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.


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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