Alaska Big Game Hunts

Bill Hefner

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
51
Location
St. Petersburg, FL USA
Hi "Moosie". Thanks for letting me know the new website location. If I could, I'd like to share the following info from your old website on the Alaska big game hunts I'm familiar with......

As an avid big game hunter, I'd like to share a great hunting opportunity with you. I have a good friend in Alaska by the name of Tony Lee who runs a great little outfitting company. With a background in marketing for over 25 years, I told him I'd help "spread the word" on the Internet about his hunts to other potential hunters. Most outfitters are good hunters, guides and experienced woodsmen. But they usually have small advertising budgets and need a little help making their phone ring. That's what I'm trying to do for Tony. He and I have been friends for years but he's actually a patient of my brother-in-law, who is a dentist in Anchorage, and all of us are devoted hunters.

Just for the record, I'm not a booking agent and never have been. I'm a sales rep for a engineering and manufacturing company in Montana. From time to time I send e-mail notices on availability of Tony's hunts, special prices on unsold hunts, harvest reports fresh from the bush (via satellite phone), etc. I get this information long before it's public knowledge because Tony and I talk regularly. Many people who are interested in Alaska hunts like to receive e-mail of this nature, but others don', and I respect this. So, if you don’t want any future e-mail, let me know with your name and e-mail address so I can find it quickly in my records, and I will honor your request and remove your name without question, OK? I don't wish to offend anyone. Only inform.

The following is a description of what to expect and what the hunts cost. First of all, Tony has been a master guide, outfitter and bush pilot close to 30 years. Unlike some other bush pilots, he has a blemish-free flying record, which is very important when you're considering a fly-in wilderness hunt in Alaska. Always check the air taxi and pilot's flying record with the FAA. There's an office in Anchorage you can contact.

All hunts are either guided (1x1 & 2x1) or unguided drop camp hunts, which are outfitted with tents, (sleeping cots with thick pads on DELUXE unguided hunts), food and camp tools. You bring the rest, but observe weight restrictions or it could be very costly for you. Air taxis are very strict on weight.

There is no need to purchase your hunting license and tags in camp. He mails out a packet in early June and you pre-pay your license and tags. However, if you do shoot your first caribou and want to take another, or a wolf tag or wolverine tag, you can buy extra tags in camp because Tony is an authorized agent for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Non-resident hunting license are $85. Moose tags are $400. Caribou tags are $325. Black Bear tags are $225. Brown Bear/Grizzly tags are $500. Wolf tags are $30. And wolverine tags are $175.

Guided moose hunts are from September 4-15 in Area 17 and September 1-25 in Area 19, both are areas that Tony hunts. Guided caribou hunts are from mid- to late August and well into September. The price (per person) for 2001 guided hunts are as follows: Moose (1x1) 10-day - $7,500; Moose (2x1) 10-day - $6,000; Caribou (1x1) 7-day - $3,500; Caribou (1x1) 10-day - $4,200; Caribou (2x1) 7-day - $3,000; and Caribou (2x1) 10-day - $3,200. Trophy fees are included in these prices. All hunts are conducted from fly out spike camps. Combination moose, caribou and black bear hunts are also available. Fall brown bear/grizzly hunts are available at a somewhat smaller price than spring hunts, but the hunts are more productive in spring.

Unguided drop camp hunts offer 2 options: The STANDARD includes the basic tent, blue tarps, food, water jug, small frying & sauce pan, cups & silverware, paper plates & bowls, toilet paper, ziplok bags, garbage bags, propane lantern, cordage, propane stove, camp tools and hide salt. This hunt is great for hunters on a budget who still want an Alaska wilderness hunt experience.

The DELUXE drop camp hunt requires a minimum of 4 hunters but can accommodate a maximum of 12. This camp has wall tents you can actually stand up in, sleeping cots with thick pads, wood burning stove heaters and food. There is also a cook tent with table, cooking & eating utensils, shower tent, radio-communications to main camp, a screened-in meat house, camp tools, hide salt, and a 1,300' airstrip.

