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Thread: What have been your most memorable Alaska wildlife experiences

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    Moderator David Johnson's Avatar
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    Default What have been your most memorable Alaska wildlife experiences

    I have several "trophy" memories of wildlife in Alaska.

    The first was at Cape Mohican on Nunivak Island. It was about this time of year. Several of us were out on the cape, having ridden there on snowmachines from Mekoryuk. The physical environment was itself pretty memorable: an upthrust narrow neck of land with cliffs falling sharply to the Bering Sea and the icepack of late winter all around. But off to the east were the muskox. We could see groups of the them scattered around the landscape stretching off into the haze. I think it was the combination of the exotic landscape and the unusual animals that made it so memorable.

    The second was in Seymour Canal in the waters around Admiralty Island in SE Alaska. Three of us where in a Boston Whaler. We were rocking along quickly until we noticed something strange in the water. As we slowed the boat, we saw that we were surrounded by jellyfish. Not just a few, but many. They were all small creatures, perhaps an inch across, and they were all around us. As we looked down into the water column, we could see them as far as visibility permitted. As we slowly moved across the water, we could see them in every direction. In every cubic foot of water there must have been five of them. This amazing display went on for several miles. There must have been billions of them.

    A third was on the waters of Icy Strait northeast of Hoonah, Alaska. We were aboard a 100 foot boat headed west. It was in May, and bird migration was in full swing. We slowed the boat as we came into a huge raft of birds -- Red Phalaropes they turned out to be. It was quite a sight on the unusually calm waters of the strait, with snowy mountains in the distance and vast numbers of birds stretching across what may have been more than a square mile.

    There are more lurking in the crannies of memory, but now tell what you have seen...

    David
    Last edited by David Johnson; 03-23-2007 at 12:34. Reason: grammar
    David M Johnson
    Anchorage, Alaska
    http://awildolivebranch.blogspot.com

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    One that stands out was back in the mid-eighties with my uncle Bill who took us out of Seward to Thumb Cove on his 65' "Lodestar" that a few here might remember.

    Humpies so thick on either bank and in the creek that you couldn't avoid them. The birds just pecked the eyes out of the carcasses, too many to bother with the meat I suppose.

    That was the last time I spent with him before he succomed to cancer.

  3. #3
    Mark
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    Four of my wolf encounters were at ranges of less than 50 ft. Of those four, two were particularly memorable, because I actually spoke to the creatures in a soft voice and employed the tactics used by photographers to approach game closely; not staring at the animal, approaching slowly and not in a direct path, etc.

    Both times I did that the wolf ended up sitting down like a dog and watching me with curious interest, and we ended up making "eye contact". Both times I was unarmed, vulnerable, showed no fear or hostility, and my "body language" expressed more curiosity than anything else. The expression was apparently understood.

    I easily see how it was wolves who were domesticated so many millenia ago to become "man's best friend".

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    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Deer hunting

    Deer hunting has provided the most entetainment. Chickades landing on my knee and trying to scare a bug out of my wool pants. A Sharptail hawk landing on a limb three feet away, watching a squrriel and then attacking it only to miss. A red squrriel running up my bow as I sat on the ground, only to jump off. Deer within 3 feet.......

    Vietnam - June 70 - Feb. 72
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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    I always have to flush em before they get that close. A deer at three feet is a lot of hoof a little close for comfort! Especially when heavily antlered. Foxes though are fun at three feet. Deer at ten or fifteen for me then I flush them by standing up or otherwise moving (at least then I have time to bend over before they skewer me). That said I have had an apple stolen out of my pocket by a whitetail, not much I could do at that point but blush.

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    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by RainGull View Post
    I always have to flush em before they get that close. A deer at three feet is a lot of hoof a little close for comfort! Especially when heavily antlered.
    You shoot the bucks. They're dangerous. The does are little cutie-pies. If you do it right, you can darned near hug them.........

    Foxes though are fun at three feet....
    No doubt. Foxes are pretty easy to get close to. Neat critters!

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    Member RainGull's Avatar
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    Yeah, my experience with big bucks up real close comes from closed areas and early season scouting for mule deer. I used to call em into my lap in open sage. I always got uneasy once they took over the skyline in front of me.

    Now my kids follow me everywhere and needless to say, I don't see blacktails near as close as I used to see mulies. They grow though so we're working on fixin them.

