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Thread: New guy needs help

  1. #1

    Default New guy needs help

    Here's the deal, my wife and I are moving to Alaska as soon as she gets out of school. That will be next summer. I've busted my butt putting her through school so I plan on taking a couple years off and spend it hunting. I do a lot of taxidermy here so I'll probably do some up there too. My problem is I don't know a lot about float hunting. I've canoe'd several rivers here with lots of whitewater so I'm not stressed about that part. I need info on planning for a week or two on the water. I also need info on proper care of the meat. I can take care of the cape and horns.

    Are there any DVDs or good books that you guys would suggest? Thanks for any info.

  2. #2
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    The first thing you need to do is spend time on this forum. You are off to a good start

    Second thing, buy Mike Strahan's book. He is the forum owner and a great guy as well.

    After reading his book and poking around here for a few weeks, you will have tons of info by which you can start making plans on your first float trip.

    Below is a long winded email I shared with a guy recently. Lots of ramblings, but if you got time to read it, perhaps some basic insights could be gained.

    NO WAY two moose, two dudes, and a bou, with gear, will fit in a 14' raft. One moose, maybe, but two, not gonna happen man. To be honest, the likelyhood of getting two moose could be low anyway, but if you do get two moose and a bou, you will be in trouble in that raft. Even with safety aside, you will be so overloaded you will be dragging bottom big time in the shallow sections. I can't recall for sure, but seems the Sheenjek has some low water areas that are prone to dragging in the first place, especially in the fall when all the snow melt is long gone. Any chance one of you tries for moose (you ha ha..) and your buddy goes for bou and the experience? If so, you may do ok with one raft. That being said, you won't die on the Sheenjek. It is not an overly challenging river. But I would be lying if I said you can take two moose, a bou, etc.. in one 14' raft. This sounds over ambitous at best. You would be surprised how fast a 14' boat fills up. You, your bud, dry bags stacked up in the back, then add two moose?? Below is a pic of my 14'4" custom Sotar for reference...

    As far as our specifics, we are currently looking at 190# raft/accesories (w/ the 14'NRS), my buddy and I weigh closer to 340# (he finally divulged his weight). That leaves us with about 220# for guns, tents, bags, game bags, food, cooking utensils, stoves, a couple of rods, clothes, etc., etc. Based on your insight from doing these trips, and my buddy's from hiking AT, we might be able to just squeeze in. Kirt thinks we will need two trips, but I think he is being cautious because I am sure he deals with a lot of people that do not put nearly enough thought into what to take. If it takes two trips, that is ok, but that is a lot of money for an extra 50-75# of stuff. And of course if I decide to try for a bigger boat, we are probably assured of a second trip in.

    If you are strict in counting your total weight, and it sounds like you are, looks like 750 lbs will be the total load. This should work for Kirk from what I recall in previous emails with him. He is cautious for exactly the reason you say, everyone underestimates weight!! This could be a moot point. My gut says if you want two moose and a bou, you and your bud need seperate rafts. This would mean two flights of course anyway. However, if taking one moose and a bou, you guys should have no trouble getting in one flight. That is of course assuming you will be strict with what you take. From talking to you, I think you have a really good grasp on the importance of going light. Good for you, most folks I talk with (many) don't give this area enough concern. The one thing I have done on each trip is take less and less than previous trips. My wife and I weigh 510 lbs so we have no choice in the matter. Ha ha...

    I do like the idea of the rock bags, I think you said Campmor had them. And I would also like to look into the tent and bag combo you mentioned. Currently I have good stuff, Cabela's and Mountain Hardware, but my tent definitely needs an upgrade and I think the bag is a little thin (25 degree bag). What kind of stove/fuel do you use? The guy that first told me about this trip said he took standard stove w/ white fuel, but used sparingly beacuase there was a lot of firewood. He also said they caught a lot of grayling to eat, which is good, but cannot be counted on. As far as that goes, grayling, char, sheefish, and occasional Northerns seem to be the most common fish. With only one rod, I was thinking about a 6'6" med./ spinner w/ 1 spool each of 8& 10 # test and a modest asstmt. of mepps spinners and small rapalas. Any thoughts on that setup?

