All posts by Chris Cocoles

Anglers Come To Aid Of Stranded Orca

Here’s a feel-good story about some Alaska fishermen who helped a free a killer whale that was stuck on a rock in the shallow waters off Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

From Seattle television station King5’s report:

Two whales swam nearby keeping an eye on their stuck friend.

“They stayed be her side until she was freed,” the fishermen wrote on YouTube. “It was a little nerve wracking because we didn’t know if the other whales knew we were trying to help or if they thought we may be hurting it.”

With the water rising with the tide, Vonick and Segal were concerned that the whale might drown because it couldn’t keep its blowhole above water.

“When the tide came in she could not hold her head above water and started to drown and made terrible noises and began to panic. We immediately used the oars from our skiff to pry her off the rock into deep water.”

There are also a couple of dramatic videos on the King5 site of the killer whale’s plight and the guys who came to its aid.


Subscribe today to Alaska Sporting Journal; at $19.95 for a one-year subscription, it’s an easy holiday gift for the fishing or hunting fanatic in your life who dreams of an Alaskan adventure. Click here for details.


Happy Halloween


Thanks to our Western Shooting editor, Rachel Alexander, for posting this pic of the Media Index Publishing staff (most of us) enjoying an All Hallow’s Eve lunch in the office. If you must know, I am trying to hide in the lower right-hand corner since I barely wore something resembling a costume ( but I do enjoy wearing my court jester beanie I bought at a hockey game in Finland once or twice a year).




alaska hunting 2013 - 35-35

Photo by Shane Vander Giessen

We’re referring to the November edition of Alaska Sporting Journal as the “DIY Issue”, with seven unguided Alaskan adventures. Our cover story features three Lower 48ers (from Washington) who tackled a deer hunt on Prince of Wales Island. Here’s a little bit from author Shane Vander Giessen, and some bonus photos to whet your appetite for the main story, which should be available for purchase soon, especially in the Northwest:

The rain and fog moved in as we were climbing, but as we reached the top of the mountain, we got a break in the fog within 275 yards of the two bucks. One 4-point with eye guards was already hard-horned, and a smaller buck was with him and still in velvet.
The 4-point was bedded, and once he stood up, I had him down in two shots with a rifle. The smaller buck hung around trying to figure out where the shots came from. We weren’t planning on shooting him at first, but, eventually, Alec decided to take him as well.
We quickly set up camp and looked for one more buck for Brian. We actually saw another 4-point, similar in size to the one I got, but he wasn’t able to connect before the fog moved back in and hindered our visibility.
Then the rain started. And continued. It rained all night and all the next day. Alec and I actually boned out our deer in the vestibules of our backpacking tents. Plus, we had to make our way down the mountain (each carrying our own tents) through some of the muddiest, steepest, nastiest and brush-filled terrain I’ve ever hiked in.
At one point, Brian was climbing up through some cliffs, and we couldn’t see him when he let loose a whole bunch of rocks. I seriously thought for a second that he was a goner. We all said our prayers and made it down safely to the car, but we were drenched to the bone and completely exhausted. It probably rained 1½ inches on us while we were hiking out.

alaska hunting 2013 - 15-15

Photo by Shane Vander Giessen

alaska hunting 2013 - 56-55

Photo by Shane Vander Giessen


To read Shane’s complete story, get a copy of Alaska Sporting Journal at several Northwest area airports, or subscribe today and get one full year at just $19.95. Click here for details. Digital subscriptions are also available.





Breaking Through The Ice

When Dennis Musgraves of Alaskan Salmon Slayers  approached us about writing a story about ice fishing for sheefish in isolated Northwestern Alaska, I was more than intrigued for two reasons: 1. It was ice fishing. 2. It’s sheefish. Those two factors alone made this a great story to add for our November issue. Dennis really did a good job describing the process of he and his friend, Chris, traveling to Kotzebue in their quest for catching trophy sheefish through the frozen waters of Kotzebue Sound.

