Sitka Mountain Gear
Finding Alaska Moose Pilots - DIY Only
Moose
Contributors to this thread:
Kevin Dill 08-Mar-17
otcWill 08-Mar-17
cnelk 08-Mar-17
midwest 08-Mar-17
GotBowAz 08-Mar-17
kota-man 08-Mar-17
JulianT 08-Mar-17
akbow 08-Mar-17
Bake 08-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 08-Mar-17
Rickm 08-Mar-17
MarkU 08-Mar-17
Nick Muche 08-Mar-17
Steve H. 08-Mar-17
Steve H. 08-Mar-17
cnelk 08-Mar-17
pav 08-Mar-17
Steve H. 08-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 08-Mar-17
Steve H. 08-Mar-17
Shiras 08-Mar-17
Pete In Fairbanks 09-Mar-17
Ron Niziolek 09-Mar-17
TD 09-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 09-Mar-17
arctichill 09-Mar-17
Straight Shooter 09-Mar-17
Mike-TN 10-Mar-17
cnelk 10-Mar-17
Brokenarrow129 10-Mar-17
Scar Finga 10-Mar-17
Mike-TN 10-Mar-17
cnelk 10-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 10-Mar-17
TD 10-Mar-17
willliamtell 10-Mar-17
Hugh 10-Mar-17
DonVathome 10-Mar-17
TD 10-Mar-17
TD 11-Mar-17
Nick Muche 11-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 11-Mar-17
midwest 11-Mar-17
Rickm 11-Mar-17
cubdrvr 11-Mar-17
Steve H. 11-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 11-Mar-17
Rickm 11-Mar-17
Rickm 11-Mar-17
pav 12-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 12-Mar-17
Beendare 13-Mar-17
thedude 14-Mar-17
Scooby-doo 14-Mar-17
NY Bowman 22-Mar-17
South Farm 31-Mar-17
Kevin Dill 31-Mar-17
Pete In Fairbanks 31-Mar-17
willliamtell 21-Apr-17
From: Kevin Dill
08-Mar-17
I get a number of emails and private messages from guys who want to do their first do-it-yourself nonresident moose or caribou hunt in Alaska. Invariably it comes down to the critical questions: "How do I find a good pilot or transporter, and how can I get on a hunt in the next year or two?" I mainly want to address those who are definitely full diy types...bringing their own gear and relying on a transporter to get them to and from the backcountry. There are guys and pilots providing mostly or fully outfitted drop-camp hunts but this isn't about that type hunt. If you live to be independent and need or want nothing but a ride to your hunting area....read on.

.

I don't know any shortcuts that get a guy in the door ahead of everyone else. Resident Alaskan pilots largely thrive on repeat clients who book ahead and keep coming back. Any business would rather deal with repeat steady customers who are known to them and dependable. Some pilots probably run in excess of 80% (or more) repeat business and getting a seat in their plane as a new customer is darned hard. You've gotta be either determined or lucky...maybe both. What I've seen is that the most organized and top-performing outfits (pilots) are very good, very in-demand, and very solidly booked with only the occasional opening for moose. Caribou opportunities are usually easier to find. A combination of factors account for this, but just know that caribou hunts are easier to lock down than moose. One other thing: guys who hunt year after year are going to notice and end up occupying the best moose locations. If a pilot has a late opening you might as well assume it's not in the magic forest of moose. It could be a good hunt (and should be of course) but don't expect a primo location. Pilots know their locations and favor repeat customers by giving them the top spots.

I advise any serious guy to get logical. Don't hope for an accidental moose opportunity. Start a data base of all possible pilots, transporters, air charters, whatever you can find. Don't start calling too fast. Get a dozen names and numbers before starting, and keep adding names or leads to your data. Chase everything...every tidbit...every lead and note it in your records. Talk to pilots with respect. Don't go into the conversation asking for a primo table and the wine list. I can assure you that pilots deal with plenty of pushy want-an-answer nonresident guys and they probably don't reach out as easily to them as to the guy who sounds sincere and willing to work his way to a shot at going. Good transporters take a LOT of calls over the year and most have some sort of system or plan in place for handling new requests. But...you never know when a pilot may drop a gift in your lap (unexpected opportunity) and ask for a fast commitment before handing off to the next guy in line. It pays to be ready (including some money) to commit if a chance shows up.

