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Outfitter Review - Ketchum Air Service

Submit Date: Oct 25, 2000

Outfitter Information

Outfitter Name: Ketchum Air Service

Outfitter / Contact: Craig Ketchum

Location: Alaska, USA

Hunt Information

Animals Hunted: Caribou Trophy Hunt

Game Quality: small to medium sized bulls

Game Quantity: about 20 animals in 8 days, no animals sighted from the air

Accomodations: Planes appeared to be in good

Camp Condition: Sold us camp fuel that was lef

Food Quality: no food

Guide Experience: Pilots were safe and friendly.

Other Personal Experience: They talk a good story but aft

Review Information

Hunter: Brian Swasey

Phone: 530-662-8875


Would Recommend: Absolutely don't even consider

Overall Impression: We had to work our tails off to kill mediocre bulls and packed them 4 miles each. Ketchum's only co

Recently spent 8 days hunting caribou in unit 17b in Alaska. We flew with Ketchum air service. After finding several good references and putting down a deposit last December, I began to find out several bad things about this flight service. Several people warned me that they couldn't be trusted and I'd better be careful. I did a lot of research and thought I was prepared with locations in mind but things didn't turn out very good. The Caribou were scattered widely this year and Ketchums convinced me that the spots I picked weren't any good. I told them that I wasn't going to let them put us down until they showed me caribou from the air and they told me if that was my attitude I could just have my money back before I ever flew out. I'm sure they were bluffing, but we decided to give it a whirl since we were already there ready to go hunting. The truth is, they can't reach the Mulchatna herd from Anchorage so they place all their hunters on the fringes to hunt stragglers so they don't have to spend the extra time and fuel to hunt the better areas that are farther away. Their brochure says they hunt the broad reaches of the Lake Clark/Iliamna/Mulchatna/Kuskokwim valley. Fact is they wouldn't even take me there although they said they would when I put down the deposit. Now don't get me wrong, we got 5 bulls for 3 people but it wasn't because Ketchums did anything for us. We saw about 1-3 caribou a day and made heroic efforts to get our bulls. We are upset that Ketchums will now use our statistics to convince other hunters that they have a great success rate. This is their "Trophy Caribou Hunt" but they'll include any caribou killed in their success percentage. Here's the real clincher! They took 2 and a half of our bulls back to anchorage when they did our mid hunt meat check. We gave them written instructions before we ever left Anchorage that they were supposed to call our hotel and have them put our meat in the hotel freezer. When we arrived back in Anchorage the meat had vanished! The hotel had no record whatsoever of picking it up and it wasn't on their premises. Ketchums insisted that they had them pick it up. Ketchums told us it wasn't their problem and not to call them because they didn't have our meat. They made no effort to help us locate it and told us to call every meat processor in town to see if we could find it. I checked the log books of all the hotel shuttles and they had not picked it up. We finally filed a police report and told Ketchums we'd have our lawyer contact them. They replied they had a lawyer on staff and it wouldn't be a problem. I called the hotel manager to tell her about the incident and that the police would be contacting her for their report. She must have pulled some strings somewhere because we'd searched 2 days with no luck but she located it by morning. I'll believe it when the meat is at home in my freezer though. The hotel is picking up the cost for shipping. Tne Barratt Inn in Anchorage is great! But never fly Ketchums! I am not disgruntled because I didn't kill the biggest caribou on the planet. I understand the risks of going self-guided. I had no expectations any greater than what they printed in their brochure. This was not my first ever fly in caribou hunt. Fact is, Ketchums lost our meat and wouldn't even lift a finger to help us find it. They never even admitted it could have been their fault it got lost or appoligized in any way. Their response was, "Don't call us, we don't have any meat here". They told me to call all the processing plants in town and try to locate it myself. We had given them written instructions to have our hotel put it in there freezer after our meat check. Ketchums screwed up and they didn't even know where they sent it. I'd done my research before I left for Anchorage. I knew the heard was widely scattered with few or no aggregations. I had locations in mind that I wanted to be placed in (all west of the Mulchatna river). They day I sent in my deposit they told me they would take me to those locations. But the day I arrived in anchorage they wouldn't hear of it. They insisted that Jim Woolington, the biologist for area 17B didn't know what he was talking about when he said there were virtually no caribou east of the Mulchatna, then they put me on a lake east of the Mulchatna without seeing even one caribou from the air. THIS IS NOT CUSTOMER SERVICE! I'm sure others have had good hunts with Ketchums, and I am confident they are capable of providing a good experience. But after the way they treated us I won't be back and I want to make sure they lose customers in the future due to the fact that they lied to us and their service stunk.

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