Lucky to be alive! Alaska Elk

Jon_G

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Jan 25, 2023
Messages
278
I tell my friends all the time that when it's not your turn, you ain't dying. Glad it wasn't yours brother. What a freaking story.
 

mcdil

FNG
Joined
Jan 15, 2022
Messages
10
Location
Magnolia, TX
Thank goodness you made out fairly well, considering, and glad you're back at it! I remember a similar incident I was in as a late teen, and I've never forgotten it. The extremely large boulder was about 4000-6000 lbs, and I was trying to climb over it directly from underneath it (it really was part of the mountain and in no way looked unstable). Unbelievably, it started rolling while I was in the final stages of getting on top of it straight down the mountain, and I was center mass of its roll path. In my extremely fortunate case, it rolled me facing uphill in a sort of push up position on the boulder and allowed me to dismount without tripping and sidestep swiftly as it went crashing by all the way to the bottom of the gully some 300 yards below taking out everything in its way.

I got off without even a scratch, but I remember thinking that I was extremely close to being killed. If I landed in a manzanita bush or catclaw, there's no way I could have stepped out of the way. I shook for quite a bit after that, needless to say.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2021
Messages
73
Location
Ketchikan, Alaska
Oh man what a couple of tough dudes….glad you are OK.

Ive hunted Etolin and the other islands years ago…now, no thanks. Many guys that draw elk tags on those islands have no idea what they are getting them selves into.
It's brutal in ways so many people aren't ready for. Even if you have been around, Alaska always has another level.
 

brant89

FNG
Joined
Sep 23, 2023
Messages
10
That's a heck of a story! I'm curious to know why you contacted your pilot on your inreach rather than hitting SOS. Not criticizing, just wondering if there is something I am missing about that service, as I wear a mini on all my hunts.
 
OP
WyoArk

WyoArk

FNG
Joined
Jun 5, 2022
Messages
70
If we were hunting in the lower 48 I would have absolutely hit the SOS button.

This was a different situation.

We were at the bottom of a canyon. SOS in this region had me linked to the coast guard. That going to be a helicopter show. They have a 500 foot drop line and basket. We were at the bottom of a 3000 foot canyon, that is far too narrow to get a chopper into. Also, there is a ton of fog above us. They wouldn’t have been able to see me.

If I wouldn’t have been able to walk at all, I would have hit the SOS. No telling how long it would have been, before they actually got to me. The storm was coming back in hours. If it’s pouring buckets, there is not a chance that they would be able to pick me up period.

Since I could hobble along, the fastest thing to do was get a float plane to the lake. That way we could get myself, partner, and gear off the island in one trip. Time was of the essence, and search and rescue had a plane inbound in minutes.

I had hiked 2.5 miles and 4500 feet of elevation change.

I knew I had broken some bones, but didn’t think I was in immediate danger of dying. That’s why we went the search and rescue float plane route, and not the coast guard and chopper route.
 

OXN939

WKR
Joined
Jun 28, 2018
Messages
1,779
Location
VA
They wouldn’t have been able to see me.


Since I could hobble along, the fastest thing to do was get a float plane to the lake.

Wild story, and glad you made it out. A few items that may be useful going forward.

Definitely the right call to get out ASAP since you were ambulatory. Sometimes, a float plane will be the quickest way out of a situation like this. However, for anyone who doesn't know, Alaska does have a rescue triad within its Air Guard, consisting of pararescuemen, Blackhawks and C-130s that are realistically the most advanced backcountry SAR capability on earth. Say that impact had broken your femur... best call would be to hit the SOS button and let the PJs stabilize you, since moving with a broken bone in the vicinity of your femoral artery is one small slip away from the fat lady singing. And rest assured that there is nowhere on earth you can get to that those dudes can't.

Also, in terms of visibility... a lot of hunters in states without a blaze orange requirement don't carry anything highly visible. A simple blaze orange garment of any kind does wonders for helping a rescue element locate you. Also good to have is a "buzzsaw," i.e. a chemlight you crack, put on the end of a piece of paracord and swing in a circle. Every SAR pilot has practiced many approaches flying towards a casualty marked that way.

Looking forward to drawing this hunt one day while I'm still young and dumb enough to go through with it
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2022
Messages
16
I have watched shows where guys are traveling those avalanche shoots and wondered how safe that would be, not a lot of those in wheat fields. Glad your ok man.
 

ghud

FNG
Joined
Dec 1, 2022
Messages
20
Location
Arkansas
3 days ago I came as close as I ever have to losing my life. I was on the infamous Alaska archery elk hunt. Me and my buddy both trained for 11 months. Not typical training, I mean running two half marathons a week, endless leg days. You get the picture. I am 40 and he is 36. We both have been at this for many years.

