The Alaskan Way – “Lonely Boat on a Dark River” A story of endless care for others in Nowhere, AK – Nathaniel Grimes

alaska, Hunting Alaska, Hunting Culture, moose, public land

This is what I love about Alaska, you can see when someone needs help by a simple glance. Remote travel and risky endeavors are a part of the Alaskan life. The further away you get from “society” the more people are willing to give you the shirt off their back, the beer out their cooler, and the strong back to get you home safely. Reading stories like these warms the heart, you never know when your the one who needs a hand in the backcountry.

Story by Nathaniel Grimes.

Fire = Warm
Fire = Warm

“Lonely Boat on a Dark River” 

It goes without saying that every season and every hunting trip yields some pretty interesting experiences (both good and bad) to talk about around the campfire with a cold beer and good friends. 

This one is no different. For me, the moose season has always frustrated me. Every year I spend hours upon hours at the range with countless rounds of my choice ammunition, practicing shots from different positions and various distances. I put a lot of work into making sure I am ready to make a clean shot on the fly IF the opportunity presented itself. 

But as always, the dreaded thought of coming up empty handed once again lingers in the back of my mind. You tell yourself it’ll be different this year and the hope of success, and the thought of finally getting to take that first picture with your first moose comes back up and seems to push all that doubt out of your noggin. 

The day for the river trip finally arrived. I had the gear and boat all packed up and my two friends were ready to get on the river. We had no specific place along the Tanana river we wanted to set up camp, or where we would even start for that matter. We just wanted to get out there and make it happen. 
After a few hours on the river we find a pretty nice little flat spot just before the mouth of the Wood River. We had heard quite a few success stories coming out of that river so we decided to give it a shot. Filled with optimism and false hope we pitched out tents and settled in. Tomorrow was finally opening day. 

It’s 5am and we are all up, sipping coffee and waiting for first light. After breakfast we hit the river. We spend most of the day going up and down the Tanana to see what areas look the best for our first sit. We eventually find a spot we figured was as good as any and set up. Hours go by and that hope quickly starts to fade. 
Faced with sheer boredom and a tiny bit of depression due to the lack of instant gratification, we head back to camp and start making food. A few hours go by and now it’s dark as crap. While having a beer with “the boys” we hear an owl across the river hooting quite loudly. “You should shine a light over there and try to see the eyes reflect”, my buddy says. Also curious, my other friend pulls his light out and turns it on….Not what we thought to find. 
As soon as he turns the light on we see, in the river not 20 yards from us a boat, silently floating past us. “What the @#&*?!” was the chosen response from all three of us. While holding all of our flashlights on the boat, we yell out to the boat incase there was anyone simply just broke down and floating back to Nenana. No response. 
 
This is where it gets interesting. “Someone fell out of the boat!” One friend yells. “Not likely” I replied, “If someone fell out, the boat would more than likely still be running and spinning clockwise. I bet you it floated away from someone’s camp.”
We jump in my boat and head out after the lonely boat. We catch up to it and I hop in the driver’s seat. Inside was a beautiful 300WinMag, 2-30 gallon tanks of gas and 4 or 5 lifejackets. I turned the key and it started right up. 
“Let’s take this back to camp and call the Troopers.” I suggested.  Well see now we’re in a bad spot. We are in the middle of the Tanana River, in the middle of the night and it’s pitch black. If a sweeper or sandbar hand been in front of us we wouldn’t have been able to do anything. I tell one friend to drive my boat behind me and the other friend to sit on the bow of the boat and shine a light on the river for me. 
While driving the found boat I notice I have to fight the steering wheel to keep it from making a hard right turn. As we get closer to the camp I see more of the river and don’t see any sweepers in front of us so I give the throttle a little push. Bad idea. The boat violently kicks hard right and we shoot out into the middle of the river. After a few expletives are shouted, we look up and see a small light in the distance. Couldn’t have been any bigger than a shop light, waiving back and forth about 2 miles up the river. 
We slow down to let Jimmy, my friend that is driving my boat catch up. While idling our boats next to each other we decide that these could be the people that this boat belongs to.  “Screw it man let’s go there and see if they know anything.” Jimmy said.  So here we go, 3 young guys, in 2 boats, in the middle of the river with practically no light to navigate with. About 45 minutes nervous driving and 1 or two close calls with some sandbars we were around 15 yards from these guys who are waiving their headlamps and shop light while yelling hooting and hollering. 