    Foxes can be real easy or real hard (if they have experience). But always fun.

  8. #8

    Default Sow Grizz and cubs

    I accidentally got between a Sow Grizz and her two cubs (size of a nice black bears) while Moose hunting, needless to say there was a few tense minutes, however all survived to tell the story.

  9. #9
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by RainGull View Post
    Yeah, my experience with big bucks up real close comes from closed areas and early season scouting for mule deer. I used to call em into my lap in open sage. I always got uneasy once they took over the skyline in front of me......
    I've never gotten close to any bucks. Bull caribou, neither. I shoot 'em as soon as possible.:-)

    I've been fairly close to bull moose I've called in. About 25 yards is the closest I let them come before letting them know who I am. So far I've been lucky: the one's I couldn't shoot all ran away..........

    I've had both single and small bands of cow & calf caribou real close; maybe 15'. We intercepted them hoping a small bull was in the group. They almost walked over us. When they figured out what we were it was pretty comical. Lots of snorting, jumping, and what-not.

    Once there was a cow caribou I "called in" with a white rag from hundreds of yards away, like we were surrendering. Mrs. Mark thought that was pretty neat!

    Bears at bait stands are fun. I've never had a bear climb the tree I'm sitting in yet...........

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    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    I was ice fishing last winter and the fishing was really slow so I got bored, don't get me wrong this was a hike in lake with a beautiful view of the mountains back light by a very slight aurora one of those classic Alaska evenings. OK I got bored so I started messing with my equipment and walking around when my cell phone rang! It was a college buddy of mine I hadn't herd from in years named Mike. We had a long conversation ya know catching up and were just about to say farewell when I herd a wolf howl! "Man could ya hear that" I said to Mike."No whats happening" "there's a wolf pack working the back side of the lake" "No kidding hold the phone out maybe I'll be able to hear them" Mike said in a excited voice. "Still cant hear them" "OK I'll put out the lantern and stay quiet maybe they will move closer" so having said that I put out the lantern and had a seat in the darkness and waited. About half an hour latter they had move much closer and I was shure Mike could hear me so I picked up the phone and said " Ya hear em" "ya Rick shut up I'm listening to the wolves" he whispered back. This went on for over an hour. sitting there listening to the wolves under the stars with my buddy Mike on the cell. That was the only time I've ever enjoyed my cell phone and Mike and I are good friends again having shared that experiance with each other he calls frequantly now and his first question is always " where are ya!"
    Last edited by Webmaster; 03-26-2007 at 18:31. Reason: Spell checked

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    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    Default lights

    Thought ya might enjoy this after my story
    Attached Images Attached Images

  12. #12

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    Shaktoolik swimming in sound thought that I was bumping into salmon grabbed one figured it would be dinner.
    Stood up looked down at this grey thing in my arms about 3 feet long. Then the water around me burst with Beluga whales surfacing all around I had a baby in my arms.
    Brought back a whale skull it is in the UAA collection.

    Have a video of my daughter and myself kissing a cow moose on the nose.

    Hawk landing on the front of my Mokai.
    Loon stealing trout off my stringer, they fly so beautifully under the water

  13. #13

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    One that comes to memory is when I was atv'ing at Eureka. At the head waters of the Lil Nel we decided to stop, start a fire, and cook some lunch. About 50 feet away a wolf walks out of the brush and stares at us for a couple of minutes then trots his way up the river bed. Very cool! Before that we spotted a sow with two cubs about 300 yards away giving us the evil eye.

  14. #14
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    My most memorable wildlife moment was when I was caribou hunting down in the monihan flats off the denali highway.I was glassing an area quite aways off and noticed a two legged creature hoofing it across the tussocks and thru the brush.Never knew a person could walk so fast thru the tussocks,,,so Im pretty sure it was Bigfoot....I think...LOL...

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    Smile Memorable

    I would have to say some of my moose hunting trips have been the most memorable.

    One that stands out was two years ago, went out one the machines with a buddy and his Dad. It was getting late and was dark, the moon was out, bright as day. We put on the whites and sat down. His dad was calling when a cow materialized slowly out of the brush. It was one of the best hunts I've ever had.

