Kodiak blacktail hunt info

Fonkie

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Dec 13, 2014
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Hunting Sitka Blacktail on Kodiak has been on my realistic bucket list for years & we’ve decided to make it happen in ‘22. I am hoping to get a bunch of questions answered by the numerous guys here that have been there.

1) We want to do a fly in hunt either in a cabin or tent camp. A cabin with heat sounds appealing if the weather is foul but am wondering how the hunting from a cabin will be compared to a tent camp rental scenario? We don’t mind covering ground & would consider bringing spike camps to overnight out away from the cabin to locate bigger & more bucks. A electric fence rental might be required for this?

2) Approximately how much per person does the plane trip from Kodiak into a cabin or backcountry location cost? We were wondering if we could do a diy hunt for $3000 a guy coming from Washington?

3) We’re thinking late October-early November to hunt the rut. How many days should we allow ourselves to hunt with 3 or 4 people & 2 tags each?

4) Anybody have experience with the f&g cabins or any private rentals? How difficult is it to secure reservations & was it a good experience?

5) How much extra cost is there getting a couple deer home to Wa on the airlines?

Any other tips & details would be welcome & appreciated
 

pods8

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Planning a 2020 can comment on a couple:
2) The bush flight depends on distance, for a price point check its $3300 round trip to the SW corner of the island in a 1200lb capacity beaver.

5) Fly alaskan air, they are the most generous on baggage allowances. Bags 1 & 2 can be 50lb for the normal fee (one free if you have the credit card) to account for rifle case and gear bag. After that load up wax boxes with frozen meat up to 100lb for $100ea, they don't double up extra baggage and overweight baggage fees like other airlines so go ahead and load heavy the excess bags.
 
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Fonkie

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$3300? Is that for as many people & gear that will fit? That seems pretty steep from what I’ve read.🤔
 

Sundance

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That time of year I'd personally suggest a cabin over a tent. Rain and cold nights with shorter daylight hours. You can definitely make a tipi w/ a stove work, I guess it depends on how much you want to rough it. I'd suggest looking at a charter boat, that way you can move from bay to bay if one area isn't producing. You can also pick a spot where the mail plane flies into, that way you can meet the boat on sight and save travel/weather time. Alaska airlines is your best et, se airmiles or a companion fare to save on costs. Most* sitka racks will fit in a waxed fish box with frozen meat or in a large duffle surrounded by clothes. $3000 per person is do-able, it also depends on how many tags per person you are looking to buy.
 

Nick Muche

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1) Tent is not bad, just make sure you have a good one (Think Arctic Oven) and a heater is a plus. No need to spike out, but would sure be nice to have the option. I've used electric fences on some trips and haven't on others. If it'll bring you peace of mind, go for it, but in the end if a bear wants to get in, they will.

2) $3000 is pretty standard for a Beaver to the South End. That's 1200 lbs to include body weight of humans and all your gear. We fit 4 guys in a Beaver load a few weeks ago and had 120lbs to spare.

3) Late Oct/Early Nov is the best, imo... If you are rifle hunting, you could each shoot a buck a piece per day if weather allows, without much trouble. I'd figure 2 bucks per day for a group of 4, if you are not overly picky. The most I've shot in one day is 3 and that was before noon and two were with a bow. One boned out buck in your day pack is not heavy, two is getting there.

4) Cabins are fine, but hunting pressure will be concentrated near and around them for most of the season. Not hard to rent either, just do it as soon as you can or are allowed. I'd opt for tent.

5) If your airport allows Alaska Air Cargo, you could ship all your meat back through Alaska Air Cargo, along with your gear for a reasonable price. Or just pack them in nice Totes and get them frozen, take as baggage and pay the fees.
 
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Fonkie

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Thanks so much for the info so far guys. It sounds like it should be very doable cost wise & didn’t really understand how the floatplane worked as a charter.

I forgot to ask about footwear on a deer hunt. Is a guy ok in regular hunting boots or do you need rubber boots of some sort? Hiking miles in rubber boots may have me trying to find a bear to put me out of my misery after a couple days!😂

I’m sure I’ll think of other questions as the days go by. Thanks again for the info so far.👍🏻
 

AK Troutbum

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Apr 22, 2012
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Chugiak, Alaska
Hunting Sitka Blacktail on Kodiak has been on my realistic bucket list for years & we’ve decided to make it happen in ‘22. I am hoping to get a bunch of questions answered by the numerous guys here that have been there.

1) We want to do a fly in hunt either in a cabin or tent camp. A cabin with heat sounds appealing if the weather is foul but am wondering how the hunting from a cabin will be compared to a tent camp rental scenario? We don’t mind covering ground & would consider bringing spike camps to overnight out away from the cabin to locate bigger & more bucks. A electric fence rental might be required for this?

