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  • 1. Never spend the night under a roof.
  • 2. Survive on what you kill or catch and the basic provisions in your kit
  • 3. No guides…all DIY hunts and fishing with over-the-counter tags/licenses

The Overland Hunting Quest

Border to Border was born by a desire to rekindle the adventure of hunting. Like the hunters of old who trekked through the West with only basic provisions, a map of the land and a desire to see new country, we intend to recapture that adventure and excitement in a modern world. The rules are simple and self imposed: travel overland from Mexico to Alaska hunting every state crossed. The only meat consumed is what is killed along the way. All hunts are on land open to the public. No fancy lodges or hotels—every one of the 45 nights will be spent camping out. No guides or outfitter, just friends and family.

The goal of Border to Border is to not only entertain and rekindle the American love of adventure, but inspire, educate and motivate viewers for their own DIY hunting adventure.


Number of States to Cross

(And 1 Canadian Province)

Number of Miles to Travel

(Round Trip)

$ Gas Budget for a Trip


Number of Days Away From Home


Number Of Big Game Species Hunted

New Mexico Antelope

New Mexico is an amazing state for hunters who love diversity. Home to some of North American’s only free range, fair chase “exotics”, New Mexico boasts a healthy population of aoudad, oryx and ibex as well as native game such as elk, mule deer, couse whitetail, mountain lion, black bears, desert and Rock Mountain big horn sheep.

For this expedition to be a success we have to get to Alaska before the winter sets in and the seasons close, which means we have to start early. Luckily one of the earliest seasons in the country is in New Mexico for antelope. Considering New Mexico also is home to the largest antelope in the United States that makes for a perfect place to start our adventure.

  • The property we were hunting for antelope was about 45 minutes from the town of Clayton, NM. While we could have camped on BLM property closer to the property, there was something very refreshing about camping lakeside at Clayton Lake. There were less than a half dozen campers on the entire lake, and with water right in front of the tent excellent fishing was to be had during the downtime. It made for an ideal base camp and non-hookup campsites were extremely affordable.

  • If you have seen the movie Contact then you probably recognize the cluster of satellite dishes attempting to intercept communications from outer space. The site is called the Very large Array (Yeah I know, not really very scientific sounding) and it is located out in the high desert outside of Socorro, New Mexico. We decided to drive the hundred or so miles out of our way to check it out. Turns out, it was worth the trip and is pretty impressive in person. Best of all we were the only ones there. We popped the tent and spent the night hoping to have an alien encounter, but no such luck.

  • You know you are in New Mexico when there are so many rattlesnakes that it necessitates having actual warning signs…and of course they are bilingual. While this sign put us high alert, the good news is we only found one rattlesnake, the bad news is he was right in camp.

  • We saw this kind of nonsense throughout the journey—shot up road signs. This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. While I am sure anyone reading this page shares the same dislike and doesn’t do it, if you are in the tiny minority of people who think shooting up signs is fun, please stop. You make all hunters and shooters look like irresponsible A-holes. And besides, we wanted to read what this sign had to say.

  • We learned two very important lessons on the Border to Border journey. One is a lot of gear is required to hunt so many states for so many different species and if said gear isn’t repacked every few days it has a way of growing and overflowing the entire trailer. As a side note we found keeping everything in Pelican cases helped keep things organized as well as kept everything dust-free and well protected.

  • Since New Mexico is one of the 32 states that allow hunting with suppressors we hooked up with Justin Padgett of Silencerco who let us use one of the company’s amazing Harvester suppressors. Designed to handle up to .300 Win. Mag. and only weighs 11.3 ounces this is an item that every hunter concerned with their hearing should use. Owning a suppressor is not hard and states are opening up hunting laws every year making them more acceptable.

  • No matter how amazing a vehicle is, all it takes is one small item to break and it can leave you stranded. Luckily in our cases when the Brute decided to not turn over it was in the middle of downtown Clayton, NM one block away from a small auto parts store. Really not a fault of the Brute, the battery had given up the ghost after being crushed/cracked from the rough roads. I walked down, bought a new battery that we installed in a few minutes and we were back on the road.

  • Cool scenery and old west history abounds in New Mexico. This small town appeared abandoned, but once probably had a relatively thriving population. Considering Billy the Kid rode all over these parts, it makes you wonder if he stopped through here—my guess is he did.

