Hunt Planning Resource People

One of the most important components of Alaska hunt planning is knowing where to go for reliable information. A good rule of thumb is to go to the right people, with the right questions, at the right time. Let's look at some of the resources available to you, and what sort of information you can expect from each.


Retired ADFG area biologist Wayne Heimer delivers a seminar on Dall sheep hunting in Fairbanks, Alaska

ADF&G Area Biologists

Each region of the state is assigned to several wildlife biologists, who operate under the state constitutional mandate to maintain big-game resources on a sustained-yield basis. What this means is that it's their job to understand all the factors that influence population dynamics, and to proactively influence the factors that inhibit population growth. This is done using a variety of management tools; restrictions on hunting opportunity, predator control and other means. If you were to rely on only one source for population data it would be the area biologist.

The contact information for Alaska's area biologists can be found AT THIS LINK.

How to Approach an Area Biologist

Area biologists receive thousands of questions from hunters every year. Many of these questions come from hunters who, either from ignorance or simple lack of effort, ask general questions while expecting specific answers. For example, one of the most common questions asked is, "Where is a good place to go ____________ hunting?" (fill in the blanks with your species of choice). Hunters ask this question expecting a list of specific locations, while hoping that by "going to the source", they're getting a hot tip on something other hunters don't know about. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember the axiom: "General questions get general answers".

Never ask a biologist for a commercial air taxi or transporter recommendation! The Department prohibits this practice, for liability reasons. Get your air charter / transporter information elsewhere.

When you're working with an area biologist, it's important, then, to ask good questions. What kinds of questions should you ask, then? To start with, you need to ask questions based upon research you've already conducted. This brings us to our list of pointers:

