Another season has wrapped up for Revelation Mountain Outfitters, our 23rd year in business and my 27th year in the guide industry of Alaska. Feeling older but thankful to the Lord for grace and strength to endure the rigors of the field! From sheep camp to shooting a bull moose over 1,000’ in elevation above our base camp, the body and mind have been tested as usual and thankfully we all survived!
I was pleased with what we saw for rams this year, when many places in the Alaska Range West have experienced winter kill that has translated into some outfits not even hunting sheep. Overall what we have seen this year is encouraging for our 2023 schedule and we are considering a total of five sheep slots of which two are already sold. A third slot is tentatively taken if we have a client who canceled this year come in for 2023. For certain we have two slots available at this time and two of our five hunts may take place in our new area on the western side of the range as our scouting there this year has been productive as well.
Brown bear is still the over abundant species and it is always just a matter of timing. A tough slot this year was the late August timeframe as bears just didn’t move on the fish as we had hoped, but early September was a different story. The schedule for next year will have our brown bear clients focused on higher elevations during the August 22-31st hunt slot, rather than the salmon streams. A lot of bears were spotted up high but the ability to go from river bottom to mountain top is not an easy problem to overcome for any client with physical limitations. September 3-12th will be mixed with the best opportunities for those who want to pursue a bear on the salmon streams. This is also the better choice for clients who may not be ready to run ridges in pursuit of berry eating bears.
The big bulls are getting more difficult to come by and we are glad to have both sides of the range open to us in 2023. Some really good bulls were seen this year, but our two brothers who hunted bulls this year with us were 1 for 2 with 1 hunter passing on a minimal legal bull and the brother I guided took a legal bull after what I’m sure he would agree was the hike of a lifetime! Fantastic moment with the bull responding to our calling merely 20-25 minutes after a big wolf came in. We got up and moved less than an 1/8 of a mile and the bull came into our laps, but it was over a 2 mile hike off the mountain. This of course would take a couple of days with 2 apprentices performing impressively, bringing off an entire hindquarter and front shoulder (all on the bone) in the dark that first night. We would lose a bag of meat to a grizzly before the last load came off but it went relatively well considering we normally try to avoid shooting bulls that require a pack of that distance, but thank God we already had a trail cut!
The one serious down side to this season came in the form of vanishing caribou and the appearance of many wolves. Not that we ever had huge numbers of caribou but we always had been able to count on a decent number of bulls in the drainages right behind our base camp and this year they were conspicuously absent and the answer appeared in the form of 8 wolves just 200 yards in front of our August sheep camp (which was the drainage that commonly had caribou). Fortunately we eliminated 3 of the 8 wolves at this occasion but another large pack was seen repeatedly downriver while bear and moose hunting and then 1 more wolf was eliminated from the front porch of our main cabin.
The positive side of this is great opportunities for clients who want to take a wolf and keep in mind I went 17 years in Alaska camps without seeing a single wolf, and I personally saw around 15 this season. The other positive note is, once again we have the option to pursue caribou and moose on the western side of the range in 2023. Hopefully the same scenario is playing out across an entire 100 mile stretch of bush and hopefully ADF&G will step up to the task of predator management again before it is too late.
Overall we are expecting a great season in 2023 and we are very excited for the additional team members that have come on board this year and we are looking forward to providing all our 2023 clients an Alaskan experience of a lifetime!
Master Guide #214