2) Approximately how much per person does the plane trip from Kodiak into a cabin or backcountry location cost? We were wondering if we could do a diy hunt for $3000 a guy coming from Washington?

3) We’re thinking late October-early November to hunt the rut. How many days should we allow ourselves to hunt with 3 or 4 people & 2 tags each?

4) Anybody have experience with the f&g cabins or any private rentals? How difficult is it to secure reservations & was it a good experience?

5) How much extra cost is there getting a couple deer home to Wa on the airlines?

Any other tips & details would be welcome & appreciated
1) I don't have any experience with cabin rental on Kodiak, so I can't speak to that, but having a nice big, comfortable, hot camp in a remote location is totally doable, and there would probably be no need to spike out for bigger bucks. A bear fence is not required, but IMO, they're nice to have and they do work for their intended purpose.

2) Cost for flying around on the island varies according to how far/long the flight is. You would want to fly towards the southern part of the island for the better deer hunting, and generally speaking, the hunting tends to be better the further south you go (but this is not always the case). 3 people plus gear for that time of year is doable in a beaver and I would say that yes, you could easily do that hunt coming from WA, with 3 people and $9,000. 4 people and gear would require another bush flight and the cost would go up considerably, although I think it would still be doable (4 people, $12,000). Again, dependent on the length of the bush flight.

3) I would suggest at least a week but preferably 2 weeks just so you have enough time to fully enjoy the experience/hunt, and to allow multiple days for possible weather delays.

4) No experience.

5) If you didn't want to get the meat processes here, you could just freeze it, pack it in insulated fish boxes, and bring it with you on the flight as extra baggage. You might not even need to freeze it, if you packed some things in there to keep it cool, and the total in route time home wasn't too long.

Bring the type of camp that you are comfortable in setting up, will allow you to spend a lot of time in and be warm, dry, and comfortable, and one that you know can withstand heavy rains and wind. Bring good food, because there's no sense in eating Mountain House for that type of a hunt (but probably not a bad idea to bring some MH). Bring plenty of beer. And basically just bring stuff that can/will make the trip more enjoyable if you end up staying out there longer than expected, or experience multiple days stuck in your tent due to bad weather. As I'm sure you already know, the days start getting short that time of year (Nov.), and even if you have decent weather, you still end up spending more time in camp due to darkness, so you may as well try to enjoy that time as well.
 

AK Troutbum

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Thanks so much for the info so far guys. It sounds like it should be very doable cost wise & didn’t really understand how the floatplane worked as a charter.

I forgot to ask about footwear on a deer hunt. Is a guy ok in regular hunting boots or do you need rubber boots of some sort? Hiking miles in rubber boots may have me trying to find a bear to put me out of my misery after a couple days!😂

I’m sure I’ll think of other questions as the days go by. Thanks again for the info so far.👍🏻
I always take rubber boots down there, usually Xtratufs but sometimes hip boots as well. Rarely have I actually deer hunted in rubber boots, but I always have them available. If you have a nice heated camp, you shouldn't have any problem drying your boots after even a really wet day, but you should also bring boots that are pretty waterproof or at least very water resistant.
 

AK Troutbum

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I'll also echo what Nick says about the AO tent. You absolutely won't find a better, stronger, more storm worthy tent than an AO, and if you don't have one or have access to one, you can rent them from a guy in Eagle River. I've never rented one before but I see this guy advertising all the time.
 
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Fonkie

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Dec 13, 2014
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Thanks for more good info. I forgot to add that I get deathly seasick so anything by boat is probably not gonna work for me.

The tent option looks doable but would be quite cozy with 3 unless you had multiple tents & im not sure how fun it would be if a storm rolls in or is super wet the entire hunt? I live on the Olympic peninsula in wa & we get over 100” of rain a year so I’m well versed in shyty weather & after 50 years of it I’m still not a fan!😂
 

AK Troutbum

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Plenty of room in the Arktika for three with cots and a heat source, and I can guarantee you won't get wet or blown off the island. I've even done 4 people in the Arktika, twice on extended Kodiak hunts and it was fine. Think about this, the footprint of the Arktika is about 13'x14' (if I remember correctly), and the walls are almost straight up and down with the ceiling being well over 6' tall, plenty big enough for 4 people. When I go down there with multiple people we always bring multiple tents. On my last late season deer hunt down there (mid-late Dec.), we had 4 people, one sleep tent (AO Arktika), a 12 person Seek Outside cook/hangout and enjoy the woodstove tipi, and a 8 person Titanium Goat tipi that was used strictly as a bathroom with portable toilet, etc. As far as I'm concerned, comfort is everything on these types of hunts and even the hunting comes secondary to being comfortable. Baring a really hard winter prior to you going, the deer population should be excellent and killing your limit of bucks shouldn't be too hard to do.
 