Here’s a little sneak peak of the story and a few extra photos to take a look at:

I continued vertically dancing my spoon as I took in the vastness of the sound. The miles of ice-covered water had me feeling like I was fishing for needle in a haystack; and then it happened. It was a definite forceful strike from something below the ice attempting to eat my lure, but I failed to set the hook.                                                   
I yelled with excitement, “I just had a bite!” My volume was probably loud enough to be heard by all the residents 2 miles away in Kotzebue. Anticipation in full throttle, Spiderman senses tingling, I increased focus on my jigging pattern to persuade another bite, and this time I actually set the hook. I imagined myself as the fish, watching the action of the large spoon, took the lure like an offer that could not be refused.
Then it happened again, wham! My instinctive reactions took over pulling up and setting the hook just after feeling the tip of the rod react to the lure getting smashed. With heavy resistance felt and line rolling off the reel I knew it was a positive hook set.  
My adrenaline kicking in now, I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Fish On!” in the direction of Chris. The fish took out about 10 yards of line after the initial hook set. As Chris made his way over to me, I reeled down on the fish. My rod flexing as I put pressure on what felt like a decent sheefish, I continued to reel up line and feel strong head shakes. The fish seemed to be easily controlled as I guided the head towards the ice opening to breach the surface. Not a huge by sheefish standards, but a respectable 34-incher, and not too shabby for icing my first one ever. After a couple grin and grip photos and exchanging high-fives, it was back to fishing.
Fishing the rest of the day was slow by any standard. It seemed we needed a new location. I was just about ready to suggest a change when I heard Chris shout, “Fish on!” Looking over to where he was standing and seeing his rod doubled over, I quickly reeled up to go over and see what he had on.                                                                                                                       

Upon walking up and taking a knee beside his hole, I began eagerly watching the opening, jaw wide open, my eyes straining trying to look into the waiter’s shadowy glare. I was attempting to get a glimpse of what was below. His reel sang a chorus as several yards of line was quickly ripped out against the drag. His rod was wildly bent from massive shakes and resistance. With the look of euphoric shock on his face and music coming off the reel I realized he must have one enormous sheefish on the other end of his line.                               
Excitement filled the air, as we began asking ourselves out loud, “Is this fish going to be a 50-incher?” Expectations grew in both of us as the tug of war fight subsided and the fish was coaxed closer to the surface. However, after approximately 10 minutes of unsuccessful attempts guiding the fish up the hole, we both succumbed to the notion that this fish was simply going to be too big for the opening in the ice. Our enthusiasm was totally deflated when the hook was slipped and he reeled it up, his rig void of any signs of a victory. 



9820066324_4f6803402a_o 9819822384_5869e93089_o 9819914725_de2c6ca50a_o 9820273424_ee2a4243e0_o

Photos courtesy of Dennis Musgrave.

Look this and other Alaska adventure stories every month in Alaska Sporting Journal. To subscribe now and get a full year for just $19.95, click here.

Going To The Birds On The Kenai

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 25

Our DIY man in Alaska, Steve Meyer, wrote a nice piece for hunters (and dog lovers) for our November issue on chasing ptarmigan on the Kenai Mountains of Southcentral Alaska.  It’s a really interesting story in that Steve details how rocky and slippery the terrain can be in that time of year (mid-September) that affected both he and can affect his hunting dog, Winchester. Here’s a sneak peak from the story:

The snow was packed in and yet to melt from the previous winter, and it had a very slippery glaze. We were skirting the edges when Winchester, some 400 yards across the other side, came to another solid point.  Working down to the snow bed to cross, my partner stayed up on more stable ground and had a front row seat when my feet went out from under me. I started sliding down the chute and I tried to dig my heels in to no avail.
My velocity was such that I knew it was going to be bad when I smashed into the large boulders I was headed for. With the 28 cradled in my arms I hit a large rock, my knees unlocked to absorb the impact and I flew chest first into the rock with the 28 smashing my upper lip and nose.
When I hit, a bird flew up from behind the rock and I sat upright and took a shot that I shouldn’t have and cleanly missed. I looked up with blood running down my face to see my hunting partner laughing.  She thought I had done it on purpose.

As someone who has proven to be clumsy on icy ground (that’s a story for another day, but one I’m not proud of telling anyway!), I can relate to Steve taking a tumble. But trooper that he is, Steve was able to laugh it off. Kudos, buddy! Here a few extra pictures from Steve’s report. You can see by the shot of Christine, Steve’s hunting partner in crime, how tricky it must be to navigate the area where these upland birds hide. The ptarmigan are able to blend into the snow very difficult.

9-30-12 whitetails 006 Winchester holding for the flush Winchester 10-10-12 089

To see Steve’s full adventure, get yourself a subscription to Alaska Sporting Journal. At our special fall rate of just $19.95 for 12 issues, it’s a bargain and a convenient holiday gift for your favorite hunter or angler. Click here for details.