  • Fort Sumner New Mexico – the site of Billy the Kid’s shooting. How can you travel through New Mexico and not want to see where Billy the Kid was purportedly shot? We stopped at the Billy the Kid museum and before entering was a bit skeptical on it being a tourist trip, but found a darn fine western museum with lots of western memoribialy, a fantastic firearms collection and of course some Billy the Kid items.

  • A few miles out of Fort Sumner, you come to Billy the Kid’s grave. There are two head stones both inside the steel cage to keep folks from walking off with them (the small original head stone has been stolen multiple times over the years and every 20 years or so it resurfaces in a collection and is returned to its rightful place).

  • The spoils of New Mexico. After hunting hard right up to the final few minutes of the season, the three of use (Waddell, Johnston and Schoby) lucked out and filled all of our tags within minutes of each other. While the hunting was tough it was the perfect way to end the New Mexico hunt.

  • The meat from the antelope has been boned out and put on ice in the various coolers, the gear is repacked into the truck and trailer and we are ready to head north to Colorado. The first leg of the adventure has come to a close.

The only hook is the New Mexico antelope season runs for only three days starting in late August. I will be hunting 150 miles southeast of Raton, NM on a piece or property I never seen before, but have looked at topo maps and talked to guys who have hunted the property in previous years. Even though I am doing research before hitting the ground, three days isn’t a lot of time to get to know an area, find a good antelope and get a shot.

Tick tock, tick tock… hopefully our first episode doesn’t come down to us eating tag soup

I will be joined on this hunt by outdoor writer and long time friend Jeff Johnston who is spending his fall vagabond around the west on his own cross country trip. Meeting up and sharing some laughs around the fire will be a great way to kick off the Border to Border adventure. If Michael Waddell gets a break in his busy schedule he may even make an appearance. He is a sucker for speed goats!

New Mexico Antelope

The pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, is a species of artiodactyl mammal indigenous to interior western and central North America. Though not an antelope, it is often known colloquially in North America as the prong buck, pronghorn antelope, cabri (native American) or simply antelope because it closely resembles the true antelopes of the Old World and fills a similar ecological niche due to convergent evolution

96 4/8

Antelope World Record

Socorro County, NM 2013

Number of NM Antelope entered in B&C

New Mexico proghorn antelope.

Colorado Elk Hunting

Like New Mexico, Colorado has a lot of wildlife diversity. But what is has more than anything else is elk, and lots of them—around 280,000 at last count. Colorado is home to the largest elk population in the United States and also offers over-the-counter tags, so it stands to reason that for our next stop on Border to Border should be around the town of Craig, arguably the epicenter of the elk boom.

I am familiar with the area having hunted Craig in the past during the peak of the rut, but early September is pre-rut and can be a tough time to kill an elk with a bow. This will probably turn into a waterhole waiting game, but our luck may come together and if I do my part we will be grilling backstraps before it is all over. Looking at TOPO maps of the region ahead of time have yielded some likely looking wet spots elk might be wallowing at.

In case I do not fill my tag, luckily the Colorado mountains are loaded with grouse and the streams are full of trout —both eat well.

  • A perfect Rocky Mountain high. Here my wife Dory and I stand on the Continental Divide on the opening day of Colorado’s elk season. Tags were over the counter (OTC) and the land is all public National Forest. Tags are easy to come by, but legal bulls are much tougher to find. That being said, there is an incredible sense of freedom hunting arguably America’s most glamorous big game species on public land with an OTC tag.

  • Branched Antler bulls - a very good sign! This is the view from camp on opening morning. A small herd fed across the open hillside with a couple of pretty good bulls, especially considering we are on public land. The only problem is this shot was taken through our Zeiss spotting scope. Close to a mile and a half away, through rough terrain, getting to these bulls before they bedded each morning would prove to be a challenge.

  • Don’t kid yourself on the difficulty of mountain hunting. Each day we would hike 4-6 miles through rough terrain and it was slow going. 4-6 miles on flat ground at low elevation is a cake walk, but through thick lodgepoles, deadfalls and at nearly 10,000 feet it is a chore. Be sure to get in shape before you head out West.

  • With millions of acres of National Forest, camping in Colorado is as simple as finding a good spot and setting up. We had this meadow to ourselves and could legally stay in the same place for up to 14 days before having to move to a new spot, per Forest Service regulations. The James Baroud tent on top of the Xventure trailer made for an ideal elk basecamp. When you are spending as much time in the field as we were on the Border to Border expedition, laundry must be done. A bucket of hot soapy water and an improvised clothesline is a necessity.

