Kodiak blacktail advice

mcseal2

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4 of us are planning a 2022 Sitka Blacktail hunt on Kodiak. One of the guys farms a lot of acres with his family, so harvest eliminates September and October for him. That leaves us looking at either August or November.

Our very tentative current plan is to fly in at the very end of October or first few days of November. We are planning to camp, hopefully at a lower lake but on the beach if thats not an option. We are hoping being a bit higher can save some hours for hunting instead of busting brush climbing from the beach.

3 of us have done a drop camp caribou hunt together and 2 of us have also done a drop camp moose hunt. None of us have been to Kodiak.

For those of you who have hunted Kodiak does our plan sound like a good start? I’ve talked with Island Air already and plan to do some more research when we get dates finalized.

I’d appreciate any advice or tips anyone has. Thanks for the help.
 
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AKaviator

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Personally, I would look at mid- November for the timing. That would put you there a little more into the rut. I always like to hunt close to Thanksgiving. Weather is always a factor on Kodiak, but you guys are experienced hunters and know to be prepared for almost anything . August can be really rainy and foggy. November can be rain or snow and fog. Wind can be a constant!!

August will have some fishing, depending on where on the Island you go. Coho's are running then. November has some great duck hunting.

The deer population is greatly influenced by winter storms and my friends tell me that the Shelikof Strait side of the Island got clobbered last winter and the deer really suffered. Not sure about the Pacific side. I haven't heard how this winter has effected them yet...It's still going on.

You might check with Seahawk air and Andrews air. I use both of them and they can be very helpful also.
 

HuskyMusky

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This is a high hunt of interest for me....

what I've always seen, was an outfitted/unguided hunt....usually staying on a boat....
not sure what the price difference would be....??
 

Colorado Cowboy

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I have a friend who lives in Nevada who has done 4 or 5 of the mothership/skiff Kodiak Blacktail hunts. Don't know the timing, but he has done very well. He told me the mothership accomadations and food was excellent.
 

mcseal2

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Thanks everyone.

I was planning to reach out to you Akaviator, Corey was telling me you had hunted Kodiak before. Maybe if we end up doing an overnight stay in Anchorage we can buy you supper and hear some stories.

I would not be against hunting later in November. That late would you still recommend camping, or doing a boat or lodge based hunt?
 

AKaviator

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Yeah, I lived in Kodiak for a number of years and have hunted it since about 1980.

A lodge based hunt would be my first choice; I'd look at Larsen Bay lodge. There is also a old cannery based "lodge" in Spiridon bay that provides daily drop off hunts by skiff when you stay at the cannery.

I like the latter time frame best. Snow helps bring the deer down from the higher country and bears up to the higher country, plus tracking is easier. The rut is generally going good by mid-November too.

I've never done a boat based hunt but I know they can be fun and successful and gives you mobility and no worry about bears getting to you or your deer at night.

I've done plenty of tent based hunts there but would like to say that I've evolved from that, opposed to "aging out". If you have the right tents it's doable but the logistics of hauling all the tents and camping gear there and back gets expensive.

It would be great if we could team up when you come thru. I would enjoy sharing stories!
 

BuzzH

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Did a boat based hunt a while back, would only do it the same way again. The good thing about a boat based deal is if the weather sucks, which it does on Kodiak quite often, you can fish or shoot ducks. Also, if you fill all your deer tags, you can always fish and shoot ducks...

Bang for the buck, I enjoyed hunting blacktails there more than the other hunts I've done in AK.



Big old brown bear busted out of the alders right after I shot this buck:



Fishing after we got done hunting deer:



Harlequin drake for the wall:



Also shot a pair of long-tailed ducks too.

Waiting for the skiff to pick us up:



I really like Kodiak Island, have been there maybe a dozen times and going back again late July early August but only to fish.
 

mcseal2

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Thanks everyone!

