All posts by Chris Cocoles

Gun-Toting Hunters Headed Onto Federal Lands

Dave Workman, who’s a regular contributing columnist to our magazines, weighs in on how the federal government shutdown could affect hunters in several states, including Alaska. Thanks to a tip from our Western Shooting editor, Rachel Alexander,  I wanted to share this link with you even though it’s not a 100 percent Alaska-impacting story.

There’s a lot of interesting information in Dave’s piece, so I encourage you to read it in its entirety. But here is a snippet of the Alaska angle:

A brouhaha is erupting in Alaska, however, where 49th state lawmakers are angry at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for allegedly violating a 1980 federal law by preventing hunting on public land under its control while the government shutdown continues. The Washington Times quotes Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) saying, “It seems that agencies are working harder to keep people off federal lands than they have ever worked before to get them to visit federal lands.”

 

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Float-hunting North Of The Arctic Circle For Moose

 

A big assist to my executive editor, Andy Walgamott, for compiling this report by Eric Spiegel of his trip way north to an area north of the Arctic Circle.

by Eric Spiegel

Just got back from our first float hunt which was down the XXXX river in Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle. Eric Simon, my brother Kurt and myself were on the trip.

No guides, outfitters, or persons with any knowledge were involved!

Had a great time and scored a moose and a black bear.

KURT SPIEGEL BAGGED THIS BIG OL' BULL WELL NORTH OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE DURING A RECENT FLOAT-HUNT. HE WAS OUT WITH HIS BROTHER, ERIC SPIEGEL OF SEABECK, WASH. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

KURT SPIEGEL BAGGED THIS BIG OL’ BULL WELL NORTH OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE DURING A RECENT FLOAT-HUNT. HE WAS OUT WITH HIS BROTHER, ERIC SPIEGEL OF SEABECK, WASH. AFTER DRIVING NORTH ON THE DALTON HIGHWAY, THEY WERE FLOWN TO A REMOTE LAKE AND BEGAN THEIR TRIP DOWN AN UNDISCLOSED RIVER, ALONG WHICH KURT SHOT THE 51-INCH-WIDE MOOSE. THE ANIMAL YIELDED 700 POUNDS OF MEAT. (BROWNING PHOTO CONTEST)

Water levels were very low and the first two days were tough as we had to drag the rafts a lot, only making about 4 miles the first two days. Had to portage several times because in some places there wasn’t even enough water to drag the boats. It was very discouraging. Day three and four were a little better as we were able to actually get in the rafts for short stretches.

We had a good hunt plan, and when we finally got to a good looking area, we were able to stop for a couple of days.

Temps started out in the mid 40s for the first couple days, but dropped to midteens and snowing.

My brother shot the moose in the late afternoon on about day 6, about 1/2 mile from camp. After processing we moved all the meat (moose weighed about 1,400 pounds) about 100 yards from the kill site to minimize bear encounters, and started packing the meat to the river with the plan of dragging the raft upriver to load.

After stumbling through the willows and beaver ponds in the dark, we decided it would be safer to stash our first load (rear quarter, front shoulder, and ribs) at the river’s edge and drag the raft upriver in the morning to load it all.

We dragged the boat upriver in the morning and discovered that a bear had gotten into it. The three bags had been tore up, moved around, and partially buried. Very little of it had actually been eaten.

While we were cleaning it up, the bear came back and wouldn’t scare off. It was only a 5-foot black bear, but he obviously had a death wish. We were waving our arms and yelling to get him to turn away but he kept coming — until I shot him at 10 yards.

(ERIC SPIEGEL)

ERIC SPIEGEL TOOK ABOUT 50 HOURS OF GOPRO FOOTAGE DURING THE HUNT AND CONDENSED IT DOWN TO A VERY SCENIC 9-MINUTE VIDEO. IT TOOK THE HUNTERS 10 DAYS TO COVER 65 MILES OF RIVER. (ERIC SPIEGEL)

For our first float hunt (zero experience with rafting), it was great. An incredible amount of work in dragging the rafts, packing the moose, and rowing 10 hours a day for several days to make the take-out ( river was very slow) but I loved it and can’t wait to do it again.

We only got one moose and the small bear, but that was enough. We had to drag the rafts quite a bit even in the last 5 miles of the river, and with two moose we would have had to portage most of that.

We had started planning this trip last October and there were a lot of logistics involved.  Surprisingly everything went as planned, no one got hurt, and we are looking forward to our next adventure.

Government shutdown affects Alaska outdoors agencies

By Chris Cocoles on Oct. 2, 2013

It’s now day two of the shutting down of the federal government here in the good ole U.S.A. And I don’t know what to make of this mess right now, and frankly, you probably wouldn’t care what I think anyway! And I’m too embarrassed to even want to rip on both Republicans and Democrats for failing us right now.

