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Thread: New to AK hunting, what to buy?

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    Default New to AK hunting, what to buy?

    Ok, so it will be my 1st year hunting in AK. Starting April I can buy resident tags. Obviously I want to do it all at some point. Moose, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Sheep, Goat, Caribou etc. I plan on starting with caribou and and black bear. I may do a registration moose hunt out at Eklutna just to get my feet on the ground with a bow. I am signed up for the bow hunter certification course.

    Im 32 and in very good shape. I run up skyline a few times a week to keep in shape along with other training..

    I have good boots, bow gun, waterproof camo, quality underlayers, pack tent, sleeping bag,waders, and binoculars.

    I plan on doing a few multiday hunts in the mountains. Where do I start? A good pack obviously. External frame? Internal? Whats the best water filtration? tablets? filters? Should I seriously consider a spotting scope right away? Best game bags? Im sure there are a million little things too.

    Just need help on the specifics for what to buy with regard to importance. Money isn't tight, but I don't plan on dropping 2 grand right off the bat on new supplies. I need to buy a 4 wheeler and a boat too. Also, any good bear hunting books? I found the "Fishing Alaska's Road System" book absolutely invaluable. Anything similar to that for hunting? Just something to shorten the learning curve a bit and get me in the right direction. I have some friends that I have planned hunts with..... but I don't want to rely on them and wouldn't mind doing some exploring on my own.

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    BTW, I do plan on going to the get together in Eagle River at the end of this month. Probably a good way to meet some new people with similar interests.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    There is no single answer to most of your questions - gear preferences vary considerably. But to get you started in the right direction...

    Pack - Go in to Barney's Sport Chalet on Northern Lights in Anchorage and try on their external frame packs. Their packs are among the most popular in Alaska for hauling serious weight. In recent years more and more hunters have been switching to internal frames and externals made with composite materials, so there are loads of options out there - look up Kifaru and Stone Glacier - and you really can't go wrong starting with a large internal frame from a reputable backpacking company like Arcteryx, Marmot, etc. Still, I'd seriously consider looking first at Barney's packs.

    Filter - The MSR miniworks is a solid option.

    Game bags - Cotton bags breathe the best and are inexpensive, whereas TAG Bags dry more quickly, are lighter, and are easier to wash. I use cotton when hunting via ATV and TAG bags when backpacking due to the weight savings.

    Spotting scope - You'll want one sooner or later, so put it on the list. Binoculars are arguably more important, but a decent scope is invaluable.

    Looking forward to meeting you at Pizza Man!

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Single most important aspect of hunting I worry about is: meat care. Everything else, gear, transport, etc. comes second. I swear every one of these newb threads focuses solely on just getting to the trigger pull in the most comfortable, stylish, and peer-approved fashion, then: nothing. I'd love to see a thread titled: "I've never hunted here before; how to protect my meat from spoilage due to heat/bugs/dirt/moisture/improper handling"..... It doesn't matter how you get there, 'cause it's all child's play until that point. A succulent, well-cooked dish is the final arbiter of hunting "success".
    "– Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member shimano 33's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    Single most important aspect of hunting I worry about is: meat care. Everything else, gear, transport, etc. comes second. I swear every one of these newb threads focuses solely on just getting to the trigger pull in the most comfortable, stylish, and peer-approved fashion, then: nothing. I'd love to see a thread titled: "I've never hunted here before; how to protect my meat from spoilage due to heat/bugs/dirt/moisture/improper handling"..... It doesn't matter how you get there, 'cause it's all child's play until that point. A succulent, well-cooked dish is the final arbiter of hunting "success".
    While you do have a truly valid point, its hard to take care of meat that you don't have.

    Your post does remind me though of some fellas up on the Haul Road that had downed some caribou 5+ miles in. They were barely able to get their first haul of meat out before collapsing once they had made it back to the truck (and they were going to have to make way more trips than just one). Poor planning/preparedness resulted in the guys putting themselves in a bad situation. If they had not just focussed on the "trigger pulling" and made the wise choice to not shoot every bou that came over the hill it may have been a different story..Not exactly sure how that whole situation ended up unfolding.

