A Lower 48er’s View of Alaska

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After graduating with Austin from Penn State, It was our mission to gain experience in the outdoors, test ourselves as young men, and do the trip of our dreams. We wanted to do a low budget, non-guided hunt, using different means of transportation; through-out the state of Alaska for the “Alaskan Big 5”, Caribou, Dall Sheep, Mountain Goat, Moose, and Bear. The Mission Alaska Expedition was an amazing adventure, and one that Austin, Jordan Auggie, Sarah, Natalie, Bryan, and I will never forget.

As the lower “48’er” of the crew if was definitely a trip where I was out of my element. As I watch National Geographic’s ‘Ultimate Survival Alaska’, it brings me back to that expedition. The TV cameras make it look a lot easier than it is. They cannot adequately describe the tussocks, wetness, trench-rot, or blisters that come with successfully filming back-country travel. I wanted to share some thoughts on traveling the remote terrain as a real outsider, a non-Alaskan.

It was definitely like nothing I had encountered in the lower 48. It looks a lot like Kansas or North Dakota, but the wetness and endless tundra of the Alaskan arctic, make it like walking on a 3-5 foot wet sponge layer. Tussocks are hard plant root clumps that make the ground very unstable and a nightmare on your knees and ankles.

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Endless amounts of “tussocks”.

I will never forget how foreign the environment felt. After leaving our pick-up truck, we might might as well been walking on another planet. We only had to go 5 miles, but it felt like 20!

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A hard earned 5 miles out to the hunting area.

As I have been watching ‘Ultimate Survivor Alaska’ on National Geographic, I have been captivated by the scenery of the show and the crew’s ability to capture those images in the remote wilds of Alaska. I have filmed in Alaska and can assure you that the Alaska terrain is the enemy of any electronic device. The wet and the cold can make it very difficult to keep the cameras rolling, SD cards filled, and batteries charged. My hat is off to the Nat Geo production crew for capturing the raw and wild beauty of Alaska.

Cameras dont like working in clouds.

While Alaska can afford some beautiful weather with amazing views, definitely be prepared for cold and wet weather anytime of the year. Do not cheap yourself on gear! While you can sometimes get away with it in the lower 48, bad gear will ruin your trip and can endanger your life in Alaska. Make sure to check the Gear and Apparel page to see Mission Alaska’s gear tips, reviews, and suggestions.

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A foggy August Alaskan view.

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Looking for sheep in ever-changing weather.

There are all sorts of terrain in Alaska and a trip suited for everyone. Not far outside of the metro areas of Anchorage or the Mat-su Valley are tons of foot accessible areas. You dont always need planes and helicopters in Alaska to experience a real adventure. A lot people come to Alaska and take to bush planes to get out to remote areas. This can leave those areas crowded and areas that are hard to hike to, but not as far out as the planes go, open to anyone who wants to work for it. I had a mission to further test myself and went on a solo black bear hunt. What a great challenge and feeling of accomplishment.

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Solo black bear harvest

The Mission Alaska Expedition was for sure the hardest thing I have ever done and the trip taught me a lot about myself, life, and Alaska. I encourage more Americans in the lower 48 to go and experience the last american frontier. It is still very real and alive today. Read ‘John and Joe’s Philly to AK Adventure’. Just like Nat Geo’s ‘Ultimate Survivor Alaska’ shows, for those who want it, adventure lies waiting around every corner.

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Whats Your Mission?

-Jon Dykes

Brookes Range – Gates of the Arctic – “The Arrigetch”

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Brookes Mountain Range – Gates of the Arctic – “The Arrigetch” – Bob Marshall

Need I say more? The names mentioned above are legendary, well-respected, and admired in the Alpinist world of exploration. The Gates of the Arctic are truly wild; nestled among some of the gnarliest mountains Alaska has to offer. To begin above the Arctic Circle and end in South West Alaska with nothing but the gear on your back is a daunting task. The challenge set forth by Nat Geo was to embark on this expedition in an “old-school” style, i.e. no fancy technology. This expedition was a throwback to the early days of Alaskan exploration; a journey that traces the pages of history and an ode to the past explorers who came to Alaska and explored the last frontier with minimal gear and technology.

