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Thread: moose hunting rafts

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    Default moose hunting rafts

    I don't really know much about rafts,looking to hunt moose on some shallow rocky rivers that are not possible with my freighter canoe.Are there rafts that will take a small outboard for the slow current sections but have the capacity to take 2 hunters and gear and 2 moose without drafting alot of waater?Are rafts good on rocky rivers with a fair amount of rapids or are they best on flat water when loaded down?

    thank

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    The age old question! Lots of opinions on the subject so you will get a fair amount of reasonable response. In a nut thell any time you take two hunters extended trip and do harvest two Moose there is nothing light nor drats very little water. Let's say you harvest two prime bulls 55 inch - 60 inch class each after cape, antlers and meat your take is 600-700 lbs per animal just for conversation sake. With two moose gear/food lets say 200 lbs total between the two hunters and two people average weight 190 lbs per person so 380 lbs. It is possible your total weight could be as much as 2000 lbs when all is said and done. Unless your going with a large raft you will be drafting a fair amount of water. That being said a Non-Bailing option might be the best option to increase your lift and to meet your needs. Sounds like your river choice will dictate your needs concerning a raft. Check out what Geaux offers from Sotar, what Larry offers from Soar and the Mark offers from AIRE and NRS as well as Brain from Alaska Raft Connection.

    I am sure others will chime in and provide you some additional insight.

    P.S.

    Based on two Moose it is a challange based on the harvest of one animal it would be my opinion you could get away with the Self Bailing option.

    Best wishes

    Richard " Moose" Mousseau
    BMR

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    What is that long Sotar model called? Made for such purposes as I recall. Ranger Rick? Goo? Someone here was talking about it a while back.
    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 danattherock's Avatar
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    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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    Grit,
    How much is not a lot of water to draft?

    I got a little worried last year when I floated a new river with the rifle along in hopes of seeing a legal bull, especially when I hit braided sections. Check out the hunt the dude from ketchican did last year: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...isherktn/page6 2 guys, 2 moose + plus a caribou or a bear. Of course it looks like it was a slow, deep river.

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott_rn View Post
    Grit,
    How much is not a lot of water to draft?

    I got a little worried last year when I floated a new river with the rifle along in hopes of seeing a legal bull, especially when I hit braided sections. Check out the hunt the dude from ketchican did last year: http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...isherktn/page6 2 guys, 2 moose + plus a caribou or a bear. Of course it looks like it was a slow, deep river.

    Overall most of our river had the depth we needed, but we did have our times where we bottomed out and had to do our share of dragging.

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    Member scott_rn's Avatar
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    I bet I've never had more than 1/3 that amount of weight in my raft. I'm sure rapids would be interesting with a load like that, seems there was some discussion on that a couple of months ago.

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Yep that would be the Radical . Goo said there is a newer version coming out this year and he will have one at the show .
    I know you can really load these puppys down with gear and animals and draft very little . I really love the one we had made and you can see it miles away !!!





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    Two guys going on a multi-day/multi-mode float trip (like a float hunt) and planning on two Bull Moose should be using 17, 18, or 19' Catarafts and 15-16' Rafts.

    Let's say for example you go into the field (two guys + all boating equipment + gear + food that is less than, equal to, or maxed at 1250 lbs... a DHC-2 Beaver load). On the opener days with no Moose... speed/efficiency, versatility, handling, visibility, keeping a low center for stability,
    (including your small engine idea) plus the edge regarding safety goes to the big Single-tubed Cats. Once two Moose are added on --- in many cases your fine, but you'll be drafting several inches more.

    Take same set of conditions as mentioned running a twin-tubed cat. These are slugs by comparison to big single-tube cats (reminiscent of log or bamboo rafts of sorts) and will load to a higher center. However, these shine with heavy loads, on low/slow waters*** where shallow draft is paramount. Keep one thing in perspective *** 'meaning generally featureless river bottoms when really shallow.'

    Most floaters are better off, and their ventures made simpler by having a raft. For the conditions we are talking... this raft starts at 15', tasks perfect for 16', and using 17'-18' wouldn't be overkill. All of these will take a small outboard.

    To answer some of your other questions: When you have at very least mid-tier to going high-end expedition quality... all these rafts will run flat waters to world-class rapids. They are all going to be good performers in technical, shallow and rocky to swallow you whole big-waters. What's more important is good planning, the right oars-person or paddle team, suitable loading, and proper assessment of conditions.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    (I'm writing this to answer your question, but also to help out others in similar circumstances... some of this applies to you and some does not.)

    TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

    Based on the general nature of your questions, my first suggestion is to rent a boat and get some time on the water. That, more than any other factor, will give you a good sense of your capabilities and what a given boat can handle. It is unlikely that your first boat will meet all the needs you will discover as you get in to this. So cut yourself some slack and realize in advance that you will probably make some mistakes along the way. One thing you will learn fairly early is that no single boat will do it all... so from that perspective your question is hard to answer. There are just too many variables. It looks like you have a particular river in mind here, from your description. But I suspect, if you are like most of us, that your horizons will expand later and you may not be satisfied with the boat that worked so well on your "shallow rocky river with deeper sections and rapids".

