quickly. My breath was evident inside. Much of my gear was now damp, though not wet as I'd taken pains to be careful through the weather. I fixed myself a cup of coffee and thought about my situation.

 photo AK 2015 103.jpg

So I was secure, but half my gear remained up in the pass. I had no choice, as going after it would have been suicidal. I used the satellite phone to let Marilyn and Bryan know my situation, She was well aware of the weather and living with the constant wonder of how I was doing. I told her I really had no choice except to be tougher than a Marine, because even the Marines weren't going to come get me in this weather. I had zero shot at rescue if needed. I'm not much into self-images, but I popped off a couple shots as I sat in my rain gear in the tipi. My eyes tell the story better than words.

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I went to bed damp, tired, grubby and feeling a bit subhuman. In the night I finally noticed the wind had abated some, but I also noticed a new noise. It was the sound of snow sliding on siliconized nylon fabric. “zzzzzit......zzzzzit”. I slept in a sort of hallucinatory dream state from time to time...losing track of time and feeling disconnected from reality.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Hunting Day 6: Of course I woke to a different world. It was late August and snow was everywhere. Termination dust at 5,000 feet. I rubbed my bearded face and took stock of the mountains around me. I could hear the wind up high but somehow it sounded less threatening. Curtains of snow showers floated through the pass and between the rocky mountainsides.

 photo AK 2015 110.jpg

I knocked it off the tipi and checked my shelter.

 photo AK 2015 093.jpg

100% good to go. “Heck yeah...this is better than Hurricane Judith” and I enjoyed a breakfast to the sound of snow showers pinging on the tipi. I wanted to go get my remaining gear, but the clouds and weather kept closing the door. I needed a window of time and weather. I got it at 1pm and sent a message out “Going for gear. Have faith.”

I slipped into my empty pack, grabbed my bow and headed up the mountain one last time.

 photo AK 2015 094.jpg

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
I was 50 yards from camp when I spotted the tracks.

 photo AK 2015 105.jpg

I knew they were fresh as snow had fallen only an hour earlier. I followed them a ways and then remarkably spotted their maker. A black wolf was standing up on the mountainside watching me...watching him. Such a cool moment. He trotted into the alders and I later found his tracks up that way. I also determined there were a couple other wolves with him, though I never spotted them.

I found my gear cache as I left it, though covered with 4 inches of snow and ice at the higher elevation. The fence was in tatters and knocked askew by the monster winds...but the charger was still clicking away and doing its job. I hurriedly cleaned up everything...packed up everything...and made the long downhill carry to my low camp. I was back with everything intact. My gut and the sky told me the worst was over....there was a bit of alpenglow washing the evening landscape, and the snow just enhanced the effect. I was feeling nothing but relief and appreciation to be over the hump. Yes...the storm was finished.

Although no mention has been made of it, I had the knowledge of this day driving me onward through the tough weather. All through the trip I had carried and protected a memento from the elements. I had felt some degree of guilt for being gone during our anniversary, but had also been assured it was good, and there would be a payback required anyway. It was time:

 photo AK 2015 088.jpg

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Hunting Day 7: Picture a snow-covered world of mountains, tundra and brush. Far below, the snow line cuts off somewhere down in the spruce forests. It's cold for August...in the 20s. Everything is silent. The wind is a memory.

 photo AK 2015 098.jpg

I ate a big breakfast and grabbed my bow for a walk. It was just the two of us. The snow told the tale; the caribou were gone. The storm, winds and snow pushed them out of the pass and into the first part of their annual journey south and east. I explored the area well, but there was not a track to be found. I felt a little sad to be alone...the animals had at least been a type of company when I could get outside. I returned to camp and decided to cook a hot lunch. That's when it happened...I had company again.

11-Jan-17
Need to hear more lol

From: Steve H.
11-Jan-17
"We were even in some tiny little burg named Moose Pass one day."

Didn't even wave......

