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Thread: haul road archery caribou

  1. #1
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    Default haul road archery caribou

    A hunting buddy and I are thinking about flying into Fairbanks, renting a vehicle, and heading north on the haul road to hunt caribou with a bow around the 1st of September. I have read through the old messages and have gathered quite a bit of good info, but I still have a few questions. I know that some people do not find this to be a very desirable hunt, but I thought it might be a good way to get our feet wet hunting in Alaska -- not to mention the opportunity to take in some great scenery. If we do this maybe we can get some good ideas of what we need to do differently in the future on more remote hunts. I would prefer to hunt with a rifle but after reading many posts about the 5 mile hump I just don't think that would be a good option for a couple of newbies.
    OK time for the questions:
    1. Is it ok to just pitch a tent close to your vehicle and camp where ever you decide to stop --- as long as your vehicle is not in anyones way?

    2. Do most hunters just use the pipeline as cover when they are trying to stalk a caribou or are there some places with enough vegetation to use as cover?

    3. I know that it can be hit or miss but at that time of year are the odds pretty good that we would both have a shot at a bull if we spent 5 or 6 days hunting?

    Thanks in advance for any info. you can provide.
    Andy

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    1 - The best places to camp are at the pull-outs or the pipeline access roads. If you use a pipeline access road for a parking/camping spot, you must be out of the way or you will be forced to move by the Alyeska Pipeline workers. Just pulling over and camping doesn't work along the rest of the road, as there simply isn't room to pull over. There is no shoulder along much of the road north of Atigun Pass, so you must find a pull-off.

    2 - Using the pipeline as cover can work, but in my limited experience up there, the caribou tend to get pretty skittish when they approach the pipeline. I've heard of people having success this way, but when we tried it the caribou became very erratic and sprinted under the pipe in a zig-zag fashion after slowly meandering across the tundra. There is some brush along the Sag River that can be used as cover, and there are also a few draws and hills that can be used effectively. More than anything, though, I would recommend moving off the road instead of joining the masses in driving back and forth waiting for something to cross. It can work, but you'll never be alone if you're stalking within 1/2 mile of the road. The caribou are much easier to stalk when they're a little ways off the road.

    3 - When I was up there in August, we each averaged 2-3 stalks per day. Being successful was very difficult due to the terrain, but the potential was there daily. It's not a guarantee, but you've got a pretty good chance at chasing a lot of caribou.

    Have fun!

    -Brian

  3. #3
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    My knowledge is somewhat limited but here it goes.
    1. To my limited knowledge, yes. We camped using a camper on a access road, we parked to the far side and the pipeline security people told us where to be. There are some off road areas people camp, can't remember the name of the area though, I'm sure someone else will know.
    2. The caribou don't like the pipeline. They get to about 100 yards of it and group up and get nervous before finally crossing under it. They are pretty wary of it. The lead animals is usually a cow and she doesn't seem to miss much. There's very little cover up there. My buddy got his by hiding where the shoulder of the road had a steep drop and arrowed his after it crossed over. I got mine by building a snow "fort" open in the back and let the animals come to me. I was about 50 yards off the road, by then they seem to start getting strung out again in their migration.
    3. Yes, if you keep your eyes open and hunt. We went the end of Sept and probably saw 3000 caribou.

  4. #4
    Member akndres's Avatar
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    I agree with what the previous posters are saying.

    Get off the road a mile or so, you can walk back to camp easily and it is very manageable when packing out.

    You can definitely camp beside the road in the pullouts. Just don't block any access roads...like mentioned earlier.

    In your situation,,,, you must find out if the rental car company will let you take the vehicle up the haul road. This will be the first hurdle you need to clear. Take at least 20-30 gallons of gas with you. It doesn't hurt to have it and not need it, but the flip side of that will suck.

    If you will be up there for 5-6 days, you will have numerous stalking opportunities. Be flexible. Follow the herds. If you hunt right off the road you can be successful, folks do it all the time. However, I think if you put a little distance between you and the road hunters, your chances will increase. The caribou definitely get nervous when they get to the pipeline and the road. Being out a little takes advantage of a calmer state.

    You will see people, you may even have stalks blown by other hunters. You may be stalking a caribou that someone else is stalking. It's all part of the game up there.

    Like I said, I love hunting up there. I definitely see where people would hate it. There is all kinds of hunters up there, good, bad, ugly. I personally have never had a problem. It's a great time of year to head up. Like I said earlier the drive itself is absolutely beautiful. You will see big bulls, connecting is a whole different story....take you camera and videocamera.
    "The rich... who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own excellence, these are the real enemies of game".... Theodore Roosevelt's A Principle of the Hunt

  5. #5
    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    Thinking of doing an archery hunt up there myself I'm getting to old and broke down to do the hike out of the corridor. If your a fisherman as well dont miss the sagavanirktok river (dont ask me to pronounce it the wife and I call it unpronouncable river S) Great Char/Grayling fishing and the only road access shefish in the state! Some stretches would be great white water kayaking too.

    Rick P

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    The best thing you can do is spend some time watching the caribou and figure out movement patterns. Some movements are eratic but most of the caribou in an area will be going in the same general direction, crossing the river in the same area etc. Once you figure out a movement pattern, get where you need to be, hopefully near some cover or break in the ground so you will be able to move and intercept them. They won't stick to a particular trail but are generably predictable. Most people never figure this out because they are too busy driving back and forth over 100 miles of road waiting for one to cross. You can have a quality hunt up there, you just have to be smarter than the other hunters, Oh, and don't drive off the road!!

