Looking for options

Discussion in 'Alaska Flyway Forum' started by Neighbor Guy, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Neighbor Guy

    Neighbor Guy Senior Refuge Member

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    Central MN
    And Opinions for that matter.

    We are starting to look at some options for a trip to Alaska. A friend of mine has a box of ashes and final wishes to take care of, so some other bucket list items need to be checked as well.

    But alas, I am not a die hard big game Hunter. I would like to take a ptarmigan. But mainly need some advice on a waterfowl guide. Are there many options for waterfowl in AK or should I just tag along with the moose/caribou hunters and keep an open mind?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Not traveling this year, but 2020 or 2021 likely.
     
  2. no harm-no fowl

    no harm-no fowl Senior Refuge Member

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    ohio
    Been up twice, did some DIY duck and Ptarmigan hunting. Would be glad to help if you wanted to ask questions. Call if you want. Dan 937 726 5746
     
  3. AleutianKing

    AleutianKing Elite Refuge Member

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    Kodiak, Coldbay, Island X, Adak Alaska
    I would be more than glad to help you deliver your ashes, Contact me harlequin1111.jpeg
     
    Curt Gibson likes this.
  4. Tundrawookie

    Tundrawookie New Member

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    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    You haven’t mentioned anything about your budget or what you’d like to do as far as duck hunting, but you have plenty of options.
    Since you seem interested in ptarmigan hunting, the season in the vast majority of the state runs from August 10th to the end of March. There are exceptions, but that’s a good baseline. If your budget has you sticking to the road system, then by far the best time to hunt them is in August and September because of the amount of daylight and relative difficulty in getting to them. If you’re willing to burn some gas and boot leather, you can access ptarmigan from the limited road system.
    From a duck hunting perspective, there’s plenty of road accessible hunting available, and it can be damn good too. Problem is, if you’re hunting in September, then all you’re going to find are brown ducks; mostly wigeon, mallards, and green wing teal. Duck season (in the majority of the state) opens on September 1st and goes to December 16th. If it’s sea ducks that you’re after, there are several great guides on the road system that can put you on harlequins, all of the scoters, oldsquaws, etc. problem is, nobody is going to hunt sea ducks until the beginning of November at the earliest when the birds start to plume out. Ptarmigan will be extremely difficult to get at by then because of snow, nasty terrain, and really short days.
    Sea ducks, from a practical perspective will require a guide. If you have ptarmigan and ducks in mind and want to stick to the road system, I would suggest Tim Bouchard in Valdez. There’s some excellent ptarmigan hunting available right out of Valdez, and may be the one realistic shot at ptarmigan (from the road system) any time after mid October.
    If your budget allows for something a bit more extravagant, you should consider making the trip out to Kodiak, Cold Bay, or Adak. The duck season opens later on Adak or Kodiak, (October 8th) but ptarmigan are much easier to access since they can be found as low as sea level where coastal tundra is present. I should add that the road system is extremely limited in Alaska; and while ptarmigan can be found, they’re only found in alpine tundra, which requires getting up to about 3500 feet above sea level. That may not sound like much, but it’s tougher than it sounds, and damn near impossible after heavy snow.
    Anyhow, hopefully I’ve given you some options to consider. You can absolutely hunt ducks and ptarmigan for relatively little cost in some of the most beautiful land on earth; but when it comes to Alaska, it’s best to have a firm grasp of reality. If you’d like to chat, continue the thread or shoot me a PM. Good luck!
     
    Damian Wiening likes this.
  5. PorkChop

    PorkChop Elite Refuge Member Supporting Member

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    I would say tundrawookie is pretty much spot on! There is another guide service that hunts the Delta Junction area for geese and cranes. They look like they have a pretty good success rate. Not sure what their name is off the top of my head but if you are interested I will search my FB.
     
  6. Tundrawookie

    Tundrawookie New Member

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    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Yes; goose shack guide service out of Delta Junction. Mike Lenze is a great guide. He does well with little Canada geese, specks, and cranes. Delta Junction can have some incredible grouse hunting depending on spring hatch conditions; but to get to ptarmigan will require some driving. Definitely a solid option worth considering.
     
    PorkChop likes this.
  7. JDO

    JDO Refuge Member

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    I'm also going to Alaska this September to fish and hunt ducks. I got a great deal with Rainbow Bend Lodge in King Salmon - one day guided and 4 days on my own with boat, motor, etc. The lodge outfitter doesn't guide duck hunters, but said he has a friend that will lend me some decoys.

    Tundrawookie and AleutianKing, thank you for your great posts and info on seasons up there. This trip I'm planning on sticking around King Salmon and the Naknek. I'll be there 2nd week of September. I was wondering if you could help me with a couple of questions I have:
    Can buy shotgun shells up there? Should I bring camoflauge waders and netting (because that will add a lot of gear to my luggage)? and how is hunting with the tides, do you have tips on tactics or strategies? Thanks for any info you can provide, I really appreciate it as this is going one of the biggest trips I've ever done and a dream of mine for the last 10 years . . .
     