From: BOWNBIRDHNTR
11-Jan-17
Amazing. You and Paul are two of Bowsite's greatest writers. Thank you.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
I was propping my bow up against a willow when something made me look up. Standing at the forward end of the landing strip...and not more than 50 yards from me...was a Dall sheep. No horns...a lamb. I recall how she stood there calmly and regarded me. In a minute she moved my way to get a better look and I was surprised at her calm curiosity. “A white lamb...my sign...I'm safe....I'm going home.” Just like that I felt all the tension of the past many days melt away, and just like that the Dall lamb turned away and went back to the mountains. I thought about that all afternoon as I hiked and photographed and rock-hounded.

 photo AK 2015 116.jpg

 photo AK 2015 054.jpg

 photo AK 2015 125.jpg

 photo AK 2015 126.jpg

 photo AK 2015 121.jpg

Though I watched carefully I never saw the lamb again, nor did I see a single other sheep. The caribou were no more than a wish now. This pass would be the domain of the grizzly and wolf until next summer.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
As the day moved along, the snow melted nicely in my low camp. The afternoon was beautiful, and the rugged mountains seemed spiritual...caught in transition between summer and autumn.

 photo AK 2015 113.jpg

Just as afternoon was blending into evening I faintly heard that old familiar sound which I'm never quite ready for, but always somehow appreciate. Floating through Judith Pass was my angel: a familiar Super Cub with the evening sun glinting off her glass. My heart skipped a beat as I realized my difficult and very priceless adventure was coming to a close. Even though I'd been through so much bad weather and hardship, I still wasn't ready to leave the mountains. I guess I felt like I'd endured hell, and now had earned the right to hunt and maybe kill something. It didn't really matter though. In my heart I knew it was time to call it a hunt...pack it in...and count my blessings in ways other than meat and antler.

I broke camp and 30 minutes later we were winging out of the mountains. Mixed emotions chased me for the first 50 miles, then came the full peace of knowing I was a lucky man to see this place even once. Home was waiting, and I wanted nothing more than to be there.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Final thoughts: According to the meteorological data the area received between 4 and 6 inches of rain in those days. Nobody knows how hard the wind really blew up in the Judith, but I estimated the gusts were hitting 70mph. I ended this hunt early due to a forecast of more bad weather. The caribou were gone. I just had this internal voice telling me to call it...the same voice that told me not to shoot one of the bulls up on the mountain. Hours later I was in a hotel room completely showered and shaved and feeling very human again.

.

I thought much about the last 2 animals of that trip. A black wolf which visited my camp and left me just as the storm blew away. A white lamb which visited my camp and left me just before the sun shone and my adventure ended. That's hard to ignore...I smile when I think of it.

I have a number of people in my life who should be thanked, but obviously the main one is my wife who trusts me to be safe and allows me the freedom to enjoy the wilderness. I am that lucky.

Thanks for following my story.

 photo IMG_2873.jpg

From: elkmtngear
11-Jan-17
Epic!

Stellar photography and commentary. Well done, Kevin!

Best of Luck, Jeff

From: Chip T.
11-Jan-17
Your comments about your lack or writing skills and poor grammar are a real joke. This is one of the best written. best put together hunt reports that Bowsite has ever seen. Be proud of your skills. Can't wait for the rest of the hunt!!!

11-Jan-17
Great story!

Thank you for taking us along with you!

11-Jan-17
As always, you are too modest about your hunt stories Kevin.

From: Scoot
11-Jan-17
Pics and pros just as we'd expect! This was one wonderful story and I greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your harrowing adventure with us! Not like you scripted it in your mind beforehand, no doubt, but one hell of an adventure nevertheless.

From: Brotsky
11-Jan-17
A legendary story if I've ever read one Kevin! Extremely well done sir! Some of the best stories I've read on this site don't end with an animal on the ground. They are priceless just the same! Thank you for sharing it with us!

From: elk yinzer
11-Jan-17
There should be a cache of the all-time legendary hunt recaps on this site, and this one would no doubt be included. Felt like I was right along for the experience.

11-Jan-17
I'm with elk yinzer & Brotsky , wow ! This is great

From: Ironbow
11-Jan-17
Kevin,

That may have been one of the best "keep you on the edge of your seat" stories I have read in a long time. I appreciate the lack of expletives and straight from the heart telling it like it happened. Your selfie said a thousand words. As did the dried pineapple! And your photography made the story come alive.

Dwight Schuh wrote a story many years ago called "Average Alaska". He was with my friend Gary from Day One Camo and they got snowed on heavily. Dwight won several awards for that story, and I got to talk to him about that adventure. Dwight is a great writer, and this story is right up there with it, if not exceeding it slightly.

