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    Default Howdy. New to Forum

    Howdy all,

    My Name is Bob Hastings. I've been planning to relocate to Alaska for the last 25 years and I'm planning to do so within the next year or two. I'm retired military so I earn a monthly income. I'm almost debt free (which explains the next year or two needed to relocate) and right now I'm looking to pay cash for a few good acres in the Last Frontier. I think I've found the perfect spot about 20 air miles outside of Willow on the Yentna River.

    As i said above, I've been planning this for 25 years. I want a place remote enough where I can not see people if I want, but be able to go to a town, either by boat or snow machine, within a day, or walk out within two days, if necessary. I've also weaned myself mostly off of power tools for most chores (My most recent purchase was a one man crosscut saw that I've been using to cut wood) to cut down on the need for gasoline).

    I've went through lots of books and literature on the subject of Alaska bush living, from house building to everyday living. The plan is to build a three room home (Not three bedroom; three ROOM; living area, bedroom and a Bathroom consisting of a wood fired hot tub and a composting toilet....getting my wife to trudge through snow at 1 am will be a feat in itself).

    Now, I come to you good people for advice.

    throw anything at me that you think I need to know, from food preservation to gardening, hunting, fishing, trapping...etc, etc.


    thanks in advance


    Bob

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum Bob.
    The search feature here is a good start. Lots of good info already posted on here already and a quick search should bring you hours of reading.
    After that you can then get more specific with your questions.
    Alaska is a beautiful place for those who can handle it. I wouldn't live anywhere else.
    Also tell us a little bit more about yourself,where you live now, and your experiences in the art of self reliance. This will help people figure out what you need to learn more about.
    Good luck with your endeavor.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Quote Originally Posted by kasilofchrisn View Post
    Welcome to the forum Bob.
    The search feature here is a good start. Lots of good info already posted on here already and a quick search should bring you hours of reading.
    After that you can then get more specific with your questions.
    Alaska is a beautiful place for those who can handle it. I wouldn't live anywhere else.
    Also tell us a little bit more about yourself,where you live now, and your experiences in the art of self reliance. This will help people figure out what you need to learn more about.
    Good luck with your endeavor.
    Thanks for the welcome!

    I'm living in West Texas currently. I do alot of hunting in this area, mostly hog and deer. I've done some curing of meat, mostly jerky for the deer and brining and smoking the hogs (making mostly hams, bacon, buckboard bacon and Canadian bacon from them). Slot of the veggies I grow are eaten fresh, bit I also have a solar dryer that I use to dry them and store them

    I also raise chickens, and was thinking about raising goats also.

    Alot of people tell me that if you can be self reliant here in West Texas you can do it anywhere. this area is mostly semi-arid desert. the ground id tough to dig in and tough to grow in.

    Hope this helps


    Bob

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    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    The Yentna is full of people. Mostly weekenders. Save up lots of money for the Mat-Su recreational property taxes. Make sure you ask them what you are getting for services out of them for all that money.

    You need to walk the lot before you put money down. You may be buying a swamp with little usable dry ground. Many lots out there are only half usable and some have about 1000 square feet of dry ground in the summer. So walk the lot before you put any money towards it.

    Not much for moose, so get use to making bear bacon, lots of bear bacon. Since there is not much for the bears to eat - few moose - they will enjoy your goats and chickens. The moose population is increasing thanks to the predator control hunting, but the calves are still stuggling to make it through spring.

    You are not walking out in the summer.

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    Premium Member kasilofchrisn's Avatar
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    I recommend a vacation to AK just to see any property you might be buying and get a feel for things up here as well.
    Check the prices on goods at the store and you may be in for some sticker shock.
    Ak and Texas are worlds apart. -40* and 4' of snow probably aren't too common in west Texas. Those things are also hard to prepare for. Things like dealing with a week of -40* weather are things you just have to experience to fully know and understand them.
    I grew up in MN so cold and snow were things I actually enjoyed before moving here.
    I much prefer the road system with occasional jaunts to the bush world for winter camping trips hunting etc.
    Best of luck to you.
    "The closer I get to nature the farther I am from idiots"

    "Fishing and Hunting are only an addiction if you're trying to quit"

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    The Yentna is full of people. Mostly weekenders. Save up lots of money for the Mat-Su recreational property taxes. Make sure you ask them what you are getting for services out of them for all that money.
    I'll definitely do that

    You need to walk the lot before you put money down. You may be buying a swamp with little usable dry ground. Many lots out there are only half usable and some have about 1000 square feet of dry ground in the summer. So walk the lot before you put any money towards it.
    I indeed plan on doing that also. Looking at aerial shots of the property it looks high and dry. There are even two cabins across the river from the proposed parcel.

