Bad experience with Transporter

Merc

Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
97
Location
Anchorage
This was my 3rd fly out caribou hunt, and the first in a completely new area, style, and with a different transporter.

My coworker and I have been planning this hunt for the past 4 years. We had our drop and pickup planned with a pilot who unfortunately died in a mid air accident early last summer so we scrambled and got set up with Kavik Aviation. We were told our River selection and strips would be fine despite switching from a 185 to a 206. As well as our pilot, who would be the owner who had been flying in the Brooks range the previous year. All of those turned out to be lies.

We drove up to Fairbanks the day before and were in communication with the actual pilot (younger kid who was safe and had a little experience flying a super cub for an outfitter) who’d told us in the morning we were meeting at 0800 for a 0830 departure. At 2200 the night before he calls to inform us that he had been scouting our strips that day in a cub and they were too short for him to bring the 206 in/out of. Fine, (I’m a pilot, I get it) when we asked about other options he found along the River he didn’t scout anything else out, and the owner was there in Fairbanks when he landed and took the 206 from him to fulfill other contracts so getting us into another location wasn’t possible anyway. At that point we’d had a contract for that date to get out in for over a year with the River named and the strip grids given. Why wait until the day before to scout a strip? Why pull the plane from your pilot on a contracted flight? It went so far as the pilot was so distraught in being stuck in the middle that he was giving us other outfits phone numbers to see if anyone could salvage our trip.

We did end up getting out in on a different River, set in on top of an outfitter and guide with 3 other camps set up along the first 10miles of the River, a homestead we knew nothing about (pilot knew about all of it and never said a word to us about any of it until it was too late) who left us a note that we were camped in their back yard from their jet boat. When we called for our scheduled and promised back haul of meat, the pilot didn’t have the plane again, the owner had taken it. Come to find out, about every 4-5 days to work his other obligations. So we came out early to ensure we could get out of the field and take care of the meat bulls I shot.

As a commercial pilot and pilot in Alaska myself I was absolutely disgusted at the way we were treated and the way this operation worked. I can in no good faith recommend anyone use Kavik Aviation or the services of Jamie Hastings or Blue River Aviation. I use real names because I have nothing to hide, nor do I want anyone else to come to Alaska and have to deal with the issues we did.

In true Alaskan hospitality, when I was telling a friend about what we went through, he offered to take us Halibut fishing so my buddy didn’t go home empty handed.
 

mooster

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 2, 2018
Messages
566
This was my 3rd fly out caribou hunt, and the first in a completely new area, style, and with a different transporter.

My coworker and I have been planning this hunt for the past 4 years. We had our drop and pickup planned with a pilot who unfortunately died in a mid air accident early last summer so we scrambled and got set up with Kavik Aviation. We were told our River selection and strips would be fine despite switching from a 185 to a 206. As well as our pilot, who would be the owner who had been flying in the Brooks range the previous year. All of those turned out to be lies.

We drove up to Fairbanks the day before and were in communication with the actual pilot (younger kid who was safe and had a little experience flying a super cub for an outfitter) who’d told us in the morning we were meeting at 0800 for a 0830 departure. At 2200 the night before he calls to inform us that he had been scouting our strips that day in a cub and they were too short for him to bring the 206 in/out of. Fine, (I’m a pilot, I get it) when we asked about other options he found along the River he didn’t scout anything else out, and the owner was there in Fairbanks when he landed and took the 206 from him to fulfill other contracts so getting us into another location wasn’t possible anyway. At that point we’d had a contract for that date to get out in for over a year with the River named and the strip grids given. Why wait until the day before to scout a strip? Why pull the plane from your pilot on a contracted flight? It went so far as the pilot was so distraught in being stuck in the middle that he was giving us other outfits phone numbers to see if anyone could salvage our trip.

We did end up getting out in on a different River, set in on top of an outfitter and guide with 3 other camps set up along the first 10miles of the River, a homestead we knew nothing about (pilot knew about all of it and never said a word to us about any of it until it was too late) who left us a note that we were camped in their back yard from their jet boat. When we called for our scheduled and promised back haul of meat, the pilot didn’t have the plane again, the owner had taken it. Come to find out, about every 4-5 days to work his other obligations. So we came out early to ensure we could get out of the field and take care of the meat bulls I shot.

As a commercial pilot and pilot in Alaska myself I was absolutely disgusted at the way we were treated and the way this operation worked. I can in no good faith recommend anyone use Kavik Aviation or the services of Jamie Hastings or Blue River Aviation. I use real names because I have nothing to hide, nor do I want anyone else to come to Alaska and have to deal with the issues we did.

In true Alaskan hospitality, when I was telling a friend about what we went through, he offered to take us Halibut fishing so my buddy didn’t go home empty handed.
holy cow, that's a horrible experience. sorry you had to endure that, what a disappointment and waste of time, energy, and money. wow, 4 years waiting for such a nightmare. hopefully you've spared others the same misery & loss.
 

Iceman82

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2021
Messages
36
Location
MN
Thank you for your honesty and review. I believe more people need to do this. There are great people and great services out there and we need to let people know.
 

adamkolesar

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Mar 9, 2019
Messages
165
Location
Adirondacks
The demand for these hunts has really overwhelmed marginal operations trying to cash in and created opportunity for predatory transporters in search of a quick buck; All of which pressures the handful of reputable companies. Thank you for posting specific problems and naming names. Regrettably there is no worry about repeat business when the demand is so great. It's particularly sad that what appears to be a reasonable "plan b" is a willful fabrication on the part of the transporter. This story is yet another version of every working hunter's nightmare.
 

z987k

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 9, 2020
Messages
920
Location
AK
As a commercial pilot and pilot in Alaska myself

Not to take away from this, but there's an easy solution. Go buy a plane or get one of your 100 coworkers with one to drop you somewhere.

