Q&A with a Past Client, Cody E
A mid november 2023 trip on F/V Serenity
This is Cody Eardley. I hope you are doing well. I am still smiling from the adventure we had with you in early November. I have been thinking about how I could contribute to your enterprise and I thought your clients might like to see a Q&A and a detailed packing list. Here is the list of questions that I had before the hunt and here are my answers to them now that I've gone on the trip. I thought your clients might have similar questions and I also typed my pack list up so you could use it to show them and/or post it on like a "Resources" tab on your website. I am obviously not an Alaska professional, but this list worked good for me.
Thanks a lot!
Questions we had coming from the lower 48
What kind of boots should I wear?
I brought a pair of LaCrosse Alpha Burly Pro’s. They are neoprene boots that are specifically designed for hiking and hunting. I was extremely happy with their performance. They were comfortable to hike in all day, even climbing mountains. Their taller than average height (18”) was nice for river crossings and wet grass. A pair of Muck boots or something similar is highly recommended. You can wear a pair of leather boots if you’re tough, but they are going to get wet and never dry, and limit your options for fording rivers, stepping in the bay, and getting covered with fish slime on the boat. I wore a pair of light, breathable tennis shoes on the long plane ride to Alaska and they were nice to slip my feet into and wear around the boat at night.
Should we bring waders?
One of the guys on the trip hunted everyday in a nice pair of waist high Simms Gore-Tex waders. He loved them. He hiked in them all the way up into the alpine, used them to cross rivers and muskeg, and stayed dry and warm the whole time. Our hunt was cold, it rained everyday and snowed a couple of days, yet he stayed dry and warm. I also brought a pair of Simms Gore-Tex Stocking foot chest waders. I only wore them on the waterfowl day. I was happy to have them so I could sit in the mud, wade into the bay to help retrieve ducks and set decoys, and stayed warm and dry while sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean in the pouring rain waiting for the divers to fly by.
What rifle cartridge to bring?
To my eye, Sitka blacktail buck deer split the difference in size between a whitetail deer and a mule deer. Any classic deer cartridge from 243 on up is plenty of gun for harvesting a buck. I have an ultra-accurate, lightweight 6.5 Creedmoor that is perfect for deer, however, there are big brown bears around on the islands and there is a real possibility to have a run in with one. I chose to bring my 338. A powerful rifle was a comfort sitting next to me when field dressing my buck, and I was super happy to have it when I was packing my deer out and a big brown bear followed me down to the beach.
Should I bring a handgun?
I brought my Ruger Super Blackhawk, chambered in 480 Ruger, because I just love that thing. Honestly, I probably didn’t need to bring it. Every time I was on land I was packing my 338 (because there was a chance I could see a deer at any time). I never needed my revolver, and it was an extra chore to clean it everyday. However, that thing is like a close friend and I’ll bring it again when I go back.
What distances are the shots at these Sitka blacktails?
Most of the terrain features/vegetation mean shots in Southeast Alaska are close. Our group harvested 5 nice representative Bucks and saw many other deer we passed on. My buck was trotting towards me at 40-yards when I shot it. Our shots at deer averaged well under 100-yards, with only one outlier at 220. I have practiced with the Leupold Boone and Crockett reticle in my 3.5-10X scope out to 500 with my 338 and felt confident everywhere I hunted.
Is Sitka gear or KUIU worth the money?
If you can afford it, you should absolutely buy the best clothing you can afford. A couple of guys on the trip brought a full set of Sitka gear, from puffy’s to hats and they were never cold or wet. Also, the Sitka SubAlpine camo made them all but disappear. Some of the guys only had WalMart class gear and they were sopping wet and cold everyday. However they were tough, had a great hunt, and never complained.
Is there a place to dry wet clothes?
The aluminum shack on the back of the Serenity is outfitted with fans and tower heaters and each night my rain gear dried out and was ready for the next day. I hung my jacket inside the cabin on a hook where there is very limited space and it dried well. The Serenity is equipped with a drying locker on the outside of the cabin and Ken can show you how to use it. They also can set up the smaller 32 foot we used to go to the beach with tower heaters at night and make a drying closet. My backpack got so wet, even with a rain cover on all day, that it never fully dried out till I got home.
Is there a shower/toilet on the boat?
There is a small shower on the boat, and a toilet. I peed off the side of the boat when it was at anchor, and tried to plan so that I could take a shit in the bushes after we were dropped off in the mornings instead of stinking up the whole boat. I took simple wipee baths in the shack everynight and then showered at Ken’s bunkhouse after the trip.
Is there internet on the boat and phone service on land?
The Serenity is outfitted with satellite internet. I watched a Packer’s game on the boat one evening. Also, my ATT phone had better reception while I was out hiking on the islands than I have at home in rural Wyoming. I was able to check in with Ken multiple times a day and coordinate the day’s hunt and dropping off game and getting picked up on the beach. There is a place to fully charge your phone on the boat everynight if you are responsible. It’s essential to bring a satellite communication device like a Garmin inreach to communicate with Ken if you don’t have service. Also I downloaded the onX maps of Prince William Sound to use on my phone and looked at them dozens of times a day.
Are alcohol and soft drinks included?
Alcohol isn’t included, but we stopped at the supermarket before boarding the boat to buy any drinks we wanted. There is a cooler on the boat that is full of soft drinks, water and gatorade that is included.
How much do licenses cost? (non-resident)
Obviously this is time sensitive, but here are the rundowns of my licenses.
