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Aknative's Fall 2017 adventures.

Posted: Sun Nov 05, 2017 9:53 am
by Aknative
For the 2017 fall hunting season here in Alaska, I mounted 35hp Swamp Runner on my old 1848 Ouachita jon boat.

My uncle and a buddy flew into town a few days later, and the three of us loaded our gear into the truck, hooked up the boat and made the tow to the Yukon River. After a long boat ride on the Yukon we made it to our target camp up a tributary not to be named.

After making camp and lightening the load, we began the climb upstream into high country and prime caribou habitat.

We went up around 50 river miles from the mouth of this mountain tributary. We were able to climb through numerous rapids, and gain over 550 feet in elevation in that distance.

I’d hunted this area in previous years with a surface drive, but have never made it up river as far as we did this year with a Swamp Runner longtail. This was in part due to high water, but also a greater confidence I had in the Swamp Runner for several reasons; it’s lighter so would hopefully damage the boat less should the boat strike a rock or I beach it inadvertently at speed, the long tail flexes to absorb a hard strike on the rocks where my surface drive is rigid and has on many occasions ripped the tiller from my hand and raked me from my hip to my shin, and I had many spare props that could be easily changed should I brake them.
The rapids and rock gardens we had to punch through were a challenge, and downright scary at times.

We went several days without seeing caribou. We had reached a braided rock garden that was shallower and more rocky than anything we’d weaved through so far, it was the halfway point of each trip from camp, trips which for days yielded only tracks and scant fresh poop. On the morning trip of the third day, we were on our way back to camp from that garden, planning drastic measures for the afternoon hunt. We’d either take a walk after lunch to a ridge top from which to glass or try to pick our way up the braided rock garden that had been our turning point.

As we made our way just barely on step back towards camp we spotted a group of caribou crossing the river. We couldn’t believe it! Nearly lunch time on a clear hot day and there they were! We couldn’t discern any for sure bulls in the group, so we stayed our rifles and hit the beach to wait in the brush, for where one group crosses more should. We watched several groups cross, with a few animals trying to cross on top of us! They were so close we felt their hooves beat the ground when they turned from us. After watching that stretch for some time we couldn’t ignore our bellies any longer. We decided to pick our way back to camp and the cook stove, traveling as slowly as the boat could stay on step over the shallows and slower in the deep to get a good look at the riverside bluffs.

After rounding several bends we came across a caribou that was certainly a bull, large antlers cleaned of velvet, white beard swaying back and forth in concert with his head gear. This bull was accompanied by a smaller bou who’s sex was dubious. After Uncle took the for sure bull, I was able to discern that the smaller velvet antlered animal was a bull, and immediately made meat.

With three sets of hands we had the animals cut up and boated in short order. We made it to camp with plenty of time to eat well, stage the meat to cool and be dry for the night, and prepare for breaking camp and loading the boat in the morning for the trip home. We traveled roughly 300 river miles total, from the truck to camp, then up and down hunting, and from camp to the truck. We burned between 40 and 45 gallons of the 60 we brought, carrying three men, two tents, food, gear, sparse and light camp kitchen items and single burner stove, rifles...the payload, counting the motor, started as an estimated 1,500 pounds.

After a couple days at home to butcher, bag, freeze meat and take care of town business, Uncle and I were headed back out for moose. We were less one man and his camp and gear lighter, and carried only 50 gallons of gas. Payload this trip started as an estimated 1,100 pounds.

We only had to go a few miles up that river for moose camp, as they generally, generally, were found more regularly in the lower flatter part of the river. The water is slower down there, the rocks smaller and more round, unlike the can openers up high. We made camp with enough time to eat and take a ride up river. The quiet motor allowed is close looks at cow moose, grazing on the willow crowding the river bank. We followed the same routine as caribou hunting, early out and about, back at camp for lunch, out in the early evening timing arrival back at camp with the end of comfortable running light.

Every cow moose we saw deserved a close look, as it could be a small bull or in the company of a rutting monster. We slowed down for such moose a little before dark, but closer inspection showed it was a young bull! We cut the engine, allowing the current to bring us to bear. It knew we were there before we saw it, but the quiet engine failed to spook him off. And by the time he realized we were bad news it was too late! The first bullet took him a smidge back of the heart, but destroyed both lungs. Had he not been walking away from the river the second shot would have been unnecessary, but an animal that large can’t be allowed to walk too far into the brush!

We were home the next evening, with time to cut and freeze meat for Uncle to take home. The motor performed wonderfully, got every load on step and over the shallows. Our average loaded speed was about 15 miles per hour up river, 19 or so loaded down river. Best speed was 27 mph going back downriver to camp empty. Though we dinged props on the rocks, we did not break any. The curls will be filed off and the props will keep pushing my boat.

This was a great trip, ending with full freezers and fuel to spare.

Here's also my beaver trapping 2017 compilation.

And here due to a long warm fall I thought I had time to set some otter, mink, and more beaver traps. I was mistaken!

Re: Aknative's Fall 2017 adventures.

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 3:12 am
by Willie Rip
You, sir, are living the life! I've wondered how the Briggs Vanguard made out. I like how you kept saying it was so quiet.

Re: Aknative's Fall 2017 adventures.

Posted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 7:58 pm
by Aknative
Thanks! I guess I take it for granted.

When hunting I only run 1800-2800 RPMs. At those speeds it’s quieter and I get a better look at the river. The critters still know we’re coming, but we’re just something to keep an eye on, not something to run from yet.

Re: Aknative's Fall 2017 adventures.

Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:07 pm
by Bcoonce117
WOw I'm very envious!! This is an awesome set up and great hunt!! I enjoyed watching that!!! Good job guys!

Re: Aknative's Fall 2017 adventures.

Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 11:44 pm
by Aknative
Thanks! I'm stoked about the future of this motor. With this thin boat I generally avoid climbing logs and dams, but have already found myself climbing more than I did with a surface drive because I can slowly climb over them instead of having to take a running start. I'm sure I'm going to get high centered at some point, I'll share the video!

Re: Aknative's Fall 2017 adventures.

Posted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 9:06 pm
by trapperles
Thanks for sharing, Temple .