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Monday, October 16, 2017

Floating Elk Camp

The most important person on the boat - Jim the skipper and Captain

We have been doing our floating elk hunt for 16 straight years and have harvested 23 elk.  That is a long time and a lot of elk!

In hunting magazines there are always stories about various annual hunting camps.  Usually they are based in some sort of rustic cabin and the same guys go year after year.  I've never read about an annual hunt that takes place on a boat like ours does.  Each year we all pile into a 50 foot seiner and head to north Afognak to hunt elk.

We go ashore and hike looking for the elk on the landscape, and camp as we go.  Then when we find the elk we harvest them and go to the nearest coastline where the boat picks us up.  Once on the boat the meat is safe from bears and, if need be, we can hunt for more elk.

I think 'boat hunts' are a uniquely Alaskan experience.  They are the type of hunt that needs vast areas of public access land (or private land where you can purchase access).  Most of the cabin based hunts you read about are limited to a defined area.  I think the only hunts similar to the Alaskan experience is the horse based hunts in the Rocky Mountain wilderness areas.

Anyway, Philip made a great video of our recent hunt - it shows the whole process of a boat based hunt quite well.

https://vimeo.com/238313499

Patrick








Sunday, October 15, 2017

Trees, Mountains, Grass, Sea and Sky


Some landscapes from our recent elk hunt on North Afognak Island.  We did a lot of hiking and saw some beautiful country.  A week earlier I had been exploring the Refugium down on Kodiak's south end where there are no spruce trees, or really any trees at all.  So it was quite the change to be hiking in the trees.  Totally different places.

Lots of grass, trees, and mountains bathed in the fall light.  Almost alway some ocean in there and always the big sky above.  Afognak is a beautiful place.








Saturday, October 14, 2017

Elk and Bears


On the hunt Philip took some awesome elk photos and video footage of both elk and bears.  These photos are of the other elk in the herd after I culled one of their number.  I only fired one shot - so they were like what is going on?  It took a while for them to understand that there was danger nearby and to herd up and run away.

We sneaked up to the herd by climbing up a mountain behind them and then climbing down to a steep cliff.  They were all feeding at the bottom of the cliff and had no idea that we were watching them from less than a 100 yards away.

The bear footage (link to Vimeo here and or type in https://vimeo.com/238007672 ) documents a sow and her cubs trying to steal the next elk that we shot.  We saw the bears in the distance and Brooks was a little worried about them coming for our elk.  Both Philip and I were not worried because sows with cubs generally try to avoid humans.  But not these bears!

At the shot they came running, and we had to run towards where our elk was to fend off the bears who were also making a bee line in that direction.  Clearly the sow has pushed off hunters from their elk in the past.  Near the elk carcass we confronted the bear.  It was a stare down and eventually with the 4 of us all together yelling and waving our arms and not giving an inch the sow and her cubs backed off and slinked away.  We all had had our pepper spray at the ready.

The video is pretty funny because the cubs are so chubby.  Patrick

Stare down with the bears - the elk carcass is close by to the right


Friday, October 13, 2017

Succesful Elk Hunt


Yesterday afternoon Ray, Mike, Jim, Philip, Brooks and I returned from a successful Afognak Island elk hunt.  This was the 16th straight year of the hunt!

We found 2 herds and came home with a cow and a bull.  Best all we got to do some hiking and camping in spectacular country.  We explored an area where we had never hunted before.

Last year we got our elk, but our hunt was over in 36 hours and we never got to do any hiking, camping or exploring.  This year we got in some hiking, camping and exploring and THEN got the elk.  And none of the elk were very far from the boat either.  A perfect hunt.  More to come.  Patrick


Friday, October 6, 2017

People and Teepees


What makes a great hunting trip?  Is it the landscape and scenery that you soak in?  Is it the amount and quality of the game pursued?  Or is it just the adventure of the ordeal?  Of course it is really a combination of all of them, but I would argue that one of the biggest aspects of a great hunting trip is quality time with good people.

Hunting trips become great when enjoyed with great people.  I think people time is a HUGE aspect of any hunting trip.  And that is why you choose your hunting partners wisely.  Confined to a tent in the rain is quality time when spent with the right people.  And is agony when spent with the wrong people.

When I think back on past trips it is the conversations and camaraderie that I remember.  All else fades to snapshots.  Patrick








Floating


Our south end hunt was a float trip.  And we each had our own canoe.  We all agreed that having your own canoe gave you some independence.  You could canoe alone with your thoughts or you could canoe in tandem.  Whatever you wanted.  It was also fun just to master the paddle stroke and get the canoe to take the river curves at a rapid pace.

Floating in a boat in the sunshine is pretty awesome.  Food and water at hand.  Binoculars and camera at the ready for anything interesting that showed up.  Floating the river never got old.

Some of my highlights included:  An eagle watching me from a perch on high and then dropping into the air to come down and circle me.  I swear he looked me right in the eye and almost talked to me.  Another highlight was coming around a bend and surprising 2 HUGE swans who batted the water rapidly and took off with a great deal of honking and splashing.    Then there were the beavers slapping their tails. And all the time the vibrant fall colors.  Patrick






Thursday, October 5, 2017

Pretty Pictures


After the recent trip I REALLY love my new camera.  Since it is waterproof and shockproof - basically indestructible -  I carried it around my neck the entire trip.  This meant it was always there to take pictures, and I took over 500 pictures!  Ironically with the smaller 'point-and-shoot' waterproof cameras that I've used in the past I have generally put them in a pocket.  And in a pocket they are actually tougher to access than the new one around my neck.

And unlike my old point-and-shoot cameras, my new camera has a full sized sensor.  It takes high quality pictures.  None of the drab, pixelated pictures of the past.  I do own other high quality cameras but never seem to take them in the field because I am scared of breaking them.  Now I have an indestructible camera that takes high quality pictures - whooooo hoooooo!  Patrick