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Thread: Air Charters TMA

  1. #1
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    Default Air Charters TMA

    OK guys, after my last post its clear I sturred up alot of questions about TMA area charters. I wont say bad things about my charter because it serves no purpose. Ill post this in an effort to educate hunters on pitfalls to lookout for. Ill give examples of problems and what I did, or should have done to correct them. The following are practices as I understand them if you fly out on 40 mile out of TOK. They are a friendly professional and safe service, whom I felt comfortable with.
    1. Cost
    Base Price-$895 RT in and out of TOK to the TMA with a sheep. If you want a better spot, pay more money. Next level up is $1200 ish. They say its for hunters not in the best physical condition. To me thats french for better sheep. IMHO

    2. Weight
    Your allowed 50 lb. packs. There serious, no exceptions. Its a wt/bal deal with the cubs.
    Loophole- pockets, I carried a spotter,binos,water filter, camera on me in my pockets. If you can pack it on you its OK.

    3. Hunting location
    They told us from day one WHERE we would be going. There was no choice for the price. They perform a self management of the sheep according to them. so thay balance where hunters go.( french for more $ = more sheep) IMHO
    If you ask for maps you get a typical topo map . If you look Reallllly close you might see a small pencil mark by the drainage. ( we couldnt) These guys are james bond secret. There creek names arn't on the map, they make up there own. Unless your pre paid you can forget even that. Even there pilots dont know. We flew out on a 206 to a half way point to get picked up by the cubs. When asked, out 206 pilot, who by the way was the best 206 bush pilot I ever saw. didnt know where the drainages are. Only the cub pilots (Owners) know and there not talking.
    The answer, when your FULLY PAID then hire another plane as a recon flight to over fly the hunting area. They might still not do it but I couldnt imagine why. When you hit the ground blind, you have no idea where to go or whats ahead of you. Just to show you how serious they are. To be helpful I tied some flagging tape to a bush by the runway to show them wind direction for landing. ( I have some flight training, thought it would be helpful) Upon there arrival for pickup, they tore it down with a quickness.

    Other than that they were a good service. I found other areas they could have put us in that would have saved 4 days of walking but I guess from there point of view two hunters netting them $1800 doesn't justify risking a $70k supercub. But again IMHO thats why I hired them. If they wanted a safe job, give tours from a concrete runway.

    OK to conclude here are my last points
    1. Get everything nailed down. Get a firm distance for cost agreement worked out on the map before you leave.
    2. Make them give you your destination EXACTLY at the time of payment or don't pay. If they wont take you where YOU want to go, hire somebody else.
    Last edited by Webmaster; 08-28-2007 at 15:15. Reason: Negative comments

  2. #2
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default

    Or walk in or use Jim Cummings with Golden Eagle. Success rates for walk in, fly in and ATV hunters are about the same according to ADF&G.

  3. #3

    Default thanks

    Jim,

    Thanks for expanding on your experience. I surely use what you said next time I fly out. Hopefully I will get drawn next year!

  4. #4
    Member shphtr's Avatar
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    Default TMA/40 mile

    That pretty much mirrors what I have heard over the years - still waiting for my TMA draw to come in!. That they are a safe and professional service provider is not in doubt....user friendliness, esp'ly from a hunter's perspective is often another completely different matter. From reports that I have received for this year so far the above is still the rule, so.....buyer beware.

  5. #5
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Not happy with this thread's info

    Jim,

    Glad you got in and out safely and had a good (albeit hard) hunt. Sorry you didn't get a ram.


    One thing I'm confused about...you say they told you from day one where you'd be going, but then allude you didn't know "exactly" where you'd be going. If they told you where you'd be going (generally), well I don't know about you, but if it were me I'd have bought good topos of that area and studied them hard, and had them with me too. If you had to ask for maps, then imo you are not doing the required pre-hunt research on your own. Matter of fact, it's dang good of them to even have maps available.

    Another thing: your perspective on other areas they "could" have dropped you may not be the reality of bush flying that weighs that 70K airplane and your safety against the risks of landing in an iffy spot. Remember, they also may have to pick you up in that same spot too, and getting out of a tight area with you in the back seat is often a lot riskier than landing in one and then taking off empty.
    Plus, these guys know what higher elevations are like in inclement weather, what areas get socked in, become turbulent and all that. Pilots like Leif and Randy tend to make what they do seem easy and effortless. They have the years and hours to do what they do, and you're paying them for this experience. The client in the back seat should not second guess just what is landable and what isn't. You should not imply here that unless hunters get to pick the exact spot where they are landing that they shouldn't pay.

