First Moose: Jordan’s Bull

alaska, camping, DIY hunting, hunting, moose

This is Jordan’s first Alaskan big game harvest, she lucked out with the moose of a lifetime.  Join along with the crew on an unforgettable float hunt in remote Alaska.

British Columbia Winter Kootenay Billy Hunt

big game hunting, Camera, camping, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, game processing, guns, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, nature, Rifles, Survival, unguided hunting, wildlife

On a recent hunt in British Columbia I met several of the most elite big game hunting guides you can find across the globe, the following article tracks the personal adventure of one of these world famous guides on a quest to harvest a BC mountain billy goat.  While I was filming at Sean Lingl’s Canadian Guide Outfitters I was introduced to Aaron Parrotta, he was guiding another group of hunters in camp so we did not get to personally hunt with him.   Although we didn’t get to spend time in the field with Aaron we did manage to find some time at the lodge to share stories and build friendships.   Aaron, along with all of Sean Lingls guides, are very talented at finding trophy class animals for clients year round.  When the guides do manage to find some time to hunt in the field for themselves, trophy class animals pushing Boone and Crocket measurements are the standard.

The following article was written by Aaron and chronicles his personal adventures of chasing white ghosts with black horns in the Kootenay’s of Britsh Columbia.  It’s getting closer to big game hunting season, so here is a mountain goat hunt to pump up all the red meat enthusiasts out there.   Enjoy!

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Stone Sheep: Inspiration

Camera, camping, DIY hunting, game processing, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, public land, Survival, Uncategorized, Videographer

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We are always looking for great hunting stories and individuals to contribute to the Mission Alaska inspirational cause.   Well Mission Alaskan’s… I have found a story and a person who has inspired me to harvest a stone sheep.  Recently I was at Sean Lingl’s hunting operation on Vancouver Island filming a black bear hunt for 9x UFC champion Matt Hughes, while on this hunt I met some very skilled hunters and had the time of my life. Sean has several guides that work almost year round hunting the gigantic animals that roam this island in British Columbia, these guides I would argue are some of the most talented and professional individuals in the outdoor industry.  As for Sean,  It was such an honor to be hunting with the Dallas Safari Clubs “Outfitter of the Year” truly a grade A+ experience and just an awesome guy.   Not to mention that Sean lead us to a monstrous black bear that stretched the tape and the scales, and made awesome outdoor tv  for Uncaged with Matt Hughes on the Sportsman Channel.  Sean has surrounded himself with an impressive A-team of guides that have some great pictures and stories of successful hunts over the years.   Nathan French, the youngest of the guides has some fantastic hunting stories, some of the stories are with his clients and the others are of his personal adventures.

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Here at Mission Alaska our message is all about unguided, uncharted, untamed self made experiences.   We encourage hunters to get out and hunt as often as possible, testing themselves against nature and finding new areas to hunt.  Guides in certain situations are the only way to harvest certain species of animals, and one day I will need a guide to harvest my stone sheep… One man I will call on in the future is Nathan French, first of all he is a talented guide(phenomenal sheep guide), a great writer, and a developing videographer.  Nathan captures his clients hunts on film, and manages to squeeze in only a few days to personally hunt himself and test the boundaries of his limits.   After his guide season he manages to sneak back into the wilderness to fulfill his personal hunting goals, the hunt that follows is an epic one…

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STONE SHEEP:  Gray Ghosts with Golden Horns

By: Nathan French

After finishing a great guiding season with Ram Head Outfitter Ltd. It was time to drive out of the bush with my good friend and fellow guide Johnny Nikirk and head for our next hunting adventure.  A trip Johnny had planned months previous, and so kindly ask me to join. We met two buddies (Omar and Garrick) at Watson Lake and then drove down to Dease Lake where we flew in to a remote lake in northern BC to hunt stones for two weeks.

Next morning we all packed up are gear, got are eyes set on big rams and fun adventures.  On my back was six days worth of food, optics, tent, sleeping bag and pad, and miscellaneous gear.    Johnny and I parted ways to cover more ground.  Omar and I went south, Johnny and Garrick North.   We were carrying satellite phones to keep in touch every other night to relay the day’s adventures. 
Day 2 rolled around and we had spotted several rams already and lots of ewes.  Already 8 miles back from the lake, we continued to push further.  The wind from the minute we started was brutal.  Didn’t matter which way you faced, it was in your face!!!!  and strong!!  We found out later, winds were measured at 60mph! 
Later into day 2 we summited a high plateau and within minutes of glassing, we spotted two sheep far across the valley. With a closer look a 3rd sheep was spotted and right away I knew he deserved an even closer look.   The wind was howling and not making it easy to glass; I was huddled under a cliff just to keep the spotter steady.
After I made the decision to get closer , I was off like the wind.  Covering meters by the second.  I dropped 2500 feet within several minutes and dropped off my whole camp at the bottom by a creek.  We charged up the mountain with the camera rolling; Omar did one wicked job behind the handycam.
A long 2500ft ascent didn’t take long, I had one thing on my mind, and I was determined to get on this ram and nothing was going to stop me.   Peaking over the edge in hopes to be above the ram, there he was 300yards away, feeding away happily.  Without a doubt this ram was a shooter.

