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Thread: Copper river bison

  1. #1
    Member tekla's Avatar
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    Default Copper river bison

    Got the letter that there were extra tags available for the copper river bison this year and my name was available. I had a couple of other hunts planned but figured I would make it happen no matter what so I called glennallen fish and game and said I'm in. After a month of research I had figured out this was not going to be a walk in the park. A couple of members here gave me some valuable info to work with. The next decision I had to make was to pay the ahtna fee of 1500 dollars. I read the meat eaters book about this exact hunt and figured I would try it once before paying the fee. My plan was to float from copper center to the headwaters of the chetaslina river and hike up in two miles to the public land and see if we could get into some bison.
    I talked a friend into tagging along and we put in at the roadhouse in copper center and were off. After about two minutes we realized this trip was going to be tough. The wind was blowing up river and starting huge dust clouds. After eight hours of non stop rowing we made it to the river.
    There was buffalo sign there but was all about three weeks old. It was very encouraging to see but with mixed emotion to know they were here just a couple of weeks earlier. We set up camp and did a little scouting. Ahtna land starts at the high water mark and we can not go above that or will be trespassing. There is a lot of alders just below the mark and the river is quite swift. After looking at it we decided to give it a go In the morning. At seven am we were crossing the creek in the dark and it was sketchy at best but we made it and were on our way. Took us four hours of busting brush through alders and crossing the creek multiple times to make it to public land. Love my barneys pack but learned to hate the top bar in the brush and had to remove it due to all the debris going directly down the back of my shirt.
    We sat down and had a heart to heart and decided that if we did see some bison there was no way we would be able to get it out in a reasonable time. So we started the long walk back to camp with thoughts full of failure. Plans were already coming together for the winter hunt on snow machines. After camping that next night Gary and I made a plan to hunt every square inch of every island below the high water mark. Which made for some good brakes In between rowing into the Saharan dust storm that we know as the copper river. On our second island we got super lucky and ran Into a dream come true bull. Three 70 yard shots with the Christianson arms 338 ultra mag and our bull of a lifetime was down.
    As we walked up to it there was an awkward silence as we both new we had gotten in over our heads. A few minutes of amazement at how big it was and we were ready to do this. The plan was set and I headed off to take the raft down river and walk it back up a small braid of water that came directly back to the bison. That was a big mistake. A mile later I found out the braid never came out the island. Now we were screwed. The pack was going to be a mile with lots of alder busting. After packing up a camp and our tools needed to render down the bison we left the raft and made the hike back to our new home.
    Two guys on buffalo will test a friendship and our backs. After getting it about half way done we had a visit from a couple of other hunters who had a tag for there young son. I told them about two other bison that I had bumped on my way back to the raft and they were hot on there trail. They were back an hour later and had found the sign but no bison. They offered to put the raft on their jet boat and bring it back up river to within about seven hundred yards of the bison. Now the pack is a straight shot with two small water crossings and about a hundred times better than before. Can't say thank you enough to AKHUNTER and his friend Gary. We would still be there packing that sucker out if it wasn't for them and there help. Got to love those AOD forum members.
    The next day the packing was done and the next part of our journey began. The copper river is considered a scary river and now I know why. When two portions of the river meet or there is a cliff side the undertows are something else. Twice there was water flowing over the pontoons and we had to high side it to keep the raft from flipping. It didn't help that the raft was very overloaded. After six hours we made it to the chitna airport. What a great feeling as we sat at the truck with our big old bull in hand. We did it!
    ImageUploadedByTapatalk1382765460.593250.jpgImageUploadedByTapatalk1382765488.742789.jpg

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  3. #3
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    You are one lucky son of a gun tekla! That sounds like one heck of a hunt even though it was a bit of a butt kicker.

  4. #4
    Member Rising_Creek's Avatar
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    Great write up. Thanks for the story.

