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Thread: When do you cut a trip short?

  1. #1

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    When do you cut a trip short?

    What kind of forecast is enough for you to pull stakes early and head home?

    The backstory is that my 10 year old son and I were out hunting for his first moose this weekend. After two days of fruitless searching, we almost immediately spotted a bull upon taking off to head home. We landed again to discuss our options. It's not legal to fly and hunt in the same day, so we'd need to spend at least another day to make an attempt. We had enough food, but the forecast gave me pause - 100% chance of heavy rain with gusts of up to 45mph. That last part made me concerned enough to pull the plug on the idea. It was tough to disappoint my boy after he got excited about that moose, but the thought of having the plane tied down in sandy soil in those kinds of winds didn't appeal to me. I was second guessing my decision for a while, but seeing the storm mentioned on a couple local news sites tonight, I'm feeling good about being home.

    So, when out in the backcountry, what is your line for forecasted wind speeds that will send you home?
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  2. #2
    nanook's Avatar
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    Depends on how much time you have to spare. Give yourself extra time and forget about the WX. Get the moose and go home when it's good enough.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by nanook View Post
    Depends on how much time you have to spare. Give yourself extra time and forget about the WX. Get the moose and go home when it's good enough.
    Well, right, but I was thinking more along the lines of when you're concerned about the plane being beat up on the ground. The forecast for Tuesday looked fine, but we landed on what is basically compacted sand and babysitting the plane in 45 mph gusts didn't sound fun. As for time, as a teacher my job makes unplanned extended stays difficult, but that's beside the point. Just wondering how strong the winds need to be before those with more experience than myself tuck tail and leave.

  4. #4
    nanook's Avatar
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    I carry black mesh covers with the stall fences, tie it down and keep an eye on it.

  5. #5

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    For most of my flying years I got along without trustworthy weather forecasts. Look outside and make a decision. These days all the available weather info stresses me out, and what’s worse is the weather service usually overstates the forecasts. I think the old way was often better. Live today today and make the decision about tomorrow tomorrow.
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  6. #6
    SteveE's Avatar
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    A moose is a moose, not near what your plane, time of repair, stress is worth. I think you made the right call. Kids only 10, many more years to come. Maybe it would have turned out alright, maybe not, but deciding what you did, it turned out alright.


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  7. #7
    SJ's Avatar
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    An old crusty flight instructor with a zillion hours once told me, "He who runs away, lives to fly another day"

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------
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  8. #8
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Even if the plane had weathered the wind, how happy would that young man been going out in driving rain and wind trying to find that moose again. And would you have been comfortable hunting and maybe butchering moose while the winds holed?

    Sounds to me like you made a good decision. You also apparently made a good decision to follow up and see how accurate the weather forecast turned out to be. That will help you make even better weather decisions in future. Was the forecast accurate in amount of rain, wind velocity and timing? Any time you make a go no go decision on weather, be sure to evaluate after. If you go, you’ll know what the weather did, but if you didn’t go, still try to evaluate.

    As to winds and tiedowns in sandy soil, if the winds really were 45 knots, tiedowns can be tough in that much wind, especially if you’re exposed. As Nanook said, spoiler covers can help, but in a Cub, they’re pretty bulky. And if you didn’t have them, they wouldn’t have helped.

    Me, I’ve spent some pretty miserable nights in the wind and wet, tending an airplane. I’d have made the same decision you did.

    And by the way, good for you for setting a good example on the same day airborne statute for that young man. Ethical hunting needs good examples. You did good.

    MTV

  9. #9
    55-PA18A's Avatar
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    I have and would have made the same decision. As to specific conditions, a lot would depend on how protected the tie down and camp would be and wind direction. Heavy rain and 45 mph winds don't sound like very good conditions for moose hunting.

    Jim

  10. #10
    TurboBeaver's Avatar
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    Brian,
    If you keep making good decisions like that one: Then you ,and the boy, and that Cub, will be around for a long time.
    And when some wise ass that claims to have 20K hours says he was out there at same time and it was no big deal
    for him...........just tip your hat to Capt Marvel and leave.
    You will read about him later on down the trail, in the back of the newspaper. Mothernature can beat anyone; Anytime
    she decides too.......
    Getting the heck outta there before it blew 45, was a champion idea.
    Last edited by TurboBeaver; 09-24-2018 at 09:18 AM.

  11. #11

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    Hmm. Yesterdays “Of ****!” weather forecast has already been downgraded. Not a warning, a watch, or even an advisory anywhere in south central Alaska. Not that the decision to bail was incorrect. A guy has to do what he thinks is right. It just goes to what I said earlier about banking on NWS forecasts.
    Last edited by stewartb; 09-24-2018 at 09:31 AM.
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  12. #12
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Been out in Iliamna country more than once in forecast 50+ winds. Bent the pole on my Arctic Oven in one storm. One storm we pulled her up on the beach and filled the float compartments with water. On wheels I had a small ridge I was able to pull her behind to block the wind. Sleep was not easy in either case.