But this is an outdoors blog, so here’s a story about how Alaska’s government agencies involving the state’s critical natural resources are handling the national crisis.

A couple of highlights (lowlights?) from the report:

The National Park Service closed up shop in Fairbanks and Denali Park for the most part on Tuesday, as did the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There were a handful of “essential” employees at each agency still on the job to make sure buildings don’t freeze up and to respond in the event of any emergencies on federal lands.

Managers at all 14 national wildlife refuges in Alaska, including four in Fairbanks, remained on the job Monday but most other refuge workers stayed home.

Visitors to web sites for the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were either re-routed or directed to the Department of the Interior web site where they could read a message from President Barrack Obama regarding the government shutdown. All social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook were also shut down on Monday.

In other words, or in this instance, one word: CHAOS!

 

 

Getting scientific in Alaska

Jamal Moss wants to do an in-depth study of the Gulf of Alaska’s fisheries. Here is a report on Moss’ quest.

From the story:

One of the goals of the project is to gather information so that fisheries managers can “begin to ask the right questions for what it is we’re seeking to monitor,” Moss said.

As an example, Moss pointed to a study of pollock in the Bering Sea. Prior to the study, Moss said, body size was thought to be the key indicator of winter survival for pollock, but after information was analyzed it was revealed that body fat was a better indicator in determining the survival rate of young fish.

“The area off the coast of the Southeast Alaska archipelago hasn’t been studied before,” Moss said.

Good luck to Moss and the others on this project.  I am fascinated at how ecosystems are affected by both easy to identify but also subtle changes or variables that are only recognized by experts in their field of study.

 

 

 

 

 

Firearms Industry Showcase: Cowboy Mounted Shooting TM Association (CMSA)

CMSAThe Cowboy Mounted Shooting TM Association (CMSA) is one of the fastest growing equestrian sports organizations in the nation. Mounted contestants compete in this fast-action timed event using two .45 caliber single-action revolvers each loaded with five rounds of specially prepared blank ammunition. The family-friendly CMSA offers multiple levels of competition for men, women and children, from the novice to the seasoned professional.

CMSA-lonestarclassic2012 Laura WilsonOrganized in 1994, the CMSA now boasts over 102 local clubs in four nations, representing over 13,000 members. It sanctions over 500 events a year, including seven events at its highest level, the Championship Series, and pays out over $700,000 in prize money annually.

For more information about the CMSA, visit cmsaevents.com, or follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Cowboymountedshootingassociation.  To subscribe or advertise in the official CMSA magazine, THE RUNDOWN, contact our office at 888-960-0003.

ACE Air and ACE Air Cargo news

Flying to 18 different communities daily takes commitment, and that’s what we have at ACE Air Cargo. We started out as an all-cargo airline and have been crisscrossing Alaska since 1996, delivering your mail and freight from Ketchikan to St. Paul Island to Bethel. People have come to rely upon ACE Air and ACE Air Cargo to get the job done.
And as of Feb 6, 2012, we began offering scheduled passenger service to Dutch Harbor. We are very excited about this and want you to join us on our next scheduled flight. You can check us out at www.aceaircargo.com. For all your cargo, passenger charters or our new scheduled passenger service, ACE Air and ACE Air Cargo is truly your one-stop shop in Alaska. We want your business and will work hard to keep it.

 

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Fun story on Alaska adventure

I always enjoy reading stories like this when folks are able to do something special like these three buddies who stumbled on an Alaska guide at an outdoors show in upstate New York. And that eventually leads them to a trip of a lifetime, catching big kings  and swapping stories in camp.

Enjoy.

Looking for Alaska bucket list ideas like this one? We’ve got plenty in every edition of Alaska Sporting Journal. In the coming soon November issue, we’ll talk kayak fishing in Cochrane Bay, a Prince of Wales Island deer hunt, upland bird hunts on the Kenai Peninsula, and ice fishing for sheefish, plus a lot more.

Subscribe to Alaska Sporting Journal today.

 

Staggering numbers on Alaskan seafood industry

Just how important is Alaska’s seafood industry to the state?

Check out this story.

Some highlights:

A report released Aug. 28 by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, and prepared by the McDowell Group, Inc., really gets to the bottom line on “The Economic Value of the Alaska Seafood Industry” with some surprising facts based on data from 2011:

• Total direct economic impact for Alaska is $6.7 billion

• Total direct and indirect (multiplier effects) economic value on U.S. economy is $15.7 billion

• Seafood industry is largest private sector employer in the State of Alaska

• Produces $4.6 billion worth of wild, sustainable seafood annually

And you wonder why the Pebble Mine Project gets responses like this one!

Subscribe to Alaska Sporting Journal today.