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Thread: Lost the Love...

  1. #1

    Default Lost the Love...

    This is kind of a rant thread but I am curious if others have experienced what I am going through. I have become increasingly disenchanted over the last few years hunting here in AK. This kind of reached a climax last year when I finally forked over some $$ to do a fly in trip for sheep in the Brooks. The hunt did not go well and we spent a lot of time in the tent. Now, I realize that one has no control over the weather and that is part of the hunt. What sucks is the money part. It seems like the more money you spend for a hunt the less fun it is. I would say that we are just an average middle income family. I can afford to do these hunts but hate the pressure that comes along with them. Last year, I felt like I a had to shoot a sheep as I knew it would be a while before I got the chance to do another fly in hunt for sheep like that. Maybe it is the whole sheep thing. i have been so focused on shooting one of those suckers and am now 0-3. Again, that part doesn't bother me as that is hunting. The part that bothers me is the money spent to do those trips and the associated pressure attached to them. I am going to switch it up this year and try to do a hunt that will allow for a higher rate of enjoyment. I have done several fly in bou trips that were a blast. The money wasn't that crazy and the atmosphere was so much more laid back. Maybe it is because I have shot a bou and wasn't concerned with shooting my first one.

    I don't know, am I crazy?

  2. #2
    Member Phil's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Liverpool, NY (a suburb of Syracuse)

    Default NO

    You are definitely not crazy (well maybe a little since you like to hunt). Just consider those of us who have to hire a guide to do a sheep hunt. In my case, it just makes hunting sheep something I will never do - simple.

    Maybe an attitude adjustment is what is needed. Consider that hunting dollars are your golf (or other hobby). You are going to spend a certain amount of your income on a hobby. why not hunting?? After that, if you keep within your limits, the money is just spent - no pressure. If you are successful - GREAT. If not, it's part of hunting.

    I do agree that you should not pressure yourself in the hunting game. It's like thecasual golfer thinking he/she should be better than tiger Woods. As an amateur - it isn't going to happen.

    Just enjoy thefact that you live in Alaska where the hunting opportunities are so vast.

    And, NO, I'm not a golfer - that's just for an example.

  3. #3
    Member caribouman's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Woodland, CA

    Default The harder a goal is to acheive, the greater the satisfaction

    I really feel your pain, 0 for 3 would test anyone's patience when you put that much effort into a hunt. If you are like me you spend most of your free time all year long dreaming about next year, and reviewing what happened last year. I think it would be a good idea to try something a little different next year but don't give up entirely on sheep. I've found the harder I work at something and the greater the challenge, the more reward and satisfaction once I'm successful!


  4. #4

    Default A few things to think about...

    I've often wondered about the same thing you are talking about. A few responses come to mind:

    Be creative in your hunting plans
    Try a walk in, float a river, take a snowmachine. Try hunting places you can access cheaply but that others don't know about or want to put the effort in to get there. For instance, through some scouting and research I found a place that I can raft and have a great chance at getting a bear (3 years - 4 bears, 2 brown, 2 black). The only costs involved are the raft rental and the gas to get there.

    Enjoy hunting for other reasons
    This is a personal thing for me. I enjoy hunting more for the experience of being out there and the challenges I face than actually the killing of the animal. Granted, its always nice to come home with something, but that's why its not called shopping. Enjoy your time in the field. If nothing else you'll have good stories to tell and pictures to prove it. Also, if you succeeded every time, the times you do succeed would not be so sweet...

    Talk to other sheep hunters!
    I've read that bowhunters going after sheep have less than a 10% success ratio! Rifle hunters have on average a 25-35% success ratio! So, give it another try and the law of averages will hopefully catch up with you!

    Good luck and enjoy the fact you have two legs, a good back, and the money to sheep hunt! You are one of a very few that has had that kind of opportunity.


  5. #5

    Default FUN

    While I haven't hunted sheep(yet), it seemks your on the right track. It's a matter of persistence. Not sure if you went 3 times to the same area or if you changed areas each time, but recon and area scouting pays off.
    I get my greatest joy out of putting a hunt together, finding the maps, makeing the preps, packing my gear and getting to the area chosen. The time spent afield with friends is far more important than harvesting an animal. Success isn't determined by how many inches a moose is but instead how many cups of coffee my friends and I have by the campfire.
    PS; If you drink enough campfire coffee you'll get your animal.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

    On the road of life..... Pot holes keep things interesting !

