Ok.. been on two Alaskan diy moose hunts, both “successful”. Both miserable.. rain, sand, 24 hrs of packing, rain, wet.. did i mention rain? My buddy that I’m planning the next one is asking me wth? You come back and explain how crazy miserable it can be.. but you can’t wait to go back??? I can’t hardly explain it but as soon as I touch down n the plane in Colorado I can’t wait to go back.. I simply love Alaskan diy moose hunts.. we are looking at BC or Alaskan diy..
A successful diy Alaska moose hunt can be compared to childbirth. I shouldn't need to break it down. I'll just say that afterward....the full experience makes the pain and misery worth going through. In fact...if it was easy and sweet, a lot of the satisfaction would disappear. Photo taken 15 minutes after climbing out of a Super Cub in my hunting area.
I guess I'm the exception to the rule. I didn't care for Alaska too much. I went on a DIY caribou hunt with my cousin in 2005. We chartered a plane in Soldotna to fly us into the tundra for 10 days. I found the tundra to be the most miserable environment I've ever hunted in. 6 straight days of rain didn't help. We saw more caribou in and around town than we did on the tundra. And the caribou we did see on the tundra were getting blasted at by rifle hunters long before we could get into archery range. I managed to kill a cow on one of the nastiest rainiest days, while the rifle hunters were huddled in their tents.
Then there were the Alaskan residents who seemed very intolerable of outsiders. I remember searching the city of Kenai for small propane canisters prior to our chartered flight, and being met by one rude and unhelpful store clerk after another. It seemed to be the same way at restaurants, grocery stores, wherever we went, people just weren't that friendly.
Then to top off a rather disappointing trip, my cousin's video camera was stolen from our rental car, while we were fishing at a state park on our last day. I came away from Alaska thinking that most residents are either social misfits or criminals.
There are some truly beautiful wild areas in Alaska, but I doubt I'll ever go back.
If we go definitely will write it up.. we are still deciding what to do.. like i said above we are looking at guided in BC and diy Alaska. I “need” a Canadian moose to finish out the three species so that would be cool, but LOVE diy Alaska.
Grey Ghost, your perspective is interesting. My wife and I spent a week in Kenai with trips over into Soldotna a year and a half ago. Our oldest had just moved there and was getting married. It was the height of the salmon fishing season (we interrupted the fishing to get a wedding in one afternoon). I found most of the locals to be pleasant and easy to get along with. Lots of waves as they traveled down the "secondary highway" (there was a lot of traffic driving 4 wheelers parallel to the highway as they were folks who had lost their drivers licences due to DUI's). Most of the clerks were helpful even if swamped by people. There were exceptions of course, but my experience was certainly different than yours.
My AK adventures, hunting, and bonds formed from them have been beyond compare to any lower 48 hunting experience. Locals have been as friendly as anywhere else I visited. I'll be back every few years for the rest of my life.
Yeah, I know my experiences were vastly different than most, that's what it made so disappointing for us. Alaska had always been my "dream hunt", and I think my expectations were too high. I really didn't expect to have to compete with rifle hunters within easy hiking distances from our drop camp on the tundra. And there were days when over a dozen charter planes could be seen in the sky at one time, all scouting for the caribou herds. The overcrowding was more like I'd expect in Colorado, not in AK.
I also got a vibe of general lawlessness from the local sportsman up there. For example, the guy we rented our cabin from in Kenai came home from halibut fishing with far more than his daily limit, and was proud of it. We also watched a number of locals completely disregarding the 2 fish per day limit on Coho salmon in the Kenai river. Even the local cop who came to take our video camera theft report seemed a bit shady and disinterested in helping a couple of tourists.
Perhaps it was just bad luck, or coincidence, that we had so many negative experiences. I'm glad to hear it's not like that for the majority AK visitors.
I love moose hunting, not because it’s hard but because imo it’s one of the easier hunts up here work wise. It’s a nice change of pace from the long hikes and tall mountains. Moose camp allows for daily naps! I may change opinion as I get older and my back gives out or the first time we dump a bull in the middle of water, but the 3 bulls I helped pack out last year were a blast and less physically challenging than sheep/goat/deer hunting here.
As for the weather being miserable, go brown bear hunting on Kodiak and you’ll grow to appreciate moose camp weather :)
I tell ya what Iv never been on a moose hunt but my 12 year old son and I came upon an injured hunter and told him we would get his bull off the mtn for him last season in Colorado... it was not an easier thing to do! If a moose hunt is less physical than elk I want to find and go on that hunt every year! A bull elk is one load for my 12 year old and I where we hunt. That moose was 4 each!!! Grey honestly Iv grown to like you but you can be abrasive at first could have been your problem.