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GrabRack

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Nov 17, 2019
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I'll give a more conservative take having done 3 times now, by no means an expert's take, but enough to understand the answers to your questions "depend" on several things. It mostly depends on distance from camp you find yourselves hunting, what you all consider deer worthy of taking home, how much gear all bring (I'm a bit of a gear-guy), physical condition of each member of party and ability to manage daylight.

A beaver will fill up before it will weight out and 4 people and gear along with 8 deer will be pushing it, depending on how much gear all bring. But...given the time I think it reasonably takes to shoot 8 deer of trophy size (again depends on what makes your group happy) and haul out, I'd recommend a meat run with smaller float plane mid-trip. So, conservatively I'd say give yourselves 10 days and accordingly a budget of $3500/person. That also depends on having the "right" gear already. That's probably a paragraph in itself. For 3 guys, you could scale back.

First two trips we did six guys each for 14 days shooting a reindeer and blacktail a piece. Depending on whether you haul meat on the bone or boned out changes what reasonably can be hauled by one person. Me at 52, 165lbs and fit, not hauling an entire stud of a blacktail by myself on the bone. How you elect to haul out may depend on what time of day you kill and how far out you get. It's easy to say, just one more ridge...next thing you know you're five miles out hiking back in the dark. Some team members won't have a good light management skill and let me tell you, Kodiak is NO FUN hiking out in the dark. To others it may be matter of course, but I'll pass given the choice knowing what it's like in the alders and willow when you miss a turn in the path back. The other advice I'd give is consider early to mid-September if tenting is a consideration. This past trip with wives, (group of 4) we had hot teepees at shore, spiked out 3 days in 2-man tents and killed 4 bucks. Hauling all meat on the bone other than the obvious cuts, was all the 4 of us could have managed in the 6 days and we got lucky that big ones presented themselves without too much challenge.

Each trip I brought along a bear fence and never set it up. Good insurance if when you arrive appears necessary. First trip - 3 bear at great distance; second trip - 11 bear at med-long distance; third trip - 0 bear sited, only headless salmon as evidence.

Each trip we sent meat home in wax boxes as extra baggage on Alaska Airlines and is the way to go unless Alaska Air Cargo flies into your origination airport and drive home short. So that depends too, in the event they don't have room and your meat trails by an amount that becomes detrimental to your drive home. Hope that is of help, Kodiak is awesome and blacktail venison about the best to be found.
 
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Fonkie

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Lots to think about. We don’t own the kind of tents that you guys are talking about so we would have to rent everything there & hope that all worked out at the dock & in the field. I’d really prefer the cabin route but am concerned a bit about the quality of the hunting in the areas around them.

September probably not an option for us since one of our group is from Wyoming & is in the high country that time of year chasing big muleys.

As far as being picky with what we kill, yes we are looking for quality deer not just filling tags. The thought with 2 tags is to be able to harvest a buck you might be on the fence about & look for the dream buck with tag number 2. I think we would eat a tag before we took a forked horn unless it’s a big one. Just want to see lots of bucks & some opportunity for a big 3 or 4.
 
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Fonkie

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What company is everyone using for the bush plane flights? Is one better than the others & do they all charge the same?
 

GrabRack

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We used Island Air all 3 times and I recall lower prices than what others mention, though I'd price it out based on number of hunters and location of drop. They've served us very well and would recommend them.
 

Nick Muche

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I've been using Taj Shoemaker who currently co-own's Island Air since 2013 for 1-2 trips per year and have been very pleased. He used to run North River Air. Either way, he's mine and many other's Go-To.

I will say, you can't go wrong with any of the folks operating out of the Basin. Waddum's, Andrews or Seahawk. I use Taj cause he is a great friend and knows what I want. I've never flown with anyone else and do not plan on it.
 
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Fonkie

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Thanks for the info & I talked to island air about cost. They said it was $2800 round trip to the south end cabins this year. Should be doable with our budget idea & look forward to flying with them.
 

cgasner1

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Awesome you are able to get it all lined out for next season we booked with ninilchik charters and it’s a 2 year wait only one more year gonna be sweet


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TravKatQ

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Awesome you are able to get it all lined out for next season we booked with ninilchik charters and it’s a 2 year wait only one more year gonna be sweet


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I just returned from hunting with ninilchik charters this last week, can’t recommend them enough. Great group of guys and the experience was well worth it! They got us into some good spots to kill some great deer. We had Johnny and Daniel as captain and deck hand and they were great! Enjoy your hunt! -Travis


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