Alaska Adventure Journal



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This is a World Class Trip”


All this planning and checklists just make my stomach roll”

Mike Kunz

It's not fun unless someone almost dies”

Mike Kunz

The state of Alaska is one of the handful of places left to hunt the American Bison, also referred to as buffalo. Hunting a bison is so popular in Alaska that permits have to be awarded by lottery. Every year, approximately 15,000 people from all over Alaska, the lower forty-eight, and some international hunters put in for this hunt. There is a three month waiting period before the draw results are published. The odds of being drawn for a bison hunt are less than one in a hundred. My friend, Bill West, has put in for this hunt for over twenty-six years without success. He was frustrated to the point of “harvesting” a bison on a farm for a fee. He has a beautiful mount, but didn't get to eat any of the bison steaks.

In July, 2009, the results were announced. Of the many hunts I had put in for, this was my first time try for a Farewell bison permit. I looked at the results and couldn't believe it--I had just won the lottery, Alaskan style! I had been awarded one of the five permits issued to hunt a cow or bull bison from the Farewell herd in the month of March.


My first call was to my good friend Mike Kunz. Mike had been pestering me to go on the 1049 mile ride to Nome for several years. I had declined, not thinking I was up for that much cold and misery just to go for a ride. Now this was different – the Iditarod Trail went right through the middle of the hunt area about two hundred twenty-five miles in. Mike had been down the Iditarod Trail to Nome three times previously. I wouldn't even have put in for this hunt without knowing that Mike would jump at a chance to run even part of the trail. Mike also has gear essential for this trip, because he owns a welding and fabrication shop where one of their specialties is snowmachine (snowmobile) freight sleds.

Mike hadn't been up the trail for over three years and it was painful to watch him meet strangers who, by the end of the conversation, he was trying to talk into running the trail with him. Over the last few years I had even felt slightly guilty watching some of these scenes play out. For Mike, it is the challenge of the ride and meeting the people in the villages that keeps him coming back. So with one phone call Mike was ready to go, even asking what I thought about continuing to Nome after the hunt. I wanted the hunt to be the goal and declined on Nome for the time being.


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