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About AndrewJ

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  • Birthday 10/10/1986

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  • Location
    Upper Yukon
  • Interests
    cooking wild game, eating, reading

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  1. I kept checking back every couple months to see if there was an update. After a while I figured things didn’t go as planned. It looks like that was quite an adventure with the weather. Was your hunt in October? Are you going to try it again one day?
  2. Did anyone here have a bear hunt planned? There is also a statewide ban on non-essential intrastate travel, and the regional airlines are starting to reduce their operations. The largest carrier today just announced it was shutting everything down, except for the main hubs on a reduced schedule, and would no longer be delivering the mail. You know it’s getting crazy out there when the mail stops coming. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/applications/webintra/wcnews/2020/releases/04-01-2020b.pdf For immediate release: April 1, 2020 (JUNEAU) — For the safety of Alaska’s communities, and especially individuals most vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Doug Vincent-Lang has directed the Division of Wildlife Conservation to close all black and brown bear hunts statewide for both resident and nonresident hunters, effective now through May 31. This decision will be reevaluated as necessary. All subsistence bear hunts will remain open as a way for residents to have an opportunity to fill freezers and provide for families. The Department of Fish and Game will work with the Board of Game to identify future options for hunters who are planning to come to Alaska this spring, or for residents who have already made arrangements, but will be unable to hunt as planned. Expect to hear more from the department in the near future, and please be patient with the department as they identify ways to minimize the impacts of this decision. Alaska’s wild resources are of vital importance to many throughout the state, and we will make sure opportunities to safely, responsibly and sustainably harvest these resources continue.
  3. AndrewJ

    Kodiak Sitka Trip

    Are you able to fly in airplanes and get around short distances? If so, you could still do it. You can hunt from a boat in Alaska, and shoot from the boat. The boat just has to be turned off, and have no movement/ momentum from the engine when you take a shot.
  4. AndrewJ

    James "Jimbo" Lockery

    On Saturday I drove past Centennial Park. Whenever I go past there I pause in my mind to reflect on the passing of your brother. Never met him, but I did hear about the case and it sticks with you- the sad, senselessness of it all. A few days ago we got the first wave of snow covering the mountain tops. Everywhere you go the scenery is gorgeous, especially with the fall colors. The simple beauty draws you back in and you feel rejuvenated. I wonder if your brother had the same feelings when he looked up at the Chugach Mountains. If you ever want to come up I’ve got a place in Anchorage.
  5. It’s going to be cold. It’s cold by mid September, but will ultimately depend on the terrain and elevation. Hopefully it doesn’t rain. How long are you guys in Anchorage? Or just passing through? Thought this might get you pumped up for your trip- saw him on the back side of the airport near Earthquake Park.
  6. AndrewJ

    10mm for grizzly bear defense

    I don’t think there are any bears in Hawaii. Alaska is the 49th
  7. Are you going to hub out of Fairbanks? What area are you hunting in?
  8. AndrewJ

    Anyone hunt Bears in Alaska?

    I've only hunted the Interior, but I have heard Unit 6D- Prince William Sound- is a popular area for coastal black bear hunting. However, this is the only unit in the entire state where you cannot shoot a black bear from a boat. If you spot a bear you most go to shore before you shoot. If you are in any other unit you can shoot the bear from the boat as long as the motor is off and all boat movement attributed to the motor has ceased (i.e. the boat has to be naturally floating in the water when you pull the trigger). There were too many bears being harvested and the State put this restriction in place to help stabilize the population. The season for black bear in 6D is Sep 10 to June 10. As stated above, the cost of everything in Alaska is insane. Travel costs will not be reasonable. It's a big state, and it takes a lot of money to get to where you want to go. If you have a lot of luggage (especially if you get a bear) that will add to it, and lodging will also be expensive. Although you don't need a guide for black bear, some units have a unique nonresident guide requirement...if you are DIY you have to get a permit which are limited in numbers (maybe 30 or 40 per hunt), but if you go with a guide there are no restrictions on you getting the permit. Most of the southeast is like this...Unit 1 (near Juneau), Unit 2 (Prince of Whales Island), Unit 3 (Petersburg). For the other units there is no limit to the number of harvest tickets that can be issued to nonresidents. If you go on these coastal hunts, it is going to be crowded (by my standards). If I'm on a hunt I don't want to see another person. The Interior doesn't have as many opportunities for bear vs the coast, but you'll also have the whole place to yourself.
  9. AndrewJ

    Dream Mountain Goat Hunt!!

