Canoe Trip Advice:



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  • Canoe Trip Advice:

    Hey Guys.
    I was wondering if I could get some advice from the "Been There-Done That" crowd...

    I am planning on taking my first canoe trip in Alaska this summer. Not sure "exactly" which river yet, but I still have time to figure that out. I have canoed extensively down in the lower-48, many, many miles of happy times, but having bought my canoe late last fall, I never had the time to really take it out. (It's a coleman "scanoe" with a 3HP outboard.)

    The trip will be my girl and I, and we will have a member of her family take us up river (Early Friday) to a drop point, and then pickup us up on Sunday.

    I've poured over the various posts here, and learned alot about the things that I was a little "challenged" about. But, I still have a few things that I'm trying to work through:

    1) What's the best way to carry extra gasoline, without having bears eat my little plastic can?

    2) Using a steel/plastic drum, lashed in the bottom of my canoe; do I have to hang the thing in the trees at night to keep the bears out of my food.

    3) Would roasting marshmellows on the fire create an issue with bears?

    4) Does leaving a lantern burning at night reduce the possibility of bear and other animals visiting my area at night?

    5) I plan on toting a .338Mag as my primary rifle. Other than tying the thing to the canoe, is there a better way to carry it onboard, and have it at hand, without loosing it should I tip the canoe?

    Yeah-I think that you could probably guess that I have some apprehention about bears. Perhaps it's because I scared the crap out of myself reading the "Bear Attack" books, trying to get a handle on things. But not enough to keep me out of the woods.

    I live in Chugiak/Eagle River. Was looking at the Eklunta or Knick rivers as a place to start my adventure.

    Your thoughts, suggestions, and hard-earned experience should appreciated.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    The Knick is turbulent and very silty, and I'd probably forget about Eklutna too. Your 3 hp. outboard would push you and your girl just fine in the slower and meandering rivers. I would suggest the Little Sue as your best bet. Bear activity along the Little Sue won't be a big issue. It's never a bad thing to keep food away from the campsite anyways just to get yourself into the good habit. The risk of capsizing on the Little Sue is also minimal. If you're still concerned about the rifle, there are waterproof/floating gunbags out there. I read a book on expedition canoeing in which the author always carried his lever rifle in a gunbag and recomended it. Just a word of advice.......if your 3hp outboard is actually a 3.3 and is a nissan, tohatsu, or merc check your shear pin. Some of those 3.3's had a brass shear pin which is junk and can't even handle one run in with a rock. Make sure to buy a bolt on prop and skeg protector and replace the brass pins with steel ones if you have one of the above mentioned outboards.


    • #3
      The little susitna would be ideal. Just have them drop you off at the Parks bridge and pick you up at Burma Landing. Don't need gasoline at all, just float down.

      Don't worry about bears. If they eat you, they eat you.

      Actually, just tie your gun to the canoe and hope for the best.

      There are some sweepers on the Little Su but nothing you can't handle if you are at all experienced.

      You can bring your motor but a 3 day float down to Burma Landing should be easy without a motor.
      Wasilla Real Estate News


      • #4

        Looks like you need a larger canoe by the photoes
        just kidding you will do just fine


        • #5
          Dang Good Advice

          I sure appreciate the advice fella's.

          Yep-I have one of those outboards. It's a Suzuki 3HP. I chose it because its lightweight and small. But having it checked out is on my list of priorities, for sure.

          I will check out the Rivers you guys mentioned. I was kinda' wondering of the two down here were good for what I am doing. This will be my GF's first river trip. (yeah-she's one of those blonde princesses HEH HEH)

          HAHAHAHA! I just might have to get myself a bigger tub one day. I told her it was a three day trip, and she wants to bring 30-days worth of SHTUFF---!! LOL!

          Thanks guys


          • #6
            I think your bear apprehension is well placed. - though, no reason to be paranoid. They inhabit the neighborhood you live in, and, everywhere else.

            Bears like motor oil, but dislike gasoline.

            I'd recommend a second gun for the second passenger - 12 guage, as well as a holstered side arm.

            It's not only bears that you have to worry about... Getting stranded, injured, etc., and one of you might end up responsible for the other. This could be worse than any bear encounter.

            Don't forget your paddles... and keep the camp clean.

            For three days I'd probably just wear my long gun on a sling while in the canoe. And, wipe it down at every stop.... I keep a oiled rag in a ziplock.

            I think it sounds like fun from here.
            "...just because we didn't agree with you doesn't mean we didn't have good discussion. It just means you missed it." -JMG-


            • #7

              Soggy Mountain: I think your right--It's gonna be fun.
              The passenger (My GF) tried to shoot the Rem-870 2-3/4" Slugs, but it kinda' made her wince. Tried the 338Mag, and to much kick. Friday I'm gonna get a 30-06 and see if that cures the problem. She shoots 9mm and .223 pretty good, but that's about it. (I got a mule-kicking little 7.62x54R, but I already know the rifle is to heavy for her.)

              First Aid Kit-Check
              Oil Rag-Check
              Bag Full Of Patience-Hell Noooo!

              I'll probably cook dinner, clean everything up; and then paddle dowstream a little further to camp for the night.