The main camp is used primarily for a base camp and storage of airplane equipment, aviation fuel, food, supplies, office, cook tent, etc. If hunters take their animal early, they are welcome to stay at the main camp, go after another animal, or they call an air taxi to come and get them, their trophy and meat. There is also a satellite telephone for emergencies, if required.

Tony's success rates have been impressive, primarily because of the area, which is known as "the bread basket" by many of the locals. Guided moose hunts have been about 95% successful; up until the 2000 season guided and unguided caribou hunts all were 100%+ successful (some hunters took more than one) because of horrible weather conditions; guided black bear hunts have been 75% successful; and success on spring brown/grizzly has been 90%+. NOTE: Tony's 1999 spring Grizzly/Brown bear hunt had 8 hunters taking 7 bear. The 3 largest were 9'8", 9'6" and 9'0". The remaining 4 were all over 8'. This area consistently averages 8'+ brown/grizzlies. His 2000 spring Grizzly/Brown bear hunt had 8 hunters taking 8 bears with 6 making the SCI record book and 2 being in the top 5. The largest was 9'8" with a 27" skull. This 100% season was one of the best yet.

On unguided moose & black bear hunts success rates are about 50%. Now, this is somewhat deceiving, particularly on moose, because it's not for the lack of game, but because most unguided hunters do NOT know how to call moose properly. So, before you spend a lot of money on an unguided moose hunt invest about $75 for an instructional video and moose call and practice before you get on the plane for Anchorage. Another reason why success rates on unguided hunts are lower than guided hunts is that when a big bull is down the real work begins. Depending how far from camp the moose is shot and the number in your hunting party, you may have to spend several days packing out heavy pieces of meat, hide and antlers across several miles of rugged terrain. After field dressing and packing out one moose, many hunters decide to just split the meat rather than repeat this physical ordeal. Or, very often, they may just run out of time. The point is, know how far from camp you are before you pull the trigger or release the arrow! Also, know how to judge antler size or you could be in trouble if the game warden catches you with an undersize (illegal) animal. Air taxi pilots are also known to report game violations.

If you're considering a combination moose and caribou hunt, the last of August (caribou) and first half of September (moose) is the best because both are plentiful in this area, which is right in the middle of the Mulchatna drainage. According to Alaska Fish & Game, the Mulchatna caribou herd is estimated to be 200,000+ strong and growing. After the second week of September the caribou have moved too far away for a good opportunity to take both, but still a great opportunity for one or the other. NOTE: The #1 caribou (velvet category) scored by Pope & Young (439 points B&C) and the Safari Club International (530 points, velvet category) was taken by one of Tony's hunters a couple of years ago. Other caribou have scored 552, 531, 527 and 505 points by SCI.

Incidentally, there’s a good segment on Tony’s caribou hunts on Buckmasters Video Series, Big Game II, Volume II with some great footage of the area and 2 caribou kills. If you don’t have these series, it would be a good investment for this video only just to have a better mental picture of where you’re going and what the area looks like.

Prices for these unguided hunts? Actually they're very reasonable. For instance, a STANDARD 6-day unguided drop camp hunt for 2001 is only $1,500 per person; an 8-day unguided drop camp hunt is just $1,800 per person; and a 10-day unguided drop camp hunt is only $2100 per person. If you upgrade to the DELUXE drop camp hunts, a 6-day hunt is only $1,900 per person; an 8-day hunt is $2200 per person; and the 10-day hunt is just $2500 per person.

There are no trophy fees for moose, caribou, black bear, wolf or wolverine on drop camp hunts and with caribou you can legally take two. What ever you plan to hunt just make sure you have a tag.

