JD's Kniktuk Outfitters - Hunting Alaska's Bristol Bay for Brown Bear
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The following article is from Shooting Times

First Hunt with a New Weatherby Rifle

That small Alaskan village of Koliganek is so far away from everywhere that I was beginning to think we wouldn't be able to get there from here. Then as we stepped from the small bush plane, Bob Wener, who owns Kniktuk Outfitters, informed us that base camp was still another four hours travel upriver by small boat. After spending a night there, we would wind our way upstream for another three hours or so to our spike camp.

Tucked away in the middle of Alaskan wilderness country that stretches hundreds of miles in all directions, Bob's hunting and fishing camp is a long way from many things I could live without. He offers hunts for moose, caribou, black and brown bear, and his fishing ranks among the best I have tried anywhere in the world. The address is Kniktuk Outfitters, Dept. ST, Box 882, Delta Junction, AK 99737.

I was in Alaska to attempt to take a good caribou from scattered members of the famed Mulchatna herd, the second largest in Alaska with an estimated 150,000 animals. The rifle I used was a Weatherby mark V in .300 Weatherby Magnum, a combination common to many hunters, but mine had a few special features.

For starters, and extremely important to a hunter headed to Alaska where it may rain for days on end, the Mark V in my gun case was one of the first Weatherby rifles to be made of stainless steel. And, certainly at the very top of the list in importance, "Made In USA" had been proudly roll-marked on its receiver, the first time it had appeared on a Weatherby rifle in 35 years.

My guide, Burr Henriksen, first spotted the caribou I would eventually bag from our spike camp. The bull was feeding on an open mountaintop and even through a 30X Bausch & Lomb spotting scope, it appeared smaller than a black fly buzzing around my face. Burr figured the animal was six to seven miles away - as the crow flies. But, since we had to walk and climb over hill and dale to get there, I ended up squeezing the trigger many hours later and about 12 miles from our little camp on the river.

As sometimes happens after you spend the time it takes to develop an extremely accurate, tack-driving, flat-shooting load at the bench rest, the one and only opportunity I got at a good caribou bull came quickly at about 125 yards; I had no choice but to take an offhand shot at a moving target. My years of offhand shooting in IPSC competition paid off big time. For whatever it's worth, that shot in Alaska made me the first person outside the Weatherby company to bag an animal with a fourth-generation, made-in-America Mark V rifle.

Several positive things are certain about today's Weatherby rifles, not the least of which is superb accuracy and reliability. Another is the fact that the new synthetic stock on the Mark V Stainless is about as indestructible as you can get on a rifle light enough to tote up a steep mountain. Several miles of the return trip to camp were in total darkness and required negotiating around steep side hills covered with loose shale.

On many occasions, I was forced to use the unloaded Mark V like an alpenstock - it was either that or possibly lose my precarious grip on the side of the mountain and end up at the bottom shy chunks of hide. Except for a few minor scratches, you'd never know the stock on my rifle had ever been subjected to such torture.

One shot, one caribou. That's how the story is supposed to end when you aim true and unleash the power of a Mark V in .300 Weatherby Magnum.

JD's Kniktuk Outfitters, LLC
PO Box 1403, Riggins, ID 83549
Darwin Vander Esch - Booking Agent
208-628-3256 • Cell: 907-843-1715
Fax: 208-628-3256 • Email: darwinve@frontier.com