The best guarantee of a successful Alaska hunt is a good outfitter. To choose a reliable one (the 49th state does not require guides to be licensed), begin inquiries a year in advance and check all references. Average daily rate for an outfitter is $150—high, but game and weather in Alaska can be dangerous, and you'll want a good man with you. The fee covers all living and hunting expenses, local transportation—usually by small plane—and exclusive services of a guide for each hunter. A nonresident big game license, including permits to take caribou and one brown or grizzly bear, costs another $146. Round-trip air fare (first class) from New York to Anchorage is $547.97, from Los Angeles to Anchorage $383.53. Excess baggage should be sent by air at least six weeks before the hunt.
The Branhams recommend a .300 H&H Magnum as the best single weapon for Alaska hunting. Its trajectory is flat enough for long shots on sheep, yet the loads are powerful enough for big animals. Fit it with a shoulder sling and bring along cleaning materials to protect it from rain. A telescopic sight is valuable mainly for sheep hunting. I used a 2�-to 8-power BALvar 8, but a 4-power scope is adequate. Choose a good detachable mount so you can switch to iron sights quickly. Most guides carry 20-power spotting scopes, but binoculars are still essential. My Bausch & Lomb 7 x 35s weigh 18 ounces and are exceptionally sharp in poor light. Ammunition can be purchased in Anchorage—the best place is Van's Sporting Goods on Fourth Ave., which also carries fishing tackle, local flies and outdoor gear.
Be sure to bring a pair of hip boots. Those with canvas uppers are less cumbersome than rubber ones; with either kind, make sure they fit at ankles and heels, because you will do a lot of walking—in 16 days of actual hunting, I covered more than 160 miles on foot. If your camp has electricity, a cheap hair dryer ($3.98) is excellent for drying insides of waders and boots. Take along a waterproof parka with hood (the kind made for skiing is lighter than conventional hunting parkas and, I think, more comfortable), at least three pairs of wool pants, several sweaters, insulated underwear, and leather gloves to protect hands in brush and on mountains. Since small planes are the usual means of getting around, travel light. I found two soft-sided nylon cases ($12.95 each) were no heavier than duffel bags and easier to pack and handle.
The Branhams will make an 800-foot, 16-mm. color movie of your trip with copy, titles and sound for about $500 complete. They will also ship trophies C.O.D. from camp to taxidermist. My bear hide, caribou head and moose antlers cost $165 to ship to New York. The bill for mounting is still to come, but exclusive of taxidermy, the 20-day hunt with transportation costs about $4,500.