Dan Michels, AK

Orvis-Endorsed Wingshooting Guide located in King Salmon, Alaska.

Dan Michels, AK


Dan Michels, owner of Crystal Creek Lodge, has developed a wild bird hunting program at the lodge over the past 20 years that features upland hunting with pointing dogs for willow ptarmigan and waterfowl hunting for ducks and geese.

Date Range

Our season is June 10 until October 5. Crystal Creek Lodge is an Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Lodge and fishing is available the entire season.

Ptarmigan season opens August 10 and continues past October 5.

Waterfowl season opens September 1 and continues past October 5.

What is Provided to Customer

See web site for complete lodging and field program details.

With regards to upland hunting we recommend that you bring your favorite double gun; otherwise a 12- or 20-gauge double gun can be provided. Appropriate ammunition is provided, as are blaze orange strap vests. You must provide waterproof upland hunting boots.

With regards to waterfowl hunters, guns and ammunition are provided. We have 12-gauge pump or over/under shotguns, steel shot ammunition, and waders available. Guest should bring some type of marsh camouflage top. Guests are welcome to bring their own guns and hunting gear.

Region/Terrain Where You Hunt

The region hunted is the Alaska Peninsula, a region with optimal ptarmigan habitat that also happens to be a funnel flyway for waterfowl. Upland hunts are conducted on old glacier moraines, which, while uneven, offer fairly flat walking trajectories and huge, inspiring open-country vistas. Waterfowl hunting is done on a series of freshwater ponds or saltwater estuaries over decoys. Both ptarmigan and waterfowl hunts can be combined with excellent fishing opportunities on the same day.

Typical Weather by Season

Ptarmigan hunting is available August and September, with August being better for finding more numerous and smaller coveys of birds. August temperatures can range between 45 and 65 degrees, and precipitation can occur during any time of a trip, although we try to avoid upland hunting on days of predicted heavy rain. Waterfowl hunting begins September 1 and continues through early October, which is the end of our season. September temperatures tend to be 10 degrees cooler than corresponding August dates. Waterfowl hunting gets better as September progresses.


Sample of Typical Itinerary

A typical day of Ptarmigan hunting has a guest flying out in a sea plane with a guide and pointing dog early in the morning. It is reasonable to expect to see hundreds of birds flushed on a half-day of shooting. Due to space limitation within an aircraft we only can take one dog, and most hunts reach their limit within a half-day. The guest then has a choice to return to the lodge to relax or go fishing or duck hunting at our home River, the Naknek, for the remainder of the day. Waterfowl hunts typically are morning hunts wherein we fly the guests from the lodge in a sea plane to one of about 25 ponds or estuaries to shoot ducks or geese over decoys. When a limit of birds is taken we return to the lodge and offer the guest an opportunity to fish on the Naknek River. We rotate upland and waterfowl hunting locations daily.


Species You Hunt by Season

Willow ptarmigan: an open country bird that looks like the classic Scottish red grouse and resembles sharptail grouse in both size and flight. Willow ptarmigan are excellent table fare.

Waterfowl species: Puddle ducks include pintail, American wigeon, mallard, gadwall, green wing teal, and Northern shovelers. Diving ducks include greater scaup, lesser scaup, and buffleheads. Numerous other diving ducks are available for trophy harvest but are not recommended due to poor table quality. Goose species include cackling Canada geese, lesser Canada geese, specklebelly geese, and Pacific brant.


What Should Customers Bring?

Upland hunters should bring comfortable, waterproof, lace-up and high-top hunting boots.

Waterfowl hunters should bring waterproof marsh camouflage top and hat.

Foam ear plugs are provided for hearing protection. Orange shooting glasses for eye protection and custom hearing protection are both highly recommended.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own guns. We do not allow semi-automatic shotguns on upland hunts; double guns only. We do allow semi-automatic shotguns on waterfowl hunts.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are there any mobility restraints?
A. Waterfowl hunting guests should be able to load and unload from a boat or sea plane and walk to and from shore.

Upland hunting guests should be in excellent physical condition and capable of walking 1-5 miles across uneven, sometimes spongy wilderness terrain. Advance physical conditioning recommended. Those with heart conditions or with markedly reduced ambulatory conditions, including excessive obesity and poor hips, knees, or ankles, should not attempt.

Q. Am I allowed to bring my birds home at the end of the hunt?
A. As an Orvis-Endorsed Hunting Guide I promote a field experience that emphasizes fair-chase, a sporting ethic, and an appreciation of Alaska, including its wilderness and wild game within. All game is carefully cleaned and packaged for shipment home. All game we harvest is excellent table fare. Simple and delicious game recipes, as well as recommended wine pairings, are provided on request. Guests are expected to take their game away with intention of consumption. Guests may not "give the birds to the lodge", which is illegal. We do not allow a "guide limit" on hunts, which is unethical.


Overall: Show Rating Distribution 5.0 / 5 based on 6 reviews


6 of 6 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.

