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Thread: Float Hunts, Would You Do It Again ??

  1. #1
    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Question Float Hunts, Would You Do It Again ??

    I am looking into putting a float trip together for 2007 for moose and would like to know from the people that have actually done this would you do it again ??
    This trip will be for two , myself and a friend from Oregon maybe up to 9 days .
    What would you do different ?? If anything .
    Did you have enough raft room ?? Did you use a raft or a ?? maybe a soar type raft ??
    I do not have a raft yet but will get something later on this year , maybe a Pioneer Pro ?? just not sure .
    Anything you should of brought along and didn't ??

    Thanks

    RR
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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default floats

    I have been on 3 float trips 2 solo & one with a ex hunting freind. To answer your question yea I would & will next fall its a great way to enjoy the area kinda a lot of work at times others times relativley easy. I have come to find its as hard as you make it.
    Its great to be able to hunt an area then move on to the next "great spot"
    or at least you keep searching for it. 1st year 04 the waters where low & it made for a lot of raft dragging with 4 caribou & a moose in the raft. 2nd year 05 I was i little smarter & only shot a moose & wolf. This past season 06 I passed on a 4brow tine 50-55 in moose my 1st day on the river because of warm temps & it being so early in my hunt plus this moose was not nearly as big as the 2 prev mooose 60,62 in. So for me yea its great you get to see a lot more area often changing dramaticly sometimes its just the little things you observewhile out there that make it all worth it

  3. #3

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    I really enjoyed our float hunt this year but I don't know if I would do it again. It's a totally different ball game when compared to hunting from a set camp or wheeler camp. Unloading the boat and setting up and tearing down camp everyday got tiresome. If I were to do it again I would float a shorter stretch of river and spend more time hunting in different spots.

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    Default

    Yep, I've done it and would do it again. Its a great way to hunt Alaska a nd see the country. What I would have loved is if Larry Bartlett had put out his video of float hunting BEFORE we did ours, it would have certainly helped. We used rafts but despite the service stating rowing frames were provided, we only got canoe paddles, which is NOT the way to raft riveres in Alaska. WE had a pretty good equipment list and we didn't need anything else and we used everything except the big first aid kit and the stuff in the "possibles bag" which was spare laces, and stuff like that.

  5. #5

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    We've always been happiest when time/distance allowed at least two nights at each stop. Lots less breaking/setting camp and more opportunity to explore /hunt each area. If you get into some great country, spend three nights and only spend one at the next stop. Took the pressure off and eased the camping side of things at the same time.

  6. #6

    Default NO

    Successful hunts in Alaska are governed by a number of factors. In my opinion, the most critical factors are ACCESS and MOBILITY. Float hunting offers very little degree of each of these. If you are really wanting maximum success, you have to be able to move up and down on a given river. Floating is an Opportunistic method at best. There will be miles and miles of nothing but miles and miles. In a given stretch of river, there will be few hot spots and vantage points for spot and stalk methods. More often than not hunters float right on past these spots without knowing they are there. If you are totally aware of the terrain and animal haunts, a raft can get you to these specific spots for you to do your hunting. Novice hunters floating an unknown river can expect less success. Power boats and airplanes are way better methods of access and mobility. I have no way of quantifying success, other than my own experiences.

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Question

    Thanks for the replys keep them coming .

    What did you all use to float the rivers , Rafts or ??
    And what type of rafts ??
    Sounds like you all had a great time . I am really looking forward to the upcoming trip in 2007 .
    Thanks again

    RR
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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default rafts

    I didnt notice what you where going to be hunting but I have used a raft & a Pro Pioneer. Two of you & almost anything you are hunting i would advise a raft tha pp is perfect for me by myself but when i put bullwinkle in there is gets crowded real fast! Its still a canoe. Raft of almost any kind is good with two people.
    good luck

  9. #9
    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Talking

    We wil be after the elusive moose .So I guess a single soar Pioneer Pro would be out of the question with two guys and a moose .
    I suppose a good place to look at rafts will be the upcoming Sportsman show .
    Is there any local raft sellers in Anchorage .I am in Homer and do not make it much up there so I am not sure what is available .

    Thanks again

    RR
    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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    Default Caring for moose meat.

    I think the biggest problem you would have is keeping your moose meat from going bad. I have read two posts this year, one person left his moose meat in the bottom of a raft for several days in water and wondered why nobody liked eating his moose meat. The other hunter with 20 years of rafting experience and a x-guide also had problems with not taking proper care of his moose meat. By leaving it in game bags for several days with out proper care.

