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Thread: Noatak Float Hunt

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    Default Noatak Float Hunt

    Hello, I am new to this forum and joined so that I could gain additional knowledge and maybe have a few questions answered before my float down caribou hunt in september. I have never been on a float hunt and I have never been to Alaska, either!

    If anyone has anything useful to say, or if anyone has done a caribou hunt on the noatak river, please share anything that you think may be helpful. I am excited/nervous about this opportunity and want to make the most of the experience.

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    you may want to contact larry bartlett via this forum. hes got the noatak on gopro

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    Quote Originally Posted by iyouktug View Post
    you may want to contact larry bartlett via this forum. hes got the noatak on gopro

    thank you!

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    Where are you flying in at? Where are you getting picked up? What good is the Noatak on gopro going to do for you?

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    Because of the number of bears in the Noatak Valley, I would strongly recommend against floating through it with a load of caribou meat. You would without a doubt have a bear incident. If you want to float, go float without meat in your boat. If you want to hunt, get dropped off ahead of the fall migration and wait for the caribou to come through. When you get your meat, get the hell out of there....there is a very high density of bears waiting for caribou meat to come through in the fall. One camp I had on the kugururok river, just north of the Noatak. We counted 16 different bears go by (in two days) all waiting for the caribou to show up (they were late that year)... Floating caribou meat through there would be big trouble.....you do not need a raft or whatever to hunt the Western Herd in Sept. they are coming through by the thousands....carrying a boat just means an extra airplane trip to get your gear and meat out of there which can add up to big bucks....

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    You run the risk of bears on any hunt, float or drop camp. Pack a bear fence and be mindful of their possible presence.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Because of the number of bears in the Noatak Valley, I would strongly recommend against floating through it with a load of caribou meat. You would without a doubt have a bear incident. If you want to float, go float without meat in your boat. If you want to hunt, get dropped off ahead of the fall migration and wait for the caribou to come through. When you get your meat, get the hell out of there....there is a very high density of bears waiting for caribou meat to come through in the fall. One camp I had on the kugururok river, just north of the Noatak. We counted 16 different bears go by (in two days) all waiting for the caribou to show up (they were late that year)... Floating caribou meat through there would be big trouble.....you do not need a raft or whatever to hunt the Western Herd in Sept. they are coming through by the thousands....carrying a boat just means an extra airplane trip to get your gear and meat out of there which can add up to big bucks....
    Not disputing this as it's been a while since I hunted the Noatak, but we never saw what I would consider to be large numbers of grizzlies up there, and never had trouble with them. Is this a recent development?

    Here is one of our Noatak videos that should get the blood going. I'll post another as soon as I can get to it.



    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Because of the number of bears in the Noatak Valley, I would strongly recommend against floating through it with a load of caribou meat. You would without a doubt have a bear incident. If you want to float, go float without meat in your boat. If you want to hunt, get dropped off ahead of the fall migration and wait for the caribou to come through. When you get your meat, get the hell out of there....there is a very high density of bears waiting for caribou meat to come through in the fall. One camp I had on the kugururok river, just north of the Noatak. We counted 16 different bears go by (in two days) all waiting for the caribou to show up (they were late that year)... Floating caribou meat through there would be big trouble.....you do not need a raft or whatever to hunt the Western Herd in Sept. they are coming through by the thousands....carrying a boat just means an extra airplane trip to get your gear and meat out of there which can add up to big bucks....
    We are flying into Kotzebue and then from there we will be flown to whichever spot the pilot thinks is the best place to drop us. I did not choose the Noatak River...one of the other hunters I am going with wanted to do a float hunt and I was invited to go along. Like Mike asked, is this a recent development? I have never been to Alaska, so my knowledge is based only on my reading and asking questions...but I have not read anything like what you are describing...

    The trip is big bucks..we are flying in from Michigan. However, the experience of a float hunt was something of interest to me and the other hunters.

    Other than seeing these bears..do you know of any/many bear attacks while hunting the Noatak?

    Thanks!

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    Bears are a threat the moment you step off the plane in Alaska. Really....we have hundreds of black and brown bears that roam Anchorage itself.

