Planning an Alaska hunt is no small undertaking. With a few rare exceptions that usually require local knowledge and Alaska residency, it’s an expedition that will require a time investment uncommon to hunts in other parts of the United States. Here are some steps to consider for planning a September hunt.
One to Two Years Out
Select a guide / air charter service. The good ones book early. So should you.
January - February
Everyone wants to hunt Alaska until it’s time to get out the wallet. Get some deposit money down from your partners now. It will reduce the flake-out factor. If you’re renting a raft or camping gear, make your reservations now. Same goes for airline reservations and lodging / rental car if you need it.
February - March
Research a primary and secondary hunt area. The secondary is your backup plan in case things don’t go well with Area One. Get 1:63,360,000 series maps for both.
March - April
Take a second deposit from your group members, so they don’t have to come up with all of it at once. Confirm your hunt locations and firm up your air charter arrangements. Until you send some money to your charter, it’s just a nice conversation on the phone. Send them some money or you don’t have a reservation. Make a deposit on your rental raft. Reserve a satphone or VHF radio if you plan to rent one. Check ADFG harvest stats and start going through your gear inventory.
Get the final payments from your hunters, confirm costs for meat and trophy transport / processing, purchase remaining gear, practice with your weapon of choice, do a shake-down cruise with your raft (new raft purchases) and start your physical conditioning. I put this last because I know you’re not going to do it anyway, but it should be on the list somewhere.
Two Weeks Out
Purchase and repack all food, ship dry goods via air cargo to air charter, confirm ship date for rental raft, prepare float plan and give it to emergency contacts (float hunts), confirm air charter details one more time, make meat / trophy expediting arrangements.
Pack frozen / perishable foods and check in with luggage.
Arrival in Alaska
Give a copy of float plan to air charter, collect satphone or VHF radio if renting, make last-minute purchases, check in with air charter / guide.Give a copy of float plan to air charter, collect satphone or VHF radio if renting, make last-minute purchases, check in with air charter / guide.
Tip Author Michael Strahan has been an Alaska Hunting Guide, and is a frequent contributor to the Alaska Hunting Forum. He has written a book on Alaska Float Hunting now in press.