Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 33

Thread: Thoughts on hunting Alaska solo?

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    30

    Default Thoughts on hunting Alaska solo?

    Good day.

    I have never been to Alaska. Following a couple years worth of research, my hunting partner and I reserved dates with a reputable transporter for late August 2012. This is to be a week long bowhunt for caribou.

    I'm getting strong indications that my hunting partner is going to back out. I have not discussed with the transporter yet....as I'm not yet certain about him. The only thing I am certain about is the fact I want to make this trip happen.

    Again, I've never been to Alaska....let alone dropped off on the tundra. I have done solo hunts in the Rockies....but can't say I've ever been more than a 1/2 day's hike from the truck. This would be a new experience....but to be honest, I'm kind of pumped up by the idea. Transporter requires a satellite phone....so communication is the same regardless how many are in camp. Risk factor goes up of course.....but I don't have a big issue with that. If I had not spent solo time in the wildnerness before....maybe I would question it more?


    So, I figure my first hurdle will be the transporter. In general, are transporters willing to drop hunters off solo?


    Would also like to hear from any of you that have done remote Alaska solo. Am I crazy for considering this?.....or is this the potential adventure I'm envisioning?

    Appreciate any and all feedback. Don't pull any punches.

    Thanks,
    Paul

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Veneta, OR
    Posts
    1,156

    Default

    I expect you will find that "solo" will cost you a bit more to get hauled/flown in - You didn't state your age which is one of the bigger variables - Sat phone is a "bit" different so practice with one and buy / subscribe to a "SPOT" as it will give you added solice and also the "ones" back home wondering how you are (and it could save your butt) - I have been to Alaska only 3 times to hunt, none solo trips and even with that I found that being by yourself in that unbelievably huge country can make you feel lonely even when you have 1 or 2 buddies less than an hour away (not "necessarily" always a BAD thing) - what and where are BIG considerations as in .... "bears" (and I've heard that ALL of AK is "bear country") on my first trip, the Mulchatna River area, I was off by myself and killed a nice caribou, when I was packing the first load of meat back to the campsite I stepped off my "trail" into boggy stuff and went over my hip boot top and hadn't hit bottom, with a load on like that I have thought many times after "what if I had kept going down" ?? something to think about ..... I DO LOVE ALASKA THOUGH !!!

  3. #3
    Member kahahawai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Wasilla
    Posts
    2,443

    Default

    I have done alot of solo hunts and its a blast, The key is to practice risk management..... I also live in AK and understand the dangers, and there are many. With all that said, as someone that has never been here, that would be questionable especially with an air transporter dropping you off, most won't do it, and some might. With a solo hunt, it sounds easy, but once that plane drops you off in the middle of no where, reality sets in and you realize its YOU and the elements, and all that you have with you, not too mention the "loneliness" factor, your attitude and spirit changes real quick, for me I like the adrenaline, and In my opinion.... I see more game.
    Like you, I experienced "Solos" by others backing out, during my time stationed outside of Fairbanks, and with the great backyard they had to offer I often got out to some remote areas whenever I could just to check things out. Bottom line....Get as much info. you can on the area, especially if you've never been to AK before....Good luck .

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    30

    Default

    Yeah, I forgot to mention my age / physical shape.

    I turned a half century old a week ago. This trip is actually intended to be a 50th birthday present to myself.

    Physically in pretty good shape. Spent a couple weeks in the Colorado Rockies back in September chasing elk at elevations between 9,500-11,000'.

    Should the transporter agree....I have no clue what that will do to the cost? Had not considered that. Could be a major snag right there.

  5. #5
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Delta Junction AK
    Posts
    4,055

    Default

    I'd suggest you endeavor to find another partner. Hunting here is dangerous enough with a partner and first hand experience.

    I've hunted a fair bit solo- nothing epic, but it doesn't take going far from the pavement to get into real wilderness. While a solo hunt is a rewarding experience, the risks often outweigh the benefits. I've come back from a couple and thought -"Well, that was stupid of me."

    Being as you've never lived here, never hunted here and really have no idea what you're in for I would suggest you try to find another partner to go with you. This board is a good place to do that and many folks have partner'd up and went. Your outfitter might also have another "solo" out there on a list and can link you together as many transporters will not drop solo hunters without substantial confidence in what they're doing and many refuse to drop anyone solo...period.

    Best of luck to you.

