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Thread: Bad News Late In The Game

  1. #1
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    Default Bad News Late In The Game

    Hello All,

    My name is Gary from South Dakota and I've been lurking for quite a few months now trying to soak up as much info as I can. This is my first post and not the one I wanted to start off with. To sum it up for you, I've been planning my first caribou trip at the end of August for about a year now with my father. I've got all the details worked out, flights purchased, reservations made and deposits sent in. As you can imagine, less than 2 months away my excitement is more than overwelming!!!

    We are flying into Anchorage Aug 21 and renting a vehicle. Driving to Valdez to go halibut charter fishing for 2 days. Then driving North to Fairbanks to stock up on last minute essentials. Food, water, gear, ect. Then driving the Dalton highway north to Happy Valley where we will meet up with our pilot who will be air chartering us Aug 26 into the field for 7 days. Our charter is a very reptuable pilot out of Prudhoe Bay from what I hear he is one of the best. Thats why we chose him. After the hunt we will drive back South and god wiling prep meat and fly home out of Fairbanks on Sept 4.

    A little bit about us. I'm a 30 year old Marine vet who is a hunting fool and cant get enough adventure. I'm an avid deer hunter and have become an elk addict. I've hunted the mountains quite a bit but alaska is a whole new world to me. My dad on the other hand is winding down with age. He's in his mid 60's. Hunted his whole life and taught me everything he knows but his health isn't the best anymore with two knee replacements. I know he couldn't do the 5 mile death march thats why we chose an air charter to get us away from the haul road crowds and to increase our odds of using a rifle. This is his retirement hunt to say the least. But we both know it'll be the hunt of our lifetimes as we've always dreamed of hunting in Alaska.

    Now for the dilema. I just got off the phone with our pilot and he informed me that there is a real good possiblilty of our charter flight being canceled due to several complications I'm in complete aww right now and literally feel sick to my stomach! So I"m asking for your help. I'm looking for any plan B pilots or charter services to fly my dad and I out. I know its way late in the game and not likely that I'll hook up with a flight Aug 26 - Sept 1. But at this point I'm not sure what else to do...... Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again,
    Gary

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    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Start calling some of the others on the Dalton. Coyote, arrowhead etc
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    70 North would be the first one I called out of Happy Valley, then call the others mentioned above.

    If these fail, consider looking at the 40 Mile herd with a flight out of Tok or Delta Junction (or Fairbanks?). That area is a registration hunt (permits available by signing up), and while the zones with highway access close quickly (zones 1 and 3), the zone in the middle of the unit (zone 2) is predictably open during your time period. If you go that route, there are a number of reputable air services that serve the area and which should be able to put you in front of some caribou.

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    That stinks.
    Your flight service should be doing all they can to get the flights they drop covered by another reputable company. Don't be afraid to push him to help you!
    I wish you & your dad the best!
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

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    Member mjm316's Avatar
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    Man that's tough! Did they say what the complications were? Did it seem like a legit reason? As Brian said I'd hit up 70 N and tell them your dilemma. Let us know the outcome and good luck man!
    Tomorrow isn't promised. "Never delay kissing a pretty girl or opening a bottle of whiskey." E. Hemingway

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance in AK View Post
    That stinks.
    Your flight service should be doing all they can to get the flights they drop covered by another reputable company. Don't be afraid to push him to help you!
    I wish you & your dad the best!
    My thoughts also. Your pilot should have others he can call on to get you in and out. Good luck. Hope your dad nails the biggest one.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

  7. #7

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    Who is the reputable pilot you are referring to and what are the complications? If we knew who your pilot was then we could recommend someone else. On another note I have never heard of a pilot canceling out on a client that was already booked due to complications. Sounds very suspicious to me. Did they give you a full refund? Did they offer you a flight another time? Do the complications have anything to do with the haul road washing out? 70 North is a very reputable company. I would be surprised if they were the pilots you were referring to.

  8. #8

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    Wow - that sucks. Like others here, I would love to hear more details about the complications that seem to be cancelling your reservations made far in advance.

    Other have recommended 70 North and other air taxis along the Dalton. If you don't have any luck there, Brian mentioned the 40 Mile Herd as a viable option. I've flown with both 40 Mile Air out of Tok (several times) and Golden Eagle Outfitters out of Delta Junction (Jim Cummings), and would recommend either in a heartbeat.

    Good luck making alternate plans, please keep us informed.

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    Thanks for the advice fellas. I broke the news to my dad last night, surprisingly he was understanding and had faith that we'd still have a good trip. I guess that was my biggest fear was disappointing him after all I did all the planning and this is his dream trip.