Find out what GMU and Zone (s) any transporter under consideration is hunting. It pays to research it and learn something about the area's moose, density, terrain, regulations, and so forth. A mountain moose hunt may sound exciting but if a biologist tells you the moose will be in the drainages...you'll be hikng up and down every day. I don't prefer ridge top camps for moose. Great for spotting but obviously terrible for backpacking meat out if you kill 800 feet or more lower and a mile away. That said, if it's what's available and the moose are there, I'm probably going. I just won't be killing one in the valley core and packng it a mile uphill x 10+ loads. I can call a bull a long ways on the right day.

One of the best ways to find a very good and reliable transporter or pilot is by personal referral from someone you know and trust who has hunted with that pilot. You might not know anyone who has done it but there are ways to make contact. Contact for me doesn't mean a forum guy you chat with or someone talking on the web. It's a face-to-face thing where you can meet, discuss, and judge what you're receiving from another. One of the best ways to make it happen is through membership in hunting organizations which have periodic events where members gather. Pope & Young, Boone & Crockett, SCI, PBS, Compton and plenty of other organizations are superb places to find guys who do these hardcore diy hunts and can refer you to a good transporter. I'm not saying it happens fast or without effort, but memberships and attendance in those groups does lead to good hunting opportunities in many cases. I'm not especially social and yet my memberships have brought me into contact with those who volunteered knowledge and gave me a lead to follow which ended in great hunts.

I'll close by saying again...there is no inexpensive, fast and easy way to a superb nonresident diy moose or caribou hunt in Alaska. If you're impatient and can't wait the couple years required, just admit it and move on to something else. If you just HAVE to hunt moose and don't want to go guided, then get going with an organized search and keep with it for as long as it takes. If you have a marathoner's attitude you may be surprised how fast things actually happen.

 photo c680375b-f48b-4423-9ecb-ba0f8c6a602a.jpg

All opinons and thoughts are welcome.....

From: otcWill
08-Mar-17
Thanks for taking the time to write this up for us! DIY moose is definitely going to happen for me one day

From: cnelk
08-Mar-17
I'm by no means an expert in hunting Alaska but what is written above is spot on. I have over 3 years of notes for Alaska moose hunting.

I will add that if you put in for a draw area and are successful, the pilot availability can be much better than the otc areas.

From: midwest
08-Mar-17
I'm one who has bugged Kevin plenty, as well as other Bowsiters. All have been super helpful with advice on different aspects of a DIY Alaska hunt. There is a lot of work involved in trying to put together a hunt like this the first time. Without a doubt, finding a transporter, one I'll feel comfortable and confident with, is turning into the most difficult part. I'm going to consider my first hunt a learning experience and a foot in the door with a pilot (hopefully). Maybe I'll even kill something. :-)

Thanks to all the guys who have taken the time to talk and pm. Great post, Kevin!

From: GotBowAz
08-Mar-17
Great post Kevin and thanks for taking the time to put things into proper perspective. You brought some things to light I didn't think about.

Midwest, your a great bug, good luck with your quest! I hope you reach your goal.

From: kota-man
08-Mar-17
Very informative post...Thanks for taking the time Kevin.

From: JulianT
08-Mar-17

JulianT's embedded Photo
JulianT's embedded Photo
I was fortunate enough to get to know Kevin through PBS and now consider him a mentor and close friend. I guess I'm living proof of how some of this stuff can shake out if you follow the advice he's so kindly shared here. I'd done some solo hunts for western big game but knew I needed a good mentor for my first bite of Alaska. With Kevin's guidance, I was able to fulfill a dream. It was ironic that we were both in different parts of Alaska on hunts that both went from caribou hunt to survival situation at roughly the same time. I did have the time of my life, though, and plan to get back...hopefully real soon. Kevin is the man, and for a rare bottle of whiskey, he's likely to give you some good advice. Cheers, brother.

