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Subscriber-Written Trip Report On Westwind Guide Service Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 7904 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: September 1, 2010 to September 8, 2010
Place of Hunt: United States - Alaska
Hunt Area: 19B


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Tony Lee; Westwind Guide Service. PO Box 298490; wASILLA; AK; 99629; Tel. 907-373-2047; Email: westwindnayco@bigfoot.com; Web www.westwindguideservice.com
Personal Guide (if any): WL Goad
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Bear, Grizzly - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Good.
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Game Condition Comments: This area has one of the highest bear populations in Alaska. You will see bears, but this is bear hunting, there are no guarantees. Bears from 7 feet or up are shooters with the average about 8 feet.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Excellent Guide/PH Ability: Excellent
Condition of Camp: Excellent Condition of Equipment: Excellent
Quality of Food: Excellent Trophy Care: Excellent
Name of Airline: Delta Airline Service: Excellent
Airline Comments: Very good service all around, no problems, no hassles.


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Amount: $10000
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $585
Commercial Airfares: Anchorage to Port Afford Amount: $400
Charter Airfares: Amount: $650
Other Costs: Overnight in PA each way. Amount: $300
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt:
Highlights of Hunt:
Equipment Recommendations: Best quality raingear and binoculars.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? yes
Why? This is a first rate outfit, well organized and efficient. Committed to making every hunter successful.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Pete Baker
Contact Information: Tel. 218-254-5613 - PO Box 53, Chisholm, MN 55719
Hunting Experience: More than 80 hunts, US, Canada and worldwide.
Physical Condition: Considering my age (59), good.


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL
After achieving most of my hunting goals, a grizzly bear was the one animal at the top of my priorities so I was determined to find a good opportunity with a quality outfitter. Lance Stapleton's report in the June 2008 issue of THR, which spoke highly of outfitter Tony Lee and Westwind Guide Service, prompted me to call. I was favorably impressed from the very beginning.

Tony Lee is a Master Guide with over 40 years experience in Alaska. Also, Lee is a member of the Board of Directors for the APHA. This mark of respect from his peers tells all you need to know about his integrity and professionalism.

Lee's bear hunts are conducted in southwestern Alaska in Unit 19B. He maintains a base camp about 80 miles northwest of Lake Clark with wall tents, a cook tent and shower facilities. After a charter flight to base camp, each hunter is asked to check his rifle and is then flown to a separate spike camp. Lee conducts about 11 bear hunts a year but maintains many more spike camp locations so that hunting pressure is rotated through his area year to year.

Spike camps consist of tents, cots and camp stoves. Accommodations are comfortable but spartan. Food in spike camps are freeze dry meals supplemented, if possible, by deliveries of baked goods and some solid food flown in from base camp during the hunt.

The hunting methods are spot and stalk. Spike camps are located on top of hills or knolls in rolling country with good visibility. Lee and his guides believe strongly in minimizing impact in the hunting area which means no campfires and no wandering about. Campsites are located as close as possible to the landing strips and you spend each day sitting in the same location, glassing the surrounding hills until a bear is spotted. Patience and persistence are important attributes for this hunt, together with a good quality binocular and really good rain gear. Weather in Southwestern Alaska is notoriously bad. Losing hunting days or travel days to weather is not uncommon, so be physically and mentally prepared.

Adverse weather conditions on my hunt made spotting hard work. Also, the poor berry crop this year wasn't attracting bears onto the open hillside making for very tough conditions. Still, every hunter saw bears and most had opportunities. Of the seven hunters out during this first hunt, three killed bears, two others wounded/missed on good chances, and the others saw good bears but weren't able to get to them. Be aware that this is tough country to walk in. Open hillsides are broken up by numerous draws and valleys, all choked with alder and dense brush. Open flats are covered with spongy bunch grass and thickets. You have to force your way everywhere you go, so good physical conditioning is a must to be successful.

Despite all that, Westwind has consistent success. In 2008 Lee's hunters were 8 for 11, and for 2009 they were 9 for 11 with all hunters having opportunities. Good weather and good berry crops in those years brought the bears onto the open hillside where they were more visible and accessible. Bears taken by Lee's hunters average about 8 feet, and 9 footers are a possibility. If you are determined to take a really big one I would suggest booking extra time. Given the variables of weather and the overall difficulty, on the eight day hunt I would recommend making a stalk on every shootable bear you see.

On day 5 of my hunt, I spotted a single bear on a ridge line about a mile and a half away. After conferring with my guide we decided it was shootable and more importantly we had a good stalking route with the wind in our favor. A little over an hour later we were in position and trying to relocate the animal. The bear came out of the alder thicket in the valley below us and walked up the hillside behind the route of our stalk. I was able to retrace my steps back across the hill and got a good shooting position with the bear at about 200 yards.