              Not paranoid; but this will definately be a new thing for me as well. I've hunted, fished, camped, hiked. and canoed all over the states; but never in an area like this.

              Got the camera all charged up, and counting the days until i can get gone from civilization for awhile.
              Attached Files


              • #8
                here's a vote for a decrease in the arsenal. the handgun is probably a total waste of space and weight and worry. the rifle is long as you are a HIGHLY skilled shot capable of hitting a dinner plate bobbing at you at 25mph while you are shaking in your boots and your girl is screaming in your ear.

                bring a can of pepper spray, your girl can carry it in a holster on her belt. for what its worth, when it comes to a good result from a bear encounter, its been shown that pepper spray is superior to firearms.

                if you do carry a weapon, make it the 12 gauge with OO and a few slugs.


                • #9
                  I'd bring the rifle and also pick up a portable electric bear fence -- cheap, light and very effective. Peace of mind with a child around. You can then roast marshmellows to your heart's content.


                  • #10
                    I do like the idea of the bear spray gulkana suggested - especially if she is more comfortable with it. But, guns are not used exclusively for bear protection, and a second gun for the second passenger represents the only gun if something happens to the first one.
                    "...just because we didn't agree with you doesn't mean we didn't have good discussion. It just means you missed it." -JMG-


                    • #11

                      sounds like you may not have much experience camping in bear country. the best book that i have ever found about this is:

                      Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance (revised edition) by Stephen Herrero

                      p/u a copy. they may have it in your local library. its written by a scientist who has spent his entire life studying bears. its the best "bear advice" aroundóbased on science rather than anectdotal stories. amongst everything else re bears he writes about weapons and pepper spray.

                      also, from (
                      "The question is not one of marksmanship or clear thinking in the face of a growling bear, for even a skilled
                      marksman with steady nerves may have a slim chance of deterring a bear attack with a gun. Law
                      enforcement agents for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have experience that supports this reality --
                      based on their investigations of human-bear encounters since 1992, persons encountering grizzlies and
                      defending themselves with firearms suffer injury about 50% of the time. During the same period, persons
                      defending themselves with pepper spray escaped injury most of the time, and those that were injured
                      experienced shorter duration attacks and less severe injuries. Canadian bear biologist Dr. Stephen Herrero
                      reached similar conclusions based on his own research -- a personís chance of incurring serious injury from
                      a charging grizzly doubles when bullets are fired versus when bear spray is used."


                      • #12
                        You do have to take Herrero's conclusions with a grain of salt. He did not take into account a huge number of variables that make his conclusions about spray vs. firearms pretty suspect.

                        For example, there is no research into the types of firearms used in the reported encounters. Using an inadequate firearm such as a small calibre revolver is bound to get you hurt by the bear. There was no research into the skills of the user of the firearm. There was no comparison of the number of reported incidents with spray vs. firearms. If firearm users encounter bears 200 times more than spray users (e.g., hunters) then the numbers of injuries will likely increase statistically. There was no research into whether spray encounters were true attacks or bluffs. And it goes on and on.

                        Your best bet is to carry both spray and a firearm, and use whatever is at hand at the time.


                        • #13
                          Very good points

                          I am also very skeptical about those "studies" comparing the two. Consider this kind of situation. You could out into a clearing to find a bear standing there staring at you. It doesn't run away right away, but isn't charging. If you have spray, there is a pretty good chance you will use it to "convince" the bear to move away, which it probably would. If you had a gun, you would likely wait to see if the bear is going to be agressive or not before acting. If the bear either turns and leaves or you back away from the situation, it most likely will never be counted as an "encounter" with a gun. On the other side, if you used your spray, people would normally count that as an "encounter" starting to skew the numbers.

                          Overall, the best thing to do is use whatever you are comfortable with. A majority of "average" people out there would definitely be better off with spray for a number of reasons. Most people are not trained with guns. Most people would be either hesitant to use a gun or not competent enough to use it effectively. In those cases, no matter how much better a gun is compared to spray means nothing if you don't shoot, wait too long, or don't hit the target. People have no reason to be hesitate with spray or need much accuracy and thus it has a better chance of helping them. People who are trained with guns and have the mentality not to hesitate when it is needed are likely better off with a gun than spray. There is no good rule you can apply to everyone. One instrument isn't going to work the same for everyone.


                          • #14
                            I agree but I still think you should have both on a long remote trip. There is always a chance the spray won't work (or works for a short time until the bear resumes aggression) and the only option is to dispatch it.


                            • #15
                              Bear Spray vs. Gun

                              I agree with everyone on the use of spray vs. guns. I had intended to bring both anyway.

                              Yeah-i know you can make any 'study, text, computation" come out in whatever way you want, simply by crunching the numbers in the desired direction. Personally; there is no way that I would leave my gun at home and take the spray as my only means of protection.

                              8 years Army Ranger, (hasbeen) Avid Hunter, skilled shooter. Not rattled easy. Having said that, I DOOOO expect my heart to do a little race when the first charge occurs.

                              I've got some good advice on here, and I do intend to utelize what I've been told. Now just have to find the right place to start the trip; one that will last a weekend.


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