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Alaskan Winters

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by merlinfire, Oct 1, 2010.

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  1. merlinfire

    merlinfire Member

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    I have heard that the Alaskan winters are pretty dark with night most of the time. Do any of you Alaskans up there hunt during the winter? How does that work out?
     
  2. natman

    natman Member

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    Here's a funny book about a newcomer adapting to life in Alaska.

    http://www.amazon.com/Land-Radioactive-Midnight-Sun-Cheechakos/dp/B000H2NDG4/

    He tells a funny story of how he living in a cabin in the bush and wanted to listen to a hockey game on the radio. (Which should give you a good idea of how bored he was.) He couldn't get the game at the cabin, so he climbed a hill to get better radio reception. He and his buddy took along a couple of six packs to pass the time, but the beer kept freezing. So every now and then he'd tell his buddy "I'm thirsty, time to throw another beer on the fire.".

    I once spent a week in southern Alaska. It was 34 degrees and raining. In mid-August.
     
  3. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    It's a huge state with many different climatic regions. In SE the weather is more like British Columbia. In the interior the weather is like Mars on a cold day. And there's everything in between during the typical winter depending on where you are in the state. When I commuted from Willow to Anchorage I would often start winter mornings at thirty below in Willow in perfectly still ice fog, then move into super high winds and zero degrees in Palmer/Wasilla, then find it was icy and in the teens in Anchorage. All within a 100 mile radius. The daylight hours also vary depend on where you are in the state. Here in south central we always get some hours of good daylight and the snow brightens things up. You have go to farther north to find sunless winters.

    Generally, though, most of the f&g activity in the winter is ice fishing, trapping and some small game hunting. I've done grouse hunting in the winter and it's a lot of fun. There are also good opportunities right at the season changes esp. springtime. The birds still have winter feathers and the bears come down to eat the early thawed grass. If you time it right the legal seasons have overlap in many GMU's at those points. The bulk of the hunting for moose, caribou and such is in the fall though and most hunters here don't bother with the small stuff.
     
  4. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Last edited: Oct 1, 2010
  5. merlinfire

    merlinfire Member

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    Sometimes, I wish I could go live up there. The last really untamed wilderness we've got, huh?
     
  6. oldbanjo

    oldbanjo Member

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    You can have it and anyone that lives there must be insane.
     
  7. CoRoMo

    CoRoMo Member

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    Merlin, I wish that, but not sometimes, all the time. And yes, it is.
     
  8. Roughneck08

    Roughneck08 Member

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    CoRoMo, I loved watching that PBS special documentary when it came on. I probably say once a week I am moving to Alaska because of it's beauty and cooler climate. Beautiful and great hunting.
     
  9. CoastieShep

    CoastieShep Member

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    Walked out of a bar in Homer. It was still mid day bright out side. Had to check my watch to make sure they they didn't kick us out early. Yep, it was 2am. Kinda messes with your head.
     
  10. Cryogaijin

    Cryogaijin Member

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    Most of the big game hunting ends late september to early october. That isn't really late enough in the year to be too dark. . . even so, the sky up north is brighter than the sky farther south (Due to light leaking over the pole, auroras, and the like.) In other words, if you go to the middle of the desert in Arizona on a clear night you'll see MANY more stars than doing so in the middle of the tundra up here.
     
  11. zeos

    zeos Member

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  12. roklok

    roklok Member

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    Most of the big game hunting is in late summer and fall, but I have killed caribou in January, and there are winter moose hunts. Most of my winter hunting is wolf, fox, and ptarmigan hunting.
     
  13. Silverado6x6

    Silverado6x6 Member

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    I have lived in Alaska since 1992, my first ever BIG rifle purchase was here and it was a stainless Ruger 77 Mk II in .338 Winchester magnum. The weather can play havoc on a gun specially when it goes from sub zero temps to a warm house, my other heavy caliber rifle is a Winchester Model 70 .375H&H, but I had it epoxy molycoated.

    I have spent winters in Illinois, in the Sierra Nevada mountains around Lake Tahoe and there is no comparison to an Alaskan winter. The depth and purity of the air is only something you have to experience, and the northern lights is the entertainment.

    An old saying goes up here: Winter is 6 months long and takes 6 months to get ready for it.

    To me Alaska IS winter, summer is just a brief time for the tourism and to go motorcycle riding. Winter has a unique almost mystical feel to it up here, its my greatest joy being out in -20F temps in a crystal clear sky, the shimmering curtain of the lights above, the dry squeak-crunch of dry snow and also knowing that so many wish they could do what I do.

    I reload a little bit differently here, I use H4895 in my .308 because its not cold temperature problematic, and I use magnum primers, I also prefer Barnes bullets. I use synthetic oils, grease or dry film sprays, and a cheap scope is junk in the dark or twilight. On the .338 I use a Trijicon 3x9x40 Accupoint, on the .375 its the same Trijicon but a 1.25x4x20, they both have that lit up triangle.

    My goal in the near future is to equip either one of my AR's or my M1A with a third or fourth generation nightscope. I don't necessary use my M1A for hunting but we are beginning to see a bad wolf problem in some parts of the state and the M1A would be perfect if it had a good twilight scope.
     
  14. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    I lived up north for a couple of winters. Kotzebue, Deadhorse and around Fairbanks. I found it interesting and I found it stimulating to work outside in those conditions. And I don't think I'd do it again given the choice. I could do it as a single man with no kids as I was back then but I couldn't imagine keeping my family entertained in northern AK in the winter.

