Brooks Range Hunting Trip .. Fast Approaching!

Michigan

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I am posting this for my husband, who is planning on flying out to Fairbanks next week, Monday or Tuesday. (August 8 or 9, 2006.) He has been up in the Brooks range area hunting (previously) on two other occasions. Once, with a fellow hunter-friend, and the second time more as a "guide" to three other hunters. It has been 18 years since his last Brooks range hunt. He has decided that he is going back in August (next week!) and I am attempting to help him make everything fall into place.

Questions for anyone that may be able to advise is this. Previously he used Sourdough Outfitters (Dave Ketchum) as the bush pilot that flew him into the Brooks range area. Apparently this has been sold. My husband was very happy with all the Dave Ketchum previously did for him and is hoping that the new owners are just as reputable. Anyone know anything about the new owners of Sourdough Outfitters in Bettles? OR is there someone better that a person would want to consider?

My husband's plan is to spend a good two weeks (or so) out in the Brooks range, alone. .. And would be returning back to Michigan by the end of August. Is this done? Going out hunting for that length of time .. totally alone?? (Okay, I interjected THAT part as his wife!)

Anyway, any info any of you can possibly supply as far as a good (reputable) bush pilot would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Michigan
 

Riverlover

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Hunting Alone

Hunting Alone

I've hunted alone quite a few times, and wouldn't recomend it to anyone.Caring for a moose alone is a big job.

Also if you shoot an animal the first couple of days,it will start spoiling within the 10 days or so before pickup.
Good Luck, Riverlover
 

martentrapper

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There are plenty of people who hunt alone. It is done. Not always the safest way to go tho.
Is your husband going to get dropped off and stay in one place for the whole time, or is he moving, like floating down a river? Staying in one place, having a good camp, etc. would be safer, more comfortable, than having to move every 1 to 3 days.
Perhaps you or your husband could get a hold of Dave Ketchum and ask him if the new owners are reliable.
Hunting regs have changed here substantially in the last 18 years. I hope your husband is familiar with these changes.
 

Michael Strahan

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Consolation

Consolation

Michigan said:
...two weeks (or so) out in the Brooks range, alone. .. And would be returning back to Michigan by the end of August. Is this done? Going out hunting for that length of time .. totally alone?? (Okay, I interjected THAT part as his wife!)...

Michigan,

I assume that since he's going in August he will be hunting caribou- not moose. Either way, a solo hunt should be fine. He's been there before and sounds like he knows what he's doing. The only concern I have about that aspect of this is how long it's been since he's been out there. It's not that the area has changed, but perhaps HE has changed... physically. Some of us aren't Superman anymore. Still, you know him best; it's just a thought.

Sorry, I can't help you on the air charter; I haven't been up there in a while myself. There are some here who have, though.

-Mike
 

Michigan

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Yes, he will be hunting Caribou. He loves hunting, but he also just absolutely loves this "part of the world". In his many conversations since his last trip, he says that there is nothing like the feeling of being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no contact with the rest of the world. He hopes that this will help him (once again) get his head on straight.

I wonder what regulations have changed (that would apply to him with the caribou hunting) since he's been out there? He, I'm sure has researched this and should know. (I certainly hope so!!)

In the past he has alway rented a raft and floated down the Chandler. (did I spell that right?) But, his plan is just to stay in one place on this trip.

Mike Strahan .. has kind of hit the nail on the head with my concerns. My husband was 33 the last time he "did" this trip. He is 51 now, over weight (IMO) and has asthma. My husband maintains that he will "take it easy" for the first week or so and build himself up to more heavy duty walking, etc. As far as the asthma, husband says that the dry air up there will be wonderfull for that. Try telling him that he's not superman anymore ... (LOL!)

Sure do appreciate all of your comments, etc.!!

Michigan
 

Michael Strahan

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Suggestions

Suggestions

Michigan,

You probably have no worries about the asthma issue. We don't have a lot of pollen in the air in the fall, and most folks have little trouble with this at that time of the year. I'm not a doctor though, and wouldn't presume to give medical advice in your situation. His doctor should clear him for this trip, and that would be one thing I would insist on. Another idea would be to have the air charter do a flyover sometime at the mid-point of the hunt, just to check on him. Because he is alone, the charter will probably want to do this anyway, but I would set it up, and pay for it in advance. If you don't pay for the extra flight, it probably won't happen (most air charter services are completely jammed up in the fall, with weather delays, etc.) Finally, rent a satellite phone for him; he can check in periodically with you, or use it for an emergency situation if necessary.

Please ask him to take plenty of pics and perhaps post one or two here after he returns! We always love to hear how folks fared out in the field!

Hope it helps!

-Mike
 

Carnivore

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Sat Phone

Sat Phone

I'll second Mike's suggestion of the Sat. Phone. Money well spent for anyone hunting alone for extended periods of time.

-Carnivore
 

martentrapper

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3rd vote for the sat phone. Either get it down there, or pick it up in Anch. or Fbks. Bet he didn't have a sat phone last time. I would recommend the Irridium company over Globalstar. Irridium has better coverage.
 