  1. Respect their Time. While most biologists welcome questions from the public, they also have many demands on their time. Try to make your calls during off-peak times. Avoid calling during the peak of hunting season, or during early spring, when hunts are being monitored or population census work is being done. Always start your call by telling them how much time you might need for the call, and asking if this is a good time to call. Consider breaking longer conversations into more than one call, and spread your calls out to make room for them and for other callers. Remember, most of them have lots of work to do in addition to answering your questions.
  2. Do Your Homework First! Before you ever pick up the phone to contact a biologist, read everything you can find on the habits, the biology, the population health and preferred habitat of the species you are hunting. Our bookstore contains a number of resources on the various species in Alaska; that's a great place to start. One item to put on your reading list is the most current ADF&G Management and Harvest Report for the species you plan to hunt. These publications are written by the area biologists and are published on an ongoing basis. CLICK HERE to read the latest report. Note that it's not important to read the entire report; just read the sections pertaining to the area you have chosen to hunt. Chances are much or all of it was written by the biologist you will be calling on the phone, and if, in your call, you reference having read the report, your conversation will generally operate on a little deeper level than it would if you only asked them where to hunt.
  3. Play to Their Strong Hand. Don't expect a biologist to know all the aircraft landing areas in the vicinity, or what the whitewater rating of a given river is. Their specialty is the study of the game species in their assigned area, and they're pretty good at knowing what's going on with game population dynamics, the local ecosystem, range quality, migration patterns, predation, and hunting pressure. Focus your questions around these topics and your visit will be much more productive. Here are some sample topics:
    1. Population Dynamics / Trends. The factors influencing the population of a given species in a given area are often complex and inter-woven with other factors that may or may not be known. The best illustration of the complexity of this in recent history was the rise and fall of the Mulchatna Caribou Herd (MCH). Both the sudden growth of the herd and its near-collapse some years later still has biologists scratching their heads. In most cases, however, the biologist should be able to tell you if there are any recent factors that are influencing an upward or downward trend, or if the population is stable. Some of the details provided in this list drill down to specific factors that may influence population stability, and in some cases you may opt to gather these details as well. The bottom line? There are many factors that influence the growth or deterioration of a game population, but for a hunter there is one primary concern: Is the population strong enough to provide a reasonable opportunity for you to take game there?
    2. Bull / Cow Ratios. The bull-to-cow ratio is an indicator of population health, and it varies from one area to another.
    3. Reproductive Issues. The reproductive health of a game population is a major indicator of the overall health and stability of the population. Low pregnancy rates, low birth rates (parturition), low twinning rates and other similar factors are indicative of poor habitat quality and a declining population.
      1. Pregnancy Rates. Low pregnancy rates are reflective of low numbers of bulls and / or a generally poor herd strength.
      2. Parturition. A low birth rate can be indicative of poor forage quality.
      3. Twinning Rates. In a healthy moose population, cows normally produce twins. A low twinning rate usually indicates poor nutrition or other factors contributing to low population density.
      4. Calf Weight. The ideal weight of calves of certain age classes reflects the quality of forage and can be an indicator of the health of the overall population.
    4. young bull moose seen on an Alaska float hunting tripDensity. The numbers of a particular species in a given area is usually expressed in density per square mile. Density is frequently used as an indicator of population health with big-game species in Alaska. It's not as effective with caribou because of their migratory nature, but with other species such as moose, it can be a good benchmark. Keep in mind though, that density needs to be seen in the context of available preferred habitat. For example if the area has a density of .25 moose per square mile, but it's an area covered mostly by treeless tundra, you can figure that moose will be concentrated along the river corridors, which may contain all the preferred moose habitat in the region. In such cases, the density in the preferred habitat is substantially higher than .25. Always look at density in the context of available habitat for the desired species.
    5. Migration Patterns. Most hunters are aware that caribou spend much of the year moving back and forth from wintering areas to calving grounds and summer range. But moose are migratory too; in some areas they may move 100 miles from summer to winter range. Dall sheep migrate to windswept ridges and hillsides where food is more easily found. Deer move up and down the mountain based on snowpack. Find out the seasonal movement patterns of the species in your hunt area so you can position yourself where the animals are most likely to be at that time.
    6. Predation. For ungulate species (sheep, deer, moose, caribou, elk and muskox), predation is one of the largest factors that influence populations. Whether it's lamb mortality from eagles, moose calf die-offs from bear predation or caribou numbers cut by wolves, you need to know what's going on with the predators in the area. Are the predator numbers up or down? Have new predators moved into the area, and if so, what effect will this have during your hunt?
    7. Habitat Quality. Each species has its own preferences when it comes to habitat (terrain, vegetation and water), so it is not usually appropriate to assume that game will be evenly distributed in the area. Find out the habitat preferences of the desired species, the location of the best habitat in the area, and plan your hunt around those locations. The area biologist should be able to tell you what areas offer the highest-quality habitat.
    8. Wildfires. Every year wildfires occur in Alaska. A few are started accidentally by careless campers, but most are started by lightning strikes. Lightning strikes are most common in Region 3; the Interior. In most cases they are allowed to burn unchecked, unless they threaten human dwellings or other buildings. Most lightning strikes occur in summer, and some of the resulting fires burn into muskeg layers and smolder for years underground. Fires have a significant negative impact on habitat quality for several years, but in the longer run can improve habitat and forage quality for moose. It takes seven or more years for a burned-off area to grow a crop of willow large enough to attract moose, and some years after that to actually influence moose production in the area. On the other hand, fires near rivers frequently have negligible impact on the riparian understory; the brush near the river, with the fire skipping through the tops of the spruce trees as it sweeps through. Area biologists will know the locations and extent of fires in the area, as will the folks at the Another form of hunting pressure comes from guides who are working the area. Generally speaking, guides steer clear of float hunts because the cost can be up to 30% more, while the hunt price remains the same (this is due to the additional cost of acquiring and maintaining the rafting gear, and transporting it to and from the field). There are of course some exceptions to this. Even so, it is possible to run into guided float hunters or guide camps along the way. To avoid being surprised by this, ask your charter operator if they are aware of any guides working the area; they almost always know them. Contact them through the Big-Game Commercial Services Board to see what you can do to avoid hunting on top of them. Technically you have as much a right to hunt there as the guided hunters do, but guides are limited to specific areas that they have to register for 30 days before their hunt, whereas you have the option of going just about anywhere. It's much easier for you to work around them than it is for them to work around you." Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, the group responsible for tracking wildfire status and marshaling intervention efforts in the state.
    9. Hunting Pressure. Area biologists have a good handle on the number of hunters in their areas, and which parts of the units receive the most pressure. Use this information to select areas of prime habitat that receive less pressure and your chances of success will increase.
      1. Local Hunters. In most of rural Alaska, subsistence or personal-use hunting activity occurs in the same areas every year. Most biologists can help you find out where these areas are, and to avoid them. They may also be able to explain local hunting practices, such as avoiding shooting caribou until they cross the river. Many local hunters avoid shooting migrating caribou until they cross the river, to avoid disrupting the migration pattern. Knowing this ahead of time helps nonlocal hunters avoid negative impacts on locals.
      2. Guide Activity. Area biologists may know where the established guide camps are generally located, and may be able to provide you with contact information along with tips on how to avoid hunting on top of guide operations.
      3. Non-Local Hunters. In most cases the location of non-local hunters (Alaska residents or non-residents) are unpredictable. Hunters move around from year to year and it's common for an area that received a lot of pressure one year to receive little or none in a subsequent year. That said, regional biologists have a good handle on the numbers of non-local hunters using thier area from year to year.
    10. Access Points. The area biologist will know the areas commonly accessed via wheel or float-equipped aircraft, along with the locations of any private lands, homesteads, and public-use cabins in the area. As was mentioned earlier, however, do not expect them to know all the landing areas precisely. That's a question for your air charter or transporter.
    11. Regulatory Issues. The area biologist knows the regulations for his area, and in many cases helped to draft them in the first place. Read the regulations carefully and address any questions to them. Also ask about any upcoming regulatory changes or Emergency Orders that might impact your hunt. (Emergency Orders are regulatory changes that go into effect after the regs were written).