  8. Tundrawookie

    Tundrawookie New Member

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    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Sounds like You’re in for quite an adventure! Happy to help with some info.
    As far as ammo is concerned, if your travels have you stopping and spending some time in Anchorage or Fairbanks, you’ll be able to get shells without any trouble. On the other hand, if You’re heading straight out to King Salmon I would strongly encourage you to bring ammo with you. There may be some ammo available there, but there is absolutely no guarantee. You’ll be better off bringing your own.
    As far as waders are concerned; You are going to need waders, period. If your question is if you need CAMO waders, then no. A drab brown or green will be sufficient. The ducks you’ll be hunting will be incredibly naive, most never having been shot at or even seeing a human being before.
    Camo netting? Depends. It seems unlikely that you’ll be hunting from the boat; more likely than not you’ll be walking in a couple hundred yards from the river to a pothole pond...you’ll have time to scout a bit on your first day while being guided. In that case, you’ll have plenty of natural cover to work with. Again, these won’t be the sharpest ducks you've ever hunted. If You do wind up hunting from a boat, then You should seriously consider some means of camouflage. This ties in to dealing with tides as well. I would suggest talking to the folks at the lodge to get an idea what your specific conditions will be.
    Ah yes; tides. You live and die by the tides up here. I would suggest downloading and printing out tide tables (Protides or tides.net are great places to start). The good news is that You’ll have a guided day to see how big of a tidal flux You’re dealing with, and to get an idea of where You’ll be hunting. You’ll get more information from one day on the river than I can possibly offer here.
    Having said that, if You’re accessing the hunting area by boat, then keeping water under the boat is going to be the biggest issue. The local knowledge of guys that run that river every day is going to be invaluable. Assuming that You’ll be parking the boat and walking in to a spot to hunt, the main thing to keep in mind is to always have an escape plan. The ankle deep creek you crossed to get to your spot can suddenly become six feet deep. You’ll either have to know the timing of the tides (tide tables!) or get creative about crossing. I personally have solved this problem with good old redneck ingenuity...a lightweight pack raft or 35 dollar rubber ducky raft from Wal-Mart has gotten me out of many jams. Understand though, Bristol Bay tides aren’t nearly as big as Cook Inlet tides and depending on how far upriver You are, tides may not even be that big of an issue. The guys running the river every day will be a wealth of information. Sorry I can’t be more specific; but without knowing your exact situation, (You won’t either until you see it yourself) all I can offer is general information. I truly hope it helps. You’re in for a grand adventure! The silver salmon run should be running on all cylinders at the time You’ll be there, the duck hunting should be nothing short of spectacular, and You have a realistic shot at bagging a bonus crane and some geese while You’re at it. Feel free to PM me or continue the thread; we’ll get You ready for the trip of a lifetime!
     
  9. JDO

    JDO Refuge Member

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    Jul 25, 2019
    Good advice! I wonder if I should bring my 20 gauge to save weight (but then again cranes, geese??!!). I'm glad to hear the tides aren't as big as Cook Inlet. I've dealt with tidal changes a lot hunting here in Oregon on the coast - it can be a pain in the *** for sure. I'm thinking not having a dog will be a serious liability. I'll have to pick a hunting spot I can wade being mindful of the tides (and creek crossings, the movie, "Into the Wild" comes to mind :oops:).

    I'm getting excited - thinking about all the possibilities - hunting ducks in the morning and fishing the rest of the long day . . . Please let me know if you have any other advice or info, like regs and limits and whatnot. I'll be researching the Alaska Fish and Game website too to get ready. . . Thanks Again!
     
  10. Tundrawookie

    Tundrawookie New Member

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    Nov 16, 2012
    Location:
    Anchorage, Alaska
    A 20 gauge should be adequate; being from Oregon, You’re used to cacklers and Taverners, and that’s what you’re going to see. Cranes aren’t particularly difficult to bring down; plenty of head, neck, and wing to hit. Pack a box of the suped-up tungsten loads and You’ll have plenty of gun for what You’re going to encounter.
    As far as retrieving birds is concerned; I don’t anticipate a lot of trouble. Unless you’re actually hunting on the tide line, literally in the saltwater; which seems unlikely if you’re after puddle ducks; you’ll almost certainly be working fresh water potholes a short walk away from the river. In that case, there’s no reason you can’t wade as far as you need to set decoys and retrieve birds. The old fishing pole trick can come in handy as well. As a last resort, the wind is always blowing out in Bristol Bay and can work in your favor.
    From a legal standpoint, our regs won’t be released until mid August; but I don’t anticipate much change. You’ll need a nonresident small game license for $60. You’ll be covered for waterfowl and ptarmigan. You’ll need a state stamp ($10), and of course, a federal stamp.
    Duck limits are simple; eight per day. Sea ducks get a bit more complicated; but it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll encounter many. Goose limits are 4 per day for little Canadas, and 4 specks. Cranes are 2 per day, and brant were 3 per day last season; unlikely to change. Oh, and ptarmigan, which should be around in decent numbers, are 20 per day.
    Funny coincidence that You’re used to hunting the Oregon coast. I grew up on the north side of the Columbia; hunting Willipa Bay and Leadbetter. Up there, when I was younger and possibly dumber, I would pay really close attention to the tide tables and get past the tidal creeks in time...or just sit and wait until the tide went back out.
    The pattern that you’re likely to see is that the birds will feed on the mud flats at first light, and then move into the fresh water ponds as the morning progresses. Unless you find yourself targeting brant,(emperor geese are off limits unless you’re one of the lucky ones that got drawn) there’s no good reason to find yourself on the tide line. Just pay attention to any creeks that you cross on your way in and read the tide tables to anticipate when the tide starts coming in and you’ll be fine. Pay attention on the day that you’re being guided and ask questions; local knowledge is invaluable. What You’re planning is highly doable, and don’t forget to have fun!
     

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