Pocket Rocket Vs. DSLR. I'm lost.

Here is a random picture from September 2014.  It was taken near our base at Sheep Mountain with the Glenn Hwy. under my wing.  I was looking at this photo thinking how disconcerting it would be to stick my new Nikon D7100 DSLR out the window with one arm.  I'm not even sure it would fit out the window.  I love my little point and shoot $200 canon but I recently decided to take the plunge and purchase my first "real" camera.  I kind of love it and I mostly hate it, but I'm intrigued.  Looking at all the buttons on the DSLR makes me feel smart, but pressing the buttons immediately highlights my stupidity.  I want to learn how to take great pictures with nice equipment and maybe even someday sell my photos, but for now I will walk the line between recklessly shoving my arm out the window of the plane with a pocket rocket, and trying to take an actual quality picture with a $1600 monstrosity.  

Mostly Just Scenic Alaska Pics from This Week

Illiamna Volcano.

Looking South over the TikChiks.

Mae's pet bull MooMoo hanging out in Tuluksak Alaska.

Sometimes I even land to take a break, Tuluksak is nice.

Goodnews Bay, Alaska.

Sunrise near Togiak.

Sunrise near Togiak.

Early Alpenglow near Togiak.

I love early morning flights in Alaska in Late October (still using a headlamp at nearly 10AM).

The Tikchiks.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Dusty wind at Big River Lakes.

Northeast end of Lake Clark, at the sand bar.

Near Keyes Point.

The Nushagak river beginning to freeze.

Clouds over the Alagnak River.

Confused islands on Lake Illiamna.

Clouds and light freezing rain near Pedro Bay.

Crossing the Alaska Range.

A Few More Happy Clients, With and Without Game.

These photos were taken during the past 10 days.  It has been very busy, and I have not had adequate time to highlight all the different hunting parties coming through the door.  We have hauled many more people than those pictured below, these are just the ones I managed to get photos of.  We are so thankful for all of our awesome clients and friends who fly with us each year in order to experience Alaska's vast wilderness.  With your help it has been a successful year! 

Picking up a caribou in the Talkeetna Mountains (590 permit)

Currently out chasing caribou and sheep in the Talkeetnas.

Father/Son moose hunting team still in the field.

Mike Mitten with a nice 60" bull.  Taken on a solo hunt, with a recurve bow, from the Chugach mountains.

Hauling out a 60" bull from the Talkeetna mountains.

First caribou taken with the help of friends from the Talkeetna Mountains (590 permit).

A very nice caribou taken by a Father/Son team from the Talkeetna mountains.

This Father/Son team took 2 caribou on a party hunt with 590 permits, and they are from NYC and Pittsburg!.  Awesome job!!

My dad and a long time friend.  Look out Moose!

Happy moose hunter soaring above the Talkeetna mountains.

Father/Son moose hunting team in the Chugach.

Sheep hunters in the Chugach.

Picking up caribou hunters from the Talkeetna mountains (590 permit).

Picking up a solo sheep/caribou hunter in the Talkeetna mountains.  Success with the caribou, none with the sheep.

To book your hunt, call Mike Meekin at (907) 355-6159.  Or email him at meekin@mtaonline.net

Father Daughter Date, AK Style.

It get's really busy this time of year, and it's hard to squeeze in adequate family time.  But, Ali and I managed to sneak away for a couple of hours and do some exploring.  We landed out on the glacier and I showed her the ice my air taxi is named after.  We even threw some huge rocks down into a moulin and jumped across some crevasses.  She thought she was pretty cool.  We also landed out on the river and picked up a moose antler and Ali tracked a bear.  I don't want time to stand still, because I think that would be weird, but I would not mind if the Alaskan Autumn lasted about 2 weeks longer.  The North wind is picking up this morning and I am afraid the leaves are going to blow away today. 

Well, I've got to go drop off some moose hunters now that my coffee is gone.  And, I hope all you Alaskans are ready for the first Fall storm.  Kings Salmon is already blowing 35 knots, and Palmer is supposed to be at 32 knots by noon ... here we go again.