    My biggest advice to the OP would be to go hunting with an experienced individual. A lot of things seem easy and well planned from your Laz-Boy until your actually neck deep in it.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shimano 33 View Post
    My biggest advice to the OP would be to go hunting with an experienced individual. A lot of things seem easy and well planned from your Laz-Boy until your actually neck deep in it.
    and that would be my advice also..!

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    Default Important gear

    Get yourself a Havelon Knife,Tag bags, foldable quality saw, and a silicone impregnated tarp. That would work for a packable meat care kit. I also like wearing disposable gloves. Learn about the fillet method. Make sure you know the legal requirments for breaking down an animal to avoid charges of wanton waste.

    Get a Spotting Scope! AK is big open country and with your athletic skills you can afford to get high and use that elevation and distance as a tactical advatage. Afterall your hunting and that means you need to be looking in earnest for unseen game, hence a quality spotter. That, or go with an experienced hunter that is already equiped and see how the essentials are used.

    Be patient with yourself and the experiences. Ask yourself serious questions about what your going to do with trophy class animals. Taxidermy is expensive and not always the most desirable route. Sell capes possibly, to fund further gear. You can not sell horns or antlers naturally attached to the skull plate. It is legal to sell Black Bear hides. You can NOT sell Brown Bear.

    Practice with your weapon and know what your limits are then subtract about 30% of what you think. Get a laser range finder and stick with your personal standard.

    Best wishes for a happy and successful hunting experiences.

  9. #9

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    If you are going to spend any amount of time outdoors in Alaska hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. I would make sure you have a top quality tent, sleeping bag, and clothes. These items will keep you alive. The most important thing in my opinion is being able to stay dry and warm.

  10. #10

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    Where do you guy who use TAG bags buy them?

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    Pristine adventurers website

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    Thanks, I might try them out.

    Def not cheap - how do they do when re-using them?

    It's been my experience that a lot of products say re-usable but really lose their quality after the initial use.

    I assume they are worth the money since people seem to like them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Explorer View Post
    Thanks, I might try them out.

    Def not cheap - how do they do when re-using them?

    It's been my experience that a lot of products say re-usable but really lose their quality after the initial use.

    I assume they are worth the money since people seem to like them.
    Still using some of the bags I bought 10 years ago, a few got chewed up or a broken bone through them but most are still going strong. If you get the moose bags you can use them for all animals, but not the other way around. Just make sure to clean them and rinse with a little bleach diluted with water.

    Get a safety device, sat phone or personal locator, use a hunt plan or float plan and file it with someone you trust. SPOTs and PLBs are reasonable as far as cost and trust me when I say 'Alaska Happens Fast", not trying to scare ya, just be prepared.

    +1 on a mentor, a little help can really help with the learning curve. Always have a "plan B" and not hoping plan A works.

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    Quote Originally Posted by quest32a View Post
    Ok, so it will be my 1st year hunting in AK. Starting April I can buy resident tags. Obviously I want to do it all at some point. Moose, Black Bear, Brown Bear, Sheep, Goat, Caribou etc. I plan on starting with caribou and and black bear. I may do a registration moose hunt out at Eklutna just to get my feet on the ground with a bow. I am signed up for the bow hunter certification course.

    Im 32 and in very good shape. I run up skyline a few times a week to keep in shape along with other training..

    I have good boots, bow gun, waterproof camo, quality underlayers, pack tent, sleeping bag,waders, and binoculars.

    I plan on doing a few multiday hunts in the mountains. Where do I start? A good pack obviously. External frame? Internal? Whats the best water filtration? tablets? filters? Should I seriously consider a spotting scope right away? Best game bags? Im sure there are a million little things too.

    Just need help on the specifics for what to buy with regard to importance. Money isn't tight, but I don't plan on dropping 2 grand right off the bat on new supplies. I need to buy a 4 wheeler and a boat too. Also, any good bear hunting books? I found the "Fishing Alaska's Road System" book absolutely invaluable. Anything similar to that for hunting? Just something to shorten the learning curve a bit and get me in the right direction. I have some friends that I have planned hunts with..... but I don't want to rely on them and wouldn't mind doing some exploring on my own.
    Used to work with a guy who owned a $1000 raft and a crappy truck, but the best optics, boots, etc.

