Alaska Yukon Moose Hunt Report by Ben Bechdolt

Float plane drop off

Hunter: Ben Bechdolt
Date: September, 2021
Hunt Taken: Self-Guided Alaska Yukon Moose Hunt
Outfitter: OI-RAA
Consultant: Russ Meyer | Outdoors International

As always Alaska was a great adventure. Communication before the trip was great. Lots of good info.

Showed up in Bethel and the transporter had a a van and driver there to pick us up. so far so good. Driver gave us a few pointers on the drive back to the hanger. Just “these are your tents. Someone will come out and discuss the plans.”

We pulled into the Hanger parking lot. Jack came out and got a head count and a quick “hi.” ***Luckily there where a couple other groups there, they showed us the ropes and explained how the process worked. Tents where already crowded with other gear but we shoehorned our way into them and started the gear re-arrange.

We mentioned to Jack and Wade the need to go into Bethel for last some grocery shopping… “sure we will have someone take you in” nothing came of this. so we didn’t have all the planned food. Not a huge deal, we didn’t starve but it wasn’t part of the plan…

2ish hours in Wade came out an mentioned he was going to try and get us out into the field that evening. Awesome! We really started packing and weighing gear to make sure there were no surprises. ***Jack had a little tantrum cause we where in the hanger weighing gear but not for sure heading out… yet no other way to get ready for going out except in the hanger… so a bit confusing (no real problem here, we all get a bit stressed when things get busy, my coaching for Uncle Jack is “don’t just point out the problem, as a manager you need to be part of the solution”…) We quickly wrapped up the packing and headed back to the tents.

Last minute scramble at about 7pm. “we are going to get one of the two parties out tonight” Awesome, we sorted out which of out two camps would go and sat down with Jack. Paid the fee and discussed how communication would go in the field. Nothing major here except:

  1. Meat plans changed, which was BAD: All communications up to now gave options, but Jack made it sound like there was only one options. He should probably read the emails that are sent out to the groups. We had a plan in mind (First moose of the camp goes to the local cutter, Bills. Second moose we cut up at the hanger when we get out) Jacks comment was “if you want it to go to Bills then you have to come out with the meat.” I mentioned that wasn’t the plan based on the pre-hunt communications and he changed the story, but still a bit of an anxiety attack. In the end I wish I had used the Alaska Meat option in Anchorage.
  2. Another last minute change was as we loaded out gear to go to the plane it was decided the other group could get out that night too.
  3. Mad scramble to get them weighed in and checked in. Then the gear was loaded into two vehicles??? Jack started mouthing off to the other crew members. crew tension should be dealt with “around back”… last minute they tossed in two rafts. Those rafts ended up helping out a ton! but they were not part of the weigh-in and because of that we had another go, no-go, go, no-go discussion when the plane was loaded. The pilot said “we can’t go” then Wade or Jack on the phone convinced him we could go without the rafts… then rearrange loads. Then only one camp is going, then we can all go… with another plane dropping off stuff tomorrow… if you are confused at this point that would be appropriate cause we where…

Over-all Bethel: at this point i was a little bit annoyed but nothing major. Things happen and plans change. All in all I was happy to be going to the field a day early and super pumped for the adventure. I had noticed a couple communication changes and and tension but that is just part of life. I am a manager and always looking for ways to improve my process so had noted a few things the transporter could do better but who cares i’m going hunting…

Awesome flight out.

Little tip for the pilot. thanks for the ride. See you later. Got a nice “good luck” text from the hanger.

Hunt was fun.

Could have took a small but pretty bull the first 5 minutes the first morning with my bow but figured I had plenty of time. didn’t see another moose for about 3 days so wondering if I had messed up… then we got the first one!

Buddy texted “got one” as Jack instructed. Then “meat is in camp ready for pick-up.”
Jack “I’ll text you when the plane is coming.” Then nothing for 1.5 days and a plane showed up no other communication. Not a huge deal. but we did not “hunt” other than within 200 yard from camp for that day and a half days wanting to make sure we could help load the plane.

Had opportunity at a small bull day after the meat was picked up but he got scared off and didn’t get a shot. Saw an Arctic fox which was pretty awesome.

Spotted a bull to the North a ways and headed that direction early evening. Ended up shooting a really nice bull 1.5 miles north of camp on a larger lake than the one we camped on.