RupertBear

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leave the phone behind

leave the phone behind

As hunters, we live in about the best of all times. We can afford to go to places in a few days that once would have taken weeks, if not months of travel. Our loads are reduced to pounds when once they would have been measured by the tons. Our bodies have access to the best medical care in the world, so that we are all younger than the passage of years would suggest. Yet I still smell the reek of fear in the posts here.

To everything there is a beginning. We might not see it, but upon thought and reflection, we come to understand it. A man has been to a place that he loved, participating in a sport that he loved in pursuit of animals that he loved. If he has evaluated himself at all realistically, he believes that he can once again visit that place and do what he loves. Certainly he’s a bit older, but younger for his years than his father was, and even moreso than for his grandfather, and so forth. The wisdom of age can more than make up for the slight loss of the vigor of youth.

Yet rather than contemplate the level of struggle that might be necessary to win and wallow in the glory of that, there are the posts of “what if, what if.” Get a satellite phone, just in case. HOGWASH. This is a perpetuation of the cancer of our times, the unwillingness, nay the sheer inability, of anyone to take responsibility for their own actions and to live with the consequences.

I am not saying that anybody should be meekly fatalistic. I am saying that to live in fear is not to live at all. Quit trying to steal the Michigander’s life.
 

Michigan

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Satellite phones

Satellite phones

Rupertbear,

I'm pretty sure that my husband thinks along those exact same lines.

Yet .. still, I can see just a bit of hesitancy on his part. I agree .. to a point, with what you are advocating .. but if the technology is out there, why not make use of it? (Of course this is "the wife" that you are hearing from.)

I sure would feel better if he would rent that satellite phone. But maybe he won't. As I mentioned above, he absolutely loves the feeling of not being able to be contacted. Would the satellite phone ruin that feeling for him? I don't know. The only thing that I DO know for sure is that it would give me peace of mind!

Even better .. it would be awesome if he could find a fellow hunter that would enjoy a trip such as this. Because of the "last minuteness" (new word there) of his plans, none of his hunting friends are able to accompany him.

All that said, my husband will (of course!) decide this for himself. He is pretty headstrong, so there is a very good chance that he will also say HOGWASH when I bring this up.

Just in case .. I did do some research on this and there are no stores/companies that rent these locally. Would anyone have a (specific) name of a company/store that I could contact either in Fairbanks or Bettles that rent these? If my husband is agreeable to this, I would take care of everything so that all he had to do was stop in and pick it up.

Again .. thanks to all for so much input. I never dreamed I (the wife of Michigan) would enjoy reading an Alaska hunting site .. but I have learned AND enjoyed reading/catching up on some of the threads here!

One that I did NOT like opening up to read .. was in regards to keeping bears out of camp ..

Michigan
 

jeramy

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Take the phone

Take the phone

There is a reason I will live longer than my father and he lived longer than his. We all learned by each others mistakes. I would take the phone not only for my personal safety but in case I take an animal 1 or 2 days into a 14 day hunt I can call my air charter and arrange to have my meat picked up instead of having to worry about spoilage.
 

Sollybug

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brooks range

brooks range

RB:
I do solo hunts frequently and its not something to take lightly. I carry a satellite phone. I also think that if you have certain medical conditions or unfamiliarity with the terrain and climate you should be very careful. I dont hunt the Brooks but I have heard of snowstorms that would prevent a pickup for a while which would be disaster with a medical condition. Also its fine to want to do an adventure but you need to plan carefully as you have to think of your family if you make some wreckless decisions. If you havent been hunting in a while you wont know your limitations and you certainly cant be too familiar with the weather or terrain in two seasons 18 years ago! I would feel a lot more comfortable if he addresses concerns than if he dismisses them...You would know if he tends to be a cautious guy or not. The good news is that area is probably pretty popular that time of year and he may be around lots of other parties. It sounds like he has a pretty safe hunt planned using a base camp. Just some other thoughts...
 

fullkurl

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Take The Phone

Take The Phone

from what I've read of this post, your husband is a tough guy, but his toughest days are behind him.

Take a phone to assure safety--even with it, things could go awry. Increase the odds of a safe, enjoyable--importantly, SOLO ---experience.
Best of Luck, Frank
 

AkHunter45

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Take it

Take it

Yes, take the sat phone, no one said he has to use it but if something serious happened, he'd have it available.
 

Michael Strahan

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Potential Partner

Potential Partner

Michigan said:
...I'm pretty sure that my husband thinks along those exact same lines...I sure would feel better if he would rent that satellite phone....

.... it would be awesome if he could find a fellow hunter that would enjoy a trip such as this.

