Alaska Moose Transporter Recommendations

montana1979

Junior Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2021
Messages
10
I have hunted Alaska about a ten times for most species the state offers, with three trips so far for self guided moose. My first hand impressions were as follows:

Renfros - I will say upfront they book far too many self guided hunters. It was an assembly line of people, usually 80-100 most years. When I hunted here we were stuck in Bethel with a loss of three hunting days with beautiful weather because so many hunters ahead of us had not been flown into the field. People we met were pissed off to say the least. When we did fly in we had other hunters about 2 miles on all sides of our lake. The food package we paid for was terribly minimal and 1/3 of it was past the expiration dates. We had a jar of peanut butter than was opened and half eaten by someone with spoon marks. Our pilot crashed the plane after dropping us off and picking up a group of 3 big guys to take them back to Bethel (the crash in on youtube). We did call in small bulls at first but after three days we had to leave early due to a family medical emergency. I do believe we would have killed at least one bull had we been able to stay for the rest of the hunt. The other groups we met were not picked up on time, and one posted a youtube video about his experience threatening to call Search and Rescue if they didn't come the following day, which Renfro's did. I think Wade Renfro is a good guy and would be a top choice for a guided hunt however my experience is that they were over extended with too many DIY hunters and not enough resources to take care of each group. I would recommend Papa Bear if hunting DIY out of Bethel but my understanding is that Papabear has so many inquiries they now conduct their own draw each year. Each company has significantly raised their prices as well. I believe they are $8,500 to $9,500 now pp. A benefit to hunting unit 18 is the fact there are no antler restrictions. Any bull (currently) is a legal bull where they are dropping clients. This can be a huge comfort for those not confident about judging a 50" moose or those who can't measure with their reticles.

Our second trip was with Mark Romo out of Dillingham in 2019. I have mixed feelings about Mark. Before the hunt Mark wasn't very honest with us and was down right rude over the phone which gave me reservations even going with him. As it turned out out he took more groups than he led us to believe and the area we picked in advance was later given by Mark to another group. Mark ended up dropping us at a location we did not intend to hunt because Mark happened to spot a bull 4 miles upstream the same day he flew us out (which I think was illegal for a transporter to do). The location was infested with bears and walking 4 miles upstream was soon found to be impossible due to how thick the brush and alders were in the canyon. We did find a big 60"+ bull downstream but could not kill it because it was inside a 2-mile closure that Mark did not know about when he put us on this particular lake. We asked about moving to the lake we had chosen as our back up spot but Mark didn't acknowledge. This was irritating since he did not put us where we asked initially the first time. With heavy rain and low ceilings almost daily we didn't have much of an option to move and stayed put. Unit 17 also has early season dates of Sept 5-15th. Too early to hunt rutting bulls most years which means anyone considering this unit should plan to spot and stalk and a pack out of 1-3 miles per moose on average. If you are able to hunt a large lake with a boat and motor it might be easier to simply hunt the shorelines. Another downfall was the constant checking on us by State Troopers and by the USFW in this area. We had someone land at our camp or buzz our camp nearly every day of the hunt. The equipment Mark rented us was not up to Alaska standards. We rented our camping gear and was given a 2-season REI tent that collapsed in heavy wind and rain. Mark's prices may appear to be better than his competition but keep in mind his plane requires twice as many trips as his competition, thus twice the per hour flying time compared to an operator that flies a beaver. We could have killed a respectable mid 50's legal bull near our camp but all of our gear became so soaked from relentless rains and low quality tents we chose to leave a few days early when a single day of good flying weather gave us a window to get out. Areas in 17 areas area also getting very congested which requires groups to fly in well before the Sept 5th opener to get the spot they want. My advise for anyone going with Romo is to make sure everything is in writing before the hunt, bring your own camping equipment and make sure you stick to your guns about the locations you want to hunt (but be flexible if another operator beat you to it). His family is very nice but they do charge for any before or after hunt accommodations at their house @ $200 per person per night.

