Introducing two-super rad dudes – John Whipple and Casey Dinkel – from AK who know how to hunt, survive and capture our 49th state’s beauty via still photography and video like no other.
When it comes to nature’s bounty, Alaska can be the most generous place in the world – but she’ll make you work for it, too. Alaska doesn’t care if your cold, tired, wet, hungry or all of the above. Just hauling yourself, the gear it takes to survive and game harvested out is about as taxing as it gets. Add 20lbs of electronics you not only have to carry, but care for, in what can be the wettest, most rugged place on earth, and you’ve upped the difficulty ante considerably. Oh, and now you have to get your camera’s out and use them – during times when it is the last thing you want to – or should be doing. But that’s how you get those one-in-million shots. The ones that capture raw emotion and the true essence of the hunt at its most intense. That’s what these guys do.
If you aren’t following @60thparalell (Instagram) – You should be. Their content rocks and shows up in our catalog, Web site, Social and trade show booth graphics. On the video side, they are regular selections for “The Hunting Film Tour,” another cool thing you should check out.
But that’s not all! You get the juicer, the steak knives, the yogurt maker…Ok you aren’t getting a juicer, steak knives or yogurt maker for reading this, but if you continue, you’ll get 13 sweet Alaska-hunting-related tips from some of the best in the business.
13 Tips for Hunting in Alaska
1. Be mindful of the weather, it can change in a heartbeat – literally, seconds. I have personally experienced a sunny blue bird day while stalking a Dall ram; just when I thought I had him dead to rights, the clouds socked in around me so thick I could not see more than a few feet. The wind began to blow and rain fell harder than I had ever experienced before. Between the fog, wind, and rain; I was pinned high in the alpine for two full days. Thankfully, I had brought my tent, sleeping bag, and a few protein bars for just such an emergency.
2. Pick a good pilot!! Choosing a good pilot is no easy task, but I recommend doing a lot of research in this area. Make sure he or she has a good flying record, several years of experience and specializes in hunting charters. Not only will you feel safer, but a pilot well versed in Alaska’s weather and rough terrain will be able to get you into locations most other pilots won’t.
3. Bring Multifunctional Gear. When hunting the remote back country of Alaska, you won’t be able to jog down to the local store if a piece of gear fails. So bringing tough rain gear that can double as your secondary shelter if your tent is destroyed or trekking poles that can replace a broken tent pole may just save your bacon in scary situation.
4. Test your gear out before a big expedition!!! For example; don’t wait to field test that new water filter out on your two week fly in moose hunt. If the filter fails for any reason and you don’t have a backup plan you’re probably going to be drinking sediment laden giardia infused agua. Instead test your new gear out on several day hikes long before your dream adventure.
5. Hike, Lift, and Run. I can’t stress enough the importance of getting into shape before your Alaskan dream hunt. Alaska is steep, rugged, and big, and you often have no choice but to pack your trophy out on your back. Plan on carrying a lot of weight over long distances for any adventure in the last frontier. Preparing physically for your adventure can be the difference between bringing home that trophy of a lifetime or not.
6. Know your Quarry. Simply put; don’t rely on your guide or hunting buddy to help you find that trophy of a life time. The big game animals in Alaska are very different than those of the lower 48 states. Research the animal you are pursuing as much as possible. For example; when embarking on an Alaskan moose hunt, study their biology, communication, and seasonal habitat. Doing your homework will only put the odds in your favor for a successful hunt.
7. Know your landscape. Alaska is home to some unique land features and vegetation that are found nowhere else on the planet. A good example is sphagnum moss; this thick layer of tundra mat is known for growing across swamps and bogs. Many hunters have set foot across what they thought was solid ground, only to fall in up to their arms while they struggle to rescue themselves from the bottom-less bog.
8. If you can’t see it, you can’t hit it. Any experienced hunter can tell you how important a good set of optics is, so I won’t beat this drum too hard, but Alaska is hard on gear, so you want something that will keep working after a lot of abuse. Here is my little optics plug; I run Vortex because it works…plain and simple! As fanatical AK hunters, we run our gear through the ringer day in and day out. We spend thousands of dollars and countless hours researching, training, and preparing for every adventure. So when that hunt of a life time finally arrives, we are confident that we have the best optics in our arsenal to get the job done.
9. Beware the Ice. If you have the desire to ever hunt Dall Sheep or Mountain Goats in the Last Frontier, you may find yourself having to trek across or even camp on a glacier. While glaciers are stunningly beautiful, make no mistake they are notoriously dangerous. Some basic tips to keep in mind; never jump a crevasse wider than you and your pack are thick, bring crampons especially for when it rains, avoid moulins (Whirlpool of melted glacier water), don’t forget your shades, and bring a warmer than normal sleeping bag……. Remember you are sleeping on an ice box!! Finally, if the ice is covered in snow to the point where you cannot see the bare ice, it is probably best to find another way – unless you have expressly brought proper ice climbing and traversing kit (ropes, axes, repelling gear, ski’s, etc) for such a purpose and are familiar with their use. Snow can conceal fissures and crevasses that can ruin your day in a hurry!
10. Give yourself plenty of time. For most, an Alaskan adventure is a once in a life time experience; be sure to allow enough time to pursue your quarry. As a rule, we usually plan for no less than 10 days in the field. Since you can’t hunt the same day airborne, you’re already down to 9 days and you can usually count on 3 to 5 days of bad weather. So, your 10 day adventure can easily end up only being 5 or less days of actual boots-on-the-ground hunting.
11. Test your gut. I am not talking about your grit here, although that is also important. I am speaking about your menu while in the field. Be sure to acclimate your digestive system to the freeze dried, high protein, calorie-packed foods you’ll be eating several weeks before your dream hunt. It’s not a laughing matter when your stomach starts doing flips in the middle of nowhere due to an extreme diet change.
12. Every ounce counts. For high mountain backpacking trips, pack the lightest, toughest gear you can possibly afford. This may seem like a no brainer, but I am here to tell you that ounces make pounds and pounds add up fast. A 40lb pack may not sound heavy, but you may change your tune on day 5 of a 10 day hunt when you can barely feel your legs anymore (or feel them too much!). Every year, I seem to shed more and more weight from my pack; constantly replacing older heavier gear with new lighter tougher gear, taking only what I need to survive and get the job done.
13. Pace yourself. If your adventure leads you north of 70 degrees during the month of August, Alaska will grace you with 24 hours of daylight. It can be tempting to hunt through a whole 24 hour period, and if your body is not use to the long daylight hours, you may not even realize how long you have been up. Some folks find it hard to fall asleep when it is still light outside, this is obviously much needed shut-eye after a hard day of chasing critters in rough terrain. This physical and mental exhaustion can catch a person off-guard if you are not careful, which can lead to poor decision making while in the field.