Most of my queries about unguided moose hunting in Alaska comes from folks who have years of hunting experience in the Lower 48, but have never been to Alaska hunting. Many have been here to fish or on a cruise, but want to revisit the last frontier on a new adventure with rifle or bow in hand. This article seeks to give you an idea of what to expect when you embark on a DIY moose hunting adventure in the Alaska wilds.
Rule #1: Start your planning and research early. You should be choosing an outfitter close to a year in advance (6 months at least).
This hunt has 4 basic components:
Phase 1: Getting Remote
First order of business in this DIY hunt is to secure a ride into the remote Alaskan bush. Booking a commercial flight to Alaska will be easy in comparison to this decision. Many outfitters book up a year in advance so plan early. Make sure the float plane, boat, or argo is available to transport you during your hunt. Adventure Outfitters Alaska requires a 50% deposit to hold the seats on the float planes which get you in and out of the field. Transporters close to Anchorage, Kenai, or Fairbanks, have much easier logistics. Operating costs are kept to a minimum and our DIY moose hunts become very affordable. They are all inclusive, and could go for as little $5,500 per person.
If you have to take a commuter flight to a village or remote town once you get here, things get much more complicated and expensive.
Phase 2: Travel Planning
Travel to Anchorage, Kenai, or Fairbanks is very straight forward. Its relatively cheap to get here and back home to the lower 48. However, you should expect travel to be somewhat complicated if you plan on flying around the state of Alaska once you get here. Tiny airports away from Anchorage, Kenai, and Fairbanks are costly and often delayed due to weather. These ever-present problems can wreak havoc on your connecting flights. Be realistic about the amount of time needed to get ready for the hunt once you get here. And most importantly; how many days after the hunt you will need to take care of of meat salvage/processing, trophy shipping/sealing, and possibly gear shipping. Take care of all your travel plans early.
Phase 1 and 2 are paramount to the success of the hunt. Getting plane tickets purchased and a transporter booked confirms the commitment for the hunt and then allows for actual planning and intel gathering. Until money is transferred, it's still a pipe dream. Booking early also helps offset the cost for the expedition. Half the major bills will be paid well in advance of the hunt, making it a bit easier on the pocketbook.
Phase 3: Surviving the Hunt, gear and sustenance
Now that you're committed, thoughts should turn to what life will be like on the hunt. The answer to many of these questions is a moot point if you are planning on renting gear from Adventure Outfitters Alaska. We will take out all the guess work. If you are not renting gear, ask yourself some questions. What is the weather going to be like? What should I bring to stay warm and dry? Can my tent survive 40 mph winds and driving rain? This phase of your hunt might take some real thinking and research. Renting gear is much easier and could save the hunt if the weather turns ugly. Adventure Outfitters makes this crucial aspect of your hunt flawless. If you're set on shipping up your 3 season tent to save some money, that's fine, just make sure you look hard into the reality of shipping up gear. It can be costly and cumbersome at the end of a long hunt. As far as everything else you will need to bring for your hunt, well that’s a discussion for another time. When you book with AOA, we take all the guess work out of planning what could be the hunt of a lifetime.
What you plan on eating on your hunt is also very important. Often folks will tell me: “I’m just gonna buy a bunch of mountain house once I get there”. OK, that’s totally doable, but very expensive and will no doubt make your time at camp bland and tasteless. If you plan on doing mountain house, buy it in bulk at a wholesaler and ship it up. Good, single meals can be $10 a piece in Alaska. If each guy is going to eat 3 squares a day, for 10 days; that’ll add up. Buying healthy food and preparing it before the hunt is much better, in every way. In order to do this on your own, you will have to plan well, and be highly motivated once you get here. The best option is to get a complete meal package from an outfitter like us. We can save you time and money. Our menu is diverse and ever changing. Fresh food at moose camp is one of the best parts of the hunt.
Phase 4: Getting Home
The hunt is over and you may or may not have dropped a moose. If you did not, then you will only have to gather your gear, get it squared away, and fly home. If you rent gear from AOA, you can drop it off on the dock and you’re done. If you kill a moose, then you have to deal with the antlers and the meat. Most hunters box up a few 50 lb. boxes of meat to fly home, and donate the rest to the transporter or outfitters. Others spend the big bucks and ship it all to share back home. Regardless, you will need to find a meat processor who can grind or process your moose and then flash freeze it for your trip home. Some guys have it made into sausage and then shipped home at a later date. Some guys grab the loins and the back straps and head home. This is completely up to you, just make sure, like everything else in this process, that you start early and make sure you have a game-plan for getting home with everything your heart desires!
Although it’s not easy to plan and execute, the unguided Alaska moose hunt can be one of the most rewarding hunts in all of North America. If you have questions, feel free to give us a call. We’ll help you execute the hunt of a lifetime.
Aim small, miss small.
Jake Doth, Owner
Adventure Outfitters Alaska