    Yeah, I love talking gear. You need zero degree bags. Forget the crap you hear about synthetic bags being better than down when wet. I doubt you would sleep well in either when wet The key of course is keeping the bags dry. The Cabelas Boundary Water is the bee's knees man. I have the long zero rectangle and it is about 3 lbs. It comes with a very high quality compression dry bag. No need to improve on it much, but I also throw that in a dry bag. We use Mountain Research dry bags for clothes/bags/etc.. The lightweight type, that go inside a larger duffle or sturdier dry bag. Campmor has them and I will send you a link. They come in about 5 different sizes. For stoves, I use the MSR Whisperlite Internationale. This stove rocks man, plain and simple. I take two, an expedition repair kit, and an extra pump. REI and Campmor sell all this stuff. Excessive, yes, but when eating mostly dehydrated food for 10-14 days, I find this an appropriate measure. White gas is pretty easy to get. You won't find Isopropane cannisters in many remote locations of Alaska. You can mail them up. You can't fly with them on commercial airlines. Been there done that, not worth the hassle. Take a white gas stove. The only wood, alder, is thin and light. Burns super fast and makes little to no coals. Don't count on cooking on it much. And your trip timing will ensure most gravel bars have already been picked over by other floaters in the summer. You may have enough for a nightly campfire, I hope you do. But don't count on cooking food on the fire. A luxury, but not guaranteed by any means. For fishing, look at the XML pack rods at Cabelas. I have five of them, mostly for the wife as I fly fish. These are the best travel rods I have ever seen, come in a hard tube, just top shelf rods. Cabelas has a cheaper travel rod in the $80 range that is ok. Perhaps good enough for the grayling you will be catching. Maybe some dollies on the Sheenjek, not sure. I would expect grayling for sure. I would take 6.5' travel medium rod with 8 lb line. I would use 1/4 and 3/8 ounce spinners. You would be surprised how big a spinner the grayling will hit even though they have small mouths. I like silver, gold, brass, metallic blue, and metallic green. Blue Fox Vibrax is a nice spinner. I like my gold, silver, etc.. to be the Panther Martins. Great spinners. Any deep hole should be fished. This is where we get most of our fish. Also, any creeks entering the Sheenjek. These are the hot spots so to speak. Also, and fairly deep runs (3-4') will be a good place to fish for sure. Avoid fishing the shallow and very fast water. Look for the calmer (deeper) water in general. And fish the spinners deep and slow, just off the bottom. If dollies (char) are in the river, they will be caught with the same above info. Same lures, techniques, etc.. That makes it easy when grayling and dollies are present. No sheefish in the Sheenjek that I am aware of. Should be grayling and possibly dollies. Below are a few links...

    Great dry bags. Not suitable for throwing around. Keep these in big duffle or big dry bag. Great for keeping clothes and sleeping bag in. Very good bags...

    The Pacific Outdoors Gobi 84 is the big dry bag that I put the above bags in. Super tough "Wytrex" fabric and 100% waterproof. Check online for a deal. Below is just one option. I like one or two of these for keeping important gear. To be honest, you could just get the yellow Ozark Trail bags from walmart. The big yellow dry bags, like $20 each. Perhaps two or three. Think of them as disposable most likely and good for one trip. Take duct tape for repairs just in case. But they are a cheaper alternative. Link below to the Gobi 84 and a pic of us using the cheap Ozark Trail bags a few years ago....

    My wife digging down in one of our Gobi 84 bags. These are built like a brick **** house. Perhaps one of these for your important gear would be a worthwhile expense...

    Dude!!! There is a deal for you at Cabelas. Just looking for the link to the XML pack spinning rod, I see it is about half price. The 6'6" medium is on sale. Normally $150, now $79. I would take advantage of this. These are very nice rods.

    Below is a great link to info on the MSR stove. Read the part about preheating well, this is what gives most folks trouble and the source of negative reviews on the stove. Great info here on using this stove, particularly as it pertains to cold weather usage...

    When you open the link, just scroll down a few pages to the MSR info...

    Below is a "normal" looking pre-heating of the MSR stove. This last about 10-15 seconds and it burns down. You are just trying to heat the fuel tube up. A windscreen is a must most the time in the arctic. The stove comes with one, just saying, you will need it. The wind can make it tough to preheat.

    How about the big bears, any scary encounters with them? I see from your pics that you are prepared for them. We will hopefully be trensporting meat, so we will have an increased chance to interact with them. I know that blacks and grizzlies are vastly different animals, but I have had a lot of interactions w/ blacks and feel that a little common sense will go a long ways towards preventing trouble w/ either.

    Yeah, they deserve respect. Had them in camp three times on five float trips. Just last month in fact, well Sept, had one enter my tent ripped the fabric and took my jeans and boots out. Bent my pole. It was not a remote trip, just camping on the Kenai with some friends in Alaska. Luckily we were out rafting the river when it happened. Turns out size 15 Danner boots make great chew toys for bears Pic below.

    I would be careful, but not fearful. We had them in camp on two remote float trips and they took off once they got a good look at us. I had one in camp at 0300 on a SW float in 2007. Got out of the tent with Marlin Guide Gun and flash light. The Surefire M6 scared the bear half to death. He froze, then took off at full speed. I wrote Surefire and they used it as an advertisement of some sorts and sent me a $200 gift card. Pretty cool. This is an awesome flashlight.

    From the Surefire website...

    M6 Prevents Grizzly Situation
    I canoe remote Alaskan rivers each fall, fly fishing for various species. This past September we floated the Goodnews River in Southwest Alaska. On the last night of a 13-day float, I was awakened at 3 a.m. by a sound that was just a little louder than the pitter patter of the rain on our tent. I crawled out of my sleeping bag and reached for was my SureFire M6® Guardian®. I opened the tent door, stuck my head out, and saw every camper's worst nightmare—a 600-pound grizzly, which had crossed the stream protecting our campsite, standing only 20 feet away.

