Google Real Alaskan Adventures in the Wild of Alaska: November 2009

Hunt Alaskan Big Game On Your Own- Part 2

I've always felt bad for Lower 48 sport hunters who wanted to come to Alaska and hunt. When they made inquiries about costs, it shot most of them out of the saddle! THIS SHOULD NOT BE THE CASE! Our big game should not be relegated to the wealthy, especially non-resident aliens!  Like everywhere else though, it's happened here too. Did you know that most resident Alaskans cannot afford to go on an Alaskan big game hunt!

I want to help Lower 48 hunters achieve their "trip of a lifetime" and you need not break the bank or your marriage to do it!  FIRST THING you need to realize, that on a small budget you have limited big game species you can legally hunt as US citizens without the aide of a guide. They are Moose, Caribou, Black Bear and Sitka Blacktail Deer. All other big game species require a guide- based on my own experience that is costly! Note: Folks from outside the US(non-resident aliens) must have a guide for ALL big game. The State made concessions to fellow US sportsmen, use them!

So, if you want to go for the largest of the Moose species (Gigas), Caribou, Black Bear or Sitka Deer then I'll give you some tips that could make that hunt happen for you.

FIRST, Pick a buddy who wants to hunt Alaska as bad as you do. Planning a hunt here takes some time and preparation. Pick someone who'll hang in there with you and not get cold feet! Oh, don't pick someone who has a wife that wears the pants, they'll never make it. Also, make SURE that both of you are in good physical shape. I cannot STRESS that enough. This will be the hardest hunting you have ever done.

SECOND-The budget and what you decide to hunt for are closely tied together. Tags for non-residents vary by species. Moose-$400.00, Caribou-$325.00, Black Bear-$225.00 and Sitka Deer-$150.00. , plus the cost of your $80. Hunting license. Licenses do impact the budget, but they are necessary.For more info on non-resident tags go to

Alaska is divided into 26 game management units. Moose, Caribou and Black bear share habitat in many of them. If you want a Sitka Deer, Kodiak Island or Prince William Sound are good bets. To view map(s), boundary descriptions, and hunts available. Go to
I recommend you and your hunting partner get different tags. One of you should purchase a Moose tag and the other one purchase a Caribou tag. Here's why. Moose and Caribou country do overlap in some of our units. Luck has always played a role in any hunt. With that in mind, let's say there are no Moose around but there are lots of Caribou and your hunt is nearing its end. The guy with the Moose tag CAN take a Caribou with it. Our regulations (as of this writing) allow a hunter to take any animal that has a tag price less than the one they purchased. Nice concession! One of you should have a Black Bear tag as well. In this country, once you have meat down, bears will show up. For more info about Alaska's Hunting Regulations log on to

Alaskan hunting opportunities are good. We have a lot of game here and we also have a lot of country. So getting to your game is going to be the most expensive part of your trip. There are ways to keep that cost down, I'll get to them shortly, but resign yourself now to the fact that, if you want to really experience an Alaskan Big Game Hunting Adventure-small airplanes and bush landings must be in the mix! Logistics in this country demand it.

Deciding where we hunt? That takes research to decide that. Truthfully, there is no way for you to know unless you have been here before. That's going to require some "local" advice. I'll discuss locations more in this blog Series.

Where you decide to hunt, impacts the budget. If you want the most bang for the buck, a float trip is the answer. Floating some of Alaska's rivers offers many benefits to a non-resident! There are several reasons why I recommend that. MOST IMPORTANTLY-Your motor is always running! The river will move you to different spots at NO ADDITIONAL COST. Have not seen anything? Move camp on downriver, stopping to read sign as you go. If you are merely dropped off at a lake somewhere. You are stuck there, game or no game. I can't tell you how many times that has happened. Some of these river trips will be over 100 miles, so you see lots of country at no additional cost to you. Your Mobile!