With a perfect steady rest I took my time and waited patiently for about 15 minutes for the shot and when it was presented the rest became history.  Ram didn’t go more than 50 yards before expiring and then came the celebration !  BIG RAM DOWN!!
I was like the happiest guy ever. Couldn’t believe it.  running up and down the mountain, hands on my head!  There may have been a couple cartwheels?   without hesitation it was time to go look at what I had just accomplished.
Walking over to the ram he continued to grow.    A beautiful 11 1/2 yr old ram broomed heavy 38X36.5 with 14 6/8 bases! More than I could have ever dreamt was laying there in my hands.   Speechless, and no one could wipe the smile off my face.  

After video and pictures we skinned and butchered the ram and made are way back to the gear left by the creek.   Midnight rolled around and we made er back.   Without wiping the smile of my face, we unloaded the sheep and started making camp.   Then came eating tenderloins from our days success and then followed several calls out on the sat phone to close friends.  Not realizing it was past midnight, I woke my boss, parents and close friends with shouts of excitement.
Next day we headed back for the lake. A steep brutal climb up and over several mountains, 11 miles total and after a full day of grinding camp and the ram on my back, we made it !!  Heavy load, long day.   Yet so rewarding.  There’s no better feeling than laying exhausted and looking at your pack with a ram on it.   I think we had a little camp celebration and waited to hear from the boys on their outings! 

I can’t thank the boys I hunted with enough!  Johnny, Omar and Garrick, this ram was made possible because of you!!  Thank you again!  I cant wait for this years outing!!I hope everyone gets to experience a hunt like this.  I was blessed to take such a beautiful ram, but the reason I hunt and live for it, is the experiences made with great friends and Gods beautiful creation.Get out there friends and give it your all!Peace!

 

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-Nathan French

 

Thanks for the article Nathan:  More videos and stories to come in the near future.  -Mission Alaska

Spring Riding & The Denali Dog 140 Sled Race

alaska, bears, Camera, camping, caribou, Field Producer, Go-Pro, grizzly bear charge, guns, hunting, nature, public land, Rifles, shed hunting, Uncategorized, wildlife

 

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With warm weather plaguing much of Alaska this spring, snow machine riding could be considered dismal….. Unless your a powder hound chasing endless fields of untouched snow high in the mountains of Alaska’s back country….(or follow your untracked trail to a secret winter wonderland around the back of the cabin)…  This spring is no different for the writers of Mission AK as we took off on a hunt for fresh untracked snow.

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Riding up the Denali highway we stumbled across one of the coolest and newest dog sled races in Alaska. The Denali Dog 140  race was a last minute brainchild that gathered some of Alaska’s best mushers and set them to compete on the Denali Highway for two days covering 140 miles of Alaska’s vast wilderness. The mushers only had three weeks to prepare themselves and their teams to go head to head in this first annual race across Denali’s rugged landscape. IMG_9889The race consisted of veterans such as Lance Mackey ( Four-time winner of the Yukon Quest & four-time winner of the Iditarod.) and new comers making their first dog racing debut such as Timothy Muto.IMG_9881 Dog racing in Alaska is a lifestyle that requires endurance, dedication, and selflessness which Mission AK contributors (Kalen Kolberg and Austin Manelick) were lucky enough to experience first hand.

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After the mushers got their dogs fed and put to bed we all got to enjoy good conversation and a hot meal at the Alpine Creek Lodge (Race checkpoint and turn around location).

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After only a couple hours of much needed cat napping the mushers had to head out and to continue their race towards the finish line.IMG_9894

The next morning we woke up to a hot breakfast and several cups of coffee (much needed after trying to keep up with the mushers all night). After chatting with the locals on spots to check out we geared up in search of  high mountains packed with fresh pow lines, inevitable putting our sleds to the test.

