Alaska Pike Safaris is a small hunting and fishing business located in Holy Cross, Alaska. The company is primarily involved in moose hunting in the mid Yukon and Innoko drainage, pike fishing in the mid Yukon and guided bear hunt on leased land in proximity to Sand Point.
Alaska Pike Safaris is a family owned business in every sense and is operated out of the Reindeer Lake Lodge, 25 miles North East of Holy Cross.
In 1978 Bruce and Connie met in Bethel. They shared a love of hunting, fishing, and the outdoors in general. A hunting trip that year started what would become an annual event and the beginning of a business. They traveled by boat from Holy Cross, to the upper Innoko, and eventually explored the Iditarod. These annual trips would yield many world-class bull moose and plant the seeds for a family business.
In 1983 they got their first special use permit for the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge. It was only for a wooden tent frame to be used for trapping. The permit would be kept current and in 1995 would morph into a special use fishing permit and the start of Alaska Pike Safaris (APS).
Bruce continued to become acquainted with many parts of Western Alaska. The annual trips for moose continued and pike fishing became a summer activity.
1995 brought change. The mechanical company closed and Bruce took a job as a remote maintenance worker for YKHC. This entailed a move to Holy Cross where he and Connie settled permanently and continued to raise their three sons. 1996 saw the original tent frame permit change to a special use fishing permit for the Innoko NWR and APS was born. In the fall of the same year a transporting license would allow the start of the hunting side of the business. At that time the business consisted of three 16 ft. Lund boats and transport boats. This would grow to 21 boats, including specialized shallow watercraft, jet boats and 3 transport boats.
In 1997, Bruce and Connie acquired 10 acres of land on Reindeer lake from Connie’s mother, Mary Demientieff. As with the fleet of boats, the lodge was expanded and now includes an expanded lodge, 2 bunkhouses, shower, and a meat house’ capable of hanging up to 14 moose. The addition of wind and solar power has added to the already comfortable setting.
As customers came and went, word spread and some customers requested guided hunts. Bruce acquired a Class A Assistant License (#565) in 1999 and apprenticed under Kelly Vrem. In 2005 Bruce became a Registered Guide (#1223), guiding for moose in Unit 21E(21-01) and caribou in 19A and 19B.
The success rate of clients (up to 85% before permit system and 55 to 60% after) attracted hunters from Cabelas. This led to an exclusive use lease from the Shumigan Corp out of Sandpoint with Cabelas doing the bookings. The first year recorded a 3 for 3-success rate for brown bear with sold out bookings through 2012.
A quality hunting or fishing experience has brought many return customers. Since 1996 an approximate 240 clients have enjoyed the opportunities of an area that stretches 300 miles from one end to the other. Stories of an outstanding hunting experience passed by word of mouth. The company got good by being good. No internet, magazines, or trade show advertising created APS success. Quality hunting and fishing trips relayed from one hunter or fisherman to the next created one of the most professional companies in Alaska.
The company philosophy was created in part by Connie’s close ties to the land as an Alaskan Native and Bruce’s hunting/fishing knowledge and fanatical attention to detail.
Game management has always been priority one. With limited clientel and a large hunting area, populations were carefully watched and managed. Slow areas were allowed to rest and the number of clients would be cut back. Additionally, airplanes have only been used to access the bear hunting grounds out of Cold Bay. All moose hunting has been done by boat without the possibility of the aircraft spotting that seems so prevalent in western Alaska today.
Safety and comfort of the clients is a close second to game management. In 14 years there have been no injuries or incidents requiring immediate first aid or removal from the hunting camps. All hunters are provided with first class equipment from the boats and motors to tents and gear for a sustainable comfortable camp. This aspect of the philosophy is primarily responsible for the positive word of mouth growth of APS.
The final point of philosophy is to operate strictly within the laws and in cooperation with the State and Federal agencies. APS has assisted former AK State Fish and Game Trooper Jim Pagel in resolving many cases. Bruce worked closely with Officer Pagel in getting a law changed that prohibited Fish and Game Officers from trapping on their days off. Officer Pagel now working for Idaho Fish and Wildlife is in fact one of Bruces’ seasonal hunting guides. Former assistant manager at the YDNWR, Denny Strom, also guides for Bruce.
Additionally, APS has never had a Single State or Federal violation or a Coast Guard citation for
any of their many boats.
The success and growth of APS and their ability to provide quality outdoor experiences for
clients the world over is limited primarily by the lack of use areas where sustainable harvest can be
practiced and managed.