Bob Marshall was an Alaskan explorer who came to the state after exploring a large portion of lower North America. Bob said it best, “I like it among these rugged mountains better than anywhere else in the world.” I relate to the past explorers who came to this state in search of the majestic beasts that roam this fabled land. Traditional archery hunters such as Doctor Arthur Young and Fred Bear will forever be my heroes. Their accomplishments inspired me to follow their footsteps and live and adventurous lifestyle. For the first leg of the expedition the “Elite 8,” which consisted of survivalists, outdoorsmen, climbers, skiers, dog mushers, and mountaineers, began the journey in the Brookes Range. The Nat Geo expedition was the third time I have made my way into the Brookes Range. All three experiences within this epic mountain range were very different, but equally unforgettable.

My first trip to the Brookes Range was several years ago. My brother August and I flew out to hunt dall sheep. The time spent in the north-eastern part of the Brookes was so incredible and also humbling. I cherish the moments my brother and I spent together in field chasing white ghosts with golden horns. We had a close call with a gnarly feature on one particular mountain top. The terrain taught us valuable lessons in survival…always bring rope with you…at some point you will need it. We ended up rappelling off 50-100 foot cliff faces until we ran out of rope. We were faced with a real moment of survival, we had to adapt or die. We ended up climbing down the last 1000 feet in reverse 4-wheel drive with automatic death to the right and instant death to the left. You can read all the survival guides in the world but unless you go outside and experience them first hand, it’s all for nothing.

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The wilderness puts an individual’s ability to cope with their surroundings to the test. It was during hunting adventures like these that my brother and I learned to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Our goal always being to turn our weaknesses into strengths. Together we learned new ways to solve simple problems. These experiences inspired my survival mantra; “team work makes the dream work.” I was much more prepared for my second and third trip to the Brookes Range.

On my second trip to the Brookes Range, my brother, John Dykes (college rugby buddy), and I set out on a quest called the “Mission Expedition”. This expedition took us from the Acrtic sea above the Brookes Range all the way to the Kenai Peninsula, and several locations in the interior. The mission of this expedition was an attempt to fill the freezer with beautiful, free ranging, no hormonal, wild game meat. Being an Alaskan resident we have the unique opportunity to hunt for the big five game animals that call Alaska home. Hunting these animals every year is a part of our Alaskan culture, not to mention the incredible taste and gratification recieved by filling your freezer on your own terms. This second trip would prove invaluable as I learned the terrain, topography, and easiest methods of travel in the Brookes Range the key being the waterways.

My past experiences in the Brookes Range taught me many valuable lessons to take with on the Ultimate Survival Alaska Expedition with National Geographic. I learned mainly that waterways are your friend, and to follow this path of least resistance. Using rafts to minimize the distance of our caribou pack out on a previous expedition, I understood the advantage of bringing along a pack raft. Bringing along a raft would at least provide us the ability to forge and cross rivers, if not to float the entire river to the landing zone. Being as this was a team mission, having a solo packraft would only let me float to the LZ and leave my partners behind. Understanding their need for river crossings help, I stuck with the mantra of “team work being dreamwork” and stayed with the group to help them forge rivers. That being said, I look forward to future adventures with my team members and would do this leg of the expedition all over again.

Check out the gear list below, with these essential items and a basic knowledge of how to use them an individual would be ready to survive just about anything.

Survival Guide Gear List:

-Magnesium Fire Starter

-Knife -full tang

– Fishing kit: Line with various hooks and spinners.

-Tarp 8×10

-Pack Raft

-Back pack or external pack frame

-Water Bottle or container

-Longbow, rifle, pistol, self defense weapon

-Sleeping bag -0 rating

-Bivy Sack

-Plenty of socks

-Food (coffee, oatmeal, rice, beans, whiskey, ramen noodles) what ever you can carry. If you can pack as much calorie dense food as possible.

Facts Courtesy of Wikipedia: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is a U.S. National Park in Alaska. It is the northernmost national park in the U.S. (the entirety of the park lies north of the Arctic Circle) and the second largest at 13,238 miles (34,287 km²), about the same size as Switzerland. The park consists primarily of portions of the Brooks Range of mountains. It was first protected as a U.S. National Monument on December 1, 1978, before becoming a national park and preserve two years later in 1980 upon passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. A large part of the park is protected in the Gates of the Arctic Wilderness which covers 7,167,192 acres (2,900,460 ha).[3] The wilderness area adjoins the Noatak Wilderness Area and together they form the largest contiguous wilderness in the United States.

History Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Nomadic peoples have inhabited the Brooks Range for as many as 12,500 years, living mainly on caribou and other wildlife. The Mesa site at Iteriak Creek has yielded evidence of occupation between 11,500 and 10,300 years before the present. Later sites from around 6,000 years before present have yielded projectile points, stone knives and net sinkers. The Arctic small tool tradition (ASTt) of about 4,500 BP has also been documented.A late phase of the ASTt from between 2500 and 950 BP, the Ipuitak phase, has been documented in the park at the Bateman Site at Itkillik Lake.[10]

The earliest Inupiat people appeared about 1200 AD at the coast and spread to the Brooks Range, becoming the Nunamuit.[10] The Nunamiut people existed essentially unchanged until World War II brought outsiders into Alaska, which was at the time a strategic outpost of the United States. Some of the nomads began to settle in small communities in the mountains, particularly at Anaktuvuk Pass.[11] TheGwich’in people, a Northern Athabaskan group also lived in the area in the last 1000 years, moving south of the park in historic times.[10]

The Alaskan interior was not explored until the late 19th century, shortly before discovery of gold in the Klondike brought prospectors to Alaska. Some encampments of explorers and survey parties have been identified in the park. A few small mining operations were established in the early 20th century, never amounting to much.[10]

The park’s name dates to 1929, when wilderness activist Bob Marshall, exploring the North Fork of the Koyukuk River, encountered a pair of mountains (Frigid Crags and Boreal Mountain), one on each side of the river. He christened this portal the “Gates of the Arctic.” Marshall spent time in Wiseman during the early 1930s, publishing an account of the place in his 1933 book Arctic Village. In the 1940s writer and researcher Olaus Murie proposed that Alaskan lands be preserved.[12]

Proposals for a national park in the Brooks Range first emerged in the 1960s, and in 1968 a National Park Service survey team recommended the establishment of a 4,100,000-are (41,000 ha) park in the area.[11] That year, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall recommended to President Lyndon B. Johnson that Johnson use the Antiquities Act to proclaim a national monument in the Brooks Range and other Alaskan locations, but Johnson declined. By the 1970s the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) prompted serious examination of the disposition of lands held by the federal government. A series of bills were proposed to deal with the settlements required by ANCSA, but the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) was held up in Congress in the late 1970s. President Jimmy Carter used the Antiquities Act to proclaim the proposed parklands under ANILCA as national monuments, proclaiming Gates of the Arctic National Monument on December 1, 1978. In 1980 Congress passed ANILCA, establishing the monument lands as Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve on December 2, 1980.[12]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gates_of_the_Arctic_National_Park_and_Preserve

Find the Gates of the Arctic on facebook @

https://www.facebook.com/GatesOfTheArcticNPS

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Ultimate Survival Alaska found on Field and Stream

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, artic slope, National Geographic, pack rafting, public land, salmon fishing, Survival, Ultimate Survival Alaska, Videographer, wildlife

Found this interesting article featuring Ultimate Survival Alaska in Field and Stream magazine.  I have been a long time subscriber of the magazine and have always dreamed of making the pages of Field and Stream representing Alaska’s outdoorsmen.  Found this interesting article on one of my favorite websites www.fieldandstream.com, it talks about our need to find food for survival.   I will touch more on the expedition food menu later, for the moment, enjoy the article!

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/survival/survival-food/2013/05/ultimate-survival-alaska-explorers-sponsored-post

THANKS FIELD AND STREAM!

“Ultimate Survival Alaska” Explorers (Sponsored Post)

Uploaded on May 06, 2013
Austin in Field and Stream

Ultimate Survival Alaska Explorers hunt and gather for calories The food possibilities in wild Alaska are plentiful if you know how to work for your meal.

The guys on the National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Survival Alaska really do have to work for it—without fancy fishing poles or advanced gear. The extreme survivalists only have the tools in their packs and whatever they find in the wilderness.

“At some fundamental level, we’re not normal, well-adjusted, modern civilized human beings,” says Willi Prittie, one of the eight explorers. “We’re all throwbacks. Because modern life is not enough of a test for us.”

