May 22, 2024

2023 Season Report

2023 was one of those rare seasons best viewed in the rearview mirror!

As I’ve said before, don’t ever underestimate the significant impact Mother Nature and the weather can have on any hunt and the potential of going home with a nice animal or not. That, coupled with a hunter’s physical and mental stamina and fortitude, are two of the biggest factors governing the outcome of an Alaskan hunt.

During the first Dall Sheep hunt, despite being delayed getting into camp two days due to heavy smoke blowing in from the Canadian wildfires, we were fortunate and harvested a beautiful ram, capitalizing on some good weather and a hunter that was physically prepared for his sheep hunting adventure. Our other hunters suffered poorer weather, though not being that far away, and were only able to get up high into the mountains once. Generally speaking, you have to get up high and hunt the “high country” to be successful sheep hunting so they weren’t able to connect on a ram.

During our second hunt period, Mother Nature stacked the deck heavily against us and we spent most of the hunt with low clouds and no visibility of the mountains relegating us to multiple days stuck in our spike camp tents. We were only able to get out sheep hunting for one day, which was extremely frustrating for all of us but Mother Nature and the weather are controlling factors up here and when the deck is stacked against you there is unfortunately nothing anyone can do to change it. Mother Nature just shut us down, and out, of the hunt and we felt as though the weather didn’t even let us enter the game!

With the few days over the course of the season we were able to hunt, we did see more sheep in total than the last few seasons with good lamb recruitment, which is a positive, and good, indicator that we are back on a population uptrend from the decline that was suffered from the 2013/2014 extreme winter weather event that the Brooks Range suffered.

This past moose season was frustrating, as good moose movement and rut activity was about two weeks later than normal this year so it wasn’t until the last few days of the hunt that we actually began to see some bulls but we simply ran out of time to capitalize on the ruts late arrival before the hunt was concluded.  The two hunters we enjoyed in camp had absolutely wonderful and positive attitudes and were gracious, under the circumstances, of understanding that the low moose activity and late rut were completely out of anyone’s control, and I look forward to hopefully sharing camp with both of them again in the future!  Due to the lower activity I’ve seen in this moose area the last few years, and for other contributing factors, after over 25 years hunting moose in this area we have transitioned away from these hunts and are now offering Arctic Grizzly & Barren Ground Caribou combination hunts in my exclusive guide-use area in the ANWR, with the distinct possibility of offering a few select trophy moose hunts in the near future.

The “year of firsts” continued into the fall brown season as well and made for an interesting one to be sure! Unlike anything I have ever seen before in all my decades hunting on the southern Peninsula, the spawning salmon were incredibly concentrated this fall in one area and there were virtually none in any of the other permitted camp locations/areas – a phenomenon I’ve NEVER seen to that degree ever before and hope to never see again!

One of our four fall bear hunters had to cancel at the very last moment due to an injury they sustained at home, so we ended up only guiding three hunters in the area this fall.  Two of our three remaining bears hunters harvested nice trophy brown bear, one of which was a 10’+ boar with another big skull size of 28”+. Our third and final bear hunter, a dedicated bow hunter, was not successful in having an opportunity at a bear and it seemed like despite all of our very best efforts we just could not get a break on his hunt – Mother Nature, the spawning salmon and the bears just seemed to all have the deck stacked against us. Despite the disappointment and frustration, this hunter maintained a great attitude and is determined to come back and finish what he started with us, and I look forward to welcoming him back to camp and helping him fulfill his dream of harvesting a big bear with his bow in the near future!