Air Service Operators / Pilotsloading an Alaska moose rack into a Bush airplane

The air charter operator can be a great source of practical information for your hunt. Keep in mind that most will be freer with information after you've booked with them than they will if you're still shopping around. From that perspective, you should not expect them to provide a lot of detailed information that may be reserved for clients. This is especially true of operators who work areas where competition with other operators exists; they don't want to share information that might give them a competitive advantage.

How to Approach an Air Service

A classic mistake new hunters make is to expect their air charter to play the role of a biologist, by asking them questions related to game population dynamics. Even asking them where a good place is to go moose hunting is likely to be met with a vague, useless answer. Questions like this brand you as someone who has not invested any time in research. Do your homework before calling the air service. That said, there are some really good questions you can (and should) ask your air service.

Don't Ask! There are some questions to avoid asking your air charter. Here are some examples:

  1. Your chances of taking game. This question requires the air charter to know your skills and the effort you will invest in the field, together with whether or not an animal will make itself available to you on your hunt. It also puts them in the undesirable position of being blamed for your lack of success later. Forget it.
  2. The hazards on the river. Air charters are in the flying 
business, not the rafting
 business. While they may know some general information about the river (some more than others), let them stick to the flying and save your river questions for other sources.
  3. Game population dynamics and habitat quality. Most air charter operators can tell you what their clients are seeing in the field, but save your biological questions for the area biologist.