“You guys lose a boat?” I said with a comedic and slightly smug tone. Immediately we see the look of sheer amazement and disbelief rush over everyone of their faces.  “Holy $%^& you found our $%@(>,% boat!! Oh my God!!!” They’re all yelling. As we step up on their mini dock they begin opening their wallets and shoving rather large wads of cash along with a few beers in our faces. 
 
We politely decline to accept the money and tell them we didn’t do it for money, we did this because “Alaskans take care of each other”. The boat owner stepped up and said, “Well let me pay you guys back by showing you my best moose hunting spot in the morning. I’ve hunted this area my entire life and I own almost 200 acres here. You boys are welcome to stay here anytime and hunt on my land as you please!” 
The next morning we wake up and get our gear in the boat. The boats owner drives up to our camp and says, “let me ride in your boat and I’ll show you my best spots today as well as give you an extra 30 gallons of fuel.” We agree and off we went. 
Unfortunately, after all the spots he lead us to, we still did not see any sign of a bull moose. 3 days later, we pack up our camp and head home. Even though unsuccessful, we were extremely happy. We saved a group of people on the river and made friends with them. We had a super fun 3 days getting to know them all and getting more experience with the surrounding sloughs and creeks. 
All in all, this was an experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t take it back for anything. This is what it is all about. Alaskans coming together, helping each other, sharing knowledge, lending a helping hand with no strings attached…It’s just what we as Alaskans do.  I hope you all enjoyed this story and hope it inspires you to continue to be there for one another in any way you can.  Good luck to you all this year!!!

Well guys, we can all learn something from this story… you never know when you’re going to need a hand. It pays dividends to treat people in the field like your life depends on it, because it really could. I’ve rescued, self rescued, and been rescued…. and to all those reading this. Thank you. Nate, good luck shooting the biggest bull of your life this year. “May the karma come back, and the bulls be big.” – Austin

Winchester’s Expedition Big Game & EXBGLR

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, Blacktail Deer, caribou, Deer Hunting, grizzly brown bear, Hunting Alaska, moose, Mountain Goat, pack rafting, Winchester

“One Round. One Rifle. One Alaska Hunting Season.” I set out with Winchester’s 300WSM XPR and Expedition Big Game Long Range across Alaska over the 2017-2018 hunting season. Moose, Sheep, Mountain Goat, Blacktail Deer, Black Bear, and Caribou all fall to this lethal combination. Alaska tested, Alaska tough. Here’s a link to my review on Winchester’s Expedition Big Game and EXBGLR ammunition. ->READ MORE

Expedition Big Game Long Range Put to the Test in Alaska

https://winchester.com/Blog/2019/05/Expedition-Big-Game-Long-Range-Put-to-the-Test-in-Alaska

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.

Update 2016

DIY hunting, moose, public land, Uncategorized

It’s been too long fellow hunters…. The team has been working on new projects and focused on launching them through different social networks.   For the latest and greatest up to date content check out mission_alaska on Instagram where we have exclusive photos, videos, and stories of the Alaska Sportsman lifestyle.  If your interested in short films check out our new videos through www.huntervids.com, they have a library full of hunting videos from across the country that will entertain any day dreaming outdoorsmen.  Here is a link to one of our goat hunts on Hunter-Vids.

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https://huntervids.com/videoscategory/goat-hunting/

8 tips for DIY Alaskan Moose Hunting

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, antler, antler hunting, archery hunting, big game hunting, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, moose, unguided hunting, wild game

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  1. Game plan:

Need to make a good game plan with solid logistics and stick to it. Maps are critical to success, understanding game regulations and the area you are hunting are first priorities.  The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=hunting.main) home website provides great information on where to start and how to finish a successful moose hunt.   This can help answer many of the initial questions someone has concerning a DIY Alaskan moose hunt, this should be the first place to start when coming up with a moose hunting game plan.  You can find things like harvest statistics for your selected hunting area and animal information, hunting license and tags, pictures on how to field judge a moose, and most importantly all the regulations controlling your hunt.

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  1. Pre/ in-season scouting: internet research – fly over – ground visit

The digital age is upon us and information is more available now than ever.  Internet databases such as outdoor forum directories and www.rokslide.com make scouting a little easier.  Some individuals like to fly into a hunting area and scout on the way, although there is rules that prevent hunters to chase animals the same day they are airborne.  With no pre-season scouting for the majority of hunters out there, they must rely on putting boots on the ground and looking for the freshest moose sign possible.  Printed maps of your area is instrumental for moose hunting.  Know your area and how to move from point A to B (or at least have a game plan for it).

