The first and most important step in planning an Alaskan hunt is to realize the magnitude of logistics needed to pull it off. A lot of folks think its worse on non-residents but in all actuality the only difference in cost btween us is license and tags.
That said, here's my advise.
1) Determine how much you can afford to spend.
2) Select the animal or region you want to hunt.
3) Download or request via mail a copy of the Alaska hunting regs(they come out in July)
4) Get some maps. I recommend the DeLorme Atlas as a good starting point for narrowing down your location.
5) Get on the phone or email and query air taxi services about locations and costs. Call the F&G Dept, ask for Area Biologists and then ask specifics about the region you are considering.
Fly in or Float- Ah what a dilema. The pros of flying in is the reputable air taxi has a vested interest in your success so they will always try and put you in a good area so they can use you in their brochure. The cons are they are a business for whom air time is overhead and to that end they will put as many camps in one general area as they think they can get away with which puts you in greater competion for animals and aesthetically, might ruin your sense of being "alone" in the wilderness, and the plane might crash.
I like to float and have my own 16 foot cataraft which is a good float-hunt platform. Most float trips involve airplanes one way or another. While you can begin or end some floats from our limited road system you typically need a plane for the other end. If you go this route try to end at or near a road as it is cheaper to transport game by road than by air. More than likely you will fly in and out. The pros are many IMO; you are silent as you move through prime habitat; You can determine your rate of travel(when you talk to biologists ask about flow rates) as long as you planned for a sufficient time buffer. When you kill your 65 inch, 1600lb trophy moose you will most likely do it close to the river which means a short pack and the raft will do the work from that point on; You can bring a few extras since you don't have to carry them on your back; You can fish too; You get new scenery everyday; You can avoid virtually any and all food related bear incidents by pulling over and eating a half hour or so up river from where you stop and make camp and by not keeping food overnight in the raft.
Cons: The river dominates what you can hear; You might have passed the best spot yesterday; If you forget anything in any one of your camps you can't go back and get it; You might drown
I could go on forever so as your plans firm up let me know and I'll gladly share what I can.
Rule of thumb: 4 guys is the most economically sized group. Each hunter will spend $1400 to $1700 apiece once in Alaska for a decent quality experience.
The raft is a new addition so I havn't had much chance to hunt with it but I have float hunted before and IMO its the single best method here in Alaska. There's literally thousands of miles of float-huntable rivers and the great thing about rivers especially for hunting Alces alces(moose not moosie)is river bottom (riparian) habitat is where they spend the majority of their time.
I'm ashamed to say, well not ashamed just mildly embarrassed to say my hunting successes are few. I've come close every time out but never connected(or got a clean shot) I bow hunted exclusively for my first eight years.
I know of an air taxi in AK that will basically fly us into anywhere we want and can afford to go. It sounds as if his operation is a little different in that he doesn't have preset locations which may, or may not, be productive. He will also spot us anywhere we want to go for a float trip.
The one issue there is that he doesn't rent or include the camping or floating equipment. I can deal with the camping gear on a drop in, but I don't believe that I want to buy the raft etc. for this trip so floating may be out unless I find another rental place.
How would you suggest I figure out where I would want to be dropped for a moose and caribou combo? I think I'll start by calling the Dept. of Game in AK and go from there. Any other ideas? AK is a biiiiig state that I really don't know beans about good areas.
There are several places that rent rafts of various types and gear. Rental rates average $80 $100 a day during hunting season. Your best bets in terms of general areas for a combo hunt is pick a good caribou area first. Moose are more widely distributed and are in just about every river bottom in the state, even out in the so-called "barren" tundra. Alaska has nine distinct caribou herds which to the trained eye can usually be ID'd by variations in antler configuration. That said, the Mulchatna herd (GMU 17-19) produces the nicest trophies; thick beams, long kickers and nice palmated tops with lots of long tines. A fly-in for Mulchatna caribou puts you in good to decent moose country. Conversely if a 70 inch moose is your primary goal then the southern Brooks Range is where to go (GMU 24-23) BUT caribou distribution is localized.
Alaska Raft and Kyak in Anchorage (907)561-7238(I just hung up the phone with them) has 6 Cat-boats left for September reservations @ $90 a day. If you guys are serious call soon and reserve a boat(16-18 footer) and if it doesn't work out you can still cancel. They will have a stand-by list.
If you want, maybe we can hook up this fall. Four guys in two boats is perfect. We can talk details in private/phone if you want.
As soon as you can commit I can handle the legwork and logistics from here.
Let me know. Maybe lilbiggun might be interested?
I'm always interested. A week or 2 off from work, floating on a river while hunting, hell, I'm not gonna complain.
I have a 14ft achillies with a cheap 8ft (walmart cheap) blow up raft that I tie to the back of the raft for gear (or whatever).
I like the achillies/zodiak type raft for rivers except they dont have the same maneuverability (sp?) as a cataraft IMO. I used to use wooden paddles but on a weekend bear trip, both of our paddles broke on the same bend of the river and naturally it was rather swift river. That float sucked.Now I use alluminum paddles and carry a spare. Luckily it was on the kenai river and there was enough junk and driftwood on the shores we could rig up some paddle like objects to get us to the take-out.
I'm in if everybody's serious. I recommend a 7 to 10 day hunt if all involved can get the time off. So that's two weeks for Moosie and Westman. I've alredy begun to pester F&G about specific rivers and have 6 or 7 candidates in mind, a couple of which can be road accessed at both ends and are in non-resident friendly units.
Westman wants a big bull moose so thats my selection focus. I want a big blonde grizzly or a 'bou and maybe a wolf. Moosie needs to decide on his animal of choice. Between my raft and lilbiggun's achilles we should be ok but we'll have to get or borrow or make a rowing frame for his boat and get some oars.
I already have enough gear for camp. We can plan our meals ahead of time and I'll buy and box the food/supplies.
Westman/Moosie need to bring the following:
1)The obvious stuff: weapons,ammo,knives, bino's etc
2)Ankle-fit hip boots
3)1 pair socks per day plus 2
4)Personal hygiene/med kit-no electric stuff
5)Good quality rain gear
6)1 set winter weight clothes(in case of freak weather)
8)Dry bags enough to stow gear including a waterproof case for rifles.
9)Good sleeping pad
10)Good quality gamebags enough to cover what you plan to kill. Remember the average bull moose yields 450 to 600 pounds of boned out meat.
Try and limit your total personal stuff to 35 pounds. We will need to take every reasonable measure to conserve weight and space.
I have sleeping bags enough for all or you can bring your own, plus tents chairs lanterns, cooking stuff etc. I'll bring the camp tools--rope, wire, duct-tape etc.
If you guys are serious then lets do it. Moosie, its OK to give out my personal info to Westman.
You guys have a great idea going here! It only has one problem for me, I can't get away to do it until the fall of 2003. I am committed to a wilderness elk and mule deer hunt this fall. I am planning out one year these days!
I would take you up on this in a heartbeat if I could.
I appreciate the help and info. I hope to use it in 2003.