    I also read where moose hunters could have easily taken a big bull moose, but did not because of the warm weather. For them I have the greatest respect. These are the true ETHICAL HUNTERS, not the do as I say ethical hunter.

  11. #11
    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Question

    Rutting Moose

    You are correct .
    The meat has to be well taken care of for sure .
    That means keeping the meat off the floor of the raft as much as possible and keeping the bags changed out and dry them selfs .
    I have been reading up on some new bags (TAG BAGS ) and they seem to have worked well for the hunters that have used them !!!
    before you squeeze the trigger or let an arrow fly during a float hunt you have to consider how many days before you are to be picked up and or to your destination point and how the weather is at the time of a potential kill ???


    RR
    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Au Contraire!

    Akres,

    You identified a number of issues in your post that I consider classic mistakes float hunters make. Here are some observations and comments for consideration.

    FLOATING INSTEAD OF HUNTING

    This is perhaps the number one mistake new float hunters make. They wrongly assume that there’s an animal behind every willow patch, and that all they have to do is show up. As you said, most rivers typically have a handful of hot spots with a lot of dead area in between. This is true whether you’re hunting moose (there are traditional rutting areas, etc.), caribou (there are migration corridors that are frequently used year after year), or bear (there are streams with prime feeding and bedding locations, as well as berry patches where bears can be found year after year). Knowing this, it becomes the hunter’s responsibility to plan his hunt around these locations. This means you have to know how to identify these prime zones in advance. For a complete neophyte, their best bet is to talk with someone who knows how to identify these places, until they learn how to spot them for themselves. Without that knowledge, the hunt could easily be nothing more than a scenic boat ride.

    DROP VERSUS FLOAT

    I disagree with your comment that a drop-off hunt is more effective than a float hunt. ANY Alaska hunt is only as effective as the skills of the person hunting (barring pure luck). There are hundreds of miles of prime hunting areas that are completely inaccessible by aircraft or by power boat; the powerboat or aircraft transporters doing dropoff hunts are only hunting the fringes. What I WOULD agree with is that some of these transporters know some of the prime spots and will drop you off right there. But if the spot has been already hunted before you got there, or if someone else drops in on top of you, you could be completely out of luck. You’re rolling your dice on one number only and if you don’t hit the nail exactly on the head, you’re just camping with guns. Some years ago we were dropped off in a dead zone, with the airplane not coming back for ten days. After three days of hard hunting, we realized that our chances of taking game there were about zero. There was no sign and no evidence that game was in the area. So we left one person there and hiked overland through trackless wilderness for twenty miles to another spot I knew about, and shot a fine caribou bull. It took us two days of hard packing to get there. On that hunt, we had to make our own luck. No, on a drop hunt all your eggs are in one basket. Related to that are situations where the transporter locates game from the air with the intent of hunters taking those specific animals (this is most commonly done with moose). Unless the transporter is also a registered guide who 1) has that Game Management Unit on his license AND 2) has registered for that exact Guide Use Area, this kind of activity is strictly illegal according to the Alaska Statutes (12 AAC 75.440(c)(9-11). There are air charter services that do this; BEWARE! Naturally, hunters who do this have a greater chance of taking game from their “drop camp”, however this is illegal. It is very marginal from a legal standpoint to ask your air service to fly around locating game, or to dispense hunting advice to you in the aircraft or especially on the ground. The troopers would likely construe such activity as “providing services to hunters” beyond simply transportation, an activity strictly limited to those holding a valid guide license and all the relevant permits for the area.

    ACCESS AND MOBILITY

    I really disagree with your statement that access and mobility is limited on a float hunt. Actually, many of us float hunt specifically because access and mobility is greater on a river than it could ever be from a base camp. If you think of a successful float hunt as involving a series of drop-camp hunts, you’ll understand what I’m saying. Personally, I’d rather get the chance to hunt two or three good hotspots than only one. Again, this assumes that the hunter has done their homework and knows where those places are.

    INFLATABLE CANOES

    I’ve already written a lot about this, so I won’t add too much more here except to mention for Rick’s benefit that inflatable canoes are generally not a boat for new float hunters with limited experience on Alaska rivers. That's just not my opinion either, but is also shared by whitewater canoe instructors and folks I know who have been canoeing over forty years in Alaska. One of these individuals canoes over a thousand miles a year in Alaska. These folks know their business. An inflatable canoe is a boat that experienced floaters graduate to in order to specialize on certain types of rivers. There are many rivers where a canoe would be my last choice, for reasons that I have already written about here.

