Air Taxi Complaints & Research
I've read some recent posts about bad air taxis. Maybe I'm doing this all wrong. When I decided to do an AK moose hunt this year, I first did as much research as I possibly could. I studied any and all internet info I could possibly find, everything from AKFG to guide services. I called and spoke with biologists. I posted messages asking for help on this and similiar sites. From this, I narrowed my search down to about 3 different units. Then I researched these even harder. I read, in detail, numerous outfitter and air taxi service's websites. Called a few from each unit. Decided on the unit. Studied ariel photos. Talked more with outfitters and air taxis. Posted for more help. Ordered topo maps, and Googled for as much info as I could possibly find. Narrowed it down even further to a specific lake and a specific area that I'd like to hunt, with a good backup plan and how I'd accomplish getting it executed. Then I called all the air taxis that could get me there. I decided on one, and had a backup service ready. I spoke with them in great detail about what they provide, what the costs were, what they could do for us, etc. Then I booked with them. With the deposit sent out, I then sent them marked maps with the exact specific area I wanted to be dropped at. Made sure it was do-able. They knew and agreed to put me exactly where I want to be five months ago. My hunt is already planned out in my head, from day one through day 15. That will of course change somewhat as it always does when critters are either here or there, but I would bet (unsafely- but I'd still probably make the bet) that I can do the entire hunt without a map or compass, just from studying topos. Now, maybe next week I won't see a single shooter moose, maybe I won't see a live moose, but I'll have no one to blame but me. I will have a great time, though.
Like I said, maybe I'm a knucklehead, but I do this with 80% of my hunts. On the 20% that I don't do this, I've either hunted the planned area or used the outfitter before, or I'm hunting with someone who has done the research. I don't go blind. I have never walked into a travel agency, asked to book a vacation that I can gamble on and said for them to take care of the details. They might just put me on a cruise, when I really wanted Vegas. I never walked into a car dealership and asked for a vehicle with four wheel drive, wrote a check and said that I'll be back tomorrow, as I might come back to find a shiny new Explorer, when I really need a F-250.
Now, with that said, I have had some bad experiences. Once, on an outfitted hunt the food was terrible. Edible, but poor-tasting. One guide I had talked so dang much that I found myself taking hour and a half long bathroom breaks, just to get a break from the run-on conversation. I had to endure a couple guys in a camp once that just had to tell me how big their homes were, how many animals they killed, how much they earn, each and every minute. I even endure a week of wolf viewing with an elk tag, without public land outside of the wolf-zone. Of course, many hunts resulted in tag soup, but not at the fault of lack of planning. Weather or just plain "bad-critter behavior". That's why it's called hunting and not killing.
I just can't understand why someone would bash a service that provided what a service sells, transportation. If my air taxi drops me on the wrong lake, I'll be at odds with them. If the boat I paid for doesn't float, I'll be at odds with them. But, if I don't see a single moose, then I'll mark the maps with a note that says "No moose in '07" and fold them neatly into the file folder marked Alaska Hunting and put them away for future reference, and hopefully, at least, have some great pictures and alot of fish.
Last edited by Daveinthebush; 08-29-2007 at 07:24.
Good post there Edpre. Even though I haven't done the drop off hunt yet in my hunting career, it sounds like you got it down and you're going in there with the right attitude. Homework pays off for any kind of hunting and fishing. Gees I try and try and get that into people's head when I worked on charter boats in Kalifornia. No tuna or dorado near the beach in January even if you did catch them here in July. Anyway, great post.
Good post edpre, and kudos to you for being diligent. I hope your homework pays off.
On the subject of air taxi's I think you'll find the bulk of resident hunter dissatisfaction/complaints relate primarily to sheep hunting. Many air taxi's are hired by outfitters to fly in paying clients. Said air taxi operators then have a vested, financial interest in not jeopardizing that relationship by putting resident "privateers" close to paying clients. In most caribou and moose country there are usually lots of places to drop off hunters so it's easier to keep everybody happy. With sheep, the places one can get in with an airplane are relatively few and usually fiercely guarded. "Easier" access to trophy class rams has become a commodity for sale to the highest bidders. And even if you do suck it up and walk in the extra miles or take your own plane you run the isk of a confrontation. Tales of vandalism to camps and planes, and/or threats and intimidation by outfitters or their employees abound.
In my own case, I am flying into 13D this year for a late season sheep hunt. I booked the day after Prop 158 was approved. My highly reputable pilot told me flat out he would not fly me where I wanted to go because it was "...a guide's area and I'm not going to step on his toes."
I wasn't asking to be dropped on top of rams per se, but like you I did my homework and had selected a central location in good ram country that an airplane can safely get in and out of, only to be told no. My experience is not unique.
I still intend to hunt there but will have to walk 10 miles or so after being dropped off.