    I think your options are fairly limited on air-taxis who will fly you into TMA, and where those particular air-taxis will drop you off safely and pick you up too. There are other factors too, like other air-taxis using other landing areas, and a need to not drop people off on top of each other if it can be avoided. Yes, definitely call around and get the most service for your hard-earned dollars. But when all is said and done, the way I look at your recent hunt, Jim, is that this outfit gave you everything you paid for, and you were even forewarned by guys like Roland what you were getting into, yet now you are monday-morning quarterbacking and some of that is dissing this outfit when imo they don't deserve such negative comments.
    Sincerely,
    Last edited by Webmaster; 08-28-2007 at 15:18. Reason: Removed material mooted by editing parent post

  6. #6
    Member Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    One thing I'm confused about...you say they told you from day one where you'd be going, but then allude you didn't know "exactly" where you'd be going. If they told you where you'd be going (generally), well I don't know about you, but if it were me I'd have bought good topos of that area and studied them hard, and had them with me too. If you had to ask for maps, then imo you are not doing the required pre-hunt research on your own. Matter of fact, it's dang good of them to even have maps available.
    Once you think about it there's nothing confusing at all about it. And plus, with spending $900 per person, you'd think you would have a little say in how it's spent.
    Last edited by Matt; 08-28-2007 at 13:56. Reason: typo's

  7. #7
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    Default TMA Air Service

    I have used 40 mile Air on 3 separate occasions for sheep hunting in the TMA. I killed my ram and my partners killed there rams. We were 100% succesful. The only caveat I can tell you is if you have an idea where you want to go call as soon as you are drawn. Word gets around as to where the best spots are. Once someone has reserved a spot they have to put you somewhere else so the longer you wait, the less options they have left to get you into an area. Leif and his crew at 40 mile air are professionals and very safety conscious. I am sorry people have had a bad experience with them but they are more who had a positive experience and enjoyed the ultimate big game hunting thrill in Alaska!!

  8. #8

    Default 40 mile air

    Mark,

    Good read. I know I will call Leif when the times comes that I draw the TMA. They no doubt will put me in the right place when that time comes. Having flown with them, I would put my money on them any time. I thought Jim's perspective was interesting. I am not sure they will give you an "exact" spot. They have spent a lot of effort and time finding and building these strips, so I will respect the fact that they won't give me exact location. I have used Leif and Randy before and won't hestite to use them again. They are hard working/good people.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by northway View Post
    Mark,

    Good read. I know I will call Leif when the times comes that I draw the TMA. They no doubt will put me in the right place when that time comes. Having flown with them, I would put my money on them any time. I thought Jim's perspective was interesting. I am not sure they will give you an "exact" spot. They have spent a lot of effort and time finding and building these strips, so I will respect the fact that they won't give me exact location. I have used Leif and Randy before and won't hestite to use them again. They are hard working/good people.

    Now I am confused.You are supposed to go on a hunt and the pilot does not have to give you a spot to drop and hunt.Hell just climb in I will take you to a good spot and pick you up in a week.You dont need to know anything about my area.If I am going to hunt an area I wold like to know where I am going

  10. #10

    Default knowing enough

    When I flew with Leif, I knew the general area he was flying me into. I had it marked on a map. I don't need the GPS coordinates. This was the first time I had ever been in the area, I had no idea what to expect and the area he took me to "blew" me away in its vastness and size. I enjoyed every second of exploring the new country. I guess I maybe different than others who want to know "every" detail about where they are going. That is fine, but I don't need to know it. I prefer to figure things out myself. I always have a satelite phone with me, so if something comes up, I can hopefully get help. I had more of a "check" up date than a pick up date set. I didn't want to limit myself on the time out there. I could call them and let them know that I was ready or not ready. Happens to be that we were ready to come out, but the smoke wasn't going to let us be picked up! 3 days later Leif and Randy got in for us. I know them personally and put total trust in them and what they do. I can understand if others do not though.

    As far as the TMA goes, I have already talked to Leif about it. I told him he could put me within 10 miles of some big sheep and I will do the rest. I am not against doing a "fly by", but I also like having the adventure of not knowing what lies ahead sometimes, no matter how frustrating that may be. That is just me. I realize others are different. I also trust Leif and Randy enough that they would check up on me when they are in the area.

  11. #11
    Member spoiled one's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Thumbs up for 40 mile air

    I flew with FMA on my Tok hunt back in 2000. We booked our hunt the day permits came out and told them where we wanted to go. They seemed a little surprised that we were so familiar with the area, but reserved that area for us with out issues. Randy even flew the area with me before setting us down on the strip. We did our homework and they knew it. It resulted in both my partner and I taking great rams. Great experience. I would absolutely fly with them again. Sorry to hear of your negative experience.
    Spending my kids' inheritance with them, one adventure at a time.