A 220-pound man needs approximately 2,400 calories every day just to perform basic functions like breathing and metabolizing food. Now imagine that same man is steering a handmade raft through Yukon River rapids and scaling mountain passes. His calorie intake must increase. With strenuous activity, a man needs 3,600 calories to maintain his weight and keep thriving.

The small sacks of beans and rice the explorers carry aren’t enough.

The 10-leg expedition in the brutal and dangerous Alaska terrain includes 200 miles down the Yukon River 50 miles in the Brooks Mountain Range at heights near 9,000 feet. This is no weekend hunting trip with the guys. This is finding the fuel to survive.

Alaska’s wild buffet includes:

Fish: Alaska is known for its salmon, as well as rainbow and steelhead trout, Northern pike, halibut and arctic grayling. On a particularly strenuous day, the Ultimate Survival explorers were overjoyed to land a half-pound of grayling with makeshift fishing poles. Another team constructs a dip net with a branch frame and discarded net.

Plants: Berries and edible plants are plentiful in Alaska. There are raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and lingonberries north in the tundra.

Game meat: It takes a lot of energy to hunt big game like caribou and bear. The explorers are more likely to hunt rabbit, squirrel, birds and foxes.

When the explorers are desperate for calories, it’s hard to envy their rough outdoor experience. It can even lead them to harvest berries in bear scat and devour frogs.

“It’s amazing what will get you excited when you’re hungry,” admits one contestant.

There are moments of mercy like when native Alaskans invite them into a smokehouse to taste delicious cured salmon. But that’s the side of Alaska the show highlights—the beauty and humanity amid the extreme wild. Delicious wild bounty is just within an adventurer’s reach.

For more information check out:

http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/survival/survival-food/2013/05/ultimate-survival-alaska-explorers-sponsored-post

Exploring the Wild: Alone or in a Group?

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DISCLAIMER: I am writing this article on a foriegn keyboard so I apoligize for spelling errors and anywords that are autocorrected.

Whether it is a week long hunting trip, a three night camping trip, or a day hike the same questions seems to always arise: Who are you going with? If you are anything like me then thats the most despicable question you will ever encounter.

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Solo Bear hunting trip with my Recurve bow

It is my belief that to truly enjoy the outdoors and completely immerse yourself in the beauty and raw power of Mother Nature you have to cut ties with all forms of civilization and really go by yourself. Now some people would say that is a death wish and call me ignorant and stupid. I call it adventerous and exhilerating. With that being said going hunting or camping with someone can be just as fun, but you absolutely need to find that perfect fit. Going hunting with someone is not as easy as it may seem. You need to trust that person completely with your life because if you dont, their true colors will come out in a time of most need. Perhaps not on the first or second trip, but when it does happen it could very well be fatal. When looking for someone to explore the wild with you there should be several componets that they possess such as physically fit, mental strong, a good attitude and a good personality. These are just a few, but the most important one is their morales and ethics. These two things are above all the most important things that you should look for when you find that someone who you will be outdoors with.

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Gameface

You want to be confident that your partner will not take Mother Nature for granted and disrespect her or any of the animals that she allows to live in her kingdom.

With that I leave you to ponder, but stay updated with missionak and spread the word, posts will be coming weekly hopefully so stay updated!

Trophy Bull VS. Meat Bull

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Hunting to many Alaskas means red meat for the freezer, enough meat to get a family through the winter.  Across Alaska many residents practice the art handed down by our ancestors and the cave men before that, the not-so lost art form called subsistence hunting.  Each Fall locals from around the state leave the comfort of there homes and thrust themselves into the wild attempting to fill the freezer against all odds.

2009 Moose Harvest

When your an Alaskan and attempting to fill your freezer, any animal deemed by ADFG (Alaska Department of Fish and Game)as legal under the states rules and regulations most likely will be harvested.  As Alaskan subsistence hunter August Manelick would say “a legal spike for moose will taste just as good if not better than a trophy moose.”  I agree with August in that the goal of hunting is first and foremost to be legal and secondly to fill your freezer.  All though most hunters (including August and myself) will agree that a 55 inch trophy bull moose would look better on the wall and in the freezer than a spike fork (small legal yearling bull moose) would.