My first Alaska experience was in 2012, a 50th birthday present to myself. It was a ten day transport hunt for caribou on the North Slope. Rained every day, but I hunted ten days in some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. Going in, expected that hunt to be my Alaskan adventure of a lifetime.
Since then, I've been back twice. Second trip was another transport caribou hunt (40 Mile Herd). Last year, hunted black bear on the Kenai. All three hunts were totally different experiences in three different regions and it feels like I've only scratched the surface for what Alaska has to offer. So much to do...so little time!
The obsession in part stems from the sheer vast wildness of the country. Your average Colorado wilderness is microscopic compared with much of Alaska. Last August, I was in a place in the Brooks where at the highest peak in the area after a 3 day rain when it got really clear, I could see 50 miles to the north, 30 miles to the east, 80ish miles to the west, and 50 miles to the south and at no point in any of it was there a road.
After glassing for a few hours and not finding any huntable sheep, I decided to count the mountain peaks as they just seemed so numerous. I counted only peaks that touched the horizon, not closer/lower peaks. It took me over an hour to go 360 degrees and I counted 254 peaks.
I did a caribou drop hunt into the Mulchatna herd fyi, got two bulls the first hunting day. Packed them out the rest of the day. But I was not impressed with the steaks as much as I am with moose though, so that moose hunt will be a must..I don't care how uncomfortable it is. Can't be any worse than laying in a hospital bed with an 8" slice in your throat and half your lymph nodes removed...:) Got to look at it in relative terms...
I explain it exactly as Kevin stated. It's like childbirth. Painful, often miserable, but one of the best things you will ever do and for most as soon as its over all you remember is the good and can't wait to go back.
In 2012 I told myself it was a once in a lifetime trip so I better enjoy it. 2019 was my 4th once in a lifetime trip.
Wow Trapper....thats a different perspective. Hope you're sufficiently mended from that!!
I've hunted DIY Moose and Caribou several times in Alaska. I can honestly say that I never felt I was "suffering" on any of them. The only harsh physical memory I have was from my 1st moose hunt where there was a stretch of a week where the temps never rose above 10 degrees during the day. Night time temps were downright f'n cold. Getting into a sleeping bag that is the same temp as the outside air is not fun....Some type of wood burner is a MUST on a hunt like this!
Ike said it best. The scope of the wilderness of Alaska can be difficult to comprehend. I've been deep in a few wilderness areas in the lower 48. I don't believe that I could not have walked to some type of road in a hard days hike if I needed to. From any of the drop off points I've been to in Ak, a walk out would have been monumental journey in itself, fraught with risk and diminished chances of survival as the days passed. The reality of wilderness immersion that hits when the Supercub disappears over the horizon isn't for everyone. I can't begin to describe the degree to which a huge part of me Iives for that experience! I love sleeping under the stars on clear, cold nights because I don't want to miss a spectacular evening of Northern Lights on display. I plan every day so I will see different country, from the highest vantage points I can get to. I love the feeling of knowing that it is very likely that most of the places I walk have never been stepped on by a human. Whether or not that is true doesn't matter. Easy to imagine it's true.
I love the forced self sufficiency and the attention to detail required to maintain your own safety. I love the overwhelmingly far fetched idea that, in this seemingly limitless expanse of wilderness, that I might actually find and kill a spectacular animal that nature has invested years of nurture and protection and that I, with a sharp stick and only 2 legs, may have the chance to prove I actually am a worthy predator? On that note, I will say that I am glad and likely still alive because I know the more likely scenario is that I will suck as a predator and gas inducing Mountain House will be my only harvest while I stumble around the tundra....lol
In my mind, I am always planning my next adventure there......it is a great motivator.
Knock on wood, so far, a clear prognosis. 2 years post surg. Go do the moose hunt! You need to live life to the fullest because you just never know what is around the corner. No Fear! Yup, dropped on the shore of Whitefish Lake, I was 3 air hours from Anchorage, over the AK range. The closest Native village was Tuluksak on the Mulchatna R, and that was probably a 3-4 days hike when you knew where you were going. The weather turned to crap (end of August), and we spent an extra day. Flying out in the Otter, we hit an 'air pocket', and freefell for probably 2 or 3 seconds (seemed like an hour), and the jarring hit made the wings bounce like they could have both broken off. Had we not strapped in, would have easily been on the ceiling of the fuselage. I looked out and saw a rainbow, and thought maybe it was my father who had passed on 4 years prior and had always wanted to homestead in AK but couldn't, as my guardian angel saving us from crashing. Just the thought that passed through my mind at the time. The trip was great - 6 caribou between 4 of us, 9 days out. DO the moose hunt!
Never been to Alaska, but I have seen my share of Northern Manitoba and Nunavut, and there is just something about the north country that gets in a guys blood. I think it's the thirst for those lonely, uninhabited, wild places. To feel at one with nature and know you are where you belong. And to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that no human will suddenly come driving by with loud exhaust or some annoying motor sound. When you are truly alone. It is special, and very hard to find.
I often use a phrase in describing things that are tough but highly rewarding. "Enjoy the suck"! You have to find a way to get past the rain, the wet boots, the sore legs, the days you don't see game, etc, etc. The rewards of the sun rising and setting in the mountains, conversations with your buddies, watching a bull moose send out his guttural calls, the amazing scenery, and staring at your mounts until our old far surpass any pain I remember.....
Soldotna has quite a bit of crime based on the Trooper Dispatch I read most days. The Kenai has very few caribou and even the draw tag that MathewsMan mentioned isn't all that good. It's not terrible, and there are certainly some good bulls in that herd, but its not what I'd consider to be great. Anyone that is basing their opinions off of a trip to Soldotna and a caribou hunt from there hasn't even experienced Alaska. FWIW, poor customer service is common throughout the state and the residents you met are not the norm. Funny, I rarely see anyone else when I fly out to hunt, hell even when I walk out to hunt.
For me it is something that cannot be explained unless you have done it. Been fortunate to be on several AK hunts over the years. Never with a guide. All DIY. Sometimes came home with meat and other times critterless. I can only explain the almost total remoteness as a "religious experience". I have always hunted well north of Fairbanks. I like to think that I have been in places that no man has ever been before but I know that may not really be the case. Very rarely have I ever run into other hunters. I've never had a bad experience with any Alaskan, native or otherwise. However, the cold and rain has taken its toll on me. This past September, I told myself this was my last trip. Cold and rain and packing meat was tough on a 65 yoa guy and I told my son and son in law that was my last trip. I really felt that way and told them that when we got back to Fairbanks. Took a couple of days to get meat and horns squared away and we each went our separate ways for home. Called them back after being home 2 days and told them to prepare for 2021. I'll be 67 on that hunt and surely hope to be able to continue into my 70's. I'm sure I'll still piss and moan about the cold and the rain then too.
Went summer 2018 with the wife for a 50th anniversary trip for the first time. Told her then I am coming back for a hunt before I die. Just booked a DIY caribou out of Kotzebue for this September. Will be 72 and am so excited I can hardly stand it. Wish I would have started Alaska hunting as a young man, oh well!! Been soaking wet and miserable lots of times in my hunting career, one more trip won't hurt.
I've made somewhere over 30 trips to Alaska - not sure of the exact number. There is some incredible hunting, some not so good, but it can be quite rewarding. Rarely easy, but rewarding. I've never had any real issues from the towns to the bush villages. I've definitely been made to feel unwanted in some of the more remote villages, but still no real issues. Towns are like towns anywhere - mostly good people and a few a**holes. Most major Alaskan cities have more than their chare of social misfits.
The villages are different. You are more than an outsider (worse), and definitely not welcome. However, when treated respectfully, I've never had more than a few rude words spoken. Go hunting near ANWR for example, and expect to get a raft of crap from the federal wardens. They can be pretty pissy, but still, when dealt with respectfully they move on.
I will be going back for another DIY black bear hunt on Kuiu this year, and still enjoy the "vacation" far from civilization. Alaska is far from my favorite hunting destination, but the adventure and challenge does keep me going back.
Never had any dealing with Federal Wardens. I have dealt with their state police though. Several years ago, we had a lone state officer swoop down in his cub and landed on a very small gravel bar and checked our licenses. He was a super nice guy and a hell of a pilot as well. Really surprised me to have their state police checking on hunters but I guess in a state with somewhat limited manpower, they do it all. Last trip we gave a local man three caribou tongues. He was highly appreciative and you would have thought we gave him a million bucks. Anything we have in the way of leftover supplies, we always try to give to the locals.