Flying small planes is an awesome experience for most pilots and for most of their passengers. However, there are those who prefer to just stay on the ground. That is the case with my wife, Karen. She has never been a fan of flying in small planes and particularly didn’t like flying in a super cub. She was constantly checking the gas levels, hated the noise but more than that she didn’t like that she could see everything around her, feeling unprotected. That of course is one of the main reasons most of us super cub pilots love it.
Every hunter has their favorite hunting spot and that is also true of guides. However, as an outfitter, having six to eight hunters at a time, three times during our fall season, I needed around ten different campsites so I could rotate their use. I was always on the lookout for new camps.
Gulch Creek has a special place in my hunting memories. Not only was it a gorgeous game filled little valley, but it provided access to Walker Creek and Falls Creek. I killed my first big game animal, a mountain goat, my first black bear, my first animal with a bow, another mountain goat, and it was where I slept overnight without a sleeping bag for the first time and more than likely the first time that I almost died climbing a cliff. There were many of those times.
I just returned from our annual family caribou/moose hunt so there was no post last week. We had a great time. Our main objective was to get my granddaughter Rachel a caribou. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and for the first time in that area, I didn't see a single caribou. We were so bummed, but on a positive note, Brent's grandson Brian and his dad Steve Crim were with us and Brian took a 42" moose. We were all very excited for him. That was the sixth moose that we have taken out of that area with the largest being 49 inches. That is what happens when you issue "any" bull permits. Everyone shoots small bulls, so there will never be any big ones. This current story shows what happens when you have a size restriction, you get bigger moose. Enjoy all of the following pictures of our giant moose.
Being the youngest in the family has its advantages and disadvantages. One disadvantage when it comes to hunting in our family is the oldest usually gets the first opportunity to harvest each of the different species. Nathan knew his turn would come and took it in stride, always happy for his siblings. He was the last one to take a black bear, next to last for caribou but now it was his turn for moose.
It’s August 10th and again I’m not celebrating my birthday on the mountain chasing sheep. This is getting to be a bad habit and unlike last year I didn’t even get drawn for a late sheep permit. So, I guess the next best thing is to write about two special hunts in the majestic Wrangell Mountains hunting around glaciers. Both were very tough hunts and at my age now I don’t think I could make the trip out with a full sheep. Carrying a 100 pound pack in rough country for fifteen miles is a tough go, so I guess those days are over. With that let’s go sheep hunting!!
One of the main reasons I loved our Western Alaska area so much was hunting the Mulchatna caribou. I have always enjoyed caribou hunting and the scenery during the September season with all the beautiful fall colors. In my opinion the white maned bull caribou is one of the most regal antlered animals.
When we first started hunting around Otter Lake in 1987 we only had a few scattered bulls on the mountain tops. However after the herd started its rapid growth, we would have caribou somewhere in the area by the thousands for two or three weeks during September. The initial population of the Mulchatna herd in ’87 was somewhere between 15,000 to 20,000. By 1990 it was believed to have been around 80,000 and by ’94 it was approaching 200,000. It peaked around ’98 with 250,000 caribou. Some days flying in the area I would see 20,000 to 30,000 and at their peak many clients would see 5,000 plus in a day. That was quite a sight!
The following article was written by my hunter Dr. Dave Gandee of Buckhannon, WV. He took his beautiful brown bear in the spring of 1994 and his story was printed in The Alaska Professional Hunter Magazine in the spring of 1997. It was one of the many 10’ plus bears that AAA harvested in our Cold Bay area. This bear was taken within one-half mile of where three other 10’ plus bears had been shot. That included our first bear, a 10’10” taken by George Caswell in 1984 and the 11’3” that Dan had guided Randy Cain to in ’92. George was guided by Brent. Randy’s brown bear was the largest bear killed in 26 years and was tied for the SCI World Record with a skull size of 30 5/16”.
For those of you familiar with the saga of the road from King Cove to Cold Bay through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge they have already constructed part of it. The area where the photos in the story were taken where Dave shot his bear and where Dave and Dan were spotting from is now a parking area for the heavy equipment used in the road construction. The road goes right over our camp site. King Cove is no different than any other small village in Alaska without an all-weather airport. They are doing this in the name of medical emergencies, spending millions of dollars. It’s been a political hot potato for at least the last twenty years. We tried to stay out of it because we were paying the King Cove Native Corporation to hunt on their land. I personally think it is a waste of tax payers’ money.
I hope you enjoy Dave’s memories of his brown bear hunt.
We’ve all seen on the news the damage that floods can cause and maybe some of you have even had a personal experience. I have always felt sorry for those who have lost everything especially if it was a one-time occurrence. What I couldn’t grasp however was why people who lived in areas that flooded multiple times just didn’t move. But as an owner of AAA Alaskan Outfitters I experienced numerous floods and didn’t want to move or maybe business wise couldn’t move. At that point you just have to deal with it. So now I guess I understand why they just didn’t move. These are AAA’s flood stories.
Growing up in West Virginia our family hunts were for either squirrel or rabbit. My father came from a large family with fourteen brothers and sisters. He wasn’t into hunting like his brothers, however, when I turned six years old he always took me on the first hunt of the season, a squirrel hunt. My father, his brothers and their friends usually around twenty of them would drag out the big Army cook tent and away we would go. All of the men stayed up most of the night drinking beer and playing cards. We little guys just hung around the card table and listened and watched. That was quite an experience. Even though that wasn’t the way I wanted my children and grandchildren to learn about hunting it did get me into the woods and my uncles taught me many good hunting skills that I use today. I believe if my relatives had lived in Alaska we would have done family moose hunts. That is the way my son-in-law, Sagen, was raised. He loves moose hunting and is very skilled at hunting and calling them.