Caribou Hunting Has Been Good

These critters were hauled in from the Talkeetna Mountains yesterday.  These are GMU 13 caribou, and the hunters that took these are still out chasing sheep around in the hills.  It's been a good year.  We are in the fog and rain now, and the snow continues to creep down the hills...but I'm sure it will be hot and sunny next week :o)

Family Hunts ... A Beautiful Thing

Few things make us happier than seeing family members hunting together.  This is a father/daughter team that just returned from a successful hunt in the Talkeetna Mountains.  They spent 3 or 4 days sneaking around in the woods trying to take a bull caribou, when all of a sudden this bull walked through camp while dad was brushing his teeth.  She was able to pretty much shoot from the tent, and only pack it a few hundred feet to the airstrip.  She is 16 years old and took it with one shot from a .30-06 ultra light.  It was awesome to see their excitement, and enjoy this accomplishment with them.  She even taught us that it is not called a "double shovel" but that it has "two scoops".  Our clients are probably the funnest part of our job.

Alaska Peninsula Weekend Trip

I left Saturday morning for Cold Bay and Unimak Island and returned Sunday night.  In other words, I put on about 2200 miles and enjoyed some awesome scenery over the weekend.  I saw some beautiful weather and some not so beautiful weather.  Coastal flying conditions become more and more fickle as the seasons begin to change.  I am happy to be back in my warm bed tonight.  Here are a couple of pictures from the past two days.

A boat crossing Lake Clark.

Salmon in a stream.

Near the mouth of the Egegik River.

Beach Combing.

Crossing for Port Heiden.

Port Moller.

Crossing at Port Moller near Nelson Lagoon.

Trying to get off Unimak Island.

10 miles from home.

On the ground with the birds tied down.  Thankful.

Bent Metal

Well, we found a real fixer-upper today.  This wreck has been here since the 1980's.  It's a real piece of garbage, but one of those cool Alaskan airstrip ornaments.  I've flown over it dozens, if not hundreds, of times but I've never landed.   The brush has pretty well gotten her covered up.  We had a few extra hours to kill today so Mike and I found a spot to land and check it out.  We had to take our pants and shoes off to cross the river in order to get to it.  It was a good day.  Good memories already.

Photos of The Day -- Go Hunting!

We hauled a 41.5" ram out of the Talkeetna mountains this month.  The best part is that we did not even know it was in there.  All we knew was that there were rams in the valley, and we believed they were legal.  These guys stayed and hunted for 7 days and took this beautiful animal as a reward.  

On the other hand, I just picked my brother up from his sheep hunt.  I dropped him in an area where I have seen some nice rams in the past.  We did no buzzing of sheep on the way in, even though we saw sheep.  My brother walked his legs off, and never saw a legal animal, there is nothing wrong with that.  He was in sheepy country, he hunted hard, he glassed numerous rams, and he never squeezed the trigger, but he had an epic experience.  It's called hunting, not killing, for a reason.  We believe in the hunting, and taking of game, NOT spotting, buzzing, landing, and killing.  I struggle to call the latter a "hunting trip".

It is always nice to show clients animals from the air.  It makes them feel good, and it makes me feel good.  But, #1) it's not always possible to find the game on a quick pass and #2) It's usually not the right thing to do, to go buzzing animals in the middle of hunting season.  Airplanes buzzing sheep have spoiled two of our clients opportunities this year already.  It is infuriating to the hunter on the ground when a pilot/wannabe-hunter buzzes a sheep three, four, five times.  These are just a couple of issues that we deal with every day in this line of work.  It's all really fun stuff, but things go sour when people forget that hunting is supposed to be a memorable and enjoyable experience as a whole, not just a kill.

41.5" Talkeetna Ram.

Bull caribou on the ridge.

Happy hunter headed to the plane with his Chugach ram.

Cloudy, beautiful, days.

My cessna 185 departing one of my favorite places.

Another beautiful Chugach ram taken after a full 10 day hunt.

Picking up my brother after an awesome hunt.