This year we did another self-guided moose trip with an outfitter I took a dall sheep with in years past whom I always liked but never before did he have the extra time to take self guided moose clients. This past 2020 season he agreed to take us and to an area near the Yukon border that stays open through the 30th of September during the peak rut. This hunt was FANTASTIC! By far the best self-guided experience I have had. Despite being in the Wrangell-St. Elias park/preserve we had our own heated cabin that was grandfathered into the area. This was a HUGE luxury. This area was accessed via an airstrip and supercub and very remote. We never saw another soul and lots of wildlife including dall sheep, black and a few grizzly, lots of moose, etc. We were put in a specific spot off a small creek that bull moose funnel through during the last 10 days of September when they rut and stay up high for the winter. Another huge benefit is this area is a hard-ground area, meaning you don't need waders to hunt out of each day. In fact we never even needed our Wiggys for stream crossings. The outfitter takes a very small number of clients and every one of us killed big bulls (he was 5 for 5 this year). I was blessed with a great 64" bull and my partner took a big bull as well. Best of all, we both killed our bulls less than 500 yards from our cabin and airstrip! This allowed us to pack out each moose in only 3 loads each and in under a half day. All of our before and after hunt accommodations and meals were included, including the few days we could not fly out due to high wind and the extra time at the end of our hunt when we harvested early. Our trophy transport to Anchorage was also included. VERY honest people, very knowledgeable and one heck of a spot to kill moose right from camp. I am sorry I can't give out their name because friends and family of mine plan to book for the next few years.

My feedback is intended to be straight forward and isn't intended to smear anyone. Some on this site may have had better experiences with Renfros and Romos than we did and that is certainly something to consider when doing your own homework.
got a couple questions about your previous experiences... can you send me an email
[email protected]
 

Idahunter

Newbie
Joined
Aug 21, 2021
Messages
2
The total amount of time you should plan on average for a group of two hunters for moose including travel to/from the lower 48 is usually 14-15 days. Ten (10) actual hunting days is the minimum keeping in mind you can easily loose several days to bad weather during any part of the season in Alaska and keep in mind you cannot hunt moose or caribou on the same day you fly. If you go as a group of three I would strongly recommend extending the hunt beyond 10 days.

Some transporters and air taxi services charge a flat rate for all necessary flying regardless if you harvest a moose or not and others, particularly air taxis, may charge a per hour rate for the actual amount of flying time you total up at the end of the trip. If paying a per hour cost you should ask what type of aircraft the operator is using and what weight limitations you and your partner should plan for. Smaller aircraft like a maule, supercub, 180, etc, are cheaper per hour but almost always require twice as many trips for hunters, gear, moose meat, etc. Larger aircrafts like the beaver may be twice as expensive per hour but will do the same job in half of the flying time. Similarly, if you select a location that is twice as far away you will naturally pay twice the cost at the end of the trip. I would agree it is important to ask if there are any extra costs to fly out moose. This year my partner and paid a fixed cost of $4,000 per person plus $1,250 per harvested moose. Our base rate included meals and lodging at their main lodge, all bush flying to get us and our gear into the field and a private cabin with all necessary camping gear. The $1,250 charge per moose covered the cost to fly out our moose as well as the cost to transport our antlers to the expeditor in Anchorage after the hunt.

Our camping gear was included in our cost but quite a few operators are charging an additional fee to rent tents, camping gear, rafts, outboard motors and/or food packages. This can range from a few hundred bucks to over a thousand. I would also specifically ask if this cost is charged per person or per group. Renfros, for example, charges an extra $1,000 PER PERSON for the optional food and equipment rental. If you decide to take any of your own gear and food (which I would recommend) you can either check extra bags ($35 first bag, $45 second bag and $150 per each additional bags up to 50 pounds on United, for example) or ship via UPS or FedEx your equipment to Alaska before your arrival.

Other costs you should expect could be a rental car or a domestic flight from Anchorage the city/town the hunt is based out of. Local flights are usually a few hundred bucks or less round trip from Anchorage. For us the flight up to Anchorage out of Wyoming was about $600/rt pp.

A hunting license for non-residents is ($160) and moose tag is $800. Some areas may offer fishing opportunities or additional species like black bear or caribou so those extra licenses or tags may be another cost.

On this year's trip my partner and I only had only one hotel night stay in Anchorage that was a little over $100. In small Alaskan towns hotels or B&B's are often $200+ per night. Some are terrible at nickle and diming people and don't allow hunters to share the cost for a single room.

We paid about $400 in total for our food that we took with us for the two weeks plus in the field. This was mostly Mountain House meals for dinner plus proteins bars, coffee, jerky, etc. You should also plan to buy extra food for a few additional days beyond your scheduled pickup in the event you cannot be flown out of the field due to bad weather. Anchorage has many places to buy food and gear that were all well-stocked in mid September including Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, Sportsmans Warehouse, Walmart, etc.