    I'm interested to hear about the logistics. How hard was it to get to the hunt site? Did you use a transporter? 600 pound limit? And the place you camped, was it the guide's area or was it a public cabin? What did you do with the goat after you got it back to your base camp? I'd love to go to Kodiak, but the logistics are complex. It's easy enough to get to the main airport, but after that it gets expensive with private charter flights, weight restrictions, or boat charters. If you don't want to rough it a lodge is a good option, but very expensive.
  10. AndrewJ

    Alaska moose hunt

    This was the prop. It took a beating. I took two sleeping bags, one for sleeping and one for an extra blanket: Cabelas Outfitter XL -20 degree and a Coleman Legacy 0 degree Big and Tall bag. I asked some people about the bear fence, they just laughed. I have never seen a bear fence, at least not in the bush. Maybe if you were on a fly-in hunt with a camp you returned to every day you would use one. We had a dog that camped with us. If the bear comes close the dog will bark and wake us up, or the bear will eat the dog and wake us up. The dog is the sacrificial bear fence. For the wolves you can get 10 per year but I was cold, tired, and didn't feel like moving. My gun was on my lap but at that point I just wanted to go home and didn't want to skin something else. Plus they stink really bad. I don't know what it is, but they must pee on themselves or roll in dead stuff because they reek. It's a culture of subsistence and survival. When it's -60 F you need all of the nutrients and protein you can get. You store up and save everything you can get your hands on during the spring, summer, and fall to get through the winter. If you're going through all the trouble to save the moose lip and nose, you're going to save all the fat. The fat treated like gold and also tastes really good. You can cook it with your meat or stew, or render it down in a dutch oven and jar it. Usually by May everyone is out of moose meat anyway, so it doesn't really have a chance to go bad. I had a hard time eating chunks of fat at first (I was a child of the low fat/ no fat craze of the 90's), but now I eat as much of it as I can get. After downing the moose we were cutting off chunks of fat to eat raw. I've eaten strange foods I never would have dreamed of touching- muskrat tongue, brain, and eyes, beaver foot and tail, bear paw, salmon eyes, seal oil. You can pretty much eat everything. Perhaps the concept of game meat being "lean" is only after you cut out and throw away all the fat? It isn't lean up here. I'm not sure what is healthier for you- all fat or no fat, but in any case it's healthier than highly refined carbs and sugars.
  11. AndrewJ