I am leaning toward the November hunt and camping as of now. We have an almost new Cabelas 6 man Instinct Alaskan Guide tent that I think would handle the weather if we find a decent spot to put it. It worked well and kept us dry last year hunting caribou. We'd probably take it and one or two smaller tents. A couple of us have been eyeing the Kuiu Storm Star 4 season 2 man tents. Our next caribou hunt will likely be a float hunt and we would be packing lighter with smaller tents. If we buy them we'd probably sleep 2 in the big Cabelas tent and also have the other 2 guys gear in it. Bad weather days we could make room to all hang out in there. The small tents would be used only for sleeping, we'd all get geared up to hunt in the big tent with room to stand. We survived the cold and wet of the moose and caribou hunts and enjoyed the experience, Kodiak camping might be the next level of learning to enjoy being cold and wet.

Part of my thinking is that we could hopefully camp at a lower lake and skip some of the brush busting each day getting from the beach to the more open areas with better visibility. I have been listening to podcasts while checking cows and several of them talk about spending 4 hours fighting brush for 4 hours of hunting walking in from the beach each day. Also maybe we could be in an area with less pressure due to more difficult access. Is that thinking taking me down the right track?

Also I'm thinking cost would be less even with the hassle of getting our gear to and from Alaska than a lodge or boat based hunt. Cost is not the deciding factor though, I'm willing to pay if it offers better hunting. If we'd get dropped off to camp in an area without many bucks we'd probably regret not having the mobility of being dropped off by skiff.

Lots of decisions to make, part of the fun and challenge of Alaska.
 
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AKaviator

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Your air service will be very helpful, but keep in mind that the lakes, especially the smaller ones, may be completely frozen in November. I've had to pack camp several miles because of salt water bays freezing up while I was there.

Your tents sound up to the task, you might consider an extra tarp or two as added protection for the small tents.

If you like duck hunting, take a shotgun. Wonderful sea ducks there...Harlequin, Golden eyes, surf scooters...etc.

And as always on Kodiak, plan for an extra day or two waiting to get into the field and back out.
 

Maxhunter

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Apr 10, 2011
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I've hunted both August and November. The August hunt was a drop camp we did very well witth bows. My November hunt was around Thanksgiving time frame. I went with a lodge type hunt and they only acted as a transporter. I like the November hunt better since the deer were in rut and it didn't interfere with my other hunts. Also the deer were rutting. I never had any issues with bears. It was pretty cold, but I live in Wyoming do it wasn't nothing bad. Expect some bad weather days. Good luck and post pictures.
 
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HuskyMusky

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Did a boat based hunt a while back, would only do it the same way again. The good thing about a boat based deal is if the weather sucks, which it does on Kodiak quite often, you can fish or shoot ducks. Also, if you fill all your deer tags, you can always fish and shoot ducks...

Bang for the buck, I enjoyed hunting blacktails there more than the other hunts I've done in AK.



Big old brown bear busted out of the alders right after I shot this buck:



Fishing after we got done hunting deer:



Harlequin drake for the wall:



Also shot a pair of long-tailed ducks too.

Waiting for the skiff to pick us up:



I really like Kodiak Island, have been there maybe a dozen times and going back again late July early August but only to fish.
What happened when that big brown busted out after that deer shot??

Man that looks awesome!
 
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BuzzH

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What happened when that big brown busted out after that deer shot??

Man that looks awesome!
Nothing much, didn't see it until I after I shot, I suspect it was in a day bed. It was maybe 100 yards from where the deer died, it got up and worked its way over the ridge behind the deer. I sat and watched for a while and then went down and recovered the deer. My buddy I was with stood around watching while I took care of the deer.