  7. #7
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    Default Rental

    Here's a place that rents truck/campers for use on the haul rd out of Fbnks.

    GoNorth Alaska Travel Center
    http://www.paratours.net/

    Definitely a scenic drive. Take some judo points/bludgeons for ptarmigan, there are a ton of them up there. And when you're not seeing many caribou, nothing beats chasing Ptarmigan/fox with a bow up there.

    You should see plenty of Bou, just be ready to walk. Best stalks even with a bow are over a mile off the road. You'll see herds slowing moving paralling the road. Best thing to do is get a mile or two ahead and find a place with cover and wait.

    Good luck!

    AK_BigO

  8. #8

    Default rental cers

    i've had friends rent cars while visiting and in every case the rental car companies have said you can't take them on the haul road or even the denali highway from cantwell to paxson. So I would check carefully. The odds are you will be replacing some kind of glass in the vehicle when you return. I also strongly recommend that you take 2 spare tires and other emergency tools.
    However you might fly into and out of bettles.
    I have no idea what airfare would run in this case though.

  9. #9
    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    always a fun hunt but can be frustrating if others blow a stalk for you. i go up there 1-3 times a year. will be there during that time probably 27-28 aug for 10-14 days. i will be the guy with short stubby jet boat with the Cabelas stickers on it. always be ready for snow and nasty cold windyweather but more so in sept.
    having small boat to get across sag river can be very good at times. opens up alot of territory when you spot critters there.
    going 1 mile or so off the road might be great but how do you pick where the 'bou might be.....since you can drive 50 miles and not see any????? i realize sometimes you can see them out there but i sure would not go that way unless see them.

    airport rentals in Fairbanks may also allow their vehicles to travel the haul road......they have pick ups.
    Snagbro1 are you from Colorado?
    - good luck Pat
    RETIRED U.S.A.F. CAPT.; LIFETIME MEMBER NRA; LIFETIME MEMBER ALASKA BOWHUNTER ASSOC.
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  10. #10
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    Default haul road archery hunt

    Thanks for all the info guys. This site is great. It looks like if you try to ask some half way intelligent questions you will get some really good replies.

    I have done quite a bit of hunting down here in Missouri and Indiana, but I know that it is all together different up there. I have been trying to read as much as I can on the hunting conditions up there so I will be as prepared as possible. I really appreciate all the info. from people who have been there and experienced this hunt.

    AK Nimrod, I sent you a PM.

    Thanks again,
    Andy

  11. #11
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Pipeline and Bou

    I caught this one shading his self along with about 100 others under the peipline. A stalk of 20 yards at a time, since the supports are 20 yards apart, and I managed to get within 50 yards before they walked out from under. When he was about 30 yards away I harvested him.

    The caribou will stand under the pipeline as it is the most shade available to them.

    Only to have a black bear take the antlers off of my porch this fall and eat them.
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    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 03-15-2007 at 08:18. Reason: added

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    Default daveinthebush - looks like a nice one

    daveinthebush,

    That looks like a nice caribou, especially with a bow. Would that have been earlier in August since they were looking for shade?

  13. #13
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Temperatures

    The sun was very bright and temperatures were running in the mid-70's. Thirty minutes after this picture a thunder and lightening storm moved in, hail, wind and the tundra turned white in an hour. I was processing this caribou in the middle of all that. After the storm temperatures dropped 10-15 degrees.

    Look over my back, the storm is just coming into view.

    Yes it was probably the 8th of August.
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 03-15-2007 at 11:15. Reason: Added info.

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    Default wild weather

    Wow, that is some really quick changes in the weather. Must have made for some interesting butchering. I can see the need to carry clothes for all types of weather.
    Thanks,
    Andy

  15. #15
    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    dave nice bou .....was nice to have met you last week end- pat
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  16. #16
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Same

    Hey same here, nice to have met you too. Is that the rig you drove to Anchorage in? I can see where the mileage might get you

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  17. #17
    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    yes that is the vehicle they get about 14-15 mpg usually had major problems getting it home 47mph on flat and down to 25mph on hills.. ......next day found out i lost linkage to one carb......= running on 2 cylinders
    RETIRED U.S.A.F. CAPT.; LIFETIME MEMBER NRA; LIFETIME MEMBER ALASKA BOWHUNTER ASSOC.
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  18. #18
    Moderator Daveinthebush's Avatar
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    Default Convertible

    A convertible isn't too practical in AK. Better get a hardtop on the rear of that. ;D Mileage is not bad though for a vehicle of its capabilities.

    Cool rig!

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  19. #19

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    snag -
    Not sure if anyone else gave you this advice about the haul road, but plan on getting wet. The tundra is wet.. plain and simple. Keep in mind that it can be tough to dry stuff out up there, especially if it's foggy and rainly (like last year).
    I hope you enjoy your trip. I had a blast and can't wait to do it again. Best tip? Patience and observation... Like Brian said about his trip.. I too had stalks every day we were up there, with small bulls inside of 20 yards on multiple occassions early in the trip (decided to hold out, ended up with a midsize bull at about 30 yards).

  20. #20
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK NIMROD View Post
    yes that is the vehicle they get about 14-15 mpg usually had major problems getting it home 47mph on flat and down to 25mph on hills.. ......next day found out i lost linkage to one carb......= running on 2 cylinders
    Wow thats awesme mileagle, I'd rather have that rig than an F-350 almost better mileage too!
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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