    Alaska moose hunt

    I spent a couple months preparing for the September general season moose hunt. I was very lucky that my coworker was willing to take me along for the ride, and he took me deep into Indian country- although Indian country was defined away in Alaska under ANCSA, some areas are still deeply tied to the Natives, and the place where we were going outsiders are as rare as they are unwelcome. It was even outside his normal hunting area, but he wanted to see the country where his mother was born, and I was more than willing to go along on the trip. Success is generally high- with hunting nothing is certain, but out here I put it at almost 100%. I was expecting it to take 8 days, but we had prepared for 3 weeks if needed. The weather was really nasty- no sun and lots of rain. It was pouring down rain when we camped. I was wishing I brought a tent, but was told not to because of bears. We sleept with our rifles next to us. I got up at night to go to the bathroom and there was a bear at the edge of camp. It ran away, but I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. The next day was cold and windy. No sun, lots of rain. Tons of wind and rain. The rain is coming in sideways and stinging the eyes, making it hard to see. We were soaked and had to call it quits for the day, build fire, and dry out. We cooked halibut for dinner and relaxed. We passed a group of Native hunters coming the other way. They had a few bulls and were heading home. We stopped and they cooked us heart and kidney in moose fat along the bank. Notice the willows sticking out from under the meat- it keeps the air flowing and helps to stop spoilage. They had to go really slow, any faster and they would swamp their boat in the river- Beautiful fall colors in a stretch with no rain- We stopped and visited with friends at their family's trapping cabin. The cabin is still in use, but the life of the trapper is coming to a slow end. Hardly anyone traps anymore, and none of the kids want to get into it because it's a lot of work for little money. It's crazy to think more people lived out here 100 years ago than today (today it's almost nobody). Farmed fur and PETA killed the fur trade in the bush. There are still a few people doing it, but you can't really make a living like you used to. Cow moose was feeding in the water. Saw two bulls nearby but they vanished in the brush. We slept in the boat that night. At around 2am we saw the most amazing display of Northern Lights I've ever seen- the whole sky was lit up, and you could see up and down the river. The lights were swirling in and out and were the closest I've ever seen them. They say the lights are the spirits of those who came before you, and I thought it was the spirits of the old trappers who used to live in this area looking down on us. All night long I could hear beavers working against the boat, swimming under it, trying to push it away. The night was cold and wet, and my boots were frozen to the floor in the morning. My scope was all frozen, and even if we saw a moose, I don't think I could have shot it. My hands were ice, and after the morning was over we decided to have a nice meal and relax for the rest of the day. As we were cooking lunch the rain started again. We were just about ready to eat when we heard the grunting of a bull nearby. I left the food to burn on the fire, and ran through the bushes to see if I could spot anything. I couldn't see the moose, but I could see his horns sticking out above the willows. He was heading right towards me, grunting every few steps. I got down on the ground and waited for him to come into view and shot him at 20 yards. As soon as you pull the trigger all the fun stops and the work begins. It took about 5 hours to skin him out and quarter him up. Moose quarters are obnoxiously large and heavy. If you have dreams of a once in a lifetime moose hunt, you also need to dream about that once in a lifetime pack out with multiple trips of 200 pounds on your back. Think of an elk, and then tripple it. In this area you have to leave the meat on the bone until you get to your site of processing, so it adds a lot of weight. The Natives leave the meat on the bone regardless, but you do hear of cases where nonresidents fly in, shoot a moose, and then can't pack it out because of all the weight and leave some of the meat to rot. Heading home during a short dry spell. On the way home we saw a giant bull- easily 60 inches, just standing on the bank. He didn't care at all we were there and just watched us go by. He was significantly larger than my moose, and I kept thinking good thing we didn't see this one first because that would be a pain to skin and pack out. Around the next corner from the moose I saw something strange on the bank- 6 black dogs?? I was trying to figure out what it was when it dawned on me- it was a pack of wolves!! I tried to get a picture but they ran into the brush. I wonder if they were hunting the big bull. Start of day 7. By this point my sleeping bag is 100% soaked. My rifle has also taking quite a beating. Rest of day 7 was cold and wet. No sun, just overcast. I was ready to come home and sleep in a warm, dry bed. We got home, unloaded the moose, and I went to bed and had the best sleep of my life. The next 4 days were spent processing the moose. It was more work than I ever imagined. Tons of fat on the moose- Making portions to store. Each portion needs a handful of fat- Ribs on the bone. They get really offended when I tell them we just cut out the meat and move on- Working on the head meat- Making dry meat over smoke- Burning the hair off the nose- Nose is ready to cut up- Getting ready to burn the hair off the lip- Nothing goes to waste. Every piece of the moose is harvested, including all the organs and other things you didn't think you could eat. A little meat is left on the leg bones, and each leg is cut into small bones for soup with meat on the outside and marrow on the inside. The jawbone is baked in the oven and will be cracked for the marrow. The meat from the head is cut into small pieces and mixed with the tongue, nose, lips, and the fat from