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Thread: Question for the experienced float hunters

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Default Question for the experienced float hunters

    My group is heading out on our first float hunt here in a few weeks and the only detail we have yet to work out is a plan for the rafts. Here are the details and my question:
    *3 hunters
    *2 14' rafts w/ 130 lb rowing frames
    *hunting: moose & caribou

    What I'm thinking is to leave one rowing frame behind to save on weight, put all 3 hunters in one raft and tow the second frameless raft behind with all the meat in that raft. Would this work or would it be better to have both rafts equipped with rowing frames, put two guys in one raft and one in the other and distribute the weight evenly? Thanks for any suggestions

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I would never tie my raft to another, very dangerous. 3 hunters if successful would mean very heavy rafts and heavy rafts take a lot of effort to control. I would go with the second option.

    Good luck

    Steve

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    Member Phil's Avatar
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    Default Agreed

    I concurr with STID - never tie 2 rafts together. We can get in enough trouble without having them tied.

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    Good advice above. !30lbs seems to be the correct weight for each boat, but way too much for a frame even including the oars and such. I'd expect the whole raft package to weigh less than 200 lbs.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Two rafts with two rowing frames. Don't forget spare oars and pumps either.

    A wise man told me once.. "You don't need it till you do".
    (Goo Vogt of Alaska Wildwater)


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Well that settle's it, thanks for the advise fellas. The air transporter we are renting the rafts from mentioned 130 lb frames but I suppose he might have meant the weight of the raft included.

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    If you ever had to tie two rafts together you would want the oar equipped boat in back, never in front. It doesn't work anyway, but if you have it in back, one pull on the oars will have the towed boat along side where it will disable one oar. With the towed boat in front you just have a little more time before swimming.

    A 14' self bailer will usually weigh 130-160 lbs. If they are tub floored boats figure maybe 80 to 110 lbs. Simple frames weigh approximately 30-80 lbs., but you also have to add in the weight of oars; perhaps 30-40 lbs for three of them. So probably in the 140-280 lb range per boat. These figures are all just off the top of my head, but there's too much variation to nail it down anyway.

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    My group is heading out on our first float hunt here in a few weeks

    I mean this more politely than it will read. You need to get your shet together man. You are taking a float trip in a "few weeks" and don't have a solid grip on the rafting aspect of your trip. I want you to have a safe and successful trip. But you really need to get on the ball. You don't know what the rafts weigh, you thought about tying one raft to another. Typed dialogue is difficult, but know this. You don't sound prepared for this trip. Asking here is a good start, but you should talk with the pilot and get exact weights of rafts/frames. Read up about rafting. Buy Mike Strahan's book. Do some legwork and it will pay off. Best of luck on your trip.


    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    I dont take your post in a negative way Dan, and to be honest we are about as prepared as we are going to be. Initially there were 4 of us going on the trip, one guy got transferred out to texas a year early due to an advancement, and another guy realized this trip was out of his budget range and backed out. My buddy in Puerto Rico wanted to fly in for the trip so that got me thinking how we would work the rafts with only 3 people. I booked the trip August 23rd of last year and since then I did look into Michael Strahan's book, but elected to go with Larry Bartlett's dvd. In his dvd he did note that with 3 people one guy should float alone, but I figured that would suck alittle for the guy by himself so I started brainstorming on different ways we might set up the rafts. I have spoke to the transporter several times and called the biologist in Kotzebue to get info on the moose population around the Noatak Tributaries. We sent helo crews to Kotzebue on deployment two weeks ago and I got aerial photos of the area we will be hunting. The bottom line is that none of us have ever hunted from a raft before and no matter how much research we do in the end we are going to get out there and do things our way and make mistakes. If I had not have asked the question about stringing the rafts together we probably would have tried that and failed miserably and learned from it. Thanks to you guys, that is one less mistake we will make but I sure there will be another to come along! Our main goal is to float as little as possible and spend the majority of our time hiking and glassing. The rafts are merely going to be a tool to move us a few miles at a time if the game become scarce. We already have half our gear in Northwest Aviations hanger in Kotzebue and all that is left to do is pack our duffle bags and get on the plane. Thanks for your concern Dan, and if we make it back alive I'm sure we will have a few pointers for future float hunting newbies on "what not to do!!"