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What was suppose to be a back country snow machineing trip turned into dog mushing spectacle that we all enjoyed thoroughly, acting as their biggest fans and photographers it was awesome to see these athletes behind the scenes.   It’s not to often you run into Iditarod champions and those inspiring to be the best at one of the most difficult(HARDCORE) sports in the entire world and share a cup of hot coffee at 12am midnight at an authentic Alaska lodge.   After the teams left we headed high into the mountains to finish our mission and find the goods. A 12 mile ride into a deep north facing drainage provided what we were looking for….endless pow.

Mission complete: 150 miles round trip.

 

-Team Mission Alaska

 

 

Huge shout out and big thanks to  Alpine Creek Lodge, check them out for a cool place to base any Alaskan adventure.

 

 

 

 

Nunivak Island Hunting and Gathering: New Ultimate Survival Alaska Airs Tonight June 16th at 9PM ET

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, antler, archery hunting, arrows, bow and arrows, camping, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, meat, National Geographic, public land, small game, Small game hunting, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, Ultimate Survival Alaska, unguided hunting, wildlife

Nunivak Island Hunting and Gathering: New Ultimate Survival Alaska Airs Tonight June 16th at 9PM ET

Well its safe to say that my longbow was used throughout tonights episode.   The eight of us land on Nunivak Island in hopes of providing some much needed protein for our nutrition.  Hunting on Nunivak Island has been part of their culture for thousands of years.   Very cool place to visit and the people of Mekoryuk were extremely friendly and most helpful.  Be sure to catch the new episode tonight for the how to on hunting with a longbow.   Humans have been on a mission to put protein in the pot for thousands of years….What’s your mission?

Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

Thanks again to everyone in Mekoryuk, you made this leg of the adventure my personal favorite!  Don’t forget to tune in tonight at June 16th at 9PM ET.  For behind the scenes look at Ultimate Survival Alaska check out the twitter updates and facebook posts, find us on twitter @MissionAlaska, and @austinmanelick, #ultimatesurvivalalaska.

-Austin Manelick

A Lower 48er’s View of Alaska

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, artic slope, bears, big game hunting, camping, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, guns, hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, National Geographic, nature, public land, Rifles, Survival, The next generation, Ultimate Survival Alaska, unguided hunting, Videographer, wildlife

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”

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, antler hunting, archery hunting, artic slope, bears, big game hunting, bow and arrows, Camera, camping, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, grizzly bear, guns, hunting, Hunting Culture, National Geographic, Ultimate Survival Alaska, Uncategorized

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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Philly to Alaska: Mission Complete

alaska, Camera, camping, fishing

Recently a few college buddies of mine called me up and asked me if we could go on mission, a mission in Alaska. John and Joe had never been to Alaska, and this winter wonderland was the perfect setting for ice fishing, snow mobile riding, and majestic views of monstrous mountains.
Here are a few of the pictures from Johnjoe and Joejohns Alaskan adventure.
Ice fishing: Mission complete
Winter Archery: Mission complete
Snow machineing: Mission complete
Cabin trip: Mission complete

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It’s safe to say that we all had a great time playing in the wilds of Alaska and it was awesome to catch up with old friends. I can’t wait till the summer when we can go on pack rafting missions, midnight hikes, salmon fishing adventures, etc….The list of missions and possibilities goes on endlessly in the land of the midnight sun.

John and Joe’s mission was safe, successfully, and mostly stress free(outside of John getting his sled stuck in an overflowed river..). They completed their mission to Alaska….What’s your mission?

Exploring the Wild: Alone or in a Group?

artic slope, big game hunting, Camera, camping, DIY hunting, hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, meat, moose, Uncategorized

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!

Mission Alaska Third Leg: Bridgers Birth Into the World of Hunting

alaska, bears, big game hunting, Camera, camping, DIY hunting

Mission Alaska Part 3: Bridger’s Birth Into the World of Hunting

After fueling up at the boat dock and heading face first into Prince William Sound, within minutes we were off on yet another hunting adventure. Hunting several years previously in Valdez with Jason Semler, I knew it would be a matter of no time before we saw bears feeding on seaside mountain slopes.  Motoring out to one of Jason’s secret Valdez hunting locations called “Bearadise Bay” we came to a coasting slide in the boat.  Jason scuttled to the back of the boat, grabbed his monstrous fish gaff threw that hook over board and nabbed up a buoy.  Think Deadliest Catch, with out the crabs and on a smaller boat.  His 25 foot aluminum boat had a rope pulling rig on it that did quick work of the shrimp pots.  He hauled up three shrimp pots while discussing the hunting game plan with Bridger and I.   He said “we are going to motor towards these bays, and slowly scan the mountain side.”   Mean while, the pots he pulled up had enough banana size shrimp in it to make one “heckuva” meal, as Jason put it.  Taking his advice I pulled one shrimp out and cracked it open, pealed his shell then ate that little guy raw.