As an interesting comparison, when I returned from a guided moose hunt in Newfoundland (Oct. 1998 & 2000), I did a cost analysis on their 6-day guided hunt vs. a 6-day unguided drop camp hunt with Tony. I included airfare, guide tips, butchering, license & tag, motel, van rental & gas for a week (Canada only), mandatory HST tax (Canada only) and shipping the meat home. And, you know what? The Alaska hunt was CHEAPER!! I paid $554 round trip from Tampa to Anchorage (Sep. ’99) for a moose hunt and $778 for round trip from Tampa to Deer Lake, Newfoundland (Oct. ‘98 and 2000). But I went as a senior companion with another hunter from my club who was retired and got cheaper rates for him and me. Otherwise it would have cost me over $1100 for that trip. Granted, the comparison was a guided hunt vs. an unguided hunt, but non-residents must have a guide to hunt anything in Newfoundland. A guided moose hunt in Alaska is definitely more than one in Newfoundland. But the animals are a lot bigger, too. Usually, it's a matter of personal budgets. But let me warn you, if you go to Alaska, you'll be hooked forever! There's no comparison. I try to go to Alaska every year or at least every other year and it's definitely The Last Frontier. Remember you only go around once in life. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.

Getting to Alaska and to Tony's main camp is a good part of the cost of his (or any Alaska) hunt. You need to check with your travel agent on the round trip fare to Anchorage. You can spend the night in Anchorage and take the early flight on ERA Air to Iliamna (which is about $300 round trip). Or, as the preferred route, continue from Anchorage to Iliamna and overnight at the Iliamna Lake Lodge, where you get an evening meal and breakfast included in the cost of the room, which is about $100. Plus, they’ll pick you up at the airport and take you back the following morning. It’s only 2 miles away. This way you can be at Holliday Air early in the morning for the short 45-minute flight to Tony’s camp. Round trip with Holliday Air is $450 per person for the 2001 hunting season. Getting into camp early means you get all the paperwork done early, out to your spike camp early, get your gear squared away and get some scouting done in preparation for the following morning hunt. If you leave Iliamna after noon, you’ll probably not get to your spike camp until late evening because Tony’s other hunters, who got there early, are being flown to their spike camp. And with a Super Cub it’s just the pilot (Tony), you and your gear.

Regarding drop camp hunts and air taxi flights, there’s one thing you should be very aware of, especially if you’ve never been to Alaska before and are trying to save some money. And that is comparing a combination air taxi flight drop camp hunt from Anchorage or Soldotna to the Mulchatna drainage area vs. flying from Anchorage to Iliamna and then to camp, which is about $700 more, but well worth it. Why? Because if you fly from Anchorage or Soldotna you have to fly thru Lake Clark Pass, which is 70 miles long and 7,000-foot mountains on either side, which people fly through all the time. Or, you can take Merrill Pass, which requires you to fly over 4,000-foot mountains. Merrill Pass has a well-earned reputation of it being one of the most dangerous mountain-passes in Alaska, because there are 10,000-foot mountains on either side of you along with very inconsistent and unpredictable weather conditions. The landscape along this pass is littered with multi-colored pieces of small airplanes (including air taxis) that have crashed over the years. It’s a solemn testament to how dangerous this pass can be. Weather conditions along these routes are historically unpredictable and have resulted in many fatalities.

Compare that to flying from Anchorage to Iliamna on a commercial airliner and then a short air taxi ride from Iliamna to camp. When you get to Tony’s camp the weather conditions can be completely different than on the Anchorage and Soldotna side of the mountains. When Tony flies you to your spike camp, it’s usually no more than a 10-15 minute flight, but he can actually see what the weather is doing in all directions from his airstrip before he takes off. I’m not trying to scare you but I do want you to know the realities of flying into the Alaska interior in a small plane. It’s probably fair to say when air taxis have to fly 200 miles from Anchorage & Soldotna over 10,000-foot mountain peaks to pick you up, they run into bad weather about 50-70% of the time. Conversely, when an air taxi flies 90 miles at an altitude of 1,500’ from Iliamna to Tony’s main camp they typically only run into bad weather about 10-15% of the time. Which one would you rather take your chances with, particularly if you had an itinerary you had to adhere to? Because air taxis have strict schedules, they often fly in weather Tony wouldn’t consider. Maybe that’s why he’s been a bush pilot for over 25 years with a blemish-free record, not to mention his high degree of self-preservation!