    Another time was in a river valley and the winds came unexpectedly. Was tied down to big logs. The side gusts lift the wings and tagged one wingtip that night. That got expensive.

    There is more to it than what you are parked on, especially moose hunting.

    Will your camp site flood? Will the sand your plane used to land be under water? (remember, rain up at the headwaters has more effect on that then rain at camp).

    Can you hide the plane behind trees/terrain, structures? Will the trees/terrain or structures come apart and damage the plane?

    Can you dig in your tires and kill the lift and add to the hold down strength? Will the wind be direct, or side to side?

    Lots of little factors to consider. Bottom line is if you got home with everything ready for another trip, you made a series of great decisions!

    Safe, ethical hunting is more than killing an animal; it means success in the hunt, not the kill.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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  13. #13
    gbflyer's Avatar
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    Big difference between being out there dinging around by yourself as opposed to having young loved ones along. You did a good job of managing the risk, there will be more moose. Nothing that says you’d have made a successful harvest anyway.

  14. #14
    BC12D-4-85's Avatar
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    Kennon sells smaller than full size spoiler strip covers. Not an overall wing cover but full spoilers and straps to hold them on. Easier to pack and carry.

    http://kennoncovers.com/wingcovers.html

    Gary
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  15. #15
    nanook's Avatar
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    The black mesh spoilers don't weigh much, pack small and keep the Fall frost off. When we go hunting up North, it is for a long duration/distance. Weekend warrior hunting is a different ballgame. You're trying to get back to work or school, Apples & oranges. If I fly 400 NM somewhere to hunt, who cares what the WX is going to do? As long as you can get there, the last thing I want to do is look at WX forecast.
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  16. #16
    TurboBeaver's Avatar
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    I had Kennon covers with the spoilers with NO filler in the pouches. Fold up just as small as any normal covers. When the wind comes up just go get some spruces boughs and stick em in the spoiler pouches and your all set for the blow. Soon as the storm goes by pull the boughs out and fold em up flat same as normal covers
    . Used them in lots of big blows and they worked great!

  17. #17
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    What about the tie-down bridles I have seen that lets the A/C point into the wind?
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  18. #18
    nanook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Foy View Post
    What about the tie-down bridles I have seen that lets the A/C point into the wind?
    I haven't lost one yet using hd duffle bags filled with rocks or tied to NRS straps cinched around the bases of bushes or whatnot. That is for North of the tree line terrain.

  19. #19

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    Thanks for the perspectives. I don't doubt that I made the right choice - in addition to safety considerations, I want to set my kid up for success/enjoyment in his early hunting years. We've worked hard and he's been uncomfortable plenty of times, but there's a line there where a young/new hunter can be pushed a little too hard and end up not enjoying the process. Safety was the primary consideration, but the 100% chance of heavy rain played into it as well. As others have said, there will be other moose.

    I really was just curious if others have a set line where they pull the plug. I know that almost all decisions are made on a case by case basis and that wind speed is only one factor - but was just thinking about this while flying home last night. Anyhow, thanks again.

  20. #20
    Ruffair's Avatar
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    You should have left your client out there!!! and flown back for the pickup when the wx was good...!

    I jest. Don’t everyone go all medieval on me..

    It’s kind of like a lot of things.... There isn’t really a wrong way.

    Just different ways.
    "...We're fast enough to get there, But slow enough to see..."
    Fron the song "Barometer Soup". By Jimmy Buffett
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  21. #21
    skukum12's Avatar
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    Bugging out was the right choice for you. Who cares about what someone else would have done. You, your son and your plane are safe at home.

    Your son learned a bunch of good lessons that day about disappointment, fair chase and rules all hunters have to live by. As stated before, there will be other animals and days to hunt them.
    "Always looking up"
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  22. #22

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    Brian, the epic rain has arrived in S Anch. Buckle up, it's heading your way!

  23. #23

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    Judging by current conditions you made the right call Meadow lakes is having driving rain lightning thunder and pouring rain. 2:40 pm .
    A couple years ago I stayed one day too long, shot a moose flew the meat into town And was supposed to return for my spouse that evening, but the weather came in and it took me seven days to get back to the cabin .good thing we had lots of supplies .
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  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by skukum12 View Post
    Bugging out was the right choice for you. Who cares about what someone else would have done. You, your son and your plane are safe at home.
    Again, it's not that I care about what somebody else would have done - I'm interested in learning from those with more experience than myself regarding when windy is too windy (from their perspective). I'm not second guessing myself, I'm trying to learn from the experiences of others for the future when I am faced with similar or worse forecasted conditions.