Banana sized shrimp

Banana sized shrimp

taste just as good like this

Taste just as good like this…

as they do like this. : Shrimp in salsa and butter

as they do like this: shrimp in salsa and butter

The salt water and the taste is similar to shrimp cocktail at a party, no cocktail sauce was needed.  Jason said hold off on eating them raw as he had an idea for these little buggers.  On a mini Coleman stove he crammed a boat load of shrimp with butter and salsa.   We proceeded to house those for a quick meal, before continuing to hunt the seaside mountain faces for our bear friends.  The shrimp was an excellent alternative to the standard protocol of Top Ramen noodles and water from a camel pack.  Jason fired up the boat and continued to motor on.  Bridger Vaness the Videographer of the trip was now in the driver seat and hunting big game for the very first time.  I would be lending a hand and going on the stalk with him as his second set of eyes.

“Bear, Bear, Bear” Jason points to a bear on the cliff side as I am taking a quick nap.  He startled me, but Bridger was so wide eyed and excited he was already standing.  After watching the bear for an hour or so and deciding this was a sole mature bear, we made the call to go after it.  Jason quickly motored over to the cliff side rocky shore and said “follow the tracks to the top of trail and shoot from one of the trees at the top of the rock face.”   Bridger nodded, and I agreed to come along for the stalk while Jason captained the boat.  Jason kicked the boat into reverse right before hitting the rocky edge of the boulder laden sea bank.  Bridger and I bailed out on the rocky bank and military crawled up the 6-8 foot snow base to the set of “human/bear tracks” we could see.

We got to the tracks and followed them near the top of the hill, they led directly to three small cottonwood trees.  Bridger and I had not located the bear yet, Bridger picked the tree he was comfortable shooting from and laid down.  He was shooting off of a shooting stick buried into the snow bank.   I located the bear, which was very close around 130-150 yards directly above us feeding on a cliff side.

He found the bear but was not steady to take the shot.  I told him to “lay prone off of the snow bank.” He dropped down off of the shooting stick using the snow bank to shoot from.

He said “Oh yeah, I got him!” to which I replied “ aim low center mass and roll him when it turns broad side.” As I ended that sentence “buuuhhhhdooooom!”  Ringing out and echoing off the cliffs, Bridger’s shot conducted a hunters orchestra with a “fuuwhaap” finale signaling the sound of a fatal hit.

The bear immediately tumbled off the skunk cabbage cliff, scrambling to catch itself before falling into an avalanche snow chute.   Falling 60 yards strait down, the bear expired on top of an alder covered avalanche chute.   With no movement from the bear, we grabbed our packs and headed to retrieve the animal.  A 30-minute hike nearly strait up, and Bridger found his very first big game animal.  We used the snow slide to drag the bear down near the boat to begin the next steps of the process.  The next step Bridger learned was validating his harvest card immediately before processing any of the animal.    We snapped several pictures together to commemorate the camaraderie shared on this hunting adventure.   After a short round of picture taking, we then processed and salvaged the entire bear.

Making quick work before the falling sunset on Valdez, we motored back to harbor before dark.  Who would have thought in three days we could harvest two beautiful black bears and make lifelong lasting memories.   Idling back to the boat launch in Valdez, we parted ways with Jason and thanked him for his friendship and camaraderie. Driving 8 hours back home to Palmer would go by fast.  Bridger and I both grinning ear to ear with success, the drive was filled with laughter and stories. The next steps would be processing both the bear’s meat into delectable packages of meat, and “officially sealing” the bear with Wildlife officials.   All was completed successfully and everyone who took part in the adventure could not have been happier.

Bridger’s first big game harvest with Austin Manelick and Jason Semler

I must say that helping another person with their first big game hunting experience is pretty magical.  I know that going on an adventure like this and harvesting an animal as Bridger did, will leave a lasting trait engrained in his gene code forever.  Sharing my passion with someone in my opinion is one sure fire method to keep hunting around for generations to come.  I receive just as much if not more pleasure, when someone else deserving harvests an animal that I know will be used in the capacity nature intended.  I was so happy for Bridger harvesting his first bear, it put as much of a smile on my face as it did on his.  What a cool memory shared together, the pictures will be enjoyed for years to come and the meat for many months.   Thanks to everyone who was involved in the bear hunting this year, it could not have been done with out you.

Austin and Bridger

Stay tuned for the  2012 Alaska fishing season!!

Gear List

-Photon 10X40 Russian made Binoculars

-Barneys Pinnacle Pack

-Hidden Antler Jersey

-350 Remington Mag.

-Mendhl Boots

-Mamut Champ Pants

-MSR Snow Shoes