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Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? #14317803 11/27/19
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Tarkio Offline OP
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Considering booking a hunt of some sort for myself and my son next year.

He has commented that he would like to shoot a caribou.

What are your suggestions?

What dates would a caribou hunt fall within? Would you guys suggest Canada for caribou over AK? We live in MT so driving up might be an option.


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Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14318589 11/27/19
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WDH Offline
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You’re on the wrong forum. Most these guys here don’t hunt. You would be better off asking this question on rockslide.com


Not an NRA life member
Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14319593 11/28/19
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TheKid Online Content
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I haven’t been in AK for 3 years or so now. But before I left about the best bet for nonresidents was the north side of the Brooks range. If you drove up you could drive to Happy Valley and get on a plane to take you out to where the herd was. The guy we used when I took my dad and uncles died in a plane crash and I don’t know who is operating up there these days. Matt Thoft is up at Coldfoot and I’ve never heard a bad thing about his outfit. Wright’s in FBKS will or would fly you over the range from there, a buddy did that a couple times and had good success.

40 Mile Air gets great reviews but they also always stayed booked for a couple years in advance.

I liked to go around the last week of August, first week of September timeframe. The weather usually gets worse the later you go. But at that time some of the bulls will be starting to peel their velvet and temps may not be too bad for keeping meat from spoiling.

So there’s you some dated info that may or may not be relevant. Good luck

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: TheKid] #14319807 11/28/19
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The demand for fly-in hunts far exceeds supply and caribou herds across North America have suffered huge losses.
This is driving prices up also. In most areas, the season opens August 10th.

Hunting from the road is possible but requires absolute timing to catch the herd migration. Many of us find this
unpalatable and I couldn't recommend it as a wilderness experience for your son.

PM sent!

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14320381 11/28/19
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las Offline
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Only fly in hunt I've been on was for goat back in the 70's so can't comment on that aspect.

If you can walk, one possibility is to drive up the haul road (Dalton Highway) and bow hunt . Get 5 miles off the road and rifles are then legal. Hike in and camp.

Last year wife and I planned to hunt 40-mile herd, either off the Taylor (out from Tok - we have a good walk-in area there that we are familiar with - closed to vehicles - game funnel about 6 miles in, but animals are killed right from the road sometimes), or off the Steese out of Fairbanks. Our choice depended on what the ADF&G updated game surveys showed as to location of main herd. They quit updating that info last fall a week or 10 days before the opener- August 11 (again for 2020).

We had not ever been up the Steese in my 51 years in Alaska, and the last report showed that's where the herd was, so we went with that, despite warnings that it was a "circus", and "zoo". I posted about our experience after the hunt, but I'll recap the pertinent parts here.

This is a Registration Hunt, closed by EO hunt when the quota is reached. Usually 2- 4 or 5 days. 5 days last year, fall hunt, which is what we did, so that's all I know about, based on a single season. There is a fall hunt and a winter hunt. I just picked up the booklets yesterday, but available on-line too. If you prefer hard copy PM a mailing addy, I will mail one.

That time of year, everything is in velvet - caribou are the only antlered cervid females in the world, I believe. Small bulls and cows can be confused going by antler configuration only. Bulls come out of velvet around Sept 1. As NR, I think you may be limited to bull only - for residents it is either sex for that herd.

"Zoo or circus" is, in my opinion, overstating it a bit - it was indeed - um - "well attended" smile....... but not wild and wooly, nor is it a a "wilderness" experience. Whatever that is. Darned pretty country, however. And easy to navigate above timberline. Every spur ridge has a 4-wheeler trail going up through the brush and timber from the road. The Steese road was far better maintained than the Taylor usually is.

We got up there the day before the opener- 2 days after our target date, scouted around a bit, found a small pull-off off the end of a spur ridge, with no one there, about 2 pm. Plan was to hike the mile and half up the face of the spur to timberline and wing it from there, figuring all those folks camped out at the two summits (one on either side, several miles away) would run at least some caribou out our way. We were partly looking the country over (or as my brother calls it "another effin scouting trip") and meat. I told my wife we shoot the first couple caribou we can, and get out of Dodge- it was warm, with just a couple days break in rainy weather, and no telling how soon the caribou would leave the country once the pressure was applied.

By dark that night, there were 8 or 9 other parties at our little pull out, (and every such) all of them with ATV's or 4-wheelers - probably 20 or so in all. (Next year if we go, me too!). Somehow they all arranged themselves with no conflict and no one blocked in. I was impressed by the civility. One guy (probably an officer in the military was my impression), had an attitude, but he kept it sunny-side up. Enough.