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    The bottom line is that none of us have ever hunted from a raft before and no matter how much research we do in the end we are going to get out there and do things our way and make mistakes.
    Man, you said a mouthful there. Been there, done that. My first float trip was in 2004. It was great, but filled with mistakes, and we were lucky nobody got hurt. Three guys from NC as green as it comes when talking Alaska wilderness. I was working in Kotz and flew by best friend and brother up from NC. Most the gear was stuff I bought online and crap my friend bought at Walmart. Flipped the Ally canoe we bought on minute one. Not day one, minute one. Overloaded with crap, cast iron camp stove, stainless kettles, etc.. The bush pilot smiled at me while loading the plane. Over the next 7 days I figured out why. The canoe flips soon as we get into it. Shotgun is in 7' hole. Had to swim down for it. My brother picks it up, drops it, it fires. Holy shet. Not to mention we got dropped at a small lake 1/4 mile from the river with a bear about 200 yards up the hill eating berries. As the pilot flew off, I noticed all the grass around me was flat. Seems we got dropped in a popular spot for bears. Unsettling being it was the first brown bear I had ever seen. I sit there for 2 hours watching the bear while the pilot went to Kotz to get my brother and friend. Seemed like days, not hours. Anyway, end of story, I floated 40 miles in a rubber ducky. Sweated my balls off in the neoprene waders. Who would have thought it would be 60 degrees in late Aug 100 miles above the arctic circle? My tube screw on my 870 fell off and was lost, rendering the shotgun useless. Saw 21 brown bears in 7 days, one came into camp at dinner one night. All I had on me was a 44 special. My brother almost shot one of us on day one. I end up in the $100 inflattable I had got for my brother. The canoe is too heavy for my 300 lb azz to be in it. To make things worse, I had wrecked my Yamaha grizzly in Kotz two weeks before the trip and pulled a back muscle. Paddling this yellow ducky for 40 miles about did me in. Had it not been for a steady diet of Vicodin, I would not have been able to walk on this trip. And so it goes. I hope your mistakes are small ones. I have learned from each trip and feel quite prepared now. But I started off here....






    -Dan
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  11. #11
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    You still have time to get and read Mikes book!! It would be worth overnighting if you had to in order to give you the time need to read as much as possible. It fills in a lot of holes the dvd doesn't address. I did my first float without it and wished I hadn't but I did get to spend 2 hours on the phone with mike.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Notes on float hunting boat capacity and rigging-

    Swimmer,

    (I know what that name means, but I hope you don’t reinforce the moniker on your hunt! ) I just found this thread or I would have chimed in sooner. As it is, you've already got some pretty solid advice here. I'll try to fill in a few holes...

    Dan earned his stripes the hard way. I remember when he first came in here, and have watched his growth as a float hunter since that first trip. He’s a fast learner, and has already connected with some of the best in the biz, as far as I am concerned. Goo Voght, for example, is top-notch, and the boats he carries (SOTAR) are some of the best. You won’t find a lighter, stronger round boat on the market. Great stuff. So when Dan says it, you should probably listen.

    Jim Strutz is right on regarding the towing situation. Though I’m reluctant to say it, I have done this in the past (and I suspect he has too…). We tethered a 14’ self-bailing Riken off the bow of my 18’ Leopard cataraft and ran part of the Aniak River with it (the fork that comes off Aniak Lake). We ran it off the bow so I could back-row and feed it down through the slots in front of us. I think we had about 20’ – 25’ of line on it, with a quick-release knot on our end so we could ditch it if it pulled us into trouble. Later I did the same thing on the Dishna, which is a much milder river. On that trip we tried tying it off on the stern, but as Jim said, it just wraps around and gives you all sorts of trouble. Finally we just fired up the little 8-horse Yamaha and towed it (also a bad idea with self-bailers, as the water percolates up through the bailer holes and fills the back third of the boat with water). Another time I ran a 12.5’ Otter self-bailer snugged up tight behind me in my Leopard. It was cinched up through the D-rings right between the tubes in the stern. We were on a river with a little character, but no white water. The round boat wobbled a little from side to side, but essentially the whole rig behaved as a single boat. It was nearly impossible to control, because my rowing station was at the mid-point of the cat. So it was a lot like running your rowing station at the front of a cataraft, with most of the boat behind you. Didn’t work too well, and once we were out of the flat water, we released it from its prison and put a rower in it. In all cases the boat was lightly-loaded. I would have never attempted it with a heavy boat. The short story on those trips is “that’s a good way to get yourself killed”. If the downstream boat gets tangled up with something and you fail to release the tether line ASAP, brother, you are in deep weeds.

    I hesitate to even mention when I do stuff like this. Not because I pass myself off as some expert (there are folks here who know a WHOLE lot more about this than I), but because some chuckleheads take what you say and think they can do it better. So now I can see someone out there saying, “Well, if he could do it… I can do it better!” So I rarely talk about the incredibly stupid things I do in the field. And it’s not about not wanting to get beaten up in the forums either, Lord knows I take enough beatings when I post things that seem reasonable to me…and have developed rhino hide as a result. Anyway I agree with the recommendation to put a rowing station on every boat and use it.