From: akbow
08-Mar-17
All good info there Kevin. I'd add that a common error I hear are too big of a party hunting in one area. I would say 2 guys max for a moose hunt and expect to fill one tag--the second would just be a bonus. If you want to hunt in a big party-think caribou (although caribou prospects are getting slimmer by the year here lately). Moose densities are very, very low compared to L48 hunting.

From: Bake
08-Mar-17
Very good info. Strangely enough, this is very timely. I was just emailing my elk buddy about starting to plan for a DIY moose hunt in Alaska. I can't plan anything prior to fall of 2019, so I told him we need to start doing our research on areas and transporters

We've talked about it for years, but little kids and jobs haven't let us plan an extended trip. In 2019 all our kids will be 6+, so easier to take more time. . . .

From: Kevin Dill
08-Mar-17
No problem guys. There are some experienced people here who will get nothing new from this. My hope is that some will begin to see what needs to happen on their end and why they should start early with an organized approach. I also think this thread will be a good one to bookmark and refer guys to who have questions. I love y'all but it does take time to type a new response to every person who contacts me. ;-) Helping hunters is sort of in my dna...and yet I know the guys who get the most from it are those who just need some direction and can run with it.

I've got a pretty good feeling about Midwest's future. Might be a superb adventure ahead.

Aw heck...I just feel sorry for JT. I know what he went through on his 'bou deal in '15. That was a tough one absolutely. Hopefully his next trip goes a little better and he doesn't lose weight again. Good man with a gentleman's approach to life and the sporting world.

They're running the Iditarod right now. It was -30 in Fairbanks a day or so ago. Snow is deep and the rivers there are still frozen like iron. Still, I can't help but think there's a monarch munching on willow tips and twigs somewhere...and he is 6 months away from a rendezvous with an arrow. Anticipation is good.

From: Rickm
08-Mar-17
Kevin, as you know I get my fair share as well. What you posted is pretty much the recipe.

Heck I couldn't probobly get back into the spot I hunted as it was locked up the last time I talked to the transporter.

It took years of research, calling, deciding on and then waited 3 years to get in the rotation. Pretty much a 5 year plan but more than worth the effort.

From: MarkU
08-Mar-17
I think Julian meant "for a bottle of rare whiskey" instead of a rare bottle of whiskey, which I'm pretty sure doesn't fit Kevin's MO.

Just clearing things up.

From: Nick Muche
08-Mar-17
-38 this morning! Damn cold.... but the sun is shining!

From: Steve H.
08-Mar-17
"I would say 2 guys max for a moose hunt and expect to fill one tag--the second would just be a bonus." I think expecting to fill one tag out of two is possible yet highly unlikely nor reasonable to expect based on my 15 plus years of experience. I agree with two guys max.

From: Steve H.
08-Mar-17
"I don't prefer ridge top camps for moose." As a broad brush stroke, yes, but in the Tanana Uplands region, this is largely the only game in town.

From: cnelk
08-Mar-17
I know there are many more guys that say they want to do an Alaska moose hunt than actually go.

If you're serious, my suggestion is to circle a date on a calendar, plan accordingly and make it happen or it won't

From: pav
08-Mar-17
It could well be a good thing... that it is easier to get one's name on a transporter's repeat customer list by hunting caribou first. Typically better weather and a MUCH smaller animal to deal with on the ground. Very good experience for planning a moose hunt!

From: Steve H.
08-Mar-17
"...that it is easier to get one's name on a transporter's repeat customer list by hunting caribou first."

That eliminates MANY of the better moose choices.

From: Kevin Dill
08-Mar-17
I agree that 2 guys are enough in a moose area. I also think it's beating the odds for both to kill with bows. Make it a team adventure and get ONE...then a second chance is a gift if it happens. Rifles are a different deal. Keep in mind an area routinely hunted by gun guys will see more bulls taken on average each year. That can impact a bowhunter's chances....negatively.

My thing on avoiding ridgetops has to do mainly with the regions of higher hills and low mountains cut through with faster rivers and streams far below. If you do a ridge camp, be sure you have enough manpower and conditioning to get the packing done.

It's not recommended to go straight from deer to moose for a diy hunt. Elk or caribou are a great intermediate animal. If one of the hunters has experience butchering/moving/handling larger animals...all the better.

Finally and importantly, I agree on the "bottle of rare". Just like a big critter...the harder it comes, the more it's appreciated.

From: Steve H.
08-Mar-17
I get into plenty of these conversation too, "where do I go"? One big point that MANY guys miss is just because an area was good or bad 20 years ago doesn't mean there is some social/biological/political driver that hasn't completely changed the population dynamics of any area, good or bad. Some example includes: changed access availability such as pilot(s) that was/were heavier user(s) no longer operate in the area or too damn many pilots operating in an area; heavy predation with slow recovery; reduced predation with good recovery after a number of years; or active aerial wolf reductions.

From: Shiras
08-Mar-17
One thing that I will add is that it can be difficult to find someone with the same level of commitment that you might have. Luckily I have. He's a gun hunter, but it has worked fine for the two of us on our three trips. He's 3 for 3 with the gun and I am 2 for 3 with the bow, but 3 for 3 overall as well.

So I guess what I am adding to this is that if it doesn't bother you, don't eliminate someone as a potential hunting partner because of their weapon of choice. It can and does work mixing weapons.

09-Mar-17
Thanks Kevin. Maybe this will cut down on the numbers of PM's that head my way too!

Good advice gentlemen...................... read it and act accordingly!

Pete

From: Ron Niziolek
09-Mar-17
Thanks for the post Kevin. Great info.

From: TD
09-Mar-17
Geez Pete..... I thought between you and Steve I had an "in"...... =D

Watching this and taking notes. Thank you gentlemen. It's an adventure I just gotta do someday. Have a file going already actually.....

From: Kevin Dill
09-Mar-17
I suppose there is always the chance a guy might get in on a late cancellation deal. The problem for most guys would be having their gear ready and being able to handle the logistics on short notice...for their first time up.

Another consideration in pilots and transporters is whether they are putting you in an area which just got hunted by a previous group. As a bowhunter I definitely don't want to follow up on a group which has been hunting and perhaps has killed in there. A predator-attracting carcass isn't a good thing. Moose which have been harassed tend to get shy. Just be aware it happens and you may want to ask any pilot whether a hunting area is getting used multiple times per season. I would probably avoid that if possible, as I go there (and spend the dollar) to hunt unpressured moose where I'm the first and only hunter (partner included) who will be there.

From: arctichill
09-Mar-17
Spot-on advice so far as I can tell! Thanks Kevin!

09-Mar-17
Pete, just for that I'm sending you a PM!! Lol

DJ

From: Mike-TN
10-Mar-17

Mike-TN's embedded Photo
Mike-TN's embedded Photo
DIY moose with transporter services only was very good to me and buddy. This was way back in 2000 and I think we got pretty lucky for our first time in AK. This was a "tainted" rifle hunt.

From: cnelk
10-Mar-17
Im surprised no one has asked how much the pilots are charging

10-Mar-17
^^ If you have to ask how much..... you can't afford it!

From: Scar Finga
10-Mar-17
CNELK... A LOT!!

From: Mike-TN
10-Mar-17
In 2000 it was $300/hour. The out and back drop off was $600. But the pick up with 2 moose took 3 trips .... 4 trips at $600 each was $2400. Split 2 ways was $1200 each.

From: cnelk
10-Mar-17
I paid $800/person and $800/moose last fall + tip

From: Kevin Dill
10-Mar-17
Beavers, Otters, 207s, Helio Couriers and some others are more expensive per flight hour but can also haul more people and/or gear per flight. That can make them less expensive, but it also limits the terrain they can land in. There is plenty of moose country a Beaver pilot could only fly over and wish to land in, while a Super Cub or Maul can get in tight places with greater ease. The downsides to a Cub are fuel range, load capacity and sometimes net cost. All things considered, give me the Super Cub every time and put me in a spot where no bigger or faster craft could even hope to set down.

From: TD
10-Mar-17
Cubs are the safest plane in the sky....... they only fly just barely fast enough to kill ya......