While we’re on the topic of air taxis and drop camp hunts, understand first and foremost that air taxis make their money flying people back and forth. The more flights and people a day they can make, the more money they can make. Since most are not into the outfitting and guiding business they don’t have a real vested interest in putting you down in an area where there are animals. Plus, some flying services hire part-time pilots just for the hunting season who may not be real familiar with the area, and they simply give the part-timers coordinates for drop off points. Ask yourself how often are air taxis from Anchorage or Soldotna going to check on you – really -- when they’re 200 miles away? Depending on the aircraft, it can easily cost several hundred dollars an hour just to fly the plane. Even if they try to check on you, it’s the matter of “consistently” getting thru the passes when there’s no consistent weather. That’s a major problem for Anchorage and Soldotna air taxis. Another big concern is that the caribou are, more often than not, in “wheel plane country” instead of “float plane country”. This means if you fly an air taxi with floats, and the animals are miles away from the nearest lake or river, and they usually are, guess who gets to walk? It’s not the pilot!!! Then, if you’re lucky enough to get an animal (or two), you still have to get the meat and gear back to the same water front pick up point. Read some of the postings on the various hunting bulletin boards or discussion forums for yourself.

In comparison, Tony is his own pilot and his core business is a high number of repeat hunters, which speaks strongly for his success as well as his clients. It’s also comforting that he has known and flown this area for over 25 years, and has lived there, knows where the animals are and where the best landing spots are to drop you off in a spike camp with his “wheel plane”. When you’re close to the caribou AND to your camp, you don’t have to pack hundreds of pounds of meat too far. Anchorage & Soldotna air taxis are a good 200 miles away and the vast majority of them simply don’t have that local knowledge. So, which one would you rather put your dream hunt with?

On a brighter note, another thing you may want to consider is, if you overnight in Anchorage, going halibut fishing before you go hunting, since you’d be there anyway. You can rent a car and drive to Portage (about a 45 minute drive south) where you board a train to Whittier, which is on the Prince William Sound side. Or, you can drive thru the new tunnel. There you'll stay in a nice Bed & Breakfast and early the next morning go halibut fishing for the day with the owner of the B&B. Then you take the train back to Portage and drive back to your motel where you can store your fish in their freezer while you're away hunting. Early the following morning you leave for Iliamna. Upon your return, the motel shuttle can pick you up at the airport and take you to the motel. The next morning you grab your frozen fish and head to the airport. Or, you can make arrangements to have your meat processed, if you hadn't already. Even if you don’t want to keep your meat, it is still your responsibility to get the meat from camp to Iliamna. Once in Iliamna you can donate it to the outfitter or whomever you wish. Some hunters leave a lot of their meat in Iliamna to be given to the needy or give it to Tony for camp food. It won’t go to waste.

Once you get your animal(s) field dressed and back to main camp, after taking good care of the meat while in the field, you can wait until your pick up date by the air taxi or hang around camp and take it easy. Or you can call Holliday Air for an early pick up back to Iliamna along with your meat and antlers. You will pay $400 to fly a field-dressed moose and antlers from camp to Iliamna and $75 for a caribou. If you plan to keep your meat and want to do the de-boning yourself, it is strongly recommended you stay over night at the Iliamna Lake Lodge for about $100/night including an evening meal and breakfast. They have a place for you to de-bone your own meat or they will do it for you and refrigerate it at reasonable rates. They also have boxes you can buy and pack your meat in for your flight home. If you plan to return to Anchorage, In Iliamna the meat is strapped on a pallet and shipped by Northern Air Cargo to Anchorage for $.32/lb. There is one flight a day from Iliamna to Anchorage and they don’t fly on Sunday or Monday. Once you get the meat from Northern Air Cargo in Anchorage it’s your responsibility from then on. You need to make advance plans for either having it processed in Anchorage by a local butcher, who will pick it up at Northern Air Cargo (providing it hasn’t spoiled from poor protection in the field) who will then process and freeze it and ship it to you, or you can take it as excess luggage and have it processed when you get home. But if you do that you have to worry about the hassle of getting boxes, tape, transportation arrangements, etc. when you get to Anchorage.