We tipped a few hundred bucks for the meals and housekeeping at the outfitter's main lodge. This is subjective of course.

The only other costs for us are going to be the optional trophy shipping and expediting from Anchorage to the lower 48 that includes skull cleaning. You can avoid this by splitting your skull/antlers and taking them on the airlines in big duffle bags. I have also flown with guys who took full racks on solid skull plates as checked luggage by taping up the antlers as best as they could. If you plan to take meat home it will probably be best to have it frozen and put into coolers or even fish boxes. As long as it is under 50 pounds the extra bag fees remain the same and is generally much cheaper than shipping.

All-in-all I think I paid about $7,500 this 2020 season after adding up all expenses.

Virtually all parties with any carrier will be required to have either a satellite phone or a satellite texting device. I use a delorme/garmin in-reach for two way texting and the cost is very low. If you rent a sat phone the cost will usually be around $300 total for two weeks including shipping from the provider, the equipment and the minutes. Make sure that whatever device you bring uses the IRIDIUM sat network!

Another expense you might consider is travel insurance to protect any nonrefundable prepaid expenses like hunt deposits or commercial flights (and even licenses/tags with some insurance companies) and/or trip evacuation insurance (for medical emergencies, natural disasters and political risks in foreign countries) . Insurance averages 4% to 11% of the insured value and is usually priced based on the age of the person insured.

Lastly, you might be finding yourself buying some new gear/equipment specific to an Alaskan hunt. A few items I bought include an electric bear fence, heavy-duty 48" game bags, ultra light slip on wiggys for stream crossings, chest or waist waders for some very wet/swampy moose areas, micro spikes for hunts that may be on frozen ground (which were a must for late season hunts on Kodiak), etc. This year both my partner and I shot our moose using a triclawps rifle saddle adapter for our tripods. This allowed us to shoot up above brush and alders. This proved much more stable than shooting sticks.

From my experience AKborn is correct; most transporters or air taxi services don't care how long you stay in the field, be it 7 days, 10 days or 12 days. Be sure to ask if there is an extra fee if you choose to hunt longer than a typical schedule.

One last consideration: I would ask your transporter/outfitter/air taxi if any deposits paid in advance can be refunded or credited to the following year in the event you or your partner are covid positive and cannot travel to Alaska or any other unforeseen circumstances prevent you from travelling as planned. This may play into your decision to buy insurance or not. Some operators are much more flexible than others.

Sorry, waaaaay too long of a reply:)
Excellent write up. I would be interested in a good name to research for an air transport if you had one.
 

Panhandler80

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 31, 2019
Messages
1,049
Location
NW Florida
I have hunted Alaska about a ten times for most species the state offers, with three trips so far for self guided moose. My first hand impressions were as follows:

Renfros - I will say upfront they book far too many self guided hunters. It was an assembly line of people, usually 80-100 most years. When I hunted here we were stuck in Bethel with a loss of three hunting days with beautiful weather because so many hunters ahead of us had not been flown into the field. People we met were pissed off to say the least. When we did fly in we had other hunters about 2 miles on all sides of our lake. The food package we paid for was terribly minimal and 1/3 of it was past the expiration dates. We had a jar of peanut butter than was opened and half eaten by someone with spoon marks. Our pilot crashed the plane after dropping us off and picking up a group of 3 big guys to take them back to Bethel (the crash in on youtube). We did call in small bulls at first but after three days we had to leave early due to a family medical emergency. I do believe we would have killed at least one bull had we been able to stay for the rest of the hunt. The other groups we met were not picked up on time, and one posted a youtube video about his experience threatening to call Search and Rescue if they didn't come the following day, which Renfro's did. I think Wade Renfro is a good guy and would be a top choice for a guided hunt however my experience is that they were over extended with too many DIY hunters and not enough resources to take care of each group. I would recommend Papa Bear if hunting DIY out of Bethel but my understanding is that Papabear has so many inquiries they now conduct their own draw each year. Each company has significantly raised their prices as well. I believe they are $8,500 to $9,500 now pp. A benefit to hunting unit 18 is the fact there are no antler restrictions. Any bull (currently) is a legal bull where they are dropping clients. This can be a huge comfort for those not confident about judging a 50" moose or those who can't measure with their reticles.

