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Thread: Big Su from Willow Creek SRA to Deshka Landing?

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    Default Big Su from Willow Creek SRA to Deshka Landing?

    Has anyone canoed the Susitna from Willow Creek SRA to Deshka Landing? I'd like to know if it's doable and if so, the difficulty level. It looks like if we keep on the East braids we'd be okay. I'd be using an Old Town Tripper 172. I'm scouting potential moose hunting areas South of the Rec Area. Thanks for any advise. -Chris

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    I haven't run it in a canoe...several times in a jet boat though. It looks pretty easy overall, no real surprises. Just keep your distance off the banks away from the log jams and you should be fine.
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    Hey AKmud, are powerboats pretty common through there? I heard the same about the Little Su and only got passed twice in three different trips. Would you say hunting pressure is great though there because of the easy boat access?

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    There are ALOT of powerboats that cruise through that area. Just about evey boat imagineable going downstream from the landing to the Deshka or Yentna rivers goes by there. It's about 7miles from the landing to the mouth of the Deshka river with nothing really in between. Easy going for sure, just watch out for the obstacles AKMUD mentioned. I've ran that stretch for over 17 years now and only recall seeing MAYBE a half dozen moose, all cows. Have seen 2 black bears and a big sow brownie with 2 big cubs along that stretch, that's about it. So to answer your question, I'd say that the hunting pressure is probably pretty low.

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    A lot of boats (especially air boats running the Willow), but once you are out in the Big Su, there is a lot of water and isn't a big deal getting passed. If you are thinking about hunting the Su, I'd look at putting in at the Parks hwy bridge up by Sunshine and going down to Montana crk, Sheep crk, or the Big Su landing. You shouldn't run in to as much boat traffic up there.
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    SD is correct from Deshka landing to Deshka River far as boat traffic is concerned but I think your question was actually the SRA at the mouth of the Willow down to Deshka landing.

    That area is much less traveled by boats typically as most people head south from the landing. However there are those that do head up to the mouth of the willow and little willow.

    Just be cautious in a canoe on the Big Su. I watched 2 guys in a canoe in front of the willow years ago not be able to go back upstream to the raft take out with a 3hp motor. The current moves on that river. I would also be sure I knew where I was going because if you miss the landing.....

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    you should be able to do it but i don't think you will be able to paddle up, I have done it a few times down the little willow an Big willow with a 19 grumman an a 15 HP no trouble, but there agan I had the power when needed
    on small motors there is some power problems [not enought ] an you cant stand up an run in your canoe, so you cant see what coming up right in front ,
    in the fall the rivers are low most of the time an you need a lift to do the little an big willow, or a a lot of pulling by hand ,
    on the big river no problem if the motor has the power to back up in a timley manor [headway speed]
    SID

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    Although it doesn't sound like you intend to try, you cannot paddle a canoe upstream any distance on the Big Su. If you go all out you can stay in one place long enough to get into shore.

    We looked at pulling out at Deshka Landing (putting in at the highway) a number of years ago and he wanted the full boat launch fee. I argued it was a canoe, we were only retrieving not launching, and we don't need the ramp, just a place to park the truck. He wouldn't budge and money was tight, so we ended up parking and pulling out at Willow Creek SRA.

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    mistake mistake

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    Alright, these are questions I want answered. No, I have no intention of trying to paddle upstream (that's absurd) Putting into the the bank is the best I could expect, if I missed the actual landing. How much is the landing fee? I'm not cheap, but if I put in 100 yards N. of the "landing" and carried my canoe would that be free? I hunted the Little Su and took a fine young bull on day 20 last year. I would do that again, but I want to see some new country. The Little Su has plenty of powerboat traffic, but mostly on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday evening. We hunted 1-2 miles off river in general, but could still hear em. We spent 21 days total camping overnight out there. I did end up shooting my bull from camp on the river... Weekdays were more or less to ourselves. I guess I would like to know about the hunting pressure in general. I would be camping for 2 weeks at a time and willing/able to portage across the braids in the river to see new area.
    All the guys I work with have $8000.00 4 wheelers, just like everyone else. I used time and effort to succeed last year (they all scoffed at me...) I'm the only one that came home with a moose... I'm looking for feasibility of the canoe on that that stretch and if an "insane" amount of dudes are hunting it?