So, if you're seriously interested and haven't made any commitments for a hunt, give me your name and mailing address and I'll have Tony mail you a packet of literature including prices, references and a full description of the hunts. And, if you're comfortable with it, include your phone number and I'll ask him to give you a call on his nickel one evening after you've had time to review everything, OK?

Looking forward to hearing from you and hope you can take advantage of these hunts. Incidentally, I’ve booked a guided moose hunt with Tony for September 5-14, 2001 and there are only 1 or 2 openings left. If you're interested, let me know as soon as possible, OK?

Best personal regards,


Bill Hefner
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Member: N.R.A.
Member: N.A.H.C.
e-mail: bill1202@tampabay.rr.com
 
B

bcat

Guest
Thanks Bill!!!! I will try my hardest to keep this topic at the top of the page for a while till everybody gets to read it!!!!hehehe Glad ya stopped by and I hope ya do so more often! If Debbie gets time I will have her download your big moose picture you sent me to photopoint and post it. I think I still have it, if I dont for some reason send it to me and we'll post it!!! Again Bill thanks for stopping in and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! bcat

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If you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes
 
B

bcat

Guest
Any of you guys out there looking for a tried and proven trip to Alaska, be sure and let Bill know! I havent got the picture downloaded yet Bill of the 82 inch Alaskan Moose but I will soon! bcat

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If you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes
 
B

bcat

Guest
Bill, we lost our harddrive and everything we had stored in our computer so I dont have the pic anymore. if you send it to me again I will post it!!! Thanks! bcat

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If you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes
 

Bill Hefner

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
51
Location
St. Petersburg, FL USA
bcat...I just got a call from my outfitter friend in Alaska this afternoon. He still has a bunch of unguided, outfitted, fly-in, drop camp hunts open for caribou this August & September. Know anyone who is interested? He's only got one (1) guided moose hunt left for early September during the time I'm booked for. Let me know if you know of any takers. Maybe you can join us next year? Or, maybe you can swap him a hunt???

Hef
 
B

bcat

Guest
Bill,
I would love to go , but with all I have going on this fall it would be almost impossible! Besides I am gonna draw my sheep tag this year!
Ya might get ahold of Deadeye2 from this forum. We are mulling over going to ALaska next fall on a hunt with some of my other old clients. They are all putting in for elk and antelope this year, and we'll see if they draw or not. I will mention it to Deadeye when I speak to him next and it sounds like a good idea to me. I will tell him that you will contact him if ya want and alert him to this post if he hasnt already caught it. I ma game for next year, this year is out for sure.bcat Will keep my eyes open tho for any takers for this year. bcat
 

Thumper

New member
Joined
Dec 15, 2000
Messages
339
Location
Aksai, Kazakhstan via Covington Louisiana
Hef,
I am 100% certain I will be hunting the Big brownies or griz in 2002! It is certain and I am going if I have to get a mortgage
Please drop me some info on that 2002 brown bear hunt and your number so we can discuss it. (sorry I missed ya while in Jacksonville)
I have been calling some of the guys like Gunlogson, and others who hunt the lower pennsula areas and Kodiak island in big brownie country. Most of the top 3 who have book bears (true coastal browns)A good griz would go well too if the brownies are out of the question! i know that the seasons rotate and also do not want to get caught in areas with locals or other outfitters if possible.
If B'cat goes to Alaska in 2002, I would want to hunt with him and get him with me on a bear !! Maybe he can come with me and be my back up shooter

Drop me an e-mail or web site!
Mark Thumper Boykin

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IF YA CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS, KEEP YOUR ARSE ON THE PORCH

http://www.geocities.com/thumper_67.geo
 

Bill Hefner

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
51
Location
St. Petersburg, FL USA
Thumper...

You should have the website and Tony's home phone number by now. He definitely gets serious sized bears. Tell him his favorite marketing guy from Florida sic'ed you on to him.

Hef
 

Thumper

New member
Joined
Dec 15, 2000
Messages
339
Location
Aksai, Kazakhstan via Covington Louisiana
I called Tony last night! I did not know he worked with Curley Warren! They sure take some great bears.
Found out Tony has also talked to moosie and Cuz!

