Fall is winding down a bit, and I'm already getting field reports from many hunters I've been able to assist. Looks like our moose harvest numbers are up, perhaps as a result of the mild winters we've had the last few years. One group reported being literally overrun with caribou, and they filled all their tags with no trouble. As sometimes happens, our cold weather arrived suddenly, especially up north, and some hunters, lulled by warmer temperatures in August and early September, packed lighter clothing than they should have. One group reported that the campfire was their new best friend, and they even passed on some moose hunting just to keep warm! Pack for temperatures ranging from the mid 60's to below freezing! Your time is valuable and Alaska hunting is expensive. Don't waste valuable hunting time when you can remain in the game by just putting on another layer.
Some of you may not know that I offer direct consultation to resident and nonresident hunters who need additional help with area selection, air charter selection, or any of the other details involved. There are other consultants out there, and I recommend that you contact them to compare what they will do for you, and their rates. I believe I offer something different that you are not going to find anywhere else. Cut to the Chase by CLICKING ON THIS LINK, to read our Hunt Planner page on the site.
If you prefer to do all of this without the assistance of a hunt planner, by all means check out our Alaska Hunt Planning section anyway. There is a lot of solid information available for free, which may prove invaluable to you in the planning process. For the river hunters, be sure to check out our Alaska Master Rivers List, which contains references for over 500 rivers across the state of Alaska. I know of no other such catalog of river information anywhere, and it's there for your personal use.
Whether or not you use my services, you need to know that our air transport services (charters and transporters) seem to be booking farther and farther in advance these days. Whereas in years past you could count on booking your air charter in January of the year of your hunt, this is no longer the case. Many of my hunters start the planning process three years in advance. In some cases, they must adjust their plan to hunt "next fall", and we put something cheaper together for them while at the same time working on "the Big Hunt" three years hence. The bottom line is that there is no longer such a thing as starting too soon on an Alaska expedition hunt plan.
Here's a short overview of what is offered:
1. Unlimited contact. I will spend as much time with you as you need. I spend anywhere from 30-60 hours with many of my groups, and I hold back nothing from you. We will freely discuss locations, techniques, commercial service providers (air services, rental companies, meat processors, etc.). If there are issues with a location or a commercial service provider, I will tell you, so you can make informed decisions.
2. You are in the driver's seat. This is your hunt. My job is to provide mentoring and training where needed, direction, information, and coaching. Because some groups are more experienced than others, some will require less of me than others. But the bottom line is that you are in control of the hunt. You will make the decision on the location, the air service, the commercial services you will use, and so on. You will also make the arrangements with these folks, which eliminates many misunderstandings. In other words, I am not in between you and the operators. Part of the reason I do that is because I am teaching my hunters to cultivate relationships with commercial service providers, so subsequent hunts with them will go well.
3. Flat rate, additional hunts are free. I charge a one-time fee of $1,750 per group. Subsequent consultation for other Alaska hunts is free. I have found, just as many of you have, that once hunters have a financial investment in their hunt, they become much more involved. I provided consultation for many years for free, and discovered that many of the hunters I was spending a lot of time with were not really serious about hunting Alaska. Or they simply could not afford the hunt. By charging a fee, I am able to filter out the serious hunters from the tire-kickers. In recognition that many tire-kickers become serious once they spool up, I have provided a complete hunt planning section on this site, which walks you through the planning process. This allows you to do this yourself without my services. You can find that section AT THIS LINK.
4. No referral fees or commissions. Although I will recommend several commercial service providers during our time together, I receive no commissions or referral fees for these recommendations. This frees me up to offer objective opinions on who to recommend, and what warnings to issue. Since there are no payoffs involved, you can know that I work for YOU, not for the service providers.
5. We work from a checklist. In order to avoid forgetting critical details, I keep all records stored offline in a secure database. We work from a checklist, so no details are forgotten. As we work through a step in the process, I check it off the list and we go to the next step. By keeping it all organized, I help you take an organized, logical approach to your hunt. Here are some of the steps in the process:
- Budget. No sense in planning a hunt you can't afford. We look at all the costs involved and help you come up with an affordable budget. Then we recommend hunts that are in your price range.
- Location. Once we know your financial constraints, we recommend several locations. At that point you will collect information about each of these places, together with our guidance, and we will discuss your findings and add in what we know about the area. This part of the process can take some time, so we take all the time we need to do it right. We want you to end up right where you want to be. We also look at guide pressure in the area, resident and nonresident hunting pressure, species population data, habitat quality and a ton of other factors.