  • 5/5

    Great Hunt in Alaska - 9/8/2013
    By: from The Texas Gulf Coast

    On my third visit to this awesome lodge, I got the opportunity to hunt with Dan. We started our morning by loading the wheeled Beaver with our equipment and Dan's English pointer A K. The flight was memorable as we flew over the tundra and Dan pointed out places of interest. After landing we geared up and headed to field. We immediately had a flock rise. A K did his part, I finally did my part, and we managed to take a few birds. Dan was excellent guide and host. Truly a new and exciting experience.

  • 5/5

    Unbelievable! - 10/17/2012
    By: from TX
    Top 500 Contributor

    What a trip! Hunting ptarmigan has been a dream trip for 20+ yrs. For my 50th birthday, I booked with Dan Michels for this hunt, as he came up #1 on every on line search. And lived up to the billing. All hunting is done on lands accessed only by wheeled or float bush planes. Your limitations will be your physical stamina and shooting prowess!

  • 5/5

    Best In The Business - 10/3/2012
    By: from Orange, MA, USA

    Dan Michels is bar none the finest upland bird guide working in Alaska. His breadth of ability is astounding: he's a superlative bush pilot, a seasoned dog handler, a remarkable naturalist, and a man who can, with uncanny ability, put clients onto birds. but what sets Dan apart is his ability to maintain, even after a lifetime in the business, a fundamental love for bird hunting. So many seasoned guides posess the technical know-how but lose the joy, and the very experience of putting clients on birds becomes rote. Dan still giggles at the successes of clients, scratches his dogs on the belly, stops to sit and look around and notice the impeccable places to which his work carries him. His joy is infectious. He is a kind, clever, and unflappable man with whom I've spent my very finest hunting days. you'll not be disappointed, either in Dan, or in the CCL hunting experience; it's the very best.

  • 5/5

    A superb experience - 9/29/2012
    By: from Old Greenwich, Greenwich, CT, USA

    Here is what I wrote to the lodge and it says it all for me: Good Morning Dan: Thank you for a really terrific visit to the Crystal Creek Lodge. John had said many marvelous things in advance and of course I know his standards and practices. The Lodge and staff met and exceeded what I expected in a wonderful way, again and again over the course of the visit. Your management of a special place that obviously you created from your experiences and expectations about service and sport shows in every detail and the attitudes and behaviors of every staff member. Having been involved in running a business for some years it is really clear when a leader makes something work as well as you do. I is also clear that your team likes what they do, where they do it and who they work with – the feeling pervades. Every aspect of the event from the fishing, shooting, flying, eating and just chatting with guides and staff was enjoyable and memorable. I have a long list of names of people who were gracious and a list with no names for the less than fun. I have hunted most of my life. I grew up on a farm on the Chesapeake Bay where and when geese and ducks were prevalent on that fly way. I have never hunted for Ptarmigan and being in the field that day with you and Maggie will stick with me to my dying day. It was a Best in Class experience. You landed the plane in tight quarters after having found birds. Then you worked the dog and the approach strategy flawlessly and presented the birds perfectly – much more proficiently than I managed the gun. You were tireless in the pursuit and yet in great humor the entire time. What an event ! From there we moved on to catch fish, remarkable! John had told me about the Ptarmigan hunt and I expected a lot, the event exceeded my thoughts at every turn. Fishing is also a big part of my life. Having served as a River Keeper for 10 years on the Upper Beaverkill River I have a good appreciation of a watershed and those who manage and work it. You and your guides obviously love and respect what you have the creatures that reside there. I found everyone on the River to be first class in their approach and very mindful of both the fish as well as the fishermen. The same comments go for your pilots and house staff. The attention to detail and mission pervades and makes your Lodge a very special place. Thank you falls short of the mark but it is the sentiment that fits. Best regards, David

  • 5/5

    Great Dog Work - 9/3/2012
    By: from Lynnwood WA

    I have not hunted with Dan & Lori in Alaska but, I did do so on the Big Island of HI in late 2004. I have to say, the work of their dogs is second to none..certainly right up there with the performance of Patrick Fisher's bird dogs (who, for several years, was Hunt Manager for the Parker Ranch). No false points, steady to shot and, virtually flawless retrieves. You'll not go wrong booking a hunting or fishing trip with them. /s/ Tom Stephens

  • 5/5

    Unbelievable Upland Bird Hunt ! - 8/29/2012
    By: from Boise, Idaho

    I've been upland bird hunting for over 40 yrs , I live in a great state ( Idaho ) for an upland hunter ( I also hunt Central Montana yearly ) but hunting Ptarmigan with Dan Michels and his pointer AK was by far the most memoriable and enjoyable experience i have ever had in the uplands ! Great dog work numerous coveys of WILD birds and a guide ( Dan Michels ) that knows the covers and can handle his pointer with little to NO commands ! If you enjoy Upland bird hunting I would highly recommend a trip to Crystal Creek Lodge in King Salmon AK and spend a Fantastic Day with Dan, AK in the Uplands !!

Dan Michels
Orvis-Endorsed Wingshooting Guide
Crystal Creek Lodge
1 Big Creek Road
King Salmon, AK 99613
N 58 38.812'
W 156 34.641'

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