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The goal of hunting is to fill your freezer and provide sustenance for the long winter months.  Taking a trophy animal is a bonus, providing in a sense two trophies the meat and the antlers.  The meat of an animal is the true trophy, don’t let anyone tell you different.  The hunt is about the experience, camaraderie, and the stories shared with loved ones post hunt.  The harvest of the hunt is a physical representation of the memories made while in the field, regardless of the animals antler size.  Any legal animal is a gift, take your blessings and eat plentifully through out the following year.

Auggie with a double trophy, meat and antler.

Auggie with a double trophy, meat and antler.

Bottom line, there is a big difference between trophy hunting and subsistence hunting.  Trophy hunting individuals hunt usually for just the size of the antlers, bigger is always better.  Subsistence hunters hunt for the meat value of an animal.  Two very different ball games, playing by the same rules.

D_A_PRO LLC Production Highlights- presents Mission Alaska

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DA PRO owner Austin Manelick pictured with Major League Baseball MVP Texan Ranger Josh Hamilton and family.

DA PRO owner Austin Manelick pictured with Major League Baseball MVP Texan Ranger Josh Hamilton and family.

D_A_ PRO LLC  is a full service media marketing provider, specializing in filming of remote and extreme shoot locations.   DA PRO’s, enlist a full staff of professional videographers willing and ready to shoot HD footage in the hardest most unforgiving terrain possible.   State of the art High Definition filming and audio recording equipment travels with each member of our globally experienced team of videographers.  D_A_ PRO, LLC is the next generation of video production, bringing revolutionary visions to the television industry.

PRODUCTION HIGHLIGHT VIDEO PRESENTS MISSION ALASKA

Follow this YOUTUBE link to watch the production highlight video a sample from the D_A_PRO LLC  Library.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72hU5wKa72s

                                                                                                 D_A_PRO LLC.

-THE PREMIER FRONTEIR PRODUCITON COMPANY.

Mission Alaska: You can help

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If you have been reading missionak or following at all, then you would know that MA is all about the next generation and spreading the word on how “cool” the outdoors is.  I have been talking with every person I know personally and contacting all of the youth I have met over my lifetime of friendships, in attempt to spread the good word of the outdoors.

Men enjoying the culture of the great outdoors.

I want to thank all of the readers and followers of Missionak, since summer of 2011 MA has grown greatly and viewer numbers are through the roof!  I want to thank you again for following and reading my personal message to the woodsmen in all us.  If you have or feel like you want to be more involved on missionak.com, please feel free to do so, in fact please help me!

If you have any pictures, videos, stories, anything that you feel appropriate for missionak.com, please email me at austinmanelick@gmail.com

Once again, I would love for anyone to send me interesting photos they have found on trail cameras, taken on hunts, taken on fishing trips, taken on antler shed hunting trips.  Tell me a story, it doesnt have to be a trophy buck that you have taken I would be just as happy with a picture of a readers first deer harvest of a doe than of a monster 10pt buck.

I want to connect with my readers, help me!

-AM

SEND ME PICTURES AND STORIES!!!

Contact

austinmanelick@gmail.com

Man cave: 303-838-7869

Mission Alaska meets Africa

Africa, Africa Big Five, Africa big game hunting, African Hunting, alaska, alaska hunting expedition, archery hunting, arrows, artic slope, bear charge, bear maul, bears, big game hunting, bow and arrows, bow fishing, camping, caribou, coyote, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, fishing, grizzly bear, hunting, kudu, meat, nature, public land, Small game hunting, The next generation, traditional archery, Uncategorized, wildlife

Mission Alaska is not just a blog about the outdoors and my conquest to sojourn the Alaskan wilderness.  This blog will also pre-log my past adventures and experiences in different places across the world in which I have experienced different cultures while hunting.

I had an awesome opportunity to experience an African dream hunt at the age of 12, for several years I saved up my birthday and christmas requests in order for my father to come good on his safari promise.  He kept his end of the bargin and for my 7th grade summer I would spend a month in South Africa hunting 11 plains game african Animals.

Young predator, small but dangerous

Very spoiled indeed, I did not argue with my fortune of being able to go on an unforgettable life changing adventure.  Many men dream of going on hunts to the dark continent, I am very lucky to visit such an amazing place at such a young age.