    I instinctively shined the light's 500 lumens into the beast's face. He stopped dead in his tracks, raising his right front paw into the air to block the light. He then stared into the light for several seconds before deciding to turn around and bolt. Even after he was out of sight, I heard him running for another 100 yards. He'd obviously been just as scared as I was. I slept with that M6 in my hand the rest of the night.

    Your light helped me to avoid what could have been my last trip to this great land. This is an amazing product, and it may very well have saved my life. Thanks, SureFire.

    Dan H.
    Rockingham, NC

    We also use a UDAP fence now. Weighs about 4 lbs and is a good kit. Below is a pic of ours in arctic NW last Sept...

    The most important thing is keeping a clean camp. Don't go to bed smelling like dinner. Change clothes, don't eat in the tent, don't store food near the tent, etc... And of course, give them their space and make lots of noise if you see them. You will be armed, but should not have to use the guns. Most these bears in remote areas like where you will be are still very scared of humans (for the most part). Most encounters are out of curiousity (to smells) and once they see you as human, they haul ass. But keep your eyes open. Any bear that sees you and does't head the other way (even if slowly) is a bear to keep an eye on. If a bear hangs out near camp, especially as darkness falls, you have trouble for **** sure. This bear could be stalking you and waiting on darkness to fall and then will attack. This happened on the Hula Hula in ANWR a few years back and two people were killed and eaten. Very experienced outdoorsman (wife and husband from Anchorage) doing nothing wrong, just ran across a bad bear. But this is rare, even in Alaska.

    What do you typically stow your equipment in? I have read good reviews on a couple of the dry boxes, but they are bulky if not heavy. It looks like some guys use bags and I was wondering what company makes a good, honest to God DRY bag.

    Drybags, drybags, drybags.. Can't take too many. Gear must be kept dry and the weather can suck. I use the lighter bags by Outdoor Research. I have several sizes. I put them in larger, more sturdy (gravel bar resistant) bags like the Gobi 84 or cheaper (but decent) Ozark Trail Walmart bags. These all go in the raft and I strap them in the boat with rope or bungee cords. One thought, get the mesh duffle bag from Campmor and keep things you want access to during the days you are on the water. Nothing sucks worse than digging through dry bags, packed away and roped in, to get lunch. I put fly rod and fishing rod tubes, sunglasses/case, binos, lunch, basic cook pot for lunch, nalgenes, MSR miniworks water filter, hat, rain jacket, etc.. in this mesh duffle. Makes it easy to get to things as you are traveling on the water, yet everything else (clothes/sleeping bag/etc..) remains watertight and secured in the dry bags.

    Below are the mesh bags I use for securing the tent. Just use a simple overhand knot to attach the rope draw cord on the bags to the tent corners/sides. This works well. Just load the bags with rocks and use the overhand knot. Far superior to stakes. The more windy it is, the more rocks I use. A freestanding tent is a must of course. The more wind resistant, the better. I am very impressed with the Black Diamond Guiding Light. But the Kelty Gunnison is a good cheaper alternative. My buddy uses one. Link to mesh bag below. It comes in several sizes. Seems we have the 11" x 16" or so for the tent. These are great for storing things too, I have about a dozen of these bags in different sizes. Take good 550 paracord (or heavier rope) for these bags too. I use them on the corners with overhand knots, but if it really blows up a storm, 15' or so of rope on the side and corner reinforcement loops (on the tent) would work well with additional "rock bags" and the rope. I don't need this often, but always take it. If really windy (30+ mph), having 8-10 rock bags total would be the deal. Keeps the tent drum tight. Likely you won't see this kind of wind, but you never know. And at $5 a bag, who cares. Cheap insurance. And like I said, these bags have many uses.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  3. #3
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Water. Kind of like the Albatross, it is everywhere, but I am assuming you don't just drink it. What type of filtration system do you use? Any other suggestions on that one?

    Once again, you are spot on. You need to filter your water. We have two MSR mini-works water filters and they work flawlessly. Just a perfect design. One thing, get a collapsible water bucket. The best we have found (by far) is from LL Bean. It is sturdy enough to stand upright when full of water, yet packs away pretty small and is light. You can order it online of course. Go to the river, walk out about knee high, get the water in the bucket, back to camp sit in the campchair, hook the water filter to the wide mouth Nalgene bottle, pump water from the bucket to the Nalgenes. Easy as pie man. Really nice system. We take Crystal Light sticks and individual Gatorade (sold online at Campmor and REI). The water alone is good too of course. Best water you will ever drink. Pic below of the water bucket...

    Any specific items you might recommend for a first aid kit? My MIL is a nurse and I usually can assemble a pretty good kit with her help.

