The Alaska Peninsula had a large population of big bull moose during the late 60’s and early 70’s. I had been told by an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist that that country was marginal moose habitat so the population was very cyclical. I always wanted to go moose hunting in that country because of the big moose but felt it was just too expensive to get the moose meat back to Anchorage. Plus, I enjoyed caribou hunting way more than moose so my buddies and I always chose hunting them. We had three or four successful caribou hunts before I rotated to the Lower 48 the summer of ’74. That fall a couple of airmen who had worked for me went on a moose hunt on the Peninsula. They had a great hunt taking two moose over 65 inches.
As hunters we all have our favorite spots where we have taken some of our biggest or best trophies. Some just call it their secret spot while others may call it “the honey hole” or by some other name. Guides have their favorites also and in AAA’s early days our “honey hole” for big brown bears was Barney Creek, a small alder filled valley with a southern exposure in our Cold Bay area. The valley was almost four miles long but we never killed or stalked a bear in the last mile of it. We did take quite a few bears on the north entrance to the valley. It was mainly a breeding or hook-up valley. We only hunted it in the spring and during eight springs, we harvested eleven bears over 9’ with seven of those over 10’ and one 11 footer. We also know of a King Cove resident who took his brother to this valley and they harvested two bears over 10’during that same time period. Now that’s what I call a “honey hole.”
Back when I was an Alaskan resident hunter I always wondered how guides thought they owned all of the land especially in most of the areas I hunted and particularly on the Alaska Peninsula. When I became a guide I found out that they actually didn’t own any land except maybe the land their base camp was on.
This is my last story for 2018. It has been a great year and I want to thank all of my subscribers for their support and to remind them if they enjoy the site please share with your friends. This coming year I will only be writing one story per month. Thanks again. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Around this time every year hundreds of thousands of hunters take to the woods in pursuit of a trophy whitetail buck. Some hunters travel many miles for their hunt while others hunt in their backyard. Whitetail deer are the most abundant and most hunted hoofed animals in North America. Big bucks are very smart which makes them a very challenging adversary. I have limited experience but have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to take a couple of trophy bucks. Hope you enjoy.
I have always loved caribou hunting. Those magnificent trophy bulls are some of the most regal looking antlered animals I have ever seen, each having their own unique set of antlers. Before I started guiding I had already honed my skills on judging trophy caribou, a must for a hunting guide.
Those of you who have been following my blog know that I have spent more nights out without my sleeping bag than most normal hunters. I know some of you are probably thinking, “Is this guy an idiot, or just plain stupid.” Well I guess at different times both might apply but the real reason is simply time and distance. Most of our mountain hunts were weekenders or three day hunts. It usually took one day to hike in and one day to hike out so that left one day to hunt. If you are going to be successful you have to go to where the animals are or in other words push the envelope of time and distance. Most of the nights out were after a successful harvest in dangerous terrain and traveling in the dark was not a wise choice. Traveling at night with flashlights or headlamps is no big deal on flat ground. I have gotten back after dark many times on caribou, moose and black and brown bear hunts.
Almost every year during the 70’s and the early 80’s I went mountain goat hunting the third weekend in September. For some reason that weekend was usually cool, crisp and invigorating. There were a few exceptions with brutal storms that I have already written about. We were never really prepared for those storms but we survived. Overall I went on as many goat hunts as sheep hunts but some of the sheep hunts in the later years were much longer in duration so I spent more days in the mountains chasing sheep.
Moose has never been my favorite animal to hunt. I’m not sure why because I love that time of the year. That’s when I think Alaska, with all the brilliant fall colors, is most beautiful. I have always said that moose are too much work after you pull the trigger. Why then do I love sheep hunting so much as I walk many more miles and beat myself up climbing mountains. Many hunters think sheep hunting is too much work. I guess we are all different. I know there are more moose hunters out there than sheep hunters. In the guide business more hunters are looking for moose hunts than sheep hunts. AAA Alaskan Outfitters took between ten and twelve moose hunters per year. The following clients are the ones that I personally guided.
It’s August 10, my birthday and the first day of sheep season. I’m at home and not in the mountains. There is something wrong with this picture. A number of events led up to my not celebrating my birthday sheep hunting. A road trip, a new job and a major operation were a few of the reasons that my sheep hunting partners couldn’t go with me. I’m kind of bummed, but the last four days presented constant rain in the area where we were to hunt. And, there is another low pressure system coming in so thinking about lying in the tent listening to the rain is not something any of us enjoy. There is always next year and even at my age I still have that desire to be in the mountains hunting sheep. However, I no longer have a burning desire to personally take a sheep. I just enjoy being in those majestic mountains with the special people in my life. Hopefully, next year.
The following story is about a truly tough sheep hunt with my good friend and hunting partner, Lyle Thompson. I know that at my age now I physically or mentally couldn’t repeat this particular hunt. I wouldn’t even want to try. I hope you enjoy “The Tonsina Glacier Area.”