Questions for Air Services

In most cases, the questions for your air charter or transporter are fairly simple and straightforward. It gets tangled up when you go beyond these basics and start asking them to help plan your hunt for you. If you need that level of service, you're much better off contacting a Hunt Consultant that will spend an adequate amount of time with you. That said, here are the three main questions you should be asking your air service:

  1. Drop-Off and Take-Out Location / Dates. One of the first things you'll do with your air service is schedule your drop-off and pick-up dates. Ask when they are available, and whether they are planning to drop anyone else off in that location before or after your hunt (and when). You need to lock in these dates early, and you need assurance that they aren't planning to drop someone else in that same location.
  2. Costs. Your charter will give you a firm cost for your hunt, based on the distance you're flying, the aircraft type, and the loads you'll haul in to and out of the field. Confirm this information when you make your initial payment, and review it with them several times before your hunt, to confirm. Some air services may charge a fuel surcharge as a hedge against rising fuel costs. Air services charge one of three ways, as follows:
    1. Tach time. You pay while the prop is turning. This can work well on point-to-point trips, but can cost you more if you have to fly around weather systems or detour through mountain passes.
    2. Trip rate. You pay a flat rate for the whole trip, with the charter absorbing additional costs incurred as a result of flying around weather systems and such. On trips like this the charter usually aggregates his loads to coincide with other clients, so he doesn't have an empty airplane coming back to base after he drops you off. Expect him to back-haul other groups after he drops you off, or to haul others in to the field on his way to pull you out of the field.
    3. Premium hunt. Some air services reserve certain special locations or offer a limited entry into places that are either difficult to access, or where they are trying to preserve the quality of the experience for hunters willing to pay extra. These trips go for top dollar, but the rewards usually involve a greater probability of encountering larger or more abundant game.
  3. Aircraft Types, Load Factors. The air service should be able to provide you with a per-trip weight limit. This tells you how much gear and food you can bring on your hunt. If you know you're going to go over that limit, ask about adding another load to the trip, and of course be prepared to pay for the additional air time. You should also get some idea of the door opening size in the aircraft and plan your loads accordingly. For example, a Super Cub's door opening might be too small to get a raft through, unless it is re-rolled into a long, skinny package.

You can find a comprehensive list of air taxis and transporters from around the state in our Directory AT THIS LINK.

How Much Will the Airplane Hold? An overloaded aircraft is highly susceptible to having an "unscheduled off-airport landing" (crash). Stick within the load limits of the aircraft! You can get a rough idea of what the aircraft can hold by reviewing THIS LINK, which describes the most common types of Bush aircraft used in Alaska. As always, check with your charter operator for specific limits of their aircraft.

Additional Questions

In some cases, additional questions may be necessary. For example, some air services charge extra for additional flights to haul out game meat and trophies, while other air services include that in their fee. To avoid unpleasant and potentially expensive surprises, review the following questions with your air service.

  1. Meat Hauls. Does the air service limit the number of animals you can take for the quoted price, and if so, how much more will it cost if you take more game? Some charters offer to stop by and haul out any game meat you have on hand around the mid-point of your hunt. These arrangements present a challenge on float hunts, as you are not always at a location where the airplane can land. Additionally, air services are frequently backed up during the fall because they lose time to bad weather. So they may not be able to come in as scheduled. If you want a mid-hunt meat haul flight, arrange for it ahead of time, pay for it, and confirm the dates once you have game down. The latter can only be done from the field with a satphone, so have the air service's phone number with you and let them know when to expect your call.
  2. Air Drops. On river trips that offer no safe landing areas at the upper end, an air drop of your food and gear may be required. Hunters are typically dropped off elsewhere with a backpack and limited supplies, then they hike to the drop zone. Does your air service have experience in this area, and what packing instructions can they provide? Are they willing to hold the drop until you arrive at the drop zone? Having someone on the ground at the drop zone is crucial, as sometimes packages break open on impact and the scattered gear and food becomes a target for the local wildlife.
  3. Hunting Pressure / Group Separation. The air service will know for certain how many people they are dropping off in the area you're hunting, and will have a fairly good idea what the other air services are doing in terms of traffic. Check on this or you could end up with unexpected company in the field. If possible, choose an operator that assures that they will not put someone else nearby. This is not as critical on some float hunts, but parties should not generally be dropped off in the same location any closer than three days apart. Most groups float at about the same rate, so if you have a three-day separation between parties it's unlikely you'll see each other. Check with your air service concerning local hunters, homesteaders, commercial guides, and subsistence hunting activity so you can avoid those areas as well. If you're float hunting and seeing local powerboats plying the river in search of moose, you're already hunting on top of someone else. Another form of hunting pressure comes from guides who are working the area. Generally speaking, guides steer clear of float hunts because the cost can be up to 30% more, while the hunt price remains the same (this is due to the additional cost of acquiring and maintaining the rafting gear, and transporting it to and from the field). There are of course some exceptions to this. Even so, it is possible to run into guided float hunters or guide camps along the way. To avoid being surprised by this, ask your charter operator if they are aware of any guides working the area; they almost always know them. Contact them through the Big-Game Commercial Services Board to see what you can do to avoid hunting on top of them. Technically you have as much a right to hunt there as the guided hunters do, but guides are limited to specific areas that they have to register for 30 days before their hunt, whereas you have the option of going just about anywhere. It's much easier for you to work around them than it is for them to work around you.