Alaska Pike Safari’s has a special use permit for transporting hunters for moose, black bear and wolf on the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge and State and BLM land and its tributaries in Unit 21-01 since 1995 to 2008. At this present time, our records show that 240 clients had been transported to the field. Alaska Pike Safari’s has supplied all clients with tents, boats with motors, and all equipment used in making a professional camp, ie … cook stove, wood stove, complete cook kits, tables and chairs, cots with sleeping pads, lanterns, flashlights, axe, Wyoming II meat saw, backpacks, tarps, water jugs, shovel for pit. privies, a first aid kit, life vests and flotation boat cushions. Here are some of the client names, addresses and/or phone no.
Overnight hunting accommodations can vary from a small tent on the side of a mountain to deluxe wilderness lodges with more comforts than home. Some Alaska guides maintain first-class hunting lodges in good big game country. Other operators provide fine lodging without a guide. Some provide weather-tight cabins with few luxuries.
The state and federal governments maintain public use cabins, especially in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska. These cabins are fairly primitive. They may have plywood bunks, a wood or oil stove (check in advance as to which is available in your cabin), a table and benches, and a nearby outhouse. Users should bring their own food, cooking equipment, fuel, water, bedding and amenities. Check directly with Alaska State Parks, the U.S. Department of the Interior/Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service for current information on available locations, access information and restrictions, reservation policies, and rental expense.
Securing the services of a guide might seem expensive, but the chances of a successful and enjoyable hunt are higher. Hunters who lack precise knowledge of game distribution, access points, and Alaska geography, yet attempt to put together hunts themselves may face frustration, danger, and disappointment. For example, only a relatively small proportion of the out-of-state hunters who stay on the road system to save money will successfully harvest a moose.
The chances of safely harvesting a big game animal improve if one hires a guide or transporter to take them to remote areas. Guides are familiar with their areas, hunting regulations, own facilities, and possess equipment that the average hunter might not care to purchase for one-time use. Indeed, many hunters may choose to contract with a guide for species other than those for which having a guide is mandatory (see list in Guide Requirements for Alaska Hunting).
A guide’s knowledge, experience and equipment do not come cheaply. Although figures vary from guide to guide, expect to pay $6,000-$15,000 for a brown/grizzly bear hunt, $4,000–$6,000 for a Dall sheep hunt and $1,500–$4,000 for a goat hunt. Moose and caribou vary considerably depending on transportation methods. Guides can also help prepare and pack out your meat and trophies. Imagine carrying 750lbs of dressed moose through a few miles of muskeg with a bear watching.
The best way to find a reliable guide is via references. Ask around. Have any of your hunting partners hunted in Alaska before? Do they know someone who did? Which guide did they use and how satisfied were they afterwards? You can also check advertisements in hunting magazines and search the internet since most guides have detailed web sites. Ask guides for references, and follow up on them. Discuss your experience level, physical capabilities, and expectations with prospective guides so that you can make the most of this adventure. There are many types of hunts to consider such as comfortable shore-hugging boat-based hunts, river float hunts, horseback hunts, fly-in hunts, lodge-based hunts, or long-range foot hunts out of spike camps. You might even want to plan to add additional species such as elusive wolves or do some salmon fishing and gold panning.
More experienced and independent hunters may wish to hire a transporter instead of a guide. These are licensed individuals and companies are able to move hunters to more remote areas by bush plane, boat, horse, ATV, snow machine, or even highway vehicle. Many resident hunters use transporters as well since they tend to be much less expensive than full guide services. Guides might also offer outfitted-only hunts at lower rates where they still provide transportation and camps.
Alaska law requires a big game guide to possess a current active guide license. You can check on guides and their licensing in several ways. A printed list of licensed Alaska guides is available for $5.00 payable to the “State of Alaska.” The list includes all currently licensed master guide-outfitters, registered guide-outfitters, the areas where they are licensed to operate, as well as a list of all currently licensed transporters. If you are interested in obtaining the licensed Alaska guide-and-transporter list or wish to check the status of a guide’s license, contact the Alaska Division of Occupational Licensing. You can also look up guides and/or transporters and have a list emailed to you by using that division’sProfessional Licensing Data Retrieval System. Another source of information is the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, which represents many guides and outfitters. Finally, you can locate a guide in your game management unit and find out what contracting guides are available in that area by visiting:http://www.dced.state.ak.us/occ/apps/GuiUseReg.cfm.