    Basic stuff of course. I also take Quik Clot which stops major bleeding. Cabelas sells this stuff. Great product. For major bleeding, but you never know. I also take Cipro for GI problems (bad water) but never plan to need it. Alaska water is clean. I take Keflex for any soft tissue injury. The longer and more remote trip, the more it matters. Think, cutting yourself with a filet knife or a beaver branch puncturing your calf. Keflex would help prevent a raging infection. I also take Silvadene creme for burns. We take aluminum dutch ovens for cornbread and garlic biscuits, cakes, etc.. And being around the stove, campfire, you just never know. A tube of this cream would come in handy if someone got a burn. Aside from this, just take some basic bandages, tape, perhaps a pack or two of cough drops, some eye lubrication drops in case you get something in your eye, etc.. I do also take a small and large surgical stapler just in case. Not easy to suture for most folks and it is nearly impossible to suture yourself. Get the staplers. Cabelas sells one I think. I get mine from work (ER nurse).

    Footwear. The one guy I spoke with that did this hunt suggested the Muck boot. If you aren't familiar w/ them, they are almost knee high rubber/neoprene boots that come in a number of configurations. A lot of people suggest taking waders, and we will probably take 1 pair, but we will be doing a lot of walking. Because of this I am inclined to go with the knee boots, probably eithe Muck, or Lacrosse insulated. I will probably take a lighter pair for around camp so my feet and my boots both get a little rest.

    The Lacrosse boots seem popular. Go to the "Gear" forum at Outdoorsdirectory. There was thread just last week on this. Good info from some knowledgable folks. You may do well in normal hunting boots while hunting. Depends on the land. Some tundra has water in between them, some is dry harder land. Not sure about the Sheenjek. Likely lowlands will be wet and if you hunt in higher ground, it will be firmer, smaller, dryer, tundra. Decent walking should be found the higher up you get. For the river/rafting, you need at a minimum hip boots. You will be getting in and out of the raft a lot. So perhaps some thigh high Lacrosse or similar and your regular hunting boots for times hunting (depending on the land) and around camp. Consider some high quality gel insoles for the thigh highs. I put a link on the thread on the "Gear" forum.

    For clothes, I might look into underarmour underwear. I know it is supposed to wick really well, but that is only part of the story. For the time of year we are going, cotton is definitely a no-no. I am thinking 2 good pairs of long underwear, 1pr. of wool pants/wool shirt, a pair of North Face ski pants for camp and paddling. Not sure yet if I will buy a new coat or take my old gore tex waterfowl coat. Probably about 6 prs of good socks. Maybe another pants/shirt combo for hunting if weight permits, and a long sleeve t-shirt.
    Any recommendations on this are very appreciated.

    Sounds like you have a pretty good idea on the clothes. My approach will differ from yours a bit. I am taking float trips in Sept. What I use works for me, but you would not wear the same stuff all the time. I love the Cabelas polartech themal underwear. I like the polar weight. I use those tops and bottoms alot on float trips. I do suggest a good windproof pullover. I got some from Cabelas, "windshear" I think is the type. Good stuff and whatever you do, get windproof stuff. I have windproof gloves, hat (fleece type), pullovers, etc.. The wind is tough at times. Of course on top of this, you need a 100% waterproof shell/jacket/coat. Extra socks for sure is a good idea. I have a hard time finding clothes at 6'6" 310 lbs, so I tend to wear my waders a lot. I have the polartec thermals under the waders and put a windproof pullover on up top. When I change out of the waders around camp, I put on jeans and boots. If really cold, I put on my fleece coveralls from Cabelas. Windproof of course Below are a few representative pics of me dressed in NW Alaska in Sept. "Typical clothing" we will call it. But always have something extra for the "just in case" moments. You know this I can tell. Be prepared! If all else fails, go crawl into your zero degree bag and wind resistant tent Oh, whatever you do, get some high quality neoprene glove for rowing the raft. Trust me on this!! Link below...

    NRS Hydroskin gloves $35...

    14 lb dolly!!

    For food, I was thinking about a small amount of jerky and/or summer sausage. Lots of Lipton sides dinners, a little bit of tuna, dried soup mix, ramens, granola bars, and a little bit of trail mix (w/ M&M s). 1 fork, all purpose pocketknife, non-stick pot (MSR), Pam, or other cooking spray (1 or 2 cans?) a shaker of cajun seasoning (salt pepper, garlic, etc. all in 1) , some dry tea, drink powder, a small thing of sugar (1/4 # or less). Probably should add spatula, maybe a spoon. Anything else?

    I use the MSR Blacklite 1.5 and 2 L pots and love them. These sizes are great for two folks. I also take the GSI 10" aluminum dutch oven for baking. Not sure if you will have room (weight) for this, but if of interest, let me know and I will tell you more. Below is some info on food. Always happy to talk more about this...

    On remote fly in float trips, weight/volume are always obstacles when planning meals. Also, if you are not carrying a cooler, you have more to factor in. While there are many ways to do things, some work better than others. Each float trip, we revise our food choices, holding on to what worked last time, and improving on food choices we were not so happy. Below is a brief run down of how I do things. Perhaps some of this information will generate some thought to help you better plan food on your next float trip.

