Follow along with team members and brothers Austin & Auggie as they go after Dall Sheep in Alaska’s rugged backcountry.
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
Trotting through the woods, I notice a buck springing from his bed and take two bounds pausing at 20 yards. I immediately freeze, the buck does the same and keeps a tree between us peering with on eye around the tree focused on the direction I came from. I was caught off guard for two reasons, I was moving quickly to get back to my vehicle and wasn’t prepared to draw my long bow as movement would surely make the buck flee….. Ghosts of the coasts they have been called by many hunters who have been fortunate enough to roam the lands with these creatures. They have this nick name for a reason, they live in the thickest forests of North America and are rarely seen. The plan for the Oregon archery tag was to meet up with a hunting buddy and head to a few key areas in Mount Hood National Forest. Hopefully one of us would score a buck for the late season effort. My buddy takes me to a few of his hunting spots and we attempt to rattle in the infamous bench buck. Apparently bench deer are a result of blacktail and mule deer crossing and creating a hybridized specimen. Mule deer are said to have evolved from whitetails and blacktails breeding thousands of years ago, genetics aside deer species in Oregon are diverse. Wether or not these animals are mule or blacktail deer or a cross of both, they are interesting and fun all the same to hunt with traditional archery equipment. These animals live in a diverse ecosystem, the forest covers steep hills with rolling benches the perfect hiding place for a buck. We spend many mornings chasing these elusive critters, rising at 3am and driving 3 hours to hunt first light. Only seeing two deer crossing a highway providing no shot opportunity, the late season archery tag was going to be a tough one to notch. Sometimes switching up tactics is your only shot at success. I knew I needed to go to another area but choosing one hunting spot is tough especially if you don’t have land owner relationships with private land access conveniently located near town. Fortunately Oregon has plenty of public land to cover within a 2-3 hour drive, refer to the ODFG maps for more information. Continued…..
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!
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.
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. The 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. 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.
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).
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.
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.
There is a explosive wild pig epidemic attacking the United States. Due to wild pigs adaptability and high reproduction rates, they have now been seen in 47 states and their numbers keep growing. Wild pigs devour crops, uproot pastures, destroy wildlife habitats, spread disease to humans and animals, kill trees and even knock over cemetery stones. Hunters play a big part in monitoring and helping to control wild pig numbers. Wild pigs also give DIY hunters great opportunities to hunt. Wild pigs are in a lot of states and are a main concern for land owners. Most states have unlimited seasons and tags are cheap. Polite and respectful hunters can have great success asking a local land owner if they can harvest a pig from thier land. Most people will say yes and go out of their way to make you successful. Two years ago, I hunted hogs in the Louisiana and they tasted great. There are not a lot of wild pigs up north and I have been craving wild pork ever since.
Austin recently harvested some Hawaiian Jungle Bacon, with his longbow, and was generous enough to give me 4 pounds of the wild pork. When Austin gave me the meat, I immediately had the idea to try making breakfast sausage. I am a big “breakfast person” and love sausage, egg, and cheese sandwiches as well as my favorite, biscuits and gravy.
What sets sausage appart is mainly the spices and seasonings. I looked at some recipes online and ultimately made my own combination of my favorite spices. I also took advantage of some donated fresh sage and rosemary from friends. I chose to go with brown sugar, rubbed sage, salt, rosemary, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and chilly powder.
Once we got the meat cubed and the seasonings measured out, we combined both together and were ready to start grinding. You dont have to have or spend a ton of money on a fancy grinder to make your own burger and sausage. I bought this old school, hand crank, meat grinder for $20 and have used it for 3 years now and it has handled all sorts of wild game creations.
The key to sausage to to finely grind it and to grind the seasoning into the meat. I started grinding with the large opening plate, then switched to the smaller, more course, grinding plate. We ground the 4 lbs of pork 4 times to achieve desired consistency.
Once we ground it all up, it was time to test the seasoning. We made two small patties and fried them up to test the seasoning balance. They tasted great and we didn’t have to change anything.
I believe more people need to look to the wild pigs as a food source and learn how to harvest them. They are everywhere and make great table fare! By harvesting wild pigs, we can help control numbers and feed our families great meat.
