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Thread: anyone float very long stretches of river??

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    Default anyone float very long stretches of river??

    I haven't float hunted yet,but we have a shallow rocky river up here that is seldom used, it flows for approx 120 miles at about 6mph current, then into a bigger deeper river and the take out would be another 80 miles.would that be to far for a 1 week float hunt? Also how well do most raft paddle when loaded with meat,on a big wide deep river I imagine that last 80 miles would take forever.

    thanks

  2. #2

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    Grit, i've done some major long tributaries of even longer rivers, some in a week...some for 2 weeks.

    Some considerations:

    1. Your goals should be considered priority when choosing river to Float Hunt. If you're goals include hunting, a long float takes you away from that focus and puts the objective directly on making miles each day. In this scenario your hunting party must choose to float and hunt along the route by mere chance of spotting and harvesting game.

    2. a float of 200 miles with an average current of 6 mph is hard to find in Alaska...I've floated well over 3000 miles of Alaska's streams in 15 years, and I've yet to avergae 6 mph during september hunting trips. I'd say if you think the average speed is 6mph during average flow stages, expect september to by 25-30% slower than that unless highwater stage is encountered. So, if you average 6 mph for 200 miles you could blow through the distance in 30-40 hours float time, but you're smoking through valuable hunting terrain. Not the best hunting scenario.

    3. Plan your route carefully to align your goals. It sounds like a terribly misurable plan unless you're extremely lucky on game spotting.

    I'd strongly consider your total 10-day hunt plan to stay under 100 miles, with currents averaging about 3-4 mph during normal september periods. Even this demands plenty of floating and a lot less hunting.

    In the big picture, consider a float plan with distances less than 80 miles for the hunting stretch and less than 40 miles of additional floating required to reach a take-out. This generally offers enough floating to satisfy your drift objectives, yet still offering valuable hunting time...efforts will pay greater dividends.

    Most hunting parties that must float over 100 miles in 10 days have an average success rate of 25% on the high end. Groups that choose 60-80 miles of floating requirement in 10 days have a much better success rate (50%-75% success).

    Hope this helps. However, if your goals are to see a particular stretch of river for adventure and new experience, an epic float might be warranted...but 200 miles is a LONG float in only a week.

    Lastly, a lot can and will go opposite of how you think it will on the drift. If you expect a current of 6 mph, you might see speeds of 2-3 mph with wind or low water conditions, which doubles your required float times. if you encounter raft failures, your time is extended even more. If you shoot something and then encounter problems, well, you've got meat care concerns that demand time and attention. In Alaska, things go wrong all the time, it's more the norm than the exception.

    Hope this helps.

    larry

  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grit View Post
    I haven't float hunted yet,but we have a shallow rocky river up here that is seldom used, it flows for approx 120 miles at about 6mph current, then into a bigger deeper river and the take out would be another 80 miles.would that be to far for a 1 week float hunt? Also how well do most raft paddle when loaded with meat,on a big wide deep river I imagine that last 80 miles would take forever.

    thanks
    Grit,

    One of my longest floats was 180 miles; we did it in 14 days, but we used a small outboard to make faster time downstream and we focused our hunting efforts on the best spots rather than hunting the whole river. My first comment would be that I seriously doubt that 120 miles in seven days is even possible if you're hunting. You're talking at least 17 miles a day, which leaves no time for actually hunting. The other problem is the "shallow and rocky" part. You're going to do a lot of dragging, and an outboard is probably not an option. But that's only the upper 40 miles... the lower part could be just a boat ride if you bring the motor.

    Offhand I would say it could be done, but you must be prepared for a lot of hard work in the upper stretch. Have you figured out where your moose will be in there? What has your research shown? If you shoot a moose in the upper stretch, your dragging will be all the more work...

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Premium Member MarineHawk's Avatar
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    At 200 total miles in 7 days, you're talking about approximately 29 miles per day. I think, at most, you're going to average less than 3 mph (for a whole day). If there are obstructions or unnavigable areas in the first 120-mile "shallow rocky" river part (I assume there are, or it would not be "seldom used"), you're going to average much less than that. You probably would be rafting for 12-16 hours or more per day. That doesn't sound very fun to me, and doesn't leave much time for hunting; cooking; sleeping; fishing; peeing; etc ...

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    The biggest problem that I have witnessed with float hunting is that many people put the emphasis on "float", not "hunting". I did that myself until I realized it. For me, if I am on the water for more than 4-5 hours a day, then I am not devoting enough time to hunting. Unless I know that I will be passing long stretches of poor habitat, I usually try to float for a couple hours at most, go ashore and call/look around, then move downstream a bit more and repeat. I leave plenty of time in mornings and evenings to hunt because as we know, it can take a bull a lo-o-ong time to come in. It typically takes me 5-6 days to go 15-30 miles on a river.

  6. #6
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    Grit:

    That's the advantage of a motorized freighter. You zip through unproductive land and spend time in the good stuff. Also you don't pay for air travel. When it gets shallow you can pull up the outboard and drag or pole just like a raft. Some folks seem to be having good luck with surface drives as well.

    Do you still have your Freighter?

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    I sold the freighter and bought a big aluminum boat for fishing... but wow I miss the freighter.I may have another one parked in the yard before spring...

  8. #8
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    Grit,

    While hunting I float to get where I want to be, next. On an 8-day hunt, unless I am floating out with game taken, I don't want to "float" more than a couple hours in a day. I know where the game should be along the stretch of river I hunt, and I focus my "hunting" at those specific places. Yes, I take game on the float but maybe only 10% of the time for the main event, and a little better than that (20% ?) for second species. Typically I can do an 8-day hunt on a stretch of river that takes me only 6 hours to float (to the first decent airstrip take out). I know there is game there and depending on the wind and other factors (rain, other hunters) I can adjust quickly and often quite effectively. This is one of the beauties of using the raft for hunting, and not just going rafting.

    The magic of a long float through wildlerness country encountering game here and there is another fine situation, but not necessarily conducive to maximizing time spent specifically hunting certain location where you expect to encounter game animals. Packing and unpacking your watercraft each morning and night due to a hefty mileage schedule can be more than some bargained for. With clients I keep it 2 to 3 days in a camp and then move downstream unless we have taken our animal(s). When we have taken our game it's usually a bonzai downstream after rough skinning and salting capes, hides and stabilizing meat.

    Floating more than 2 or 3 days downstream with lots of meat on the raft would not be my preferred choice so I make sure that doesn't happen. Just my personal preference.

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