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    I misread your original question regarding exactly where you wanted to float. From the SRA to the Deshka landing is roughly 4 miles. The traffic will be about a 1/3 of what heads south/downstream from the landing. The hazards are the same upstream as they are downstream. Not much difference. Hunting pressure will be light in that area I would guess since most go way down river or way up or elsewhere.. Since you're doing more time in the field than just a weekend hunt, no reason why you couldn't shoot something. It'll be thick with no shortage of bear activity too. Not sure what the landing would charge you, if anything, for walking through with a canoe. Hard telling with them. Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coblake View Post
    Alright, these are questions I want answered. No, I have no intention of trying to paddle upstream (that's absurd) Putting into the the bank is the best I could expect, if I missed the actual landing. How much is the landing fee? I'm not cheap, but if I put in 100 yards N. of the "landing" and carried my canoe would that be free? I hunted the Little Su and took a fine young bull on day 20 last year. I would do that again, but I want to see some new country. The Little Su has plenty of powerboat traffic, but mostly on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday evening. We hunted 1-2 miles off river in general, but could still hear em. We spent 21 days total camping overnight out there. I did end up shooting my bull from camp on the river... Weekdays were more or less to ourselves. I guess I would like to know about the hunting pressure in general. I would be camping for 2 weeks at a time and willing/able to portage across the braids in the river to see new area.
    All the guys I work with have $8000.00 4 wheelers, just like everyone else. I used time and effort to succeed last year (they all scoffed at me...) I'm the only one that came home with a moose... I'm looking for feasibility of the canoe on that that stretch and if an "insane" amount of dudes are hunting it?
    CoBlake
    here is the Deshka Landing web page/prices... http://deshkalanding.com/fees.html
    I'd 2nd what some one else said previously... I'd go up to the Su landing at Kashwitna (mi 82) or on up to the Su Bridge and launch
    Back before there was a "Deshka landing"... I dropped a nice mulligan on a sand bar about 3 minutes down stream from the Su Landing... If it was me... I think I'd get some GPS readings for the mouth of the little Willow, big Willow, Deshka Landing, etc.. and just in case you missed the Deshka Landing, I'd get some phone numbers of some of those freighters running out of the DL in case you needed some one to come tow you back up river... I've hauled several people and their canoes back from the Deshka to the Landing because they over estimated the ability of their motor... Or their gas..... The current in the Big Su will average from 6 to 8 kts .../John

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    Have you thought of getting a raft? I read about your adventure on the little su. What you acomplished there in a 17' canoe could quickly become very dangerous on the Big Su.
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    I paddled down from Little Willow to Willow landing last summer.. pretty easy navigating no rough water to speak of but it you do move a a pretty fast clip and some of the sand bars can be a pain in the butt. took us less than an hour to float that distance.

    if you get any wind it could be dodgy

    if I was doing it again I'd definitely get GPS readings on Willow and Deshka landing first just in case.

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    Well, here are my circumstances. I'll admit I'm an Air Force guy here on a 3 year assignment. I leave Jun of 2012. This will be my last fall AK hunt (unless I divorce my my wife and retire here...). I have a big canoe that will haul a moose. I don't really want to change my mode of transportation, but I'd be willing to upgrade, a bit. I.E. a 45 lb thrust trolling motor. I could probably even do outriggers. Not to go upstream, just across. I won't begrudge my sister her marriage in early Sept (much), but I can pretty much have 3 weeks of hunting straight after.

    Has anyone attempted hunting the numerous braided islands in that area? I'd be setting up camp for a couple weeks, hell, I'd push it out to 3 weeks because it IS such a short distance... I have hip waders, I have a GPS. Bears are welcome. All my co-workers are going to Eureka on their 4 wheelers, with everyone else. They think "roughing it" is 5 days. I'm looking for someone to say "Sure, you could do that, it will be tough, but there are moose there." or "You are an idiot, you will capsized your canoe and die". I have some experience in both cases...

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    Any particular reason you are stuck on that area? The little susitna from the parks highway to burma would be much more suited for a canoe imo. Just a thought.

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    Sure you can do it and there are SOME moose there, you are not an idiot, but that doesn't mean you won't capsize and die... Good luck, personally I'd look elsewhere, but a week in the woods anywhere beats stick in the eye...

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    AKBighorn,
    No particular reason, it just looks likely from a map point of view. Put in/take out kinda way. I did the Little Su last year, 3 times, first time with my wife and dog (over the 4th of July). Twice with my hunting partner. We spent 10 days out there late Aug-early Sept. Another 11 days after a few days "recuperation" (we dumped the canoe 250 yards from the Parks). I took a small fork on Sept 21. Only capsized once...lol. If there is any reason YOU are stuck on that area, just say. I won't go within 10 miles of there. I promise. I realize I might be giving up a "good spot"... PM me if that is the case, this thread will end.

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    might be worth it to have someone run you around the area you wish to hunt in a jet boat during the summer...you'd get to see it first hand and decide if you want to look elsewhere....
    ------------------------------------------------
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    PM sent, not because its a secret hunting spot or anything remotely close. I almost always hunt in the greater Fairbanks area. There was a time 2 years ago I hunted point mac because my son did something I never could and drew a tag, just happened to be a cow tag in the youth draw but it made for a good experience for both of us with it being his first moose.

    I bought my river boat with intentions of hunting the Big Su drainage but the moose population the last few years and restriction that have been placed pretty much pushed my desire to hunt back in my old areas up north.

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