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Thread: 2018 float plan

  1. #1
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    Default 2018 float plan

    Hello, first post here.

    My hunting partner and I did a drop moose hunt based a hunt out of McGrath this past fall, going 1 for 2 with the moose posted in my profile pic. We felt like the 'outfitter' we used was and is getting a bit pricey for simply flying us in, dropping us off on a riverbank and picking us and our moose up ten days later. We were less than thrilled with their handling of us once we wee in the bush.

    While in McGrath, we kept hearing one name over and over regarding the pilot and air service to use for our next trip. I have been in contact with said pilot and we are working on a plan for 2018. I am not trying to be secretive here, but I don't know if members of the forum appreciate names/locations being listed for all to see.

    Our 2018 plan is to be flown out of McGrath and dropped off on a riverbank with a cataraft and floating for 10-12 days, stopping to hunt areas we pre-select on our topo maps and identify as we float. We are pretty well set up gear wise from our 2015 hunt. Price wise, we will be paying the transporter I have been speaking with 1/2 of what our 2015 'outfitter' is currently charging.

    Any tips/suggestions/words of caution you care to share with us?

    Again, sorry I am not being more specific, but I didn't want to p*** off anyone by naming names and locations with my first post!!

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    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forums! It sounds like you've got a good game plan and are taking advantage of the best advertising there is, word of mouth.

    My only thoughts related to aspects of the float portion of your hunt. If you are in New territory it can take a while to figure out where the animals are. Make sure you allow enough time to hunt and won't be too busy rafting. Also is the cataraft suitable for the river? Last one, what is backup plan if river level is too low? These are questions I'd want to answer early on in the planning.

    Sent from my HTC One using Tapatalk

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    You're welcome to ask about specific transporters, but we do ask that you keep negative comments with specific names on the private message system. Asking about the one you're planning to use is fine, though.

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    The Transporter (Mag Air) we will be using is supplying the raft. I would expect that he would supply a raft suitable for the river we will be floating? I'll have to ask about the back up plan for low water. Where we hunted in 2015, the water was at record highs and although it was a fixed camp drop hunt, the high water presented its own set of challenges. I dont know how we would have gotten a bull out of the river had he gone in!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow lab View Post
    The Transporter (Mag Air) we will be using is supplying the raft. I would expect that he would supply a raft suitable for the river we will be floating? I'll have to ask about the back up plan for low water. Where we hunted in 2015, the water was at record highs and although it was a fixed camp drop hunt, the high water presented its own set of challenges. I dont know how we would have gotten a bull out of the river had he gone in!!
    It seems reasonable to expect that the transporter will be supplying the best equipment for the planned float. However, one should trust but verify. Find out what equipment they offer, inform yourself as to what the river needs, and then decide if that works for you. As to backup plan, this very thing happened to me a few years ago. I think you should decide what you want, and discuss it with the transporter. You might ask what areas they suggest for a backup drop hunt and pick your favorites based on outside research. The transporter may have all the resources needed to make your hunt perfect, or he may be just trying to get by and willing to drop you off anywhere with whatever equipment is on hand. Involve yourself in the location decisions, that way the chances of success are more in your hands.

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    Other thoughts as they come across my keyboard...

    - Consider bringing your own PFD. The transporter may supply one, but you can assure your comfort and safety if you bring your own. Make sure it has pockets sufficient to carry your survival basics.

    - If new to float hunting, acquaint yourself with rafting and catarafts in particular. It is a very striking difference how a raft responds when empty versus how it moves when weighed down near to or over its capacity. If you can arrange to get some time behind the oars in a similar cataraft you should do so, and do runs empty and loaded.

    - Know your river. It's probably impractical to get up here next year and run the river, but you should find out what you can about that river in particular, as well as similar rivers in the region. If the entire float will be a lazy class I experience then you can probably proceed without too much worry, but even then you should know where to expect problems with logjams, excess wind, etc. If you will be in a glacially fed braided stream then that requires a lot more attention and awareness of river level, your skill level, and the load in your boat.

    - Have reasonable expectations. You demonstrate a good awareness of the nature of this forum. Folks are generally helpful and will be more inclined to help if you show that you've done your homework. When asking about rafting, folks will often inundate you with specifics about which side of the river to avoid, when to go for most excitement, and where the best put-in is. If you ask about fishing people will be a little less generous with info. You'll probably get recommendations about which gear or stretch of river but fewer specifics. If you ask about hunting, the first thing you'll get is a long suspicious stare followed by a grudging admission of species and maybe even find out which game management unit they hunt in. And this only if you swear to secrecy!

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    Thanks for all the help so far Chugiak! I learned long ago that if I had a good hunting or fishing spot that the best way I could keep that spot was to keep my **** mouth shut!!

    Coming up to float the river next year won't be in the cards. I try to do one trip a year. This year I have a bear tag here in Wisconsin, next year it's elk and mule deer in Colorado and I wont be able to get back to AK until 2018. I have a decent amount of bad weather boating and hunting experience chasing ducks on the open water of Lake Michigan. I also know that I don't know what I don't know and appreciate any advice I can get regarding float hunting AK.

    Regarding expectations...I have none. I know that my success will be directly determined by how hard I work and by a positive attitude.

    Although we only went 1 for 2 on our 2015 hunt, it taught me a lot about hunting AK. That being said, I know that I have plenty to learn and therein lies half the fun.

