Talk about reactions! Last month (see page 17, Hunt Report ID 7639 for Email Extra subscribers) we aired a complaint from subscriber Tom Heller on an Alaska moose hunt with Virgil Umphenour of Hunt Alaska (www.huntalaskawithus.com). Heller succeeded in taking a 67-inch moose, but he felt the area he hunted did not offer enough trophy-quality animals. He was also dissatisfied with the camp, the meals, the quality of at least one of the guides and a lack of social interaction with the guides later in the evenings.
That critical report generated not only a lengthy rebuttal from Umphenour, but also four e-mails from subscribers who have hunted with Umphenour, one of whom was with Heller on his hunt. We think the entire correspondence is must-reading for anyone considering a hunt in Alaska. We’ll begin with Umphenour’s rebuttal:
“Our hunting operation is conducted in very remote areas. The moose camp that Mr. Heller was in is 700 miles by boat from the nearest road. The base camps are wall tents with wood stoves and cots. We erect a separate 12 x 24 kitchen/dining shelter with a 55-gallon barrel stove. In the dining area, we have a table made of logs split with a chain saw. Our mandate is to ‘leave no trace.’
“The remoteness and expertise of the area’s resident guides have resulted in our consistent high harvest of Boone and Crockett animals. In 2009, in addition to Mr. Heller’s moose, four other clients took B & C animals, including the tentative Number One B & C record grizzly bear. The average moose taken by hunters in the Controlled Use Area of the Koyukuk National Wildlife Refuge varies from 42 inches to 45 inches. A 60-inch moose is not an “average” moose anywhere. In 2009, the average for our hunters was 60 inches.
“All of the guides who work with me on this hunt are native Athabascan Indians. They are skilled and successful hunters who live, hunt and trap in the area. The ‘old guide’ Mr. Heller referred to was Alfred Attla, who is a very experienced moose hunter. Attla caped his moose while two of the younger guides packed the meat out nine or 10 trips at one hour per roundtrip from the kill site to the boat and back. There were two other moose of at least 60 inches that were with the moose that Mr. Heller harvested.....