Alaska Photography Trips

Alaska Private Guide Service

Smokey Don Duncan,
Master Guide #136

Alaska Private Guide Service Photography Adventures

Alaska Photography Trip Information

Guided Photography Trips For Brown Bear, Moose and Black Bear Northern Lights And Filming Crew Support.

Our general operating areas are along the Nushagak River north of Dillingham in unit 17. The prime filming dates are: August 10-19 (Brown Bear) and Sept 16-30 for moose and brown bear. Our other main area is out of Fairbanks in May and June for Black Bear up close and personal. During the winter we provide Northern light viewing and photo trips using snowmachines. If you are filming commercially, you will need to get a special use permit from the State of Alaska. Not a big deal or expensive and I can help you get it. We can provide you and your crew with all of your logistical needs from planes, boats and snowmobiles for mobility, camps or cabins for comfort, sat phones to communicate and blow up metro-sexual dolls for you Hollywood and NY folks and a guide to help keep you from screwing up and filming that episode with the doll after you have been out there a few weeks or getting hurt.

Alaska Film Crew Support

Alaska Private Guide Service and Master Guide Smokey Don Duncan have been operating in Alaska since 1990. We have the equipment needed to get you into the bush and to stay in the bush for a comfortable stay and the logistical knowledge and contacts you may need to accomplish your goals. Successful on budget trips start with good planning and good equipment. Our services are divided into 3 parts. 1) Planning and logistical advice and support. 2) Equipment use or rental. 3) In field guiding, project and labor support.

Your first 1/2 hour consultation is free. This is when we discuss your project to determine if APGS can be of service to you and what you may need or need to consider. After the initial consultation the planning and logistical advice is billed at $125/ hour. The minimum charge is $625 or 5 hours. Equipment rental or use and in the field support costs are quoted on a case by case basis.

Fairbanks Northern Lights/ Aurora Trips with or with out snowmobile.

Please see our options at www.fairbankssnowmobiletours.com or www.fairbankssnowmobiletours.com/aurora-viewing-and-snowmobiling

Black Bear Photography Trip -- Fairbanks May 20 - June 30

These trips are available in the spring only. You should see plenty of bears up close, 30- 50 yards, at our black bear bait stations. This is ideal for still or video filming of all sizes of bears including some sows and cubs. You may see bears fighting or mating. Occasionally you may see a grizzly or a wolf. Waterfowl is very abundant including many swans early in the season. We have long daylight hours, 20+, at this time of year. While a day trip is possibly by flying out in the morning and back in the evening, you will probably want to stay at least one night (2 am -8 am) at the lodge since the plane ain't coming to pick you up at midnight. Have your cameras ready for scenic aerial shots on the flights in and out. We will give you an orientation talk about what to and not to do before heading out. You will travel by boat along beautiful rivers to reach our baits. Once on location we generally sit in chairs behind a ground blind. Sometimes we will use tree stands, either plywood or hanging stands. An armed guide will be with you at all times. The quieter your cameras and clothes are the better. Sorry, but we can not guarantee how many bears you may see on any given day/night but we will do our best. All you need is your clothes and camera equipment. We will provide food, accommodations, boats and guide. You might want to bring a couple pairs of pull up Depends. These can be "friendly" bears who like to lick the gun barrel or camera. Some will just be testing your nerves while others may be seeing if you taste good or if they can make you run for more sport. Your guide is very experienced in reading bear sign language and will be heavily armed.

The float plane charter to the lodge is $400 each way and will carry 2 people and gear or 3 people if they are under 200 pounds each with minimal gear. The prices below do not include the charter costs.

1 person/ guide $800/day/ +-24 hours
2 persons/ guide $500 each/day +-24 hours
3 persons/ guide $375 each/day/+-24 hours

Alaska Moose and Brown Bear Photography Trips in unit 17

For the last 25 years, we have watched the moose and bears during their prime viewing times. Our past experience gives us the knowledge of when and where the best chances for photo opportunities. The three trips offered below take place at their best viewing times, and each trip allows you to catch other native species in their natural environment.

The brown bear and moose photography trips takes place on the Nushagak River, 300 miles west of Anchorage, near the village of Koliganek (approximately 22 miles away). Koliganek is 90 air miles north of Dillingham, a busy commercial fishing port and the major start point for bush travel, sport fisherman and hunters. Dillingham is the hub for air travel in Southwest Alaska and is about 350 air miles from Anchorage. Most of you will fly directly from Anchorage to Koliganek for $700 round trip. This is an expensive area to get to and operate in with gas costing $20 a gallon in camp and food is very expensive. I would suggest at least a 3 day trip or longer.