Federal Duck Stamp - $25
Alaska Duck Stamp - $10
Non Resident 1, 3, or 7 Day King Salmon Stamp - $45 (only if trolling for winter kings is a priority)
Alaska non resident hunting and 7 day fishing license - $205
Deer Tags $300 each (I bought 2)
Black Bear Tags $550 (I did not buy one, just here for reference)
How many deer tags should I buy?
Non-Residents can buy up to four licenses, residents can get five. I bought two. My theory was that I was going to shoot the first buck I saw, and then still have another license to go hunt for the big one. If you are really wanting to fill the freezer you can load up on licenses. Ken recommended getting two and I was happy with that.
Should I buy a black bear or wolf license?
When I went in early November the black bears were all hibernating by then, so Ken recommended that I don’t buy a bear tag. Some of these islands don’t really have black bears. I’m glad I discussed this with Ken before the trip. One thing to consider is that in Alaska you can down value your tags, so you can use a black bear license/locking tag on a wolverine or buck deer, or a deer tag on a wolf.
How is meat stored/processed on the boat?
The Serenity is outfitted with an aluminum shack on the back that stays cool and is a great place for hanging meat. A couple of fans plugged in dried the quarters overnight, then the next day we put it in one of the three available freezers.
Can I carry, ship home or donate my deer meat?
I was happy to donate my buck to the captain and crew as my home freezers are full. Frozen meat can be offloaded from the boat freezers and hauled home. I filled a yeti softside cooler full of frozen fish and a few cuts of meat and carried it onto the plane all the way home. Ken can help you ship frozen meat home.
How to get antlers home?
I skinned out my deer head, wrapped it in a couple of garbage sacks, put it in my backpack, then checked it under the plane. I checked 4 bags (including my rifle case) on the way home and it cost me $340 at the airport. Ken does have a known shipper number and can assist in shipping trophies, meat, and luggage through the cargo office, we just chose to not do this because your stuff doesn't always fly with you that way.
What is the food like?
Dinners every night cooked by Steven were fantastic. We had halibut, moose steaks, shepherd’s pie, and king crab. Breakfasts were all you could eat scrambled eggs, bacon, toast--even burritos. Steven packed us sack lunches everyday with a big sandwich and a bunch of granola/chocolate bars and chips. There was always fresh coffee available on the boat and cold drinks in the cooler.
What are sleeping quarters like?
The Serenity has four bunks up front in the hull that are big enough for anybody. It’s a fishing boat, which means you have a warm dry place to sleep but room is at a premium. There are no Jacuzzis on the boat and space is tight. The stateroom is two beds stacked on each other that are comfortable. Each bunk is outfitted with outlets for charging electrical devices.
This is the list I put together for our week-long, boat-based trip with Serenity Charters. It has been polished and refined in accordance with my experience in Alaska. A person should obviously adapt it to their own personal tastes, time of year they are going, and what they are planning on hunting during their trip.
-Personal item- Backpack for a personal item on the plane (5.11 Rush 72)
-Carry On- 40L Duffel for carry on
-Guncase (Pelican Vault) checked under plane
-105 Liter Duffel (Backcountry.com) checked under plane
I carried my hunting backpack on the plane as a personal item with my optics, toiletries, and a change of clothes in it.
I put my main hunting clothes and rubber boots in a 40L duffel and used it as my carry on. If the Airline happens to lose your bags you can still make a decent hunt of it if you have a set of good clothes. You can always borrow a rifle!
I packed a big waterproof duffel with my waders and hunting gear and checked it. I put some clothes in my gun case to pad everything and spread the weight out.
-338 Rifle (Ruger Hawkeye)
-30 rounds of ammo (Barnes 210 TTSX)
-3 lightweight skinning knives (one for each buck and one for fish)
-Electrical tape (to go over the muzzle and keep the rain out)
-Benelli SBII 12 Gauge
-Shotgun shells (I’d take four boxes each)
-480 Ruger Revolver/Ammo
-Bore snake, Rem Oil wipes
-Small roll of paracord
-Small pair binoculars
-Havalon razor knife for caping
-Waterproof cover for backpack
-Small roll of garbage sacks
*with appropriate charge cords and a portable power bank.
-Two-way Handheld Radios
-Cell phone with maps of Prince William Sound pre-downloaded
-Rubber Boots (Lacrosse Alpha Burley Pro)
-Heavy PVC raincoat (Carhart) *Only wore the duck hunt day, but it rained 3+ inches that day and I stayed dry
-Light PVC Raincoat (Kuiu)*wore everyday
-Light Rain Pants (Kuiu) *I wore these everyday
-Heavy PVC rubber gloves
-Waterproof backpack cover
-Three pairs of pants
-Underwear for everyday
-Pair of socks for everyday
-A hoodie I wore everyday in the field
-Another hoodie that I wore around the boat and slept in
-A lightweight, water resistant and warm Kuiu jacket that I wore everyday
-Thermal underwear that I only wore when duck hunting
-Fleece gloves (2 pair, one to wear and one to dry)
-Flannel shirt (I wore everyday on the mountain)
-Alaska Duck Stamp
-Federal Duck Stamp
-Alaska combination hunting/fishing license (1 Week)
-Deer harvest tickets
-Deer locking tags x2
-Baby wipes (for quick showers and hygiene)
-Dramamine (nobody got seasick)
Fishing gear *Ken has all the fishing gear you need, I just like using my own.
-Okuma Nomad travel boat rod 20-40 lb
-Avet SX Reel with 30lb braid
-Diamond jigs from 6-14 ounces for ling cod
-Colt sniper jigs 3 ounces for rockfish
-25lb. florocarbon for leaders
-Heavy duty snap swivels