  6. #6
    Member AK-HUNT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Valley
    Posts
    1,029

    Default

    Paul,
    I hunt solo quite a bit. Half the time I'd say. Exactly what was said....... Risk mitigation. I don't do alot of things that I'd do with partners there. Simple creek crossings, short cliff bands,etc. I really limit it that way but still take plenty of game. Bears are the least of your worries IMO. That said I live here and spend alot of time out. I would strongly recommend u get another partner. There are hazards unique to Alaska that can really ruin ur day solo.

    If not...........be extra safe in every move u make and go kill a dandy bou solo!

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    yukon river
    Posts
    60

    Default

    Whether or not the outfitter will drop you off is obviously something you will have to ask them. I spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 months a year by myself in the bush. The "Spot" is a great suggestion. I carry one all the time. I guess the best advise I can give is be humble and not cavalier in your activities. I'm not saying to sit in camp, but be realistic about what you can mentally and physically handle by yourself. Being physically fit will greatly increase your chances of success should something go wrong. Not only does it increase your durability but it also gives you confidence which can really help if you get in a jamb. I've also found that it isn't the first problem that gets you, it's the thing that happens while your dealing with the first problem. "Small" issues can manifest into major problems over the course of several days if not taken care of. ie.. your spare socks that got wet and you haven't bothered to dry, that small cut that was nothing but a scratch and is now a major staff infection. Just be thorough, think things through, contemplate and prepare for the what if's, and be flexible. Bulling ahead despite the weather/gear/physical limitations because going "over there" is part of the "plan" can be asking for problems.

    You're NOT crazy at all for considering going alone. Just watch your step, be prepared, and have a good kit that you know how to use under imperfect conditions. One last thought, being in a hurry has led to more of my mishaps than just about anything else. Remember you're out there to Have fun!! So take the time to do so.

  8. #8

    Default

    It's safer to find a new partner, but plenty of people do hunt solo -- you just have to be prepared and careful.

    For preparation, have a written list of every single thing you need to bring. Practice hunting tasks and self-reliance with that gear on your list (even if just in your local park) and make sure you're not forgetting anything.

    As others have said, don't get too preoccupied with bears at the expense of other safety measures. Be constantly ready to ask yourself questions like, "What if this rock breaks under my feet?" "How deep is this muck I'm about to step in?" "Am I able to get back to camp, or spike camp safely, if a thick fog rolls in and my GPS fails?" Step carefully to avoid hurting your ankles on the tundra. Make staying dry or having the ability to dry out a very high priority. Don't shoot a caribou farther from camp than you can pack it. Stay well-hydrated but filter your water well because giardia ("beaver fever") can be anywhere. If you're thinking about everything that can go wrong, you can prevent any of it from going wrong and you're likely to have a really fun hunt.
    Jason
    http://www.troutnut.com -- Fly fishing photos & insect hatch encyclopedia.
    http://www.daltoncorridormap.com -- Exact 5-mile Haul Road corridor boundary for GPS & Google Earth

  9. #9
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Wrangell
    Posts
    7,600

    Default

    I prefer solo for my type of hunting.For a camp in the middle of no where it would be fine to have a partner share camp even if you just see each other every couple of days.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  10. #10
    Member bushrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Now residing in Fairbanks from the bush
    Posts
    4,363

    Default

    Paul, if it doesn't work out with your buddy, I'm sure you could find another (good) partner, lots of people have hooked up here via the forum for situations like this. Sure helps to split the charter costs too, if you go solo that will be all on you unless your current partner is already in on deposit.

    I agree with all the comments so far, certainly solo hunt can be done, and it can be a great experience, but you have additional risks not having someone else there if anything goes wrong, you'll have heavier loads if/when you do get meat etc.

    Welcome to the forum, you picked thee place to get some answers and meet like-minded hunters.

  11. #11

    Default

    Something to keep in mind if you do end up solo is that if something goes wrong, it most likely won't happen at camp. Make sure that whatever you bring for emergency communications (sat phone/SPOT/etc...) goes with you when you head out of camp. A broken ankle/leg a mile from camp could be deadly if you can't call in for support. A lot of people "bring" all the stuff they need, but don't have it available when it is needed.