But seriously. Plane. Buy one.

On another note, why did you choose Blue River?
 

Kevin Dill

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
3,087
The really bad thing: There are hundreds (if not thousands) of lower-48 hunters wanting to do a transport x diy caribou or moose hunt...and they have no way of knowing whether they're talking to a good or bad operator. When desperation sets in due to a lack of opportunities, a guy might be more willing to take a risk...to read things into a deal that just aren't there.

Transporting hunters is a very complex deal for even the best and most accomplished outfits. The logistics and management of people, planes, weather, schedules and myriad other things is extremely demanding. A new (or questionable) operation can easily get in over their heads and then just bounce from problem to problem, leaving many hunters less than satisfied. Any good pilot and outfit is constantly looking ahead and planning for contingencies...as many options as possible...and giving themselves room to make adjustments.

It may seem like the only option is to book with a new or questionable transporter, versus not going. Just understand that it's a definite risk and often NOT a good one unless you are one of the lucky few. Feeling lucky enough to risk $3,000 to $6,000 with someone whose honesty and abilities you know nothing about?
 

DFloTN

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2016
Messages
49
A new (or questionable) operation can easily get in over their heads and then just bounce from problem to problem, leaving many hunters less than satisfied. Any good pilot and outfit is constantly looking ahead and planning for contingencies...as many options as possible...and giving themselves room to make adjustments.

I think that perfectly sums up my frustration with our transporter this year. We understood weather could be an issue. We understood we had to be flexible on dates. What irritated everybody was that, when things got squirrelly, the first response (as far as we could tell) was to blast out frantic, nonsense emails simply cancelling all their trips.

This was followed by more nonsense emails suggesting that their clients were simply mad they couldn't control the weather. I'm still not sure they realize that everyone was mad because their entire operation was derailed by conditions that other transporters seem to have worked through with only minor inconveniences.
 

Bmagee

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 24, 2019
Messages
124
I hope the 2 guys we met on a gravel bar this year chime in on their experience!
 

SpringM1A

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 28, 2018
Messages
129
Location
NV
They have to do better else i will bot bring my business to them.
 

Sourdough

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Oct 23, 2013
Messages
479
Location
In a cabin, on a mountain, in "Wilderness" Alaska.
I think that perfectly sums up my frustration with our transporter this year. We understood weather could be an issue. We understood we had to be flexible on dates. What irritated everybody was that, when things got squirrelly, the first response (as far as we could tell) was to blast out frantic, nonsense emails simply cancelling all their trips.

This was followed by more nonsense emails suggesting that their clients were simply mad they couldn't control the weather. I'm still not sure they realize that everyone was mad because their entire operation was derailed by conditions that other transporters seem to have worked through with only minor inconveniences.
I am a commercial Pilot, spent many-many decades (roughly four) flying and working as a Registered Guide for many operations (Never Transporter Operations) You summed it up good.

What bewilders me is that they now charge more for a do it yourself, drop-off Caribou hunt then we charged for a four species "Fully Guided" hunt (with near 100% success) back in the 70's and 80's. Hunters harvested Brown Bear, Black Bear, Moose, Caribou. There were so many Caribou, that the Caribou made it difficult to hunt other species.
 

z987k

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Sep 9, 2020
Messages
920
Location
AK
I am a commercial Pilot, spent many-many decades (roughly four) flying and working as a Registered Guide for many operations (Never Transporter Operations) You summed it up good.

What bewilders me is that they now charge more for a do it yourself, drop-off Caribou hunt then we charged for a four species "Fully Guided" hunt (with near 100% success) back in the 70's and 80's. Hunters harvested Brown Bear, Black Bear, Moose, Caribou. There were so many Caribou, that the Caribou made it difficult to hunt other species.
The drop in game in the last 20 years has been very large.

It's still the case that if you can't kill a caribou(or 10) with an airplane you just need to stop hunting... assuming you flew it in. People paying can't control where a 135(134.5) puts them.
 

VernAK

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Dec 24, 2012
Messages
1,731
Location
Delta Jct, Alaska
I am a commercial Pilot, spent many-many decades (roughly four) flying and working as a Registered Guide for many operations (Never Transporter Operations) You summed it up good.

What bewilders me is that they now charge more for a do it yourself, drop-off Caribou hunt then we charged for a four species "Fully Guided" hunt (with near 100% success) back in the 70's and 80's. Hunters harvested Brown Bear, Black Bear, Moose, Caribou. There were so many Caribou, that the Caribou made it difficult to hunt other species.
The escalation of hunt prices is the same as the current inflation in our economy: too much money chasing too little product...........and I see the product [Alaska wildlife] dwindling rapidly.
 

boliver29

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jan 27, 2021
Messages
105
I edited my post. Jaimie contacted me and said he’d refund my money so he does have some integrity. Maybe it was all weather and flooding. Just a all around bad situation. Not a lot of experience with backcountry hunting. After talking to several other hunt planners pilots shouldn’t have to deal with the stuff he did.
 
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