Michigan,

I don't know you or your husband, but wives and husbands are supposed to be a team of sorts. If you want him to bring the phone, and he knows it will help you feel better about the trip, he should bring it. Besides, it's cheap insurance. On one hand I agree that it's nice to cut as many strings as possible for a while, and to just live out there in the spirit of the wild. But the truth is that this is little more than fantasy for almost all of us. Most of us would die out there if we were truly forced to survive off the land... why pretend we can? None of this is directed at your husband, by the way. My point is that it's all a judgement call; simply a question of degree of separation. Follow Rupert's advice to it's extreme and he'll be out there wearing an animal skin, from a critter he killed with sticks and stones he gathered himself on-site. I'm all about choosing self-imposed limits on technology, but as another poster said, he doesn't have to use the phone. It's there for emergencies. We're not ordering a pizza here (though I hear that if you order one by phone and it's not there in 30 minutes or less, it's free. Wonder if that applies in this case... hmmm....)

You can rent a phone from Surveyor's Exchange in Anchorage and they may ship it to the air charter by prior arrangement. I've heard that some companies on the internet do the same thing. You might do a google search for that.

As to a hunting partner, I know a guy who's headed up that way this fall, and he might be receptive to that. We may be talking tonight and I can ask him. He's hunted the Brooks on at least two occasions in the last two years. I'll keep you posted...

-Mike
 

Martin Sheahan

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Satelite Phone

Satelite Phone

I have used Outfitter Satelite Inc. for renting a phone. The cost was about $125.00 for 14 days rental. Their phone number is 1-877-436-2255. Very good customer service and good equipment. Your husband could only use it in an emergency if that is what he chooses. I have used mine for both my trips. One to call the Flight service to tell them to delay a pick up and another to arrange an early pick-up due to meat concerns.Its cheap insurance and if he does'nt need to use it he wont. I dont think it takes anything away from your experience and I have found it very useful when you need to get in touch with your transporter. Just my opinion.Hope this helps.
 

RupertBear

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Michael Strahan said:
Follow Rupert's advice to it's extreme and he'll be out there wearing an animal skin, from a critter he killed with sticks and stones he gathered himself on-site.
-Mike

Mike,

I got a chuckle out of that comment, but I actually don't see where my willingness to rely on my own judgement and common sense leads to me (or anyone else) running around in a loin cloth and waving a sharp stick. Just because I choose to concentrate my efforts and thought on doing the right thing the first time rather than assuming I'm going to do things wrong (and assuming Michigan's husband will do the same) doesn't lead to sharp rocks and a cave man lifestyle. I never suggested that Mr. Michigander be fatalistic, but I certainly do understand his willingness to live today rather than fret his life away worrying about what tomorrow might bring.

Yep, I do limit my use of technology to some level that does not automatically guarantee my ability to overcome an animal's anti-predator behavior. Accordingly, I don't use night vision scopes nor amplified hearing aids. But that has nothing to do with my favoring leaving the phone behind.

I strongly suspect that you and I view re-creational hunting in different lights.
 

Michael Strahan

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Note to Ruprecht

Note to Ruprecht

RupertBear said:
...I got a chuckle out of that comment...I strongly suspect that you and I view re-creational hunting in different lights.

Ruprecht,

Are you they guy Steve Martin was portraying in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" or is it just the name...?

:))

I don't know whether we see hunting in different lights or not, but at least you have a sense of humor!

I guess my take on the phone is that things can go wrong when a man is over fifty, and not all of the bad things are a result of stupidity. A few years back I had a client in the field on a float hunt. He was exhibiting flu-like symptoms for three days (dizziness, nausea, etc). He was otherwise in good physical condition, so I assumed he had the flu, an assessment supported by his contact with his flu-sickened grandchildren just before his Alaska hunt. One morning he got up to answer the call of nature and as he walked back to the tent I could see he was in distress. Walking up to him, I said, "Hey, are you all right?" He said he didn't feel so good, and then collapsed literally in my arms. He would have fallen on the ground if I were not there to catch him. I got out my VHF radio and GPS and called in our coordinates to a passing aircraft. We had him in the hospital within 2 1/2 hours. Turned out he had an undiagnosed tumor in his stomach with an artery associated with it. The artery had ruptured, and he was bleeding to death internally. The hospital did exploratory surgery to locate the problem, and he received eight units of blood. The doc later said that he has about a half-hour left and he would have died. Sometimes technology is just common sense.

-Mike
 

Brian M

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I'll add just one thought to the phone issue. Rupert, are you married? Perhaps you are and things haven't changed for you, but when I got married my ways of thinking changed a bit. I am no longer responsible only to myself, but to my wife also. To be honest, it's frustrating at times to have to take safety just a bit more seriously (I chose to abort a stalk on a bear a few years back that I would have completed when i was single due to darkness and terrain issues), but those are the trade-offs I decided I was willing to make when I committed myself to another person. I haven't carried a sat phone yet - heck, my wife usually joins me afield - but if I were going solo for two weeks I would do it solely out of concern for her and the commitments I have made. My life is not my own any longer - which is the case with this guy heading to the Brooks - which is why I would strongly agree with those who advocate the phone.

But hey, that's just my way of thinking.

-Brian
 
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