It's -37 and has been for days, I never wrote about this hunt and thought I would share. My good friend Charles ask me if I would go on a float hunt for moose with him. I of course said yes and ask him the plan. Charles and I were in the Army together at Fort Hood and both deployed to Iraq when it started. Charles went back to train the Iraqi SF and was wounded by a sniper. After he recovered he ask to be sent to Anchorage, this is how we came to be together for this hunt. He had hired a hunt planner (which I highly recommend as a novice) so we had the maps and a good idea of what to expect. This particular float had only been done a few times. The other hunters had used smaller inflatable canoes and had floated down an alder choked stream to a floatable creek. We had a larger raft and knew that would be a tough job. So we saw that our air taxi would airdrop us our gear at the floatable creek. With the plan being to fly into a small strip above the creek and hike down a few miles to the floatable creek and meet the plane that would air drop the bulk of our gear including the raft that alone weighed 120lbs for just the raft. Charles ask me to go in July so of course we stayed on the phone talking hunting, guns, gear, ect… We bought all the videos and watched those together, read all the Alaska hunting books, used this website extensively ask questions and got great advice.
We got together and weighed all our stuff and prepared it for the airdrop. We each planned our own meals and planned a couple group meals.
We met at 40 mile air in Tok to spend the night and fly out the next day. We paid our transport fees and discussed the logistics of getting us in the field with our gear and the date and location of our flight out. They weighed all our gear and we put it up for the night. We walked over to the restaurant across the highway and had dinner. After dinner we checked out 40 miles hunt office and looked through their hunting photo albums, getting us pumped up of course.
We carried all our gear over to the flight line and staged it to be loaded. We loaded up in a 206 and away we go. After a short flight we are at the dirt strip, as a pilot myself, I see where he is going to land and get kinda freaked out. We power land on a postage stamp and we are down safe. The places these professionals can land are amazing to me, but they do it everyday. We unload our packs and get ready for the 3 miles down to the creek. The first part of the hike down was not to bad, there was a game trail that followed the ridge down and the footing was good. Then we hit the tundra, I was so thankful that we did not have to carry all that gear from the strip, and we did consider that option. The mile or so across the tundra was miserable, almost spirit breaking, after what seemed like forever we made the drop point.
We had a snack and drank several bottles of water each trying to stay hydrated. We both had gotten exhausted crossing the uneven swampy tundra. After we had rested we made a windsock and marked the drop zone with orange trash bags. After a short wait the plane appeared, the pilot made a few passes and lined up for his first run. His helper pushed one of the bags out and it landed with a bounce right on target. The next run out came the raft and then the same over and over until it was all on the ground. The plane flew by and with a wave of his wings was gone.
Now that little trickle of fear set in, I ask Charles if he thought it was all okay, he said he thought so. We started unpacking all the gear; the raft was in perfect condition, not a scratch. We lost a few food items that exploded on impact, but everything else was fine. After a few hours we had camp setup and had burned all our packing material.