I placed my first shot where I wanted, but, a bears vital are located higher in the body than it appears. I broke the bear's shoulder but did not fully penetrate the vitals. Fortunately, my follow up shots rolled it. This illustrates a couple of important points. Know your target, shot placement is the most important factor in a clean kill, and, keep shooting until your bear is down for good.

My bear was a modest 7 plus footer, but I am more than pleased with the results. This is a challenging but very rewarding hunt. The efforts of Tony Lee and his staff at Westwind Guide Service are first rate. I recommend them highly.

Subscriber-Written Trip Report On Westwind Guide Service Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 8680 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: May 1, 2009 to May 2, 2009
Place of Hunt: United States - Alaska
Hunt Area: e/o Denali Park, 35 miles n/e of Cantwell


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Tony Lee; Westwind Guide Service. PO Box 298490; wASILLA; AK; 99629; Tel. 907-373-2047; Email: westwindnayco@bigfoot.com; Web www.westwindguideservice.com
Personal Guide (if any): Cody - Experienced bear guide, but NO experience calling bears. He turned on the caller, then stood up and skylined himself and lit a cigarette.
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken:
Game Sought But Not Taken: Bear, Grizzly - Availability: Way too much activity in hunting area. Tony placed four camps in the same drainage close enough together that we could hear calling from other camps. Also, he flew four times per camp each time he moved a camp. He hunted each camp for one week, three times. We hunted the second week in a camp that had been occupied eight days when we got there. Tony had flown about 50 trips (10 min each) before we even started hunting.
Game Condition Comments:


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Good Guide/PH Ability: Fair
Condition of Camp: Good Condition of Equipment: Good
Quality of Food: Fair Trophy Care: N/A
Name of Airline: Alaska Air Airline Service: Good
Airline Comments:


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Amount: $6000
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $750
Commercial Airfares: Amount: $795
Charter Airfares: Amount: $0
Other Costs: Car Rental ($610) and Hotels ($320) Amount: $930
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt:
Highlights of Hunt: Flying in AK + hunting with my long time friend Ervin.
Equipment Recommendations:
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? no
Why? Way over hunted. Too much flying. Too much bear calling. Too many people in one drainage. We were led to believe this was a remote fly-in area with lots of bears, with near 100% success. Tony didn't tell us it also gets hunted by locals with air boats.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Jim Carden
Contact Information: Tel. 559-298-0005 - 14400 E Shepherd | Clovis | CA | 93619 E-mail: james.carden@fresno.gov
Hunting Experience: ~ 45 years. Mostly deer and elk
Physical Condition: Good


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? yes Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide? yes
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought? Refund or partial refund


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL



Subscriber-Written Trip Report On Westwind Guide Service Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 5519 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: September 2, 2005 to September 11, 2005
Place of Hunt: United States - Alaska
Hunt Area: 19B


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Tony Lee; Westwind Guide Service. PO Box 298490; wASILLA; AK; 99629; Tel. 907-373-2047; Email: westwindnayco@bigfoot.com; Web www.westwindguideservice.com
Personal Guide (if any): Tony Lee
Booking Agent (if any):
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken:
Game Sought But Not Taken: Caribou - Availability: Migration moved to another area.
Game Condition Comments: Game was non-exsistant for two year running.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Poor Guide/PH Ability: Poor
Condition of Camp: Fair Condition of Equipment: Fair
Quality of Food: Fair Trophy Care: Fair
Name of Airline: Air charter worked for Tony Lee. Airline Service: Good
Airline Comments: The price is $500 per person for the 160 mile round trip then and extra $75 if you would ever get lucky and harvest a caribou.


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Last years cost was $1,800 this years cost $750 Amount: $750
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: $385 for caribou and $85 hunting license. Amount: $470
Commercial Airfares: United for my wife and me. Amount: $4000
Charter Airfares: For my party of three. Amount: $1500
Other Costs: Room in Iliamna $100 per night per person, Car rental $400, food cost $335. Amount: $300
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt: Last years hunt was wrote off as a fluke of nature since no mature bull caribou were seen. This year the outfitter new in advance that no caribou again were in the area and opted not to inform us until we paid all his fees and his charter pilot fees. At this time he informed us that no caribou were in the area and basically put us off in the tundra within site of his main camp to hunt for something that didn't exist. After five days into the hunt, I pointed out to Mr. Lee that it was senseless for us to glass and hunt for caribou that weren't within 200 miles of us and asked to be taken out of the area. Tony in his sales pitch at during the booking stages offered to move you if game isn't spotted but that's all it is a sales pitch.
Highlights of Hunt: Seeing the Northern Lights the first night.
Equipment Recommendations: Very good rain gear and boots, best optics you can afford, a good GPS.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? No
Why? You cannot trust this outfitter to be honest, I could not in good conscience give this outfitter any recommendation to my fellow hunters who work hard for their money and vacations.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Rick Lingo
Contact Information: Tel. 304-679-3044 - RR 1 Box 144-C, Davisville, WV 26142 E-mail: grizzly@citynet.net
Hunting Experience: Have taken several North American big game species including some that made B&C and SCI Record books.
Physical Condition: Excellent