  • The day before the elk season opened, we ran into these two folks picking chantrell mushrooms. I figured the time of year was right, but not until I saw their bag did I realize how well the mushrooms were coming on in the relatively wet rocky mountain weather. They gave me a few chantrells and I gave them a prime cut of antelope backstrap in return. We both dinned well that night.

  • Once we got in the woods elk hunting, I realized the mushroom season was hitting full swing. While I would have been really pleased to be carrying out fresh elk tenderloins in my game bag, a bag full of fresh chantrells is a heck of a substitute. If you have never ate these gifts from God, be sure to keep a look out for these golden wonders next time you are in the Rockies in the fall. Grilled with any kind of steak they are amazing.

  • Possibly the best 40 dollars I have ever spent on any product…ever. This small plastic loo folds up and completely changes the number two experience in the woods. No more looking for a perfect log. If you are setting up camp in the backcountry, grab one of these stools for stool and be a bit more civilized.

  • The Camp Chef Mountain Man Grill and Griddle worked perfectly for all of our cooking needs. Nothing sets the tone of an elk camp like good food. While elk backstraps were few and far between we did make an awesome breakfast of scrambled eggs, antelope backstraps from New Mexico and fresh Chantrelle mushrooms picked the day before.

What will make this hunt really enjoyable is I will be picking up my wife in Hayden, Colorado. It will be good to have the company, but it will be even more fun to watch her try for elk. She has hunted quite a bit, but has never hunted elk, so this will be a first for her. Hopefully she can keep it together if a big bull walks past!

Colorado Elk

There are three hunt-able subspecies of elk found in North America; the Roosevelt of the Pacific Northwest, the Thule of California’s central coast and the Rocky Mountain found from New Mexico up through the Canadian Rockies. While Rocky Mountain elk have a wide distribution, no state or province sports the density of Colorado with over a quarter million in its herd. While Colorado has a healthy population of elk, they also have their fair share of hunters with over 260,000 elk tags sold a season.


Average hunter success on elk


Colorado Elk Population

Wyoming Mule Deer

The wife and I drew mule deer and antelope tags in Wyoming so we were excited to head north out of Colorado to the fabled Cowboy state. The antelope tags are unique in that they are special ag land depredation tags. What this means is they have a much longer season and open much earlier than traditional tags and hunters can use a rifle in September, but there is a catch—in the particular unit we drew, they are only valid on or within a 1/2 mile of irrigated agricultural land. The intent of these tags is to reduce the amount of damage herds of antelope do to cropland in the early Fall. While the regulations do limit the number of acres available there is usually little pressure and obtaining permission to hunt private ag land is generally pretty easy. In fact multiple ranchers list their names and phone numbers on Wyoming’s site for people to contact looking to hunt. There are also other ranchers who sign up for a “Private Land Public Wildlife” program that hunters can simply apply for and are granted permission to various properties.

Hopefully we will tag out on a couple of antelope as there is nothing quite as good antelope backstraps grilled over an open fire.

  • Wyoming is known for antelope and has nearly as many speed goats as they do residents (around 400,000 goats, and 500,000 citizens). We lucked out and drew antelope tags as well as mule deer tags. Only having a little over three days to do both we knew Wyoming was going to be tight on time so we went after antelope first. If we tagged out, we could then head to a different unit for mule deer. For antelope we hunted a special early rifle season and for mule deer we purchased Archery permits, allowing us to hunt during the same time with a bow. Since crossbows are allowed under Archery regulations, we brought along our TenPoint crossbows.

  • There is no place quite like Wyoming. We stopped by the local hardware store in Thermopolis, Wyoming the day before we killed these two bucks. There we randomly met a rancher who informed us, she had too many antelope on her ranch (10,000 acres BTW) and would we come shoot a couple? No trespass fee, no guides, just “come on out and hunt.” So we did the following morning. Dory shot her buck and within a half an hour I shot mine in the same field. We were done before noon and quickly got them butchered and on ice. What a great experience!

  • Tagged out on Antelope it was time to head out for mule deer. Here is the first morning of our extremely short two day mule deer hunt. A crossbow is possibly the perfect tool for hunting Wyoming archery season. My TenPoint is deadly accurate and when combined with an Aimpoint its extremely fast target acquisition. Set up with a HHA Optimizer adjustable base, there is no need for hold over, just dial in range and concentrate on the Aimpoin’t single red dot.