Our gear was dialed. Looking back at our load out, it was perfect. We had all the things. I wouldn’t change a thing. We were good for 14 days easily. We probably could have stretched it out to 17 or 18.

The only sunlight we saw, was the day we arrived. We’re were able to establish our base camp above the very formidable jungle. Had a seek outside hot tent and a seek titanium wood stove, so we just dug in.

It rained for a solid 4 days and 5 nights.We sat in the tent and played it safe. Heavy rain and zero visibility above the alpine. We knew better than to make a big maneuver in that crap. No visibility at all.

Day 5, the rain breaks in the morning, but the cloud was still stuck on top of the mountain we really wanted to hunt/spot. We opted to throw the Katoola’s on and head to the highest vantage point we could glass and not be fogged out.

It paid off.

I spotted a herd bull and 9 or 10 cows, 2000 feet below us.
Since we couldn’t see the alpine for the fog,We decided that we would try to make a play. We Dont leave elk to find elk! The rain was going to come back in for another 5 or 6 day round, and this was our only chance for who knows how long.

The problem was, that the entire basin was cliffed out. I mean you need repelling equipment or a parachute to get to the valley.

The only way down was 1500 vertical feet over 700 yards. It is straight down an avalanche shoot. This is a jagged Boulder field between two mountains with a raging creek in the bottom.

We had made it to the last 40 yard section of the shoot. The elk are within 200 yards of us by now.
This last 40 yards is extremely technical. This is where it went bad.

I was in the lead, and I lowered myself down a Boulder, and was about to start navigating the next set of boulders.

All of the sudden, I heard my partner yell my name. Too late for me to move. This is microseconds.

I vividly remember seeing something huge and black over my right shoulder.

My feet had solid purchase and my back was square to the boulder.

I squatted under it, and braced for impact.

You have all heard stories of mothers lifting cars off their Children in moments of crisis.

I can’t say that is exactly what happened, but something like that transpired.

I had my stone glacier pack on with my hilleberg nallo, my heavy layers, rain gear and a few other softer items.

When the Boulder hit, it bent me over like a taco. Somehow, and I have no idea how….I kept my footing. I have never felt weight on my back like that before. It flattened my chest into my left knee.

My buddy saw all of this from above. Later he said that he was certain he was watching me die.

The Boulder rolled over my back like a ramp and fell at my feet. I began to scream. I looked down and I was covered in blood.
I was still standing, but I was in a state of shock. Catching my breath was impossible.

Shortly there after, I passed out. My buddy thought that I was bleeding internally. Once again, he thinks I am dying.


While I was out, I remember feeling warm and having a distant memory of working on farm machinery with my little brother. Very weird, but that’s how I remember it.

I was only out for about 30 seconds, but it seemed much longer to me. Then all I knew was that my buddy was yelling my name over the top of me.

I came back to the world. Amazingly, I stood back up.

The blood was from my left arm and my hand. I had caught myself with that arm to brace myself and it had shoved me down and cut me up pretty bad.

Immediately, I knew that I had broken some ribs. It had pushed my bino harness and my 10 mm straight into my ribs. My back was fine, as were my neck, and head. The stone glacier pack sits high on my back and I had my lid on. I was only bleeding from the arm.

Then I look at the Boulder. Guys this thing is as big as a love seat. I would guess it to be in the 800-1000 pound range.

At this point, we are terrified that I could be bleeding internally. We knew we had to get me to medical attention.

Big problem here. We are in the bottom of a v chalice avalanche shoot. The coast guard would never be able to get a chopper in there to get me. The canyon walls are much too steep and the wind is insane.

I looked at my buddy, and I said I don’t know if I can hike out of here. He said “ you have to man, I can’t carry you”.


I didn’t have the balance to climb with my pack on. My amazing hunting partner grabbed both packs, and we took off.

Somehow, we managed to hike the 700 yards back out of the shoot. We got on the inreach and contacted our pilot.

He’s on a parts run out of town, so he gives us search and rescues contact. We can’t add contacts from the bush, so I had to message my wife and have her contact search and rescue.

While all of this is going on, we have to descend another Mile down the mountain. I am really hurting bad by this point. My buddy is scared the plane is going to leave us as the weather is getting bad again. He takes off ahead of me to flag him down.

I am feeling rather confused at this point, and struggling to make sense of things. There are no trails on the island, and I can’t find the tape markers we had in the devils club.