    USE ENOUGH BOAT

    My personal favorite is an eighteen-foot cataraft with an outboard. This system allows me to hunt long river systems that have little or no traffic on them because the river is too long for simply floating. My personal record was a 14-day hunt in which we covered 180 miles. Because we had the outboard, we were able to concentrate on three or four hotspots; the rest of the trip was a boat ride. We had plenty of time to really hunt these areas, but without the cataraft and outboard, we could not have hunted this river because it only had three access points in the entire length. Simply put, the cat opens possibilities that would not otherwise exist. The same can be said of inflatable canoes on shorter, small streams. However, as I said, the canoe can be very dangerous in inexperienced hands. If you’re new at this game, start off with something well within your skill range, and move up as you learn. The time for learning new boats is not while you’re trying to do your first float hunt.

    NOVICE FLOAT HUNTERS

    I agree with your comment that novice float hunters in general have less success than experienced folks, but the same holds true when you compare folks doing drop-off hunts. Therefore the problem isn't that floating isn't effective, it has to be related to inexperience in general. New guys will usually come up short, compared to experienced hunters. I’ve spent the last fifteen years equipping novice float hunters with the keys of success and many have written back to me with stories of how this information has helped them fulfill their dreams of taking Alaska big game on their first float hunt. I believe there are a number of keys to success for these folks. One is getting good, reliable information on how to conduct a float hunt, what equipment to use, and where to go. For those interested, my upcoming book, “Float Hunting Alaska’s Wild Rivers” covers all of these areas and much, much more. I believe this will prove to be the single best tool for float hunters, whether they’re total novices or experienced river rats. Time will tell.

    For those interested, the book is still in pre-order status. Contact the publisher for details on delivery dates. A number of folks have written me recently asking about this. I have no control over the production process, but my publisher should be able to assist you.

    In addition to this resource, I also offer fee-based hunt planning services and logistical support, and would be happy to discuss that with anyone privately. CONTACT ME for details.

    FINAL CONSIDERATIONS

    Finally, I would encourage anyone considering their first float hunt to do your homework thoroughly. Most of the work of a successful float hunt is the research and planning of the hunt. Do a good job there and the rest will come together much more easily. Don’t be discouraged by the negative experiences of others, but instead, learn from their mistakes and take advantage of the fact that they’ve given up on float hunting. More room for you and me!

    Good Hunting!

    -Mike
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  13. #13
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Response to Rutting Moose

    Quote Originally Posted by Rutting Moose View Post
    ...I have read two posts this year, one person left his moose meat in the bottom of a raft for several days in water and wondered why nobody liked eating his moose meat. The other hunter with 20 years of rafting experience and a x-guide also had problems with not taking proper care of his moose meat. By leaving it in game bags for several days with out proper care.

    I also read where moose hunters could have easily taken a big bull moose, but did not because of the warm weather. For them I have the greatest respect. These are the true ETHICAL HUNTERS, not the do as I say ethical hunter.
    Hi Tom,

    I agree that there are some unique considerations with regard to meat care on float hunts, that are not an issue on most drop camp hunts. In short, you cannot leave the meat on the boat. This is not only because of bear issues; it relates mostly to allowing the air to circulate around your game bags so the meat can glaze over properly. The problem is that some hunters get lazy and don't want to take the trouble of hanging it every time. Moose hindquarters can weigh over 170 pounds and it's no small chore getting it hung up. I have some pretty good tricks for that coming out in the book (hey, I can't give it ALL away here, can I?).

    As to your comment concerning a hunter "with 20 years of rafting experience and a x-guide [who] also had problems with not taking proper care of his moose meat. By leaving it in game bags for several days with out proper care." I believe you are referring to me? I could be mistaken and would welcome a correction of this assumption if I'm wrong. If you are referring to my experiences this fall, your information is incorrect. Proper meat care does not require the removal of game bags unless the bags are damaged or wet and need to be changed out for dry ones (something we did). The problem we encountered was that the bags we were using didn't breathe well enough to allow the meat to glaze over properly. I tested this by putting some meat in a cotton game bag for comparison and it was fine. Because the weather was unseasonably warm, we actually cut our trip short by a week and left early specifically because we wanted to get the meat out of the field as soon as possible.