Which brings up another point, probably a fair idea to hunt in a team of 2 makes it easier to take care of the deer, pack, watch out for one another etc. Those deer are bigger bodied than they seem, short, but stout they are. We only saw a few bears, but there were tracks everywhere we went.
 

mcseal2

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Thanks everyone. Good advice. We are planning to hunt in pairs for the exact reasons mentioned. At least to start with the two of us with the most experience will team up with one of the less experienced guys. We all grew up on farms or ranches and have hunted since we were kids. We all met in college and are still going on adventures 20 years later. Kodiak will be new to all of us, but camping in cold and wet will not.
 

HuskyMusky

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What do most guys do...?

gut and drag to the beach? or...?
half/quarter them and hike back?

I would think dragging all the way to the beach could be a bit of an ordeal. ??
 

BuzzH

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Apr 15, 2015
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What do most guys do...?

gut and drag to the beach? or...?
half/quarter them and hike back?

I would think dragging all the way to the beach could be a bit of an ordeal. ??
We quartered and removed all the neck, rib, and loin meat. We also took photos of the carcasses since AK has some pretty strict meat recovery requirements. The last day of the hunt, we boned all the quarters for final shipping/flights back.

The other 2 hunters on the boat with us drug them whole to the boat...then proceeded to do the exact same thing we did with ours.
 

mcseal2

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We plan to quarter at the kill site, and haul the quarters and other meat in our packs. We will put the meat in game bags and those in contractor bags for the trip. That way we don’t have bloody packs after the first couple deer in bear country. We should not have the meat in the contractor bags long enough to cause problems. If the pack out gets to long we can take it out while we take a break.
 
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AKaviator

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We plan to quarter at the kill site, and haul the quarters and other meat in our packs. We will put the meat in game bags and those in contractor bags for the trip. That way we don’t have bloody packs after the first couple deer in bear country. We should not have the meat in the contractor bags long enough to cause problems. If the pack out gets to long we can take it out while we take a break.
You should be able to pack an average buck out by yourself in one load, the way you describe.
 
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mcseal2

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We are planning to hunt mid-November 2022 to fit everyone’s schedules. The four of us will fly with a transporter and camp for our hunt. The decision of where we hunt will have to wait until we see how the winter’s go between now and then. Which transporter we use is another decision we are still debating. I’ve talked to several air transporters and all have been very helpful. I don’t really think any would be a bad option.

None of us are to worried about fishing or sea ducks this trip, although I’d like to go to Kodiak fishing sometime in the future. My wife hears my stories about Alaska and wants to go once the kids get a bit older so we can make it a family event. She likes to hunt and fish but not in bad weather.

Some of the things we are starting to plan include our camping arrangement. At this point we are thinking of taking a fairly heavy and comfortable camp. I don’t anticipate moving at least our base camp to far from the drop off point. Nothing to crazy, but some 2lb camp chairs, 4.5lb cots, and sturdier, heavier shelters. Other than the shelters it will be very similar to our moose and caribou hunts. We have a 6 man Cabelas Alaskan Guide Instinct tent, plus a couple smaller Kuiu Storm Star tents. We will sleep 2 guys in the big Cabelas tent (about 10’x10’) and also use it as a place for the group to hang out during bad weather. We will all keep our waterproof duffles in that tent and use it to get dressed out of the weather also. In bad weather the camp chairs can go inside it to hang out, and the standing room is nice to have. The other 2 of us will sleep in the smaller tents. My snoring can be pretty impressive, I’ll take one of the small tents for sleeping.

We also have a Seek Outside 8 man tipi with a stove we could bring, either in addition to these options or in place of one of them. It has a liner on one side for condensation, stove jack on the other. Having never been to Kodiak I don’t know if there will be enough wood to burn for it to be worth bringing the stove. If we can’t count on gathering wood we will have the weight allowance to haul some in if firewood can be purchased in Kodiak, but again that is an unknown. These are questions I plan to ask on these forums, plus ask our transporter once we get one chosen and are booked.

