We would like to start by thanking all of the hunters who came up and joined us in the Alaskan Wilderness this past year. Our industry is struggling in the current economy, which makes us ever so grateful for the business we do have while we all wait for the “change” to occur. Fortunately for us, the commercial fishing industry is booming with some of the highest prices we have seen for salmon and halibut. We are so lucky to be able to do both the fishing and the guiding which keeps us constantly busy but diversified at the same time.
I received my Master Guide License #182 in January, and Lonesome Dove Outfitters has been guiding clients every year since 1996. We are still conducting the same high quality hunts as we have always tried to do, and have an expanded staff of very competent guides and packers. We are seeing more competition in some of our hunting areas, which gives us further incentive to pioneer new ones. I do not deal well with complacency, so it is exciting to open new areas and figure out what works best. We still hunt the same “honey-holes” that we always have and they continue to produce for us, but we are constantly working at keeping our options open.
The one constant in this business is the weather, and how it affects our hunts. Early September brought unseasonably warm weather and no rain. This worked in our favor as the salmon were concentrated in the lower rivers and the bears were concentrated on them. You can view the YouTube video below that Tim Mahoney filmed while we were watching for bears on a particular stretch of river or by following this link to YouTube. Tim was after a larger bear, but this would have been an ideal archery opportunity as we had the bear at 28 yards and he was unaware of our presence. Mountain goat hunting was challenging as the goats were tucked away on the snow patches and in the crevasses trying to get away from the heat and the bugs, but once they were located they were easy to find because they went back to the same spots each day as it warmed up. Hiking and climbing was relatively easy with the dry ground, but it was a challenge trying to keep the bugs out of our eyes and noses. Thank God for headnets! We were 6 for 6 on our first couple of goat hunters taking 2 billies that should make B&C.
About September 26, that all changed when Cordova got 27” of rainfall in 4 days. The rivers swelled over their banks, the salmon scattered and so did the bears. The snow level dropped to about 1200 feet, which made the mountain goat hunting very difficult and treacherous. We have learned to roll with the punches in this business, but Mother Nature has a habit of serving humble pie every now and then to show us that we are not the ones in charge. I guess that is what makes hunting so exciting and the appreciation much greater when everything does come together.
We are keeping our prices the same for 2011 and have a very limited number of hunts yet available. Please contact us for a DVD and a reference list if you are interested, and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.