Our second trip was with Mark Romo out of Dillingham in 2019. I have mixed feelings about Mark. Before the hunt Mark wasn't very honest with us and was down right rude over the phone which gave me reservations even going with him. As it turned out out he took more groups than he led us to believe and the area we picked in advance was later given by Mark to another group. Mark ended up dropping us at a location we did not intend to hunt because Mark happened to spot a bull 4 miles upstream the same day he flew us out (which I think was illegal for a transporter to do). The location was infested with bears and walking 4 miles upstream was soon found to be impossible due to how thick the brush and alders were in the canyon. We did find a big 60"+ bull downstream but could not kill it because it was inside a 2-mile closure that Mark did not know about when he put us on this particular lake. We asked about moving to the lake we had chosen as our back up spot but Mark didn't acknowledge. This was irritating since he did not put us where we asked initially the first time. With heavy rain and low ceilings almost daily we didn't have much of an option to move and stayed put. Unit 17 also has early season dates of Sept 5-15th. Too early to hunt rutting bulls most years which means anyone considering this unit should plan to spot and stalk and a pack out of 1-3 miles per moose on average. If you are able to hunt a large lake with a boat and motor it might be easier to simply hunt the shorelines. Another downfall was the constant checking on us by State Troopers and by the USFW in this area. We had someone land at our camp or buzz our camp nearly every day of the hunt. The equipment Mark rented us was not up to Alaska standards. We rented our camping gear and was given a 2-season REI tent that collapsed in heavy wind and rain. Mark's prices may appear to be better than his competition but keep in mind his plane requires twice as many trips as his competition, thus twice the per hour flying time compared to an operator that flies a beaver. We could have killed a respectable mid 50's legal bull near our camp but all of our gear became so soaked from relentless rains and low quality tents we chose to leave a few days early when a single day of good flying weather gave us a window to get out. Areas in 17 areas area also getting very congested which requires groups to fly in well before the Sept 5th opener to get the spot they want. My advise for anyone going with Romo is to make sure everything is in writing before the hunt, bring your own camping equipment and make sure you stick to your guns about the locations you want to hunt (but be flexible if another operator beat you to it). His family is very nice but they do charge for any before or after hunt accommodations at their house @ $200 per person per night.

This year we did another self-guided moose trip with an outfitter I took a dall sheep with in years past whom I always liked but never before did he have the extra time to take self guided moose clients. This past 2020 season he agreed to take us and to an area near the Yukon border that stays open through the 30th of September during the peak rut. This hunt was FANTASTIC! By far the best self-guided experience I have had. Despite being in the Wrangell-St. Elias park/preserve we had our own heated cabin that was grandfathered into the area. This was a HUGE luxury. This area was accessed via an airstrip and supercub and very remote. We never saw another soul and lots of wildlife including dall sheep, black and a few grizzly, lots of moose, etc. We were put in a specific spot off a small creek that bull moose funnel through during the last 10 days of September when they rut and stay up high for the winter. Another huge benefit is this area is a hard-ground area, meaning you don't need waders to hunt out of each day. In fact we never even needed our Wiggys for stream crossings. The outfitter takes a very small number of clients and every one of us killed big bulls (he was 5 for 5 this year). I was blessed with a great 64" bull and my partner took a big bull as well. Best of all, we both killed our bulls less than 500 yards from our cabin and airstrip! This allowed us to pack out each moose in only 3 loads each and in under a half day. All of our before and after hunt accommodations and meals were included, including the few days we could not fly out due to high wind and the extra time at the end of our hunt when we harvested early. Our trophy transport to Anchorage was also included. VERY honest people, very knowledgeable and one heck of a spot to kill moose right from camp. I am sorry I can't give out their name because friends and family of mine plan to book for the next few years.

My feedback is intended to be straight forward and isn't intended to smear anyone. Some on this site may have had better experiences with Renfros and Romos than we did and that is certainly something to consider when doing your own homework.
Whoa. 17B sounds like a real treat! Especially the multiple visits from LEOs. That’s crazy. We likely hunting 17B next year. Hopefully some areas are better than others.
 

Larry Bartlett

Well Known Rokslider
Rokslide Sponsor
Joined
Feb 13, 2013
Messages
1,213
Arrowhead is under new management. I think they have a bit to overcome but seem caring enough to get howard's damage improved upon. I haven't heard anything negative from hunters and only comments pilots who know of them. Sometimes no news is a bit of good news.