Here are some pictures from the latest USA episode. Enjoy!
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.
Ever wanted to have your hunt captured on film, but couldn’t convince your buddy to sit in your tree stand with you? There is a new revolutionary piece of technology in the outdoor industry that is changing the game as we speak. Go-Pro the Outdoor Edition, the all weather, shock proof, ultra small, mega High-Def, bad-to-the-bone camera sees the world as you see it and is the easy answer to all your filming needs. The Go-Pro takes outdoor videography to the next level. Throughout my experience as an outdoor field producer (vid cam dude), I’ve found the Go-Pro camera to be my go-to tool in my hunting arsenal.
Its small size and weatherproof casing makes the camera the world’s most versatile; taking on anything mother nature throws at you. No tools required for the endless attachments provided with the Go-Pro including chest mounts, handles bar mounts (works nicely for custom barrel or archery shots), suction cup mounts, adhesive mounts, helmet or head strap mount, allows the user to film easily and achieve a variety of shots including close-mid range kill shots. The wide angle lens records the perception of your point of view. This allows you to be as creative as you want, or a simple as you want. The attachments for this product make the Go-Pro extremely user friendly and can take a zero to a hero over night.
Seamless transfers to your computer in an easy MOV file, the Go-Pro records to secure digital cards (SD) 2GB,-32GB (gigabyte) cards. Depending on the SD cards storage size, you will be looking at one-two hours of HD filming. Closer to the pricing of the mid level game cameras such as Bushnells 8pixel Trophy Cam, the Go-Pro is a steal. For $299 Go-Pro hooks you up with the HD Hero 2 Professional camera package with all the basic attachments to get you in the field and filming with the press of a button. When compared to higher end videographer camera rigs(costing thousands), with use lighting equipment, wireless microphones, additional camera lens, tripods, boom microphones, the Go-Pro has all of the above combined in a mini user friendly camera. The Go-Pro has advanced settings with a manual book so you can customize your camera to your preferred setting. However, it’s ready to film out of the package after a quick charge.
Throughout my experience as an outdoor videographer, I have purchased one Go-Pro that has traveled with me from Alaska, to Pennsylvania, to south Texas and everywhere in between. This product is rugged and reliable, period. Field producing many outdoor TV shows in the past few years, I have been privileged to meet some of the coolest people in the world. Take for example Mike Hanback, the dude is the real deal on and off camera. We have made a couple whitetail episodes out of Texas with our buddies Sarge and Brandon. Each year several of the Go-Pro shots will make it to the silver screen. Also, each videographer I’ve met in dual cameramen hunts had at bare minimum of one Go-Pro. In my opinion the Go-Pro has revolutionized the way outdoor television productions are filmed, allowing for a very unique list of shots. This product no doubt makes the average Joe a hero, all with the press of a button. The price is affordable for the American working man, and if your lucky maybe this year you’ll get an early Christmas present from a loved one.
This picture is from August’s and my 2009 spring bear brother hunt. August and I, (as well as videographer Jon D) took to the spring hunt as if it was our last. We hunted six hard days, deep in the Alaska wilderness and managed to harvest this beautiful black bruin on film. Bears taste better during the spring, as they have yet to change their diets to the salmon runs of summer through fall. August and I would eat plentifully off of bear backstrap after this harvest as we were nearing the end of our food supplies.
This is a photo of me cutting bear back strap (in preparation of our beast feast over open flame) on a moose antler found during this 2009 spring bear hunt
I’ll be partaking in the traditional Alaska spring bear hunt again during this 2012 season. To some hunters in Alaska, bear hunting is part of their culture. I am proud to say that this tradition of spring bear hunting in Alaska has shaped my culture and parts of who I am as an Alaskan. Every year since the sixth grade (12 years ago), I have been gifted the ability to hunt bears in Alaska. This is a blessing to be apart of such an awesome outdoor culture.
Hopefully after this spring I will be able to secure valuable bear meat to add to my 2012 collection of wild game fare. I can see it now……Smokey bear jerky….. Bear stew…..Bacon wrapped bear sizzled on the grill w/ avacado…. You get my drift…
I can’t wait to head to the field.