    He spent all of the money we spent on 4 wheelers and boats on a few fly-ins a year. (and a lot of walk in stuff between I'm sure) Looking back on it, I really think that's the way to go. All the wheelers and boats got us was hunting with other people with wheelers and boats. Which isn't terrible….. and we killed some game. However he had a handful real sweet trips every year and we battled the crowds. Just do the math on what a wheeler, boat, etc costs and figure how many fly-ins a year you can do for a ten year period……
    Just a thought. That's what I'd do if I was starting over.

    And yes, definitely need a spotter. As good as you can afford.

  15. #15
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    cant help you much with black bear but if you'd like to start with caribou you should (if it isnt too late) call and get booked up with a transporter out of kotz and go get a caribou or two. it would be a great way to start your hunting career in AK, prob be able to see some of the "other bears" too. Sounds like your base gear is pretty solid. i would reccommend a GPS with a good map system (garmin 62st) or something of the like. i would also look at a sat phone or at the very least a SPOT or similiar. if you are looking for bear hunting info wayne carlton has an ok video about calling black bears. as far as game bags i just get the cheap disposable ones since they generally tear on me anyways after hauling a moose quarter through willows. katydyn filters have worked great for me but are a little on the heavy side if you are looking for an ultralight set up. i hate to say it but the cabelas outfitter pack frames are about as solid as i've seen. they arent expensive and seem to be able to take more abuse than some of the high end packs...they just weigh alot however. you can get as expensive or cheap as you want but equipment failure is a terrible thing when you are depending on it. best of luck

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    Sawyer Squeeze water filters are one of the best deals for the money. They sell them at Walmart and can be used several ways, weighs only a few OZs.



    With a tornado tube can be attached to a bottle or bladder.



    With a couple fittings can be used inline from a bladder or used as a straw.



    I use a coffee filter cut into a disk to act as a pre-filter.

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  17. #17
    Member Jeff Shannon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Explorer View Post
    Where do you guy who use TAG bags buy them?
    http://www.pristineventures.com/products/game-bags.html

    Definitely the best game bags on the market and well worth the price.

  18. #18
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    If you are handy,,, these synthetic bags cost me less than 10 bucks for 4. complete with reflective tape.

    "I refuse to let the things I can't do stop me from doing the things I can"
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    Quote Originally Posted by quest32a View Post
    Im 32 and in very good shape. I run up skyline a few times a week to keep in shape along with other training..

    I have good boots, bow gun, waterproof camo, quality underlayers, pack tent, sleeping bag,waders, and binoculars.

    Just need help on the specifics for what to buy with regard to importance.... I need to buy a 4 wheeler and a boat too.
    If you're in good shape and otherwise well equipped there's no need to buy a boat or a wheeler. Walk in from the road and spend that money on a fly in trip every year or two and lots of gas for trips in between. For what you'll spend on a boat and a wheeler you can buy a lot of air/water taxi time and put a lot of miles on your truck.

    Time spent in the field kills critters and very little else substitutes for it.

    Go looking for bears this spring in the alpine or in PWS and head up north for a caribou this fall. Those are both great trips and you're pretty well equipped to do that right now.

    As mentioned- getting some knowledge on field care of meat would be great.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

  20. #20
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    Thank you everyone. Sounds like game care is something I really need to sit down and take a serious look at. Being a deer hunter we just drug them out over the course of a few hours. Way different. I have a trip planned with a co worker for caribou up north of Tokn this fall. But I do plan on doing a few bear hunts late this spring. I am planning on doing a few short multi day hunts within a few hour hike of the road. Figure I will get just far enough back to be on my own, but if stuff happens it still won't be a brutal hike out.

    The reccomendations here are really helpful. Some of the things I had thought of, some I had not. Doing the fly in hunts vs 4 wheeler does make a lot of sense. Something I am going to have to seriously consider. A boat is still on the short list though, I do way to much river fishing not to have one. Thanks for the warm welcome. I plan on spending a fair amount of time on here.

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