    Regarding your choice of boats (two 14’ boats / frames), you are going to be marginal if everyone fills their tags, you know. Figure the following typical loads after you kill your critters (per person):

    • Moose meat, antlers, cape: 700# +/-
    • Hunter: 200# +/-
    • Gear (personal gear and community gear) / food: 120# +/-
    • Frame and rigging for boat (yes, you have to include this, since the boat is carrying it!): 100# +/-
    • TOTAL: 1120# per person.
    • COMBINED WEIGHT: 3,360#

    The rated capacity of a 14’ round boat is about 1700#, depending on the design and whether or not it is a bailer (you didn’t specify, but the non-bailers do carry heavier loads—at the expense of maneuverability). So the combined available capacity of two 14-footers comes to 3400#. If you stick with that, you are going to be around 40# below full capacity if you go with the manufacturer’s maximum rating (a questionable number at best, given that there are no objective, agreed-upon standards for rating raft capacity). BUT… you are going to run into shallow water on your Arctic hunt (it’s a given up there), so you don’t want to be heavy. My opinion? You’re probably not going to kill three moose, for starters. You are lucky if you kill one. Toss in three caribou and you should be okay. But you really don’t know how it’s gonna go, so if you want to be sure you have enough lift for three moose AND the odd caribou or three, add another boat to your list. Bring three-- with rowing frames.

    I agree with Tom and the others regarding your need for some orientation on this stuff. It’s not an insult, and your response to them seems to indicate that you are receptive to the information. If you are interested, I am more than willing to spend some time with you on the phone, several hours if that is required, at no charge. I want to help you enjoy your hunt and get off on the right foot with this. I’m not here to sell you something; I just want to help. So give me a shout. My cell number is 1 (907) 229-4501, and the home number is 1 (907) 561-0700 (I’m in Anchorage). I am available through this weekend and through Tuesday. After that my schedule gets crazy. Give a shout and let’s talk, okay? Again, I’m no self-proclaimed expert here, just a fellow float hunter who is offering to help you.

    Take care,

    -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

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    Dan, thant was one heck of a float trip! I'll bet you, your brother & buddy have some good laughs when you get together and remember that trip over a few beers!!

    Mike, thank you very much for the info and offer to help. I'm glad I posted the question on tying the rafts together because in my head, the scenario seemed like it would work but after hearing from people who have the experience it makes sense how that would be a very bad idea. I appreciate your advice on the weight loads in regards to the raft. If we are given the opportunity, we are planning on taking only one moose on this trip (plenty of meat for the three of us), and three caribou. I have passed this info along to my hunting partners and we are going to take turns rowing the "single man" raft so no one person is left to spend the floating part of the trip by himself.

    Thanks again for all the responses,
    Steve

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    Dan, thant was one heck of a float trip! I'll bet you, your brother & buddy have some good laughs when you get together and remember that trip over a few beers!!

    Mike, thank you very much for the info and offer to help. I'm glad I posted the question on tying the rafts together because in my head, the scenario seemed like it would work but after hearing from people who have the experience it makes sense how that would be a very bad idea. I appreciate your advice on the weight loads in regards to the raft. If we are given the opportunity, we are planning on taking only one moose on this trip (plenty of meat for the three of us), and three caribou. I have passed this info along to my hunting partners and we are going to take turns rowing the "single man" raft so no one person is left to spend the floating part of the trip by himself.

    Thanks again for all the responses,
    Steve
    Use the lighter single man raft as the scout and have it lead the way. The lighter raft will be more maneverable and easier to row. Use this to warm the heavier raft of hazards. Even when we float with multible rafts we are usualy within earshot of each other.

    Be safe and shoot straight.

    Steve

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    Dan, thant was one heck of a float trip! I'll bet you, your brother & buddy have some good laughs when you get together and remember that trip over a few beers!!

    That is for sure man. It is the last night of the trip and we are sitting around finishing off the liquor rations on the bank of the Noatak. After seeing grizzly bears, sheep, wolf, satellites orbiting the earth, northern lights, caribou, dollies and grayling, enukins, etc.. all for the first time. Ok, kidding about the enukins. My younger brother (under my left arm) said it best. "It is not just seeing things for the first time, it is seeing them all at once that is amazing". One of the best memories of my life is below.


    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

  16. #16

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    I don't have nearly as much experience float hunting as some. But if it were me, and I was that concerned with the weight, and I could not afford a lightweight frame, I would get a couple canoe paddles and have two of the guys in one raft with paddles and the other guy in the other raft solo with the frame and oars. But only if the river was not rated above a class I or II. Just my two cents. Good luck.

    Definitely buy Strahan's book. The Bartlett movie is good entertainment, but not intended to teach you everything you need to know.

  17. #17
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Ahh,,, nothing like your first time....

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    Member power drifter's Avatar
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    Great photo!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Good one Stid
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    You had your game face on there Steve!!

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