trip to alaska what to pack?


May 20, 2012, 02:01 PM
i might have a chance to work a gold claim in alaska this summer with a friend. he has been doing this for some time and can help me with gear and the rifle. how hard is it to get ammo in kotzebue alaska? what i plan to carry is my k31 and a .357 on the side but i wasnt sure if i should opt for a different rifle round. if i go my money will be spent on airfare and food while im there and i dont have too many options for a large caliber rifle at the house. it is between a k31 and an old sks. every thing else is scoped and i want open sights while im out away from camp.
is it hard to get things shipped up there? i know there is a cabelas but im not sure if the will shipp live ammo that far north. might have to find a different round to carry up there. swiss ammo is hard enough to get my hands on local, let alone that far north.

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May 20, 2012, 02:16 PM
Any chance you got a pump shotgun??

12 ga Rifled Slugs should be pretty common I would think.

I'd much rather take on a brown bear with that then a .357!


May 20, 2012, 02:35 PM
Extra socks, real raingear.

I wouldn't think ammo would be impossible to come by, but you have to admit that's an odd caliber and not exactly regularly stocked in most stores.

If you're really remote, have your friend order some in to where he picks up his supplies. Check airline regs as to how much ammo you can take on a plane these days. Thats FAR cheaper than shipping to Alaska.

Old judge creek
May 20, 2012, 02:54 PM
Having been in the great Alaskan bush I can tell you that I wouldn't go again without my S&W 629 on my belt and my Marlin 45-70 Guide Gun, which I bought specifically for a return trip that has had to be delayed.

Regardless, the point has been moot thus far, for I've managed not to have need for either one. Do pay attention to your surroundings, though.

As well, the Marlin 45-70 Guide Gun has become my preferred boonie rifle. There's nothing in the Lower Forty-Eight that little rifle won't stop.

Carl N. Brown
May 20, 2012, 02:59 PM
I have always been told: Mosquito repellant.

May 20, 2012, 03:34 PM
How are you getting to Alaska? Going overland may present a problem if the .357 is a handgun.

May 20, 2012, 05:52 PM
I doubt you're going to be getting daily bear attacks, so I would think a full cylinder and a full mag for the K31 will be sufficient. More then that? If you don't plan to do any recreational shooting there, a box of ammo for each should be more then enough, and will probably travel back with you untouched, if you stay aware of your surroundings.

More then that, get yourself a mini fire-extinguisher of bear mace, lots of mosquito repellent, good rain gear, and a digital camera to document your adventures.

we are not amused
May 20, 2012, 07:43 PM
The K31 round is roughly equivalent to a .308 Winchester, certainly plenty of rifle for a bear. I would hesitate on the SKS, as it is roughly equivalent to a 30-30. But it is a rugged gun and still more powerful than any handgun cartridge. It is also lighter and shorter than a K31, which means it would be faster to bring on target. It should be adequate with the right type of hunting bullets (ball or controlled expansion). I have always been told that a .44 magnum is the minimum handgun for Brown/Grizzly bear, but a ready rifle or slug 12 ga. would be more effective. If the bear is close enough to need a handgun to shoot it with, you're probably screwed anyway.

As for the mosquito repellent, take it! I understand that the M2 quad 50's are effective, but hard to lug around heavy brush or swampy terrain.

May 20, 2012, 07:54 PM
i am packing a few bear bells and some spray for sure. i would like to carry a 12gage but all i have is a short barrel 19" mavrick 88. i couldnt run slugs through it. i fish in bear country but but our black bear isnt half as big as up north. i have read lots of threads about shotguns being the go to but i dont have too many rounds to choose from.
my brother mentioned the 45/70 and it would be nice to have if i can trade around for it. i also have a chance at getting 10mm before i leave. does a 10mm have the velocity and the size to penitrate and do damage? i was thinking about the .357 over my .45 acp simply because of penitration. i plan on running some full metal flatnose while im up there.
as far as rain gear is there anywhere to find heavy duty goretex for work? all i have is a flimsy shell to wear over my bibs. i have good socks and boots but i do need to find some sturdy wool pants. cotton kills. from what i have been told it can be 75 out durring the day then drop to 0 or below at night depending on the weather. it would suck to be sleeping in damp cotton socks or sweat in some blue jeans then freeze after sunset while cooking or cleaning up.
it would be worth the trip just to say ive panned gold in alaska. i really hope i get to go this summer.