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Yes Notified Personal Guide? No Notified Booking Agent? Yes
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide? No
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL
Nothing could restore my confidence in Westwind Guide Service, after two years giving him the benefit of the doubt I will refrain from giving him any more business from myself or other hunters.

Subscriber-Written Trip Report On Westwind Guide Service Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 4706 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: September 8, 2004 to September 20, 2004
Place of Hunt: United States - Alaska
Hunt Area: Unit 17/19


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Tony Lee; Westwind Guide Service. PO Box 298490; wASILLA; AK; 99629; Tel. 907-373-2047; Email: westwindnayco@bigfoot.com; Web www.westwindguideservice.com
Personal Guide (if any): W.L. Goad
Booking Agent (if any): Bill Hefner; Hefner, Bill. St. Petersburg; FL; Tel. 866-427-4635; Email: bill1202@tampabay.rr.com;
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Bear, Black - Availability: Average - Trophy Size: Small sow.
Game Sought But Not Taken: Moose - Availability: Didn't see one moose in two weeks (one from plane).
Bear, Grizzly - Availability: Only saw one male grizzly and one sow with cubs.
Caribou - Availability: Saw about 50-100, but only one bull in two weeks.
Wolf - Availability: Saw three wolves about 4 miles away.
Wolverine - Availability: Saw two wolverines.
Game Condition Comments: General lack of game. Brochure promised 90 percent success on moose, 100 percent on caribou, 70 percent on grizzly. Many reasons were given - weather, bad berry crop, late rut, dry... who knows.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Good Guide/PH Ability: Poor
Condition of Camp: Good Condition of Equipment: Good
Quality of Food: Good Trophy Care: Fair
Name of Airline: Pen Air Airline Service: Poor
Airline Comments: After paying $75 for an extra bag, all my luggage was left in Lliamna by Pen Air because of a full plane - no forwarding tags. It took three days to get them, meat spoiled, maybe cape too.


COSTS
Hunting Fees: Amount: $9800
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $950
Commercial Airfares: Amount: $985
Charter Airfares: Amount: $500
Other Costs: Hotel. Amount: $200
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt: My guide had never done a moose/grizzly hunt, never skinned a bear. He had emotional problems, acted quite unprofessional at times, was rude and abrasive. Plus, no game.
Highlights of Hunt: Got my first bear.
Equipment Recommendations: Good rain/wind gear and knee boots. Lots of books.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? No
Why? Not until game numbers increase. I realize Alaska isn't the Serengeti, but for this amount of money, I expected more. Out of four hunters in camp, three of us didn't get moose or grizzly..they did see some though.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Cynthie Fisher
Contact Information: Tel. 406-375-1445 - 651 Bobcat Lane, Hamilton, MT E-mail: wildart@bittenroot.net
Hunting Experience: Extensive - 8 times to Africa, Russia, Canada, etc.
Physical Condition: Good - just had bad luck on this hunt, darn it.


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL

Subscriber-Written Trip Report On Westwind Guide Service Hunts

Below is one sample of such a Report which is made available to you FREE of Charge.

DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT
Report ID: 1218 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted? Guided
Date of Hunt: September 7, 1999 to September 13, 1999
Place of Hunt: United States - Alaska
Hunt Area: Mulchatna region, upper Nushagak River and the Nushagak Hills


OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS
Outfitter (or safari company): Tony Lee; Westwind Guide Service. PO Box 298490; wASILLA; AK; 99629; Tel. 907-373-2047; Email: westwindnayco@bigfoot.com; Web www.westwindguideservice.com
Personal Guide (if any):
Booking Agent (if any): Cliff Graham; Associated Hunting Consultants. PO Box 3206; Logan; UT; 84323; Tel. 724-772-4868; Fax: 412-776-3174;Email: cliff@hunts.net; Web www.hunts.net
Trip Arrangements
(if self-guided):
License Required:


GAME DESCRIPTION
Major Game Animals Taken: Caribou - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: See comments.
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Game Condition Comments: See comments.


SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
Quality of Outfit: Guide/PH Ability:
Condition of Camp: Condition of Equipment:
Quality of Food: Trophy Care:
Name of Airline: Airline Service:
Airline Comments:


COSTS
Hunting Fees: See comments. Amount: $0
Trophy Fees: Amount: $0
Permits/Licenses: Amount: $0
Commercial Airfares: Amount: $0
Charter Airfares: Amount: $0
Other Costs: Amount: $0
Total: $0


SUMMARY REMARKS
Problems of Hunt: See comments.
Highlights of Hunt: See comments.
Equipment Recommendations: See comments.
Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? Yes
Why? See comments.


HUNTER INFORMATION
Hunter Name: Dan Sozzi
Contact Information: Tel. 916-933-4146 - E-mail: dsozzi@wsnb.com
Hunting Experience:
Physical Condition:


IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt)
Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent?
Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?


ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL
I recently returned from a drop camp Caribou hunt in the Mulchatna region of Southwest Alaska. Since this is such a popular do-it-yourself hunt, I thought it would be appropriate to send a more detailed hunt report.

My hunting partner, Nick Sikich, and I hunted caribou from September 7-13. The area we hunted was along the upper Nushagak River, in the Nushagak Hills. We were on a drop camp hunt outfitted by Tony Lee of Westwind Guide Service (P.O. Box 771224, Anchorage, AK 99577; 907-745 -2047; westwind/nayco@bigfoot.com), and the hunt was booked through Rich LaRocco of Associated Hunting Consultants (435-752-7774, Box 3206, Logan, Utah 84323,www.hunts.net). Rich did a nice job of putting us with a good outfitter in a good area. This was generally a good hunt, but there are some important things hunters who are considering this type of hunt should know beforehand, which I'll try to cover in this letter.

We arrived in Anchorage, on September 4th. Before starting our hunt, we took a day to sample some absolutely fabulous rainbow trout fishing on the upper Kenai River on the 5th. I can't recommend this highly enough to anyone who enjoys fishing. It was one of the true highlights of our trip. We fished out of Cooper Landing with Kenai River Sportfishing Lodge (16520 Sterling Highway, Cooper Landing, Alaska 99572, 907-595-1279). We were guided by Tom Larimer, who was very capable in putting us on fish. He's a good guide and nice guy. Four of us caught approximately 100 quality rainbows in a half day of fishing. The average size was about 20 inches, and I caught half a dozen fish from 23-25 inches. While it's not wilderness fishing, we had a hell of a good time and I wouldn't hesitate recommending this to anyone either before or after a hunting trip to Alaska. It only takes an extra day and is 2 ½ hours by car from Anchorage. They supply everything if you don't want to take fishing gear up with you.

We flew down to Illiamna on the 6th, and out to Tony Lee's camp that afternoon. Tony promptly flew us out to our spike camp so that we could begin hunting the next day. We flew out from Illiamna on Illiamna Air Taxi (Nancy LaPorte, 907-571-1248, Box 109, Illiamna, Alaska 99606). Illiamna Air Taxi seemed to be very safe and proficient operators, nice folks. They also offer drop camp hunts on their own, but I'll say "Buyer Beware" based on some horror stories heard from hunters who used them and got dropped off in areas with few to no caribou. I'm sure they do drop people in areas with plenty of game, but like any large operator, there are only so many quality areas you can put people in, and it seemed they service more hunters than I'd care to be competing against. I have friends who hunted with them three years ago, and had a terrible hunt, by being dropped of where there were very few caribou. In the end, it didn't matter how much money they saved on the hunt, it was terrible.

My biggest complaint about this trip has to do with the air taxi situation. When we went out to Tony Lee's camp, there wasn't any party returning back to Illiamna; so we had to pay the entire round trip airfare, which was what I expected. What we got hit with on the way out, and I neither expected or appreciated, was paying the full round trip fare when there was another party coming in on the flight we went out on. When we questioned our pilot about this, he replied that this is how they do it at that company and there isn't anything more to discuss about air taxi costs. We also had to pay for an extra flight since we had shot three caribou, as the plane cannot get off Tony Lee's airstrip with more than about 600 pounds of weight besides the pilot. If we had shot even one caribou we would have had to pay for an extra flight, and that's o.k. I just would have appreciated being told in advance that we would definitely need two flights coming out, instead of being told this only after we had already finished our hunt. All told, we got nicked for about $525.00 in extra air taxi charges. So did the hunters coming in our outbound flights.