Next morning about half the ATV's crossed the creek and went up the ridge there, the rest up the near side. I was fairly bummed at that point, expecting - as advertised - a "zoo" up top. When we got there, everyone - maybe 15 parties) had spread themselves out over a couple miles either on the ridge tops or down farther on the slopes, giving everyone else plenty of room. ATV's everywhere you looked, a half-mile or so separation, so not a "wilderness" experience - tho not so different from around the Arctic villages when the caribou first arrive. Actually less frantic. We squatted between two such groups to watch the show....

Several hours after daylight. the caribou started showing up in groups of 3 to one of a couple hundred - mostly 10 to 20 or so. I shot a modest bull from a bunch of 12-15 mixed sex animals (2 decent bulls), and by 2 pm we had the first load of meat to the camper. Pull-out was empty - everyone had limited out and booked! Good plan- temps were in low 60's. Got the rest of him to the camper an hour before dark and hung up for over-night in the trees, and shade the next day.

2nd day there was only 4 other people up there -2 walk-ins, and two guys on one 4-wheeler. My wife shot another modest bull from a group of 12 mixed-sex animals (again 2 decent bulls), about 400 yards around the slope from where I had killed my bull virtually on the trail down the day before, and we were all done by 2 pm, so we buttoned up, drove back to Fairbanks that evening. We "camped" in our son's yard, then drove down to Soldotna the next day, and processed meat the two next days, first kill- first processed. That was cutting it close without artificial cooling!

If we do that again, I will not only take the Rancher for packing meat, but a cooler box or chest.Or several- with the trailer for the Rancher, I'll have room - that pickup camper is a bit confining for that!

Mission accomplished, except my wife still wants to drive all the way into Circle "to see", which we had planned, but due to late arrival, did not do in '19. Probably next year, if not for caribou season, when we go to our remote cabin (probable moose hunt). Last year about 1600 caribou were killed off the Steese in 5 days before EO closure, IIRC, and a couple dozen off the Taylor- mostly by ATV hunters. Depends on where the herd decides to be.

After the first day, probably 85-90% or more of the hunters were gone from the Steese. As long as the quota holds out, skipping the first day might give one a better experience, depending on tastes.

Oh yes- I have several rather expensive (and not needed except for interest) maps of the along-the-Steese corridor hunt area. I bought them from a local map shop, but any such are far cheaper ordering them from USGS in Denver.


The only true cost of having a dog is its death.
"It would have been a good distance shot if they hadn't been so far away". Seth Kantner in "Shopping for Porcupine"
Alpha

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14320440 11/28/19
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Posts: 21,399
las Offline
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Only fly in hunt I've been on was for goat back in the 70's so can't comment on that aspect.

If you can walk, one possibility is to drive up the haul road (Dalton Highway) and bow hunt . Get 5 miles off the road and rifles are then legal. Hike in and camp.

Last year wife and I planned to hunt 40-mile herd, either off the Taylor (out from Tok - we have a good walk-in area there that we are familiar with - closed to vehicles - game funnel about 6 miles in, but animals are killed right from the road sometimes), or off the Steese out of Fairbanks. Our choice depended on what the ADF&G updated game surveys showed as to location of main herd. They quit updating that info last fall a week or 10 days before the opener- August 11 (again for 2020).

We had not ever been up the Steese in my 51 years in Alaska, and the last report showed that's where the herd was, so we went with that, despite warnings that it was a "circus", and "zoo". I posted about our experience after the hunt, but I'll recap the pertinent parts here.

This is a Registration Hunt, closed by EO hunt when the quota is reached. Usually 2- 4 or 5 days. 5 days last year, fall hunt, which is what we did, so that's all I know about, based on a single season. There is a fall hunt and a winter hunt. I just picked up the booklets yesterday, but available on-line too. If you prefer hard copy PM a mailing addy, I will mail one.

That time of year, everything is in velvet - caribou are the only antlered cervid females in the world, I believe. Small bulls and cows can be confused going by antler configuration only. Bulls come out of velvet around Sept 1. As NR, I think you may be limited to bull only - for residents it is either sex for that herd.

"Zoo or circus" is, in my opinion, overstating it a bit - it was indeed - um - "well attended" smile....... but not wild and wooly, nor is it a a "wilderness" experience. Whatever that is. Darned pretty country, however. And easy to navigate above timberline. Every spur ridge has a 4-wheeler trail going up through the brush and timber from the road. The Steese road was far better maintained than the Taylor usually is.

We got up there the day before the opener- 2 days after our target date, scouted around a bit, found a small pull-off off the end of a spur ridge, with no one there, about 2 pm. Plan was to hike the mile and half up the face of the spur to timberline and wing it from there, figuring all those folks camped out at the two summits (one on either side, several miles away) would run at least some caribou out our way. We were partly looking the country over (or as my brother calls it "another effin scouting trip") and meat. I told my wife we shoot the first couple caribou we can, and get out of Dodge- it was warm, with just a couple days break in rainy weather, and no telling how soon the caribou would leave the country once the pressure was applied.