  5. #5

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    Wow, what a bull! Congrats on your hunt and I tip my hat to AKHUNTER for helping you out with the raft, way cool. I hope karma brings them luck. Thanks for the write up and enjoy all that meat.

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Congratulations, men! That's a BEAST! Any idea how heavy the hindquarters were? That's a huge head on that old boy.

    -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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    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  7. #7
    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Very Nice indeed! It's good to see some old fashioned AK get-er-done produce such a fine animal. Sometimes there is no easy GPS located game,a man has to Hunt.
    Thanks for sharing with us here.

  8. #8
    Member Casper50's Avatar
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    Congrats Tekla. I've never been to the Copper. Is there a reason you took such a small raft? Maybe I'm used to my cat but that raft looks tiny.

  9. #9
    Member tekla's Avatar
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    The raft is a 14 foot sotar. The picture makes it look smaller than it really was. We have actually had two moose in there at once on the ribdon. I was going to go with a buddy In a jet boat but he backed out. So we thought about taking my Kenai river boat but decided on the raft at because of water level and had no other choice. I actually think that the raft is the reason that we were able the harvest or get lucky on the the big guy. I think the bison relate boat motors to danger and hit the alders. In the raft we were nice and quiet and just strolled along. The rear quarters weighed 145 lbs with the hocks cut off. Toughest pack of my life. 1085 steps I counted them multiple times to keep me from talking myself out of stopping. The head and cape was quite a bit more than that never weighed it though. Had to get two guys to help put the pack on. Made it out on principle though. Thanks to the tlingitwarrior for all his help and advice also Wes for helping me out with some good info.

  10. #10
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    Congratulations don't say enough, nice work, beautiful animal, can't wait to hear how it tastes.

  11. #11
    Member Antleridge's Avatar
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    WOW!! Thanks for a great writeup. You are blessed to have a real partner that will join you on a tough hunt like this. I count myself privileged to have a couple of those. The kindness of brother hunters helping with the loan of the other raft makes it even a better story.

    1085 steps....think you'll remember that number?

    Oh yeah, that is a fine trophy!!

  12. #12
    Member ADUKHNT's Avatar
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    That is an awesome hunt!! I have to admit, that sounds like more that I want to bite off.

    Thanks for sharing!!
    I have such a hard time trying to decide which outdoor activity to do every chance I get!! Living in AK is a mental challenge

  13. #13
    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Awesome! I was thinking the same thing about the raft. I thought you had claimed the first packraft bison hunt in AK. lol The pic is deceiving.

  14. #14
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    Packing out a bison on your back! You guys earned the tough mother award this year. Congratulations on a well deserved and hard work trophy of a lifetime.

  15. #15
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    Congrats tekla on the bison.. Was wondering if you guys made it out ok. Guess now its a sno go trip to
    seal the deal on my son tag. Tried to get gary out one more weedend but work ended that.

  16. #16
    Member akgun&ammo's Avatar
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    congrats on the bull

    any idea on the age of him?

    Chris

  17. #17
    Member dkwarthog's Avatar
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    That photo should be framed and hanging in your office or man cave!!!

    Congrats!!! Thanks for sharing the story and pics...

  18. #18
    Member tekla's Avatar
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    Measured the skull tonight and came up with a very rough 105-107. Not sure how old it is but will check into it and get back to ya. Bringing the hide and head to the taxidermist tomorrow. Going to have a shoulder mount with moulded horns so that I can keep the euro mount. It's going to be so cool I can't wait. Anyone going after a bison should be warned to bring a knife sharpener or three times the havalon blades. I went through two twenty packs!

  19. #19
    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    Great hunt report!Sounds like it was a chore to get that big guy out.That is a real accomplishment the copper river herd is only 1 of the 2 truly real free range heards in my mind.Hats of to ya sir!

  20. #20
    Member Tearbear's Avatar
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    Thanks for the hunting story...Congrats on your nice bull! Glad you made it out of there safely, the Copper can be a very dangerous river.
    "Grin and Bear It"

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