DIY Alaska Trip, Adak - Chugach (Pic Heavy)

wllm1313

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Hey everyone, been on the forum for 2 years now (mostly being super opinionated on various threads) and I figured it was time to share a hunt and some pictures. Hope you enjoy, we had a blast!
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I am an adult onset hunter, but have had the Alaska bug since I was a little kid. In 2012 my now father-n-law got me started hunting and I have been obsessed ever since. This past year my dad died at 59 after being diagnosed with cancer just three months earlier and seeing my 30th birthday approach I decided that hell or high water I was going to AK and wasn't going to put off it off till I "had the time". I have a buddy from growing up, also an adult onset hunter, who lives up in AK and we started planning. We quickly ran into issues with cost, time off, Non Resident restrictions, and scheduling and determined the only way to make this hunt go on short notice was to do a backpack caribou hunt on Adak, followed by a quick bear hunt in the Chugach.


In Feb I got the AK airlines card, and in July we booked tickets for an Aug hunt.

Bags packed, 2 checked and 2 carry-on
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Flew to Anchorage, met up with my college roommate, my buddy in AK and his girl friend and the four of us jumped on the plane to Adak.

First glimpse of the island!
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We landed, picked up our rental vehicle, and drove straight to the gas station to fill up our MSR fuel bottles to run our stoves for the week.

Great weather the day we landed.
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Fueling Up
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From the gas station we headed to the trailhead, but got a bit waylaid by a stream inlet bursting with salmon...
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Needless to say we got a little distracted and got a bit of a late start on the trail.
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to be continued...
 

LCH

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Adak has been a bucket list place for me for awhile now.. I'm excited to hear about your adventure!
 

wllm1313

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Day 2

Our first morning on the island was a foggy one, but at this point we had not have a single gust of the legendary Adak wind.
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We broke camp and headed to the hunting area we had e-scouted, as the morning progressed the fog broke and we got some great views.
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We stopped for a bit and did some glassing... about half way through the session we decided to get a pic for our album cover.
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After a while we realized that with the number of caribou on the island if we weren't seeing sign or caribou for that matter we weren't far enough in and decided to press on...
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wllm1313

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Once we got to the top of the pass we pulled out our nockers and caribou started popping out everywhere.
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We glassed for a while and quickly realized there were no bulls within sight. From the start we had all decided that we were all in it for the meat and the experience and that given the dubious trophy quality of the island (recently speaking) we weren't going to be focused on horns. This was our first real day hunting, but we decided that since we were already 7 miles in, we didn't have super long on the island, and well that old adage "never pass up on the first day, what you would shoot on the last" that we should make a stalk and try and fill some tags.

The terrain on Adak is amazing for stalking, lots of little rises and cuts that you can hide in and it allowed the four of us to get within 120 yards of a herd completely undetected. We crept up the rise immediately adjacent to the herd, and were able to quickly kill two cows. The herd bolted and ran straight for us, before coming to a grinding halt and posting up in front of us at 45 yards. My buddy and my college roommate were on the other side of the rise with a rifle and I was on the other with my buddies girl friend, she had never killed an animal but had a harvest tag in her pocket and was ready to go. I quickly scooted to the side and passed her my rifle. Like a moron I hadn't jacked out the shell after my shot and had failed to have her hold my rifle which has a thumb-hole stock which can be super weird for someone who has never seen one. She took everything in stride though and calmly chambered a round, picked out a caribou (it seemed like they had been standing there for 5 min at this point, although probably just 10 seconds and my heart was pounding) made sure she had a good rest on the shooting sticks, and squeezed the trigger for perfect double lung shot.

In the blink of an eye we had three animals down and had just created days of work for ourselves.
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First animal, caribou on Adak on a backpack hunt... will be jaded for life.
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Then the ubiquitous moment... oh boy... this is going to take a while...
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Everybody jumped in and we boned out all three animals, kept all the required portions + tongues and hearts
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wllm1313

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We finished up butchering in the early afternoon and realized there was no way we were going to be able to get it back to Adak that night, plus we couldn't get into our rental on the island for another day and since we killed our bou down by the lake, and it was really warm (for Adak, so maybe 58) and sunny... well...

Swim time!
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Post swim we treated all the meat, now cool and dry, with citric acid and bagged it up and packed it up to the top of the pass. Again having had zero wind, we decide to camp at the top of the pass.
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Boned out meat just makes a blob in your back pack is just asking to spoil so we pulled it all out, laid it out and made meat tents with contractor bags. Here are a couple of them.
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The next morning we were all feeling great and perhaps, overly ambitious??, and decided to pack out our camps plus all the caribou in one go... we did the math and there was no way anyone was carrying less than 90lbs.

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About 1.5 miles in the struggle bus hit hard and we realized we had at least 6 or 7 miles in front of us...
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But right at that moment, we spooked a ptarmigan... and cue the benny hill theme. I managed to get my pack off grab the .410 attached to our lady caribou killers pack and took a misguided wing shot at a ptarmigan. The bird went down but landed in a bog, now I did not look before I leapt and dove after the wounded bird to grab it and plugged into water up to my waist. My buddies pulled me out bird in hand, with a huge smile on my face. I'm not sure if there is a slam for north american ptarmigan... but there should be and chamberlains rock ptarmigan definitely has to be a tough one to pick off the list.

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Personally I was buoyed by thoughts of tasty ptarmigan for dinner, but I think we all mostly just realized that if we took lots of breaks the pack out was going to be fine. A couple hours later we arrive at the truck and spent a bit of time in stream to get some fish to add to our dinner.

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We called our host and got directions to our place... "Oh just drive around till you find in E252B"... only took us 15 min... but this had us cracking up... not many places you could get away with that...
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wllm1313

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The next couple of days the weather turned and we got to experience the side of Adak we had been warned about... I did some fishing and we explored the old military base.
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wllm1313

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For the last 4 days of our trip we did a blitz bear hunt in the Chugach. We flew back to Anchorage from Adak, dropped off everything in my buddies freezer, hit the store grabbed the pack rafts and were on the road the next morning. We spent the next couple of days in and out of rain, looking for bears (not seeing any) bumping moose, spotting goats and sheep, and just soaking up Alaska.

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wllm1313

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I was able to fly back with my caribou + some fish in just my carry-on using a roll top drybag in my packs meat-shelf and my yeti. Total baggage fees for the entire trip were $50 ($25 each way). Big gear winners from the trip were garmin inreach + phone with Onxmaps, solo hunter rifle cover (actually kept my rifle pretty dry while crossing a river in a pack raft), and sea to summit dry bags (brought a down bag on the trip and it never even got damp).

Really appreciate all the info glasseye, bambistew, and others shared with me the last couple of months. Hope everyone can get out there and do a dream trip!
 

Bambistew

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I will gladly accept the coordinates on the moose as compensation. :D

Looks like a fun wet trip. Too bad you couldn't stay a little longer.
 

NoWiser

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Congrats on a great trip with friends! It looks like you made the most of it and will have stories to tell for years to come.
 

wllm1313

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I will gladly accept the coordinates on the moose as compensation. :D

Looks like a fun wet trip. Too bad you couldn't stay a little longer.
The one on left was legal for a NR... 4 more days and some $$$ and I definitely wouldn't have been able to get home with just 2 check bags.
 
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