  12. #12

    Default

    Inarcher,

    There are pros and cons to this situation. I have hunted solo before and I have spent long periods of time out in the bush alone. Being alone out there can be a rewarding experience and can teach you a lot about yourself and life in general. Another added bonus, is that the chances of you tagging an animal yourself, and not having to share an animal with another person is greater. That being said, I rarely hunt alone these days in remote country. I hunt solo near the road system all the time, but rarely in the bush. I had a bad experience hunting solo out in Illiamna, where terrible weather kept me stranded in my tent for three days with very little food and water left. Let's just say it was a religious experience. Things to consider before going it alone are #1) cost, as others have said, check with the pilot about your initial price quote. How many trips in and out did that include, and what is the weight you are allowed to carry. You won't be splitting the cost of each flight in and out, so it will change the cost #2) communication, since you will have a sat phone be sure you bring it everywhere you go and you have spare batteries. If by some freak chance you blow out a knee, slice your femoral artery while skinning your moose etc. or whatever, you should have a plan to get rescued. Also be sure to carry your GPS so you can relay coordinates if need be. #3) Before you shoot anything, ask yourself if you are physically able to pack all the meat out by yourself from where you shot it. And also, will you be able to cut it up by yourself. Alaska has very strict wanton waste laws. Many places require you to leave the meat on the bone. If you shoot a 1600 lb. moose, and you have to pack out 800 lbs. of hide, antlers, and meat, can you do it yourself. All things you have to consider. If you are confident that you can do all that yourself, then by all means go for it.

    Good luck,
    Bushwhack Jack

  13. #13
    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    572

    Default

    inarcher,

    First off where are you from in Indiana? I'm originally from Wabash.

    Second, I would advise against going solo for your first experience in Alaska. I've hunted Indiana, Colorado, and Alaska. Alaska is something else. The vastness of the tundra is something you have to experience firsthand to truly comprehend. Same goes for just how tough hunting up there can be. Simply walking across the tundra is challenging...some describe it as walking on bowling balls laying on a mattress. Nothing I've seen in the Rockies can compare. Add that to the weather and everything else that can conspire against you and you can get in trouble real quick.

    I'm not saying that to discourage you...just a personal recommendation. If you are knowledgeable, plan thoroughly, and think things through ahead of time, you could do fine. But my advice is to post on here looking for a partner. I've done that twice and had two fantastic hunts. Another option, given that you want to bowhunt for caribou, is to try to link up with someone doing the Dalton Highway hunt. It requires bowhunter certification, but would be a good way to get your feet wet in Alaska.

    Bottom line is, I probably wouldn't feel comfortable going solo my first time in AK, but then again, I might not let that stop me. Alaska is awesome. Your call.

    c04hoosier

    P.S. Is there a Mrs. inarcher? If so, she might have something to say about it!

  14. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default

    inarcher, you've gotten a ton of great advice here on your thread. To try to add to it:

    - leave the cotton tshirts/jeans at home; cotton kills, polyester... not so much. this ain't the rocky mtns.
    - your gear and practices should allow you to stay dry even it it NEVER stops raining the entire time you're here. Its not crazy to consider that if you get wet and stay wet that you could die.

  15. #15
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Kodiak, Ak
    Posts
    3,175

    Default

    I think you're getting really good balanced advise here,

    I'm just over 50yrs myself, hunt solo about 95 percent of the time BUT, I've worked mostly outdoors up here most of my adult life, and AK just seems to have the ability to hurt you or kill you so much higher than any other wilderness down south that I have seen

    For example, I grew up in Colorado, up high in Rockies extensively, and tho, climbing around at 10,000 ft is a good indication of your toughness,...
    The Rockies terrain is nowhere near as difficult on your legs and feet/ankles, (heck even your sanity) as tundra walking

    probably would recommend trying hard for a partner and if that just isnt gonna happen, and you can still swing the expense to go solo,
    (maybe even find a way to without needing a transporter)

    You can have a great hunt by yourself.
    Just go out there with ALL the wisdom and caution of your years in full working order

    If I was asked to transport, a new to AK guy,
    I'd be really leery and checking you out big time,
    looking for over confidence

    A few keys, you may know, already,
    but very remote AK applicable

    Stay Dry, or keep ability to get dry, with you at all times, not just back at your camp,
    Keep your "stay dry" essentials on your back

    the second I think is to go slow, dont overextend, dont let yourself get maxed-out exhausted
    I personally think that is the
    "recipe for disaster, of all time"

    If your fifty years have been like mine, youll get it,....

    be real humble, out there, and you can have a far better hunt alone, than with someone else along

    By the way, Bears are far from your worst enemy,

    THAT,... would be, potentially,...... YOURSELF
    takin' a shortcut
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  16. #16
    Member Rock_skipper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Deltajct
    Posts
    2,499

    Default

    I would like to add one thing in here, NOT all of Alaska is tundra, I did'nt see where you wanted to hunt.

    The Bou if that is what you are after have to travel through all kinds of terrian and they can be found in all parts of alaska.