Over time, sprinkled throughout this blog you will find old school pictures of myself from childhood till now.  Each picture represents the memories of the outdoors I have lived which have formed my traditions, shaped my culture, and made me who I am.  This post look back at my life, retrospectively gives the reader a sense of exactly who I am and what I have become through my passion in the wild. The outdoors is who I am, this blog helps to explain my method of madness.

New Age Thrill Seeker

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Ever since my father took me trout fishing in a local stream after my first day as a kindergartner at Pioneer Peak Elementry School, I was hooked for life.  I had recieved a new telescopic (totally BA) trout fishing rod set up and I could not wait to test my new implements of attack upon the majestic rainbow trout.  My dad picked me up after school and we headed to Wasilla Creek. It wasn’t too long before we found ourselves 50 yards from the road, in a perfect trout hole.  My Dad rigged me up with a small spoon lure and told me to cast in the dark, deep hole behind the log…. I did so expertly, as if I had been a bass master my entire 5 year old life, after my third of fourth perfect cast I felt my pole tip jerk directly toward my line..

Trout Killer: the Great Northern Pike found in my secret trout fishing lake

What happened next was almost unexplainable, to this day I still have a hard time finding words for it. My tiny stomach lurched forward and downward at the same time, and for a split second I swore I was levitating.   For a brief moment, my body seemed to have defied gravity. I did not know what was happening but I knew I had a trout or something on my line and I did not want it to get away.  After landing the trout my dad and I shared a moment of silence and awe at that little trout flopping on the bank. My body let me feel the ground once I got a hold of my very first self caught trout.  My body experienced one of my first adrenal highs. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but if fishing could give me that knee shaking experience….then I would catch more fish!!!!   At a very young age I knew I was a thrill seeker, and believe it or not fishing gave me that thrill.  It was only later that I experience hunting for the very first time, which brought the thrill to a completely different level.

Everyday after school, between sports and home work, I would head to the woods or the streams carrying my fishing pole on my mountain bike. Later that bike would become an ATV..   Yeah sure I had video games, but getting to the next level was not gratifying for me because I knew the next level would always be there and I would always be able to beat the game.  There wasn’t too much fun in video games for me, deep down when I played them, I knew there would be a monster trout sitting under that log that I wasn’t fishing.  The outdoors was a challenge for me, every time I left the house I knew I would have to be clever enough to outsmart a fish or a squirrel.   My next personal metaphoric “video game level” would be my next small animal target, or my next dream hunt for Moose or Dall sheep.  After many years of small game hunting, I wanted to challenge myself, I wanted to to start hunting big game animals.

I will not tell a lie, the outdoors gratifies me beyond words.  The only way to break the experience with nature down such as catching a fish, harvesting an animal, or even seeing an animal, is the chemical response in the brain linked to adrenal release.  Adrenaline so to speak is what I chase, this chemical is released when your “rod tip jerks” or when you spot a grey squirrel and you’re hunting for dinner, or when you’re hunting for bull moose and a trophy 60 plus incher walks out with a rack thats wider than a door frame.  Your body’s natural instinct is to release this super human chemical giving you seemingless power, you must seek a thrill to experience it.  The harvesting of an animal is not the thrill, I get just as much satisfaction releasing a 26 inch rainbow trout as I would harvesting and eating the fish.  The kill is not as important as outsmarting the game animal, for instance letting a legal but small antlered animal walk by you instead of needlessly taking a life just because you can.  The taker of a life involves maturity and respect for the animals as well, close relationships are formed with the animals we pursue.  A last second buzzer beater, a half court 3 pointer  shot with no time left to beat the other team, that feeling as the ball goes in the hoop is a similar feeling to the experience of catching or harvesting an animal.

I don’t discriminate. I follow each U.S. state Fish and Wildlife regulations and within law, pick several legal game animals to pursue whether it’s big game or small game the thrill is the same.  I have been an accomplished big game hunter most of life, in part to a father who at one time was a Master Alaska Guide.  We have hunted both big and small game together and to me the adrenaline rush is nearly the same.  More exciting to me than hunting or fishing for myself, is sharing the sport with someone new, sharing the experience (the rush) of animal encounter with someone who is interested.  This last winter I decided to take my best friend and high school sweetheart Jordan Pokryfki small game hunting.