    I would not hesitate to float hunt the Noatak or any other river in Alaska because of the low possibility of encountering a bear in camp. However, I would make sure I am as careful as possible which includes (for me) storing my raft, meat, food, and any other smellable item well away from camp surrounded by a portable electric bear fence. Ideally I would surround my camp/tent with another bear fence so that I could sleep better at night and worry less when away from camp while hunting.

    I have not floated the Noatak but have a friend who has. He had a very successful hunt and still brags about what a great trip he had. I'm sure your trip will be the same.

  10. #10

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    I've float hunted the Noatak and its tributaries a few times in recent years, last year being the most recent. Great trip, have had good success each time. Never had a problem with bears. Yes we saw bears but no more so than on other float hunts in other parts of Alaska. I always take a bear fence and keep a clean camp, no problems with bears at all. Follow the guidelines for good etiquette in bear country and you'll have a wonderful trip. Good luck!

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    Other than seeing these bears..do you know of any/many bear attacks while hunting the Noatak?


    I have been hunting and outfitting up in unit 23 for 13+ years. Don't get all worked up about the "BEAR" issue. In all of the hunts that I have outfitted over the years my clients have only seen 2 bears near their camps ever. Unlike the South Central part of Alaska NW Alaska Bears are not treated as tourist attractions and get shot if they come too close to humans. It is not that Bears will not come to a kill site but they are not know to come into camps very often, if they do...drop that bear!

    2 or 3 thinks to keep in mind when do ing a float hunt. Hang your meat every night away from your raft and camp. Never leave meat in your raft. Bears love bloody rubber, it is like a chew toy. Your kitchen and meat should be hung down wind from your camp and out in the open as much as possible. Bear fences are getting more and more popular and if your concerned about bears invest in a fence. One for your camp and one for your meat. Starting in 2014 we will offer Bear Fence Rentals. I am guessing that 75% of my groups request them so I will invest in them.

    Unit 23 is huge! Your float will depend upon your dates and animal movement. If your going before 9/12 you can count on being up high near the Anisak River. If your hunting after 15th expect to be below the Nimmi.

    Good luck and keep a clean camp!

    Walt
    Northwest Alaska Back Country
    Drop Camps & Float Hunts
    Unit 23-Kotz
    www.northwestalaska.net
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gulkana Rafting View Post
    Other than seeing these bears..do you know of any/many bear attacks while hunting the Noatak?


    I have been hunting and outfitting up in unit 23 for 13+ years. Don't get all worked up about the "BEAR" issue. In all of the hunts that I have outfitted over the years my clients have only seen 2 bears near their camps ever. Unlike the South Central part of Alaska NW Alaska Bears are not treated as tourist attractions and get shot if they come too close to humans. It is not that Bears will not come to a kill site but they are not know to come into camps very often, if they do...drop that bear!

    2 or 3 thinks to keep in mind when do ing a float hunt. Hang your meat every night away from your raft and camp. Never leave meat in your raft. Bears love bloody rubber, it is like a chew toy. Your kitchen and meat should be hung down wind from your camp and out in the open as much as possible. Bear fences are getting more and more popular and if your concerned about bears invest in a fence. One for your camp and one for your meat. Starting in 2014 we will offer Bear Fence Rentals. I am guessing that 75% of my groups request them so I will invest in them.

    Unit 23 is huge! Your float will depend upon your dates and animal movement. If your going before 9/12 you can count on being up high near the Anisak River. If your hunting after 15th expect to be below the Nimmi.

    Good luck and keep a clean camp!

    Walt
    Northwest Alaska Back Country
    Drop Camps & Float Hunts
    Unit 23-Kotz
    www.northwestalaska.net
    Thanks, Walt! That's pretty much what I figured; not much has changed since I hunted up that way, except perhaps the number of hunters. The Noatak has that chum salmon run in the fall, but it seemed to me that the bulk of that run peels off the main river at or below the Kelly and Kuguroruk confluences. So I never really saw the Noatak as a typical "salmon" stream like we have in South Central or Western Alaska. Therefore bears are not drawn to the river for salmon. All the bears we saw up there were out in the berry patches for the most part, or hunting small mammals.

    That's a good word on the bear fence, though we never saw the need up there. But not a bad idea around the boats anyway, as they do like to bite 'em.

    Hope you have a great season up there! Here's to good hunting weather!

    Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Because of the number of bears in the Noatak Valley, I would strongly recommend against floating through it with a load of caribou meat. You would without a doubt have a bear incident. If you want to float, go float without meat in your boat. If you want to hunt, get dropped off ahead of the fall migration and wait for the caribou to come through. When you get your meat, get the hell out of there....there is a very high density of bears waiting for caribou meat to come through in the fall. One camp I had on the kugururok river, just north of the Noatak. We counted 16 different bears go by (in two days) all waiting for the caribou to show up (they were late that year)... Floating caribou meat through there would be big trouble.....you do not need a raft or whatever to hunt the Western Herd in Sept. they are coming through by the thousands....carrying a boat just means an extra airplane trip to get your gear and meat out of there which can add up to big bucks....
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Not disputing this as it's been a while since I hunted the Noatak, but we never saw what I would consider to be large numbers of grizzlies up there, and never had trouble with them. Is this a recent development?

    Here is one of our Noatak videos that should get the blood going. I'll post another as soon as I can get to it.



    -Mike

    Great video, mike. Thanks!

  14. #14

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    Camp/bear etiquette is a must and will be the most important factor. Remember that and you will experience a great trip. It will be a group effort.
    Float hunting will allow us to see much more of the landscape. Every trip to Alaska I feel grateful to see bears, they are an awesome animal that I truly respect. Of course I want to fill my tag but its not my top priority. The experience is my top priority. I am optimistic we will achieve both-fill tags and have a great experience!

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    Bears have always been a problem in that area. Right now two parties have been trying to get a return flight to Bettles from the upper Noatak. They are being charged and harassed by bears and have bagged their float trips. An acquaintance took a Klepper down from the headwaters in the late seventies on a fishing trip. He rolled the Klepper and lost his shotgun the first couple days into the trip. He was harassed by bears the whole way downriver even sleeping on islands. He was a changed person when he got done. (more from lack of sleep than anything) The bears are on a tear in the Brooks this summer and fall. There have been maulings and predator bear attacks on the Noatak and feeder drainages in the past. There are many bear in that country... I paddled the Noatak with my 72year old father in June and saw only a couple bears. Then again in Aug and there were bears everywhere. Just the luck of the draw or season? Watch yourself out there, you are a long way from help. Read about the Guide mauled just North of Anaktuvuk Pass this week, and what they had to do to get him out of there. ADN.Com Anyone who thinks a little thin electrified fence is going to protect them is a fool. Or works for the Park Service....

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    Quote Originally Posted by pipercub View Post
    Anyone who thinks a little thin electrified fence is going to protect them is a fool. Or works for the Park Service....
    I totally agree!

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    You can't be oblivious to the medias ability to over sensationalize the story. One report states the guide was in good spirits and joking around with a laceration to his face and left arm, the next story reports the guide sustained "life-threatening injuries".

    Either way, the guide was alone, on his way to a downed caribou, in a known camping/hunting area which is a bait station if you ask me, with a known bear that is all too familiar with humans and the food they bring.

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    I used to hunt the lower Anaktuvuk River above the mouth every year in August. Did that for ten or twelve years. One year we had a sow with older juvenile cubs hanging around but they never got into the meat. One year a big boar stood up and tried to take the tundra tire off the Supercub as I was coming down the Gravel bar... Those were the only bear run-ins we had in all those years on those caribou meat hunts...

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    i take my boat up the noatak all the time...for those of you who think they aren't a problem think again....one night we had half a dozen bears within a mile of camp when dusk hit. we finally packed up and moved after a sow with cubs wouldn't leave us alone and we shot in the air to scare her away. i see bears just about everytime we hunt up there. one night my bro in law and i were sleeping in the boat and had one try to climb into the boat with us...i dont know where you others are hunting but i seem to be a bear magnet up here. had some friends camped up there this week and had one come into 50yards from them before he decided they were food. on the other hand we were up above the nimi fishing at a lake a few weeks ago via plane and didn't see but maybe one or two...probably depends on where your hunting...its a long river and the salmon probably dictate bear density.

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    northwestalaska - "It is not that Bears will not come to a kill site but they are not know to come into camps very often, if they do...drop that bear!"


    c'mon i dont think we need to encourage every person to DLP every bear that wanders into camp expecially when your camping along bear travel routes anyways. if people are scared of bears and don't have any experience with them then don't float the river simple as that.

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