  • The ideal mule deer spot—rough rugged BLM country overlooking an irrigated ag field close to the town of Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The mulies would feed on the alfalfa all night and bed in the sage during the day. They key was to spot them on the move and get in a position to intercept them.

  • Wyoming mule deer country is a big place with lots of wide open spaces. Here Dory glasses for mulies from a small rise. In the early season the key is to be there at first light, and spend a lot of time behind good glass like these Zeiss 10X Victory’s. As soon as the sun got much over the horizon the deer would bed for the day, making spotting them in the tall sage impossible. We only had a day and a half to hunt mule deer—not nearly enough time and we didn’t succeed, but if we had a couple more days I am convinced we would have taken a nice buck from this public property.

  • The Rhino Rack Sunseeker awning is super easy to set up and take down—in all it can be completed in under a minute. Unzip the outer case, unroll the awning, extend the legs, and stake out, it is that simple. Spend a day in the desert sun without one and you realize how important shade is.

  • I never thought the mosquito netting option on the Rhino Rack Sunseeker awning would be needed in the Wyoming desert…Alaska, sure, maybe even British Columbia but Wyoming in September? Who would have thought? Luckily we had it along as the mosquitos were as bad as I have ever seen them anywhere at any time—Alaska muskeg bad. Evidently Wyoming got a big rain the week before and eggs that had been waiting probably a decade to hatch popped. The trip would have been miserable without the screened in area.

  • You normally think of Mountain Bikes…well…in the mountains. But on this Wyoming flat land desert hunt they worked awesome. We needed to get in a couple of miles to the ridge where we wanted to glass. It was relatively flat on an old two track road. We could have drove, scaring every buck out of the area or we could have walked, which would have taken upwards of 45 minutes, or we could cruise on the Cogburn bike with all of our gear in the panniers and crossbow attached and get in in around 10 minutes—a much better option.

  • Let there be light! We ran the camp off a Goal Zero power packs that did OK for running LED lights and minor power chores, but needed constant recharging for the onboard fridge/freezer on the Xventure trailer. Since we weren’t driving, charging via the vehicle wasn’t an option, but the Power Film Solar worked perfectly. Putting out 120 watts of power in direct sunlight it kept the Goal Zero topped off and provided shade for camp. Best of all the flexible solar panels are bonded to a high quality canvas so the unit can be folded up into tough package not much bigger than a notebook.

Wyoming Mule Deer

Wyoming is an incredible destination for big game hunters with stable populations of mule deer, antelope, black bear, wolves, elk, moose, big horn sheep and mountain goats. After enough points are accrued, it represents one of the best odd of all the western states for the traveling big game hunter. While Wyoming’s regulations are confusing to navigate, the state’s hunting is worth it if you are lucky enough to draw a tag. If professional help is required, contact Cabela’s tags to help with the draw.


Millions Acres Of Public Land


Total Hunters

Idaho Shiraz Moose Float Trip

Every year my brother, an Idaho resident, and I put in for one of the state’s trophy species, we generally flip flop between moose and sheep as in Idaho you can only apply for one trophy tag a year. This single tag application combined with paying the full tag price ($2,100 refundable) and buying a hunting license ($164 non-refundable) plus no preference points keeps the Gem state at the top for draw odds. Even with the decent draw odds, neither of us drew a moose tag, but one of his co-workers did. So after Wyoming I headed straight to Idaho to meet up with my brother where he will have his raft loaded and ready to float one of the many rivers in the moose unit.

  • Float hunting Idaho may be one of the most enjoyable ways to see this magnificent state. The numerous rivers are full of trout and the countryside abounds with big game. While archery elk and deer season was open, our focus was on Shiras moose. My Brother, Greg’s co-worker Windy Davis drew a bull moose tag. This coveted tag was our ticket to good time and I was more then anxious to help with camp and hopefully the packing.

  • The clarity of the water in Idaho will shock you. Crystal clear, ever pebble on the bottom appears as through a magnifying glass. And while the rivers are so clean they look sterile, they produce enough aquatic insects to support a great trout population.

  • What is a hunting camp without a fire? On this river, due to the amount of summer fishing and floating traffic, there are some special regulations in place. No cutting firewood for one, and all fires must be in a fire pan to prevent burned out fire rings, charred stones and misc. trash left on site. We packed (floated) in our own wood, and the Zippo 4 in 1 woodsman made quick work of splitting it up.

