Stepped off a plane in July 1978 in Anch. to begin my life in Alaska. 21 yrs old. Wanted to be a wilderness trapper. At the time, I owned a shotgun, a 22 and a bolt action 30 aught. Those didn't come with me tho.
Lived the wilderness dream for several years, trapping from remote camps in the winter, working for pay of some sort in summer. Had the dog team and later a snogo. Still only owned the 3 guns I believe. Once I trapped on my own, 1979, I had my guns here in Alaska. Rarely carried a gun on the trapline. Most critters caught were small enough to kill by other means if they weren't already dead. There were ocassional winter moose seasons that required temporary carrying of the 30 aught.
1986 I got my A&P license and began a more regular work for wage lifestyle. Didn't get a lot of hunting in the last half of the 80s but somewhere around 89 I decided to purchase a used mini 14. I still had a 30 aught, but had also acquired a .270 bolt action at a cheap price. Had an Ithaca 37 12 gauge and the 22, a Browning T-bolt.
1991 I moved to Nome and began steady employment there. Wages were good and there was a good gunsmith shop there. Began developing more of an interest in shooting and, since I wasn't doing much trapping, looking for critters I could hunt and maybe make a few bucks selling. Parky squirrels were abundant some places. Fox were real abundant. Plus, Nome area was a snogo hunters paradise. Open country with fox, wolverine, and a few wolves for the taking. Caribou a few miles away as well. Got a Ruger 10-22 with a heavy barrel. Had the gunsmith put a heavy barrel on the mini also. Beaver, fox, a wolf, parky squirrels, and a few other critters fell to my guns over the years there. The possibility of finding a pack of wolves with the opportunity to shoot several fueled an interest in the mini and a mag with 20 rounds. I never quite found that pack, but every year around Nome there was at least one story of someone who did. A partner and I were trapping around Nome on weekends so we were out regularly. In 94 or 95 the talk was of the increasing value of ARs due to the assault weapon ban. The gunsmith was selling Colt H-bars with a flat top. Picked one up for 1200 bucks thinking to resell it later at a profit. Never used it as I had the mini.
In 2000, moved with the family to Unalakleet. Sold the Colt for the same price I payed for it (wish I had it today.......haha). The mini was still fine. Trapping swung back in to full tilt as there were marten and lynx around Unk, along with plenty of wolf and wolverine. By this time I was carrying the mini on the snogo any time I was out. The possibility of seeing something profitable to shoot was pretty good.
In 2001 I think, the mini went bad. Couldn't shoot a decent group with it. Couldn't figure out why either. Had been wondering about ARs so I ordered up and received a Bushmaster with a 20 in. H-bar. Good gun. Set it up to carry on the snogo. Good shooting rifle. I also bought a Savage bolt action in 300WSM. That was my fall hunt gun as well as for spring bears.
In 2003 we were back in Nome. Back to trapping with the pard. Longer runs on the snogo to get lynx on weekends, trapping I mean. But the Bushmaster was on the snogo if I was. Also often carried a Ruger Mark II 22 pistol. It was good for dispatching some trapped critters and for fox on the run up close. The bushmaster was also good for winter bou.
In 2010 my daughter turned 10 yrs old. She could now shoot her own game animal. I wanted a gun for her that was light and didn't kick much. The AR industry had exploded and several other cals besides 223 were available. I already had the Bushmaster so all I needed was an upper for her to use. Got a Bushmaster upper in 6.8spc. Worked well. She liked it and we did some range shooting with it. Got back in to reloading to get the most out of it. Of course, I couldn't be satisfied with one 6.8. I wanted one for me. So got another lower and parts kit and built up a lower, then purchased a used Stag upper in 6.8. This was kinda fun. Putting together our own guns. In 2011 I took a Musk Ox with the 223 Bushmaster. Close shot and good kill. Ox don't run and getting close shots is fairly easy. Had a permit for a cow Ox in 2012 and took the daughter and our 6.8s out. Close shot and she got her first game animal kill. Ox are the ideal kids animal.
Target shooting/practice became more fun with the ARs as well. Light gun shooting cheap ammo made for good times. Plus, Nome had a new range that was seeing little use. Often had the range to ourselves. Blowing up gallon jugs of water made shooting interesting for kids.
Moved to Fairbanks this past summer. I now have 3, 6.8 uppers. Thinking of selling one. Going to build a 223 upper with a 14.5 or 16 in. barrel for fun shooting. Have been reloading different bullets and powders to see what I can get out of the 6.8. Recently took a bou with it and still looking at using it for moose next year. Might have to build another 6.8 upper for the G/F too. The idea of building up a gun and testing it out is awfully intriguing. Got a Chrono also. The kid has some interest in reloading so the sky is the limit with that we can do with these ARs.
There are some other cals out there for these rifles. Might have to check one of them out in the future. The quality of the guns is excellent in most cases. My latest project is to load some lighter bullets for the 6.8 for carrying on the snogo again. It should be a slightly better cal for wolf. Plenty of winter hunt opportunities around Fbks. and always a chance you'll see a wolf or 2.
I would encourage shooters/hunters to check out ARs. Several members on the forum are using them with their kids. Building, shooting, loading ammo, it all adds up to a greater participation in the whole firearm/hunting experience.
My ARs haven't completely replaced all my other rifles. The 300 is still the all around better option for the larger game. The 22 and a 22 mag or 17 HMR also find use. But the AR has opened up greater fun and interest for me.