behind the eyes. It is all mixed together for moose head stew. Next time I visit Arizona I'll bring some moose head with me. Gear review- the boat is rough on everything, and so is the rain. The guns get soaked, rust spots form, and everything gets covered in mud and sand. I had a hard time with it at first, but now I just let it go, it comes with the terrain. You don't buy the gear so it can sit at home and look pretty. Scope- They say this is open sight country, no place for scopes. The whole time I was fighting low light, fog, ice, water, and more fog on the scope lense. It was a challenge. I am going to see if I can mount the scope higher up and use the iron sights below the scope as a backup. Binos- haven't used any since coming up here. Need to get a cheap pair I can beat up in the boat and get covered in mud. I would never take a pair of Swaros out with me. Boots- I wore 1000g Danner Pronghorns. My feet froze every day in the boat. Next time I'll wear my serious Arctic boots. Gloves- All of them were pretty much worthless. My big mittens saved me (mittens are much warmer than gloves). Next time I will bring my beaver mittens. Head- the normal beanie / neck combo didn't work, luckily I brought my marten hat. It got really dirty, but kept my head warm and dry. You can't beat fur in the serious cold.
  12. I went to visit a friend on Admiralty Island, and set it up so I would arrive just before deer season opened. I flew out of the Interior in the afternoon and made it to Juneau by nightfall. It was really foggy and pouring down rain. I wish I could have seen more of the capital, but I didn’t have time for sightseeing. I checked into my hotel near the airport ($200 a night!) and went to Fred Meyer to stock up on hunting supplies. I was told to bring one thing only- lots of Bud Light. The next morning I went to the airport to fly out to Angoon on a seaplane. It was pouring down rain, and still foggy. We took off, and about half an hour into the flight we turned around because the pilot couldn’t see. I was disappointed, but a few weeks ago a plane that was flying to Hoonah crashed into the side of a mountain due to fog, so the pilots were being extra cautious. We waited around for a couple hours, then tried it again, except we flew down the other side of the island over Chatham Strait. Same thing- we got halfway there and turned around and came back. I spend the rest of the day wishing I took the ferry instead of a plane. At the end of the day we gave it one more try, and it looked like we would turn around, but we kept going and finally touched down on the water. On opening day we got the boat ready and went out to look for deer. It was raining, so we wore our slick suits. I was amazed at all of the sea life. We saw a couple whales in the distance, and some huge sea lions on the buoys. The salmon were jumping everywhere. I pulled out a rod with a pink lure and cast it out a few feet, and with very little effort I caught my first salmon on a rod and reel. The salmon are much smaller than the fish we pull out of the Yukon, and they look very different in the ocean. I wanted to go look for deer, but the fishing was too good and we spent the rest of the day fishing for salmon and halibut. The next day we smoked all the fish. It was a lot of work getting everything in place. I met a really amazing Tlingit family, and I ate everything they put on the table. It was a treat I will never forget. First we had pickled salmon- when you have one bite you can’t stop eating it. The salmon is cut in small strips and salted overnight. Then it is put in a jar with vinegar, onions, lemon, and pickling spice. At low tide they went out and pulled an octopus from the rocks. It was really slimy and hard to even pick up without slipping from your hands. The octopus was boiled for a couple hours, then the outer layer of skin was peeled off. We cut it up and put it in a pickled soy sauce. The suction cups were the best. We also ate fried halibut dipped in seal oil. Seal oil has a unique taste (kind of like fish). Then we had dried salmon strips mixed with cream cheese and garlic. The area is really rich in food, and they say if you go hungry here it’s your own fault. The family had a deer in their smokehouse, and we cooked up rib stew for a dinner. I have never had better smoked meat. The meat fell off the bone and was really tender, and the smoke flavor went into all of the vegetables. When I went to the dump I got to see Trash Bear. Trash Bear hides in the rubbish, hoping you don’t see him. He is really sneaky, and he comes out when you least expect him, rushing forward to steal garbage and haul it off. When a bear becomes a trash bear, it never goes back to how it was before. It will only search for trash, and if it doesn’t get enough to eat, it will start to raid the town and will eventually need to be eradicated. There are actually multiple bears at the dump, but the locals refer to them all as the singular Trash Bear. It's hard to tell, but these are actually brown bears. The next couple days were really windy, and we weren’t able to go out in the boat. The waves were too dangerous. When the weather was bad I tried land hunting. It was really tough, and everyone looked at me like I was crazy for even wanting to try. The forest is dark and thick with fallen trees, shrubs, and all sorts of vegetation that make it difficult to even walk or see. I was also told Admiralty Island has the highest concentration of brown bears per square mile than anywhere else in the world. If you find a trail out in the woods it is a bear trail. You have to be very cautious, as every noise you hear could be a bear in the bushes. There is also this giant, overgrown stinging nettle plant you have to work hard to avoid. The places in the forest that opened up were swamps, and they were difficult to walk through. There were berries everywhere that were really good to eat. When I got back at night I was filthy and exhausted from crawling through all kinds of bushes and had a greater appreciation for why everyone goes hunting by boat. Sea hunting is far superior to land hunting. You don’t get caught in vegetation and don’t have to worry about bears. We passed through a boat graveyard that serves as a reminder for what happens when you go out in rough water. The tides down here are really powerful and impact which way you go. When the tide is rising, the water surges inland through all the small channels and islands and is fast and powerful. It feels like being on a swift river with a strong current, you would never know it is ocean water until you see dolphins and seals in places you least expect them. We passed through some narrow channels of rocks (it’s one way with the tide), and you have to wait for the tide to start going back out before you can come back. We saw thousands of salmon, and even in shallow spots we saw huge schools swinning around. The salmon would hang out at the top of the water with their fins out and looked like little sharks. We hunted for hours and saw perfect deer habitat, but never saw a single deer. Right before deer season opened you would see deer all day long, and as soon as the shooting starts all the deer vanish into the forests. This is a hard time to hunt, and I hear it is better in the winter when the snow pushes the deer down to the beaches. I flew out on the seaplane with two coolers full of fish and some smoked deer meat that was given to me. The deer hunt turned into a fishing trip, and even though I never saw a deer, I had a great time exploring another part of the state and experiencing the food. I’ll try and go back next year. Right before I left I walked along the beach which was the site of a historic engagement with the US Navy. In the 1880's the Natives had a dispute with a trading company, and the trading company called on the Navy for support. It was right before winter, and the Navy came in and destroyed all of the Natives' canoes, destroyed the food storages, shelled Angoon and burnt it to the ground, and about 2/3 of the villagers perished in the winter from starvation. Outside of the Civil War, it is considered one of the few times the Navy has fired on American territory in anger. If you love year round fishing, sea food, berries, mild winters, and the beauty of the Pacific, then this is the perfect place to live. However, you won't have the big game hunting opportunities that come with living in the Interior.
  13. The king salmon runs on the Yukon have been declining over the last decade, and subsistence fishing has been restricted off and on to ensure an appropriate escapement to the spawning grounds in Canada. The monster kings of the past are seldom seen, and the fish today are smaller than they used to be. The reasons for the decline are complex, but as salmon increases in popularity and as the population grows, more pressure is put on the fish. The main complaint I always here is bycatch- the commercial fleets scoop up all the Bearing Sea pollock for McDonalds, and catch a number of Yukon salmon in the process. Subsistence salmon fishing has been open a few days this year, and the rest of the season it was closed. A couple weeks ago Fish and Game opened up a temporary 36 hour window to fish for salmon, and I was invited to come along. I jump at every chance I get to go out on the river! With 8 months of winter, you have to take advantage of the great outdoor opportunities when the land isn't covered in snow and ice. We packed our bags and I went and picked up gas. I used a 4-wheeler with a little trailer behind it, and drove down to the gas station with three big tanks in the trailer. When I got there the station was closed- it closes randomly, all you can do is wait until it opens again. The attendant finally came back and turned everything on and I filled up all the tanks. My share was $170. The local tribal corporation runs the gas station, and the price is always $7.50 per gallon, it never changes. I took the gas back to where we were loading up, and we used a little wooden ladder to get the gas tanks up and over the side of the boat. The tanks are heavy and it really sucks. That’s my least favorite part of getting ready. It always gets me every single time I go out there- the endlessness of everything. Endless forest. Endless time. Endless river. The river splits into a million fingers and channels, and goes on in every direction as far as the eye can see. Sometimes it’s so big it doesn’t even feel like it is moving, when in reality it is surging below your feet. Within 5 minutes I’m lost. If I was out there by myself there is no way I could make it back. The river is too big with too many channels and side channels and tributaries. The Natives have every curve of the river memorized- they know every turn, corner, and sandbar. The water is muddy brown, and you can’t see below the surface. You can be going along and in an instant hit a gravel bar in 2 inches of water and have no idea that it was there. It can be really scary at times, depending on where you get stuck. What also strikes me is the sheer sense of isolation- imagine going down a river and not seeing a single person. You are alone. You don’t hear any noise other than your own, and if something happens to you, you’re out of luck. You better be prepared for anything, because it’s out there, waiting for you. Every step you take, knot you tie, jumping out of a boat, cut of a knife- you need to go slow and be careful. If you are careless you will get hurt. Once the 36 hour window opened, we set a few nets at select spots. It is a very involved and complex process. You have to know the currents, the depth, the rope length, all kinds of amazing knots, and set a weight on the end. It’s also dangerous and you can easily get caught up in the net and dragged out from the boat into the river, and the Yukon is as mighty as it is unforgiving. My job is to tie off the nets to the bank, and tie the weight to the net. I also feed the net out from the boat, and check it when it gets tangles. After the nets were set we went and set up camp. One of the elders in the village allowed us to use his fish camp since he was sick and unable to fish himself. He used to live out on his camp year round, and many years ago he put in some small cabins and ran a trap line with dogs in the winter. We camped there, and it was like heaven compared to what I was used to. Imagine sleeping on the ground, under a tarp, with a bazillion mosquitoes buzzing you while it rains? Now imagine sleeping inside a cabin with no mosquitoes and no rain. I brought just enough food to get by if we didn’t find anything else to eat, but we always find something. There was a family of large ground squirrels around our camp, and I harvested one and cooked it on the fire. There are a couple ways you can do it, but I singed off the fur and then cooked it over the flame. It was quite good, tastes like chicken. The next day we got up to check the nets. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s hard work. You have to grab the net line, hold on for dear life while the current tries to drag the boat away (the engine is off and motor up so the prop doesn’t snag the net). Then you have to pull the net up (all the way up) and check for fish. It’s really wet and heavy. When you see the fish your eyes will pop open, it’s an amazing sight. Leave the rod at home, this is how you catch fish! Once you get a fish up you have to untangle it from the net. They are slimy and can be caught and twisted in impossible ways that it seems the net will never come off. We got back to the camp and spent the rest of the day cutting fish. I learned how to properly cut the fish, and how to hang it up to dry. We lit some wet cottonwood to smoke the salmon and keep the flies away. Dinner that night was amazing. We had fresh salmon (dog and king), and I enjoyed every minute of it. No other salmon can beat the Yukon king. After dinner we went on a bear stroll with the boat. I really wanted to get a black bear, and had been out another time with no success. The bears are like shadows- you see them out of the corner of your eye, and then they vanish before you have a chance to do anything. We went up a small creek (anywhere else it would be a great river, but here’s it’s just a mere creek), and after about an hour we cut the engine and slowly floated back down the way we came. The scenery was amazing. When I first moved up here I was disappointed that there would be no mountains. What, Alaska has a place where it’s flat? Now I see I was wrong and really enjoy it. There were all kinds of ducks around, and we saw 6 huge beavers. I honestly didn’t think we would get a bear, but we floated around a corner and I saw a big shadow down along the bank. I didn’t remember it on the way up. It looked like a root wad from a fallen tree. I looked at it through the scope, and sure enough it was a bear! It was looking right at us. The engine was still off, and we kept drifting closer and closer with the slow current. We kept quiet and didn't move. I was worried the bear would run away, but it didn’t, it kept watching us. At about 65 yards I took one shot and dropped the bear. When we got to the edge of the bank, the bear had rolled into the water and was sinking in the current (it was deep where we were at). If it sinks, it’s gone! I jumped in the water and grabbed the bear's back leg. It was heavy, it had to weigh at least 300 pounds. I started to pull it back to the bank, inch by inch. If it would have been a second later the bear would have sunk to the bottom. We loaded it up into the boat and headed back to the fish camp. When we got back to camp we set down a tarp, and unloaded the bear from the boat. When the bear landed on the tarp, its lungs must have contracted and it let out a ferocious roar! I must have jumped 10 feet into the air. I stayed up all night skinning the bear. It is hard work, tougher than I ever imagined it would be. By the end I could hardly move my arms. And the bugs…that part was awful. I had a cloud of mosquitoes follow me around the whole time I was skinning it, and my entire back was covered in huge itchy bumps. There were also these tiny gnats- “don’t see um’s”- that bit me all night long. I had marks all up and down my arm from them. When I got done skinning the bear this was my sunset. I washed my knives in the river and tried to get some sleep. Early the next morning we packed up the boat, pulled down the nets, and headed back to the village. I was allowed to drive on the way back. I’m used to kicking back, eating snacks, and enjoying the scenery. Driving the boat is different. It’s really intense, and you have to be on a constant lookout for gravel bars, trees lodged in the bottom, and other obstructions. When we got home we spent the rest of the evening cutting up the fish and the bear. A good portion of the fish was given away, and the elder who let use his fish camp was given a bear quarter. We cooked up some bear backstrap for dinner. It was really good, kind of like pork, only better. It was quite a weekend. It's not like this all the time, but when it is, you can't ask for a better place to be.
  14. I got up in the early morning and packed my bags. I had been waiting for the hunt for over a year, and it was finally here. I went to the door and looked at the weather, it was cold with snow and ice, no surprises there, but his time though there was a mean wind bearing down from the north, the type of wind that cuts right through your clothes and freezes your cheekbones and leaves you running for the heat of a fire. The cold doesn’t bother me, but wind does. I really hate the wind. I didn’t want to deal with the trek to the airport, so I made some calls and arranged for a ride in exchange for some 30-06 ammo upon my return. I got to the airstrip and was worried the plane wouldn’t come due to the wind, but it showed up as expected and I jumped in. We got up into the air and could see the frozen world below. Even the Yukon was frozen solid. While I was waiting for my flight to Arizona (my flight departed at 1AM), I took some taxis around to get some food and drink. It's amazing to be able to sit down at a restauraunt and order food. I don't know what I want so I order everything. I don't even look at the price, I don't care about the cost. I just want the food. Got in to Phoenix the next morning and went to secure my rental car. I had reserved a minivan well in advance because I wanted room for gear and coolers. I did not want anything else. I thought the whole encounter would take 5 minutes, maybe 10. It took over an hour to get the keys in hand, there was a HUGE line of KC fans coming to watch a football game, and when I got to the counter the agent kept trying to bait and switch me…”well, we see you have this minivan for $30 a day, how about we upgrade you to a luxury SUV with a bunch of TVs in the back of the seats for the kids with a blue ray player and a huge engine so you can tear up the highways at 65mph for only $130 a day with the manager’s discount?” When I didn’t budge, they brought in the really attractive manager wearing a tight white skirt who tried to convince me the minivan was not the way to go and that I needed more style. After a relentless battle, they gave up and I had the keys in hand. I left the concrete jungle and was on my way to the hunt! From the start I wanted to find a spike- not just any spike, I wanted a small spike. I wanted the meat to be tender and I didn’t want to deal with packing out bulky horns. If a big bull appeared I would probably take it, but given the option I’m going for the spike. Day 1 I thought I was in shape. I walk everywhere, and usually do not get tired. I had prepared mentally for the hunt, but when you throw on a big backpack, binos, tripod, snacks, water, and rugged terrain, you realize there is another definition of being in shape. And that's when you realize the whole thing is really crazy! We hiked up to some points and my shoulders were screaming. I was really happy when we would stop to glass because the more time we spent glassing, the less time I had to deal with the gear and the weight. We glassed all day, and then JLG spotted a horn protruding from a bush. We had all looked over that spot a hundred times, and a lesser eye would have missed it completely. We hiked across to get closer to the spike, but had a hard time locating it again. When it finally came into view, it spotted us and started to move. I had a chance at a butt shot, but all I could think about was the hunter safety class I took when I was 10 years old, and I could see the instructor dancing in the scope telling me to never take that shot because of possible fecal contamination of the meat. I hesitated, and the elk vanished. I thought maybe I should have taken the shot, what happens if that’s the only chance I get? But you should only shoot when you are comfortable, and I was comfortable with not shooting. A couple minutes later another group of elk appeared out of nowhere, and we were in perfect position. I had the lead spike in my scope and he was facing broadside to me. It was the perfect shot, but I pulled the trigger and missed, shot too high. Somehow I managed to get my nose in front of the scope, and it hit me really hard and split open the top of my nose. It was bleeding and the spent shell wouldn’t eject from the rifle, so I couldn’t get off another shot. Mr. Rob was positioned below us, and he got one of the spikes in the group. We helped him field dress the elk, and we began the hike out. I wore a knee brace, but my knees were still screaming at me. By the time we got ready to hike out it was dark, and we made our way back to the road with only our headlamps and flashlights. The shrubs seemed to get angrier and angrier with every step, blocking every move. I almost fell a couple of times, but luckily kept my footing. I have never been happier when we made it back to the road and were able to drop our packs. Day 2 The second day was the most challenging. We got up early and headed out to a high point along the rim and hiked down to a smaller ridge. We waited for the sun to come up, and as soon as it did a small herd of cow elk came running by. We didn’t see any bulls, but I was excited just to see elk. I had never seen many elk in the wild, and we were seeing cows nonstop. After that, we hiked to the bottom and had to fight manzanita and thorn bushes the whole way. It really wore me out It was no different coming back up. We glassed some more, and ended the day watching a big herd of cows come by. By the end of the day I was exhausted, my knees weren’t happy. I estimate we had hiked over 8 miles by that point. Day 3 We went to a little meadow before sunrise, and as soon as the sun came up the elk started coming to life. They came darting out of nowhere and ran right in front of us, but we didn’t see any bulls. Mr. Rob had some family connections to an old ranch, and we got permission to go there for the day. It was a really nice place with old equipment and barns, and we hiked up into the hills to glass around. Then we hiked some more, and went a little farther after that. It was steep terrain, really rugged, and at times dangerous. It was nature’s obstacle course, and luckily we didn’t get hurt or sprain an ankle. We saw some elk towards the end of the day, but no bulls. Day 4 It was the last day of the hunt, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. By this time the bulls have been feeling the pressure, and it would be hard to find one. We tried a few different spots, and in the afternoon JLG spotted a lone spike in the distance. We had a spotter keep an eye on things while we repositioned, otherwise we would have lost the elk. We got to the right spot and kept looking, and finally found the spike! He was alone, feeding by himself, and was waiting for the hunting season to close. I felt the surge of adrenaline, and knew I would only get one shot. I was also thinking about my nose, so I was extra careful to keep it as far away from the scope as possible. I waited for the right moment and the elk turned broadside and I shot, aiming for the front shoulder. One shot and a lot of luck is all it took. The elk was hit in the most improbable spot at the bottom of the upper neck. It took a little while to get down to the elk, and my heart was still racing. I couldn’t feel the pain in my knees through the surge of adrenaline. We went to work field dressing the elk, and I didn’t feel cold for one moment until we were all done. We cut off every piece