    What kept me going the whole time was having a full time job that kept me busy and kept me out and allowed me to experience the arctic in all it's splendor, violence and beauty. There is nothing quite so silent as being 100 miles out on the sea ice North of the North shore of Alaska with all of your machinery shut down on a still dark morning. It's awe inspiring just you the ice and the northern lights as far as you can see.

    I also started of with a .338 WM when I got to AK it was a Browning A-Bolt Stainless stalker. I soon traded it off on a stainless M-70 in .375H&h which I still have and use extensively today.

    Deadhorse in late February or early March this photo is taken at about 10:30 or 11:00 in the morning.

    [​IMG]

    Approximately 160 miles off shore out on the polar sea ice. I was on a contract flying in support of a scientific camp.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2011
  15. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    You must live in the interior, as i lived in SC Alaska for 25 years, hunting all over the state, including in the winter. I never had the problems you mention at all. I did do a few common sense things when hunting in the cold, but i didn't have to change powders or use mag primers when i normally wouldn't ect... I use/used Breakfree in my guns winter and summer, and just kept them wiped off.

    All of that is just common sense no matter where you live.

    DM
     
  16. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    I will verify the fact that any type of oil or grease will freeze solid in the winter in the interior of AK. Heck I've had it happen here in CO during elk season. The big problem is usually the firing pin spring will freeze up. That makes for real quiet rifle.
     
  17. cottswald

    cottswald Member

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    Very nice discription. Especially like the "ice fishing, trapping and small game hunting" part. Sounds like a fascinating place! Post some pics when you get a chance.
     
  18. Silverado6x6

    Silverado6x6 Member

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    I don't load hot charges for everything but I keep my reserve of specialty stuff around for my M1A .308 that will definitely go bang in -40F temps.
     
  19. janobles14

    janobles14 Member

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    i think ive heard this! were there a priest and a rabbi there? :evil::D


    ive only gotten to go to AK once (kodiak) and it was 85 degrees in the summer....bah! i just dont know if i could take too many days of double digit below zero though.
     
  20. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    Replace days with months and you are starting to get the idea.
     
  21. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    This is the shed where I lived on the acres as I was cutting out the scrub. I *grossly* underestimated how difficult it would be to live off the power grid and tried to homestead part-time while holding down a full time job and a 180 mile round trip commute. Suffice it to say I was not ready for the winter and ended up spending a very cold one in that uninsulated place. I also had a derelict trailer set up which was pretty drafty. If you set a cup of hot coffee on the floor, three minutes later it would be frozen solid. Brought a lot of guns but most were useless. I sold everything but a Finn Mosin, the CZ 452 and a Mossberg 500. The CZ got the most use by far, killing hundreds of small game in the area. I would sometimes use FMJ 54R for small game.

    I had a great little Honda generator, but it ate up a lot of gasoline. Worked fine for small electronics but failed miserable for electric heaters. The Coleman camping heater failed on me, turning into a blowtorch and nearly burning down the trailer. I had to grab the flaming thing and rush to the trailer door, then trow it out into the snow. My love of surplus army blankets saved my life. Turns out they are very fire resistant esp. when covered with hoar frost. I switched to R2D2 style kerosene wicking heaters, which work much better than propane in the deep cold. They're stinky things though and a bit toxic. When the temps were zero or better I'd switch back to the shed and keep warm using a complex array of blankets. I must have had 20 blankets in that bedding.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011
  22. DM~

    DM~ Member

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    Months of double digit below zero? Most of Alaska doesn't have that... I never saw it in 25 years, but then again i didn't live in the northern interior either. (most others don't either)

    DM
     
  23. cottswald

    cottswald Member

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    Insulation (or lack there of), was the first thing I thought about when I looked at the siding in that picture. Man what a way to go. We take our amenities for granted these days. Easy to lose sight of what previous generations had to go through just to stay warm. I've never had it as rough as you discribed, but I've been in situations where I've had to "get psyched" just to get out of a sleeping bag and start a fire.

    The few people that I've known that have tried some form of homesteading have all said pretty much the same thing, "it was much harder than I had anticipated". Still, the lessons you must have learned were no doubt many. Interesting that you say the CZ 452 served you well. That is a great rifle in more ways than one. "Small game", are we talkin fox squirrels, rabbits??
     
  24. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Grouse, hare, some ptarmigan. I only wish we had fox squirrels. Instead we have tough little red squirrels like this guy:

    [​IMG]
     
  25. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

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    I spent a good deal of time Between Fairbanks and living North of the Arctic circle up on the North Slope and North Western AK.

    Here is the current Deadhorse Weather and weekly forecast.

    -21°F | °C
    Current: Cloudy
    Wind: SW at 17 mph
    Humidity: 60%
    Sat
    Mostly Cloudy
    -21°F | -29°F
    Sun
    Scattered Snow Showers
    -17°F | -19°F
    Mon
    Snow Showers
    -11°F | -20°F
    Tue
    Partly Cloudy
    2°F | -11°F

    Lets take a look at Kotzebue for the week.

    -15°F | °C
    Current: Cloudy
    Wind: W at 21 mph
    Sat
    Partly Cloudy
    -22°F | -29°F
    Sun
    Partly Cloudy
    -13°F | -17°F
    Mon
    Partly Cloudy
    -12°F | -13°F
    Tue
    Snow Showers
    9°F | 5°F.

    I wasn't one of them stinking fair weather Alaskans!!;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2011
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