For the trip, we will camp in a Riverine environment made up of spruce, birch, cottonwood, alder, willow, high and low cranberry bushes, fireweed, artic cotton, wild flowers, and many other flora. The river corridor has many channels, which are bounded on the outside by sloughs and open tundra. There are mountains in the distance with some visible from camp, and others accessible by jet boat

Brown Bear Photography Trips -- July 20 - August 19

During the summer, the salmon run up the river, first the kings, then the reds, and then the silvers. Toward the end of July, the Kings have spawned and begin to seek shelter from the current in the back eddies, slow-moving sloughs, and the inside turn of long gravel bars (like the one the APGS camp is located on). The bears, both big boars and sows with cubs, congregate at these prime spots to feed and lay on the winter fat. On average, 6 bears live on the island my camp is on and many more feed a short boat ride away.

The long daylight hours of the midnight sun means long opportunities to film the bears during prime feeding hours. Since the breeding season is over and there is an abundance of food, the sows with cubs can frequently be seen in close proximity to the big boars. The bears do not seem to be bothered by human presence during this period as is the case in other areas and different seasons.

When I first set up camp on the island, bears would use our boats to fish from the higher deck and usually didnít damage anything. I have left camp for days with the cook door open and returned to find nothing disturbed. Bears are unpredictable though, so itís important to hire a guide familiar with bear behavior in the specific area.

The riverside base camp, K1, is professionally outfitted with all the comforts you should need, including a generator to recharge your camera batteries. The steel framed tents are covered with weatherproof fabric and have wood floors, comfortable cots with thick pads, lights and a wood stove. The camp also carries radio for emergency communication to the village; satellite phones can be rented in camp if you need to stay in touch. The trip also utilizes jet boats equipped with both jet motors and trolling motors for silent running. The boats provide enough flexibility to travel the back sloughs that are seldom disturbed by fishing traffic. Before August 20th and after September 15, we also have remote cabins we use when or if needed.

The Brown Bear photography is best from July 20óAugust 30. There may be some flexibility around the start date of the trip, please contact Alaska Private Guide Service for more information. Other film and photo opportunities exist to capture waterfowl, moose, river otters, caribou, bald and golden eagles, osprey, beavers, sea gulls, spawning salmon, and scenery from the mountains to the expansive tundra lands and flora. Also, donít forget the world-class fishing available at the K1 base camp! -- top

Moose Photography Trips -- September 16 - 30

By mid-September the big Alaska Yukon Bull Moose are in rut. The big bulls are challenging one another for the right to breed with the cow moose. Their antlers are smashing together, and they call to one another throughout the night. During this mating season, the moose tend to lose their fear of humans and for the most part, the brown bears keep clear of the bulls. We utilize calling to attract the bulls in close as they go into full rut. This can be more dangerous than a brown bear hunt and your will be guide will be heavily armed to protect you and himself from enraged bulls. But it is ideal for close in shots or video.

The nights are longer in the fall, and the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) can be seen sometimes on most clear nights. The leaves and the tundra are in full fall color. Usually there are large movements of caribou through the area as an added film opportunity. There are also plenty of wildlife available to photograph, including waterfowl, river otters, bald and golden eagles, osprey, beavers, sea gulls, salmon, and the beautiful scenery of the mountains, tundra lands, and tundra flora as they experience the fall color change.

During the course of the trip, you will stay at the fully outfitted Alaska Private Guide Service base camp, K1. K1 is professionally outfitted with all the comforts you should need, including a generator to recharge your camera batteries. The steel framed tents are covered with weatherproof fabric and have wood floors, comfortable cots with thick pads, lights and a wood stove. There is also a shower and privy available. The camp also carries radio for emergency communication to the village; satellite phones can be rented in camp if you need to stay in touch. The trip also utilizes jet boats equipped with both jet motors and trolling motors for silent running. The boats provide enough flexibility to travel the back sloughs that are seldom disturbed by fishing traffic. -- top

Photo Trip Prices

All photo trips for moose or brown bear in unit 17 are custom quoted.

Travel Information

I will help you arrange your flights based upon what you want to do. For the unit 17 moose and brown bear trips; you will fly one of 2 routes. Anchorage to Dillingham to Koliganek or Anchorage to Koliganek. Both of these routes are commercially available and we have the direct charter option also. For budgeting purposes, figure about $700 for the Anchorage to Koliganek round trip flight. For the Fairbanks trips I will arrange your flight with our charter pilot if needed. On both trips, you can mail some gear ahead if desired. -- top

Smokey Don Duncan, Owner, Master Guide #136 and P.H.
299 Alvin St. Fairbanks AK 99712
Landline: 907-457-8318     Verizon Cell: 435-890-8328
Email: apgs@gci.net

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