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Thread: Looking for Info on Backcountry Living

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    Member Corpsman's Avatar
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    Default Looking for Info on Backcountry Living

    Good Day,

    I recently retired from the military, am divorced, and have no children. I thought I would test the waters with living for 1-3 weeks out in the Alaskan backcountry. This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I have the bushcraft knowledge, but I would like some advice on the legalities of setting up a camp area anywhere in the remote backcountry. I know that won't be able to sustain myself by just "living off the land", so I will be packing in a quantity of dried goods to supplement what I can get. I assume I will need to get hunting licenses for snaring and shooting small game, as well as fishing licenses. What I don't know, and can't find, is where I could set up a camp and make daily fires? Would I just hike out and pick a strategic spot and make camp wherever? Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you in advance for your time.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff

  2. #2

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    Congratulations on your retirement and welcome to the forums!

    Even if you have significant bushcraft knowledge, it would be unwise to jump straight in for your first several attempts. A much wiser (and less likely fatal) course of action would be to go camping for several weeks with a full complement of gear, and simply choose not to use some (or most) of it. Remember that you risk not only your own safety but also that of your rescuers if things go wrong. I've done what you're proposing and it's dangerous even for experienced outdoorsfolk, so at least give yourself the benefit of some local experience and a bit of acclimation first!

    I'm sure others will chime in with details, but the basic answer is that you can legally camp up to 14 days almost anywhere on state public lands, after which you must move at least 2 miles for your next camp. Since lands are a patchwork of ownership in many places, you will need to do some research on land ownership after you identify some possible locations. Even with orienteering skills, most people need a GPS to ensure that they don't trespass on private lands on their way to public lands. There's much more to learn, so it's a great idea to search and read old threads. Enjoy!

  3. #3

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    If you want a shot at bush life start contacting some lodges for work as a caretaker. That way you can experience the bush so as to have an idea of what is like.
    Chuck

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    Member Corpsman's Avatar
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    Thank you for the positive feedback! I know I wasn't clear on this, but I don't plan on going in with just a bic lighter and a knife, even when I do become more acclimated. I do want to experience the freedom and serenity, but I don't want to do it without some creature comforts. I do plan on going with a full packout which will include off the ground shelter, redundant means to make fire, dry foods, maps, compass, firearms, snares, and such. I'm sure I missed some things, but my goal is to experience it and walk back out again. I do like the idea about procuring a caretaking job, but I'm not sure what that would entail? Would a lodge even consider some yank walking in with no experience with that particular area? Thank you again for your time, it is much appreciated!

    Jeff

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsman View Post
    I do like the idea about procuring a caretaking job, but I'm not sure what that would entail? Would a lodge even consider some yank walking in with no experience with that particular area? Thank you again for your time, it is much appreciated!

    Jeff
    Most don't really expect to much maybe some snow shoveling and a warm body to keep the buggermans out. I moved up here from Kansas and spent my first winter caretaking a remote lodge. It is a good way to find out how well you can deal with the bush. It is late in the season now but you can get a copy of Alaska magazine and start calling lodges all you have to loose is some phone time and a few bucks long distance. Though is would be easier to find work if you lived up here.
    Chuck

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by hiline View Post
    Most don't really expect to much maybe some snow shoveling and a warm body to keep the buggermans out. I moved up here from Kansas and spent my first winter caretaking a remote lodge. It is a good way to find out how well you can deal with the bush. It is late in the season now but you can get a copy of Alaska magazine and start calling lodges all you have to loose is some phone time and a few bucks long distance. Though is would be easier to find work if you lived up here.
    The single most important thing they look for is........Not an alcoholic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsman View Post
    Good Day,

    I recently retired from the military, am divorced, and have no children. I thought I would test the waters with living for 1-3 weeks out in the Alaskan backcountry. This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I have the bushcraft knowledge, but I would like some advice on the legalities of setting up a camp area anywhere in the remote backcountry. I know that won't be able to sustain myself by just "living off the land", so I will be packing in a quantity of dried goods to supplement what I can get. I assume I will need to get hunting licenses for snaring and shooting small game, as well as fishing licenses. What I don't know, and can't find, is where I could set up a camp and make daily fires? Would I just hike out and pick a strategic spot and make camp wherever? Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you in advance for your time.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff
    What you are talking about is a camping trip. You didn't say how much, if any, just plain camping experience you have (KOAs don't count). If you know how to set up a tent and can cook over a camp stove and are simply looking for a solitary wilderness experience, have an air taxi drop you off somewhere for a week or two. If you know how to canoe or raft, a float trip is good too.

    Our first time in Alaska was a week long canoe trip down the John River near Bettles. We lived in Virginia at the time and had plenty of canoeing and campling experience but nothing I would consider truely remote. Friday afternoon I'm in a suit and tie in an office building in Crystal City and 24 hours later my wife and I are watching the float plane taking off from a small lake next to the river. Just us, our camping gear, and a canoe the outfitter dropped off ahead of time. That was a feeling! Just us and 100 river miles back to Bettles.

  8. #8
    Member tustumena_lake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corpsman View Post
    Good Day,

    I recently retired from the military, am divorced, and have no children. I thought I would test the waters with living for 1-3 weeks out in the Alaskan backcountry. This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time. I have the bushcraft knowledge, but I would like some advice on the legalities of setting up a camp area anywhere in the remote backcountry. I know that won't be able to sustain myself by just "living off the land", so I will be packing in a quantity of dried goods to supplement what I can get. I assume I will need to get hunting licenses for snaring and shooting small game, as well as fishing licenses. What I don't know, and can't find, is where I could set up a camp and make daily fires? Would I just hike out and pick a strategic spot and make camp wherever? Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you in advance for your time.