  6. #6
    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Nov 2008


    It sucks being skunked if you need the meat to live and the family is hungry. My first year in Alaska I can remember curseing myself for letting a dolly off the hook as that was dinner.I try to keep the kill just a small part of the hunt on a whole. On the other hand if you never even see the game you are after it does build up and makes the whole camp unpleasant so there are no fun stories and such. Like stated by others do the cheaper type walk in or river trip to get to the game,just you and a friend or two.I walked the bank of the Chilkat river for many miles over a few years and finaly a goat looked down on me and landed at my feet.No real expence but time and I saw a heck of a lot walking all to my enjoyment. Yes I could have got a chopper to fly to the top and had it done with but I'm glad I didn't.

  7. #7


    Well I can see where you are coming from in your frustration. However, if it gets to the point where I feel I HAVE to connect on an animal because I am pot committed due to the amount of greenbacks I spent and feel the pressure that if I don't get an animal it is a trip wasted then thats when I'd begin to feel I need to reevaluate my priorities.

    Obviously if you are spending that kind of money for a fly-out hunt you are not solely going on a meat hunt and generally speaking sheep aren't exactly a "meat hunt" to begin with as the effort per pound of meat compared to moose is way more. Therefore you are either going on the hunt for the experience or to simply harvest an animal. Its probably some combination between the two that most drives most sheep hunters. I realize everyone has their own reasons for hunting, but if you don't view the hunt as a success at the end regardless of the fact if you ever got to pull the trigger and it gets to the point where it is no fun due to the pressure because of the money spent perhaps it might be better to go on much cheaper, but lower percentage walkin hunts that allow you to better enjoy being out hunting w/o feeling the "need" to harvest an animal.

    Just remember $$$$ spent doesn't always equate to harvesting the animal you are after. Yes it can improve your chances at times, however, it in no way makes it a for sure deal. Thats why they call it hunting and thats why hunting attracts a lot of us to some degree.

  8. #8
    Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
    Central Illinois

    Default Hunting ?

    I like the reply's so far - all of us that hunt from time to time, wonder "why" we do it anyway. I think it would be safe to say no matter what animal has drawn our individual interest, that most of us can feel your pain. I have chased everything that I could afford, also on a middle class income, and have had many successful hunts. However, as I age (52), I have come to enjoy each day much much more and realize its that for some reason I "need" to hunt and I really do not "need" to kill. This fall I fell and have 2 herniated disc's in my back - tremendous pain at times and yet I managed to go bowhunting for whitetail several times and took a real trophy by any hunter's standards. Yet, the one trip this year that stands out in my mind was one beautiful morning that I sat 3 hours - I was hurting so badly I knew that I should not shoot a deer even if I got the chance - and I saw zero deer that trip. But, before I got down I thanked God for letting me see one more sunrise, smell the fresh air one more trip out, and my reward was to have a bobcat walk by minutes later. This is the first bobcat seen in this area "ever", by anyone!
    My point is no matter how dissapointed we all get from time to time try to remember what is important - that is that you got there and you gave it the most effort you could. There are many hunters ( me included ) that would feel they had died and gone to heaven just to sit on one of those peaks and look at the views you must have been lucky enough to see!
    Good Luck my friend....

  9. #9
    New member
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    Apr 2006


    I feel your pain futurerancher, things are really changing up here and all too fast. I watched a movie last night called "This is My Alaska", its about a Master guide named Leroy Shebal and it was filmed in the 50's and 60's up here. Though the game seemed plentiful in those years, I also came to realize how devoted the predator control efforts were back in those days, pre animal rightist and federal laws that are now in place. Those guys truly understood how important it was to keep the wolves and bears in check, they killed thousands of wolves in their predator control efforts, and especially did these programs in areas where the wolves were putting a hurting on sheep, bou and moose. Anyway long story short, the times have changed as they always do. When you look at the fact that air charters are booked up even before the winter tags have come out it tells you the number of folks that are trying to get away from the crowds and those numbers can also only mean one thing, fly out hunters will also not be alone where ever they are going. Try to make the best out of each venture into the field is all I can say ,because things will never be what they once were and I foresee things only becoming harder on us not easier in the coming years. By the way, you realize that you have targeted one of the lowest number and most sought after trophies that Alaska has to offer (Dall Sheep) and your not alone in the quest for one. Theres hundreds of Alaskans as well as non-alaskans that want to take a sheep each year, and theres just not enough of them to go around. Crowded hunting has become a staple, just hope that eventually you are in the right spot at the right time, and before someone else is, and things will come together. I would highly reccomend you look at your odds on some of the draw hunts as those are some of the highest success sheep hunts there are, its just hard to get one of those coveted tags. keep your chin up......your not alone in your frustrations!