    For breakfast, we like bagels with the precooked bacon packs. The Boars Head comes in two seperate pouches which is convenient. Oscar Meyer comes in one bigger pack. We like block cheese and Harvest Food eggs (see their website for all kinds of great products). I use their powdered oil/shortening in my dutch oven. Works just like regular oil but without the weight/mess. We also take hot oatmeal and recently discovered Richmoor cold cereal. Just add water type. It comes in granola with strawberries and granola with raspberries. Both are delicious. I am 6' 6" and weigh 300 lbs. So I will buy 4 packs of the cereal and vacuum seal. 2.5 for me and 1.5 for my wife. If you eat a 2,000 calorie a day diet normally, perhaps one pack would be enough for breakfast. They taste great. I buy mine from This site sells lots of other great food items. Check out their website for all kinds of food related items. Great selection of hard to find items. I get the peanut butter and jelly individual packs there too. Great for putting on flour tortilla wraps or bagels for snacks/lunches. Very convenient. Comes with strawberry or grape jelly. These are larger packs and have plenty to make a sandwich or bagel. They also sell cheese in packs like this. That with some pilot bread would make a great snack/lunch.

    For lunch we take Mountain House Pro Paks. Vacuum sealed and slightly smaller portions than the regular Mtn House meals, they pack small and light yet are plenty for lunch. They come in about 10 different types. Spaghetti, Chili Mac, and Lasagna are my favorites. Go to the Mountain House website and order there. I just placed a big order myself for an upcoming NW Alaska in Sept. They ship fast. One nice thing about having these meals for lunch everyday is that it makes things simple. No meal planning. Save that for the dinners. Keep it simple. Just boil some water riverside and have lunch. This route also saves weight compared to many other food ideas.

    For dinner, we go through more trouble. For the purpose of good morale perhaps. We take Darn Good (brand) dried chilli bags and make Jiffy cornbread in the dutch oven. We also make grayling gumbo. We take Zatarains Gumbo (dry mix) and slivers of about 2 lbs of grayling. Cook slow while the Bisquick garlic biscuits cook in the aluminum GSI 10" dutch oven. It only weighs 4 lbs and can be found on the wilderness dining website above. Also at We cook fish for about 3/7 meals too. Usually dolly vardon (arctic char). We get Idaho instant potatoes (garlic is our favorite). We will make garlic bisuits in the dutch oven to go with. We also make mac and cheese to go with fish. Simple things like that. Some of the easy to make Suddenly Salad brands are nice too. They have a ranch and italian cold pasta salad. Great sides for a fish meal. We have also packed the 10" pita pizza deals. Take the pizza sauce in the bags and some block cheese to grate. Two person may be enough. And of course the pepperoni. In a pinch, we will just have one of the extra Mtn House Pro Paks. Maybe too tired to cook or got into camp late. Bad weather and such. I always carry 2-3 extra Mtn House Pro Paks. One tip, tape a disposable plastic spoon to the lasagna packs. The cheese in them is nearly impossible to get off your standard Lexan spoon. We burn the disposable spoon with the bag the meal was in. Dishes done.

    Save the clean lexan spoon for stirring the 100 proof peppermint schnapps into the hot chocolate. Also, Captain Morgans rum and hot apple cider is a good camp fire drink. For other times of the day, we take Crystal Light sticks and perhaps one gatorade packet per person/per day.

    For deserts, we take the Backpackers Pantry (brand) cheese cake and cream pie (same things). I love lemon, but chocolate mouse, strawberry, banana, and dark chocolate are great. Just add and stir some cold water into the bag, then sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs on top (included in the pack) and then let it sit and think for about 10 minutes. This desert must be tried. Amazing stuff.

    For snacks, the normal fare. Dried fruit and beef jerky vacuum seals to very small packs. Leave out the mango and apricots as it makes everything sticky. We love Cliff bars as they can get squished and are not effected by heat. Comes in about 20 flavors. And of course some home made gorp with the larger size M&M's.

    For coffee, only Peet's arabian mocha java or major dickisons blend will do. Order online from Peet's and specify that you want press pot grind. You do this when finalizing the order. Get a french press to take on the trip. I have a stainless model that I got from Campmor. I think they quit carrying that model, but REI and others carry it. GSI also makes some lexan french presses. They work fine, I just preferred the stainless model. Point is, this makes great coffee and it is the perfect way to start a day on a float trip. We get small 16,8,4 ounce nalgene bottles (campmor) and put the coffe, powdered creamer, and sweetener in them. Good stuff man.

    That just about does it for now! There are so many more things to consdier, but this covers a lot of ground I think. If you see anything obvious that I have just overlooked, please point it out. Again thanks for the assistance on this. Hope you and your family are doing well today and look forward to hearing back from you.