    Not much for moose, so get use to making bear bacon, lots of bear bacon. Since there is not much for the bears to eat - few moose - they will enjoy your goats and chickens. The moose population is increasing thanks to the predator control hunting, but the calves are still struggling to make it through spring.
    You're actually the first one to tell me that. 10 other people I've talked to said the moose population was pretty healthy, but so was the bear population

    You are not walking out in the summer.
    That's what boats are made for

    You know, i was looking awhile back at a really nice parcel on the Drift River. 5 acres with a small lake on it. I called Fish and Game and they put me in contact with a guy who was in charge of that area. I called him and got a hold of him while he was out in the area. I told him about the parcel I was looking at buying and asked what kind of game was there. He said "there's no game there. Look I gotta go" and hung up on me.

    Two days later, I found that he bought the property I was looking at.

    I'll do some more research to find out a little more on recreational taxes


    Bob

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    As AkRay said walk the ground before putting any money into it. Do this in the summer not winter. There is as much swamp ground on the high banks as there is on the low areas. There will be a time of several months in the spring and in the fall that you will not be able to travel on the river so unless you have a air strip that can be used during these times you will be land locked. Another thing is you will want to have a root cellar. That is a must if you plan to be out there full time. Good Luck

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Ray View Post
    The Yentna is full of people. Mostly weekenders. Save up lots of money for the Mat-Su recreational property taxes. Make sure you ask them what you are getting for services out of them for all that money.

    You need to walk the lot before you put money down. You may be buying a swamp with little usable dry ground. Many lots out there are only half usable and some have about 1000 square feet of dry ground in the summer. So walk the lot before you put any money towards it.

    Not much for moose, so get use to making bear bacon, lots of bear bacon. Since there is not much for the bears to eat - few moose - they will enjoy your goats and chickens. The moose population is increasing thanks to the predator control hunting, but the calves are still stuggling to make it through spring.

    You are not walking out in the summer.
    Pretty much what AK Ray says... My cabin sets 1.29 miles off of the River and in the Summer, for as deaf as I am, I can hear the constant Buz of Boat traffic coming from the River. In the Winter I can hear the constant growl of snow machine traffic. On the Plus side, if you do find some good "dry" ground, you can grow a nice garden. (check out the Alaska Garden forum) Provided you put up a moose proof fence. Lots of folks "out that way" raise chickens. But You'll need a solar powered electric fence to keep the bears out. I'm curious if your looking at some State land for sale (OTC) Over the counter, or are you looking at some property that another party is trying to sell. Either way, don't put any money down on it until you've looked at it to make sure your not buying a muskeg swamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    Pretty much what AK Ray says... My cabin sets 1.29 miles off of the River and in the Summer, for as deaf as I am, I can hear the constant Buz of Boat traffic coming from the River. In the Winter I can hear the constant growl of snow machine traffic. On the Plus side, if you do find some good "dry" ground, you can grow a nice garden. (check out the Alaska Garden forum) Provided you put up a moose proof fence. Lots of folks "out that way" raise chickens. But You'll need a solar powered electric fence to keep the bears out. I'm curious if your looking at some State land for sale (OTC) Over the counter, or are you looking at some property that another party is trying to sell. Either way, don't put any money down on it until you've looked at it to make sure your not buying a muskeg swamp.
    Howdy Old John,

    I'm actually looking at property offered by a realtor up there. I do indeed plan on going to the property and walking every square inch of it before I buy.

    AK Ray,

    I just got off the phone with the Mat-Su Borough. I threw a couple of quotes at them and it seems that taxes are around 10% of the assessed value.

    I guess if i were to put up a replica of the Playboy Mansion I might have a problem, but as long as I keep it somewhat simple I should be ok.

    On the subject of game; I talked with the wildlife biologist for that are and he told me that moose have made a great comeback in the area. He DID say there are a plethora of bears, meaning I should watch my ***** spring through fall. He also told me the farther you get up the river the more caribou you see. I asked him hypothetically that if my wife and I both were hunting would we stand a better than average chance of getting enough meat for winter. He seemed to think so.

    We shall see how it pans out. In the mean time please keep giving me as much info as possible


    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Bend View Post
    As AkRay said walk the ground before putting any money into it. Do this in the summer not winter. There is as much swamp ground on the high banks as there is on the low areas. There will be a time of several months in the spring and in the fall that you will not be able to travel on the river so unless you have a air strip that can be used during these times you will be land locked. Another thing is you will want to have a root cellar. That is a must if you plan to be out there full time. Good Luck
    Big Bend

    I believe theres an air strip right across the river on Yentna Bend


    Bob

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    So if that area is such a pain to live in, where do you good folks recommend?