From: willliamtell
10-Mar-17
Just went into the "+" list -thank you Kevin. The left coast does have some pretty decent artisanal hooch distillers, might want to smuggle one your way.

From: Hugh
10-Mar-17
Our trip out of Bethel this fall is $2600 if that gives you any idea. For the DIY there are two firms up here that do offer consulting services for guys wanting to come up and do it alone. They will build a trip around your budget and experience. There is a cost for the service but they do tend to put people in good areas. The first is Pristine Adventures/Larry Bartlett and the second is Mike Stahan(sic?) he operates a web page called outdoorsdirectory. Ive met both of them at the Great Alaskan Outdoor Show and although I haven't used the service I did talk to them at length.

From: DonVathome
10-Mar-17
Kevin I agree 100%, very very very very very hard to find! If you are willing to pay a fortune, $10k for 2 guys, and use his gear you are golden.

Otherwise I have spent 15 years following and my AK word doc has over 100 pages and I save all good/bad I hear.

I have one ok option after all that!

I will also add that throw in a solo NR and the odds go down 3 fold.

From: TD
10-Mar-17
I've been reading some outfits that limit gear to 50lbs per man. If hiring a transporter with say a super cub.... what is the normal gear weight (obviously) per man you guys flew with? Do most use that 50lb guide? What if it's a smaller guy? I'm 175-180 fightin' weight, but my buddy is maybe 140 soaking wet. I would think they flew with more of a "total" weight?

Many years ago I actually had a pilot license, My family has had planes from my grandfather's Steerman through my Dad's last one, a 185. I know we always weighed everything right down to the fuel. Figure take off altitudes and temps in too.

From: TD
11-Mar-17

From: Nick Muche
11-Mar-17
A cub can carry much more than what they are allowed to.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Mar-17
Nick is right. And first I need to say I know almost zip about FAA regs, specific plane designations and limits...all the legalities and rules governing what loads and weights a plane is allowed to carry. So most of what follows is anecdotal and not worth a damn in real life.

.

I killed a bull in 2010...mature bull. My pilot (not who I use now) flew in to do the meat haul. The airstrip was the tiniest little narrow strip of gravel along a narrow river. He took 100% of the meat plus the head/antlers (tied to the strut) in one load. Anyway you cut it there was a 180 pound pilot and at least 600 pounds of moose on board. I was there to load and watch him go. Probably exceeded allowable weight by 300 pounds.

Super Cubs (any plane) really can be modified to improve power and reduce weight...in some cases making for increased load limits. Some guys run really big tundra tires and a few run smaller ones which weigh less. I've seen pilots yank their electric starter and battery to save weight...hand-propping to start.

I don't like it when an air service says 50 pounds but that doesn't count your clothes and weapon and what's in your pockets. Guys tend to dress like a snowboarder and have pockets bloated with gear. Come on....it's all weight. Just tell us our overall maximum on everything right? It's not that simple though because I suspect the FAA and other ruling entities make exceptions and allowances for certain gear and where it stows.

There are darned few guys who could do a 10 or 14 day moose hunt on 50-55 pounds if that includes their weaponry, and 100% of their gear/food. I think I also heard that Fortymile Air was weighing hunters and either penalizing or not taking guys who exceed a certain weight. Most Cub pilots I've seen/met aren't weighing their hunters. Some don't weigh the gear but I have something to tell you: A Cub pilot can look at your pile of gear outside his plane and know whether it's close to weight. Most of those weight limits have as much to with volume as weight. A Cub only has a limited amount of space in the tail and your gear had better fit in there or it doesn't fly, period.

I have flown in a Cub when my gear was probably 100 pounds if not more. No sweat for the plane. Every plane's weight limits are set very conservatively and every pilot knows it. Personally I would rather be on the ground wishing I had more gear weight than in the air and wishing I had less. The guy who drops me is pretty strong on gear weight though he isn't weighing anything yet. I work hard to keep my gear load small, tight and reasonable weight. When a pilot can load his plane rather quickly and without frown lines, you're doing okay. In the end, the pilot is the boss and you won't be arguing with him if you're smart.

From: midwest
11-Mar-17
I'm guessing this guy didn't have a full load!