Finally, I find the creek that goes down to the lake. I just jump in, and go up to the waist in it. After a few hundred more yards, I see the wing of a 185 Cessna float plane in the lake.

Search and rescue was able to get us out of there and back to town. Thankfully, the small town has a hospital. I had a bunch of X-rays, a CT scan, and an ultra sound of my organs.

I cracked ribs, broke my ulna, and smashed my hand. I also required quite a few stitches in my left arm.

Guys, I got off extremely light. I didn’t have any internal bleeding, and all of my organs were intact.

I saw the grim reaper 3 days ago in Alaska.

Words can’t describe how close I was to being crushed to death.

Btw, the Boulder hit me so hard that it completely obliterated my stone glacier Krux frame. It’s like carbon shredded wheat.

I was so thankful to see my wife and dog at the airport this morning in Denver. I feel like I am living on borrowed time friends.

I’m cut up, beat up, broken up, and terribly sore……..but I am alive!View attachment 602419View attachment 602416View attachment 602418View attachment 602479View attachment 602480View attachment 602481View attachment 602481
That’s insane, I’m glad you’re okay but your have a heck of a story now!
 

Neumie

FNG
Joined
Oct 3, 2021
Messages
59
Glad you made it out man!
I think about footing, slope, etc sometimes and have to focus on what’s most important in life. Family, friends. I’m not a guy that’s going climbing cliffs without a rope for example.
 

Marble

WKR
Joined
May 29, 2019
Messages
3,187
3 days ago I came as close as I ever have to losing my life. I was on the infamous Alaska archery elk hunt. Me and my buddy both trained for 11 months. Not typical training, I mean running two half marathons a week, endless leg days. You get the picture. I am 40 and he is 36. We both have been at this for many years.

Our gear was dialed. Looking back at our load out, it was perfect. We had all the things. I wouldn’t change a thing. We were good for 14 days easily. We probably could have stretched it out to 17 or 18.

The only sunlight we saw, was the day we arrived. We’re were able to establish our base camp above the very formidable jungle. Had a seek outside hot tent and a seek titanium wood stove, so we just dug in.

It rained for a solid 4 days and 5 nights.We sat in the tent and played it safe. Heavy rain and zero visibility above the alpine. We knew better than to make a big maneuver in that crap. No visibility at all.

Day 5, the rain breaks in the morning, but the cloud was still stuck on top of the mountain we really wanted to hunt/spot. We opted to throw the Katoola’s on and head to the highest vantage point we could glass and not be fogged out.

It paid off.

I spotted a herd bull and 9 or 10 cows, 2000 feet below us.
Since we couldn’t see the alpine for the fog,We decided that we would try to make a play. We Dont leave elk to find elk! The rain was going to come back in for another 5 or 6 day round, and this was our only chance for who knows how long.

The problem was, that the entire basin was cliffed out. I mean you need repelling equipment or a parachute to get to the valley.

The only way down was 1500 vertical feet over 700 yards. It is straight down an avalanche shoot. This is a jagged Boulder field between two mountains with a raging creek in the bottom.

We had made it to the last 40 yard section of the shoot. The elk are within 200 yards of us by now.
This last 40 yards is extremely technical. This is where it went bad.

I was in the lead, and I lowered myself down a Boulder, and was about to start navigating the next set of boulders.

All of the sudden, I heard my partner yell my name. Too late for me to move. This is microseconds.

I vividly remember seeing something huge and black over my right shoulder.

My feet had solid purchase and my back was square to the boulder.

I squatted under it, and braced for impact.

You have all heard stories of mothers lifting cars off their Children in moments of crisis.

I can’t say that is exactly what happened, but something like that transpired.

I had my stone glacier pack on with my hilleberg nallo, my heavy layers, rain gear and a few other softer items.

When the Boulder hit, it bent me over like a taco. Somehow, and I have no idea how….I kept my footing. I have never felt weight on my back like that before. It flattened my chest into my left knee.

My buddy saw all of this from above. Later he said that he was certain he was watching me die.

The Boulder rolled over my back like a ramp and fell at my feet. I began to scream. I looked down and I was covered in blood.
I was still standing, but I was in a state of shock. Catching my breath was impossible.

Shortly there after, I passed out. My buddy thought that I was bleeding internally. Once again, he thinks I am dying.


While I was out, I remember feeling warm and having a distant memory of working on farm machinery with my little brother. Very weird, but that’s how I remember it.

