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How many people on a float trip?
Moose
Contributors to this thread:
McCree 21-Jan-19
t-roy 21-Jan-19
Rackmastr 21-Jan-19
akbow 21-Jan-19
76aggie 21-Jan-19
76aggie 21-Jan-19
Rock 21-Jan-19
Kevin Dill 21-Jan-19
Ziek 21-Jan-19
Charlie Rehor 22-Jan-19
Mule Power 22-Jan-19
dgb 22-Jan-19
Kevin Dill 22-Jan-19
Mule Power 22-Jan-19
Tdvorak 22-Jan-19
From: McCree
21-Jan-19
What is a good number of people for a moose float trip? Is 2 guys too few? Is 4 too many? Obviously chances of fillings everyone's tags decreases with added people but you gain the manpower for packing and in a emergent situation the extra help may be a benefit. What are your thoughts from personal experiences? Thanks,

From: t-roy
21-Jan-19
Pete in Fairbanks should be along shortly which his annual PSA on preparation for a float hunt ;-)

I’ve never done an actual float hunt, but the 2 Alaska moose hunts I did were river based boat hunts. We stayed at a set camp and floated downstream one day, stopping, glassing (if possible) and calling at promising looking spots along the way, then would motor back upstream to camp late in the day. The next day, we would motor upriver a good distance, then drift back towards camp, hitting likely spots.

My thoughts on a true float trip would be that most guys bite off too many miles and float by lots of potentially good areas and don’t spend enough time at those spots (multiple days perhaps) in an effort to reach their pickup point. Also, unless the moose are in, or along the river’s banks, chances of seeing one is pretty low. We saw a total of 2 legal bulls on the river itself, in 20 days of hunting. In most cases (at least in our case) your ability to see much terrain beyond the river itself, is severely limited. You could possibly hear them calling, but even that will be greatly reduced by being down over the banks in the river.

If I was going to do an actual float hunt, I would dramatically reduce the number of miles floated and, instead, camp at promising looking areas, and hunt there for multiple days. Aso, having to set up and break down camp, more than likely in rainy weather, would get old in a hurry. Best of luck to you on your moose quest! Moose hunting is a blast, even more so when you see a few :)

From: Rackmastr
21-Jan-19
I'm doing a fly-in float trip to a really good sized lake this fall for primarily moose. We will be going as a group of 4 and will have 2 inflatable boats/motors. The lake is a big one so should have plenty of space and also nice to have the people in camp.

We did caribou a few years back and did 4 of us split up on the Kawdy plateau. Worked out well and we ended up coming home with 3 caribou, a grizz, a moose and a wolverine.

From: akbow
21-Jan-19
Finding 4 legal bulls out of one raft would be like winning the lottery-twice. Two guys hunting one stretch of river could set expectations of 1 moose with a possible 2nd. But, I don't know how much research you've done on this, but it is a daunting task. Start with a couple books--Mike Strahan and Larry Bartlett have some good books. They also offer hunt planning services. Different types of services at each--Larry gives you one of his secret rivers that he has researched/experienced while Mike gives you some tools to plan your own trip. I have talked with both and both are qualified to help you. You can also check out the Alaska Outdoor Directory--Strahan has put a lot of information on how to plan a float hunt on there. Float hunting takes a ton of preparation. If you aren't willing to put the time in on the research phase, I'd suggest doing a drop hunt and I think you will still want to limit yourself to two people per area hunted. Good Luck!

From: 76aggie
21-Jan-19
A couple of years ago we made a 2 man float trip. Two guys was fine but we went way too far, 125 miles. In Sept we are going back but with 4 guys this time. This year we will do about 70 miles. We spent way too much time setting and braking camp before and not nearly enough time hunting. I would have actually rather limited the float to 50 miles but you have to consider take off and landing areas. In some areas, they are few and far between. Gaining in manpower as well as hunting with my son and son in law was the main reason I wanted to go with four hunters this year.

From: 76aggie
21-Jan-19
Akbow makes a great point. Be reasonable with your expectations. No we we are gonna take 4 bulls with 4 people. We will be happy with one and absolutely thrilled with two.

From: Rock
21-Jan-19
In my experience (I have done several float trips) either 2 or 4 are ideal (2 people per raft) with 4 people you have a extra raft in case of emergency. Should be able to get a Moose out in 2 trips with 4 guy's (4 trips with 2 guy's). Best country to float would have high ground closer to the river where you can get some elevation to allow you to see more country for glassing and knowing if one is coming to your calls. As was stated above shorter float trips are better as you will spend less time floating, setting up camp and taking camp down, which is all non-hunting time.

Float Trip Pro's; - you get to move around (downriver) and see new country - if you burn out a spot you just float to a new one - all you need to do is pack your animal to the river then put it on the raft, you can even drag the raft upriver a ways to reduce the pack out - You can float away from kill sites to get away from possible Bear trouble near kill sites

Float Trip Con's; - Constantly setting up or tearing down camp waste of hunting time - Can not go back to good areas once you float away from them (at least not easily) - Can be difficult to find good camping spots where you want them - Sweepers and other river hassards can be extremely dangerous - you really need to know how to handle a raft, everyone needs to know this as one person could get you into a lot of trouble if they do not know what to do

I am sure there is much more but this is all that comes to mine right now.