May 20, 2012, 08:17 PM
Take anti-bear pepper spray. It works faster than anything but a central nervous system hit from a rifle or magnum handgun. Use the firearm as a backup in case the bear comes back.

May 20, 2012, 08:27 PM
How to tell brown bear poo from black bear in Alaska? It has little bells in it and smells like pepper. Seriously though, 12gauge shotgun and Xtra tuffs for your feet.

May 20, 2012, 08:50 PM
2 pairs of boots at least one pair waterproof.
Already mentioned socks.
Long underwear. I like 100% silk.
Check out Filsons clothing. Not cheap but possibly the best.
Deck of cards and a board game to fight cabin fever.
Solar phone charger if you have connection. Satellite seems more likely,
Cold nights means warm sleeping bag.
Rain gear.
Watch cap.
Gloves. I buy waterproof ones from Farm Supply for a few bucks. I'll bet the water will be cold regardless of air temp.
Fire starter.
Good fixed blade knife. The best quality you can afford. A boken blade leaves you up a crick.
Pocket folding knife. Same comments.
Bug spray.

May 20, 2012, 08:53 PM
Take anti-bear pepper spray. It works faster than anything but a central nervous system hit from a rifle or magnum handgun. Use the firearm as a backup in case the bear comes back.

I totally agree with this statement. Unless you are really good with a gun bear spray is more effective IMHO. I cant tell you how many times I had friends who would show up from the lower 48, want to go hicking or fishing, and ask me for a gun. I would give them bear spray. They would want to take my .44 even thought they had never even shot one before. If you have three seconds to react to a bear charging than you are lucky. Most of the survivors say that before they knew what was happening they were attacked. Even dropping a bear with one shot with any gun is pretty difficult. Bear spray has, in spite of the negative press, a proven history of working.

That being said, most people consider a .44mag to be the smallest acceptable caliber in a handgun. Personally I always carried both spray and a gun. If I could only have one for some reason it would be spray. We also kept a mosin nagant in the camp a lot. But nothing is as effective as a 12 gauge with slugs. We had one of those around a lot as well. Fortunately for me I never had to shoot one.

Keep in mind that while bears get all of the glory Moose can be very dangerous too. Obviously a thinner skin and easier to take down. A cop in Anchorage dropped on with his service pistol not too long ago. But keep an eye out for them.

Bug Repellant
Extra socks
Bug repellant
Extra rain gear
Extra shoes
Bug Repellant

May 20, 2012, 09:29 PM
I might catch crap for this, but, I found the Police/Fire/EMS rain jackets that Galls sells (their store brand - Galls) to be top notch at a very affordable price. Just throw something on under them, since wet they offer negative heat retention. Just in case, always throw in a can of that silicone waterproofing spray. Seems to do an OK job of making non-water repellent fabric water-repellent.

For that 12ga I would think some of the Remington Buckhammer 1 & 3/8th oz 3" magnums would work fine for bear. 602 grains of soft lead at 1300fps should be adequate, barring that some 000 3" magnums for that 12ga.

May 20, 2012, 10:22 PM
I would take a couple rain suits (top and bottoms); the kind you get at the better hardware stores that run about $10 each.

Extra shoes and a least one pair of good rubber boots and if you are panning, I'd go hip waders for sure that fit you.

Extra socks, flannel shirts, tea shirts, blue jeans... normal stuff.

I would talk to your friend. There is more to take than a rifle and handgun.

Do you expect to make any money? How well does your friend do? Is this strictly a panning operation or a dredge or what?

May 20, 2012, 10:28 PM
I have been planning on a trip like that for some time now and my firearm selection is a Ruger Redhawk with Garret Cartridges 340gr hard cast ammo to carry on my person and my Remington Wingmaster 870 loaded with Winchester rifled slugs for my wife to carry along side me. I need the hand gun because I'll be carrying a 50 lb. camera pack and need the handgun for maneuverability. I hope I never need either gun but being prepared is my motto.