By dark that night, there were 8 or 9 other parties at our little pull out, (and every such) all of them with ATV's or 4-wheelers - probably 20 or so in all. (Next year if we go, me too!). Somehow they all arranged themselves with no conflict and no one blocked in. I was impressed by the civility. Even those who had ben drinking. One guy (probably an officer in the military was my impression), had an attitude sober, but he kept it sunny-side up. Enough. You know- the martinet take-charge of everything type. But he confined that to his group.

Next morning about half the ATV's crossed the creek and went up the ridge there, the rest up the near side. I was fairly bummed at that point, expecting - as advertised - a "zoo" up top. When we got there, everyone - maybe 15 parties) had spread themselves out over a couple miles either on the ridge tops or down farther on the slopes, giving everyone else plenty of room. ATV's everywhere you looked, a half-mile or so separation, so not a "wilderness" experience - tho not so different from around the Arctic villages when the caribou first arrive. Actually less frantic. We squatted between two such groups to watch the show....

Several hours after daylight. the caribou started showing up in groups of 3 to one of a couple hundred - mostly 10 to 20 or so. I shot a modest bull from a bunch of 12-15 mixed sex animals (2 decent bulls), and by 2 pm we had the first load of meat to the camper. Pull-out was empty - everyone had limited out and booked! Good plan- temps were in low 60's. Got the rest of him to the camper an hour before dark and hung up for over-night in the trees, and shade the next day.

2nd day there was only 4 other people up there -2 walk-ins, and two guys on one 4-wheeler. My wife shot another modest bull from a group of 12 mixed-sex animals (again 2 decent bulls), about 400 yards around the slope from where I had killed my bull virtually on the trail down the day before, and we were all done by 2 pm, so we buttoned up, drove back to Fairbanks that evening. We "camped" in our son's yard, then drove down to Soldotna the next day, and processed meat the two next days, first kill- first processed. That was cutting it close without artificial cooling!

If we do that again, I will not only take the Rancher for packing meat, but a cooler box or chest.Or several- with the trailer for the Rancher, I'll have room - that pickup camper is a bit confining for that!

Mission accomplished, except my wife still wants to drive all the way into Circle "to see", which we had planned, but due to late arrival, did not do in '19. Probably next year, if not for caribou season, when we go to our remote cabin (probable moose hunt). Last year about 1600 caribou were killed off the Steese in 5 days before EO closure, IIRC, and a couple dozen off the Taylor- mostly by ATV hunters. Depends on where the herd decides to be.

After the first day, probably 85-90% or more of the hunters were gone from the Steese. As long as the quota holds out, skipping the first day might give one a better experience, depending on tastes.

Oh yes- I have several rather expensive (and not needed except for interest) maps of the along-the-Steese corridor hunt area. I bought them from a local map shop, but any such are far cheaper ordering them from USGS in Denver.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


Last edited by las; 11/28/19.

The only true cost of having a dog is its death.
"It would have been a good distance shot if they hadn't been so far away". Seth Kantner in "Shopping for Porcupine"
Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14329106 12/01/19
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DakotaDeer Offline
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What about Canada for caribou? Better than Alaska for a non-resident?

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: DakotaDeer] #14333969 12/03/19
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Tarkio Offline OP
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Originally Posted by DakotaDeer
What about Canada for caribou? Better than Alaska for a non-resident?


Contacted a buddy that has hunted the NWT. He is looking into a mountain caribou hunt now.

Waiting to hear back some particulars.


Montana MOFO
Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14334024 12/03/19
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your son should really enjoy a caribou hunt,take a bi-pod with i always use one on my rifle.

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: DakotaDeer] #14334633 12/03/19
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New_2_99s Offline
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Originally Posted by DakotaDeer
What about Canada for caribou? Better than Alaska for a non-resident?


Not 100% positive, but I think Caribou hunting in Canada is now closed !


Paul.

"Kids who grow up hunting, fishing & trapping, do not mug little old Ladies"
Bravo

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14336393 12/04/19
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AkMtnHntr Offline
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Another possibility is to have one of the local air services drop off on a ridge to hunt the 40 mile herd, still some really good bulls coming out of that herd and flying in really thins out the hunters.


That's ok, I'll ass shoot a dink.

Steelhead

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: New_2_99s] #14337165 12/04/19
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Tarkio Offline OP
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Originally Posted by New_2_99s
Originally Posted by DakotaDeer
What about Canada for caribou? Better than Alaska for a non-resident?