  1. Vantage point glassing

If you don’t have the option of scouting the area you will be hunting and have not targeted any particular bulls then gaining a vantage point to glass your hunting area is key.  One technique used by saged Alaskan moose hunters is to hike the closest hill then climb a tree, allowing them to survey their hunting area. Climb a spruce tree or cottonwood or use techniques such as climbing a telescoping ladder to get above brushy swamps. Hiking above tree-line in the mountains and letting your optics do the walking for you increases your chances to see animals as well.  In general visibility diminishes at lower elevations and gaining a vantage point could be your saving grace.

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4.Wind direction

Always plan morning and evening hunts around wind direction. Moose (even rutting bulls) will usually circle 100-900 hundreds yards down wind before closing the distance.  This early season archery bull circled 100-200 yards down wind before bedding permanently this 2014.

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  1. Calling – antler raking

Antler raking or scraping is great for moose hunting because not a high level of skill or knowledge of the moose language is needed.  Simply breaking and scraping spruce tree branches can be enough. Listening for a response to your call is crucial.  Sometimes bulls approach silent, other times they will rake their antlers and/or grunt.  An old moose shoulder blade, plastic oil container, milk jug, protein jug, commercialized fiberglass calls, birch tree bark scrapers, they all work to some degree.  The last moose hunt I went on we made a moose scraper out of a jug of Muscle Milk protein and called in a dandy bull fit for the freezer.

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  1. Be prepared to sleep out: survival kit essentials

You can add more items to this list, but I wouldn’t subtract any of these items or be caught dead in the field without them.  Moose are just like any of the other member of the deer family, they move most at first light and last light depending on the photo period and rut phase.  Knocking down a moose at last light can lead to a long evening away from the shelter of base camp, if you leave your survival kit you’ll be wishing you had one.  If your not prepared to siwash* then your not prepared to harvest a bull moose.

Survival kit – bare minimum

  • flagging tape
  • rope
  • sleeping bag (emergency blanket, and/or bivy sack,etc)
  • two sources of ignition(bic lighter, magnesium fire starter, etc…)
  • small fold out saw
  • a knife
  • 8×12 tarp (or bigger)
  • emergency rations of food (cliffs bars, beef Jerky, etc)
  • compass and GPS

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  1. Correct gear: a few guidelines

Gear selection can make or break a hunt, rough weather and terrain are inevitable on an Alaskan adventure.  Your gear will experience some wear and tear, no doubt. GEAR: Hunting methods differ and depend on the individual hunter but here are a few guidelines for equipment.  A heavier rifle caliber capable to shoot 200+ grained bullets out to 300 yards should do the trick. Quality binoculars 8x32s work great, these help hunters field judge moose on those late evening sits in low light conditions.  Tent camp with the option to spike camp(1x bigger and 1x smaller tent ), sleeping bag and pads for everyone(0 degree rating mummy bags), and one action packer(tote or cooler) filled with a camp kitchen. An 8×12 (or larger) tarp works great to keep rain off your meat and doubles as a clean surface to help in field processing.  A small fold out saw is nice to have along for splitting the sternum, removing antlers, limbs, and gathering firewood.  A minimum of eight game bags should be brought, I like to bring 16 in case we drop another moose and/or need to change the game bags in the field if they get wet or dirty. Bring a big enough back pack or packing frame to fit 80-150 pound hind quarters/shoulders in it, day packs simply will not suffice. Cordage, you need much more rope than you think. Extra rope of all sizes along with a giant role of B-50 cord will really help you out in the long run, especially if your buddies aren’t their to lift those heavy moose quarters.  An old guide trick I learned a while back was to tie a moose leg with B-50 cord to the closest tree limb you can find, this relieves pressure on the hunter to hold the leg, the knife, and then make the cut.  Much more could be said about the correct gear needed for a moose hunt, this all circles back your game plan and methods for transportation to get you in and out of the field.

Moose Load

  1. Mental and physical toughness:

Moose hunting is tough, one must be mentally and physically ready to handle the task at hand.  Once you knock down a moose the “fun is over”, after getting some beautiful trophy shots the slicing and dicing begins.   It will take an average hunter about 3-8 hrs to field dress/quarter a moose in preparation for the pack out.   Rule of thumb in Alaska is to not shoot a moose more than one mile away from your transportation; this is where physical toughness and mental toughness play a huge role. There are many bulls that go noticed yet untouched because hunters don’t want to deal with all the work, the big boys are out there you may just have to work harder than you bargained for.  That being said, there are even bigger bulls that go unnoticed and untouched you just have to be semi-insane to go after them.  This bull (pictured lower left) was a few miles past a public hiking trail. It took five days of meat packing up and over 2,500ft mountains to get this moose in the freezer, hands down one of the most grueling pack outs I have personally been apart of.

