WACH Report-August 2013
Guess what? WE all have about 3 weeks before the unit 23 hunting really gets started. Are you ready?
Lets look at what has to be done to make sure that your Kotz based hunt comes off without a hitch.
It is very important that you have a punch list of what you will need to take up with you and what you really need and what you don’t need. Most of my clients are in hunting groups of 3-4 guys and there is no reason to double up on many items. Depending on whom you are flying out with each flight service will have a weight max for you to work with. Out pilots are flying 206 aircraft which have an 800-pound limit to work with for each flight. When you consider that each hunter is around 200+ pounds just start subtracting that from the 800-pound number. When you hit 0 that plane is full and anything else will cost you an extra flight.
A high percentage of my groups are doing float hunts and I do everything I can to lighten the raft packages but the reality is a traditional raft package is about 150 pounds. We also rent SOAR hunting canoes, which come in at 80 pounds, but we have a limited number of these available. You should have a very accurate idea on what each of your items weigh and the reality is you will need to leave some comfort items at home so you can reduce your weight. We rent cots in our camp packages and they are very nice but they weigh between 20-26 pounds each. Can you afford that weight? Tough call but most of my drop camps go with them where almost none of my float hunters choose the cots because of the extra weight. What I like to see is each group lay everything out and see what they can pare down, lighten up or eliminate to save that weight.
Pre-send non-essential items now. Alaska Airlines limits you to what they will allow you to check in as baggage before they hit you with that extra bag fee. What we encourage our guys to do is ship non-essential items up early and have them waiting for you at your flight service. Many will allow you to store a box or two for a short period of time at their hanger but check first. The USPS is your best option to ship many items to KOTZ. Ship things like dry goods-food items, extra non-hunting clothing and ???? Allow 2+ weeks to mail things to Kotzebue. Remember that KOTZ is a long way from a road and mail is a slow process in this part of the world! You can buy many items in KOTZ rather than shipping them up. We have a large AC grocery store and a good-sized hardware store and a number of smaller stores all with in walking distance of the airport. You can buy white gas and 1 pound propane bottles but be prepared to pay! Any fresh food can be purchased as well.
I get a few questions every year about the need to bring a water filter. Easy answer…YES! If you are going to buy one look at the filter/water bottle combos. They work nicely and are cost effective. I use a Platypus gravity feed base camp model. These are sweet because they requite no pumping and will filter a gal in about 5 mins flat!
How about bug dope…YES!
Weather: Expect to see wet and windy weather in NW Alaska, as Sept. is transition time from warm summer weather to winter. Expect to be wet, bring a tarp. Bring extra parachute cord, it is good for everything. Bring a good tent! The weather can and will turn nasty for days on end and nothing stinks worth than being stuck in a low budget tent that can not hold up to 40 mph winds. All of my camp packages go out with Cabelas Guide model tents and they are worth the $500 I spend on them. Leave the K-Mart tents at home, really! Bring something to read, bring cards, and bring a headlamp. Keep in mind that the weather can change quickly in NW Alaska. If you are hunting before Sept. 15th the weather can be very warm and meat spoilage is a real problem. Bring good meat bags. I really hate the sock style meat bags because they stick to the meat and don’t do a great job of keeping insects off of the meat. I buy the pillow case style bags with drawstrings for my own use. I reuse these bags year after year. Worth the investment.
Waxed Meat Boxes: How are you shipping your meat when you get back to KOTZ? Waxed meat boxed are not always available in KOTZ and shipping meat in a trash bag is a really bad idea. What about rack boxes? Once again they may not be available in KOTZ. This year I started making both types of boxes available to my groups. I can find them in Anchorage and have them shipped up with each group’s gear package. It is a good investment and does not cost that much but you have to plan ahead.
Well this is plenty for now. The thing that makes for a successful hunt has nothing to do about pulling that trigger but has everything to do with planning. Most good hunts start 8-12 month before the day that you arrive in Kotzebue. It is so difficult to throw a trip together at the last minute because there is so much that has to go into the details. Most of you have 3-4 weeks to go and this is crunch time! I sweat the details because when you see the plane take off and you are alone on the side of a river in the Brooks Range…. Well, it is to late to head down to Bass Pro shop to get one more thing.
Good luck and look at your punch lists, you still have a little time. I will follow up with additional reports in the next 2-3 weeks. Shoot me e-mail if you have any questions.
Northwest Alaska Back Country
Drop Camps, Float hunts