  • Fall is in the air. The leaves are just starting to show a hint of color and one morning of the float we woke up to ice on the water buckets. We later learned it got down into the mid-20’s during the night. Winter comes early to this part of the Rocky Mountains and a fire in the morning felt good.

  • It took two rafts to haul all of our crew’s gear with enough room left over to still bring out a moose if we got lucky. This is the beauty of hunting from a raft, yes you can go ultra-light and backpack in or you can bring a raft and bring everything including the kitchen sink. Luckily my brother had one raft and a friend of ours had the second. It seems that nearly everyone in the Mountain West owns a raft or at least knows someone who does.

  • Our version of the kitchen sink. This little invention/contraption worked amazingly well around camp. Washing your hands is always a chore in camp and generally requires someone to hold a bucket for you. Fill this bucket up on the river. Attach hose/pump assembly. Step on the pump/bulb and water comes out of the nozzle leaving both hands free to wash as normal.

  • River rafters have the coolest gear. Seats turn into tables and chuck boxes with legs and a large mesh bag holds the dishes after drying. I can’t recall how many times I have been looking for a place to dry dishes while camping and flat, clean spaces come at a premium in the woods. With this net bag from Cascade Designs you simply throw your dishes in and they are air dried in no time. While designed for rafters it would work well hung between two trees or off the tailgate of a pickup.

  • Even though we had plenty of room to pack tents, I decided to try out a survival rainfly I normally carry in my hunting pack. It weighs only a few ounces and would serve well in an emergency. But the key is to field test when it is not a real emergency. Strung between two trees and staked on one side it worked ideal in the mild weather for keeping the light breeze off and the morning dew. If rain or wind threatened, it would be roomy enough to tie to trees in the middle and stake both sides to the ground, creating a snug A-frame style shelter. My cot (MSR) was minimalistic but still extremely comfortable and My Kuiu sleeping bag kept me warm even on the night that dipped into the 20’s.

  • Since we didn’t get a moose on this trip, antelope from Wyoming had to suffice for game meat. Cured with vinegar, brown sugar, salt and coriander we simply hung the brined game meat for a few days in the open air. Dried so it is still slightly moist in the middle, sliced thin and served with cheese it is hard to beat in the field (or anywhere for that matter).

  • The beauty of Idaho, like many of the Rocky Mountain states, is its diversity of game. Here we are leaving central Idaho, driving west towards Lewiston when we ran into this healthy band of big horn sheep. All nannies and ewes, save one young ram, this group obliged while we stopped for a quick photo op.

  • While the moose hunting in Idaho was tough, the fishing was world class. Big browns as well as the threatened Yellowstone cutthroat were eating, stocking up for the coming winter. Hatches in the mid days and large streamers in the evening made for a great time.

It’s a bit before the rut so the calling action was slow, but there are plenty of moose in the area so finding them should not be too much of a problem. It will be just a matter if we can find a big enough bull to satisfy this rare tag. In the mean time, I’ll pitch a fly for dinner and prowl the brush patches for grouse in an attempt to provide dinner each night.

Shiraz Moose

Of the three subspecies of moose found in North America, (Canada, Alaskan-Yukon and Shiras) the Shiras is the smallest in both body and antler. Shiras moose range throughout the Rocky Mountain West and are most commonly hunted in British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. The world record was taken in 1952 at Green River Lake, Wyoming and scored 205 4/8. Today many moose populations are declining across their range, making this an increasingly difficult tag to draw.

205 4/8

Shiras Moose World Record


States Have Shiras Moose

Washington High Country Mule Deer and Bear Combo

Washington has an over-the-counter tag for its high buck hunt in limited alpine units in the Cascade mountains During this hunt you can also get a bear tag and the odds of tagging both a deer and a black bear are pretty darn good. In addition to the good hunting the scenery is some of the most incredible in the world. What makes this hunt even more fun is I am going to reunite with some high school buddies whom I haven’t hunted with in 20 years.

  • Entering Southeast Washington at last light from Lewiston, Idaho. The Palouse was alive with fall colors and faint autumn sun. It felt good to finally be back in my old stomping grounds. Even though I haven’t lived there is 20 years, it still felt like home.