  12. #12

    Default Adding a Little Background on Locations

    Hey Jim,

    Sorry to hear your hunt didn't work our exactly as you hoped - I can commiserate bigtime on that one, I've learned a few good lessons over the past 6 years on my Alaska hunts, and am getting better about not repeating my earlier mistakes and doing research/planning to help me enjoy my hunt.

    If I may add a little background about the 206 pilots and locations - I'm not sure that they're not provided the info on locations, I think it may be a case of them not needing to know. Leif isn't quick to hire just any pilots, and you gotta put in some serious time in the 206 shuttling hunters to the remote airstrip, before you'll ever get a chance to fly the Cubs. So, typically the 206 pilots don't know the exact hunting locations because they never see them - they drop hunters and their gear at the remote airstrip, and then Leif and Randy take the hunters to the hunting locations in the cubs.

    As for not telling you the exact area - in some cases, that's because due to wind and weather, they may plan to drop you at a certain location, but not be able to land at that location. On my moose hunt last year, we tried three times, on two different days, to land on the ridge where they wanted to drop us - the wind just wouldn't let us land safely, from either direction, so we ended up landing on a ridge about 1 mile away and setting up our camp there. You're a pilot, so I'm probably preaching to the choir here.

    Again, I wasn't there so can only add some background on possible reasons for some of the things that occurred - I could be 100% wrong in my reckoning. I am sorry it wasn't what you hoped for, and I wish you luck in your future hunts.

    Michael

  13. #13
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default 40 Mile Air

    My wife and I just got back today from our fly-in Caribou/Bear hunt with Leif at 40 mile. I can't say enough about the service we received. Leif and Randy sat with us on an small airstrip for 2 hours waiting for for weather to clear so they could put the wife and I where they wanted. After the 2 hours Leif said call me when the weather clears and I will move you. I called the next day and they said We will be there in an hour and they were there in 55 minutes. Helped us carry gear, even showed me a water source at the first spot he had seen from the air, and put us on a hunt of a life time. Just to remind folks they are an Air Taxi not a guide service. Tell them where you want to go or be happy to know that you are in a spot where other hunters have harvested game.


  14. #14
    Premium Member denalihunter's Avatar
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    Thumbs up 40 mile

    I can only say that being my first experience with Leif, he'll always get our business. An excellent trip, with some of the best people I've been around. He didn't give us exact locations, but gave us the drainage. The rest was up to us, and we did our homework. I don't want them giving out the exact strips, because you can bet if they all get known, private planes will be landing there.

    We got our rams, and had the most memorable and enjoyable trip we've ever been on, mostly due to the great work of 40 mile and crew.
    Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

  15. #15

    Default Disabled Dad gets ram

    We used 40 mile in 1995. Charlie Warbellow was still running 40 mile and Leif was his number one pilot.

    My father is disabled from carwrecks and is unable to climb. Leif and Charlie put us in the only spot in Alaska where a disabled hunter using canes might have a chance at success.

    We went in early for a 8 day hunt. My mother switched food bags with us and instead of carrying food in we had the light food reserve in one of my dry bags and a bag of dirty laundry. I did have a bunch of powdered milk.
    My father is a diabetic and needed to have balanced food. I ate blueberries and drank warm powdered milk for the entire trip until we killed our rams.

    I used sheep decoys. I learned about the trip from an old Athabaskan hunter from Dot Lake. He told me that rams will get curious and will go check out what looks like sheep.

    We would move them early in the morning and I was check the adjacent drainages. The first day of season we had 60+ full curl rams in our valley. They ran right through our camp.

    My father shot a 39 inch ram with a lovely argali curl. I took a much smaller ram that was the last ram in the group.

    They got him out but the weather closed in and I was stuck in for another 3 days.

    Leif and Charlie were awesome.

    Again they put us in a position where my father could actually kill a ram.
    It was the high point of his hunting life and probably one of the greatest experiences in his life. I believe than anything can happen and circumstances sometimes can change and lead to negative things, but I will also tell you that they(40 mile) made his life just a little bit better and probably made the world a better place in the process.

    If we ever draw again we will definitely go with 40 mile and pay them whatever they want.

  16. #16
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    A couple that we are friends with just got back tonight from a hunt with 40 Mile Air. They weren't in the TMA, but 40 Mile put them in a great area with lots of sheep. They both took nice rams and had the best hunt of their young marriage. Not all hunts turn out as planned, but they couldn't say enough good things about 40 Mile.