Raft Rental Companies

The raft rental outfits can offer broad knowledge about a lot of river systems, and in-depth knowledge on some. They are usually more than willing to provide a variety of information.

  1. Recommended Boats & Accessories. The raft rental company should be able to make solid recommendations on which boat styles and how many you should use. Remember to "let the river choose the boat"; some styles are appropriate for some rivers and some are not. Familiarize yourself with what's out there and the performance characteristics of each by reviewing our Inflatable Boats Pages, which go into detail on round boats, catarafts, inflatable canoes, hybrid boats and sportboats.
  2. Additional Rental Gear. Some raft rental outfits also rent tents and other camping gear. Inquire about this when you make your reservations. If they don't rent gear, they probably know someone in the area who does.
  3. Air Charter Recommendations. Some raft rental companies have good working relationships with air charters in the area; ask them for a recommendation if you are not committed to an air service already. Chances are, they are reliable companies (or the rental company would not be using them).
  4. Access Points. Raft rental outfits talk to lots of hunters, so the rental company may know the common put-in and take-out places, especailly on the rivers commonly known. You can use this information during the beginning of the planning stages in case your air service is not aware of those locations.
  5. Whitewater Rating and Known Hazards. If the rental company knows the river, they'll know about any hazards and can also provide you with the average whitewater rating for the system. Remember that whitewater ratings can change suddenly, with increases or decreases in water level. So if it's been rainy in the weeks prior to your hunt, expect high water and the difficulties that come with it.

Commercial Guides

Another form of hunting pressure comes from guides who are working the area. Guides may be Alaska residents, or they may be nonresidents. Whatever the case, commercial guiding is conducted throughout the state of Alaska, and it is in your best interest to identify any guides that might be working the area you intend to hunt. Nobody wants to have their hunt compromised or to compromise someone else's hunt by landing on top of each other. There's usually room for everyone, if we can work together. You can find a list of guides through the Big-Game Commercial Services Board AT THIS LINK. You can also find a list of guides in our Directory. Remember that self-guided hunters are allowed to hunt in most of the state, but guides are limited to specific areas that they have to register for 30 days before their hunt. In many cases, they hunt these same areas year after year, therefore it's much easier for you to work around them than it is for them to work around you.

Who is Guiding in the Area?

Commercial guides are allowed up to three Guide Use Areas (GUA) per year. These areas are smaller than a Game Management Unit, and of course encompass federal and state lands. Guides apply for their GUAs with the State of Alaska's Big Game Commercial Services Board (BGCSB), which maintains the guide program and keeps an active list of who is guiding in which areas. To find out what guides are working the area where you want to hunt, contact the BGCSB for a list, along with the GUAs each guide is working. Armed with that information, you can contact the appropriate guides in order to avoid hunting on top of their hunters. Contact the Big Game Commercial Services Board AT THIS LINK. Maps showing the GUAs for the state of Alaska can be found AT THIS LINK.

