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Outdoor Safety in Alaska #1; Moose, Bears, Caribou, Oh My!

     Alas…a co-worker of mine just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Alaska last week, therefore the opportunity arose to ask some questions about safety and the great outdoors.

Some relatives of Brett Michaelis decided to go Alaska to hunt moose, bear, caribou, and some game birds as well.  Brett tagged along to take photos and help out where he could.  The event took 8 days.  The weather was rough for part of the trip, but that is where the good stories come from and the safety tips that are learned from such trips are worth everything.

The city of Nome, the state of Alaska, where the tundra rules the ground and the animals are in abundance.  Brett, his family and a couple of old miners decided to go out looking for the great Alaskan Brown Bear (commonly known as the Grizzly Bear to us).  After seeing the photos of the big beast they spotted, but didn’t get, I was amazed at the size of the big baloo, but since the scope was off from the flight over, the miss was extreme and the Grizz got away.  Nice pictures though.

When I asked Brett about the safety precautions they used when hunting the bear, he came up with some interesting ideas and tips:

1.  Carry an air horn – when/if the group were to come across some thick brush or areas where they couldn’t see ahead very well, they used the air horn to “alert” any Mamma bears about their approach.  Sounding the air horn, waiting for a few minutes, and then sounding it again, would give ample time for the Momma bear to gather her cubs and leave the area. 

2.  Bear Spray – This, of course, was used in case of an unwarranted attack by a bear they legally could not shoot.  A way to avoid an unecessary or unsafe killings.  Bear spray is somewhat like pepper spray, yet adapted for the safe usage for bears.  Meant to scare of avoid shootings if you can.

Both of these instruments were worn in a carrying case, much like a shoulder holster for a firearm, enabling easy and quick access.  That is the same principle as concealed carry, accept they were worn in the open instead.  Nice!

During the hunt, a caribou and a moose were taken.  These animals are part of the bears normal diet, therefore, certain measures were taken when hunting these animals, that are related to bears as well.

1.  Rifles – Having the correct caliber is always important when hunting big game.  These guys used a 300 mag. mostly, which is perfect for moose, bear, and caribou.  Having enough ammo is also an essential part of the hunt.  Too much and you have to carry it all the time…yet too little can put you into a potentially dangerous situation.  Ask those who have the experience what they would carry and why.

2. Pistols – One person had a pistol.  Its was a .40 cal. apparently…so whether that is sufficient or not for Alaska…I don’t know, but I am guessing that it was not intended to be used in reality.  I would have at least a .45 cal. for the big stuff… I have been told that is quite good, and have actually heard of a .45 killing a bear in the wilderness.  That is for another post I guess.

3.  Safety Equipment – Brett mentioned some awesome technology they were using on the hunt.  The GPS technology is down-right-nasty-sweet now a days.  The mentioned;   This is a GPS beacon that has everything you can think of and more.  Sending out a beacon pulse, every 10 minutes, can be very wise when hunting in the middle of now where.  All tracked with GPS, loved ones can see where you are going and can also see that you are ok or if you need some assistance.  There are different types of beacon pulses that can be sent out.  “OK”, which means just that, or “Need Help”  for lesser emergencies, or even “911″ which means find me fast, or life and death situations.  The information can be emailed to pre-designated people, as well as the authorities who are closest to the area you are in.  Some devices also can be a one-way message machines; meaning that you can actually type in a certain message to be sent to the ones who would be notified.  NICE!!!  The cost will be determined on what applications you want, but can be as much as $150 a year.  I always knew there were beacon locaters…but I certainly didn’t know they were this advanced already.  I gotta get me one of these machines.

There are more things to mention here, and I will in the next post.  Stay tuned for some absolute must do’s when hunting for the big stuff in Alaska…

See you next post…

Damon Thueson

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