Very well done.

From: Ken
11-Jan-17
Great story and adventure!

From: buzz mc
11-Jan-17
Great story and pictures. I enjoyed following along. If I'm ever in the need to buy another new tent, I think you've helped me figure out what I should get.

From: tacklebox
11-Jan-17
Wow...

Thanks for taking the time to write it up

From: midwest
11-Jan-17
"I don't consider myself much of a writer and I often find it hard to pull out the correct words needed to convey what's happening."

Yeah, you really suck at writing. Good gawd, Kevin, that was freaking outstanding!

From: CurveBow
11-Jan-17
Awesome!!!! Thanks for sharing Kevin & wishing you many more solo adventures..... >>>>-------->

From: GhostBird
11-Jan-17
Awesome adventure, thanks for taking us along.

From: buckfevered
11-Jan-17
WOW! is right. Excellent job Kevin, thoroughly enjoyed reading every word. Thank you so much for the story and pictures.

From: Mad_Angler
11-Jan-17
Wow... (again)

I really enjoyed this story. Certainly right up there with the "best of bowsite".

Thanks for sharing.

From: Shiras
11-Jan-17
Epic! Loved every second of the read and being there with you again, just as I was on your moose hunt.

We coined a term for hunting in AK. Net-wet...You are never fully dry it seems and even when you try to dry your things out the moisture seems to be there and you end up "net-wet".

From: Grubby
11-Jan-17
Epic!!! Thanks for sharing!

From: rooster
11-Jan-17
What an adventure! Thanks so much for writing the story in such a way as to bring us along with you.

From: W8N4RUT
11-Jan-17
that's why bowsite is the best! Thank you for sharing.

Scott

From: drycreek
11-Jan-17
What elkmtngear and midwest said ! Awesome story !

From: HUNT MAN
11-Jan-17
Wow that's an incredible adventure!! Thanks for posting ! Just what I needed on a snowy winter day! Hunt

From: Flincher
11-Jan-17
Thank you

From: Paul@thefort
11-Jan-17
Kevin, just finished your adventure. Glued to it for the past hour and felt every ache and pain you experienced. It takes a lot of good wordsmithing to do that. Paul

11-Jan-17
Thanks for sharing!! Very impressive

From: Treeline
11-Jan-17
Love your stories, Kevin! Awesome adventure for sure. Thank you so much for taking us along.

From: Surfbow
11-Jan-17
Great write-up Kevin! Most ordinary folks would lose it after a few days like that, but I like to believe the act of hunting adds something extraordinary to a few days of isolation.

From: Beav
11-Jan-17
What a great adventure and even better was how you were able to relay it to us! Excellent!!

From: TD
11-Jan-17
Truly "at the mercy of....." glad you made it so as to relay the story!

Thanks much. Great pics and an awesome very well told story. As always.

Great self control too.... I think I'da shot the bull..... =D

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
Thanks for the comments which are all appreciated and too kind. I don't do a lot of stories and it takes me a while to compose one. I'm the guy sitting there typing and thinking “I could say this so much better”...and I'm never quite satisfied. That's how it goes for me. But I'm glad you enjoyed.

From: Jim Moore
11-Jan-17
Great story Kevin. Care to list the equipment you took? It was obviously well thought out. Clothing, camp gear, etc.

From: LKH
11-Jan-17
I've hunted sheep in the MT Harper unit twice. That's 40 Mile Air country. On our first, we went in the Aug 20. The guys who had been there for the opener 10 Aug said they had hunted 1 day spent the next week trying to survive. There was still an 8 foot drift in the pass we went thru to find sheep. We ended up spending 40 hours in a tent with the poles beating on us. I think the only reason the fly stayed on the tent were the 7 straps my wife sewed on in various placed that we tied to rocks.

That country is beautiful, but the mountain passes funnel winds with terrifying force. It also is some of the coldest country in Alaska that time of the year.

The second trip was wet and breezy, but nothing like the first.

I killed a big bou in that area on another hunt and ended with 165 lbs of clean meat. I think your decision not to shoot was pretty smart. Best luck on your next adventure.

From: sticksender
11-Jan-17
Excellent write-up, I really enjoyed it. That took some time and effort to put together. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

From: Bowboy
11-Jan-17
Great story and pictures. Thanks for sharing!