    Bob

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    I just got off the phone with the Mat-Su Borough. I threw a couple of quotes at them and it seems that taxes are around 10% of the assessed value.
    [/QUOTE]

    Correction. Its averages about 1% of the assessed value

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hastings View Post
    So if that area is such a pain to live in, where do you good folks recommend?

    Bob
    It's not that it's more of a pain to live in than other areas, it's that there are real issues to consider before making the plunge. The truth is that there are very few places in Alaska where a person can be truly self-reliant for food and heat (firewood). The F&G Bio that you talked to is correct that the moose population is rebounding in that area, but it is far from robust. My brother and his friend built two cabins in that area about six or seven years ago. In that time they and their guests have taken 30+ bears (my estimate) and zero moose. Granted, they don't live there full-time and they don't hunt the area really hard for moose, but given the amount of time they do spend in the area they would have taken an incidental moose or two if the population were robust. It's getting better, but it's not something that you can count on for a certain freezer-filler. If that was your primary source of protein, you'd better get two moose between you and your wife, and that's far from a certain thing. As for caribou, you've got to go a loooooong ways upriver to get into suitable habitat. People may hunt the Yentna for caribou by boat, but if they do, they're awfully tight-lipped about it, as I've never heard of someone doing so. Caribou hunting in that unit is primarily an airplane-based pursuit, if I'm correct.

    It's a great place to live, but again, there are some legitimate issues that you'll need to consider. People aren't trying to steer you wrong to keep you out of their honey-hole. Quite the opposite, really - it seems like you've received some solid advice here. If you're looking for a place that you can be self-sufficient and pretty much guarantee that you'll have game in the freezer year-round, you'll be hard pressed to find it in Alaska. Maybe somewhere in the Northwest where the caribou numbers and limits are generous, or possibly in the Southwest or Southeast if you really, really like fish...but in Southcentral or the Interior (anywhere, really) I'd be sure that you've got other means of feeding your family. By all means, hunt as hard as you can and grow a robust garden, but have a backup plan as well.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Default Howdy. New to Forum

    If it were me I would look at the tok/copper center/Kenny lake area and on the road system. A pickup truck is a ton easier/cheaper to take for supplies than a boat or charter plane. They also have a healthy salmon return unlike the yentna/susitna drainage but it is colder during the winter. Talkeetna area may offer a shorter run via boat or sled back to civilization but still a busy recreational area with taxes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    It's not that it's more of a pain to live in than other areas, it's that there are real issues to consider before making the plunge. The truth is that there are very few places in Alaska where a person can be truly self-reliant for food and heat (firewood). The F&G Bio that you talked to is correct that the moose population is rebounding in that area, but it is far from robust. My brother and his friend built two cabins in that area about six or seven years ago. In that time they and their guests have taken 30+ bears (my estimate) and zero moose. Granted, they don't live there full-time and they don't hunt the area really hard for moose, but given the amount of time they do spend in the area they would have taken an incidental moose or two if the population were robust. It's getting better, but it's not something that you can count on for a certain freezer-filler. If that was your primary source of protein, you'd better get two moose between you and your wife, and that's far from a certain thing. As for caribou, you've got to go a loooooong ways upriver to get into suitable habitat. People may hunt the Yentna for caribou by boat, but if they do, they're awfully tight-lipped about it, as I've never heard of someone doing so. Caribou hunting in that unit is primarily an airplane-based pursuit, if I'm correct.

    It's a great place to live, but again, there are some legitimate issues that you'll need to consider. People aren't trying to steer you wrong to keep you out of their honey-hole. Quite the opposite, really - it seems like you've received some solid advice here. If you're looking for a place that you can be self-sufficient and pretty much guarantee that you'll have game in the freezer year-round, you'll be hard pressed to find it in Alaska. Maybe somewhere in the Northwest where the caribou numbers and limits are generous, or possibly in the Southwest or Southeast if you really, really like fish...but in Southcentral or the Interior (anywhere, really) I'd be sure that you've got other means of feeding your family. By all means, hunt as hard as you can and grow a robust garden, but have a backup plan as well.
    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for posting this

    As I said in my first post, I've been researching this for 25 years. I retired from the military primarily to serve my great country, and second to have a steady monthly income, along with medical and dental benefits. The $2K monthly plus being debt free should carry me through tough times.

    I know theres nothing easy about this move, but with hard work and perseverance it WILL work.

    It would be neat to hear about the positive aspects of doing this from time to time, not just the negative

    Again, thanks Brian.