May 20, 2012, 11:31 PM
right now my going is based souly on what he finds up there. i run a small firearms custom shop with my wife so there is no point going if there is nothing up there. he is almost 80 years old and going to be working with a partner that is around 50. im only 25 so that leaves me with the grunt work but i am more than happy with that. if they get in to a good mess of it i will be comeing out to be the pack mule and help around camp. from what i have been told most of gold will be filtered from a sluse and some panning on the side. i have worked pipeline in west virginia for a bit but i dont know how the climate compares to alaska. out here in the winter it is cold muddy and wet. some days -7 then the next could be 70 dependign on what holler the warm air get stuck in when the wind blows. most of my clothes will be wool flannal it stays warm better when its wet. rain gear is great but never keeps you 100% dry.
in the boyscouts i learned some basic woodsmanship and survival but this is the real deal. i will probably sell or trade the sks before i take it up there.
it is going to interesting trying to pack as little as i can but still have what i need. the sleeping bag was a good point. i dont ussualy camp in anything below 20F it might be nice to up grade.bug spray and scotch guard is a good idea too. i will most likely get them up there. i dont think i can pack them on a plane. we will be making trips to town every now and then but most of the time we will be on our own.
i hope he finds what hes looking for up there this trip is like a dream vacation for me. i would love to put gold mining the alakan frontier under my belt

May 20, 2012, 11:40 PM
from what he has told me is that there have been two bears killed in our area up there in the last month. i dont know the circumstances behind it and i am sure atleast one of them had more to do with a stupid decision rather than a hungry bear. i totaly agree that bear spray is much more effective but it is good to know there is backup just a sling away. im sure if we keep a clean camp and washup a ways from camp that will be more helpful than a firearm. most times it is human error. ussualy kids not washing up before they sleep or leaving food close to camp even picking you camp sight has some to do with it. problems ussualy start with us not the bears. if a person hangs food right next to camp and the bear gets hungry and cant reach it there is a good chance hes going to root around camp looking for scraps.
i am more worried about hypothermia than bears.

May 20, 2012, 11:45 PM
If you are building a business and have a dependable income you're better off putting your efforts into your business instead of chasing gold dust.

May 21, 2012, 12:01 AM
i wont be going uless there is a need for me. i am very good friends with this guy we have been in the same church for years he is kinda like a father figure or at least he thinks he is :). on top of it being a fun adventure i feel obligated to help him. i dont really like the idea of two older men being up there with out some help. it would be foolish to go for the entire summer but if there is a sure proffit and the help is needed i would be up there as soon as i can book the flight. my wife and i do wood work and metal plating it is a limited field right now so the work is slow i drive off road truck part time for a buddy when we dont have orders. it seemed like an adventure i would regret missing out on if i turned it down. i would regret it more if something happened to them up there. he doesnt hear very well. i feel like i need to be looking out for him. he is very capable but i would feel ashamed if something happened up there. it is hard to respond to a situation by your self. if he or his partner got hurt it would be a strugle to for the person trying to get help.

Hk Paul
May 21, 2012, 12:35 AM
You should go. You have the rest of your life to work.

Shadow 7D
May 21, 2012, 12:36 AM
The only people who make money in gold mining are the Chandlers (those are the equipment and goods suppliers...)

If you are in it for gold, either get with a PROFESIONAL AND PROVEN miner
or do it as a hobby, anything else will just not quite what you think.

Consider, an average 2 man team walks out for with something like 6-8K in gold, NOW, that is for 3 months hard work, consider that the supplies probably cost 2+K, transport 2+K(and now thats probably per a person) so, end of the day you can end up LOOSING money, if you have a good business, Spend 11 weeks building it, and then fly up and spend a week at one of the gold camps, there are some really good outfits that will teach you lots, and you aren't 'ruffing' it, well, you are, but it ain't sleeping under a poncho in and freezing your butt off.

May 21, 2012, 05:51 AM
This thread might help

May 21, 2012, 12:47 PM
Noticed in you post above that you seem to be obligated because you are worried about the two older (80 and 50) men that are already up there. Don't let that be what pulls you up there. They are grown men who made the decision to go.

I do agree with this statement:

You should go. You have the rest of your life to work.

If I was 25 and the trip was not going to break me, I'd go in a minute.....just to get my feet wet, up there, one time, just for the experience.

May 21, 2012, 12:54 PM
Good luck getting GP11 or any Swiss in the bush. You can find it Anchorage sometimes, with luck.