  • Go Cougs! What more can I say? If I am driving across the country I am going to swing by my Alma matter. As a Coug, you just simply have to—it’s a rule. Located in southeast Washington, 8 miles from the Idaho border, the area is rich in whitetails, mule deer, pheasants and fishing. While I wish I were hunting my old haunts, the general rifle season is still a month away. My plan is to drive another four hours and meet up with some old friends for the high buck hunt in the north Central Cascade Mountains, which opens much earlier.

  • Possibly the best meal I have had the entire trip. Caught minutes before the photo was taken these cold water mountain trout are perfect eating size. Cooked over an open fire and paired with a handful of high mountain huckleberries makes for a meal fit for a king.

  • Cooking trout over an open fire is an art form. It’s hard to keep them on the stick until they firm up. If you cook them too much, they will dry out. The key is to rotate and check often. Done right, the taste is unmistakable. Salt and pepper lightly and don’t overpower the smoky, trouty goodness with seasonings.

  • The Washington high country is dotted with beautiful lakes like this one. Some are deep enough to hold trout, some do not as they freeze and do not have an inlet or outlet. But in either case they are beautiful and add tremendously to the scenery.

  • While the trout were fantastic and nearly my favorite meal in Washington, they did get beat out by my absolute fan favorite. Admittedly cheating a bit, I stopped by the parent’s house after the high country hunt and bummed a meal. Dad had frozen morel mushrooms from the spring combined with fresh perch. I ate a truckload of both.

  • Before I left Washington for British Columbia I had to fill the Brute up with gas. The station prided itself for letting travelers put stickers on their pumps so I added a Border to Border sticker. Note placement: by a pro gun sticker and Vern Fonk Insurance. If you are from the Northwest, you are familiar with Vern Fonk a Seattle icon. If you have not seen a Vern Fonk commercial (search Vern fonk, Shapoopi Dance) you will never be the same. Simply awesome.

The high buck hunt opens on the 15th of September and they guys have hired a horse packer to pack them and their camp in to the backcountry on the 13th. Unfortunately, I won’t be done hunting moose in Idaho in time to make it in with the group, so they gave me the GPS coordinates to plug into my Garmin and I will mountain bike myself the 14 miles into camp on the 15th. Hopefully I can find their camp and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they haven’t shot all the deer by the time I get there!

Black Bear

Washington has a healthy number of bears with a population averaging around 30,000 animals statewide. While baiting or hounds are not allowed, Washington does offer residents and non-residents two fall tags, combined with a long season that opens in August and continues for over two months. For the seriously bear-afflicted, Washington also offers an additional spring season in select units available by draw. In addition to the traditional black color phase, Washington hunters take many color phase bears including: blonde, cinnamon and brown.


bears in Washington State


are killed annually by hunters

British Columbia

British Columbia is a bittersweet place for a do-it-yourself non-resident hunter. This Canadian province has all the big game you could ever want: grizzly bear, black bear, cougar, caribou, moose, three sheep species, mountain goat, three species of deer and two species of elk. The problem is, if you are not a Canadian citizen or BC resident you have to hunt with an outfitter. Boo.

  • This is downtown Smithers, B.C. (and yes we spoke like Mr. Burns and repeatedly said “Smithers”). By far the most livable town we found in all of British Columbia for the Sportsman. Two hunting shops, three fly shops, a bike and ski shop, a decent restaurant or two and a coffee shop that opened up at 6 am—what more could an outdoorsman ask for? The country around Smithers is all mountains with skiing, good hunting and arguably the world’s best steelheading at your doorstep.

  • Camerman Matt Love was in heaven in B.C. with all the incredible scenery. This shot was taken right outside of Smithers at a little lake we found via muddy and rough 4x4 trail. From the looks of the road, we had been the only truck there in awhile. Not a soul was there, not a single boat fishing and the lake was alive with rising trout—and yes it was open for fishing.

  • Grouse heaven. This is what makes the region around Smithers so good for grouse hunting. Logging roads and lots of them with forest in various stages of old growth, clear cut or regrowth. You could spend days driving these roads, but you really didn’t need to. We drove and walked two and shot enough grouse to eat. Like Forest Service land in the lower 48, this was all public accessible property and even non-residents such as myself could hunt it.