Counter Assault: Protection Against Bears




“Available in 8.1 ounce (230 gram) and 10.2 ounce (290 gram) sizes cans.  Look for the Red Can!

 Counter Assault Bear Deterrent, the original Bear Spray and first to receive EPA Registration, meets or exceeds all of the recommendations of the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee made up of University Researchers, Wildlife Managers and Biologists.  Our products have undergone more than 25 years of scientific field-testing by the University of Montana, University of Calgary, and Cambridge University.  In 1998 Counter Assault received the Grizzly Bear Stewardship Award for Research and Development of Bear Spray.

Counter Assault is carried and trusted by professionals throughout the United States and Canada.  Carry what the Professionals Carry! Counter Assault Grizzly Tough™ Bear Spray.”


For more information on this product, check out the Counter Assault website at

Or call 800-695-3394.

Kayaks On Cochrane

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 23

One of my favorite stories we’re running for our November issue of Alaska Sporting Journal is Mark Veary’s report of his DIY kayaking journey to Cochrane Bay in Prince William Sound with friends Pam and Dave. I’ve always wanted a kayak and to paddle  – over mostly calm and not so dangerous waters – my way and tote a fishing rod. Not sure if Mark will inspire me to go through with it someday. But I daydreamed a lot about the possibilities. Anyway, Mark’s story should be a fun read. Here are a few of the great photos Mark sent us that didn’t get into the finished product for your enjoyment.



Subscribe to Alaska Sporting Journal today to read more Alaskan adventures like Mark’s. Click here for details of our fall deal: Get 12 issues for ASJ for just $19.95.


Wood Stoves And Beyond, Creators Of A ‘New Breed Of Wood Stoves’ For Multiple Uses At Once

Editor’s Note: The company’s website should be up by next week.  But for any immediate questions, contact Evonne Cortelyou



For the last five years, Roger Lehet has invented a new breed of wood stoves which are capable of simultaneously heating, cooking, baking, producing hot water and electricity.

The sisters1

The Kimberly Wood Stove

Heats up to 1500 SF and produces up to 40,000 BTU’s per hour. This little stove only weighs 56  pounds, making it portable. This stove was born to run off-grid, which makes it great for the outdoorsman, but works just as good as a permanent wood stove in your smaller home.

One of 14 finalists world wide, the Kimberly is to be a part of Alliance for Green Heat wood stove decathlon this November in Washington DC. This competition is sponsored by Popular Mechanics Magazine  and the Department of Ecology. To learn more, click here.






Today the little stove has the accreditation of numerous and prestigious agencies such as UL Safety Standards, Environmental Protection Agency, Canadian Safety Standards,  Sierra Club Green Home Products Provider, and Mother Earth News.

The Katydid Wood Stove

The demand for a bigger and more powerful stove was engineered using  the same technology Lehet earlier developed within his little Kimberly. After four months, the Katydid is complete and is currently taking orders. This stove will be UL listed, CSA certified and EPA approved by the first of the year  for the US and Canada.

The Katydid is expected to deliver  well over 85,000 BTU/hour and heat up to 3,000 square feet of well-insulated living space, burning at least 12 hours on a single load of fuel.



The Katydid gasifier combustion system will squeeze every possible BTU from cord wood, keeping families warm through the night with less cost, less labor, and less emissions  than traditional wood stoves.

For more information and pricing, pease go to


Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge: Blacktail Hunting On Kodiak At Its Finest

Come experience the best fishing and Sitka blacktail deer hunting Kodiak Island has to offer! Our lodge is nestled behind Sitkalidak Island and is rated the No. 1 fishery in protected waters. It is only 15 minutes to fish on calm waters in our private, pristine Sitkalidak Straits. With the highest fishing limits in Alaska for king salmon, lingcod, silver salmon, yelloweye, black bass and gray cod you will go home with plenty to share with friends. Enjoy breathtaking views, a comfortable lodge, hospital staff, fantastic food, great fishing and hunting, and world-class wildlife viewing. Being an all-inclusive lodge allows guests to show up and relax as everything is taken care of by owners Gary Sampson and Chef Jeanne Sampson.
Check out our web site or give us a shout! We love answering questions and helping people get to our beautiful state of Alaska. So join us soon and become part of the Kodiak Sportsman’s Lodge Family!
Old Harbor, Alaska • (866) 744-8777(321) 327-5059