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Possibly illegal-
Posted by Michael Strahan on Apr 25 2006
I believe this was an issue addressed with the guide regulation proposals, but I don't know how it all turned out.  Anyone know about that?

Sollybug, I disagree with your conclusion that if there's a camp it must be a good spot!  How do you know it's not just some poor schmoe who got dropped off in a bad spot?  Years ago I used to fish halibut in the inlet with a 20 foot aluminum boat.  We didn't have a clue where the good spots were, so we just usually prospected around.  Almost every time we anchored on a spot, regardless of if we were catching fish or not, folks would eventually come around and fish the area too.  Eventually there was a whole flotilla of weekend warriors out there, none of them having any idea if fish were there or not!  I've seen the same mistake made when hunting.  In fact, some air charters themselves fall victim to this!  I remember watching the annual round-up in Anchorage every year, with hundreds of hunters flying out with larger cattle-boat air charters over to the Mulchatna country, where their pilot would plan his drop-offs around tents that were visible from the air.  If he found someone camped out there, he'd just drop his load right on top of them, then the next, and the next, and so on until you had hunters running all over each other out there.  I'm not making this up- several pilots told me exactly how they were doing it.  One pilot even told me that his special trick was to not just look for tents, he'd focus on tents that had ANTLERS lying around them somewhere.  He figured if there were antlers around, there must be caribou!  He failed to consider that antlers, like droppings, only indicate where game WAS; not where it IS!  Caribou move constantly, and many hunters dropped by these clowns ended up with nothing but empty wallets for their troubles.

A tent in the field is no guarantee of anything, and hunters who plan their hunt around something like that just haven't done their homework.  Consider the possibilities:

1.  It's a dummy camp.  If it was a good spot, wouldn't somebody be hunting it?

2.  It's a group that doesn't know what they're doing and have trusted their charter to "drop them in a good spot".  How could you possibly know your chances of success in that situation?

3.  It's someone who knows thier stuff.  If you drop in on top of them, you reduce both of your chances of taking game, plus you've needlessly compromised the experience of another hunter.  Why would you do that?  Just because you can?

A final illustration of what happens with this.  A few years back a friend and I were dropped off up in the Arctic.  As far as I know, ours was the only camp within fifty or sixty miles at least.  On Day Two, in comes a small aircraft, and out pile four hunters from Idaho, who had flown that airplane all the way up from the Potato State themselves.  They landed about 300 yards from us, set up camp, and built a huge bonfire that stood a good chance of diverting the entire caribou migration.  We sauntered over and visited with them a while, and when we got around to asking them what made them choose that location (right on top of us), they said they saw our camp and figured it must be a good spot.  Sheesh!  Hundreds of square miles of wilderness and they're close enough to borrow a cup of sugar?  We were polite and eventually withdrew to camp, suggesting they might want to put the fire out.  They were offended by our suggestion, but after we left, the huge steam plume belied their decision.  They shot one caribou bull across the river (yes, they shot it across the river and had to fly over there to get it), and finally left after a couple of days there.  We shot seven.  Some people's kids...

Did they have a legal right to be there?  Certainly they did.  But was this appropriate and respectful?  No way.  Some may say that I didn't like this just because I was in a good spot, but the truth is that I have frequently flown on by if someone was there ahead of me.  I won't do that to someone else, and it's not unreasonable to expect the same treatment.  But you can't make a law preventing it.  All you can do is hope their parents taught them right.

Sorry if this seems harsh.  Dumping folks on top of each other is a lot harsher.  Especially if they have several thousand dollars invested in their hunt!

Nothing personal.

-Mike

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