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Thread: Anyone have info about floating/canoe hunting for moose on the swanson river

  1. #1
    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Default Anyone have info about floating/canoe hunting for moose on the swanson river

    was thinkin about float hunting and canoeing for moose on the swanson river in kenai....how is the moose population in this area recently? not looking for big bulls just a spike/fork burger bull

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    Default

    enjoy the float
    enjoy the silvers, and trout
    but it's long long odds for a legal moose

    not saying it wouldn't be a great trip because it would be
    but if you're counting on it as a serious moose hunt I think it's a stretch

    my 2 cents

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    thanks for the info, might look into other options

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Another perspective

    Moose are where you find 'em. The Swanson River country has some nice moose, but you really need to query the area biologist for details like density, bull / cow ratios, age, hunting pressure, etc. I did a writeup on the Swanson River Canoe Trail system in my book "Float Hunting Alaska's Wild Rivers" (available in our bookstore here on the site), and it features a very nice bull taken by one of our forum members, on his first moose hunt in the area. The key to that area, like many others that are relatively accessible, is to get off the beaten path. That, and knowing how to hunt moose.

    I would not give up on this area until I really did my homework on it. It certainly has possibilities.

    Hope it helps-

    -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
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Swanson river hunt

    The silver fishing right now is outstanding,, some of our local annual floaters told me they have never seen as many silvers as this year,, the trout are good too..
    Moose hunting ?.. Yes,, there are moose in the area of the 20- plus mile float.. the chance of paddling up on one?? not very often,,
    look at some maps and google earth,, off the river are some areas that are pretty good, maybe only 1/2 mile or so,, just lock them in the GPS and then walk back to the areas you picked out and marked on the GPS.
    There are a few lakes that seldom if ever get visited off the river, and even portaging your canoe over to them and camping near them and using the canoe to access a few more miles using the lake shore line .. well it may be something to consider,,
    those that do the 2 day float and hang out on the river are less likely to score,, those that will get off the river and spend more than 2 days, may do better.
    Calling is always a much better bet,, even if you are not skilled at it,, you can do wonders with using wind and calling techniques... My neighbor made a moose call using the old coffee can and a string pull method.. he called in two bulls,, neither legal,, but lots of fun and excitment anyway...
    ....... so getting off the beaten path and using calling techniques, such as chopping wood, scraping on spruce trunks, cow calls and being as stealth as possible....
    Max
    Last edited by Alaskacanoe; 09-09-2009 at 00:38. Reason: add some important stuff
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default More info-

    It might help to think of a float hunt the same way you think of road hunting. Most successful road hunters don't expect to shoot a critter out the window of the pickup as they drive along some dirt road. They know where the hotspots are, and use the vehicle to get close, then they PARK THE TRUCK and get out and hunt on foot! If you get into this mentality, your float hunts will be much more successful. Of course, that means you have to figure out where those hot spots are... and that's at least half the fun!

    Study the habits of moose. The more you know about them, the more successful you'll be both in terms of appreciating the whole experience, and in bagging game. Case in point: Bulls dig rut pits, and tend to use the same ones every year. So a rut pit is a good indicator of where to find moose during rut-- even an old pit is something to remember. Another case in point: In some areas moose will migrate between summer and winter range (sometimes up to 100 miles), but in other areas they occupy the same area year round. Learn to identify the signs of winter activity (dropped antlers, moose nuggets, stripped bark, etc.) and summer activity (browsed willow, softer moose droppings, etc. and use that information to determine whether the area you're scouting is likely to have moose during the fall. Pick up a book on moose biology and study it. Two of the best ones out there are "Wild Mammals of North America" and "Ecology and Management of the North American Wild Moose". These books will teach you more about moose than you could learn in your lifetime, and they'll make you a better moose hunter.

    Another book to consider is Dan Quick's wonderful little book "The Kenai Canoe Trails". It's full color, and contains aerial images of the entire area. It's an absolute must-have for anyone hunting or fishing the area. It covers both the Swanson River Canoe Trail system, and the Swan Lakes Canoe Trail system. Excellent book.