    Keep the tips coming!

  8. #8
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    I had an assignment in Milwaukee for 4 months back in 2007. Spent some time visiting my brother-in-law in northwest WI, plus a couple field trips to Superior, MN. I saw more black bears in those 4 months than I have in all my years in Alaska. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration but it certainly was a load of bears, way more than I've seen in any one year in Alaska. Hopefully there's still a few where you'll be hunting.

    As far as my advice goes, I think my hunting skills are what they had in mind when they coined the phrase, "If you can't be an example, be a warning for others." I do a lot of hunting, not much killing. But I do put out a pretty nice float hunting camp, comfortable enough to keep my 82-year-old dad coming back every year. My motto is "Anything worth doing is worth over-doing" so we enjoy a large tent with cots, biscuits and gravy in a Dutch oven, and fish tacos every other night. Just a heads-up so you know what path my advice will lead you down...

    Good luck in Colorado next year. Elk camp in the Rockies is a pretty special time and place. Almost as awesome as moose camp in Alaska!

    One last bit of advice. The folks on this forum like their hunting porn. So if you can give us a tale of your hunting adventures last year, it will likely go a long way to building your cred with the Alaska Outdoors crowd. Especially if you post pictures. LOTS of pictures.

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    You can't go wrong with Barney. He is an upstanding guy and will do everything he can for a safe and fun trip!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow lab View Post
    Hello, first post here.

    My hunting partner and I did a drop moose hunt based a hunt out of McGrath this past fall, going 1 for 2 with the moose posted in my profile pic. We felt like the 'outfitter' we used was and is getting a bit pricey for simply flying us in, dropping us off on a riverbank and picking us and our moose up ten days later. We were less than thrilled with their handling of us once we wee in the bush.

    While in McGrath, we kept hearing one name over and over regarding the pilot and air service to use for our next trip. I have been in contact with said pilot and we are working on a plan for 2018. I am not trying to be secretive here, but I don't know if members of the forum appreciate names/locations being listed for all to see.

    Our 2018 plan is to be flown out of McGrath and dropped off on a riverbank with a cataraft and floating for 10-12 days, stopping to hunt areas we pre-select on our topo maps and identify as we float. We are pretty well set up gear wise from our 2015 hunt. Price wise, we will be paying the transporter I have been speaking with 1/2 of what our 2015 'outfitter' is currently charging.

    Any tips/suggestions/words of caution you care to share with us?

    Again, sorry I am not being more specific, but I didn't want to p*** off anyone by naming names and locations with my first post!!
    I would recommend MagAir (If not recommended) out of McGrath and spend some time at McGrath B&B when you finish your hunt. Are you hitting the Kuskokwim? It's good hunting.

    I've flown with MagAir numerous times on school trips. Good people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow lab View Post
    The Transporter (Mag Air) we will be using is supplying the raft. I would expect that he would supply a raft suitable for the river we will be floating? I'll have to ask about the back up plan for low water. Where we hunted in 2015, the water was at record highs and although it was a fixed camp drop hunt, the high water presented its own set of challenges. I dont know how we would have gotten a bull out of the river had he gone in!!
    Get yourself a come along or a chainsaw winch. Works wonders. And I am glad I guessed the right transporter.

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    From everything we have heard from folks in McGrath (locals and hunters), Barney is the man to see. He was very helpful when we spoke regarding building a hunt.

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    If weight allows, we plan on bringing a come along.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellow lab View Post
    If weight allows, we plan on bringing a come along.
    Definitely bring a ROPE along and 100' of blue steel rope. You can get it at AIH in Anchorage for a total of around $90.00.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trailblazersteve View Post
    Definitely bring a ROPE along and 100' of blue steel rope. You can get it at AIH in Anchorage for a total of around $90.00.
    That looks pretty slick...thank you!

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    No problem, I am Barneys neighbor and hunt the same area. The rope along is a must and I won't hunt without one. Used mine many times on moose and rafts. Sounds like you have been thru it before but another piece of advice, bring an extra set of clean game bags and small tarp or piece of plastic and put your moose inside the new bags and cover your pallet of meat (assuming you are taking your meat back) with the plastic at NAC. They are TERRIBLE with their lack of meat care. You will see dozens of pallets of moose out in the open getting rained on. Every year when I pick up my meat in Anchorage I find my meat that I put in clean bags, dirty, ripped and wet. REALLY upsets me but complaining will do no good. If you don't plan on bringing your meat back, Barney usually will take it if it's clean and give it out to elders. Good luck!

  17. #17
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailblazersteve View Post
    Definitely bring a ROPE along and 100' of blue steel rope. You can get it at AIH in Anchorage for a total of around $90.00.
    I like the looks of that rope puller. AIH link to it is here. The Blue Steel rope is overkill in that it's 4 times stronger than the rating of the puller. But it doesn't cost much more than polypro truck rope which has 3,400 lb rating. Amazon has these pullers too, at about the same price, except for this one which comes with 20' of rope and costs $20 less.

    I think this rope puller will replace the come-along in my snowmachine kit.

  18. #18
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    You have plenty of rivers in Wisonsin to get experience on. For general river experience, use any type of raft or cataraft. The basics are the same; Pull or push the oars, get your ferry angles, watch downstream and plan routes, be ready to react quickly to unplanned route changes due to current velocity and personal ability. Use it as an excuse to slay a few smallies or steelhead, too.

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