From: Rickm
11-Mar-17
I am going to jump in on the weight topic. I have been a licensed private pilot for 10 years so I have some input.

The first thing I would do after settling on a pilot is talk about weight. Cubs really only have the tail section for cargo if the rear seat is occupied. This creates a balance issue more so than a weight issue. If you pack one big bag your going to be restricted to 50-70 lbs depending on the cub. If you pack in multiple bags and the load can be distributed better you will get away with more. A super Cub's usefull load may well exceed 1000 lbs but most are restricted to 50 in the cargo hold.

It's not all about how much weight but about where the weight is.

From: cubdrvr
11-Mar-17
I might guessing most cubs up there have the one ton conversion so they can go up to 2000 lbs from 1750. Assuming they also do the third seat conversion that beefs up the baggage floor to allow up to 180 lbs. That being said, you still have to balance that. A 200 lb hunter with 100 lb of gear is going to exceed the aft cg with a medium sized pilot in the front seat. Think teeter-totter. Tail heavy is bad.

From: Steve H.
11-Mar-17
Also don't forget that the weight changes from departing the hangar at full fuel to return trip take off weight, distance from fuel to field site changes how much fuel they need to carry.

From: Kevin Dill
11-Mar-17
All good points for helping hunters understand why there may be variability in weight limits. Another factor may be where your pilot is basing from. Some airports may see a greater frequency of getting checked and pilots know it. I'm not really suggesting that good pilots ignore weight limits...more like they may push the line at times but not as likely if they feel a greater chance of getting checked before departure.

.

How I pack: I generally plan on one waterproof duffel carrying about 25-30 pounds of gear. One ultralight plastic arrow case with 12 shafts. My 2 piece longbow fits in a tube just big enough to hold it. Sleeping bag in a waterproof compression bag. One roll top dry bag (silpoly) holding most of my Mountain House and oatmeal. The rest of my gear is sorted into various wp bags weighing 2-6 pounds. Packing this way allows a pilot to pick and choose what he wants next as he loads. More small bags are preferable to a few large ones. My hunting pack carries my PLB, binocs, cameras, 24 hrs of food, tarp, puffy, rain jacket, fak, sidearm and some other essentials just in case. I try to always keep a ul tarp at hand because I've unloaded planes in the rain and it's nice to toss a tarp over the gear pile until time to move it. I used to be a gear queen until I realized how much stuff I didn't really need or use. I've really knocked my weight back a lot and my pilot has commented on it. And I never stuff my pockets or wear additional layers. I like to fly comfortable and get right to work as soon as the plane is away.

From: Rickm
11-Mar-17
Commercial is also limited to 150 HP cub, maybe 160?. Cg is the limiting factor so packing in multiple smaller bags makes a big difference.

From: Rickm
11-Mar-17
Also 50-60 lbs for 10-12 days is no problem. I pack like I am carrying it on my back.

From: pav
12-Mar-17
Three of us flew in via super cub this past August for a ten day hunt with a 70lb/man weight limit. It was a bit of a struggle....mostly due to the fact our tent weighed 35lbs. Planning to own a tipi prior to the next trip.

For those reading this thread contemplating your first lightweight fly in hunt, I would advise putting a gear list together and start weighing items. I owned quite a bit of lightweight gear before the trip, but was still surprised how quickly it added up.

In contrast, we were allowed 100lbs/man on a float plane transport in 2012...and it felt like we could have brought the kitchen sink. BIG difference when it comes to planning a float plane transport versus super cub. Both are unique experiences!

From: Kevin Dill
12-Mar-17

Kevin Dill's embedded Photo
Kevin Dill's embedded Photo
One of the most valuable pieces of gear I own never leaves my home...and it cost me less than $25.

From: Beendare
13-Mar-17
Raising my hand here! Im one of those guys that ... decided to do a moose hunt and found out all of the regulars were booked 2 years out- frustrating. Some guys just wont share for whatever reason. I finally found a guy for this year that i think is going to work out great.... willing to move me if needed ( a key) as one constant is when you have predators moving in on your first moose down .... the other moose generally leave the area.

From: thedude
14-Mar-17
The biologists up here just released the new moose study with each gmu as its own chapter. This will help anyone planning research the gmu and narrow down which outfit to contact.

From: Scooby-doo
14-Mar-17
Great info Kevin!! So when ya taking me with you! :) Scooby

From: NY Bowman
22-Mar-17
Lots of good info. Pete and Kevin have been there and done that and know of what they speak. To steal a tag line. Just do it!

From: South Farm
31-Mar-17
"Pilots know their locations and favor repeat customers by giving them the top spots."

All good info, but I'm really confused by this comment. That seems to work exactly OPPOSITE of what I have in mind when looking for a pilot. I don't want the guy that tells me where I'm going...I want to the guy that looks at the "X" on my map and either says "Yeah, I can get you in there", or "Nope, can't do it". If you're going to rely on a pilot to tell you where to go then in my mind that's leaving the most important ingredient in someone else's hands. I value their input, but I don't want to leave it entirely up to them to decide where I'll go.

From: Kevin Dill
31-Mar-17
"If you're going to rely on a pilot to tell you where to go then in my mind that's leaving the most important ingredient in someone else's hands. I value their input, but I don't want to leave it entirely up to them to decide where I'll go."

.

If you've not done a fly-in hunt there before it boils down to trusting your choice of locations vs a pilot's. A huge majority of pilots using tires will only take hunters to known locations with previously-used landing strips. You simply can't select a spot (say a ridge or gravel bar) and expect a pilot to land there for the first time. There may be a few who would undertake that but highly unlikely. Potential landing strips can look deceptively decent at 100' and 60 mph, but do costly damage if they have unseen obstacles. In most cases going to your choice of area means floats and landing on a lake or river. From there it's up to you to find game and deal with whatever terrain you're in. Plenty of guys do it this way, but consider this:

You're a nonresident on your first moose hunt studying a location you hope will hold moose and trying to find a pilot who will get you in (and out of) there. That's two big challenges. You have the alternative to hire a pilot who has a known and proven spot (he's used it for years) where moose get killed and you'll be into moose. This spot may not be the honey hole of your dreams, but it will be good. His best and finest spots are taken (by request) by returning hunters who keep coming back and earn their way to them.

All of this can be ignored if a guy is an experienced hunter and knows precisely what he's looking at and how to achieve it. So it really comes down to experience and preference. My guess is very few (if any) nonresidents select their own moose destination (independent research) and then find a pilot who will agree to take them there....unless he's been in there with a plane before, or flying floats and headed to a lake.

31-Mar-17
Unless you are hauling gold bars, a Cub CAN fly with pretty much anything you can stuff in it (in front of the spreader bar) and maybe a couple sleeping bags back in the tail, and still close the door!.. Even though you CAN, it does not follow that you SHOULD fly with a lot more weight than the a/c is rated for. And common sense safety limits notwithstanding, if you are flying from an airport, your pilot is subject to an FAA "ramp check" any old time the FAA inspector wanders up to your aircraft.

There are modifications that can increase the performance of a Cub too. A basic Cub is not really that impressive as a workhorse. Start adding some flaps, 30" tires and drop a 180 hp in it and it will do a lot more from rougher strips.

As always, the secret to finding really good hunting spots in Alaska is to have some form of transport that others do not commonly use in that area, or be willing to walk further and work harder than the next guy.

Sometimes you can get an experienced pilot to put you into a marginal strip with the agreement that you will improve the strip before he returns. This is usually a good deal for the pilot. He can land with more weight than he can take off with. Thus, if you don't hold up your end of the bargain, you won't get picked up!

How far are you willing to carry your moose meat? I've packed thousands of pounds of moose meat on my back (and I have the hernia surgery scars to prove it...!) for varying distances. However, at this stage of my life I'm not going to kill a moose anywhere I cannot land a Cub, drive a boat to, or reach with a truck or four-wheeler. At age 67, my tired, fat old ass has been there and done that! I'm a recovering moose meat packer!

Pete

From: willliamtell
21-Apr-17
I am blown away by that Cub taking off in 50 feet and nobody has even commented on it! Holy STAL batman! I want that guy and his plane!

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