From: Julius K
11-Jan-17
Kevin, what an awesome trip! Which bourbon did you take along?

From: cnelk
11-Jan-17
Thanks for sharing - Way awesome!

From: Kevin Dill
11-Jan-17
"Which bourbon did you take along?" Now THERE is a good survival-related question. If memory serves me, it was a Four Roses reserve edition. If I'm going...I'm going in style.

From: Rick M
11-Jan-17
Kevin,

Thanks for taking the time. You should consider writing as a second or third career!

Let me know when you want to give bou another shot.!! I'm in??

Happy new year.

11-Jan-17
Amazing. Thank you....

From: Chief 419
12-Jan-17
Awesome write-up! Mother Nature can be miserable and dangerous. Good call on passing the shot and staying safe.

From: Marsh
12-Jan-17
Very well done Kevin! Thanks for sharing. The few times I have hunted in Alaska always seem like a spiritual adventure. My soul feels better after spending time there. It is hard to explain, but the black wolf and white dall sheep says it all. You were tested and passed with flying colors.

From: Grunter
12-Jan-17
Kevin--great story as always! Your pics are breath taking and I felt like I was there as you told your story. I give you lots of respect and hope one day to become the hunter you are! Truly inspiring, thanks for taking your time to post this.

From: BULELK1
12-Jan-17
Classic!

Thanks again

Good luck Robb

From: Kevin Dill
12-Jan-17
Plenty of guys have what it takes and just never take the leap. All I did was take it. But...you need to know yourself well and understand your capabilities. It's important to know some bushcraft and have good survival skills. An obvious concern is how you'll react to being completely and utterly alone in the wilderness with nobody to help you or talk to. When everything goes great it's a cakewalk. When things spiral out of control as they did for me, you can be challenged in ways you never imagined. If my shelter had blown down in the first couple days of the storm I would have been struggling to survive. Wet gear...makeshift shelter...and toughing it out for days. Nobody could fly in that weather except for certain brief periods. It goes without saying you can take average gear and do it, but average gear would have been a disaster on my trip.

I will be honest here: There were moments...several of them...where I had to fight back some despair. When you're untold miles from any road...alone... and the wind is savaging your tent for the third straight night, you're being tested. Five consecutive days of it will find your weaknesses if you have them. It helps to be either dumb or tough...I haven't fully decided on which is better.

I do recall (easily) that my desire to be hunting was strong, but it faded to an afterthought by around day 5. My focus was on self and security by then until the storm abated. As soon as the weather settled I was ready to hit it, but the opportunity was gone. That's Alaska and that's hunting. The unknown is part of what drives some of us onward.

....and again gents....thanks for the compliments.

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From: gottoohunt
12-Jan-17
Your hunt kept me glued to my seat. I'm glad everything survived, I'm sure you have some good and some not so good memories. Thanks for sharing. Gottoohunt

12-Jan-17
Great write up of your experience!! Thank you!!

12-Jan-17
Thanks for sharing an awesome adventure with us!

From: APauls
12-Jan-17
What a great story, the adventure always sounds like a lot more fun reading it in a warm safe place than it is to endure. I felt nervous about your tent just reading the story, I can't imagine what the stress would have felt like sitting inside it as it just gets pounded.

Having kept you safe through that I imagine you'd be pretty happy with the tipi!!

From: Butternut40
12-Jan-17
"It is severely lonely country without a tree to rest against. The only sounds you'll hear are those of the wind, the fast water below and maybe a raven croaking somewhere above." I got a little knot in my stomach just reading that sentence. You truly captured that feeling one gets. Excellent write up. Thanks for sharing.

From: Bullshooter
12-Jan-17
Wow.

From: MuddyBull
12-Jan-17
I enjoyed that read. A lot! I've felt some elements of your adventure, though to a far less degree, here in Wyoming on a few back country hunts. They were close enough to give me a deep appreciation of how you felt. I am a Marine and you Sir are certainly tough enough, and then some. Looking forward to enjoying your next adventure here.

From: simek
12-Jan-17
The stuff of legends...

From: Mad_Angler
12-Jan-17
Great story.

A few questions...

How did you choose the first camp site? Why didn't you camp in the spruce all along?

Did you have a stove and any wood for your tipi?