    One thing, take a journal and make daily entries. GPS spots of good camp or hunting areas. I use this for fishing holes Make notes on gear, what worked, what didn't. Make notes on toilet paper usage, fuel effeciency in the stove, food you liked or didn't, etc.. What the weather was like. Pilot, flight, drop off and pick up gps coordinates. Etc... Just for future reference and perhaps for sharing info with others on occasion. I take two Garmin etrex legend C GPS units. I also take topo maps marked with UTM coordinates. You need to keep track of progress down river and also be sure you are at the right pick up spot which is usually just a gravel bar. Being able to be at the RIGHT gravel bar is important of course. Some rivers, this can be a challenge. Not sure about the Sheenjek, but something to think about for sure. Be sure you practice and can use the GPS units very well before your trip. Also, Pentax makes a high quality waterproof camera, current model is the W60 and it works great. Perfect camera for a float trip. We have two. B&H Photo/Vidoe is a great website to shop for camera equipment. I can bore you on photography, so if any interest, let me know. I have a Canon DSLR system, but these waterproof point and shoots are great for float trips when space/weight is an issue.

    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  4. #4
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Found this from "cusackla" on Outdoorsdirectory.

    Care Of Game In The Field

    I got a couple of PM's about the care of meat in the field. So! I took the liberty of copying what Indian Valley has on their website. It's a great document.
    Here are my comments about Kotzebue and Float trip meat care, along with Indian Valley's info:

    The best answer is to go as late as possible. Let the weather help you with the meat. If you go to Indian Valley Meats website or stop in at Alaska Sausage, they both have a pamphlet on proper field care for meat. (Indian Valleys Link below)

    What I do:
    Clean the animal as soon as possible and get the meat cool quickly. If it is fairly warm, I will put it in garbage and in the river for a while to cool it quickly.
    Than hang it and let it air dry. Meat develops a hard outer crust called a skein which protects the meat and allows it to age. Contrary to popular belief, this is why F&G requires you to keep the meat on the bone. The less surface area the less opportunity for spoilage,’
    Hang the meat or like with some places out of Kotz, cut some willows and make a stack to place the meat on. Use a gravel bar that gets good wind currents, build the rack or stack and pile the meat on the stack so that the wind can dry it and develop a skein. Contrary to popular belief sometimes a stack of willows on the end of a gravel bar works better than a pole across two trees, because in the trees, you don’t get the circulation.
    Once cooled, keep the meat dry!
    Use good cotton game bags, heavy duty not the cheap cheese cloth bags.
    In the field, you can setup and control your meat, In Kotz, it ends up stacked on a pallet and if the weather is hot and it is a weekend, your meat could end up on that pallet for several days before flying out of kotz. So plan your pick-up to be on a week day. If you are done early and it’s a weekend, stay in the field till Monday if you have too! Of course if it is dropping below freezing every night, than Mother Nature is on your side and you can’t hardly go wrong, no matter what you do.
    My trips are usually 15 days; any 7 day trip following the above tips will be just fine for you.

    CARE OF GAME IN THE FIELD By Doug Drum - Indian Valley Meats

    In order to make the best products from your game we need to start with game that has been well taken care of. There are many theories on the best way to take care of game in the field. Personally, I use a proven method that is based on the principles used in the meat processing industry. The aim of this method is to make life harder for bacteria and flies by creating a cool, high-acid environment to slow their growth, limiting their food sources by bleaching out blood, making a protective glaze and by controlling flies.

    Never use plastic or woven plastic bags because they tend to hold in the heat and don’t allow for proper air circulation. Always use cheesecloth or a cheesecloth-like material which is strong to carry the meat while it allows for maximum air movement yet still has a tight enough weave to keep flies out. You can find the bags at most sporting goods stores.
    TREATING THE BAG: I developed a food-grade citric acid game bag cure that keeps flies off and helps to fight bacteria growth. It’s really helpful in Alaska on long hunts where flies and bacteria are a real threat to meat quality. Ask your local hunting store about it or you can call out to our shop. The cure is a dry concentrate that you mix into one gallon of water. Soak the game bags in the solution for 20 minutes to one hour. Then let them air dry completely (not in the dryer). Finally seal them in a zip lock bag.
    RESULTS: Flies may light on the bag but the citric acid burns them and they will not hang around. Also the citric acid helps to reduce bacteria growth. Bacteria grows rapidly at a pH level of 7.0, the natural level of meat. The pH level contained in the cure is around 2.35. The cure will help lower the pH of the meat to around 5.3. The higher the pH the more chance there is of spoiling.
    REASON pH LEVEL WILL BE HIGH: If the animal has been running a long way and is excited, its blood sugar level will drop which causes lactic acid in the muscle tissue to be higher and the meat will be darker in color and have an off flavor and texture to it. This is why a clean kill is important.