A back-country pack after a successful harvest

 

Take these tips with a grain of salt. There are many seasoned moose hunters out there that have come home and filled their freezers using different tactics. Point is, you can’t kill them from the couch… Do your research and get out there!

Hit hard,

AM

*Siwash: verb – camp without a tent.

 

Moose with Alaska logo on it

Austin with Vince(aka”Moose Sensei”) and their 2013 Alaskan bull.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Getting Dialed” Traditional Archery Hunting Practice

alaska, archery hunting, arrows, bow and arrows, Camera, DIY hunting, meat, moose

We have only three days left till moose opens in Alaska for archery season, practice makes confidence.   Austin, Jordan, Pickle, and Crixus take to the 3D archery range for some practice for the upcoming hunting season.  Moose MEAT!

#ieatmoose

Cubby’s Marketplace New Additions: Mission Alaska Wall

arrows, big game hunting, bow and arrows, DIY hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, meat, moose, public land, Rifles, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, unguided hunting

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For those of you heading North to Alaska, Cubby’s Market place is a must see destination.  A truly authentic Alaskan grocery store located near the intersection of the Parks Highway and the Talkeetna Spur Road, they provide goods to locals who live here year round as well as the busy summer recreationists who come to play in the surrounding Talkeetna Mountains.  This store was opened by entrepreneurial spirited family who roots were started from the Alaskan dream. Greg and Lisa Pearson (2nd generation Alaskans) started this business from the ground up with help from their children Derek, Chris, Ashlynn, and many other family members and dedicated friends.

photo 3Cubby’s is more than a grocery store, it’s an experience.  You enter through the doors into a modern-rustic Alaskan grocery store, where animal mounts and the AK lifestyle is displayed proudly.  Being one of the Pearson’s “other children”, I am proud to say I helped out during the building process of Cubby’s.  Greg has been filling his grocery store with impressive species of Alaskan game mounts since the store opened, and I am lucky enough to have several of my mounts inside.

The entire store is covered in game mounts from animals harvested around the state, if you head to the dairy section you will notice a small section dedicated to the animals harvest by team Mission Alaska.  photo 2-2Here is owners and 3rd generation Alaskan’s Derek and Chris Pearson hanging the moose on Cubby’s Wall.  This moose was from Austin Manelick’s and Vince Pokryfki’s 2013 moose hunt.  Pretty fascinating story of how this moose found his way onto the Cubby’s wall.  Team work makes the dream work, and with this moose it was no different.
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From the river to the wall….

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For any of you adventures north, make sure you stop in and see the beautiful Cubby’s Marketplace!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cubbys-Marketplace

 

Moose Hunting Report 2013

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, antler, antler hunting, archery hunting, arrows, big game hunting, bow and arrows, Camera, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, Go-Pro, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, moose, pack rafting, public land, Rifles, shed hunting, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, Uncategorized, unguided hunting, wildlife

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.

Feeling mooseeee.

Bridgers harvest 2013 MOOSE Bridgers moose 2 and the BOSS TANK 20130925-173558.jpg20130925-173410.jpg 20130925-173350.jpgHere are a few of the brutes that fell to the Mission Alaska team this year.   Be prepared for a few of the stories, lots of work indeed.

Cheers to the beautiful bull moose who roam these lands year round.  We as hunters thank you.

Ribfest and Regions Archery Tournament

archery hunting, arrows, big game hunting, bow and arrows, Camera, DIY hunting, Field Producer, hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, moose, Pennsylvania hunting, public land, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, Ultimate Survival Alaska, Whitetail hunting, wildlife

Here is a few pictures from my adventures over the weekend competing in the Regions Archery tour in Warren Pennsylvania. I had a complete and total blast shooting arrows all day and throwing back BBQ ribs all night. I want to thank everyone in Warren county for their hospitality and generosity and for showing me a great time. I also want to give a few special shout outs to the staff and organizations running the archery tour, they all showed extreme professionalism setting up the best “world class archery tournament” I have personally seen. I also want to thank John Papalia and his family for hosting me, sponsoring me, and showing me an immense amount of kindness.

-Austin

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Nunivak Island Pictures

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

Here are some pictures from the latest USA episode.  Enjoy!

My new friend on the Bering Sea

My new friend on the Bering Sea

Director of Photography Brent Meske "The Man"

Director of Photography Brent Meske “The Man”

Who took my hat and arrows?

Who took my hat and arrows?

"Tarping on the Bering Sea"

“Tarping on the Bering Sea”