    I've been on the phone for half a day and called nearly a dozen different air charters and as expected almost all are booked up. But I was able to get in touch with a couple that I might be able to work something out with. I'll have to pay some fees and adjust my arrival and departure dates & times with Alaska Air in order to make it work. As well as change rental car and fishing charter dates if possible. I'm aware I'm probably going to lose some deposits, but hey I knew this was going to be tough logistically to plan, so I'm trying to remain positive. I just hope I'm able to make it work and pull it off in time.

    As far as my original air charter I don't want to name drop. I will pm anyone who wants more details. But honestly he has been straight forward and professional to deal with to this point. I just wish he had some type of back up plan for something like this and as far as I know his complications and reasoning's are legit. I'm awaiting a response from him about a for sure cancelation and if I can get my deposit back. I really wouldn't want to be in his shoes having to tell 30-40 other groups he may not be able to fly them.

    Hopefully within the day I'll know one way or another and can move forward with planning for the trip. Either way we are heading north in under 2 months and I know it'll all work out in the end.

    I just want to say thank you again. I really don't think I could have planned this trip without everyone's advice and experience being shared on this site. I truly feel this site is a life saver!

    Thanks,
    Gary

  10. #10
    Member Redlander's Avatar
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    I'd sure want to know what his "complications" are. If it's anything to do with his operation, then I'd d@mn well demand my deposit back or I would rat him out all over the internet. No excuse for a charter/transporter/outfitter not to do everything possible to make this work short of being dead. There are pilots and planes all over the place they should be pulling in favors to cover their operation.

    Trip insurance?

    If all the hunting options fall through, keep the fishing trip and drive and enjoy the scenery. Try again next year - with a different transporter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    70 North would be the first one I called out of Happy Valley, then call the others mentioned above.

    If these fail, consider looking at the 40 Mile herd with a flight out of Tok or Delta Junction (or Fairbanks?). That area is a registration hunt (permits available by signing up), and while the zones with highway access close quickly (zones 1 and 3), the zone in the middle of the unit (zone 2) is predictably open during your time period. If you go that route, there are a number of reputable air services that serve the area and which should be able to put you in front of some caribou.
    Sent you a PM

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vance in AK View Post
    That stinks.
    Your flight service should be doing all they can to get the flights they drop covered by another reputable company. Don't be afraid to push him to help you!
    I wish you & your dad the best!
    Thanks Vance

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    Quote Originally Posted by mjm316 View Post
    Man that's tough! Did they say what the complications were? Did it seem like a legit reason? As Brian said I'd hit up 70 N and tell them your dilemma. Let us know the outcome and good luck man!
    Sent you a PM

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    Thanks SmokeRoss

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    Who is the reputable pilot you are referring to and what are the complications? If we knew who your pilot was then we could recommend someone else. On another note I have never heard of a pilot canceling out on a client that was already booked due to complications. Sounds very suspicious to me. Did they give you a full refund? Did they offer you a flight another time? Do the complications have anything to do with the haul road washing out? 70 North is a very reputable company. I would be surprised if they were the pilots you were referring to.
    Sent you a PM

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdhunter View Post
    Wow - that sucks. Like others here, I would love to hear more details about the complications that seem to be cancelling your reservations made far in advance.

    Other have recommended 70 North and other air taxis along the Dalton. If you don't have any luck there, Brian mentioned the 40 Mile Herd as a viable option. I've flown with both 40 Mile Air out of Tok (several times) and Golden Eagle Outfitters out of Delta Junction (Jim Cummings), and would recommend either in a heartbeat.

    Good luck making alternate plans, please keep us informed.
    Sent you a PM

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redlander View Post
    I'd sure want to know what his "complications" are. If it's anything to do with his operation, then I'd d@mn well demand my deposit back or I would rat him out all over the internet. No excuse for a charter/transporter/outfitter not to do everything possible to make this work short of being dead. There are pilots and planes all over the place they should be pulling in favors to cover their operation.

    Trip insurance?


    If all the hunting options fall through, keep the fishing trip and drive and enjoy the scenery. Try again next year - with a different transporter.
    Sent you a PM

  18. #18
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Also try contacting Kirk Sweetsir with Yukon Air. The logistics would be a bit different, as you'd have to fly commercially into Fort Yukon first, but I've flown with Kirk before and he is an absolutely top notch pilot and businessman. As an added bonus, he keeps two planes on hand just in case one goes down.

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    Another option - turn the bou hunt into a Kodiak deer hunt. There are also possibilities of caribou on Kodiak, too. remote, but possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbsoupir View Post
    But at this point I'm not sure what else to do...... Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again,
    Gary
    Call Roy Thomas and Justin at TnT Outfitters and see if they have room for you on their airboat hunt. 907-351-2269.

    Another airboat option is Alaska Gold Rush at this site but I would ask Roy first. http://www.airboatfishing.com/

    Best of luck from a former Dakotan, north and south.

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