    LET THE RIVER CHOOSE THE BOAT

    Second, the problem with boat selection is that rivers are different, and different boats work better for some rivers than others. I tell my hunters to "let the river choose the boat". This, of course, assumes that the type of trip is factored in. In other words, you have to know:

    1. WHERE you're floating. Some rivers are narrow and fast, requiring constant attention at the oars and light loads. Others are slow and deep and are more forgiving when it comes to mistakes or overloading. Others are shallow and require more lift to avoid the risk of dragging.

    2. WHAT you're floating. If you're doing day trips on the upper Kenai, or whitewater trips on the Matanuska, you can get by with a smaller boat- cat or round boat. If you're doing multi-day expedition float hunts (which are usually at the extreme upper end in terms of loads), you need a boat with lots of lift.

    3. WHEN you're floating. Water levels are typically at their lowest of the season in very early spring (in some cases) and during the fall. Most float hunts happen in the fall, therefore you need to prepare for shallow water / dragging. Obviously in such situations you need a boat with a lot of lift.

    GET TO KNOW RAFT FABRICS

    You would do well to familiarize yourself with the performance characteristics of the different raft fabrics, because this has a direct effect on performance in the field. Generally, inflatable boats are made of rubber (Hypalon® or neoprene), or plastic (PVC or urethane). Rubber boats are stretchy and bouncy, tend to flex somewhat when heavily loaded (especially with long skinny boats), and they are very abrasion resistant. Hypalon is pretty good stuff, but you want to watch out for lower grades of Hypalon that you might see in some of the cheaper imported boats. The industry standard for Hypalon is an 80% mix of Hypalon with 20% fillers. The cheaper boats are only 50% Hypalon, and the material will oxidize over time. Rub your hand across it and if you get a chalky residue on your fingers, you might have an oxidization issue. This material will eventually crack and leak air. Neoprene is often used for boat bottoms because it is very abrasion resistant. The problem is that it grips when it's wet. So if you have to slide the boat over wet rocks, you will have more drag / expend more energy than you will with boats that have a Hypalon bottom or any of the plastics. Plastic, by the way, slides very nicely over wet surfaces. I know of cases where hunters have used inflatable canoes (the AIRE Traveler, which is plastic) to slide caribou meat out over the tundra on long packs. It slides right over wet grass. Plastic boats are stiffer, so they don't flex as much on the water (a really good thing), but they don't fold up as well or roll up as tighter as a rubber boat (which is a factor when you're loading it in an airplane). When it comes to abrasion, PVC scratches and gouges fairly easily, but urethane does not. Urethane is, by far, the best all-around boat fabric in my opinion. But it is a lot more spendy than the other materials. So for sheer performance and weight (I'm talking about the weight of the boat), you can't beat a urethane boat.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Having said all that, if all I had to go on was your request for a boat that would:

    a) Haul two hunters, two moose, and all the gear for an extended float hunt.

    b) Handle well with big loads on fast, rocky rivers with some rapids and shallows.

    c) Handle a small outboard for the deeper sections.

    My first choice would be any of the larger catarafts, as follows:

    1. AIRE Cougar

    2. AIRE Super Leopard

    3. Cata-canoe with AIRE Travelers

    All three of these rigs will handle up to 2500# or more. The nice thing about this kind of capacity is that you don't have to use it all, but it's there if you need it. All three will handle anything from a small kicker to larger outboards if you should grow into that kind of need.

    My second choice would probably be the redesigned Radical that Goo came up with. Essentially it's a 14' SOTAR that has been elongated. But I know there is more to it than that, based on Goo's comments in this thread. He's always got something up his sleeve, and I will stop by to have a look at it at the show. He makes another boat called the "Alaskan" that's worth a look.

    ROUND BOAT ISSUES

    Some things to remember about round boats though:

    1. Generally poor outboard performance. These boats are designed to float, not to be pushed through the water under power. With any of the self-bailers you are going to get water percolating in through your bailer holes toward the stern as you push it forward through the water under power. That means that you could have the back 1/4 or 1/3 of your boat full of water while you are under way. They are also somewhat squirrelly with that outboard because there is nothing acting as a keel. The ribbed floors are better about this, but they still like to slide around a bit. BTW, I would avoid a rubber round boat / outboard setup. Rubber is too flexible and will fold up on you. Yes, most sportboats are rubber, and they don't have this problem. But that's because they have a rigid transom that is anchored to a rigid floor system.

    2. Limited space. With catarafts, your load can go on top of the boat, but it has to go inside a round boat. So with any of the round boats, space is always an issue. This is particularly true on float hunts, where we have lots of gear and lots of meat / trophies to deal with. So even though a round boat posts high capacity on the charts, remember that you will have to burrow out a place to sit. It's just the nature of the beast.