    On my small number of self-piloted hunts to date, I haven't had to tend the plane in anything more than ~20kt. winds. Just trying to learn for the future.
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  25. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danielle View Post
    Judging by current conditions you made the right call Meadow lakes is having driving rain lightning thunder and pouring rain. 2:40 pm .
    A couple years ago I stayed one day too long, shot a moose flew the meat into town And was supposed to return for my spouse that evening, but the weather came in and it took me seven days to get back to the cabin .good thing we had lots of supplies .
    Ha! Oh man, I bet your spouse was thrilled with that situation. One year while on a drop hunt on Afognak my father was picked up by the air service, and another plane to get my brother and I was supposed to be there within an hour. Foolishly, we sent almost all of the supplies with him other than a box of snickers bars, sleeping bags, and our hunting gear. He took all of the other food. Oops. Seven days later we were pretty tired of snickers bars. Makes for a good memory, though!

  26. #26
    PerryB's Avatar
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    When your gut instinct says "Get out!", DO IT!! Any time I can remember that I tried to rationalize doing something that instinct told me not to do (or vice-versa) I ended up wishing I had followed instinct.
    After Monday and Tuesday, even the calendar says WTF !
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  27. #27

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    Here's a screen shot we don't see every day. Palmer and Portage are calm? Birchwood's rocking higher winds than Hood? Crazy stuff!

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	IMG_4802.JPG 
Views:	45 
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ID:	38930


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  28. #28
    Hardtailjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skukum12 View Post

    Your son learned a bunch of good lessons that day about disappointment, fair chase and rules all hunters have to live by. As stated before, there will be other animals and days to hunt them.
    That's what I was going to say! You taught your son more by saying no, than you ever could by trying to make it work. I don't know how many times I saw people push to try to get an animal and just do really stupid things that they regretted later! (my Dad was a commercial outfitter here for about 35 years) If your son learns that nothing is for certain to start with at that age, he'll do wonderfully all through life!!
    I say good job on so many levels!
    John
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  29. #29
    scout88305's Avatar
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    Aggressive decision making with respect to hunting be it a late Colorado Elk hunt or AK fly in can have consequences. I've seen some nice animals harvested for the price of some twisted shittt in the process. With that said some of the best hunters I know push that envelope. I personally cannot afford the time or financial burden to do so. Saw a nice K5 Blazer left at 12000 feet once. Owner went back 6 months later to get it but he had a rag horn to eat over the winter LOL.
    Thank a sheepdog today for they are standing guard!

  30. #30
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danielle View Post
    A couple years ago I stayed one day too long, shot a moose flew the meat into town And was supposed to return for my spouse that evening, but the weather came in and it took me seven days to get back to the cabin .good thing we had lots of supplies .
    We had had rain in January one time, and a buddy was waiting to go out trapping for the end of the season. He needed to get supplies out so we took the first break of cold weather to do a look see. That nagging voice told me the snow pack was not solid, but after multiple passes I let him talk me into a stop. We stopped! we had knee deep water/snow on top of the ice.

    He then looked at me and asked "how do we get out?" My reply: "You push, I fly out. I will get you when the snow is solid."

    Long story short, after digging out skis, wiping water off the windshield and unloading everything I could out of the plane, (Cessna 180 on BIG skis), we had the skis flat on top of the slush and I was ready to go. He pushed on the struts and I was full power bouncing the tail to try to get her to move. After about 10 seconds she broke loose and began the slow crawl to flying speed.

    After a week of heavy snow it cleared to do a fly over to check on him... "got any books?" was the question. After the second week of temps below zero and the snow had settled for a day. He had walked out a 1,200' strip with snow shoes for me. I touched before the strip and powered her onto the packed snow. When I stepped out and off the ski I sank to my waist. Yup, still water below the dry snow.

    We loaded up gear, traps and other stuff from his camp and gave her 'ell. After 700' I knew we were home free. He was most happy to be out of there.

    Another time my second load pulling camp out was cancelled due to weather change. When I did get the last guy out I landed and told him he had 10 minutes to pack and be in the plane. I would leave anything not in the plane. I got the gear out two weeks later when things settled down.

    Winds? Again, Where you park, how that area's winds move, what you have to tie to, and what you are comfortable with all go into the decision to move or not... always better to move before the big winds than during.

    Who is in the party makes a difference! I have no issues leaving some folks out for two weeks, but would not consider others for 5 minutes.

    If you can secure the plane, 30 kt winds are not a big deal to sit through. At 40 it is nice to have lift killing devices. Even tree branches tied on top of the wing help, or simply hiding the plane behind stuff.

    Herring spotters have lots of ways to secure themselves in bad conditions. Dig holes and roll tires into them, then fill the holes for one. But there are stories of storms flipping planes with everything done to secure. So it is still a risk!

    Had you stayed, even under the best of circumstances you would have been looking at butchering, packing and trying to hang meat in wet miserable conditions; done often, but might not be as good of meat as you hoped.

    I always tried to find camping areas where I had some windbreak for the plane. I also learned that as the pilot, I did not get to go on multi day trips away from the plane- lest the storm did come and I was not there to tend the bird. Choosing a good spot to park/land helps to reduce concern when the winds do come along.

    Do you have any hunting pictures of you and your son? Always great to see kids out there having a great time!
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!
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