    COOL THE MEAT QUICKLY IN WATER: In the field, you want to cool your meat quickly because the sooner the meat is cool, the better the meat will be. You should bleed, gut and skin your animal as soon as you can. Next you need to reduce the temperature of the meat. If you are near a river or lake you can submerge the quarters to bring down the temperature. Do not cool completely in water. Retain enough heat to dry the meat when it comes out of the water. For water cooling, I carry a sheet of visquine and spread it out in a lake of stream. Once the animal is quartered, I lay the meat on the visquine and let it cool for twenty-five minutes to an hour (depending on the mass of the meat).
    WHY WATER COOL YOUR MEAT? A bath in a stream or lake speeds the cooling process and bleaches out excess blood that feed bacteria and attracts flies. Alaska game animals have a very large meat mass. Consequently, if takes a long time for the meat to cool down. The cold water temperature of the lakes and streams in Alaska helps expedite the cooling process.
    WATER COOLING CONCERNS: (1) I’ve been told by several hunters that you should avoid getting meat wet. This is partially true, you don’t want to leave the meat wet. This is why you retain enough heat in the meat to cause drying once you remove it from the water (also see air drying for procedures to remove excess water). (2). I’ve also heard concerns about Giardia in the water getting into the meat. While I can’t guarantee the purity of the water or possible transfer of bacteria to your meat, I can say that I have never heard of anyone getting sick from water cooled meat, and I talk with a lot of hunters. The decision is yours based upon the conditions at your location, cleanliness of water and outside temperature. Tests have also been done in Canada by Bailight which show the strong acid in citric acid should take care of Giardia and will also help kill types of bacteria.


    AFTER WATER COOLING: After you have brought the temperature of the meat down, you’re ready to begin air drying in the breeze. If you are near water, there is normally a gentle breeze at all times.
    Hang the meat in such a way as to take advantage of this air movement. Protect the meat from the warm sun and rain with some sort of shelter. I bring a lightweight tarp for this purpose.
    REMOVE EXCESS MOISTURE: Once the meat is hung under the tarp, run your hands down it to squeeze out and remove any excess moisture.
    APPLY LEMON JUICE MIXTURE OR CITRIC ACID: Lightly coat the meat with a citric acid mixture (see game bags). This will create a high acid protective glaze over the meat while it is drying. If storing for several days in warm weather, reapply citric acid daily to help reduce bacteria growth.
    PLACE IN GAME BAGS: When the meat is dry, it’s ready to place in the game bags and re-hang


    Flies can spread bacteria and lay eggs, so I keep them down by making a flytrap using Golden Marlin (commercial fly bait, available at Alaska Mill and Feed) and a small piece of black plastic (a black plastic garbage bag is fine).
    BUILDING THE FLY TRAP: Eight to ten feet away from your meat lay a couple branches on the ground. Pile scraps of meat on and around the branches. Pour Golden Marlin on and around the scraps of meat. Cut a slit in the center of the garbage bag or black plastic and place the bag loosely over the pile.
    HOW IT WORKS: The sun heats the plastic, which heats the meat. The flies are attracted and crawl through the slit in the plastic to the meat. The Golden Marlin kills the flies.
    WHEN YOU LEAVE THE AREA: Put the black plastic and the scraps of meat with the Golden Marlin on it in a zip lock baggie and carry it out with you.


    WHEN HUNTING IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES; The animal should be skinned as soon as possible and then covered with a tarp or plastic after cooling for 20 minutes to 1 hour. If the surface starts to freeze cover the plastic covered carcass with snow to insulate it so that freezing does not occur until rigor mortis sets in. Rigor mortis is the process where the muscle tissue starts to stiffen up, and this may take up to 12 hours. If the carcass freezes before rigor mortis sets in the pH will not drop down to around 5.3 and your meat will not be tender and have as good a flavor.
    Good Hunting!

    Here is some basic info on dollies (char) from Fred Decicco. He knows more about them than anyone and I have talked to him many times over the last few years while planning float trips in arctic NW Alaska. Great guy, recently retired ADFG bio in NW Alaska...

    Dolly Varden: Beautiful and Misunderstood
    Dolly Varden's Reputation as Varmint Undeserved

    By Fred DeCicco

    A Dolly Varden in striking spawning colors. Dolly Varden have been much maligned as a predator of salmon. Although they do eat salmon eggs, they are more scavenger than predator.

    The Dolly Varden is one of the most beautiful and diverse fish in Alaska. Some spend their entire lives in freshwater lakes or rivers. Others spend part of the year in saltwater, a few months or just a few weeks, but spawn in fresh water. In some populations, only females migrate to sea, growing larger and producing more eggs before returning to their home water and spawning with the small resident males. There are even populations of dwarf Dolly Varden in many parts of Alaska. In spawning colors, the Dolly Varden is perhaps our most striking fish. The name “Dolly Varden” stems from a character in the Charles Dickens novel, “Barnaby Rudge.” Dolly was a young girl with a rosy complexion. In the late 1860s a popular green fabric adorned with small crimson polka dots was marketed under the name Dolly Varden. A 15-year-old girl named Elda McCloud is credited with connecting the name Dolly Varden with the fish. McCloud’s uncle, George Campbell, was the proprietor of the Soda Springs Resort in Northern California. Upon viewing the catch from a successful fishing trip to the upper McCloud River (tributary to the Sacramento River), the girl remarked that bull trout was a poor name for such colorful fish and that they would better be called Dolly Varden. Whether young Elda had recently been making a dress from the spotted fabric, or had recently read “Barnaby Rudge,” remains unknown, but the name caught on and has been with us ever since that eventful day.

