Drop Camp Hunting

Drop-camp style hunting is becoming more popular and is an excellent choice for the “Do It Yourself” type hunter. Drop hunts include hunts where the hunter is dropped off via bush plane, horseback, float trip, and several other possibilities. These hunts are affordable and provide access, yet do not furnish a guide to cater to the hunter’s needs. You are on your own once the transportation leaves; everything is up to you. Deciding which animal to shoot, what tactics to use, cleaning, cooking, caping, fleshing—all are responsibilities of the hunters.

Naturally, planning for a drop-hunt takes time. Every detail is the responsibility of the hunter, and care must be taken to make sure the correct license and tags are purchased and permits have been acquired. In addition, knowing how to take care of harvested animals is an absolute must. The harvested meat and trophy depend on careful preparation and know-how. On a recent drop hunt into the Brooks Range, our planning took place well over a year in advance. We gradually began to acquire gear and research the area, learning all we could about what to expect from that part of Alaska at that time of year. 

Several factors come into play when planning what to pack for a drop-style hunt, including time of year, length of stay, location of the hunt, game being pursued, and number of people. Remember, you are on your own. All gear, food, etc. must be taken by you. There are occasions that an outfitter will provide tents and some gear for drop hunts, but this is one of the details that need to be verified at the time of booking.

Here is a list of some of the items that must be taken when planning a drop hunt. Remember, items will change based on some of the factors mentioned above. 

GENERAL GEAR: 

  • First-aid kit (Band-Aids, tape, gauze, Tylenol, Benadryl, Neosporin, Mole skin, etc.)
  • Water purification tablets or filter system
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Knife with sharpener (knives with replaceable blades are great for caping and fleshing)
  • Lightweight cook set and stove
  • Water bottle(s) (Nalgene is great; I recommend at least two bottles to carry with you)
  • Collapsible water storage container for camp (1 or 2 gallon, saves you trips to the fill bottles)
  • Rope and or paracord (paracord is very versatile and can be used for all kinds of things in camp)
  • Tent (get one size bigger than the number of people [i.e., a three-man tent for two hunters] to provide extra room for gear; a three-season tent with good rain fly and vestibules is best)
  • Sleeping bag for unpredictable cold weather (I recommend a 15 -degree to zero-degree bag; you can always sleep outside of the bag if it gets warm)
  • Lightweight sleeping pad 
  • Waterproof matches, lighter, or magnesium striker
  • Fire starter (commercial items are available or you can make your own)
  • Toilet paper
  • Camera and/or video camera with extra batteries
  • Insect repellent or Thermacell
  • Game bag
  • Trash bags (contractor type is preferred)
  • Fishing supplies
  • Cooking stove, fuel, and utensils
  • Hand/dish soap

HUNTING GEAR

  • Packs (day pack and frame pack)
  • Compass, maps, and GPS unit
  • Flagging tape to mark trails
  • Rifle/bow with ammunition and/or arrows
  • Tags/licenses
  • Spotting scope, binoculars

FOOD

  • Instant hot cereal
  • Mountain House or other freeze-dried food
  • Instant coffee, hot chocolate
  • Trail snacks (jerky, dried fruit, granola) 
  • Foil for cooking fish or other game
  • Salt/pepper and seasoning

CLOTHING

  • Rain gear (In Alaska, you get what you pay for!)
  • Base layer and underwear
  • Hunting pants, two pairs (wool or synthetic is better that cotton; it is lighter and dries faster)
  • Socks, four pairs
  • Gloves, two pairs (one lightweight and one heavy)
  • Hats (beanie or warm hat and baseball-style cap)
  • Jacket and/or vest or parka (plan for the worst)
  • Hunting shirts, multiple (wool or synthetic is better than cotton)

This is a very condensed list and it may need to be modified based on the conditions of your hunt. You may have to add items that are essential based on the area you are hunting. For example, we carried pistols for bear protection as well as video equipment to film the hunt.  When participating in a drop-camp hunt, multiple small bags are often better to pack than one or two large bags. This makes loading them into the plane or on horseback much easier. Many of the hard-sided gun and bow cases will not fit into the bush planes. It is recommended that you bring soft-sided cases along with you and transfer your weapons to those prior to departing to your hunting location.

— Written by Brian Magee, Fired Up Outdoors TV Show