Podcast Episode #33 – Mayweather vs McGregor

On this episode of the podcast, Jake discusses the biggest fight of all time, Mayweather vs McGregor with Nick Caron and Brandon Brigham of the Nick & Brandon Podcast. The gentlemen discuss why Conor has a chance, odds and betting, and what’s next in the historic rise of Conor McGregor.

Alaska Adventure for Under $900

The Last Frontier is unlike any other place on earth. Any man with a desire for rugged adventures can easily find enjoyment in a trip that includes big peaks, deep oceans, ancient glaciers, the biggest mammals in North America and rivers 10x the size of the ones in the Lower 48. But too often I hear guys tell me that a trip to Alaska is a bucket-list item that is out of reach for the near future. Which is exactly why I want to share how I can fish the annual salmon run on the Kenai River every year and not break the bank.

 

First and foremost, the biggest cost that can’t be replaced (unless you are married to a flight attendant like your’s truly) is travel to and from Anchorage. According to Google Maps, driving from St Paul, MN would take a total of 55 hours of non-stop travel. Of course we are creatures that require food, sleep and drive vehicles that require fuel, so realistically, a drive to Alaska on the ALCAN Highway is a 3-5 day adventure one way. Flying is the obvious preferred method of travel.

 

I take my trips every year in early August, catching the later part of the Coho or Sockeye runs. With a little advanced planning and shopping on kayak.com, it’s not hard to find a seat on the 5 hour flight for between $500 – $600 (roundtrip ticket). If you’re a Minnesotan like me, both Sun Country and Delta have direct flights to Anchorage daily. Delta has had three flights every day for at least the past few years.

 

Once you land at the Ted Stevens International Airport, there’s not a sled-dog team ready to pick you up and take you where you want. So a rental car is a necessity. I’m generally joined on my trips by my good friend Matt, which makes car rental and gasoline half as expensive. I recommend finding a buddy to join in your travels. But don’t be afraid to fly solo if needed.

 

Count on a car rental for 7 days to be between $200 – $300 if you plan months in advance and shop competitively. I suggest renting an economy class car to make the rental as cheap as possible and so you don’t give too much of your money to the gas man. There’s really no need for a large SUV when fishing the Kenai with two people. Most roads are either paved or well tended gravel. The amount of gear needed is minimal. If you plan on hunting in Alaska, you may need a vehicle with more clearance underneath for the forest roads and more room in cab for gear.

 

I think a 6 night, 7 day trip in the Last Frontier would be plenty of time to fill up a cooler, see some awesome sights, and get in a lot of spectacular hiking. I’d recommend buying a 3-day non-resident license for $45 and using the other days for sight-seeing and hiking. On most of the Kenai River (according to 2017 regs) a person has a 3 sockeye salmon daily limit and a 6 in-possession limit. That’s 12 of the best filets on the planet per person, multiplied by 2 if your buddy’s skills are at the same level of yours.

 

Part of the reason people think of Alaska as an expensive trip is because they are intimidated by salmon fishing the Kenai without a guide. But trust me, it’s well within the abilities of the average angler. A little research and car/foot scouting will get you to the right spots. I mean no disrespect to fishing guides by the way. They serve a great purpose for people who want to get to the best spots or have little to no knowledge of fishing. But plan on spending $400-500 for a ½ day trip. That can add up quickly if you aren’t satisfied fishing for a short amount of time.

 

I believe the other major cost that can be avoided in Alaska is lodging. When I rented my vehicle this year, the guy at the counter asked me which hotel I was staying at. I smiled and informed him that I was going to be camping instead. What could cost a person $200/night, costs me $15 because I bring a tent and sleeping bag and willingly stay at any of the several state campgrounds located all over the Kenai peninsula. If $15 is too much, you can find many places to camp for free since 96% of Alaska is public land owned by the federal government. However, staying at campgrounds will get you closer access to some walk-in fishing spots and allows you to be around more humans in case a bear wanders into your campsite at night.

 

The one caveat to all this advice is that there are some expenses one could forgo, but probably shouldn’t. For instance, it’s smart to carry either a firearm or bear spray when hiking in Alaska. You can’t bring bear spray on an aircraft so you must purchase and use it while on the ground. A canister will probably set you back $35. If you don’t buy one, make sure you are around other people as much as possible. Although, close bear encounters are still extremely rare. Also, you might want to buy some more specific salmon tackle than what you have in your tackle box. Flipping for sockeyes is really inexpensive because it really only requires a heavy weight and a Russian River fly or large hook with yarn on it.