I suspect that working a claim you're going to be so beat up that the idea of carrying a large firearm around will soon seem like folly to you. I did briefly use the K31 as a trail rifle, but found it to be pretty bulky. I'd hate to imagine what it would be like carrying around while working a claim. It reminds me of the word one Swiss vet used to describe his carbine. Started with a "B" ;-)

I'd suggest a slug gun with a good folding stock in a backpack style scabbard or a magnum you can handle well with hardcasts in a belly holster. Something that will stay out of the way. Either that or just take some spray.

Don't forget the sun cream, either way. People are surprised how crispy they can get in Alaska in the summer. I use the combination bug/sun block. Also a considerable amount of mosquito netting in case the Horde attacks. Enough to completely cover you. And also bring some naptha and a match to light yourself on fire if they get through the barriers. Bears are a comparatively minor threat. Ever seen Aliens? Imagine billions of those things flying around in black swarms, ready to ram their inner mouths into your flesh.

May 21, 2012, 01:15 PM
Goretex really doesn't cut it as working rain gear. Look up Helly Hansen and get a set. At the end of the day, turn the coat and bibs inside out to dry. Repair rips with duct tape. I don't know what you wear for work clothes, but a lot of us rock Carharts.

I don't know why you say you can't use your mavrick 88 with slugs.:confused: Short barrels are what we use for bear guns, you're not going making 100 yard shots. My 870's barrel is 18.5" and does just fine at 50 yds.

May 21, 2012, 02:11 PM
I know this sound crazy, but make sure you test the effective range and spray pattern of any bear spray you carry. Also, practice drawing the spray and deactivating the safety. Oh..and don't spray into the wind.

You wouldn't be the first person to not be able to deactivate a safety or spray himself in the face. Trying to stop an angry bear without prior practice can make learning very interesting.

May 23, 2012, 12:24 AM
I was in Kotzebue from 4/2010 to 7/2010. In may there was some snow. By late June it was up to 40 degrees during the day. Windy. Only one day did I have a problem with mosquitos down by the swamp, then the wind picked up and no more problem. I didn't know there was gold in the Kotz area. Most of the gold is about 200 miles south around Nome. The National Park Service issued Rem 870's with buckshot for the first shot backed up by slugs to visiting archeologists for protection. A gallon of milk is $9-10/gallon. Most stores sell ammo. The AC store, another store by the Post Office I can't remember the name(german), and there is a gun store down near the library. Everything is pricey. Take as much stuff as you can in your suitcases. I had my wife and kids mail me packages of food every 2 weeks. I knew before going and fixed up the boxes ahead of time so all they had to do was mail them. I didn't see any bear or moose in or around Kotzebue, but I did see the damage a bear did to the metal pipe bringing water to the town from Devil Lake. Others saw a moose and her baby. Stay away from the dump. It has been known to attract bear. Good luck. Northwest Flight Service is a good crew. I flew with Jim and Jim some.

Dr. Detroit
May 23, 2012, 01:02 AM
In addition to your camera(s), bring a journal and take some notes if you're so inclined. My mother, now 89, went to Alaska as a child in the late 1920s and still recites very specific details of that amazing trip today.

Dr. Detroit

May 23, 2012, 02:23 AM
Why can't you run slugs thru the maverick? Mine has fired quite a few slugs, it ain't near fell apart yet?

jim in Anchorage
May 23, 2012, 04:17 AM
You might what to PM Caribo. He lives in Kotz.

May 23, 2012, 10:18 AM
Bring a thermacell.

May 23, 2012, 11:19 AM
Isn't there a problem with bringing a handgun into Canada if you are driving to Alaska?
Would the .44 or .357 mag. lever-guns be sufficient for bear protection?

May 23, 2012, 12:22 PM
I agree with having a shotgun as a back up. I flew a small civilian aircraft up in 97 to sell to my uncle. We drove a truck back out. It broke down in Canada, about 3 hours from no where. I stayed with the truck and had a 12 guage. I am glad I had it. I was there for 7.5-8 hours while waiting on someone to tow the truck. Always be as well prepared as you can....