From: Kevin Dill
21-Jan-19
Think about the potential of 2 men in a raft...all their gear...and then how many pounds of moose meat can be safely hauled. You'd need a raft capable of carrying over 1500 pounds which is conservatively what you'd have to deal with if both hunters kill a bull....and perhaps more. Of course there's the meat care issues, and spoilage or loss along the way would likely result in a face-off with troopers. I'm just saying think it through and understand the hurdles. You might need to go into this with the understanding that 4 guys simply cannot kill and safely salvage 4 moose on a river trip. If it's 2 moose, is everyone okay with being the guy who has to pass up bull #3 and beyond?

From: Ziek
21-Jan-19

Ziek's embedded Photo
These boats were only left for a couple of hours AFTER being cleaned with bleach, and every cooler was trashed. Just imagine if they had been bloody rubber!
Ziek's embedded Photo
These boats were only left for a couple of hours AFTER being cleaned with bleach, and every cooler was trashed. Just imagine if they had been bloody rubber!
I have not done a float hunt trip, but I have a lot of whitewater rafting experience on extended trips - up to 19 days.

As others have said, plan a hunting trip, not a float trip. Keep river miles to a minimum. Stay in one spot until you know it's not productive, then move to a new spot. Plan enough time for the trip, the more, the better - at least 10 days for the actual hunt. Maximum 2 people per raft, and it should be rowed with a good frame, not paddled. The boat(s) should have enough capacity for camping gear, food, emergency gear including boat repair, hunters, AND meat in case everyone is successful - not likely, but you never know. Two boats are better than one, even for only two hunters. Everyone should know how to handle the boat. This shouldn't be your first rodeo. Besides setting up camp, the meat needs to be removed from the boat(s) and they need to be cleaned thoroughly with a bleach solution every night if your packing meat if you don't want to risk shredded boats.

I love rafting and bowhunting, but to me, they are best enjoyed as separate adventures.

22-Jan-19
I’ve done 6 Alaskan float trips from 25 to 75 miles. Done them with 2 to 5 guys. Killing one moose is a big accomplishment regardless of “team” size. It’s way harder than we’d like:)

The most important thing about a float trip is your partners. You best know your mates well because there’s much to do. The other fact of float trips is you’ll need to set up/break down camp each move all while staying dry. Great fun but just know taking care of your safety and security will be job 1 and hunting job 2. Good luck!

From: Mule Power
22-Jan-19
I’d say two. Ditto what Kevin said... take more and it’ll really help with the work but two guys are definitely coming home with unpunched tags. Do NOT try to kill 3-4 bulls.

From: dgb
22-Jan-19
I did the Moose John trip back in 1996 with 2 brothers. We were out 10 days. Great trip but 10 days was about my limit. We did manage to kill a moose and a bear - should have killed 2 moose and 2 bears but we really didn't know what we were doing.

From: Kevin Dill
22-Jan-19
Some of the guys here have probably seen it, but a guy did a float story on another forum. Nice bull was killed (somewhat early as I recall) and they basically did everything right in butchering and salvaging meat. The trip got long and the weather (temps) were questionable. They did the best they could with the meat (hanging, ventilating and minor trimming) but some spoilage happened and they could smell it. They made it to the pickup point with basically all the meat and flew it out. Troopers got involved and cited the hunter for not salvaging all the edible meat. In this case 'salvaging' didn't just apply to butchering, bagging and transporting. It also applied to preventing spoilage and meat loss. Some of the meat was not edible, though they tried to save it. In the end, the hunter didn't get punished terribly hard but did pay a significant fine.

.

A lot of guys asked what else could have been done, and it's a great question. I don't know all the answers. But the lesson is very clear: you must NOT waste meat and bad luck (or weather) is not an excuse. Have contingency plans to get the meat out asap if necessary. This might necessitate ending the hunt quickly and getting to the pickup point ahead of schedule, along with an accelerated takeout by the pilot. That would be disappointing for the remaining hunter(s), but what else can they do?

From: Mule Power
22-Jan-19
Wanton waste is serious business in Alaska. They don’t sit at game checks along the road and wait for hunters tonpull in. We had a plane drop out of the cliuds, circle once, land on the lake and a warden jumped out with a tape measure to make sure the bull made the 50 inch mark. Then he looked the meat bags and entire kill site over.

Even if that wasn’t the case most of us couldn’t sleep at night knowing we killed a 1200 pound bull and had it rot. Devastating

From: Tdvorak
22-Jan-19
If you want the CHEAPEST DIY hunt for moose in AK a float trip is your best choice. Because it is the cheapest, float huntable rivers get the most pressure from other thrifty hunters looking for the cheapest hunt. The drawback is it can be host to many other drop off hunters floating the same river, sometimes only a few bends ahead or behind you. Lakes are kinda the same. And those rivers have had their moose culled by a lot of hunters in the past 20+ years. A better option is to do an unguided hunt on a river that can’t be floated. You’d get less pressured moose, a small bit more expensive and chances are quite a bit better to fill more tags due to the lack of hunting pressure THIS year and PAST years. Just my 2 cents. Search “unguided moose hunts” instead of “float” moose hunts.

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