I texted “killed a giant on this lake, can you land here?” with a pin drop.
Jack “I will check and let you know.”

We processed the critter and got it up on the willow branches for the night. Then back to camp.

The next morning at 9am Jack “let me know when the meat is ready for pick-up.”
Me: “meat is ready at the kill site, can you land there? we will be there in 1 hour to help load the plane.”

1-2pm
Jack “we cannot land on that lake.”
… shucks our day just got hard…

Only gripe here is the time between communications.

Understand communication is hard but we did end up wasting about 4 hours waiting on communication… Totally understand that waiting is a part of the game in Alaska but communication isn’t usually the part we have to wait on. Heard two stories later: “can’t land there without AFW permission” (did they ask for that permission in the interest of meat care?) and “those idiots hiked through another camp killed 3 miles from their camp so we just made them pack it back.” Not sure which is the real story but because the two stories we realized Jack didn’t even know which camp we where. He had thought our camp was the other groups site. So again communication within the ranks of the outfitter wasn’t that great either. That means he thought our pack-out was going to be 3 plus miles. Understand that meat care is the responsibility of me as the shooter but feel like the outfitter could have helped out on this front at no extra expense. Just land at a different lake? Maybe that is oversimplification… all in i’m not really mad about anything in particular just a little annoyed.

The work/message was not a big deal cause all the communications pre-hunt had said we had to get our moose back to camp… we were just hoping for a 100′ pack out not a 1.5 mile one.

got meat and Horns back to camp.
Noon
me ” ready for meat pick-up”
4pm
Jack “plane will be there in 1 hour- please be ready”
7:58
we see the plane coming
8pm
jack “sorry plane should be there any minute”
Nice work on that one Jack… plane must have been stuck in traffic or something.

Next day:
Jack “plane on the way to pick up camp”
plane showed up more or less when expected. Got one right!

back to the Hanger. bunch of hunters standing around not knowing what to do. Way way too much stuff in the “hunter tents”. if you are going to keep people out of the hanger you gotta plan for space someplace else.

at the hanger we saw quite a few hunters wondering what was next… we did share our experience with them so they knew where to unload gear and who was in charge.

nobody came out to discuss our next steps. Eventually i went in and asked what the plan was.I received a blank stare from uncle Jack. So i explained I had never done this before. Where is the meat that was sent out 4 days ago? Got that answer.Then where is the meat that came out yesterday? Got that answer… I guess the gripe here is communication again.

Totally get that people are busy. no excuse when a good 60% of your job is communication. We cut up and packaged two moose, then got them to take it to Alaska Air Freight. Then we sat around for 2 plus hours waiting on them to figure out where we stayed that night. What finally got us the information was us asking if we needed to order diner delivered to the hanger or are we going to get a ride somewhere? We are fine either way just need to know.

We changed our flights to the following day. Let Jack know when the flight was scheduled. Next morning no communication from hanger… Ryan texted to remind him we needed a ride to the airport by 11 and got a “we might be able to make that work”. then nothing…

The owner of the BB gave us a ride in her car to the hanger. We grabbed all our gear and loaded into the flatbed. Then went in the hanger and Jack was surprised to see us… We asked him to have a driver take us and the gear to the terminal… 6 guys standing in the office at the time… Somehow nobody had been dispatched to pick us up.

Bottom line: Hunt was great. Most people did a great job. I would totally hunt in the area again…

Jack needs some help, direction, coaching, or just moved to a different position… He is way, way out over his skies on this coordination stuff. Good enough guy but not a good communicator. i feel pretty whiney writing,  this but truthfully had a good time with an undertone of annoyance at having to help this guy do his job…

  • How would you rate your trip overall? Good
  • How were your guide(s)? Fair
  • How was your lodging? Good
  • How was the food? NA
  • How was your outfitters communication? Terrible
  • How physically demanding was your trip? Difficult
  • Do you have anything to add about your outfitter? communication was good prior to the hunt… but it was pretty much “figure it out on your own” from a logistics standpoint once we got to Bethel.
  • How would you rate your consultant? Great
  • Do you have anything to add about your consultant? it doesn’t mean much when we talk with Wade, we are just one group. But if you guys give them feedback then I think it will mean more.
  • Would you book another trip with OUTDOORS INTERNATIONAL in the future? Maybe
  • Can we use your stories and/or photos on our website? Yes
  • Can we use this in social media? Yes

GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS HUNT

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