May 23, 2012, 12:29 PM
i would like to carry a 12gage but all i have is a short barrel 19" mavrick 88. i couldnt run slugs through it.

i too am curious as to just why you think that? i have had my mav 88 for several years and have fired HUNDREDS of slugs with it. in fact, for the past 4 years or so it has been my dedicated slug gun.

i say take the shotgun and a few boxes of brenneke slugs. my preference would be to load it up with some of these ( they are a very hard and heavy slug and will do a LOT of damage.

Nice N Stinky
May 23, 2012, 12:31 PM
Good luck, I hope you get rich, just be carefull Alaska can be a bitch.

May 23, 2012, 01:31 PM
i didnt think the mavric could run slugs. that is probably what is going with me now.
i am going to be flying in. i am going to try to fit as much gear in my bags as i can but some things im just going to have to get there. my friend left yesterday so i should hear back from him by the end of the month. think ill see how the mavric shoots with a rifled slug this weekend

May 23, 2012, 09:16 PM
Glock 20, 10mm, light, powerful and accurate.

Deaf Smith
May 23, 2012, 10:58 PM
Bear defense?

Oh, 12 gauge Mossie 500 Mariner, regular stock and not that stupid cruiser grip, and with Brenneke Black Magic Magnum 3 shells.

I've got them both.. 629-3 4 inch .44 magnum and Glock 20 10mm but the handguns are only if I'm away from the shottie.


May 23, 2012, 11:57 PM
Post 27 is right. We would also practice with bear spray. You do have to learn how to be quick with it too. But it is pretty easy. When we first moved there we had an extra can and practiced with it. It is a little different but easy to get quick with.

Carry both, but use the spray as primary.

hang fire
May 24, 2012, 05:04 PM
We lived in rural Alaska for seven years and unless hunting, my carry was a short two row 12 with 3 triple ought buck.

I had a .44 mag and thought it was sufficient, until one day decided to take a cow moose for meat near the house. Disappointment is hardly the word for its performance, at about 30 or 40 feet I placed first shot broadside into the heart/lung s. she flinched and moved off, next shot in the shoulder, nada, then two more in the neck and she was off in a dead run. I sit down and had a couple smokes before tracking, result, over an hour tramping through thick alders and devils club and three more hits before she was on the ground.

I had carried the .44 when fishing and felt it was adequate for griz, but that moose cured me of my disillusionment.

May 24, 2012, 10:38 PM
Bear spray will be confiscated by the TSA even in checked luggage.

Buy it there.

May 24, 2012, 11:12 PM
I spent ten years in Kotzebue 1963-1973 as a technician with the FAA. I flew a Supercub and a C180 out of there into the Western Brooks and Baird mountains as well as along the coast to Pt. Lisburne and Pt. Lay when they still had DEW line radar sites. I always wore my S&W 29 holstered on my hip and a 12ga. with slugs and shot. The .44 was the minimum for bear protection when you are working and moving a good bit and don't want to carry the long gun. The shotgun with shot and slugs was a good bear protection weapon as well as a game getter in case of a forced landing. Lots of bug dope, the whole area is a mosquito feasting venue. When the wind stops (it does sometimes) there are mucho bugs in the air. A hat with mosquito netting is good if you're going to be walking on the tundra or small streams. No bug dope will stop the deer flies, they thing the stuff is salad dressing. It's great country, beautiful in summer or winter. Not quite the same now that the villages have airstrips and there are helicopters to make life easier but still it's a great place. Of course the real testing comes in the winter which is still good for hunting. Or at least it used to be when we could hunt caribou of either sex all year 'round with no bag limit. Enjoy the experience it's a different world.

May 25, 2012, 10:14 AM
You should go. You have the rest of your life to work.

Like he said.
Get a good pair of rubber farm boots, with good tread. You'll love them. Fleece is a great alternative to wool and it's cheaper and dries faster. Double up on the raingear and boots cause you'll need them. Bring a few lighter weight sleeping bags instead of one real thick one. You can layer them to adjust to the temp. Rectangular sleeping bags are bulky and not as warm but man are they ever comfortable. And you can use them as a quilt. Those fluorescent orange helicopter flags are great to hide under from the mosquitoes, they don't like it under one and leave you alone for some strange reason. Deet is your friend, just be careful cause it's strong enough to melt plastic.
And don't forget the beer.
It's an adventure, just do it. Take lots of pictures and enjoy. Lucky lucky.