    Myself I would'nt try to hunt the haul road with its 5 mile barrier by myself but there are other places where I'd feel comfortable doing so. ( I did grow up out there in the alaska woods tho )

    The point is do some research on all the herds and see what fits your best needs as if you were going to hunt solo that way you won't be dissapointed when your partner backs out.

    Hope this helps.

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Indiana
    Posts
    30

    Default

    Thanks guys. I certainly appreciate all of the candid feedback. Didn't want it sugar coated....and you guys haven't let me down.

    To answer some of the questions:

    - I'm from Seymour, Indiana.....which is about an hour south of Indianapolis.

    - Yes, there is a Mrs. Inarcher....of 28 years. She has definitely voiced her concerns, but after 28 years together....she also knows I have an independent spirit when it comes to hunting. I drove from Indiana to Utah in 2010 for a three week solo elk hunt. Longest I've been away on any one hunt in my life. That one was tough for her to accept....and it might be the reason I'm not catching as much flack over this trip?

    - The hunt I have planned is on the north face of the Brooks Mountain Range. We're talking either 23 or 26A, depending on the bou.Timing is scheduled for both sides of Labor Day weekend.

    - I am bowhunter education certified. Actually was an IBEP instructor for several years. Also first aid certified through Red Cross.

    - Spent a decade as a butcher in my younger years. Have always processed my own game. I joke with my hunting partner that is the only reason he puts up with me. LOL!

    - Own a full compliment of synthetic camo from Sitka. Only hunt in cotton when I'm close to home. Have not decided between my Downpour rainsuit versus purchasing some Helly Hansen Impertech? BTW, not made of money...been acquiring the Sitka gear over time.....some on clearance and some used.

    - I may be making a mistake, but I'm not putting alot of stock in the "loneliness factor". We're only talking a week by myself....and I'm pretty confident that won't be an issue. Done it before....but never this remote. That's a totally new variable.....which is why I mentioned dismissing it could be a mistake.

    - Several have said bears are the least of my worries? While I have some experience being up close and personal with black bears, I've never even seen a grizzly. Figure, at minimum, the first one is going to be an intimidating experience. Honestly, to date, the griz have been at the top of my "concerns list"....as well as my wife's.

    First, I need to put some pressure on my hunting partner..and get a straight answer. If he's out....will need to communicate that with the transporter and see where that conversation leads. Like the idea of putting out some feelers for another hunting partner on this forum once I get some answers. My preference is to do this with with a partner....but I'm not ready to give up on it if I don't find a partner. Not getting any younger....but I hear you guys. One mistake up there on my own....and I may not be getting any older either.

  18. #18
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    6,031

    Default Google a "UDAP bear fence"

    Quote Originally Posted by inarcher View Post
    - Several have said bears are the least of my worries? While I have some experience being up close and personal with black bears, I've never even seen a grizzly. Figure, at minimum, the first one is going to be an intimidating experience. Honestly, to date, the griz have been at the top of my "concerns list"....as well as my wife's.
    For a couple a hundred bucks, you'll be relatively safe from them.

  19. #19

    Default

    Inarcher. Some years back I was in the same situation like you now. Caribou hunt in the same general area what you are planning. Yes I went solo and couldn't be happier! I did my very first Alaska hunt solo.
    However without knowing you I cannot responsibly recommend going solo, this decision is 100% yours.
    Above advices are great, read all of them carefully. I only add one thing. Prepare that your pick-up might not happen when planned.
    It can be delayed 1-3 days if the weather is bad. Note also that not all transporter are happy with solo hunters

  20. #20
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska, United States
    Posts
    302

    Default

    I haven't read the whole thread and may be repeating people. I have done some solo hunting and will not do it again. The last time I was going solo for the kenai mountain caribou herd tag which is known for being a pretty arduous hunt. I was about 18 miles from the closest road and about 3 miles off the closest foot trail climbing up a ridgeline when I took a minor fall. Just barely tweaked my ankle enough to hurt but not enough to keep me from moving. As I was sitting there resting I had a bit of an epiphany. I was being an idiot. I have a wife and 4 kids and was being irresponsible. All it would take is a slighly larger screw up and I was a dead man. I turned around and hiked out. Feeling pretty exposed until I got back on a main trail.

    Hunting / hiking / camping solo in Alaska can turn a minor event into a death sentence. If you go, take a satellite phone so you can get rescued (if you are still awake after an event). With a partner even serious stuff can be survived.

    If I didn't have responsibilities I would feel different about this stuff. ****, I used to free solo rock and ice climbs before I got married.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •