Contributors to this thread:
A buddy and myself are looking to book a DIY moose hunt for 2019. We are open to a float hunt or drop camp hunt, mainly just looking to get into an area with a decent moose population with a chance at killing a bull or 2. We have been talking with Bay Air, and looking at one of their lake hunts, but I was wondering if there were any other operations that would be worth checking out as far as a flight service goes? We have both hunted Kodiak Island several times, but we are fairly new to moose hunting. Any info would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
It’s a big state with plenty of land and moose for a great hunt. Spend time on the internet and researching areas. It is cheap enough that you can hunt on a budget often, if you so desire.
We are headed back up on Saturday.
Remember, do your homework and pick a spot to hunt and believe in it. If you do your homework, you will hunt where the moose are. The rest will be up to you.
I guess I wouldn’t say that we have an actual “budget”....the self guided packages that we have been looking at are in the $3500-$6000 range, but if something was a little more that was worth it, I think we would definitely consider it. Thanks for the responses!
I'm afraid you'll find almost 100% of the highly rated transporters, air taxis, and drop camp outfitters and such are already booked solid for 2019. A lot of them stay booked 2-3 years out. You might find a fully guided hunt available on cancellation basis, but you'll pay dearly to go that route. I would probably be a little skittish about signing on for a drop-in / drop-off lake hunt unless I knew I'd be going where there were no other hunters. I got screwed badly by that many years ago. It's not good when the riflemen have been there ahead of you, or are there at the same time.
Probably the best thing you can do is keep searching for opportunities with reputable moose transporters...meaning pilots who will fly you and your gear in to a known location and leave you to hunt. Search their histories and ask for unsuccessful references. Ask about them in forums like this one. If you like one, be sure to provide them with full contact information so they can reach you in case an opening happens. Cancellations occur regularly, but you have to respond quickly to offers before they move on to the next party. Another suggestion is to book for a later year and then keep in touch about bumping up to 2019 or 2020. Pilots like to fly people who are happy and flexible about going.
Lastly: My thoughts only. If you're a definite bowhunter and first timer for moose, I would not advise a float trip. The reasons are many and some will not agree with this, but I believe a stationary camp in good moose country gives a bowhunter a better advantage to spot and call in bulls. Do keep in mind that navigable rivers in good moose country are sometimes floated regularly by outfits, and you could be hunting behind other floaters who just covered the area a few days ago. I'm fairly confident the success rate for diy bowhunters on moose is higher in stationary camps where there are no competing hunters and you can observe daily moose movement.
I appreciate your response Kevin! There are a couple flight services that have openings next year, but I just question them not being one of the "big name businesses" that you hear so much about. At the end of the day, I understand that no hunt is guaranteed, but it would be a major shame to go to the same area that has been pounded for weeks straight by other hunters.
Talk to Joe Schuster. He isn’t the cheapest but you will have the type of experience that you’re looking for if you book with him.
Thank you Stekewood! I will definitely check him out! It looks like a lot of his areas are "draw areas"....Just emailed him!
I agree with the strategy of being dropped in a spot that moose rut in every year. vs a float hunt. There are definite advantages to both but my preference is being dropped in a spot known to produce moose. Without going through all the pros and cons of each style, And there are many. I prefer to hunt one area for 2 weeks. Hunt the last 2 weeks of season and Let the moose do the walking. If your in a good area moose will roam through it. Use a reputable booking company and get on a cancellation list for the year you want to go or wait the 1-3 yrs to go with a high quality outfit. You will most likely be disappointed if you are dropped in a over hunted easy place to get to. One rule of thumb. The easier or closer it is to Anchorage the cheaper it will be, but it will be hunted more and there will be less quality moose. Unfortunately it usually takes at least 2 more flights out of Anchorage to get into good hunting. Being dropped on a lake that locals hunt one bush flight out of Anchorage or on a river that has easy access is much cheaper but you will most likely be disappointed, seeing more people in boats and planes than moose. If you have your gear ready and can pull it off there is always some great cancellation hunts that can be had at great discounts and for the current season. Being able to go with a couple weeks notice can get you moved to the head of a 2-3 yr waiting list with the top drop camp operations. Or pull out a map and asked to be dropped by a reputable air service somewhere 100 miles or so from say Bethel, Fairbanks, McGrath etc it adds to the cost but gets you a little further from residents and most flight operations in Anchorage. I would stay away from navigable rivers. Too much boat traffic takes away from the experience. And to me that’s the chief reason to go through all of it is the feeling of being dropped in a remote area. If every :30 U hear or see a boat or plane it takes away from your experience. IMNSHO.
Couple of years ago I killed a nice bull on a very remote hunt. Didn't see another human for 2 weeks. The only plane that flew over during that time was my pilot...so no air activity where I hunt. The moose in there act like moose which don't ever see hunting pressure.
After killing that bull, I was flown from my camp and then dropped off on the edge of a bigger (as in navigable) river. I was there a couple hours while my pilot flew out my moose meat. While waiting for him to return I was treated to the sights and sounds of moose season along this river which was many miles from any town or habitation. I watched as several jet boats navigated up and down the river, occupied by groups of expectant hunters. The roar and noise was impressive...think about being at a motocross park and you'll understand. These guys basically road-hunt the river and hope to surprise a bull. Not for me. When I got in the plane I asked my pilot how many river miles we were from a launch or takeout. Somewhere between 80 and 90 miles by river was his answer. Real eye opener there.
Kevin, I think it’s a question if the experience is more important than the ease of the hunt. I agree completely. But it cost more. Quit a bit more to get that far out in Alaska. It’s amazing how much noise and air traffic certain parts of “remote” Alaska is. And the road hunting of rivers is a way of life there.
I really appreciate the responses! It is crazy to think that 90 miles up a river you could run into boat traffic! LOL. Kevin, it sounds like you had the exact trip that we are looking for. Truthfully, just being there and taking it all in is what its all about. Tagging a moose is just icing on the cake!
Remote is the way to go and I personally like the fixed camp option as well. You really get to know the area well and patience and persistence often pays off.
In my opinion it’s not that much more costly for the extra flight out of one of the smaller towns in Alaska. We ship our gear ahead and then may have an extra plane ticket in the range of $400-500 out of ANC. Beyond that it’s not too much more until you kill one and want the rack, cape and meat home. Then you have some extra expenses as well.
Good luck on what you choose. Please keep us updated.