Welcome to episode #4 of the do-it-yourself Alaska Hunting video series. In this blog article, we’ll take a look at the biggest expenses in planning a DIY hunting trip in Alaska. These include actually getting there, having a place to stay, having a means of transportation to get you to and from your hunting area, and later getting you and your harvested animal back home.
Getting to Alaska
For starters, there are a couple of different options for just getting to Alaska in general before heading off to a more specific location for your hunt. This is another reason to plan your trip as far in advance as possible. Plane tickets are significantly cheaper when you buy them many months ahead of time, and airlines often have big discounts that come up at different times throughout the year, especially in the off-season.
Another major way to cut your airfare is to immediately get an Alaska Airlines credit card. This is not a paid advertisement, but simply the facts. Upon approval, you’ll get a significant number of free travel miles, and, most importantly, a companion ticket, which essentially is a two for one airfare discount, which renews every year. The savings add up fast and can cut costs immensely! If you have a similar miles plan with a different creditor, get the details and take advantage of it. You can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars when it’s all said and done. Of course, use your head. Don’t do anything crazy with your credit card in an attempt to simply get to Alaska.
An additional travel expense for those who fly to Alaska may be that of renting a vehicle. This cost, too, can be greatly reduced by planning way ahead of time and being realistic. Don’t “over-rent,” if you can help it. Based on your well-researched travel plans and targeted hunting area, rent the most economical vehicle you can for your specific needs, whether it’s simply getting you around town to run some errands, or, heading out to the backcountry for a road system hunt. Learn to do more with less, as that’s the name of the game for a DIY Alaska adventure of any kind, especially when you’re on a tight budget.
A fun and exciting alternative to flying to the Great Land and having to rely on a rental car, truck, or RV, is loading up your own trusty vehicle and hitting the road! Driving the Alaska Highway is perhaps one of the most memorable and adventurous ways to get to, and explore the 49th state. You’ll experience spectacular scenery, see lots of wildlife, and also have abundant fishing and hunting opportunities along the way. Naturally though, if you plan on hunting your way up and through Alaska, you’ll need to get very familiar with the regulations that apply to each particular area/game unit along the way…as they vary considerably. What may be legal in one area might be illegal right across the road in another spot…literally!
If you have the time and are up for the adventure of a lifetime, I highly recommend an Alaska Highway road trip. Naturally, the cost of fuel will add up, but it can still come out much cheaper than airfare when it’s all said and done. If this is an option for you, get a copy of the most recent edition of the Milepost, and study it thoroughly, as this annually published book is truly the Bible for traveling the North Country and contains an incredible wealth of information and planning resources.
If you plan on flying to Alaska for your hunt, as most do, you’ll most likely need a place to stay once you get into town before heading out, and then coming back in, from your adventure. It might just be a matter of having a place to crash for the night and organize your gear, but depending on what time of year it is, finding a decent place for even an overnight stay can at times be a challenge. A hotel, motel, or Bed & Breakfast that may go for around $90.00 a night during the “off-season” in Alaska can easily cost you $200.00 or more during the peak, summer/fall months. So again, plan in advance as far as possible to ensure you have a place to stay, which will also serve as a way of saving some significant cash.
Road System VS Remote Hunting
Another important transportation-related decision to make is in regard to hunting either the road accessible areas of Alaska, or, getting waaaaay off the beaten path by other means. Keep in mind, if you plan on hunting an area that’s accessible by the main road systems of Alaska, or even popular ATV trails for that matter, you very well may have a fair amount of company during your hunt. But, that’s not always such a bad thing, especially if you’re not comfortable being totally isolated from the rest of humanity. However, if you desire the kind of hunt in which you’ll most likely be guaranteed to not see other people, then you’ll have to be prepared to drive or hike much further than your competition, rent a raft and do a float hunt, or, hire a bush pilot or boat captain to get you into otherwise inaccessible areas of wilderness…which are also generally much more productive for hunting due to the lack of human presence or pressure.
Hiring an air taxi or charter boat will cost a significant chunk of change though, and again, will most likely be one of your biggest expenses on a DIY hunt. However, splitting up the cost with a few buddies is the best way to handle it and can make it quite affordable. If you do plan on hiring a transport service, research them well, read reviews, ask around on reputable Alaska hunting forums or travel service websites such as Trip Advisor, and book your flight or boat ride as far in advance as possible.
A very popular and incredibly fun DIY option is doing a float hunt. You’ll have the cost of raft rental and hiring someone to drop you off and pick you up along the river, but it’s an absolutely fantastic way to explore the Alaskan wilderness and get into some great hunting locations. There are lots of great books and videos out there to learn more.
In the next episode in this series, we’ll be having a look at the topic of how to properly care for your harvested game animal while out in the field and how to get all the meat back home to the freezer, so stay tuned. Check out the video below to see more…