- Air Charter. Alaska has a lot of air charters and transporters. We wade through the differences with you, along with the idiosyncrasies of each operator; fee schedules, weight limits, HAZMAT restrictions and the works. We make recommendations for specific operators who have proven to be reliable, and you make the reservations. This puts you in direct contact with the service, which prevents misunderstandings and confusion.
- Gear. We send out a detailed gear list and review the gear with you, clear down to the socks and underwear. I will recommend specific brand names where necessary, and we will discuss appropriate camo patterns for your particular hunting location. We also coach you through a pre-hunt shakedown of your gear, so you know that it all works as it should. This gives you some regroup time if something needs to be replaced.
- Raft Rental / Camp Rental. Some hunters prefer to use their own boats on float hunts, while others find it is more cost-effective to rent boats and camping gear in Alaska, in order to get the right stuff and to save on shipping costs. But not all providers have what you need, or the boats may not be adequate. We work with you through this process, to help ensure you have what you need, and that you don't overpack.
- Commercial air travel, lodging and ground transportation. In nearly every case, you will need commercial lodging somewhere, and you may need ground transportation. We work with you on this, so all the dots are connected, and you don't end up with expensive surprises at the last minute.
- Shipping and expediting. In some cases you will need to ship your personal gear and the common gear for the group (camping gear, boats, etc.). We review the various options and the pros and cons of each, along with how to pack appropriately for a Bush flight, so you can make the right decisions for getting everything to your air service and back again.
- Menu Planning. Having the right food in the field can make or break some hunts. We go over the different freeze dried options, along with whole foods (including perishable foods).
- Mapping. We do detailed maps of the hunting area, which include river mileage for the float hunts, and the areas you need to focus your hunting time and attention. Don't try to hunt the whole river! We help you identify and focus on the prime areas.
- River Hazards, Navigation, and Pacing. Each river is different, so if you're float hunting you need to know something about how to hunt that river, how to pace yourself, and what potential hazards you might encounter (shallow water, sweepers, strainers, logjams and white water in particular). We review that with you and help you plot trouble spots on your maps, so you can scout these areas out when you get there. Pacing is very important on float hunts, and without it, you're just camping with guns. Pacing is the ability to figure out how much time you can / should spend at those hotspots, and when you should move. If you think of a float hunt as a collection of drop camp hunts connected by a river, you'll get some idea of pacing. The classic mistake some new float hunters make is to try to hunt the whole river. If you do that, you'll waste valuable hunting time setting up and breaking down camp.
- Hunting Tactics. Does the hunting area allow for glassing from elevated locations, or is the terrain relatively flat? We work through all of that local knowledge with you, so you end up with a custom hunt plan specifically for the area you are hunting. While there are certainly general tactics for moose, caribou and bear (and we cover these with you), there are local tactics that you need to know. This will put you several notches up the pole from other hunters you may encounter in the field, who were dropped off with no instructions on how or where to hunt that location. This will have a dramatic effect on your chances of success.
- Fishing. Many float or drop camp hunts offer fishing opportunities as well as hunting, and we review the available species, tactics and gear you'll need.
- Emergency Planning. We review all the necessary information you need to leave behind, so someone knows how to find you in an emergency. Additionally, we discuss the various options and how to prepare for an in-field emergency, should you end up in trouble. This is a very critical step in the planning process.
- Meat and Trophy Care. We spend lots of time reviewing proper techniques for preventing bone sour, bacterial contamination, cold shortening and other causes and preventions of meat loss. We cover the proper tools you need to take care of your meat and trophies in the field, along with skinning and fleshing techniques. We also review the legal requirements for your specific hunting area with respect to meat and trophy salvage, as well as how to handle yourself if you end up shooting an illegal animal. We also discuss meat donation, mid-hunt meat hauls, and shipping your meat and trophies home at the conclusion of your hunt. No aspect of meat and trophy care is overlooked in this vital part of the planning process.
- Meat and Trophy Processing and Expediting. You have a lot of options when it comes to dealing with your meat and trophies after you return from the field, and we review these options with you, so you have a solid, cost-effective plan when you return. Our goal is to help you ensure that no meat is wasted.
6. Referrals. An unfiltered list of both successful and unsuccessful hunters is available upon request.
Interested? Simply send an email with your inquiry TO THIS LINK.