I was only out for about 30 seconds, but it seemed much longer to me. Then all I knew was that my buddy was yelling my name over the top of me.

I came back to the world. Amazingly, I stood back up.

The blood was from my left arm and my hand. I had caught myself with that arm to brace myself and it had shoved me down and cut me up pretty bad.

Immediately, I knew that I had broken some ribs. It had pushed my bino harness and my 10 mm straight into my ribs. My back was fine, as were my neck, and head. The stone glacier pack sits high on my back and I had my lid on. I was only bleeding from the arm.

Then I look at the Boulder. Guys this thing is as big as a love seat. I would guess it to be in the 800-1000 pound range.

At this point, we are terrified that I could be bleeding internally. We knew we had to get me to medical attention.

Big problem here. We are in the bottom of a v chalice avalanche shoot. The coast guard would never be able to get a chopper in there to get me. The canyon walls are much too steep and the wind is insane.

I looked at my buddy, and I said I don’t know if I can hike out of here. He said “ you have to man, I can’t carry you”.


I didn’t have the balance to climb with my pack on. My amazing hunting partner grabbed both packs, and we took off.

Somehow, we managed to hike the 700 yards back out of the shoot. We got on the inreach and contacted our pilot.

He’s on a parts run out of town, so he gives us search and rescues contact. We can’t add contacts from the bush, so I had to message my wife and have her contact search and rescue.

While all of this is going on, we have to descend another Mile down the mountain. I am really hurting bad by this point. My buddy is scared the plane is going to leave us as the weather is getting bad again. He takes off ahead of me to flag him down.

I am feeling rather confused at this point, and struggling to make sense of things. There are no trails on the island, and I can’t find the tape markers we had in the devils club.


Finally, I find the creek that goes down to the lake. I just jump in, and go up to the waist in it. After a few hundred more yards, I see the wing of a 185 Cessna float plane in the lake.

Search and rescue was able to get us out of there and back to town. Thankfully, the small town has a hospital. I had a bunch of X-rays, a CT scan, and an ultra sound of my organs.

I cracked ribs, broke my ulna, and smashed my hand. I also required quite a few stitches in my left arm.

Guys, I got off extremely light. I didn’t have any internal bleeding, and all of my organs were intact.

I saw the grim reaper 3 days ago in Alaska.

Words can’t describe how close I was to being crushed to death.

Btw, the Boulder hit me so hard that it completely obliterated my stone glacier Krux frame. It’s like carbon shredded wheat.

I was so thankful to see my wife and dog at the airport this morning in Denver. I feel like I am living on borrowed time friends.

I’m cut up, beat up, broken up, and terribly sore……..but I am alive!View attachment 602419View attachment 602416View attachment 602418View attachment 602479View attachment 602480View attachment 602481View attachment 602481
You are one lucky man! Seems like you guys did everything you should have. Your training, experience, and cool nerves kept you in the fight.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. There is not always a next time. It is experiences like this that are life changing and cause us to reflect on everything in life.

My only question is, when is the next trip? I would want to go back and finish what I started.

Sent from my SM-S918U using Tapatalk
 
OP
WyoArk

WyoArk

FNG
Joined
Jun 5, 2022
Messages
70
You are one lucky man! Seems like you guys did everything you should have. Your training, experience, and cool nerves kept you in the fight.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. There is not always a next time. It is experiences like this that are life changing and cause us to reflect on everything in life.

My only question is, when is the next trip? I would want to go back and finish what I started.

Sent from my SM-S918U using Tapatalk
The next trip is now. I’m sitting outside the entrance to the big horns. I’m waiting on my buddy to meet me as we speak. I broke my arm and my hand, so I am having to put the trad bow down for a bit, and lug a dang crossbow around the mountain.

As far as Alaska goes, I’ll go back and hunt there again. I seriously doubt I go back where we were. Not because of the danger. It’s because the weather is so poor in September. Sitting in a tent for a week straight, waiting on gale force winds/rain/10 foot visibility to subside isn’t a good time.

Even if we would have gotten that bull, he would have rotted on the beach, waiting on the weather to clear for a plane. I’d go back for the October hunt if I were a rifle hunter and hunt from the salt.

But I am no rifle hunter lol. There are other bulls to chase, that aren’t logistical nightmares. I am not trying to discourage anyone from giving it a whirl! What happened to me, could happen to a man in Utah. SE AK just ups the odds of bad things happening.
 
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
1,013
Location
Magnolia, Texas
Man, so glad you’re ok. We take it for granted sometimes since most of the time nothing happens. Hope you recover quickly and get back at it soon.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 
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