Woodchuck, don't stir the pot unless you want tar on your hands pal. My dislike for Sessions behavior has nothing to do with you, sir. I've had plenty of products "improved upon" by others in good ways, and I've given away designs to worthy companies so they can cultivate profit and innovation. What he did was straight up unethical not innovative. Big difference in my book between an improvement and a lame copy.

I've heard two separate groups passing through Fairbanks after their hunts give rave reviews about God's Country, but I have not met the owner yet.
 

BaylorBowhunter

Junior Member
Joined
May 5, 2020
Messages
25
My hunting partner and I are booked with Papa Bear for September 2022. we researched hard starting 2 years out, looked over a list of ~20 outfitters, emailed with ~15 of them and then had phone calls with ~10 of them. the ticket so far for us was a combination of proven results, references feedback, and the outfitters communication skills. If your spending $10K plus on one of these adventures they should be able to email and call you and paint a picture of what to expect.
The summary of what we observed in our research was:

  1. Renfro's doesn't book direct so you can't talk to who you will be outfitted by (they use all the booking agents)
  2. Willow Air - might be killing big moose - salty personality and no cheaper by the time you factor in transportation to McGrath
  3. 60 inch club - we never could wrap our minds around what their value proposition was. They aren't actually providing anything tangible because the pilot doesn't work for them and can't always drop you in the spot that 60 inch designates.
  4. 40 mile air - I'm sure it would be good and would be economical but good luck getting on the list
  5. Tok air - has an attitude of "his way or the high way" - he acts like he is doing you a favor
  6. Gods country aviation - probably offers the best ridge top hunt - and the price and demand for him reflects it
  7. Arrow head - to an earlier point I think the business was trading while we were doing our research so we couldn't ever get contacted back and once we did he confessed very low success for that preceding year
  8. Alaska pike safaris - this is probably at the top of the list - he just doesn't specialize in fly in hunts
  9. Bear & Buck adventures - just not an adventure hunt more of a cabin based deal
There were a few others that just didn't stand out one way or another or weren't what we were looking for.
 
Joined
Feb 27, 2022
Messages
1
I have hunted Alaska about a ten times for most species the state offers, with three trips so far for self guided moose. My first hand impressions were as follows:

Renfros - I will say upfront they book far too many self guided hunters. It was an assembly line of people, usually 80-100 most years. When I hunted here we were stuck in Bethel with a loss of three hunting days with beautiful weather because so many hunters ahead of us had not been flown into the field. People we met were pissed off to say the least. When we did fly in we had other hunters about 2 miles on all sides of our lake. The food package we paid for was terribly minimal and 1/3 of it was past the expiration dates. We had a jar of peanut butter than was opened and half eaten by someone with spoon marks. Our pilot crashed the plane after dropping us off and picking up a group of 3 big guys to take them back to Bethel (the crash in on youtube). We did call in small bulls at first but after three days we had to leave early due to a family medical emergency. I do believe we would have killed at least one bull had we been able to stay for the rest of the hunt. The other groups we met were not picked up on time, and one posted a youtube video about his experience threatening to call Search and Rescue if they didn't come the following day, which Renfro's did. I think Wade Renfro is a good guy and would be a top choice for a guided hunt however my experience is that they were over extended with too many DIY hunters and not enough resources to take care of each group. I would recommend Papa Bear if hunting DIY out of Bethel but my understanding is that Papabear has so many inquiries they now conduct their own draw each year. Each company has significantly raised their prices as well. I believe they are $8,500 to $9,500 now pp. A benefit to hunting unit 18 is the fact there are no antler restrictions. Any bull (currently) is a legal bull where they are dropping clients. This can be a huge comfort for those not confident about judging a 50" moose or those who can't measure with their reticles.