  • The grouse hunting in B.C. was epic. We didn’t have a lot of time to hunt as we had lots of driving to do to get to the Alaskan Ferry, but we did manage to carve out a half day outside the town of Smithers. We stopped in a local fly fishing shop and asked for some spots. The helpful guy behind the counter pointed us in the right direction and within five miles of town we were into grouse. I could have shot more but five would make a couple of great meals.

  • This blurry shot of a black bear I took out of the Brute window as we drove by. I didn’t add this photo because it’s a masterpiece of photography. I added it as I was, and still am amazed at the diversity of wildlife B.C. holds, much of which you can see simply by driving through the province. All in they have: black bears, grizzly bears, three varieties of sheep, mountain goats, mountain caribou, blacktails, mule deer, and elk (Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt). But for the non-resident you have to employee a guide for everything other than small game. So we hunted grouse by ourselves and drooled at the big game.

  • The coastal scenery around Prince Rupert, British Columbia is stunning. Here logging, commercial fishing and hunting are still king. The country reminded me of what Washington State was probably like 75 or more years ago. Big forests, small population and lots of game.

  • Lining up to board the ferry at Prince Rupert. We weren’t sure how this portion of the trip would go, never having loaded a large truck and trailer onto a boat before. We shouldn’t have worried. It turned out to be the smoothest part of our entire trip.

  • The ferry pulling out of Prince Rupert—what a cool way to travel! Unlike most other forms of mass transit, the Alaskan Marine Highway (link) runs like a Swiss watch. Our ferries were always on time and you can bring everything with you from trucks and trailers to boats and motorhomes. Also, since so many Alaskans are hunters they were great to deal with regarding firearms. The easiest and most convenient mass transit I have ever experienced. If you travel to Alaska, I would highly recommend using the ferry for part of your trip.

  • ‘Murica! The ferry traveling up the inside passage to Alaska. You forget how big this country is until you travel by a slow ship. Watching the country drift by reminded me of just how big our northern state is. I just wish we could have shot clays off the back deck of the ferry. It would have helped kill the time.

But you can fish and hunt small game/upland birds without an outfitter. So I will drive from Washington to the coastal town of Prince Rupert, BC and will be stopping and hunting grouse and hares around the town of Terrace. It is 22 hours of driving from Seattle, Washington to Prince Rupert BC where I will board a ferry for the final state on the expedition, Alaska. Hopefully there will be a few smoked grouse in the cooler to eat on the ferry ride.

Forest Grouse

Of the four main forest grouse species found in North America (ruffed, dusky, sooty and spruce), the spruce is one of the most widespread. Feeding almost exlusively on conifer needles in the fall and winter, spruce grouse have the unique adaptation of being able to enlarge their gizzard and intestinal tract by up to 75% during the winter months to accommodate their increased food intake.


British Columbia number of Big Game Species


Limit of Forest Grouse

British Columbia

SE Alaska Prince of Wales Island Blacktails

At 663,267 square miles Alaska is the largest state in the US by far. The next closest state is Texas at a paltry 268,581. Easily the largest of the 50 states Alaska covers more square miles than all of the five lower 48 states I covered en route. Due to the size, hunting more than one big game species on this trip to Alaska is going to be impossible before winter sets in and the seasons close.

  • Southeast Alaska scenery wows from the first moment you lay eyes on it. The ferry from Prince Rupert, BC took about five hours to bring us to Ketchikan, Alaska. But from Ketchikan we are only part of the way there—we still have to get to Prince of Wales Island (P.O.W.). Its not far, but requires another ferry that leaves the next morning. The plan is to overnight in Ketchikan, and then board one final ferry for P.O.W.

  • After landing at the Hollis Terminal on P.O.W island, we have about an hour drive across the island to the town of Craig on the west side of the island. P.O.W. is huge, in fact the third largest island in the United States with hundreds of miles of paved as well as old logging roads. Craig remains primarily a fishing town with commercial and sport fishing docks dominating the waterfront.

  • P.O.W is the ideal place for mountain bikes and we put the Cogburns to good use. There are literally hundreds of miles of gravel logging roads. Some are in good shape and still being used for logging, others are shut off and overgrown two tracks that are only accessible by foot or mountain bike. The Cogburn bikes allowed us to cover lots of ground quickly and quietly plus carried our rifles and gear.

  • While the logging roads are boon for getting into areas, since you don’t know when or where they will come to an end, towing a trailer proved to be a bit problematic. As long as the road ended at a landing turning around wasn’t too bad, but when they just suddenly stopped like this one did with no place to turn around, all you could do was back up. After a couple of these roads, I could back up a trailer like a trucker.