    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hastings View Post
    Big Bend

    I believe theres an air strip right across the river on Yentna Bend


    Bob
    Bob, That is a sandbar your looking at, That Google refers to as a "landing strip". it isn't a maintained landing strip. I've never seen anything bigger than a Super Cub at that "strip". However, Dan, Just across the River, at the Yentna Station. maintains a landing strip In the winter months. John

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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    If it were me I would look at the tok/copper center/Kenny lake area and on the road system. A pickup truck is a ton easier/cheaper to take for supplies than a boat or charter plane. They also have a healthy salmon return unlike the yentna/susitna drainage but it is colder during the winter. Talkeetna area may offer a shorter run via boat or sled back to civilization but still a busy recreational area with taxes.
    That's solid advice...

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    Default Howdy. New to Forum

    Can you define debt free? Do you have cash to buy a place? How about transportation? Cash for a boat? That will move you a few months a year but sleds (snowmobiles) will be needed as well and will cost at least a few grand each for decent used ones and a lot more for new. You will need quality freighter pull sleds that cost a grand or so each or even more if you need to haul building supplies and need a setup for plywood.

    If you plan to build you will almost definitely spend more than if you buy a turn-key place. Heck gas is $4/gallon, the landing costs money to launch a boat, storage for your vehicle, parts for your sleds....

    If you are 100% cash on all purchases then 2k/month may work out fine.

    2-4 sleds @ 3-12k each
    Large boat @15-50k (for hauling supplies)
    Small boat @ 5k (for around cabin)
    Cabin/land 65k to 150k depending in property

    Most folks I know living remote do it only a few ways:

    One or more persons in the family works out of the home doing something lucrative

    They use their remote property and skills as some kind of a business.

    Or

    They own EVERYTHING and have a cash reserve along with some sort of residual monthly income like retirement.

    Some combo of the above seems to be the norm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hastings View Post

    It would be neat to hear about the positive aspects of doing this from time to time, not just the negative
    I guess most of us assume that the positive aspects are reasonably self-evident. What's not to like about living off the grid, having lots of elbow room to explore, spending your days moving through the forest looking for food and/or firewood? I love the idea, as do many on here.

    The reason that you're getting a lot of serious-toned responses is two-fold. First of all, we get a lot of people on these forums that come on with big plans to move up here and live off the land. Most of them have not given it the depth of thought that you apparently had, and most need to be talked out of the idea lest they get themselves into a life-threatening situation. Simply put, if it were a viable option for many people, most of the people on this thread would be out there doing it. Secondly, the tone of the responses reflect the reality that you're looking at given the harshness of Alaska. I know that all newcomers know that it will be cold, but there are many misconceptions regarding the number of animals that one can expect when hunting (Alaska's ecosystems generally have very poor productivity and game densities are much lower than the lower 48), the reality of dealing with months of darkness, the availability of firewood on public land, the reality of crowding in popular fishing/hunting/recreation areas, and more. People are trying to be helpful. It's great that you're going in to this after years of research and thought, but that is not generally the case with the multitudes of others who consider such a move, and as such the responses here need to be measured instead of overly encouraging.


    On a side note, LuJon's suggestion of the Kenny Lake area is an excellent one. I've also heard good things about Dot Lake, but don't have any first-hand experience in the area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I guess most of us assume that the positive aspects are reasonably self-evident. What's not to like about living off the grid, having lots of elbow room to explore, spending your days moving through the forest looking for food and/or firewood? I love the idea, as do many on here.

    The reason that you're getting a lot of serious-toned responses is two-fold. First of all, we get a lot of people on these forums that come on with big plans to move up here and live off the land. Most of them have not given it the depth of thought that you apparently had, and most need to be talked out of the idea lest they get themselves into a life-threatening situation. Simply put, if it were a viable option for many people, most of the people on this thread would be out there doing it. Secondly, the tone of the responses reflect the reality that you're looking at given the harshness of Alaska. I know that all newcomers know that it will be cold, but there are many misconceptions regarding the number of animals that one can expect when hunting (Alaska's ecosystems generally have very poor productivity and game densities are much lower than the lower 48), the reality of dealing with months of darkness, the availability of firewood on public land, the reality of crowding in popular fishing/hunting/recreation areas, and more. People are trying to be helpful. It's great that you're going in to this after years of research and thought, but that is not generally the case with the multitudes of others who consider such a move, and as such the responses here need to be measured instead of overly encouraging.


    On a side note, LuJon's suggestion of the Kenny Lake area is an excellent one. I've also heard good things about Dot Lake, but don't have any first-hand experience in the area.
    A lot of solid advice on the thread, but Brian really nailed it. We would all like to see a success story of your dream, but knowing what to expect can make all the difference. Additionally, as Brian said, most of us on this forum would like to be living out there too, so you have to ask "why isn't everyone else doing this" and overcome those obstacles. No one it is saying it is impossible to do this, but you may have to make some visits and adjust plans a little bit.

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