of meat and took the heart and liver, nothing went to waste. The pack back out was an adventure. We were both exhausted, and I could hardly walk. It was dark, and everything looks different at night. We would have to hike down a hill, up another one, and down some more just to get back to the road, so we packed up half the elk and opted to come back for the second half in the morning. Halfway back we missed our trail and got lost. We kept walking in the right direction, and next thing we notice there are giant fences around us- we couldn’t climb over if we wanted to. We were stuck inside a giant ranch complex. Every step of the way we were fenced in by wealth unbounded. We kept running into dead ends, and the never ending spaghetti-string of roads with dead ends was really wearing me down. I considered knocking on the big ranch house door, but it was 11PM and I looked like heck with blood, gun, pack, and a flashlight. We finally made it to the exit- a big wrought-iron gate- and there was no way to get around the edges. It was too tall to climb through, and had barbed wire all around the sides. There was about 8 inches of clearance between the bottom of the gate and the road, so we threw down the packs, slid the packs under the gate, and scooted on our backs to get to the other side. We were free. We headed back up to the road, and I sat down and waited for JLG to get the ranger. The sweetest sound in the world was the distant hum of the engine getting closer and closer, we had made it out and it was time to go home. We went and got the rest of the elk in the morning. JLG wanted a challenge, the last few days had been too easy for him, so he decided to pick up his 35lb blind on our way to the elk. When we started the last of the pack out his pack had to weigh over 100lbs. Went down to Phoenix to cut up the elk and get ready for the flight. I spent the last day enjoying life in civilization. Went and picked up some 30-06 ammo, and spent the rest of the day eating. I used to like big cities, but now they just seem over the top and excessice. It is a nice change of pace to have everything at your fingertips and just around the corner. Life is easy. Flying home Had two coolers, my carry on, winter gear, and a backpack. It’s quite a load! The coolers almost didn’t fit in the minivan, and I had a hard time getting the cooler out of the back trunk. I tied everything down, and made the forever trek from the rental car return to the top deck to wait for the shuttle bus. I had to make two trips to get through the elevator, and needed some help to get the coolers on and off the bus. When I got to the check-in counter, the ticketing agent’s eyes got as big as the moon when she looked at all my stuff. The two coolers weighed 90lbs and 83lbs, and cost me $150 to check them. When I got to Fairbanks the coolers were beat to heck, but everything held. Both of the coolers were heavily inspected and some of the meat packaging was even cut open. I called for a shuttle to the hotel, and it was a real challenge to get the coolers loaded inside the van. Once we got to the hotel I was able to switch to a room with a balcony and kept the meat outside to keep it cool. The next day I headed over to the regional hub of the airport, and checked in with my coolers (I don’t remember the price, think it was like $130 for the weight). The plane was full, so I had to sit co-pilot. My feet hardly fit, and my knees kept bumping the steering column. The pilot laughed and said don’t worry, if he needs to he will gladly smash my knees if he has to make a sharp turn. We landed without incident, and I got back to my cabin and put the meat in the largest freezer known to man- the outside! I needed some help with all the meat, and one of the natives I know has a meat grinder and agreed to help. Her sister was visiting from one of the villages north of here, and she cut up 11 caribou during their last hunt. By the time I got through cutting up the grind meat from one bag, they had finished everything else. I couldn't believe how quick they were. They knew every cut of meat and where it came from. They thought it was really strange I would cut the meat off the ribs- rib meat on the bone is supposed to be really good. The first elk meal, and many more to come- Special thanks to JLG for his willingness to help new hunters and taking them on an adventure you won't find anywhere else. There is hunting, hunting hard, and then there is hunting with JLG. I would also like to thank Mr. Rob, Jimmy, and RL, especially Jimmy on the last day. You made the hunt a very memorable experience, and without your help this wouldn’t have been possible! I couldn’t ask for a greater trophy bull than the one I got. For some the trophy is determined by the size of the horns, but for me the trophy is determined by the memories made along the way.
  15. AndrewJ

    Alaskan Moose Hunting Information Needed

    No bonus points in Alaska. Every year it's the luck of the draw. Moose hunting is done by draw near population centers and along the roads due to ease of access and number of hunters. If you get away from that you do not need to put in for a draw, but then access becomes the main issue. You will have to do a fly in-fly out or rent a boat. Go to this page, and click on the different units. http://www.adfg.alas...lations.hunting For each unit, look at the moose section. Then look at each N for "nonresident". Then go to the right and it tells you the type of moose. You will be looking for hunts with HT for harvest ticket. Also note the 50 inch antler restriction, some hunts have this. 50 means 50, if the moose horns are 49 inches you will get a ticket. If you have high speed internet, download the entire book and you can see all GMUs. If you decide to go for a draw, the deadline is Dec. 15th. Be sure to search for the 2015-2016 draw supplement, the last page shows the hunts and draw success. Success in the rural villages is really high, near 100%. It's different for the villages on the road system, I hear near Circle the success was very low. Hordes of hunters drive up from Fairbanks and there aren't very many moose left.