  10. #10

    Wink Paying the price


    Being in the business of assisting hunters I feel and hear your pain, all of the time! It is critical to keep in mind that it is called hunting not killing. I always to inform my guys that the important part of the hunt is the experience and if/when you bag an animal that is a bonus. The guys who travel up here and thinks he will bag a B & C with in an hour of getting off of the 185 often times is the most difficult to work with. The phrase I hear and hate the most is “Just put me down in front of the herd”! This is the first red flag that will many times put an end to our business transaction.

    I live in the hunting and fishing paradises of the state and I always get my meat but I only get really big bou or moose every 3-4 years. I will bet that I have bagged 15 –20 caribou and really nice 2 moose in the past 8-10 years but only 3 of those caribou are real racks that have found a spot on the wall. I guess the point I am attempting to make is not every hunt trip is successful and as hunters we should know that. The second part of the equation is cost. Hunting up here is expensive but it is a privilege to hunt this country. Keep in mind that people from all over the world pay really big bucks to hunt Alaska because we live where the hunt is truly great. I think that I have found ways to keep cost low but you still have to get here. I have a friend who I use to do a lot of backcountry skiing with and his saying about getting to the top of a 10,000 foot peak and having the pleasure to ski 4,000 feet of untouched powder was “ If you want the goods Walt, well you have to pay the price”! So true.

    Good luck and keep your stick on the Ice!

    Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
    Kotzebue Alaska
    33 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

  11. #11


    It sounds to me like you are the one applying the pressure to succeed. I've done many a fly in hunt during my time up here and haven't been successful every trip. Success is what you make it, and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every fly in hunt that've ever done. I get to see new country and live in the wilderness for a week or so, that to me is what it's all about. Coming home with meat and horns/antlers/hide/skull is a bonus and icing on the cake. To many people these days consider a hunting trip a failure when they don't kill something instead of taking in the whole experience. Maybe it's because I consider my hunting trips as vacations instead of something I have to do every year.

  12. #12
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Apr 2006


    $3500 to sit in the rain in the Brooks and not shoot a sheep VS. $3500 in Hawaii... I'll take the Brooks every time

  13. #13
    New member
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    Feb 2007

    Cool me too on the frustration level of big buck alaskan hunting

    boy can i ever relate to you guys , here i am again looking to book a hunt for 09, i have spent probably 20,000 plus in the last to years looking for a Grizzly bear and so far have noy even taken the safety off of my gun... after spending this much $$$$$ there sure is a ton of pressurer, now the world is upside down and i do not think i can afford a grizz hunt so i am looking for a good outfitter for black bears... it saddens me to no end to think of the pressure of coming home to my wife knowing how much $$$$ and hearing her say no more thats it... MY LOVE is bear hunting now its try to find a way to justify another hunt... i would like to find a guide who will take me for a modest fee when he prouces a shot then i pay him any takers out there .. maybe the guides could have some pressure this way... cant wait to here what you guys have to say. any one out there want to buddy up on a cheapsuccesful grizz hunt

  14. #14


    Quote Originally Posted by futurerancher View Post
    .......I don't know, am I crazy?
    Nope. As far as air taxi fees are concerned, you're right on the money.

    Air taxi fees are obscene. There is no way in Hell I'm paying them.

  15. #15


    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    $3500 to sit in the rain in the Brooks and not shoot a sheep VS. $3500 in Hawaii... I'll take the Brooks every time
    I went on a rather non-frugal trip to Kauai last winter. It might have costed $3500 for the three of us, but I doubt it. And that money was spread around to car rental companies, restaurants, home rental, airlines, and several touristy attractions.

    $3,500 to a single air taxi operator to dump me unceremoniously on a gravel bar, then pick me up at his pleasure a week or so later?

    No, thanks.

    I can sit in a tent up here for free any time I wish, rain or not. I'll be dipped if I'll pay $3,500 for it if I can help it.

  16. #16
    Member akjw7's Avatar
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    May 2006


    Average middle income families can afford multiple fly in trips?

    Dang. Way to ruin my misconceptions about my own financial standing! I just realized that I must be poor...

