Im in the initial stages of gathering information for a 2015 float hunt for what will most likely be four people. Three of us would be interested in moose as a priority and the fourth would be interested in Caribou. We all would love the opportunity to take a caribou, but we'd rather good moose habitat with the chance of a caribou rather than the opposite. I've been scouring this forum and the net and have lowered my choices down to I believe these three units. We are interested in trophy moose, with hopefully 55" or better, but a moose over 60" in the group would be fantastic. We all are very experienced moose callers and usually can judge moose to within two inches. Two of us are Registered Maine hunting guides. I run a small moose guiding operation in Maine, and have thirteen successful Maine moose hunts under my guiding belt. I was fortunate to take a 51" Maine bull a couple years ago and one other hunter that would be on the AK trip also has harvested a nice Maine bull, so we're really looking for some nice trophy bulls in the 60" range. All of us will be in decent shape, early 30's.
I have looked at the antler stats from ADFG and zones 25(specifically 25a), 17, and 19b looked appealing to me. In Maine when I do my hunts we purposely go to the most remote country left in Maine, and thats kinda what we would want to do in AK, getting away from as much people as possible, although I realize that realistically most any float hunts you'll still see some other hunters.
Some concerns I had with 19b - it seemed like a great zone to hunt but, I noticed most of the rivers had a 2mi restriction on them for NR. We would absolutely want to get away from any river we float to do some glassing and calling, but if we're forced to 2 miles, than I'm wondering if a drop hunt would be best in zone 19b? Three moose hunters may be one too many for a drop hunt? Are there any rivers in 19b that do not have the 2mi NR restriction that are easy class I-II floats with a decent moose population? Also I believe the 19b zone pretty much eliminates caribou options for us?
I haven't looked into the 17 rivers as much yet. Any decent choices?
25a seems like some great options, I'm just trying to cut down the choices. Beaver Creek, Colleen, and Sheenjek all came up in my searches. I have limited rowing experience, but will be guiding at a Western AK tent camp fishing operation this summer and will get a fair amount of experience rowing a sled. I would of loved to of been able to do a moose hunt around that camp, but its in GMU 18 and there is no moose hunt for NR in the river valley I'll be working. The rest of the gang that would go would only have limited rowing experience and I would not be comfortable putting them through anything over class II water. I have done research on the forty-mile river and did not like the looks of the lay of land that I saw in pics compared to other areas I have researched.
23 seemed like it had some great water to hunt, but trying to avoid draw hunts if we can.
We will pack very light eating mostly fish and any game we shoot. Will have light Kifaru tent set ups and minimal quality gear. We'd like to float 10-15 days. We're not so much worried with covering tons of river miles over 100miles as we are with just spending time in good habitat. We'd rather spend multiple nights in the same camp hunting as much as possible, rather than just floating whole time and hoping to spot bulls next to the river. Finding a little more open country with tundra hills to spot from is appealing to us.
Some things we may be open to- possible motoring with a cataraft if we have to to reach good floating grounds. If at all possible it would be great to either have a pick up or drop off at a road system of village to try and cut down on expensive bushflights, but quality habitat away from hunters is more important. Budget is going to be tight, as we're all not rich and are blue collar folks, so least expensive but not sparing quality is most important to us. I figure making sure we're packed light will be easiest way we can cut down on flight costs.
Thanks for any help you guys and gals can offer up. PM if need be, or can email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike you have a great resource here, and I may very well take you up on some consulting down the road, but right now I am just in the initial stages and I would want to have more specifics for you before I used your services. Finances are an issue and low budget as possible is best for us. We can do a lot of the legwork. I just did not want you to write a lengthy reply like you seem to always graciously do, because I know time is money to all of us, and your prior posts on this forum all speak for themselves. Really this forum is a great resource to everyone, and its great to see everyone not so quick to name the locations they floated in their reports. That would never happen in Maine