    The meat was shipped in excellent condition, however due to a delay in cargo transport we had some slight surface bacteria issues when it arrived at the butcher shop. The delay in transport occurred when the cargo company didn't follow my instructions to ship it on the first available flight. After we left the village, another customer insisted that his meat go before ours, and since we weren't physically there to override him by prior claim, they bumped our meat and it sat outside on the ramp all day on a pallet in the warm sun before it was shipped later that evening. Simply put, the cargo carrier did not follow my very specific instructions.

    Also, another correction (if you're referring to me): I am not an ex-guide. My license #967 expires at the end of 2007 (as does every other guide license), and will be renewed at that time.

    Finally, I did pass up a bull moose that essentially walked into camp and surrendered, but it was not because we couldn't care for the meat in the weather conditions we had. It was because we had enough meat already and it would have been wasteful to kill another animal. Same goes for the black bear that I let go. I just didn't see a need to kill it. I would hope that this would not be seen as exceptional behavior, and I know that many others would do the same under similar circumstances.

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  14. #14

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    The biggest factor I found in keeping the meat in good shape was letting it cool BEFORE putting it in the bag, as we cut the quarters of my moose we layed it out on a tarp and continued on. The pieces we cut that were to be used for burger we would lay out on a log or bush and they cooled very nicely. As the bags became wet with water and blood, we would sapw them out almost on a daily basis and the meat stayed cool and clean. The meat from this bull is some of the best I have ever had and I can't wait to sample some of the processed meat from IV.

  15. #15
    Member lvfire's Avatar
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    Default

    Mike, is your book out yet?

  16. #16
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Default

    if hunting is anything like fishing float hunting is the way to go for a number of reasons

    a) mobility
    b) covering more area faster
    and
    c) its very quiet, try driving up to a moose in a jet boat
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  17. #17
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lvfire View Post
    Mike, is your book out yet?
    Mike gave an update on the progress of his book 5 days ago in this thread.

    Looks like it will be here soon!

  18. #18

    Default Drop VS Float hunting

    Good morning guys. I would like to add a note from a buddy of mine in Boise that addresses the issue of drop vs float hunting. He is one of my bets advocates for float hunting and he does a good job pointing out the pro’s and cons of both. I think with the other information provided by guys like Mike Strahan you will be able to make a good informed decision regarding what is the best bet you. The most important aspect of any successful hunt is the planning phase that will lead up to your hunt. If you’re not willing to invest your time into finding out everything you can about your up coming hunt then hire a guide and they will take care of all of your needs.


    Drop hunting VS Float Hunting by Muley Crazy-Boise ID

    Drop hunts; get dropped of by air plane or boat and hunt the same area the entire trip only going as far as you are willing to pack an animal back. In moose hunting that not to far. I don't care what kind of shape you are in. Its still a lot of work. Min 8 trips so if you shoot a moose 1 small little mile form camp, that 16 miles of packing (some areas require the meat to stay on the bone) my moose weighted 750 lbs on the bone, including the horns and Cape so your pack will be around 93 lbs. pack Frame 4 lbs total weight 97

    In my opinion the best way to hunt in AK FLOAT HUNTING!! Yes it cost a little more but compared to what you will of already invested its a drop in the hat If it is your once in a life time hunt do it right the majority of big game animals use the rivers as corridors for travel, you get to see new country every day, you get to go to the game, not wait for them to hopefully walk by you.

    It is a little more work setting up camp and taking it down but after day 2 your party learns to work as a team setting up and breaking down camp is easy I floated with My Dad 57 two bad knees and a hip replacement, my MOM 56, and my brother 23 so things were a little slower for us but there is no need to hurry! Our only experience with floating was the local river in town in the summer. so we were beginners for sure.

    If you pick a smaller river that has shallow water and a few log jams it will limit jet boats and air boats, a little dragging and carrying the boats makes the trip that much more in the end. The last thing you want to do is get home and wish you would have done it different, "worked a little harder". Not always looked for the easy way (lazy way)




    Walt
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    Your best bet in rafts, canoes and camp rentals in all of NW Alaska
    www.northwestalaska.com

  19. #19
    Member lab man's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    c) its very quiet, try driving up to a moose in a jet boat
    Have done it myself and seen it done many times. I don't really enjoy hunting this was, but in my experiance moose will stand for a shot more often than running away. I haven't shot a moose out of a boat yet, and have no plans to in the near future, although if the oppurtunity presented itself I might take it. To me, calling or putting a stalk on a moose is what hunting is all about.

    -Eric

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    Default Yes I Would And Will Again

    Larry B., set myself plus three buddies up on an extended hunt in 03. Changed my life as a hunter. No problems and it spolied us all... E-mail or pm for info... Touch much to tell on here...

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