I’m wanting to experiment at home with a UCO Candelier lantern I bought. It is basically an aluminum and glass lantern housing that burns 3 large candles inside. The candles claim a 9-12 hour burn time. They also say the lantern will put out 5000 btu of heat. I saw several videos of people heating small RV’s and tents with them. I want to see how much difference it makes in temperature and condensation in our Cabelas tent this fall during some cold rains. If it is just enough to help dry the air and let our gear dry a little more on bad weather days or evenings in the tent, it might be worth taking.

As of now we are thinking of two bear fences. One for our sleeping tents, one for our meat and possibly cook tarp or tipi also. We will have a 10x13 tarp for meat, and hopefully can find stout enough brush to build a meat rack with. If not we will try to build pallets of brush to get airflow under the meat.

For cooking I have an MSR Windburner set with a 4.5 liter and 2.5 liter pot, plus a skillet. It has a separate burner with legs for more stability. I also have a Windburner 1 liter personal stove. I like taking both, we have 2 burners that all the same things fit on that way. Sometimes we use both burners at the same time, and it’s redundancy if something fails. This trip we may do more real food since we will have the weight allowance to do so and days will be shorter. We will have a couple small stoves and some freeze dried meals to take during the day. Lots of instant coffee and hot chocolate too.

For tools at camp I’m planning on a small Russian military titanium shovel, GB small forest axe, a Wyoming saw, and a Leatherman. That’s all other than our knives.

We all have good gear from previous hunts. I am wondering if stouter waders than our Wiggy’s waders will be needed this hunt or not? I plan to use my Crispi Hiland Pro boots that are waterproof almost to my knee and have the Wiggys waders in the pack for now. I have Simms G3 chest waders and boots, plus some Ridgeline Supply rubber boots with Yoder chaps (basically hip boots) if either is needed. Right now I don’t plan to take them. I will use my synthetic Kifaru 20 degree slick bag and probably take my HPG mountain serape as an over blanket if I need it. I’ve used that combo down to 0 degrees and been good, it has saved me the cost of buying a 0 degree bag. The serape is great for sitting around camp in the evening or glassing also. We all have quality packs capable of carrying meat, I have a Kifaru Nomad 2 I can loan to one guy and everyone else has Exo or Seek Outside packs with dry bags.

We all have rifles of 270 win or larger to take. One guy has a 7 mag and is considering getting a 300 win mag, two of us already shoot 300’s. We both use 180gr Nosler E tips in our 300’s which should be a decent bullet for deer or bear defense I think. Our fourth guy has an inexpensive but accurate Savage Axis 270 and may or may not change rifles. We will all have 10mm handguns with 200gr hardcast bear loads. I tried a S&W 69 44 mag before settling on 10mm. I used to have a flinch I worked hard to overcome shooting, and the recoil of the light 44 was enough I just did not shoot it well. I have no issue with the recoil of the 10mm’s and shoot them well. We are not planning to take bear spray. Between the wind on Kodiak, and the stories I’ve heard of people accidentally discharging it in brush it just seems like the wrong choice to me. I like to shoot and will practice several times a week with a handgun, bear spray I would not practice with. I know chances of a bear encounter are low, but taking a 10mm with a light on the rail along when leaving the tent to take a leak at night makes me feel safer.

I’m assuming that the winter months will be a good time to get as many of my transporter questions asked as possible. I’m making a list of them as they come up. I like to ask questions of transporters during their slow times rather than try to ask right before a hunt during their busy season. I think I get better and more thoughtful answers that way, plus I’m not inconveniencing them. It works well for everyone. I’ve now been on two Alaskan trips with transporters and am friends with a few guides and outfitters in the lower 48. I have become a firm believer that if I do everything I can to make their life easier, they will do everything they can to make my hunt better.

Anyway, just figured I’d share where my mind has been going the last several days while checking cows on the UTV. This is all subject to change as I learn more about the specifics of the hunt, and get advice from both more experienced hunters and our transporter.

Thanks everyone for the help. Maybe my brainstorming can help others considering a similar trip.