Etolin/Zarembo elk hunt
Okay, you folks that have been there and done that, what do I need to know.
I'm particularly interested in transportation and lodging/camping info, but I'll take anything that anyone has to offer.
Thanks in advance.
It's a very tough hunt .... success rate is very low.
No lodging on Etolin or Zarembo .... Most successful hunters, I know, fly in from Ketchikan or Wrangell. You must also take help. The kills are usually far from the beach or the lake.
It is also a tough draw.
Save your money and don't put in for the hunt. I scouted the islands this fall just before Elk season started.... no Elk to be seen. I put in over 100's miles on the Zarembo and Etolin road systems, and many hours glassing and looking for sign. Nothing... To say that it is tough is an understatement. It's thick like you would not believe. If I were a guessing man, I'd say that the clearcut regrowth is at its thickest possible stage.
Only one hunter successfully took an Elk this year and it was off Etolin Island. A number of people on this site helped me plan my hunt this year, unfortunately it didn't work out.
I talked with Gary Allen in Wrangell about getting a ride to Zarembo. He was very helpful and is a heck of a nice guy. Unfortunately, with fuel prices and no one else going over at the time, I was going to have to charter his landing craft at $220/hr. All in all, it was going to be about $1500 just to get from Wrangell to Zarembo and back. That wasn't counting $800 in ferry tickets to get to Wrangell from Sitka. With gear, food, gas, time off work, and transportation costs it was starting to get out of my budget. What threw me over the edge was 5.5 inches of rain the day I was supposed to leave Sitka for Wrangell. I cancelled and I'm glad I did. It "stormed" for the next few days and it would have been too wet. I don't mind getting wet, but not when I can't get dried out again.
For a few weeks I felt terrible about "wasting" a drawing tag. After all, it was my first win in 16 years of applying. I put months of planning into this hunt, and I'm still out a bunch of money in preparing for the hunt. When the time comes, I'm going to take the money I saved in not going, and look for a good Elk hunt with a buddy down in the states.
Now, having said all this. I do know a few people who have taken Elk on boat based hunts where they ran into the smaller herds along the beaches. If you have access to a boat and a couple weeks of cruising time, that might be an option. It'd probably be a gamble, but might be worth it. I didn't have my boat at the time or I would have tried that route if I could make it over there in between gales.
Oh yeah... no lodging on either island. Lots of good gravel pits that would be cool to camp in. You can be protected on three sides in most of them and there is plenty of firewood around. Most looked like they had good drainage if you were in the rain.
There were a couple more people in Petersburg with LC's, one is Glenn Reid, the other is a sightseeing size boat that could probably fit a couple of wheelers.
Last edited by Burton; 12-19-2006 at 21:55.
Reason: info added
All right Tom, here is my gold for you.
I was successful in 2000 on Etolin Island. We hunted out of McHenry Intlet. Took a boat from Ketch to get there. Spent the first two days blowing calls within 1/2 mile from the beach and had no action. There was not very much fresh sign near the beach in that area. After that, we decided to spike camp one night in each of three directions. On the second outing, we spotted a heard on the south face of Navy Peak. That afternoon we had a 5x6 down. Took us (3 people) all of three days to get it out of there.
Couple thoughts for you....
1. Use the area biologist. Back then, he was taking overflights once a week or so and readily gave information out.
2. Etolin Island is one of the roughest areas I have ever hunted. I don't believe it has ever been logged (Zarembo has). The forestry there is seemingly unique to that Island...yellow cedars like I've never seen before. Huge blow downs in the drainages greatly impede travel. Like it always does in SE, it never stops raining, so it is a very wet hunt.
3. If I were to do it again, I would take a float plane into the Lake to the east of McHenry Inlet. They guys out of Ketch readily get in and out of there.
Good luck. I'd much rather spend my time and money sheep or goat hunting, but that was a fun one too.
Thanks to all of you for your input. Doesn't sound like it's going to be anything that I'd want to do routinely, even if I could get a tag every year. Maybe another year to think it over and get prepared.
Thanks again for making this such a great sight to get the info you need.