Questions for Hunting Guides

Because a commercial guide depends on happy clients, and because most clients become unhappy if other parties are hunting on top of them, guides try to choose areas that offer little or no pressure from other hunters, while offering reasonable opportunities for their clients to take game. So it does not necessarily follow that most guides choose the best hunting areas. This is especially true if the "best" means the areas with the most game, and therefore with the most hunters. Guides often choose steady areas that can be relied on to produce year after year. To help ensure you don't inadvertently compromise everyone's hunt, here are some questions to consider, when approaching a guide:

  1. How can we avoid stepping on your hunters? This question shows that you are a conscientious hunter that understands the need to avoid conflict with other hunters in the field. In most cases, guides are more than happy to point out areas they are not hunting or, for various reasons, cannot hunt. Many of these areas are quite good. 
  2. Float hunting dynamics. Most guides don't conduct float hunts due to the increased cost. Therefore it is possible, even with guide services that are located on river systems, to float through the area near their camp and resume hunting a few miles downriver, without compromising anyone.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

The BLM maintains an accurate list of the landowners throughout the state of Alaska. Here are a couple of things to check with them.

Private Land Boundaries

Talk to the BLM representatives to determine the boundaries of private lands in the area you plan to hunt. Most private property in Alaska is neither fenced or posted, yet it is your responsibility to know who the land owners are and avoid trespass situations. Private cabins encountered in the field should NEVER be broken into or occupied unless 1) you have permission to do so, or 2) it is a dire, life-threatening emergency. Respect private property!

Location of Guide Camps

The BLM issues permits to guides that are working federal lands; it is possible to contact them for information on who is registered in the area and where they are working.

A list of local BLM offices around the state of Alaska can be found AT THIS LINK.

State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

For guides working on state land, land use permits must be secured no later than 30 days prior to commencement of hunting activities. The DNR maintains an interactive map showing the exact geographical location of any land use permits issued, however the only commercial operators that will appear on that map are those operating on longer five-year permits. You can access that map AT THIS LINK. Guides conducting float hunts or occupying mobile tent camps do not appear on the map, so you will have to base your research on information provided by the State of Alaska Big Game Commercial Services Board.

Other HuntersFloat hunting with Michael Strahan, Alaska

Fellow hunters can be a wealth of information; the keys to getting good information are 1) knowing where to find them, and 2) knowing what questions to ask (and not ask). For example, don't expect anyone to reveal their "secret spots", and be leery of specific location information that's volunteered by someone you barely know; they could be redirecting you away from something really good. Finally, keep in mind that the quality of information you receive from other hunters is highly variable. Learn as much as you can about the experience level of the people you're talking with. Some talk a good story, but if you press them a bit, you may discover that their experience is very limited and the information may be flawed.

The single best place to make direct contact with other hunters is the Alaska Hunting Forums on this site. Here are some good areas to cover with other hunters:

  1. Commercial Service Recommendations. It's not too difficult to get hunters to tell you the good and the bad operators out there. And as long as you're not trying to horn in on their action, most don't mind telling you who they've flown with, which raft rental company they used, where they rented their satphone and so forth. These questions are all fair game and are commonly discussed among hunters. Be careful with negative reviews though; some hunters may blame their air service or the raft rental company for their own lack of success in the field. Nobody likes to admit that they failed from lack of knowledge, lack of experience, poor planning or just laziness. It's easier to blame someone else. So a negative review could be just a smoke screen; see through the smoke by talking to a variety of other hunters.
  2. Logistical Issues. Depending on the location of the hunt, you may need to ship your gear to the air service via air cargo. Or you might have to catch a commercial flight to a village where your air charter is based. Perhaps an overnight stay in the village is necessary. And then you have the meat and trophy shipping issues to consider. Ask other hunters about these logistical details and they could save you a lot of headache and needless expense.
  3. Field Tips. If you are fortunate enough to encounter a hunter who is willing to discuss details about a specific area they've hunted, you can avoid making mistakes in the field. Float hunters should enquire about water levels, river hazards, campsite selection and other issues specific to the area. Ask about how they hunted the area, and what they would do differently next time.