May 25, 2012, 11:58 AM
Rain is usually light in the summer, overcast is common and wind on the coast is usually pretty consistant. Up the rivers, the Noatak and Kobuk are the major ones in the OTZ area, and tributaries there isn't as much wind and the bugs can be more of an irritation. Temperatures aren't bad, it can be pretty warm up river and will hang around the 50s on the coast. Fishing is good, I used to carry red Daredevils in various sizes, they work well on salmon and grayling early in the season. Later on in the summer when the bugs are out smal spinners and flies work better on grayling. Grayling are excellent camp grub as long as they are cooked soon after catching. We used to wrap them up in tinfoil and toss them into the campfire embers for 15-20 minutes. Great eating fish. If one has some dried onions or fresh ones along with salt and pepper to put in the gut cavity prior to cooking they are really good. I do envy you it will be a great experience.

hang fire
May 25, 2012, 01:49 PM
Get a good pair of rubber farm boots, with good tread. You'll love them.

LOL. when we lived in AK, Red Ball rubber boots were the state footwear for men and women.

May 25, 2012, 05:42 PM
Yep, in SE Alaska cannery workers wear black rubber boots and fishermen wear red ones. Floatplane pilots wear 'em too. Xtra-Tuff Neoprene were the most popular. Just noticed they're running around $128 now. I still have a pair I paid $48 for, think I'll hang on to them. Great boots they seem to last forever. They are made in the USA and popular all over Alaska. The company even made a high heeled pair for Miss Alaska one year. Waterproof gloves are a help too, the rivers and creeks in NW Alaska are damn cold!

May 25, 2012, 06:00 PM
hang,were you using hollowpoints or flat nose on the 44?

May 25, 2012, 07:32 PM
An advisory sign from Bear Country:

May 26, 2012, 12:30 PM
this is comferting lol i though it was just a joke. lol im looking around for a good pair of muck boots i have three pairs of steel toe but none are watter proof. if i get to go it should be lots of fun.

May 26, 2012, 01:41 PM
I worked a dog lot for about eight months in the 1980's..

rubber boots.
rubber cement and tire patches. (for fixing your boots when you snag them)
extra socks
extra undies
bug repellant
more bug repellant
beekeepers headnet (heck with the mosquitos, them stinkin' black flies will eat you ALIVE)
more bug repellant
more socks
more undies

sat phone might be handy..

Bag Balm or some other salve (plenty of that stuff too..). You WILL suffer some godawful bites from bugs you never saw until they chew off half your forearm...

I saw all of one bear (black) when I was up there.. he raided the food barrels and ran like h*ll when I caught him.. blew right past me heading for the woods.. I never even had a chance to shoulder my 12 double..

what you have to worry about is the MOOSE. I had one stomp the crap out of my dog team while I unloaded my Coonan into her boiler room...

and a lot of Gold Bond..
both crotch and foot varieties..

May 26, 2012, 02:44 PM
Xtra Tuff Boots

Bug Repellant with DEET. I peronally like Ben's 100.

Lots of good quality socks, not cotton.

A comfortable pair of shoes to wear around camp.

Good, quality rain gear.

You might find it cheaper somewhere else, but you could buy it in Anchorage and save room for more socks.:)

Brenneke Black Magic slugs for your shotgun.

May 27, 2012, 06:13 PM
not cotton.

Ditto. In fact I'd say nothing cotton at all. It sucks up water, stays wet and doesn't insulate worth a darn. Wool and poly blends are much superior. I would rather have bare legs than cotton pants.

May 27, 2012, 06:20 PM
Ditto. In fact I'd say nothing cotton at all. It sucks up water, stays wet and doesn't insulate worth a darn. Wool and poly blends are much superior. I would rather have bare legs than cotton pants.
I have an acquaintance that escaped certain death at a hunt camp because he was wearing wool longies when the cabin caught fire..

The other person he was with, was wearing poly.. and did not fare as well..

May 27, 2012, 06:24 PM
I should have put a comma in there--I meant wool, and poly blends. I like them both. The poly wicks better and works best in the underlayers. The wool is better on the outside. The two together can be amazingly effective. I've got a wool and poly layered union suit that will have me sweating at twenty below.

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