Not 100% positive, but I think Caribou hunting in Canada is now closed !



Closed??

Closed for the season?

I would be looking for next year.


Montana MOFO
Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14337321 12/04/19
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colorado bob Offline
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I'm thinking he's referring to Quebec. I'm pretty sure it's closed. I know Newfoundland is still open. I think Yukon is still open also. This is the one hunt I wished I had done. Quebec was pretty cheap back in the day & you could get 2.

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14337570 12/04/19
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If you haven’t hunted them before I’d recommend getting two tags if possible in the area you decide on. Lots of guys get a serious case of ground shrinkage on their first bull. They’re about mule deer sized but with much larger antlers, so the small ones look pretty big until you actually see a big one.

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: TheKid] #14338457 12/04/19
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ironbender Offline
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Originally Posted by TheKid
If you haven’t hunted them before I’d recommend getting two tags if possible in the area you decide on. Lots of guys get a serious case of ground shrinkage on their first bull. They’re about mule deer sized but with much larger antlers, so the small ones look pretty big until you actually see a big one.

Or, it's a cow.


If you take the time it takes, it takes less time.
--Pat Parelli

American by birth; Alaskan by choice.
--ironbender
Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14339320 12/05/19
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VernAK Offline
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Or get two with one shot......more common than one would think.

Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: Tarkio] #14358159 12/10/19
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KC Offline
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Tarkio:

You might try to get in touch with Walt Maslen, Northwest Alaska Backcountry Outfitters. I think he's still operating. He can set you up for a fly in hunt.

http://www.northwestalaska.net/

My recomendation assumes that you are competent in back country camping and know how to take care of yourself in the wilderness. Walt may be able to recommend fully guided/outfitted hunts but he helped me with a couple of DIY fly-in hunts for caribou out of Kotzebue. One of those hunts was a float hunt where we contracted for a one-way fly-in and rented a raft from Walt. We flew into the upper Kugurok River and floated back to the Village of Noatak which is serviced by a mail plane. We took the mail plane, Bering Air, back to Kotzebue. One of the greatest adventures of my life.

KC



Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home.

[Linked Image]
THE COROLLARY TO FREEDOM IS PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.


Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: KC] #14358250 12/10/19
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ironbender Offline
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Originally Posted by KC
Tarkio:

You might try to get in touch with Walt Maslen, Northwest Alaska Backcountry Outfitters. I think he's still operating. He can set you up for a fly in hunt.

http://www.northwestalaska.net/

My recomendation assumes that you are competent in back country camping and know how to take care of yourself in the wilderness. Walt may be able to recommend fully guided/outfitted hunts but he helped me with a couple of DIY fly-in hunts for caribou out of Kotzebue. One of those hunts was a float hunt where we contracted for a one-way fly-in and rented a raft from Walt. We flew into the upper Kugurok River and floated back to the Village of Noatak which is serviced by a mail plane. We took the mail plane, Bering Air, back to Kotzebue. One of the greatest adventures of my life.

KC


He is an ass hole that left here after all the $hit he spewed against Trump and pro-hiLIARy.

I wouldn’t trust him. JMO, YMMV.




If you take the time it takes, it takes less time.
--Pat Parelli

American by birth; Alaskan by choice.
--ironbender
Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: ironbender] #14358366 12/10/19
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KC Offline
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ironbender:

Thanks for the update.

KC


Wind in my hair, Sun on my face, I gazed at the wide open spaces, And I was at home.

[Linked Image]
THE COROLLARY TO FREEDOM IS PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.


Re: Considering a Hunt for the Boy - M/B Caribou - Suggestions?? [Re: ironbender] #14358410 12/10/19
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AkMtnHntr Offline
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Originally Posted by ironbender
Originally Posted by KC
Tarkio:

You might try to get in touch with Walt Maslen, Northwest Alaska Backcountry Outfitters. I think he's still operating. He can set you up for a fly in hunt.

http://www.northwestalaska.net/

My recomendation assumes that you are competent in back country camping and know how to take care of yourself in the wilderness. Walt may be able to recommend fully guided/outfitted hunts but he helped me with a couple of DIY fly-in hunts for caribou out of Kotzebue. One of those hunts was a float hunt where we contracted for a one-way fly-in and rented a raft from Walt. We flew into the upper Kugurok River and floated back to the Village of Noatak which is serviced by a mail plane. We took the mail plane, Bering Air, back to Kotzebue. One of the greatest adventures of my life.

KC


He is an ass hole that left here after all the $hit he spewed against Trump and pro-hiLIARy.

I wouldn’t trust him. JMO, YMMV.


+1!!!


That's ok, I'll ass shoot a dink.

Steelhead

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