How did you stake down the tipi? Was the soil good enough or did you need rocks in the first spot too?

If the weather was not a factor, could you have shot the caribou? From the warmth and security of the office, it seems like a manageable distant to haul a caribou.

From: Drop tine
12-Jan-17
Fantastic story and pictures. These are the stories that make bowsite the best.

From: TurboT
12-Jan-17
I loved your moose hunt and cant believe you topped it with this one. Thanks for taking the time to share!

From: Kevin Dill
12-Jan-17
APauls....that Kifaru Sawtooth had me worried. It was my first voyage with it and I had no experience with its durability. I've got a LOT of respect for that shelter now. One tough piece of backcountry gear.

.

In response to Mad_Angler: First camp was chosen to have an elevated vantage in the pass. The caribou were using the barren tundra regions where more favorable browse / forage existed. They weren't migrating; just hanging around at higher elevations. The spruce area far below never showed me one caribou in the binoculars.

I didn't bring the stove. It would have been worthless with heavy rain and hurricane conditions. The nearest wood was 1.5 miles below me and of course wet. I may do the same hunt again, and the stove will stay behind again.

I used MSR Groundhog and Cyclone stakes. It was tough to get them in the ground due to rocks but I managed. After the storm got wild I added some heavy stones over each stake which helped immensely. I doubt if the tipi would have made it without the use of stones.

The weather wasn't the reason I passed on the bulls. You simply had to be there to see how steep and rough it was up there. Those bulls were side-hilling like sheep. I passed because of having enough time to evaluate the elevation, terrain and difficulty of packing out. It's one thing to be young and maybe with a partner. I was alone. It was so steep I had to be very careful just descending with a day pack. A dead caribou of that size (XL) would have meant 3 large pack loads and probably would have taken me to the end of the next day to get it all down to the airstrip. A full load of meat would have been too risky for me. That's a formula for 'scorpioning' off the mountain and breaking some bones. I have nothing to prove and try to always put safety above shooting. I was up that high intending to spot game and didn't plan on encountering them. Considering what the weather did that night and next day...I made the right call for me.

Great questions.

From: BOWUNTR
12-Jan-17
Outstanding and inspirational. Thank you. Ed F

From: TD
12-Jan-17
Kevin, I know you have a ton of experience in these hunts, so valualble. Besides upgrading the tent pole..... =D Any gear you wish you had and didn't? Anything let you down that didn't work?

From: Kevin Dill
12-Jan-17
Actually I finally accepted the pole was stout. If I found myself in that situation again I would use the 3-arrow trick to stiffen things.

I'd say nothing failed or let me down. My bag was down-filled and that had me worried some, but it didn't get wet. A bottle of Valium might have been nice. All my clothes were excellent, as were my boots. A set of earbuds and some Yanni music would have been relaxing. If I go back there I'll make sure every tent stake is an MSR Cyclone....they hold 2 or 3 times as well as straight stakes.

Oh yeah....and a good pee bottle. I forgot that and had to go with empty Mountain House bags. Tricky!

From: gobble50
12-Jan-17
Wow. What a story - perhaps the finest I've ever read. And as a bowhunter well past the 'double nickel' (actually now closer to 70 than 60 - I didn't think I'd get this old this fast!) I'm profoundly impressed with your ability, courage and wherewithal. Look out though....65 is a game changer! Thanks for sharing your incredible adventure!

From: bill v
12-Jan-17
WOW ! Thanks so much for sharing Kevin. What an epic adventure.

bill v

From: deerslayer
12-Jan-17
Wow....

You're gift to convey a story through written word is very evident. That was one of the best stories I've ever read that didn't end in a trophy photo. To complete and adventure like that at a "mature" age is extremely impressive. Thank you for taking the time to write all that up. It was very enjoyable and exceptionally well written!

From: Ambush
12-Jan-17
I started reading this on my phone then quickly realized that the little screen couldn't keep up to the scope of the adventure!

I think you have the rare ability to capture and convey some of the most basic yet profound aspects of why we hunt and what wild places mean to the men [and women] that appreciate them for what they are. Just raw wilderness and the stark realities that we don't face in our everyday lives. Without being overly dramatic, being in an "out of my control" situation is what makes some people stronger and others determined to never be in that position again.