 

So there you have it! One sweet trip to Alaska to fish the Kenai and the total costs if you go with a buddy:

 

Flight – $550

Car rental – $150 (shared expense)

Gasoline – $50 (shared expense)

Camping – $45 (shared expense – 6 nights x $15)

Fishing License – $45

Total – $840

 

Optional stuff – Bear spray ($35), new fishing tackle ($20-$50)

 

I did take the luxury in assuming the reader has the basic camping gear, waders and fishing pole (medium weight with reel and 8-14 lb test will due). If not, add some one time costs into the budget.

 

Check out our podcast for more info:

Podcast Episode #31 – Turkey Camp 2017

On this episode of the podcast, Jeff and Jake discuss their incredibly successful turkey hunt of 2017. Both guys shot toms on opening day using large tracks of public land in northern Minnesota. They discuss their special method of turkey hunting that leads to year-over-year success.

This podcast was sponsored by Tyto Knives. Go to tytoknives.com to pick up the brand new Tyto 1.1 today!

Podcast Episode #30 – Elk Talk

On this episode of CelebrateMan, Jake talks with local Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation volunteers Will Wes, Jim Gerold and Jesse Schneider to talk about their upcoming banquet, elk hunting stories from last fall, gear review and how to elk hunt out west for the guy on a budget.

What to Buy The Outdoorsman in Your Life

Alright ladies, it’s that time of year you dread. Time to buy the outdoorsman in your life a Christmas present. With plenty of shopping days left to Christmas day, we’ll help you navigate through the shelves of the big stores to help you find a great gift for your man.

Stocking Stuffer ideas

Main Gift ideas

  • Muck boots (about $165) at Cabela’s
  • Vortex Diamondback 10 x 42 Binoculars (about $220) at Gander Mountain
  • CVA Muzzleloader Rife (about $180) at Fleet Farm
  • First Lite Chama Hoodie (about $135) at First Lite
  • North Face Primaloft Jacket (about $200) at REI
  • SteriPEN water purifier (about $90) at Bass Pro Shop

Big Gift ideas

 

Learn more about these items and additional gift ideas by listening to our recent podcast episode.

Podcast Episode #29 – What to Buy the Outdoorsman in Your Life for Christmas

This is that dreadful time of year where countless women wander the aisles of Cabela’s without a clue what to buy their outdoorsman. The CelebrateMan crew breakdown the items we like and suggest stocking stuffer ideas, medium range presents and that really big item that most hunters and fishermen need.

Podcast Episode #28 – Deer Camp Diaries (BWCA Edition)

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Jeff, Tommy and Jake sit around a campfire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to talk about the trials and tribulations of hunting the BWCA for deer. The trip begins with a hilarious mistake that ended up getting a lot of gear wet.

Hunting the BWCA with Friends from Wars Past

While millions of Americans were checking their social media newsfeeds during election week, I had the great fortune to spend time in the vast wild of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) with close friends. And not just any friends, but friends who have served with me in war zones. So it’s fitting that I share our adventure hunting the BWCA on this Veteran’s Day.

Some might wonder why a couple of guys would hunt whitetail deer in the BWCA in November when there are several options much easier and more productive. But there’s something in our DNA that craves the challenges, ignores the risks and endures the discomforts in pursuit of wild adventures. Despite unusably warm weather, a journey like this will come with periods of cold, mental frustration and injuries. And that began within the first minute.

We arrived at the landing by 9:30 am with a whole day of canoeing, camp setup and scouting ahead of us. I was joining Tommy and Jeff for half of their planned 10-day trip in the backcountry. The guys were using a 17 ft Kevlar canoe weighing only 35 lbs and filled it with gear and provisions that would support their lengthy stay.

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(Photo taken right before starting our journey. From left to right: Tommy, Jeff & Jake)

When it was time to go, Jeff jumped in the front seat and Tommy scooted into the back. Since I had my waders on, I gave the pair a push off and the journey began. As I walked over to my canoe to get started I was immediately startled by the sounds of rushing water. I looked up and Jeff and Tommy flipped their canoe and were swimming in cold lake water. I was in my canoe holding back laughter (which I was not good at).

10 seconds into a 10-day trip and we were off to a bad start. Jeff and Tommy quickly swam towards the landing and began drying off. I spent 20 minutes looking for Tommy’s GPS at the bottom of the landing, only to chopstick it up with paddles to find a broken unit. Demoralized and wet, the guys started questioning the logistics and merits of the trip. But quick thinking paved the way to problem solving. We decided to switch canoes so they had the heavier and more stable aluminum. And the gear would have to be equally distributed in both canoes.

Thirty minutes later and we were pushing off again ready to start an adventure.