    Finally, trust Max. The Swanson River Canoe Trails is right in his back yard, and he's got groups in and out of there all summer.

    -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
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  7. #7

    Default Silvers

    I can verify what Max said about the silvers. Did the 2 day float less than a week ago. For the last 5 miles, they were virtually stacked on top of each other at every deep bend, it was pretty cool. Didn't take a gun this year, figured it was my best hope for seeing a legal moose - even that didn't work, obviously wasn't trying because we didn't have enough time to deal with one even if we had seen one.

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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Default

    hows the black bear population doing in the area and are you likely to see one near the water? thanks guys for all the great information, im really thinkin about doin this trip before the end of the season and if not then ill probly do it 2-3 times next summer to learn the area.

  9. #9

    Arrow Swanson River float hunting

    Did this trip last weekend with my 13yo daughter. I'd done it in the early 90's and had forgotten how many boulders you need to maneuver around and how slow the Swanson river is. It was like paddling a 25 mile long lake flowing 1 mph. You travel through some great moose country but because you're down in the river you can't really see much of the terrain. I rigged my trusty old Coleman canoe with a set of outriggers I picked up at a garage sale and put a 6' step ladder in the middle of the boat so I could scout up over the bank now and then. It was actually quite stable but I really never climbed higher than the second rung and it served more as something to steady myself. I'll try and post a picture or two. What really got me is the amount of garbage we found almost everywhere we stopped. Toilet paper and crap, beer cans, bottles, bags, you name it. It was a bit disheartening and disgusting.
    Here are my tips: PLEASE DON'T LITTER; don't take your new $2500 canoe, it will scrape the bottom and bounce off of a lot of really big rocks; If you get a moose it's going to make it much tougher to paddle and you'll have to drag it through quite a few shallow spots. I recommend two canoes. We took a 8' inflatable raft as a meat trailer but it would have been really hard to tow through the rocks and over numerous beaver dams if it were full of moose. Figure on 18 hours of paddling, we paddled about 6 hours a day over three days. You could go faster but you wouldn't have much time to look for moose or fish. The silvers were bouncing off the boat in a couple spots.
    My daugher shot her first game (ptarmigan) which made both of us very proud. We never did see any moose though. The weather last weekend was beautiful which made it a really wonderful trip. Had it been wetter and colder it would have been another story, but that's true for any outdoor adventure. Enjoy the trip.

  10. #10

    Default The rest of the story

    I concur with Michael's advice to go afoot, you'll increase your chances ten fold over staying on the river. Make sure to take a GPS though! We walked away from camp on day two looking for bulls and spruce hens and got turned around. It took us over an hour to get back to the river. My daughter was leading the way and I sensed we were going astray and told her so, but those dang teenagers can be pretty stubborn. We'd only been gone from camp for 20 minutes so I decided to just follow her and give her a life experience about how easy it is to get disoriented in the woods. After another 20 minutes I asked her which way to the river and she didn't have a clue. I had a fair sense of where to head so I took over, but we still ended up about a mile downstream from camp. The twists and turns in the river made a short trip through the woods a long ways downstream. We could see an oilfield bridge 1/4 mile downstream so we headed there to rest up. We'd left fairly early in the morning so I still had heavier clothes on and by the time we got to the bridge we'd been hiking for 90 minutes and I was totally dehydrated from sweating, the heat of the day and the swamp tromp along the river. An oilfield hand who stopped to talk to us on the bridge drove to Chevron's camp and came back with a few bottles of water. I left Kaity on the bridge, stripped down to my long johns and a tee shirt and did the mile long slog through the bog back upstream to camp in 40 minutes. I rested up a bit, snacked, broke camp, then paddled down to the bridge in my shorts it was so hot out. I'm definetely taking a GPS next time and getting directly back to camp. The whole ordeal took about 5 hours out of the day.

    The fishing just below that 2nd bridge was pretty good.
    I've attached a picture of our ladder equipped canoe.
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