In high school her father, Vince, would teach us how to make port orford cedar arrows and osage orange self made D-bows.  We both had a love for the bow and making beautiful arrows, it was now time to put these arrows to action in the next challenge.  Noticing that Jordan was deadly with a bow I suggested we purchase a hunting license together, she asked me if we could actually hunt legally if she had purchased the license. I told her yes we could hunt small game (Snow shoe hare, ptarmigan, red squirrel, and spruce hen)because thats the small game open this season and off we went.

Jordan and austin

Bunny Hunting

Our first time out, we definitely looked deadly, however we spotted no bunnies during our snow shoe adventure.  Un-deterred  we decided we would head back out to a different bunny hunting location the following weekend, and this time we would use snow machines to get further from the road and deeper into bunny country.

One bunny, one zwickey doubled bladed broad head.

Our new game plan, using snow machines to get further into bunny country worked!  Jordan and I would succesfully harvest several bunnies this day, and had a blast doing it.  Jordan liked it so much we decided to go the following weekend to the same place, this time we would bring her dad and have equal success.

What a beautiful Alaskan winter day, an amazing moment.

Like I said, I don’t discriminate in the adventures I go on, the satisfaction I received would only be comparable to the happiness of  Jordan and her first successful hunting experience.   Seeing Jordan come to full draw with her home made refinished bow as bunnies zoomed through the willows, would bring me to a full draw smile and many awesome memories.

This year big game hunting is essentially coming to a close, and the populous of hunters are beginning to find themselves in a hybernation type pattern.  This is the exact time when the hard yards are earned  help you have succusfull 2012 hunting season.  If you have ever dragged a deer from the woods or packed out a bull elk, or bossed up a 200+ pound moose hind quarter then you know that you must be in not the best, but a pretty good shape  to safely bring your quarry from the field.  It’s to often that you hear a hunter tell a story of how he busted his ankle, or threw his back out, pulled a hamstring, the list of injurys goes on and on.  Being healthy and fit for the outdoors can only help to make you a more successful hunter, going further to help you get to that secret spot you only wish you get during the rut.  No matter if your a tree stand whitetail hunter or a back country elk hunter, being in shape both mentally and physically are factors playing into a successful hunting season.  Besting game this day an age takes hard work and perseverance, this is why I enter my hunting seasons as a professional athlete would enter his pre-season training camp.

Camp and Caribou on back.

I begin my pre-season hunting workouts during the winter, starting with an alternate cycle of a month of heavy weights with light conditioning such as non-weighted hikes or back country snow boarding hikes.  The second alternating month is an anaerobic high intensity high repetition excercise which is a simliar variation of the popular work called CrossFit.  Crossfit, focuses on a combination of different excersise in non-step repetition with little to no rest between exercises.  I made up my own variation of cross fit and p 90x, I like to call my workouts Wilderness X because its a combination of the outdoors with functional workouts.  The work out is similiar to what a hunter would go through during his time in the field(think spring bear on an Alaska hunt deep snow), I begin a snow shoeing hike with a weighted pack and enter one mile onto a pre-designated national forest trail in the middle of no-where Colorado.  Once a mile up the trail I pulled out my 40 pound dumbbell and begin the work out doing a combination of 5- 10 exercises between 15-30 repetitions each.  Once I finished this I would pack my weight away and hike back to the base of the hiking trail.

This work out mimics a spring bear hunt by placing the hunter in a game time situation such as a bear that is spotted, then stalked, then harvested. Long periods of heavy walking with a pack leading into several high intensity moments followed by another long period of walking.

That pack has a 40lb dumbbell inside

-The Wilderness Work Out

One Mile Hike with weighted pack (I chose 40 pounds)

Sumo Swings

Standing Triceps extension-20

Push ups 20

lunges 15 X each leg

Push ups 20

Sumo Swing

Standing Triceps extension 20

One mile hike down with weighted pack

This one way I prepare myself for success, some would call it a little crazy but each hunter has there superstitions.   How do you get ready for your hunting season?  Do you work out or go through some other form of ritual?  To each his own, what has helped you have you most successful year ever, and what will make you have the most successful 2012 season?

Stay tuned for the next post, the youtube video of the actual work out.

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