I am in the process of booking that 2002 griz/brown bear hunt with his. A record of 20 clients 19 bears on the ground and only 1 not tagging out as he made a bad shot!
Not a bad record!

The only difference is they hunt at the demarcation line where griz and browns are catorised by the location. The hunt is not as expensive as on on Kodiak or in the lower pennsula area, but I think since a 9 foot brown /griz is what I am after, I will be in the right place with a denser population!

Alright cuz, lets get some plans for 2002! I already asked for you to be my back up shooter/porter/camp hore!
I am going to catch hell for that one, I guess I will have to cape and pack out my own damn elk out after that comment

Thanks Hef and keep the jokes rolling in!
Thump "Griz slayer wanna bee" Boykin

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IF YA CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS, KEEP YOUR ARSE ON THE PORCH

http://www.geocities.com/thumper_67.geo
 
B

bcat

Guest
Thump-Just for that comment you get to pack EVERYBODYS elk out!!
I hope I get my sheep permit this year, put the app in the mail today. I am definately planning on next year 2002 for Alaska Thumper. Tony is a great guy I can tell, and we couldnt go wrong hunting with him. I want one of them bears too, so youll have to beat me to the big one!
Remeber five steps for every three of mine
Will talk to ya soon on it but I am serious. I have to do my other hunt in Alaska at the same time period so it looks like most of September 2002, its ALASKA HERE WE COME!!!!
bcat

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If you aint the lead dog the scenery never changes


http://www.huntandlodge.com/Boykin/outfitter.html
www.huntandlodge.com
www.recworld.com/boykin
 

Bill Hefner

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
51
Location
St. Petersburg, FL USA
Thumper...

Glad you spoke with Tony on the bear hunt the other night. He's taken some nice ones. He and Curly Warren have been doing this for some time. They're real good buddies. He had Curly call me several months back and now I'm working with Curly on helping help him promote his remote, fly-out fishing trips in the summer. How do you know Curly?

So Tony didn't mind bcat being the official camp "hoe", huh? Maybe bcat ain't into that sorta stuff. But, the middle of Alaska in Spring time gets mighty lonely. Like the ol' sailors used to say, "Any port in a storm".

Hef
 

Thumper

New member
Joined
Dec 15, 2000
Messages
339
Location
Aksai, Kazakhstan via Covington Louisiana
Hef,
i get a newsletter from curly and betty every year! I have checked them out real well when I started on about getting serious about a bear 2 years ago!
The only difference is their area that had me a bit of a hold out! They can be a griz or a brown depending on where the bear is taken.
I figure the hell with paying $5000 more to hunt with someone else lower for a bear that will probably only be a few inches bigger, if that! 20 hunters and 19 bear, some in the 9 foot + range!! That says a bunch to me! I can only see this place as having a problem with selection!! I think a 8 1/2 and a 9 footer is hard to tell apart!

I never knew he and curly were partners. But then again there are plenty of outfitters in Alaska that are in partnerships with outer outfitters and fly out services that you would never know about.
Both men are highly reccommended, so I am sending tony my deposit for 2002 ASAP!
Thanks again,
Thump

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IF YA CAN'T RUN WITH THE BIG DAWGS, KEEP YOUR ARSE ON THE PORCH

http://www.geocities.com/thumper_67.geo
 

Bill Hefner

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
51
Location
St. Petersburg, FL USA
Thumper....

Hey, I'm glad you're booking a bear hunt with Tony. You'll really enjoy hunting with him. He's a real straight shooter. He also has a video of his 2000 Spring bear hunt that shows 2 bear kills on it. Ask him for a copy. If he's out I'll send you mine.

Did you get the e-mail version of his newsletter that I sent? If not, I'll re-send it. I have a stack of brochures if you'd like one of them instead.

Stay in touch. Seriously, are taking bcat as your packer, gun bearer and camp "ho"?

Hef
 

Bill Hefner

New member
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
51
Location
St. Petersburg, FL USA
bcat....

Thumper will get you all liquored up and you'll never know what happened. And don't be surprised if he leaves a nice shiney, new quarter under your sleeping bag! And a mint on your pillow!!!

Hef
 
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