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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Elk and Camp


Meat from the first elk drying on alder boughs at camp

One final post on the elk hunt.  The post where I emphasize the whole purpose of the trip - the meat.  We came home with 2 elk and while neither was a bull elk all 7 of us still ended up with 45-50 pounds of packaged meat.  That's a lot of meat.  The top photo shows the meat of one cow elk at our shore camp.  We carried all the meat out with camp 3-4 miles to shore in one load.  And we were all very happy that we had six people to spread the load.

While on shore we all fit into a Seek Outside  and a HMG teepee.  The Seek Outside and wood stove kept us warm and we did all the cooking on the stove.  This year we brought a cuban fiber tarp to keep the meat dry in camp.  All the teepees, wood stove and tarp weighed less than 10 pounds all together - less than a pound and a half per person which is pretty good for shelter and wood stove.  Another reason to spread the load and backpack hunt for elk with 6 people.

Here is a link to a video Philip made of the hunt (click here for video)


Hanging the elk back at the boat

Travis and his calf elk

Our shore camp - with a teepee and wood stove

My cow elk 

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Kiliuda Bay Fieldwork


That's our teepee in the left middle distance

Last week my co-worker Molly and I went on a quick overnight archaeological survey to a small bay in Kiliuda Bay.  Our task was to survey all around a small lagoon and river.  Before we went we already knew about 3 sites in the area, and we knew we would have to map and test 2 of those sites.  We also wanted to look all around and see if we could find some more sites.  

We ended up finding an additional 2 sites and used a transit to create a map of the whole area with all of the old house depressions on it.  One site had 20 house depressions while another had 10.  That's a lot of house depressions to map.  Molly also dug test pits so we could get an idea of the character of the site deposits.  She dug test pits while I wandered all over the place looking for sites.  In the end we examined 5 different sites - 2 looked like late prehistoric sites, another about 1000 years old, while the other 2 looked even older.

We camped using the same teepee and wood stove I'd used less than a week earlier on the elk hunt.  With 6 guys inside on the elk hunt it had seemed tiny, but with just Molly and I it was HUGE.  And it got very, very cold.  We were super happy to have the woodstove and even kept it going the entire second day.  My hands would get cold while on the transit and periodically I took a break in the teepee to warm my hands by the stove.

While wandering around looking for sites I had one tense moment when I came upon a sow and 2 cubs at less than 50 meters.  The wind was in my face and they had no idea I was there.  So I ducked down and backed up and then crossed over to the other side of the river.  Then I watched as the sow caught my scent.  She stood up on her back legs and looked all around - she still had no idea where I was located!  Then all three of them took off running in the opposite direction.  But I am quite sure that if I had surprised her at less than 50 meters she would have at the very least bluff charged me.  Patrick

The place was rife with bears!

That's Molly and all our gear getting picked up by Keller and the helicopter

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Elk Crew


Jared and Jason

This year with the whole COVID thing we had a major shake up on the elk crew.  Two of the usual crew members could not make it for work-related COVID reasons.  So meet Jared and Travis!  Jared is a dentist from Juneau while Travis is the 'ACS guy' from Kodiak and had a SW Afognak elk tag.  Our crew is generally a pretty accomplished bunch and they both added to the mix. We joked that with a dentist, doctor and rescue swimmer on board that all we needed is a nurse or PA to fill things out.  Or maybe a lawyer or insurance dude . .. . ?

With this crew the flora and fauna and biological discussions was as much a part of the hunt as the elk hunting.  We identified King Bolete mushrooms and sampled them for dinner.  We pondered about why Afognak has so few deer and whether they compete with elk for the same biological niche.  We looked at the effects of global warming on the alpine tree line.  There was always a lively discussion going on in the background of the hunt.  Patrick

Patrick and the King Boletes we had for dinner


Jim - the most important crew member!

Travis on the go

Philip and Ray



Ray, Jason, and Philip

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

South Sister in the sunshine


Over the weekend Philip took us hiking.  We finished cutting up the meat on Saturday and so on Sunday we all went for a hike.  And rather than doing the usual North Sister hike - seen here at the back middle distance - we did the South Sister.  It actually does not take all that much longer to hike.  But it does see a lot less traffic and I think the view is better.  Nora also thinks that it has a much better view of the windmills on Pillar.  So there is that too.

It was a crisp and beautiful Fall day.  The sun would come out on occasion and light everything up like a spotlight.  We even found some low bush cranberries (lingonberry) to pick.  And afterwards we divided up the meat and everyone caught their planes home.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

Life on the boat


Some pictures from the boat on the elk hunt.  This was the 19th annual elk hunt - that's a lot of hunts.  And what makes the hunt special is that it is boat-based.  Our base camp is a very comfortable and warm boat.  We go ashore to hunt and rough it.  But we always have a refuge to return to and the skipper Jim can pick us up wherever we have ended up on shore.  And, best of all, there is beer on the boat!

For the first 8 or 9 years (through 2010) we hunted off of the Alpha Centuri.  But ever since 2011 our base has been the Columbia.  However, despite 10 years of the Columbia when radioing the boat from shore I still often say 'Alpha Centuri, Alpha Centuri this is shore party can you hear us?'  And Jim on the boat knows exactly what's up.  I actually think that this year I got it right and called 'Columbia, Columbia' for the first time.  Patrick

At the dock in Kodiak

Rain and sunshine in Malina Bay

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Elk Hunt Scenery


Some scenics from our recent elk hunt.  We hunted in a forested area, and where there was not forest it was either swampy meadow, alder and salmonberry brush, or the high alpine.  We tried to avoid the salmonberry thickets, but those are also the places the elk seem to prefer.

We had pretty good weather for the trip.  It was almost always sunny in the morning and we would have sprinkles in the evening. But by dawn you could generally see Orion on the horizon and we had a few hard frosts. One evening it rained pretty hard - mixed with snow at our camp! But adverse weather only makes us appreciate the wood stove even more.  And we awoke to see all the mountains above camp coated in snow.  Patrick