Follow along with team members and brothers Austin & Auggie as they go after Dall Sheep in Alaska’s rugged backcountry.
Here is part 1/2 from a 2016 late season sitka blacktail hunt on Kodiak Island, AK
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!
Becoming a Airborne Ranger in the United States Army is a very difficult task, Ranger School is an intense 61-day combat leadership course geared to train some of the most elite soldiers America has to offer. Having two brothers who have completed the program (Auggie M. and Dan S.), they have told me first hand just how difficult this accomplishment was. Another one of my hunting brothers named Bridger Van Ness fell off the grid about eight months ago and resurfaced a new man. Bridger Van Ness and I go way back, back to the days of high school and Varsity soccer at Colony High School. Bridger started as a freshman and was a talented athlete to say the least. We have been longtime friends and partners working on the Mission Alaska Project since 2011. I wanted to congratulate him on his Ranger School success and thank him and all of our troops for supporting and protecting our freedoms as United States citizens. A certifiable “bad boy” in the United States Army, Bridger completed his Ranger school recently and was featured in a story found at The Bayonet and Saber. Bridger has made headlines with this accomplishment as he has pioneered a new pilot program for entry into the prestigious Ranger School. Check out the story below to find out the scoop on Bridger and how his accomplishment has laid the foundation for an improved Ranger Program. Congratulations Bridger, I am very proud to know you and honored to call you friend, brother, and most importantly my hunting buddy. Can’t wait till our next Alaskan adventure!
Pilot program produces 1st Ranger grad
When Spc. Bridger Van Ness asked his mother to pin his Ranger tab during his graduation ceremony Friday, it signified the beginning of a new career and possibilities for future Infantry Soldiers to enter Ranger School through a new training initiative.
Van Ness, of Wasilla, Alaska, was the first Soldier to go from one station unit training to Ranger School, a feat he said was a challenging and rewarding experience.
“It feels surreal,” he said. “I wanted to do this because of the training and to do missions that every Soldier wants to accomplish.”
“Our brigade combat teams are only manned at 20 percent of all the Ranger requirements and the greatest shortage on Ranger requirements is at the sergeant level and below,” he said. “That has been an issue since the war started in 2001 and something we’ve been trying to address to mitigate the requirement and the need.”
The program will allow Van Ness and future Soldiers to select the duty stations of their choice throughout the Army wherever there is a brigade combat team, Butler said.
“He set a very high bar, so hopefully he will be able to motivate some of his peers when he shows up and tells them the only formal training he had was one station unit training,” he said. It’s challenging, but it is something that anyone can do if they put their mind to it.”
Van Ness, 23, graduated from Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He joined the Army on Oct. 1 and completed one station unit training in January. During his training, Van Ness was approached to be a test subject for the pilot program.
“As he went through OSUT, his chain of command identified stellar performers’ abilities to accomplish the task based on physical fitness and their intellectual capability and maturity,” Butler said. “He was a star performer and exceeded all of the course standards.”
Van Ness said he was sent to pre-Ranger School after completing basic training, which helped him to make it through the Ranger School on the first try.
“I thought that I would possibly have to do another phase over but I made it straight through with the help of great peers and training,” he said. “I hope it’s a big step for the Army in getting this program approved.”
Butler said the 198th Infantry Brigade will continue to identify individuals who exceed course standards and show maturity and the physical and intellectual capacities to complete Ranger School. Using Van Ness’ experience will also help to identify potential challenges Soldiers may face.
“Not everyone is going to be able to come right off the street, join the Army, finish OSUT and go right into the Ranger course, so you have to select the right individuals to succeed,” Butler said. “If we can identify five guys per company that’s great and even better if we have more. We want to get Rangers out to the brigade combat teams so they can adhere to standards and set a great example for their peers. We want to set as many people up for success as possible.”
Preparing for his next duty station in Italy, Van Ness said he hopes to advance his education and use his knowledge from Ranger School to train future Soldiers and help improve the program.
“If a young Soldier has the right mindset, he could definitely accomplish this,” Van Ness said. “I think the Army has the potential to make this program a big hit … it could be a huge success.”
Year of the moose… It seems like this year bull moose were abundant in many parts of the state. Sorry it has taken so long to make a new post, however team Mission Alaska has been out making new content for our readers to enjoy. The Mission Alaska adventure was, again, one for the ages. Here are a few pictures to tide you over until the stories accompanying these pictures are tapped out and made whole.
Cheers to the beautiful bull moose who roam these lands year round. We as hunters thank you.
Here are some pictures from the latest USA episode. Enjoy!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
-Back pack or external pack frame
-Water Bottle or container
-Longbow, rifle, pistol, self defense weapon
-Sleeping bag -0 rating
-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). 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.
The earliest Inupiat people appeared about 1200 AD at the coast and spread to the Brooks Range, becoming the Nunamuit. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Find the Gates of the Arctic on facebook @