    However, the story is one of misidentification. Bull trout and Dolly Varden are two different species. The Dolly Varden found in Alaska, Salvelinus malma, were never present in the McCloud River. The fish likely viewed by Elda McCloud were in fact bull trout, Salvelinus confluentus. Bull trout and Dolly Varden were confused by anglers and biologists until 1978 when Ted Cavender of Ohio State University demonstrated that bull trout was a valid species separate from Dolly Varden. At that time the world record Dolly Varden (32 pounds) from Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho became a record “bull trout”.

    Misidentification has not been limited to the southern extreme of the Dolly Varden’s range. In the north, Dolly Varden and Arctic char have been confused by anglers and biologists. To address the identity problem we must go back to original species descriptions. Carl Linneaus, the famed Swedish naturalist and the founder of the modern classification system for plants and animals, first described Arctic char, Salvelinus alpinus, in 1758 from specimens in an alpine lake in Swedish Lapland. Therefore, any fish that fits the original description is considered an Arctic char. Arctic char occur across the northern regions of the world, and three subspecies are present in North America. The Arctic char is a lake (lacustrine) species, which has anadromous forms present in many areas. Anadromous Arctic char generally spawn and overwinter in lakes, then move to sea in summer to feed. Dolly Varden were first described by Johann Walbaum in 1792 from Kamchatka, Russia. Dolly Varden are a riverine species in northern Alaska, and anadromous Dolly Varden generally spawn and overwinter in flowing water. The common anadromous Dolly Varden in Kamchatka is the same species as the anadromous char found in western Alaska.

    The Dolly Varden is one of the most widely distributed salmonids in Alaska. It occurs throughout the coastal areas of the state from southeast Alaska across the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea into the Beaufort Sea to the Mackenzie River in northern Canada. It also occurs in streams in Interior Alaska and the Brooks Range.

    There are two forms of Dolly Varden in Alaska. The southern form ranges from southeast Alaska throughout the Gulf of Alaska to the south side of the Alaska Peninsula. The northern form ranges from the north side of the Alaska Peninsula northward to the Mackenzie River in Canada. Recently some char from the central Canadian Arctic drainages of the Tree and Coppermine rivers have been identified as Dolly Varden. Arctic char occur there as well and whether the current Arctic char angling record of 32 pounds 9 ounces from the Tree River will be reclassified as Dolly Varden remains to be determined.

    Southern-form Dolly Varden differ from northern-form Dolly Varden in number of vertebrae (62-65 for southern form and 66-70 for northern form) and in number of chromosomes (82 for southern form and 78 for northern form). In addition, southern form Dolly Varden generally overwinter in lakes, but northern-form fish overwinter in rivers. Stream-resident and lake-resident populations are present in both forms but lake-resident northern populations are rare. In addition, northern-form Dolly Varden can attain a much larger size than southern form fish. The current Alaska angling record from the northwestern part of the state is 27 pounds.

    Dolly Varden have been much maligned as a predator of salmon. From 1921 to 1941 there was a bounty on Dolly Varden in Alaska. It was terminated when analysis of the 20,000 tails submitted for payment in 1939 revealed that more than half were from coho salmon, and of the remainder, more were from rainbow trout than were from Dolly Varden.

    Although Dolly Varden do eat salmon eggs and salmon fry, they have not been found to be significant predators in areas where their feeding habits have been studied. They primarily eat drifting salmon eggs that would not have hatched anyway. They are more of a scavenger than a predator. In fact, they perform a beneficial hygienic function, eating dead or fungus-infected eggs that could infect the entire redd (spawning nest).

    In cases where they eat outmigrating fry, Dolly Varden primarily feed on pink salmon. Their ability to capture these is directly related to fry abundance. Thus, more fry are eaten when large numbers are available and the overall effect on the population is less significant. When other fish such as Arctic char, cutthroat trout or young coho salmon are present, Dolly Varden have always been shown to be the least effective predator.

    Despite all the confusion, misidentification and misinformed slaughter, Dolly Varden remain a widely distributed, beautiful, diverse and sought after species that provides high quality sport fishing opportunity throughout Alaska.

    Fred DeCicco is the Northwest Area Management Biologist (retired now) and has worked for
    the Sport Fish Division since 1974. He has specialized in the study of
    northern form Dolly Varden in northwestern Alaska and is a member of the
    International Society of Arctic Char Fanatics
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  5. #5
    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Apr 2006


    That will give you something to read while you wait on the experts to chime in
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  6. #6


    That was a lot to read. Thank you. That brought up a lot af topics I had not thought about. Man, I can not wait to get my butt up there!

  7. #7
    Member danattherock's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006


    Quote Originally Posted by Tic View Post
    That brought up a lot af topics I had not thought about.

    That was my intention.

    Lots of very knowledgeable folks on this forum.

    Read over the old threads in this and the hunting forum.

    Before long, you will have all kinds of bright ideas.

    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    danattherock, Thanks for a great read and a great deal of information. It is great info.


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