Another flight related problem, was that our bush plane picked us up in camp after our flight from Illiamna had already left for Anchorage. We ended up spending the night in Illiamna, and had very nice lodging at Illiamna Lake Lodge, which is run by John and Sally Baechler (907-571-1525,Fax 907-571-1626, P.O. Box 10, Illiamna, Alaska 99606). Illiamna Lake Lodge was great. For $95.00 per person per night, we got a room along with meals, which were quite good. For this part of Alaska, I didn't think the cost was had at all, especially considering that John Baechler made room available for us to bone out our meat, and store it in his walk-in cooler. He also took all of our bones, scraps, etc. to the dump. He found a local family to take some of the extra meat we wanted to give away, rather than pay even more excess baggage charges to fly it home. The Baechler's offer fishing in the Illiamna region, both by boat and fly-out, and I wouldn't hesitate to go with them after seeing their operation.

Tony Lee made a good effort to put us where there were plenty of animals. He dropped us on a hill with about 400 caribou in the area, so we didn't have any trouble finding caribou. The problem in this case was that we couldn't find any really nice bulls, but that's the way it sometimes goes. We took three bulls, two of which only scored about 300 or so, and a third bull that should go about 350. These aren't anything to get very excited about, but they were among the five or six biggest bulls we saw in a week of hunting. Most of the bulls we saw at the airports in Illiamna and Anchorage were the same size or smaller than our three bulls. Everyone we talked to was crying the blues about not seeing many caribou or being able to find any decent bulls. Maybe horn size was down this year due to the extensive cold weather last February, who knows?

You should also be aware that the caribou move quite a bit. We saw several hundred caribou each of our first two days, the third day maybe only fifty or so, the fourth day on anywhere from 5 to 25 caribou. The final, and largest, caribou we took was at the very end of our hunt (we had already packed for the plane to come in the following morning) right before dark, on a day where I doubt we saw more than five caribou all day. On the flight out we observed country that had been full of caribou five days earlier, but was now completely devoid of animals, they had migrated out. Other hunters we spoke with after our hunt saw nothing for the first few days of their hunts, and either found caribou moving in right at the end of their hunts or didn't and came out without taking a caribou at all.

In addition to the caribou tags, I bought a wolverine tag; just in case. While we didn't end up taking a wolverine (long story), we did see two different wolverine in the same day. If someone has an interest in taking a wolverine, this might be a good place to try. Tony Lee was confident that we'd see at least one in a week, and no one I spoke to sounded at all surprised that we saw two in our week of hunting. I even talked with another hunter who saw three wolverine on his hunt, which was near where we hunted.

Some things hunters considering this hunt should keep in mind include bringing plenty of bug repellent, even in September. I've never seen worse insect and fly problems in 10 previous trips up north. We had daytime temperatures pushing 80 degrees, and it seldom got cooler than the low 50's at night. It is also very important to bring lots of pepper to put on your meat sacks (and only bring high quality sacks, leave the cheap stuff in the stores). Even the heaviest grade meat sacks were totally covered in fly eggs anywhere there was a spot where the flies could get to lay eggs. It would be best if you could make arrangements ahead of time to have your pilot check on you at least every other day, and fly your meat out to where it can be refrigerated. We didn't have this option, and had to hang meat in those warm temperatures, for six days in the case of one caribou. If I had it to do over, I'd have paid to have the meat flown to Illiamna halfway through the trip. Another item to consider is bringing extra freeze-dried food of your own. We brought about a dozen Mountain House freeze dried meals with us, and were glad we did. Tony supplied Mountain House food, but just enough. It's nice to have an extra meal if you want it without having to worry about running out, or if you're stuck in camp for a few extra days due to bad weather. You should also be prepared to pay excess baggage charges on the flight from Anchorage to Illiamna and back. We got hit for about $150.00 total, and were told by the ticket agent that almost every single hunter on this route has excess baggage charges similar to ours.

Finally, bring along some extra toilet paper, even though your outfitter is supposed to supply it as part of your camp. When we were unpacking our camp, we found that Tony Lee hadn't supplied any paper towels or napkins, which wasn't too big a deal, until we learned there wasn't any toilet paper either. When Tony came to check on us on the fourth evening, he asked if there was anything we needed, I told him toilet paper would sure be nice since he didn't bother to put any in with our gear to begin with, and then asked him how he'd like to use alder leaves for four days. Luckily, we had brought along one roll in our backpacks, so it wasn't a disaster after all; but I'll never again trust that item to anyone else. After all, who wants to use alder leaves for four days?

If I can be of assistance to anyone considering this hunt, I'd be glad to discuss it with you. I can be reached in the evenings at (916) 933-4146, or by email dsozzi@wsnb.com



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