    Something about your post really irritated me when I first read it, but I didn't really have anything nice to say so I deleted my reply.

    I will say this - I'm happy for you that you have the resources and health (sheep hunting is not something everyone can do even if they do have the money) to be able to go on fly in sheep hunts. It really seems like a shame that it's not fun for you.

    Seems like your reasons for hunting have been clouded by your strong desire to get a sheep. Get back to the hunting you enjoy and reconnect with why it's fun and why you do it in the first place. Maybe after that you can take a different view of sheep hunting and try again. Also try to keep it somewhere in the back of your mind that there are lots of people who can only dream of doing once what you've done several times already - you ought to be enjoying it!

    I have only been sheep hunting once and technically I wasn't even hunting. My friend drew a tag in a walk in climb up area and off we went. No sheep died in the making of this hunt (it was an ewe permit - so no trophy rams were even thought of) and a lot of hard climbing, but it was a blast - one of the best hunts I've ever been on. Being in the mountains is an incredible experience and very different than slogging around for moose. (which I love too, but it's different)

  17. #17

    Default Hunts

    Do not feel too bad it took 6 trips to kill a Brown. Saw animals everytime but things never did work out. The one I shot was on the way to the hunting are, and we were on the same trail. My brother shot his the first trip out this past October, so who's luckier, me for just being out or him for harvesting a bear his first trip to Alaska? I enjoyed every trip no matter what happened. It is part of hunting and spending money on what you enjoy and I certainly am not wealthy.

  18. #18
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Apr 1999
    Anchorage, Alaska

    Default Hunt cost vs expectations


    Yours is a common complaint, as the replies have shown.

    In almost everything we do, we have been trained to think that the more money we spend on something, the better it will be, whether it's cars, houses, equipment, and yes, even on hunting trips. While there are ranches that cater to the financially "elite", where you can buy an animal and then kill it, the kind of hunts you're talking about are not like that. Nor would you want them to be, from the sound of it. It seems that you are willing to spend the money, but are still equating the amount of money spent with your chances of success. As long as you have that idea, you will be disappointed. You say you have "lost the love", but the question is "the love of what?" I have found that if I love the hunt itself; all the little things I spend more time doing besides the few minutes spent stalking and killing an animal, I keep coming back again and again.

    Saying hunting is all about killing (which is what most folks mean when they talk about "success") is like saying marriage is all about sex. If you have that idea about marriage, you won't last long. Same is true of hunting. Both are about a relationship. In the case of hunting, it's about your relationship with yourself, your companions, the traditions you've learned, and the relationship you have with this earth and the things that live here with us.

    Then there's the "luck" factor. Some of the finest big-game trophies ever taken were taken by folks who were not looking for one and certainly others were taken by rich men who spared no expense.

    If it's about the hunt itself, every one of them will be a success.

    I'm not saying you don't understand any of this, but many times I have observed hunters in the field feeling the same things you say. Then their luck changes, they pull the trigger on an animal and the anxiety and frustration are over. The pressure on a guide is enormous, when the hunter has paid $15,000 or more for a hunt, and I don't think it should be this way.

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  19. #19
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Nov 2006
    Hubert NC

    Default tough

    This kind of thing is tough all the way around and is felt by many. The expense of doing these kind of hunts is tough and I think that when you fall in the middle of the road as far as income and you can only do so much it hurts a little more. Yes I think that most of us true sportsmen/hunters feel that the experience is the most important thing and it's what really matters and I think that there is a fine line. Most of us can equate our hunting to going deer hunting or small game hunting and doing it quite a few times a year and not spending a whole bunch of greenbacks to do it. Then when you plan and save to be able to afford to do that special hunt that only comes once in a life time or once every few years that is can be much more disappointing when you dont have the success of harvesting an animal. Heck, all of our lives we are taught that we need to succeed in anything that we do. When we play a game we want to win. When we hunt we want a trophy or meat for our family and that means success. The only thing to say is that you have to continue to try.....and do what you can. If one way isn't working for you plan another.

  20. #20
    New member
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    Apr 2006

    Default The cost of hunting

    I sense your feelings as well . The economy has put a crimp in our life styles . Rising prices have made it difficult to justify some things in life .
    I look towards hunting as a 50 - 50 chance . Even if I don't score , the feelings of knowing their still out there walking gives me a great sense .
    I guess thats the nature of it all . Hang in there . There's 2009 heading all our ways . Good luck to futurerancher and the rest who are still trying .

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