  • Nothing says safety like exposed (and hot) wires. This power box provided electricity for the commercial fishing dock area, owned by the town of Craig. I guess their code standards are a bit different than the lower 48—or Alaskans are just tough enough to shrug off electrocution.

  • Rob Endlsey, long time friend, and my Alaskan hunting partner glassing the numerous clear cuts for elusive blacktails. We hit Southeast Alaska at possibly the worst time of the year to hunt for blacktails and everyone we spoke to asked us why we were there. Evidently, two weeks earlier and we could have caught the bucks up high in the alpine tundra. Two weeks later they would be down low chasing does as the rut heated up, but as it was he hit a hunting no mans land when most folks didn’t bother hunting, except idiots like us. Live and learn.

  • While my buddy Rob Endsley has never hunted Sitka blacktails, he guides sport fishermen (prince of wales sport fishing link) all summer out of Craig, and knows the area well. So we hunted out of fishing boat and it proved to be an extremely valuable asset to have at our disposal. It allowed us to hunt remote bays, small islands and get away from the crowds (which in Alaska means a single other hunter). We would pull into bays near a logging landing, anchor the boat and ferry our gear and us ashore via small a zodiac inflatable boat.

  • Humpback wales were ever-present. It is an amazing sight and lets you know you are no longer in Kansas when a whale longer than your boat surfaces next to you. It is a humbling and incredible sight that defines Alaska

  • While our timing on blacktail deer was off by couple of weeks, our timing on salmon fishing in the rivers was spot on. Pink and silver salmon were clogging up the Klawok River. You nearly couldn’t make a cast without catching one. I have fished Alaska several times for salmon and this by far was the most incredible fishing I have ever seen. Spin or fly—you couldn’t go wrong!

  • Rob Endsley with a hard-won Sitka blacktail. Even though everyone said we were crazy for trying to hunt blacktails at this time of the year persistence paid off. If you keep hunting sooner or later you will get a shot, they key is to capitalize on the moment when given the opportunity. I simply love these deer, the double white throat patch, dark chocolate patch between their horns and meat that tastes incredible—by far the best eating deer in the US.

So I opted to hunt Sitka blacktails in Southeast Alaska, on Price of Wales Island. I have hunted brown bear, black bears, caribou and Sitka in various parts of Alaska before and Sitka deer are extremely enjoyable to hunt and for sure taste the best, of any deer species I have ever had. Combine with the ability to shoot multiple deer, plus catch salmon, halibut, crab and shrimp, Prince of Wales Island is pretty tough to beat for the do-it-yourself scavenger. However we didn't hit it right.

However as good as Prince of Wales Island is for hunters, due to the schedule of the Border to Border trip, we arrived at exactly the wrong time. A week or two before and the bucks would have been up above timberline in the high alpine country. If we could have waited a couple more weeks, the bucks would be down with the does in the low country. But the time we arrived, they were in no mans land—somewhere in between in the heavy timber. Before heading afield I spoke with the local deer biologist and he just looked at me with a cocked eye and asked “why are you here right now…this is the worst time to hunt POW Island.” It was a statement I heard from many area hunters. The good news was no other hunters were in the field and does were plentiful, with enough time afield and a dash of luck maybe we could pull a buck out of the timber.

On the flip side, the rivers were literally choked full of pink, chum and silver salmon. The were stacked up by the thousands and in the saltwater the crabs were still viable, so we knew we would eat well, regardless of how the deer hunting turned out.

Sitka Blacktail

The Sitka black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus sitkensis) is smaller, stockier, and has a shorter face than other members of the black-tailed group. Sitka black-tailed deer are closely related to the larger Columbia black-tailed deer of the Pacific Northwest, and both are considered subspecies of the (even larger) mule deer of the American West. Fawns are born in early June and weigh 6-8 pounds at birth. The average October weight of adults is about 80 pounds for females (does) and 120 pounds for males (bucks), although bucks of over 200 pounds have been reported. The summer coat of reddish-brown is replaced by dark brownish gray in winter. A Sitka black-tail buck’s antlers are dark brown with typical black-tailed branching. Normal adult antler development is three points on each side. Antlers are relatively small, with very few scoring more than 110 points by the Boone and Crockett system. The average life-span of a Sitka black-tail is about 10 years, but some live as long as 15 years.


years average life-span