Another good reason to float hunt is the fact that game always follows the river or nearby. That means you don't have to pack your meat very far. ANOTHER reason for hunting with a friend. By law, you are required to salvage ALL the meat. A mature bull Moose could yield 600-700 lbs. of meat! Alaska's meat salvage regulations reflect the high value Alaskans place on game meat, ethical hunting and respectful treatment of game animals. YOU NEED to know this prior to your hunt here. See the regulations regarding meat salvage at:

If your still not sold on the advantages of a float hunt, add to all the above-FISHING! Most rivers will have several varieties of game fish. That's Fresh food during your trip! Besides, a 7-day fishing license is only around $20. and it provides for more recreation while afield.

I recommended hunting with a buddy for several reasons. Keeping the bush plane costs split between two of you helps tremendously when it comes to holding your individual costs down. You do have a few options regarding which aircraft to charter when there are just two of you and gear. Renting different aircraft by the hour varies GREATLY. Smaller the plane, lower the cost. You'll want to rent a Beaver on floats to do the job. If you both get your animals be prepared to pay a little extra, it always happens as extra trips may be required.

ONE BIG way to keep those extra trips out of the picture is WATCH YOUR GEAR. Don't show up with tons of luggage-it will plague you your entire trip here. BARE MINIMUMS! Please watch what gear you bring. I have had clients show up with 5 large Cabalas bags, none of which fit well in a small plane. But, they weren't on a budget. WE ARE!  I'll get that list to you in the NEXT BLOG.

That brings us to our most important topic of this whole blog. The BUDGET. You and your buddy should be able to pull this hunt off for around $3,850. each.(includes airfare to Alaska) We're shooting for that, as we go through your budget we may go over a bit, but that number is going to be close. It's not hard to meet expenses in Alaska; they are everywhere here!

On the bright side though, compare your budget to the cost of a Guided Moose hunt, $14,000.00 and you are well ahead of the game! You can do this!

NEXT BLOG POST... Part 2- Budget Breakdown, Gear and Preparation Lists.

Alaska's Brown Bears are HUGE!

Alaska's Bears have been a big part of my life here in Alaska. Whenever I was on the road doing shows that was always the number one creature of interest here in Alaska. People fear them, and you best fear them. Timothy Treadwell should have!

Over the last 30 years we have had our unique encounters. The photo above is a nice Brown Bear taken by a client some years ago. As you can see from the photo, his "Cabelas pants" are full of Brown Bear!

So, you want to come to Alaska!

Getting here is the cheapest part of your trip. Alaska is a huge place with little infrastructure around to keep your travel costs down. There are shortcuts though, the local way of doing things. That can mean saving you a lot of money or do more with the money you have!

Ever Seen A Brown Bear Path?

Click on the Photo to the left. NOW YOU HAVE! Not many photos of these type paths. Bears normally make them along streams or in the tundra cutting across oxbow bends in the streams. That was the case in this photo taken near Brown Bear camp on the Alaskan Peninsula.

It represents Brown Bears that have put their feet in the same track, generation after generation. It's quite the sight! Most Alaskans have not seen them!

Alaska- Ain't No Place for Sissies

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated. If I  had to guess why, I would say the last one was a horse!

Meet Mr. Gibbs!

Rooting large brown bear out of the Alaskan bush can be very dangerous. In my guiding days it was up to me to always back them up or worse, go find the bruins after the client fired and it disappeared. My backup rifle is a .505 Gibbs, that's it pointing at you in the header of this blog. "Mr.Gibbs", as he is generally referred to, got his nickname from my friend and client Denny Crum, Hall of Fame Basketball coach from Louisville,Ky.

It's Only 210 miles to camp! As the Raven Flies.

210 miles to most folks don't sound like much. Let me tell you how "close" that really isn't in Alaska. I left my home on Bald Mountain and headed for Moose/Brown Bear camp on the Bering River that lies east of Copper River Delta country. In Alaska, that also means you are close to Yukon Territory and in the middle of nowhere!