Our second trip was with Mark Romo out of Dillingham in 2019. I have mixed feelings about Mark. Before the hunt Mark wasn't very honest with us and was down right rude over the phone which gave me reservations even going with him. As it turned out out he took more groups than he led us to believe and the area we picked in advance was later given by Mark to another group. Mark ended up dropping us at a location we did not intend to hunt because Mark happened to spot a bull 4 miles upstream the same day he flew us out (which I think was illegal for a transporter to do). The location was infested with bears and walking 4 miles upstream was soon found to be impossible due to how thick the brush and alders were in the canyon. We did find a big 60"+ bull downstream but could not kill it because it was inside a 2-mile closure that Mark did not know about when he put us on this particular lake. We asked about moving to the lake we had chosen as our back up spot but Mark didn't acknowledge. This was irritating since he did not put us where we asked initially the first time. With heavy rain and low ceilings almost daily we didn't have much of an option to move and stayed put. Unit 17 also has early season dates of Sept 5-15th. Too early to hunt rutting bulls most years which means anyone considering this unit should plan to spot and stalk and a pack out of 1-3 miles per moose on average. If you are able to hunt a large lake with a boat and motor it might be easier to simply hunt the shorelines. Another downfall was the constant checking on us by State Troopers and by the USFW in this area. We had someone land at our camp or buzz our camp nearly every day of the hunt. The equipment Mark rented us was not up to Alaska standards. We rented our camping gear and was given a 2-season REI tent that collapsed in heavy wind and rain. Mark's prices may appear to be better than his competition but keep in mind his plane requires twice as many trips as his competition, thus twice the per hour flying time compared to an operator that flies a beaver. We could have killed a respectable mid 50's legal bull near our camp but all of our gear became so soaked from relentless rains and low quality tents we chose to leave a few days early when a single day of good flying weather gave us a window to get out. Areas in 17 areas area also getting very congested which requires groups to fly in well before the Sept 5th opener to get the spot they want. My advise for anyone going with Romo is to make sure everything is in writing before the hunt, bring your own camping equipment and make sure you stick to your guns about the locations you want to hunt (but be flexible if another operator beat you to it). His family is very nice but they do charge for any before or after hunt accommodations at their house @ $200 per person per night.

This year we did another self-guided moose trip with an outfitter I took a dall sheep with in years past whom I always liked but never before did he have the extra time to take self guided moose clients. This past 2020 season he agreed to take us and to an area near the Yukon border that stays open through the 30th of September during the peak rut. This hunt was FANTASTIC! By far the best self-guided experience I have had. Despite being in the Wrangell-St. Elias park/preserve we had our own heated cabin that was grandfathered into the area. This was a HUGE luxury. This area was accessed via an airstrip and supercub and very remote. We never saw another soul and lots of wildlife including dall sheep, black and a few grizzly, lots of moose, etc. We were put in a specific spot off a small creek that bull moose funnel through during the last 10 days of September when they rut and stay up high for the winter. Another huge benefit is this area is a hard-ground area, meaning you don't need waders to hunt out of each day. In fact we never even needed our Wiggys for stream crossings. The outfitter takes a very small number of clients and every one of us killed big bulls (he was 5 for 5 this year). I was blessed with a great 64" bull and my partner took a big bull as well. Best of all, we both killed our bulls less than 500 yards from our cabin and airstrip! This allowed us to pack out each moose in only 3 loads each and in under a half day. All of our before and after hunt accommodations and meals were included, including the few days we could not fly out due to high wind and the extra time at the end of our hunt when we harvested early. Our trophy transport to Anchorage was also included. VERY honest people, very knowledgeable and one heck of a spot to kill moose right from camp. I am sorry I can't give out their name because friends and family of mine plan to book for the next few years.

My feedback is intended to be straight forward and isn't intended to smear anyone. Some on this site may have had better experiences with Renfros and Romos than we did and that is certainly something to consider when doing your own homework.
Going back to Renfro's this fall. ( I agree it is very hectic, but lots of moose) As you know moose hunting is very addictive, I am interested in your hunt with the cabin and the area. Can you give me outfitter info?

Kevin
 

infantry379

Junior Member
Joined
May 5, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Texas
My hunting partner and I are booked with Papa Bear for September 2022. we researched hard starting 2 years out, looked over a list of ~20 outfitters, emailed with ~15 of them and then had phone calls with ~10 of them. the ticket so far for us was a combination of proven results, references feedback, and the outfitters communication skills. If your spending $10K plus on one of these adventures they should be able to email and call you and paint a picture of what to expect.
The summary of what we observed in our research was:

  1. Renfro's doesn't book direct so you can't talk to who you will be outfitted by (they use all the booking agents)
  2. Willow Air - might be killing big moose - salty personality and no cheaper by the time you factor in transportation to McGrath
  3. 60 inch club - we never could wrap our minds around what their value proposition was. They aren't actually providing anything tangible because the pilot doesn't work for them and can't always drop you in the spot that 60 inch designates.
  4. 40 mile air - I'm sure it would be good and would be economical but good luck getting on the list
  5. Tok air - has an attitude of "his way or the high way" - he acts like he is doing you a favor
  6. Gods country aviation - probably offers the best ridge top hunt - and the price and demand for him reflects it
  7. Arrow head - to an earlier point I think the business was trading while we were doing our research so we couldn't ever get contacted back and once we did he confessed very low success for that preceding year
  8. Alaska pike safaris - this is probably at the top of the list - he just doesn't specialize in fly in hunts
  9. Bear & Buck adventures - just not an adventure hunt more of a cabin based deal
There were a few others that just didn't stand out one way or another or weren't what we were looking for.
Interested to know how your hunt with Papa Bear turned out.
 

infantry379

Junior Member
Joined
May 5, 2020
Messages
10
Location
Texas
Going back to Renfro's this fall. ( I agree it is very hectic, but lots of moose) As you know moose hunting is very addictive, I am interested in your hunt with the cabin and the area. Can you give me outfitter info?

Kevin
Also interested to know how your return trip with Renfro’s this fall went.
 

Scottf270

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 26, 2017
Messages
143
Location
Missouri
I'll chime in. My second hunt with Papa Bear this year went great as usual. I killed a 63" bull. My partner was overwhelmed at times and had some health episodes and I couldn't hunt as aggressive as I wanted.

There was some issues with Renfro's dropping people in spots Justin thought they had agreed on. I hope He and Wade get things worked out. Conflict wastes time and money and could start to affect hunter satisfaction and damage the resource.

I will say Papa Bear has great lodging facilities that they own. Great place to stay and regroup after returning from the field. We stayed an extra day at no charge and enjoyed talking with other groups. If I hunt moose again, it will be with Papa Bear.

I met two guys from my hometown who hunted with Gods Country Aviation this year. They killed two good bulls and had a good trip. A guy from here in 2021 killed a 70" plus bull that is number 15 in the world with them....a beast.
 

BaylorBowhunter

Junior Member
Joined
May 5, 2020
Messages
25
We had an absolutely epic adventure! I cannot say enough good things about Justin and his team at Papa Bear. Both my hunting partner and I harvested respectable bulls and were pleased with our success.

We landed in Alaska during a typhoon and had to spend 2 nights at the lodge before going out in the field, the lodge was great and all the other hunters we met were good guys as well. This was our 4th trip to Alaska (first moose hunt) and all prior trips went smoothly with the airline but on this one Alaska Airlines lost/delayed the rifle(s) by 1 day and one duffle bag by 2 days. It ended up working ok since we were socked in by the weather at the lodge anyway. Probably only cost us a 1/2 day's time getting into the field.

We booked a float hunt with Justin and according to him we had one of his "most adventurous hunts" we went into it knowing that moose hunting is work, and fun work and it was every bit as hard as people said! Even simple camp chores take more time that you think. That's what makes the reward so great.

Justin went the extra mile for us by flying us out some additional supplies to remedy a situation caused by a miscommunication surrounding set up of the Zodiac that could have easily been deemed hunter error. But he spent extra time, labor and money to ensure that we had a great hunt!

couple key notes or high points:

We had 3 opportunities at trophy bulls in 9 days of hunting and we capitalized on 2 of those 3. I had a smaller bull ~40 inches at 40 yards while bow hunting on the first day and passed on that opportunity. I ended up harvesting on the last morning with a rifle.

We used a Seek Outside Cimarron tent and loved it. It would have been nice to have a larger version but the key is a floorless hot tent. It was so nice to be able to bring boots inside the tent as well as warm up in the morning before putting on frozen waders. (bring fire starter sticks! Everything is wet and hard to burn in AK)

We saved weight by doing all mountain house type meals and using Jet boil. We did not take the Colman propane stove PBA provides. (Side note on that... skip the Heathers choice and go with Peak refuel). We also brought a small frying pan and some oil, salt, & pepper to cook up tenderloin in the field. It was delicious!

We took a come-along winch for winching a harvested moose out of the water and aid in the quartering process. It was a lifesaver since my buddy's moose died in about 8 inches of water.

Justin's team is so squared away for packaging up your meat and antlers for the flight home with all the supplies you need. One lesson learned on that is that you must fly your antlers home as air cargo but you could fly the meat boxes home as checked luggage. You might want to price compare extra bags at $100 each vs shipping. Air cargo is charged on a combination of weight and demission's. Luggage is charged a flat $100 up to 100 LBS.

Happy hunting!
 

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