    One other memorable experience was last year's hunt up North Caribou. I walked out from Galbreth on a little hike before dinner and was glassing a valley, scoping some nice bulls. After They went out of view I turned to go and started to walk back, and a young bull, to small to shoot, appeared out the tundra, not 50 yards away. He was a curious little guy, I just acted normal, not trying to sneak around or anything and he and I interacted for about 30 minutes till I could no longer hold his attention.
    "When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it."
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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Taking a Nap

    One warm September afternoon on the upper Mulchatna up near the Bonanza hills. We stopped for a while to eat lunch. The Blue Berries were so thick on that hill that we forgot the skinny meat sandwiches and just crawled around and ate blue berries. I was overcome with that warm fall sunshine and lay down on that open hill side.
    I was asleep, but I could feel someone from my party attempting to tie my shoelaces together on my hiking boots. I paid it no mind but could not figure out what was taking that guy so long?, and why wasn't he more careful as to keep me from noticing someone messing with my boots?....
    I opened one eye..... to see not a buddy playing a trick , but two little Ermine weasels eating my leather laces right off my boots...
    I shouted at them, and they barely paid me any mind..
    I wiggled my feet and they were upset that I had moved the laces from easy eating...
    anyway.. they had no fear, as I am sure they had never encountered humans of any consequence.
    From that hill, we watched hundreds of Caribou eating and moving in the distant hills. (This is when the Mulchatna herd was several hundred thousand strong). As we were watching a herd moving in single file along a ridge about a mile away, we were surprised to see a Brown bear suddenly emerge from nearby alders at incredible speed to where the Caribou were walking and knock down and drag a Caribou to his alder lair in less than 10 seconds. The caribou that were in this line were only excited for a minute before they resumed the eat and walk attitude they are famous for they acted like nothing even happened. Really interesting and quite an afternoon. I did not see it, but my wife had an Osprey try to steal a small 12 inch Rainbow from her line. The Osprey came in fast as the fish danced and jumped on the water trying to toss the little mepps spinner. All this happened in one little stop on a lazy afternoon on a remote Alaskan river. What a place we live in..
    Max
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  17. #17
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskacanoe View Post
    ....I was asleep, but I could feel someone from my party attempting to tie my shoelaces together on my hiking boots. I paid it no mind but could not figure out what was taking that guy so long?, and why wasn't he more careful as to keep me from noticing someone messing with my boots?....
    I opened one eye..... to see not a buddy playing a trick , but two little Ermine weasels eating my leather laces right off my boots...
    I shouted at them, and they barely paid me any mind..
    I wiggled my feet and they were upset that I had moved the laces from easy eating...
    anyway.. they had no fear, as I am sure they had never encountered humans of any consequence....
    I've had "close encounters" with ermines before. You're right; they often exhibit no fear.

    I shared a very small and broken down old cabin one rainy night with an ermine. While I lay in my sleeping bag he was rummaging about in a pile of junk just a couple feet away from my head. I sat up and shined the flashlight on him and he simply stood there and stared back. I told him that he could rummage all he wished, but if he tried to get into the sleeping bag with me, we were going to have trouble. I then curled up and went to sleep, with the sound of him hunting fading into zzzzzzz-land..............

  18. #18
    Moderator David Johnson's Avatar
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    Default If ermine were bigger...

    .....it wouldn't be safe in the woods.

    I have had ermine encounters as well. My wife and I stood beside a pile of wood one day, while an ermine sized us up from the other end.

    It occurred to me as we were looking at him that 1) he was not afraid of us in the slightest, and 2) his inspection of us was a complex series of calculations attempting to determine whether he could take us both down, or just one of us.

    David
    David M Johnson
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    http://awildolivebranch.blogspot.com

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    Default martin

    Great stories. I was checking out a old broken down cabin known to the locals as "the Witch Doctor's Cabin" on a tiny island/rock on the west side of POW. I was taking pictures of two pre-contact totem poles when I looked down at my feet and was surprised to see a beautiful martin just sitting there. It didn't notice me until I took it's picture and then it ran into the brush. When I got the pictures back, the martin wasn't in the print. Local folklore includes lots of weird stories about this place, so now I have my own strange story about the Witch Doctor's Cabin.

  20. #20
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Johnson View Post
    If ermine were bigger.....it wouldn't be safe in the woods.....
    Thankfully wolverines appear to be more reserved.

    I saw an ermine in the yard the other day. Even though we have a pair of ducks wandering about, I was glad to see him, because there are lots of mice/shrews/voles around this winter.

    And the ducks are still here.............

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