    Respectfully,

    Jeff
    I think one to three weeks should be no problem Jeff, pack your bags. Since you're "packing in" I take it you're walking in and there are lotsa places you can walk for just a few miles off the road system (or more) and no one will ever know you are there. I recommend a large public property such as a wildlife refuge or national forest, etc. Would you be doing this in the summer or the winter ? The summer opens up the opportunity to do routes rather than just picking one spot and hunkering down. But winters are ok too, its just a different experience. I have heard of places in the lower 48 that had permanent bans on campfires in certain locations, perhaps that is why you asked the question about campfires ? Where I'm at the only bans happen when the weather conditions are ripe for a real forest fire to get going, and thats a judgement call made at the time, not a permanent decree. Did you have any areas of the state you are particularly interested in checking out ? Alaska is so big with diverse geographical areas with unique logistics if you can point to a general spot an "expert" for that location might speak up.

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    You might enjoy some of the trail systems.

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    Member greythorn3's Avatar
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    camp in anchorage, the native got that down good, u can gain knowledge from them.
    Semper Fi!

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    okay, this is my second attempt at a response, the first one didn't go because "a token expired" It was as long as a Shakespearean soliloquy. This one will be shorter!

    @NRick- I have tons of camping experience, from campgrounds with running water and bathrooms, to hiking out and boiling water and digging a hole. I just have never done it alone and for more than a week except for SERE school in the military.

    @Tustumena Lake- I'm not sure what would be more practical, humping it in or getting dropped by air taxi. That was it exactly as far as the fire was concerned, as well as reading that Alaskan resource management seems to frown on making a fire unless there is a pit or fire area already made. They also say to avoid leaving a site disturbed with matted down foliage and such. That's where the confusion comes in! I don't know the geography of Alaska yet, but I am looking for a forested area, with a lake and fresh water, fish and small game to go for to supplement what I bring. I will throw this out there as well, How many cubic inches of backpack space is needed for a particular length of stay? For instance, how many cubic inches is needed to effectively pack for a one week stay?

    Thank you everyone for your positive advice and feedback, it is much appreciated!

    Jeff

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    Plane versus walking in is just a matter of how far off the beaten path you want to be and how much you want to spend doing it.

    There is not one set of rules that applies to camping out up here. Depends on who's land you're on. National Park, National Forest, State Park, plain State land, native corporation land, is it wildlife refuge or designated wilderness? If you want to shoot small game then National Park is out. There are a ton of books out there on fishing, hunting, hiking, and floating in Alaska. Scroll up in these forums - your're in the cabin section. Start browsing in the fishing, hunting, and hiking sections to get a better feel for the options and required gear.

    As for fires, I've had campfires all over the state. One pet peeve of mine however, is coming to a good camp location and seeing 6 different fire spots. If someone already made a fire ring, why do people have to go make another one 20 feet away? Anyway, just pack all your trash out, don't set the woods on fire, don't kill stuff out of season and you'll be good in most places.

    There isn't a standard answer to the pack size question. My wife needs a pack the size of a small car for a two night trip. My friend can go a week with something the size of a kid's book bag. Both feel they have everything they need. I've gone on multi day hunting trips with just a bag of beef jerky, trail mix, iodine pills, sleeping bag, biv sack, gun, knife, binoculars, and a huge pack to carry out the meat. No stove, no tent, no extra clothes, no carried water - just depends on what your comfort level is.

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    Here's an idea, find someone that has just purchased some "off Grid" property and offer to do a little work around the area for permission to stay and subsist for a couple weeks. Gives you something to do and a real bush survival atmosphere and you don't have to worry about tresspass issues. Just a thought.

    Also rent a spot and sat phone just for emergencies and peace of mind.

    George

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    Hello Everyone,

    I apologize for the delay in responding, I have been experiencing internet and power outages from our premature winter storm here in CT!!! Just thinking about things that I would need to procure to make a go of it and be well prepared, is a daunting task! I do believe in paying for quality, but I do endeavor to get the best buy for that quality. I know that quality comes at a high cost, especially when it comes to cold weather gear. My attitude is to not shortchange myself by getting something cheaper (quality wise), because the better choice is financially out of reach for the moment. This might not be the right forum to ask this, but is there a better fabric to be looking for when choosing cold weather gear? For instance merino wool, regular wool, fleece, polypro, and so forth. All these new newfangled synthetics they have come out with that say they are good to -40F!!! I lived north of Caribou, ME for 3 years, I haven't worn anything that can make -40F comfortable, but I can be wrong. Any insight or advice is appreciated, thank you for your time!

    Jeff

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    The single most important thing they look for is........Not an alcoholic.
    Guess I won't be applying for any of those jobs..

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    Most people layer up here Jeff because the weather fluctuates quite a bit. Right now where I'm at in Southcentral Alaska its about 33F and thats above zero not below but we will see -30F before this winter is over. While its nice to have high dollar cutting edge gear its not really necessary unless you are carrying it on your back long distances. If you decide to do a winter trip for three weeks you might consider pulling a sled behind you on the snow so you feel comfortable with enough stuff. Camping out on someones property as mentioned above is a good idea and you are welcome at my place at the far end of tustumena lake if that turns out to be your path. I don't get up there as much in the winter as I used to. But the critters on the property trust me, and I don't violate that trust.

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