You should really consider chronicling more of your "out there" hunts and slowly flesh them out into a book. There is still a thirst among outdoors people for real adventure stories.

Congrats on a very successful hunt! Right up there with the Alaskan Solo Moose hunt.

And you have more restraint and sense than me. I'd have dumped the string on one of those bulls and been sorry later!!

12-Jan-17
Wow what an adventure, thanks for sharing

From: JRABQ
12-Jan-17
Wow, very cool story!

From: SBH
12-Jan-17
Kevin- Thankyou for sharing your story. As many have stated above, it was so well written and enjoyable to read. What an adventure you had. To have the opportunity to test yourself in that way, and take it. Congrats to you.

From: Kdog
12-Jan-17
Thank you for sharing your story, I was on the edge of my seat reading it today. Glad it all turned out OK for you.

From: Kevin Dill
13-Jan-17
I'm getting a barrage of private messages requesting I post up gear lists, or call to talk about logistics...who transports me...where I hunt...and how to do this type hunt. I just don't have time to respond to all these and apologize up front for that. Suffice to say I'm just like you. I work hard and hunt when I have time. I found my way to these hunts through my membership in PBS and by associating with bowhunters who avidly believe in doing it themselves. Their willingness to share decades of accumulated knowledge is a primary reason I've taken so many good hunts to places many hunters will never see.

One more time...thanks for reading, and for the kind words. The privilege is mine to provide a good story.

13-Jan-17
Awesome story, Mr. Dill.

I made my first trip to AK last September for moose/bou. It was a float hunt out of the Brooks. We killed a massive bull moose on day two. A grizzly appeared immediately after the bull was down. We worked all night to break the bull down. The next day, snow started to fall. The river was fast and dangerous. We ended up getting pulled out early on a makeshift gravel bar "landing strip". After we returned to civilization, it was a strange feeling. Stepping out of the bush plane, still bundled in arctic river hunting gear, onto asphalt at FAI made the whole journey almost seem melodramatic. But I'll say this: when you're in the thick of it, the struggle is as real as it gets.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your experience. It was splendidly told.

From: At
13-Jan-17
Kevin...wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it with us. I recognize the pilot and aircraft...he dropped us into the same region in 2013 (a rifle hunt). Your story brought back so many wonder memories of that trip and it reminded me how mentally tough one has to be to spend time in an area like that. Our camp was at the top of a ridge separating two of the three major rivers in the area and the wind (20-40 mph) was our companion the entire week. We saw a white wolf, a wolverine, grizzly and a 3-4,000 caribou during our week. Obviously, we ended up right smack in the middle of the migration. I was 57 at the time of the hunt, in very decent shape and had been told to expect conditions similar to hunting above 12,000' here in Colorado during late September. It was just like that too...except for the tiring wind! I applaud your decision to not take a 'bou under the circumstances. There were four in our group and having close friends nearby made things a bit easier; though not much was easy about the hunt. You've experienced something (a solo hunt) that few of us are probably willing to take. I've thought about what it would have been like that entire week on my own during my hunt. Tough, it would have been really, really tough. Well done and thanks again for sharing.

13-Jan-17
If this is what a poorly written story looks like remind me to never type anything again. This was awesome, just like the moose hunt adventure story. Outstanding.

From: Sage Buffalo
13-Jan-17
Thought about this story the last 24 hours.

Wish every hunter could read this - this is hunting every day. The trophy photos, back slaps, etc. That is the icing on the cake but it's this what we go through for that one moment.

Hunting isn't easy or a slam dunk.

Thanks for sharing this - I've been in some hairy situations and this brought those moments back.

Appreciate the time you took to write this.

From: AT Halley
13-Jan-17
Kevin thanks for sharing an epic adventure. I love reading about your adventures!

13-Jan-17
Incredible story and equally interesting comments. If it were written by a third person, I would have questioned if you survived by the end. I appreciate you sharing, gives me lots to think about.

From: Aftermerl
13-Jan-17
What an great adventure. Thanks for sharing.

From: Florida Mike
14-Jan-17
First of all, Congrats on a great hunt! I had a rough time in Kodiak last year also. Your story should serve as a warning to others to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The nuts and bolts of the story will help those that read with an eye for context. Congrats on a true life partner also. That is your greatest asset. Carry on. Mike

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