The remote, seldom visited Becharof refuge is one of Alaska’s best kept secrets. Tucked into a corner behind Katmai National Park, it
comprises over 1.2 million acres surrounding Becharof lake, the second largest lake in Alaska. The lake and the majority of the refuge drain into
the famed, ecological rich Bristol Bay region of SW Alaska. Every year hundreds of million salmon return to these waters to spawn.
Following and feeding upon this bonanza are millions of oversized rainbow trout, artic char, dolly varden, pike, lake trout and artic grayling.
Attracted also to this unlimited protein buffet are thousands of massive brown bears. They migrate in from nearby Katmai National Park and some
from distances of over a hundred miles. During the salmon run the area supports the highest density of brown bears in the world.
Migrating herds of caribou, trailed by peripatetic packs of wolves, travel between seasonal feeding grounds and calving areas. In the fall,
prior to their rut, moose migrate from the upper reaches of isolated valleys toward the lowlands. For hunters and fishermen the area is well known
as a world class destination due to it’s immense diversity of wildlife. Wildlife however are only one aspect of the area’s beauty.
Situated along the geologically active Pacific “ring-of-fire “, steaming, snow capped volcanoes tower over panoramic expanses of open
tundra. Alders, dwarf birch and willows push up through a carpet of lichens, grasses and crowberries. From May through August the tundra is
punctuated with bright splotches of color from a multitude of iridescent flowers like the Kamchatka rhododendron, artic forget-me-not, moss
campion, cinqfoil, lousewort and fireweed.
The tundra is also prime nesting area for countless species of migratory birds. Ducks, geese, swans, cranes, eagles, godwits, sandpipers,
jaegers and innumerable passerines nest in the open tundra while the steep cliffs along Shelikof straits are home to millions of nesting murres,
puffins, cormorants, kittiwakes and gulls.
Phil Shoemaker, his wife Rochelle “Rocky” Harrison and their son and daughter, Taj and
Tia, are your hosts. Phil is a licensed Alaskan Master guide with a degree in Wildlife
management. He is a commercial pilot and flight instructor and spent the majority of his 13,000
hours “bush” flying in Alaska.
Rocky is an avid outdoors person and naturalist with a degree in biology. She also is a
pilot as well as state licensed fishing and hunting guide and operates as general camp manager
Taj and Tia are graduates from the Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks. Taj has a degree in
Natural Resources Management and Tia in Therapeutic Recreation. Both are accomplished
pilots and experienced hunting and fishing guides. Having grown up in the area they are highly
knowledgeable of it’s natural history, game, weather and terrain.