I haven't hunted the Yakutat area, but have worked extensively out of Icy Bay, just to the west of Yakutat (the other side of Malaspina Glacier). There's some good bears taken every year around Yakutat, and is probably the best place in the world to try for a "glacier bear". There are a lot of private lands in the surrounding areas, by Sealaska, Yaktat-kwan and Chugach Alaska. Be sure to get a map that depicts where the private land holdings are, as well as where the park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park) boundaries are. Yakutat is built on a moraine, there's not a lot of really flat ground outside of town, and what there is, is very, very wet. Be prepared for cool and rainy conditions. It is a wet place. The mountains just north of the bay climb to 18,000 ft pretty quick so there is nowhere for the temperate, moist air to go that is coming in off of the gulf. Brush on the malaspina side of the bay is very thick, a jungle of alder, spruce and the hated infamous devil's club. Don't mean to make it sound bad, but it can be at times. Hope you are hunting from a boat southeast of Yakutat, north and west is not much fun.
In the book, Hunting Adventures Worldwide, Keith Atcheson describes the west side of the bay over to Icy Bay, "a physical and mental ****". I can't think of better words nor a more fitting description. Beautiful, if the sun comes out though. Be prepared for bugs. Noseeums and mosquitoes in particular, they can be bad when the sun shines.
I almost forgot, but Jim Keeline is operating a guiding outfit at Icy Bay, and takes some really large brown bears, moose, goats and wolves.
we are looking se of yakutat west of the alsek inland a bit from dry bay i think i saw something about Jim Keeline out on the web somewhere . Just seems hard to know for sure what a area is like till you get there i guess. But thats half the fun ! Just looking for input & with luc find someone who was there. Do you think it might rain there? thanks
It is very wet there. You will get rain. Don't forget your hip boots either. All totaled, if add up all the days I've spent at Icy Bay, it would be close to a year and a half. Dry Bay is very good for black bear. I know Keeline does some guiding over there also, but most of his clients at that time are on the corporation land at Icy Bay. Definitely check on the land status, I'm not sure what it is right there at the Alsek or at Dry Bay. The Tongass National Forest's website might have that info, or you can check with Sealaska.
I haven't heard much about the Hubbard Glacier recently. Last summer it advanced and sealed off Russel Fjord then breached a few days later. Lots of worries that it would flood over the divide and wash through the Situk (which would have ruined the best steelhead fishing in the state).
That area is wonderful, but the weather is hit and miss and if the weather is good, the bugs are bad.
hey just a thought hows the weather i keep hearing about how mild it is there this winter. Cked lands we are going to stay on the national forest lands & work west of the alsek. kinda a 1st trip for me & a couple of freinds to alaska dont know how or why we settled on the area but looks like we will be there this yr .Think the bugs will be bad in mid late oct still ? & yes thats all i keep hearing is rain rain rain !
Our winters have been really strange over the past 3 years or so. Very mild. Still have a lot of dark though.
That area is a great place to hunt, there is nothing wrong with it. Good bears, I'm not real sure about the moose. I know the malaspina side of Yakutat Bay has some really good moose, but don't know about the north end of the Tongass. Keep your eyes peeled for the big coastal brownies though. There are quite a few of those around. Bugs will still be out, at that time of the year, you will probably have some white socks to add to your misery. Take plenty of bug dope. It will rain, and more than likely you'll be hunting in some fairly spongey, pond and swamp laden terrain. If you hunt in the foothills, it is much better. Cork boots help, too. Temps for the time you will be there will be a cool and soggy 40-50 degrees. It probably won't get below freezing, but the wind coming off the glaciers will chill you to the bone after you get wet. I doubt if it gets much above 50 while you are there. Remember those are "wet" temps too. The Tongass is a temperate rainforest by the very definition of the word. Hiking for 10 minutes and you'll be able to see the steam rolling off your neck and hands.
October should be much better (as far as bugs are concerned) than what I described above. I hope I didn't make you rethink your trip. You'll still have bugs, but not many. Fog and rain will probably be your biggest miseries, and they ain't bad, unless the fog is too thick. At any rate, I hope you have a grand time. Sounds like a really good trip.
I'm not sure how big those moose over in that area get, but several are killed each year in the 65"+ spread range at Icy Bay. Some in the 70"'s have been killed between Cape Suckling and Cape Yakataga. Figure something in the neighborhood of 1500 lbs or more on the hoof for a large mature bull. They are very large animals. Everyone has to kill and pack out at least one large one, but I won't do it again. I'll just stick to the "meat" moose, the spikes and forkhorns. Moose meat is really good, though. Hope you have a healthy appetite.
you mentioned jim keeline is he someone you know , also saw 1 of your other post are you a surveyer? must be a lot of land to survey there. This hunt is on are own as youve sound like you might have spent some time "in the bush" any thing we should know. I keep hearing all this talk about brownies is it really that bad? We have a lot of blk bears here in mich but you sure dont se that many JUST WONDERING
I've spent a ton of time in the remote areas along the coast. Some of it by myself, and some as part of a crew. I'm an engineer, but surveying constitutes a large portion of what I do, I really enjoy it.
As far as the brown bears, no there's not one behind every tree. You might not even see one your whole trip, if you keep a clean campsite, cache your foodstuff high in trees, and take care not to camp along a salmon stream or game trail. They are around though, it is a very good idea to keep them in mind. Always be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to bear sign. If there are a lot of black bear where you are hunting, for one reason or another, there's probably not a lot of brownies.
Depending on how much remote camping experience you have, all I can really add is be prepared for wet and cold conditions. Be prepared for constant rain and fog, you will likely get wet the first day out and stay wet the entire time. Last summer we were out for month long stretchs and didn't see the sun except, maybe, one day a month. Also, keep a clean campsite. Cache your food. If you are foot hunting along the shore, pay attention to the tides, some folks have been caught off guard and get cut off from camp. Take a few days extra food with you. Sometimes you can't get out when expecting too. That does happen quite often. Also, take a really good firestarter, or a backup fuel stove. You might have a problem finding dry wood.
I do know Keeline, he's been around that area for a long, long time. Clark Engle also guided out of that area too. Clark was killed many years ago in a plane crash. Keeline knows his stuff and he knows that area very well.
Southeast, especially the Tongass area up through Yakutat over to Cordova can be really wet during August, September and October. Cool temps and cold weather are making for disaster if you aren't adequately prepared.
Another thing to be careful of, is the size restrictions for moose. I'm not sure what it is there, but a lot of places have the spike, fork, 50 rule. Meaning you can harvest a spike, forkhorn or a bull with a 50" or greater spread. Along with this is the exception of shooting a moose with at least 3 brow tines one side. Any moose is big, and ones that are 50" or better are truly a sight to behold.
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