  17. #17
    Member AK-HUNT's Avatar
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    Default couple comments

    Lots of positive posted, I'm kinda surprised not more neg. *comments deleted in accordance with forum rules*

    I've been reading this thread and just have to comment on a couple things. Sorry in advance for being mostly negative. Don't like doing that but this is kinda funny.

    *comments deleted in accordance with forum rules*

    Also someone said they don't need to know the exact position of where they are going. First the "transporter" is only that so you are supposed to pick the spot. If they are picking your spot, I believe that's kinda becoming guiding?? Also, how do you know when you are lost if you don't know where you started? I make sure my clients know exactly where we are and the shortest walk to a road or cabin or any life for when the guide has a heart attack and the plane crashes on the way in and etc. etc. I just can't imagine trusting someone enough to be dropped without knowing the exact location.

    One final question. (positive now in case your counting) Nobody ever talks about M&M? Aren't they still in business? I flew with them on my hunt several years back and they are awesome in my opinion. (Didn't want to leave my plane on a strip there because of "tampering" stories in those parts) They went out of their way to help. Just good dudes. Why are they never brought into these TOK posts?? Heard good think about golden eagle too.
    Last edited by Brian M; 08-29-2007 at 15:54. Reason: negative comments prohibited

  18. #18
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK-HUNT View Post
    One final question. (positive now in case your counting) Nobody ever talks about M&M? Aren't they still in business? I flew with them on my hunt several years back and they are awesome in my opinion. (Didn't want to leave my plane on a strip there because of "tampering" stories in those parts) They went out of their way to help. Just good dudes. Why are they never brought into these TOK posts?? Heard good think about golden eagle too.
    I mention M&M and Golden Eagle every chance I get. They are both good outfits. I tell them where I want to go, the time I want to go and the time I want to be picked up and they follow through on their end. The only downside to using M&M and Golden Eagle for the TMA is that I don't think they will go much east of the Robertson. I've never booked a fly in hunting trip without specifying exactly where I want to go. I don't always get my animal, but at least I have only myself to blame if the spot doesn't work out.

  19. #19
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Guys, just an fyi: negative comments about businesses are not allowed here on this forum.

    I think some are misunderstanding this thing about "picking the spot" where you want to be put. Not all of Alaska has places to land and take off safely. What Chisana says makes sense, you book a flight and say where you want to go, and they tell you if that is doable. You can't just whip out gps coordinates and say "I want to go exactly here," and have the air-taxi say "sure."
    I don't want people getting the impression that you can be flying and then say, "Drop me there, that looks like a good spot... it will save me four days of walking." You can't open the Gazetteer either and just pick a ridge to land on. It's just more complicated I think than is being let on. Lots of variables to consider. Rivers rise, strips change, weather could be lousy, someone else could work that area, other clients could already be reserved to be dropped etc.

    Chisana, I figure there is a good reason why M&M and GE doesn't work much east of the Robertson <grin>.

    Inre what AK-HUNT said, surely some of this burden should be the responsibility of the passenger/hunter, eh? I mean part of the hunt is looking over maps, isn't it? So for me, if a transporter were to say, for example, that I'll be flown into the "headwaters of the Robertson," that is fine by me if that's all I know ahead of time. When we land, I can just look at my maps and figure out where I am. If I've got any good sense at all, I'll have studied the area on the way in and looked for possible routes back to syphillization. Man, I sense some growing sentiment that in future your pilot and transporter will have to also wipe your butt in order not to get any negative press in the hunting community <grin>. The old saying is true: you can't please everyone. It pays to remember that when hearing a few negative comments about someone or their business.

  20. #20

    Default

    The sad part is that theres a lot of politics in the use of Air Charters up here these days. No you cant pick a specific GPS coordinate and say take me there because of the safety concerns in which cubs can only land where they can land in the big mountains. But to think that you can walk into an air charter business and pick out a known good landing location in a particular place and get them to drop you there is a fallacy. These guys Air Charters (not implying 40 mile air as I have not used them) just dont operate that way. Certain spots are for certain people and you arent going there. I have seen big money paying hunting show hosts on guided hunts on tv sitting in 40 miles office before a fly out guided hunt, and I am pretty sure they didnt get dropped off in the $900 RT area. Its just part of the biz and businesses are about making money so thats how it goes. Guys, good sheep hunting locations are the most sacred and protected info there is these days as far as hunting goes up here. Anyone in good enough shape or with enough drive, can climb up and kill one if they can find em and the hidden secrets of where they are and how to get to them is the only thing seperating a guy from killing one and not klling one.

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