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The BWCA is the largest chunk of wild land in Minnesota, composed of more than a million acres of thick woods and beautiful lakes accessible only by canoe. To navigate it, paddlers often have to portage their gear and canoe from one lake to another using uneven, rustic portage trails. Hunting the BWCA is a lot more work than driving a truck to the edge of the woods and climbing in a tree stand 100 ft away.

The vastness of the BWCA wilderness made locating deer a spectacular challenge. We spent the next few days busting through downfall and thick timber for a speckle of deer sign. The area we chose had experienced a wild fire several years ago and a massive windstorm this summer. Those events made conditions extremely difficult for human movement.

Our days were defined by paddling along shorelines and breaking brush in the woods. Evenings were filled with sipping whiskey and replenishing calories burned throughout the day with warm Mountain House meals. We huddled around the campfire at night reminiscing about past deployments and chatting about future adventures we wanted to make a reality.

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Tommy shot a grouse with his 7mm rifle on the first day of hunting ensuring we’d have some wild meat from the trip. Of course that lasted about 10 seconds as we split the two small breasts amongst the three of us.

One morning, Jeff and I were stumbling through the woods when we heard the distant sounds of bull moose fighting. We both traveled to the noise, but showed up late to the party.

The hunt became frustrating as the days went on. What we originally believed would be a physically exhausting trip, rapidly became a mentally exhausting one due to our burning desire to hike more than the terrain allowed.

On the third evening of our hunt, Tommy and I paddled into a large marsh with a winding stream through the middle of it. About an hour paddle from camp, we found a large rocky overlook position that yielded some great views. The area was the best spot we’d seen on the trip and we knew it would be wise to sit up there and glass the surrounding area.

The next morning, Jeff and I paddled to the area as the sun rose above the horizon. Not too long after our arrival, Jeff tapped me on the shoulder informing me that a deer was moving along the wood line. I quickly noticed the deer with the naked eye and directed my binos towards it. Jeff had spotted a small buck, which would’ve been a trophy to us in that rugged country.

I quickly grabbed my range finder to get a distance and by the time I raised it, the deer had vanished; never to be seen again. I eventually made a slow stalk towards the spot we glassed him while Jeff remained in the overwatch position in case I kicked him up. Walking that terrain confirmed our beliefs that it would serve as a great movement corridor for deer. The sign was plentiful.

Tommy and Jeff decided that evening that they would pull out of the woods on Day 5 with me, leaving only one day left to hunt. After all the paddling, hiking and map reading, we had narrowed down our best chance of bagging a deer to the overwatch position along the creek.

So the next morning, all three of us headed up creek to the glassing spot at daybreak with the plan to spend the whole day on the rock looking for deer with our binos. The rock was cold that morning in the shade. Gusting winds and cold morning temps made us pull out our warm weather gear as we attempted to stay warm in our stationary positions. About 10 am that morning we decided to start a fire on the opposite side of the rock for a morale and welfare boost. We left one man in the overwatch position at all times and started doing shifts.

About an hour into this operation, I was standing near the fire with Jeff, shooting the shit, when behind him and across the creek I saw three does come running through the blowdown to the edge of the water. The deer were only 130 yards away and a relatively easy shot for us to make. But due to a BAH (Bad At Hunting) error, the deer spooked off giving us little opportunity at bagging a deer on this trip.

(Jeff enjoying the fire right before we spotted the deer)

We stayed on that rock, glassing the surrounding area until nightfall with no luck. It was a humbling experience paddling the hour back to camp in the dark, but I couldn’t help but crack a smile. The three of us enjoy eating deer and the meat does go to good use. But we live in modern times and our families won’t starve this winter since the supermarket down the street has plenty of fresh meat stocked year round.

I smiled on that paddle back to camp because I can’t imagine a more enjoyable experience than hanging out with my buddies, enduring the trials and tribulations that mother nature threw our way in the vast wild country of northern Minnesota.

It’s important for men to stay connected to wild country and be tested by the hardships that come along with living in remote areas. The concrete jungles and cubicle lifestyle we live back in the cities is abnormal and stressful. Getting out and paddling in wild country is good for the soul. Especially when it’s shared with friends. Some day, in the not so distant future, we hope to bring our sons to experience the beauty and ruggedness of hunting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in November.

CelebrateMan

 

Jake

 

Podcast Episode #27 – Final Prep for BWCA Deer Hunt

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On this episode of the podcast, Jake and Tommy talk about an upcoming trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota to hunt whitetail deer. The BWCA is the most remote, undeveloped wilderness in the upper midwest which offers a real logistical challenge, while also offering the ability to be rewarded with an amazing hunt.