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40 Mile Air, like winning lottery.

VernAK

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Dec 24, 2012
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Delta Jct, Alaska
Kevin has it pegged again!

Let me add a few random thoughts:

I know owners/pilots of several bush carriers and they all have wild tales of the new client that was unprepared to spend a week
in the wilds. Not just their gear but their mental attitude. I've talked to many first time fly-in hunters and they seem to think if they don't
like it or the weather turns bad, they'll just call for an early out. It seldom works that way. I've spent many days waiting for weather to break.
Years back, a planned one week on AKPen turned into 18 days of screaming winds and rain.

Remember....if you should call the Rescue Center for emergency heli evac, your gear stays in the bush.

The long established flight services have been seeking landing locations and improving them for decades. Some started right after WWII.
A new flight service may dump you in another's strip and now both parties are pissed off.
 

cocky84

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Dec 28, 2015
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Albany Missouri
Should of clarified, my experience was last year. Thinking about blacktail on kodiak this year.

- - - Updated - - -

You hunting caribou again, or moose? I got in at 8:12 on December 1, going for caribou next fall.
Should of clarified, my experience was last year. Thinking about blacktail on kodiak this year.
 

adam634

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Dec 6, 2015
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As a service-oriented business owner myself, I know one of the top commandments is to retain existing customers and minimize turnover. It makes far more business sense to reload with clients who have been with you and are a known entity in terms of their needs, personalities, dependability, and payment. It makes the business run much more smoothly versus bringing on a significant number of new people who (probably) will have more questions and likely produce more bumps throughout the process. Those of us who fly & hunt every single season know how things work with a given pilot or transporter. We go in with few questions and understand the routine. My pilot typically talks with me about my itinerary and that's it. He knows I'll show up with the right amount of the right gear. We've known each other many years and there's a level of trust and understanding. I do what I can to make his job easier and less problematic. I like it when we chat casually during the flight into camp. He drops me off with a smile and says "Okay...see you on the 23rd. Good luck!"

With diy caribou and moose becoming more popular, there is a lot of demand (and competition) for transport services with the good pilots and companies. It's hard to get a seat at the table. Once there, many guys return for years knowing they'll have to hunt or risk losing their place to the next guy in line. A friend of mine did something like 20+ consecutive years of fly-in hunts...diy...in AK. Another factor for returning hunters may be location preference. First-time (with a pilot) clients probably aren't going to into the top areas with highest odds and best setups. But go enough times and they might be able to bump up to better area if an opening happens. That's how it's been for me. I've been dropped in 5 different areas the past 11 years, and I'm currently hunting a location I could only once dream about. In this case I'm referring to moose hunting, but the same principle applies for caribou.

Seems like you either have to get lucky or work your butt off (maybe for years) to get your chance. My thinking is along the lines of working hard today and going forward. If luck intervenes....you're a winner.
I kinda get what you’re saying but at the same time I’m confused because at one point those returning customers were once a new customers with all the questions and probable bumps in the road
 

slick

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.
I kinda get what you’re saying but at the same time I’m confused because at one point those returning customers were once a new customers with all the questions and probable bumps in the road
You’re certainly right about that, but it makes more sense to hold on to returning customers (if you can), especially a good outfit. If you can’t fill a spot with a previous client, then you obviously open the door for a new one, but it makes more sense from a business standpoint to fill your bookings with returns.
 

Kevin Dill

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I kinda get what you’re saying but at the same time I’m confused because at one point those returning customers were once a new customers with all the questions and probable bumps in the road
You are 100% correct that all the returning clients were once first-timers. I was too. The basics are that any good flight service wants as many returning clients as possible. It makes no business sense for them to give an established client’s place to a new client. I wouldn’t turn away one of my long term clients to take on a new one, but if I had an opening....definitely yes. I have no numbers to rely on....only guess at, but no flight service runs 100% on returning customers year after year. Some attrition occurs, and maybe it’s between 5 and 20 percent. If no past customers want those openings they will put a new client in that space. It’s why guys get late offers to go sometimes. A client cancels late for some reason and suddenly your phone rings.

Just keep in mind this isn’t a conspiracy against new guys. It’s a very logical way to run their business with maximum certainty and minimum problems. But it does cause a lot of would-be hunters to grow disheartened and finally give up.
 

robie

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Mar 7, 2013
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Houston, TX
Got the lucky phone call. My group got a spot Caribou hunting August 12th.

A group backed out and the spot is now ours.

Hopefully some of you are high in the wait list and will get the same call.

Extremely excited about this trip.

Sent from my SM-G892U using Tapatalk
 

tdhanses

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So do you guys pay a deposit? Also do clients that back out get knocked off the list? I surely wouldn’t want to be offering up a limited spot to someone that backs out unless there is a really good reason.
 

robie

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So do you guys pay a deposit?

Also do clients that back out get knocked off the list?

I surely wouldn’t want to be offering up a limited spot to someone that backs out unless there is a really good reason.
We have 3 weeks to send in our deposit and forms.

Not sure I understand your questions.
- Are you asking if they get knocked off the returning client list?

You wouldn't want to be offering up a limited spot to someone that back out???
-they have a finite number of spots, I got one where they decided not to send in the deposit because they couldn't make the trip this year.

last year two groups backed out due to medical issues.
 

tdhanses

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We have 3 weeks to send in our deposit and forms.

Not sure I understand your questions.
- Are you asking if they get knocked off the returning client list?

You wouldn't want to be offering up a limited spot to someone that back out???
-they have a finite number of spots, I got one where they decided not to send in the deposit because they couldn't make the trip this year.

last year two groups backed out due to medical issues.
Yeah just wondering if in future years are they still on the list.
 

Kevin Dill

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Whether the group (that backed out) gets on the priority list again next year probably has much to do with their history and longevity at 40 Mile Air.
 

Murphy

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May 3, 2016
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Zach at tok air flew us in last fall. No issues besides losing a couple days on front end due to weather. He is expensive for sure but treated us right.
 

thinhorn_AK

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Sounds rough. Glad I have friends with plains who are willing to fly me around (within reason) for the cost of fuel and beer and often are more than likely going on the same hunt with me. We’re going for caribou in an area that’s really like a 15-20 minute flight from here.
 
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