    CATARAFT LIMITATIONS

    I used to preach the cataraft sermon and then do an altar call. But not anymore. I know there are situations that literally beg for a round boat. But, cats certainly do shine in load distribution and outboard performance. That said, there are some limitations you should be aware of when it comes to catarafts:

    Limited load capacity. A 14' round boat has about the same load capacity as an 18' cataraft. A 12' round boat has about the same working load capacity as a 16' cataraft. This is altered significantly when you talk about the twin-tube cats mentioned (Cougar and Super Leopard). But the reason the round boat has such high capacity for its length is because you have more wetted surface. There is more boat in the water; you have the tubes, but you also have that floor generating lift for you.

    Another factor that inhibits cats is our human tendency to look at all that space and fill it up. Any boat that is overloaded will perform like a barge on the water. The key to superior cataraft performance is self-control. Sooo... keep your load light!

    RAFT CAPACITIES

    Finally a note to those who are looking at raft capacity charts. You should know that there are no objective industry standards for determining raft capacity. There was an industry trend for a while where manufacturers talked a lot about their fabric (denier stats, coating thickness, weave patterns on the base cloth, calendaring, etc.) but this information was mostly incomprehensible to the average consumer. So they moved on to capacity stats. But that number is arbitrary. For example, in a non-bailing round boat, how do you know when you're at capacity? How do you measure it? By how much weight it takes to push the boat down into the water, but how deep is too deep? Capacity keeps climbing the deeper you push the boat into the water, so do you go with a 1" displacement? 4"? 6"? There are no standards, so each manufacturer assigns their own numbers. Some are more conservative than others. All are suspect of pushing their numbers for marketing purposes. Do a head-to-head comparison and you'll see. I wrote about this in my float hunting book where I showed three catarafts with the exact same dimensions: 16' long, 24" tubes of the same configuration. Here's what the manufacturers were saying:

    AIRE Jaguarundi: 1634# capacity
    Maravia Cat: 1178# capacity
    SOTAR Elite Cat: 1650# capacity

    I'm not here to debate the numbers each company posts, I'm just pointing out that the numbers cannot be fairly compared across brands. It is therefore incumbent on you, the consumer, to make your own determination. Get out on the water and try them out before you plunk down your cash. And that, my friend, brings us full-circle to where we started. Rent a few boats and try them out. Load them with the kinds of loads you plan to carry, and float rivers similar to the ones you plan to hunt. Only then will you know for sure whether this or that boat will do the job for you.

    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.
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    Nice write up Mike...

    Essentially... Dream to overload ---- Dare to sink deeper!

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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Ranger Rick,

    Sweet set up man
    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 BlueMoose's Avatar
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    LOL Brian! and yes Mike excellent write up!

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    Member scott_rn's Avatar
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    Rick,
    I think the radical is, well, radical. But looking at the photos I don't see any way that boat would fit two dudes, two moose and gear. Do you think it would?

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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott_rn View Post
    Rick,
    I think the radical is, well, radical. But looking at the photos I don't see any way that boat would fit two dudes, two moose and gear. Do you think it would?
    I think it will do two moose , two guys gear and maybe enough room for something else !! Or maybe a mess of Caribou

    RR





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    Member RANGER RICK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by danattherock View Post
    Ranger Rick,

    Sweet set up man
    Thanks to you for pointing me in the right direction I was able to work with Goo and Sotar and they built it the way I wanted it.
    It is flat out a great reaft . It fit's my needs to a "T"
    Waiting for break up right now .itching to get back on the water .
    Thanks

    RR
    Practice does not make perfect !!!!!
    Perfect Practice makes perfect !!!!!!!!!!


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    Member danattherock's Avatar
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    Goo was a breath of fresh air when I was buying my first raft 3 years back. Glad he could help you out. Salt of the earth guy and looks like you benefited as well. That is one bad *** raft you got there man. Love the pics, thanks for sharing. Taking my Sotar down the Kobuk in August. Can't wait.



    -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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    Scott, the Radical will carry 2 guys, 2 Moose, and all the gear needed. It isn't the easiest to handle with that kind of weight, but also, you aren't looking to float class IV water with this anyway. It will easily handle class I-II and mild class III loaded as is. It does get a bit splashy with a heavy load.

    Moose44

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    Member scott_rn's Avatar
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    I stand corrected. That looks like it drafts a lot less than the 14 footers kingfisherktn floated with. Probably not going to shell out the cash for a sotar any time soon, but I do like it.

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    Moderator kingfisherktn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scott_rn View Post
    I stand corrected. That looks like it drafts a lot less than the 14 footers kingfisherktn floated with. Probably not going to shell out the cash for a sotar any time soon, but I do like it.
    Just a clarification, one of the rafts was a 14' self-bailing and the other was a 18' cat.

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