River Rafters

Float hunters should speak with other floaters who know the river in question, either through personal research or field experience. Note that some rafters may be anti-hunters; be sensitive to their situation. The best place to make direct contact with people who have "been there, done that, and got the wet tee shirt" is the Alaska Rafting Forums on this site. If you want to avoid tipping off other hunters to your intentions, approach rafters through the Private Message function of the forums and ask your specific questions there. Here are some areas to consider:

  1. Logistics. The rafter you're talking to, in most cases, has been to the river in question. That means he hired an air service and may have rented gear somewhere. These details can be of immense value to you.
  2. Air Service. Ask what air service they used, whether things went as advertised or whether there were any unpleasant surprises. Some air services do a good job during the planning stages, however all it takes for plans to go awry is for one pilot to change the plan unexpectedly. Many trips have been utterly ruined simply because the pilot was unaware of the plan and did not get up to speed. This can result in groups getting dropped off somewhere besides the planned location, suddenly decreased gear weight limits, or even increased flying costs. If you hear of anything like that, it could indicate that you should hire a different air service or at least investigate further.
  3. Rental Companies. Many floaters rent rafting gear locally rather than incurring the extra expense of purchasing and shipping their own equipment. Same goes for camping equipment such as tents, cooking equipment, stoves and so forth. Some air services include this gear at no additional charge, or can provide a referral to a local rental outfit. Sometimes the air service's gear is not the best quality (remember, air charters are in the flying business, not the rafting or camping business). Ask about the quality of the gear; did they use name-brand stuff? Was it in good repair? Was it clean and in order?
  4. The River. Non-hunting floaters have a different perspective of the river than hunters do. Hunters typically carry much heavier loads because 1) they are floating in the fall months and need gear that can handle extreme weather, 2) they are usually hauling heavy loads of meat and trophies and 3) they are floating during the lowest water levels of the season. That said, non-hunters can still offer a wealth of valuable river information to the float hunter.
  5. Access Points. Was the drop-off and take-out near the river, or did it require a long portage? Was the portage over rough or swampy ground? Was an air drop necessary? If they were going back would they land in the same spot again, and why?
  6. River Hazards and Navigation. Ask about the whitewater rating; how did actual field conditions compare to what the guidebooks say? Did they encounter sweepers, logjams, shallow water, whitewater or other hazards? What about the river speed and their average distance traveled per day? This information will help you budget your time in the field, maximizing the time you spend actually hunting rather than just running the river.
  7. Campsite Selection. Some rivers flow through thickly-vegetated country or lumpy, swampy tundra where acceptable campsites are few and far between. Other rivers offer frequent gravel bars that make ideal camping. What's the situation with the river you're floating?

Hunt Consultants / Trip Planning Services

We offer a comprehensive DIY Hunt Planning series through Alaska Outdoors University. Click here to see what it's all about! 

Other Resources

Our Directory offers a complete listing of all available air services, raft rentals, camping equipment companies, and satphone rental outfits in the state.

Our Bookstore also includes a wide range of resources you need for planning your Do-It-Yourself Alaska hunt.

What's next in Alaska hunt planning?

Lots to think about in this section; sources to approach, questions to ask. Where do you go from here?

Getting Started

Start at the beginning with an orientation to the planning process, using one of three different planning methodologies.

Hunt Planning Timeline

This section outlines all the major steps in the hunt planning process, together with a time frame in which they should be accomplished. Though not locked in stone, it should give you a pretty good idea of what is involved in planning an Alaska hunt.

Choosing a Hunt Location

A critical aspect of planning your hunt is choosing the right location. This section walks you through the entire process of area selection, starting with understanding the regions of the state and breaking it down into smaller pieces to help you decide the best place for your hunt.

Color Infrared Photos

Maps play a critical role in hunt planning. One of the most useful tools out there are the color infrared photos available in Anchorage and Fairbanks. We discuss those maps and how to use them for hunt planning purposes in our Color Infrared Photos section.