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Thread: Caribou meat quality in fall, Actual accounts only

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    Default Caribou meat quality in fall, Actual accounts only

    Doing a google search I've read that the time to avoid shooting bull caribou Is Mid sept to mid Oct. I've also heard it's as late as Mid Oct. I've done many searches on this and there is a wide range of dates that people list, but very few actual accounts of meat quality.

    Anyone who has shot a bull from early Sept-Nov

    1. How was the meat?
    2. What were the exact dates of the hunt?
    3. What general location were you in, ex north slope, south west etc.
    4. Was this a big bull or a young one?
    5. If you observed them, did they show any signs of rutting?

    The latest dates I've hunted caribou were between sept 10th and 20th in Southwest Ak. I was worried about meat so I shot a cow. The 3 others in my group shot bulls with the latest one being shot on the 18th. All turned out fine, but they were young bulls. A few bulls we saw during that time seemed to show slight signs of rut behaior, but not the ones we shot.

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    Member tiger15's Avatar
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    1. How was the meat? Perfect! It did not have any foul smell, smelt normal actually and tasted awesome!
    2. What were the exact dates of the hunt? Oct 15 -18
    3. What general location were you in, ex north slope, south west etc.: North Slope Haul Road
    4. Was this a big bull or a young one? Bull
    5. If you observed them, did they show any signs of rutting? I spotted this bull the evening prior all by himself. I put a stalk on him with no success. The next morning he had only traveled about 1/2 mile from the afternoon prior so I tried again with success. Both days he was by himself, but upon inspection when I got to him I could tell he had an encounter with another bull. About 1/2 mile north of him was a bigger bull with about 6 or 7 cows. That bull was displaying signs of rut activity, so the bull I shot, which was slightly smaller, could have been pushed off those cows by the bigger bull. I was actually surprised my bull did not smell.

    Hope this helps a little, as this is just one small example.

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    Member Alaskan22's Avatar
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    1. Meat was good!! Have had better, but it was stil D E LICIOUS!!
    2. Oct. 15-20
    3. Seward Peninsula...Nome
    4. One big bull, one young bull and two cows.
    5. No real sign of rutting. Just eatting and hanging out.

    I hear all the time about "don't eat caribou in the fall..." But i've done it lots, and it's always tasted just fine. Not musk ox or sheep fine...but yummy!
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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I shot a young bull (3yr old) on 9/25 last year just prior to the season closure on 9/30. I was slightly concerned about meat quality that late but it was fine. Our party took 2 similar sized and both were good table fare. It was on the south side of Denali Hwy and the caribou were certainly showing signs of rutting behavior with a few visible large bulls forming harems and circling them as well as sparring between them.

    I would have personally avoided shooting a big bull during that time. I have also shot caribou in August and all were super table fare.

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    Alaskan22, you mention you've hunted caribou in the fall lots and it's always turned out fine. Any other examples of dates that have turned out well for you?

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    Member Alaskan22's Avatar
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    September hunts, Sept. 10-25th. Unit 20A (5 different years as at least one int he group drew a tag).
    September 15-20, Seward Peninsula - 3 occasions, (one tasted not so great, but i'm fairly certain it had to do with the river it was shot in and issues getting it out...but I still ate it, and it wasn't "horrible").
    October 1 - 30 - Seward Peninsula...too many to count, not all shot by me, but meat from friends and such and all has been good.

    Again, don't mistake "good" for "August Blacktail deer" good.
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    Mulchatna herd, 2 mature bulls, 1st -Sep 9 tasted perfect, 2nd-Sep 13, not even a dog would eat it... seriously. Nelchina herd, mature bull Sep 17, yummy ! All other caribou were either late Aug-early Sep, immature bulls or cows, and tasted wonderful. The Sep 13 and 17 bulls were snap decision harvests without the time to judge behaviour.

    If you have the luxury of time to observe the behaviour of the great bulls, they will display rut behaviour, grunts , snorts, bellows, agitation, slobbering, drooling-wet about the snout and chest, challenges, herding... if you notice any of that find another animal if you intend to enjoy quality meat.

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    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Nov1 st or 2nd. Haul Rd. south of Coldfoot. Mid-sized bull, good meat.
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    Arctic NorthWest Alaska, Ive shot Hundred's personally, and been hunting this herd for 25 years

    WACH's meats are Excellent, and Bulls are Prime untill the beginning of October.We get only "Prime" Bulls then.

    Today we Hunted Cows and calfs for Hides, next week well start putting up Bulls in the skin for the comming thin ice freeze up and the comming Darkness, and Hunting will be very hit and miss till the light returns in late january.
    Were lucky, Cows and Calfs are setting in the Trails others will follow soon

    About the 1st of October they go into rut.
    This is easily detected BEFORE Rut by watching the stomche contents of the Bulls, as a couple days before they Rut and get all Hormoned up, they will stop eating, or eatverry little and will have stomaches full of water and very little food. They will be moving and moving, not stopping to graze, and often approch people very closely, we call 'em "Kamakazi's" LOL!!
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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Last year shot a cow Oct. 22 and it tastes great. This year we got a bull Sept. 28th and it tasted great. Both Nelchina herd. Last year a chose the cow over any bull in fear of bad meat and heard a tale or two of very rutty meat from bulls shot around that time.

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    Alaskabliss do you mean this years bull was aug 28th or do you mean to say it was shot last sept 28th? Out of curiousity was it a young bull or mature?

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WIsam View Post
    Alaskabliss do you mean this years bull was aug 28th or do you mean to say it was shot last sept 28th? Out of curiousity was it a young bull or mature?
    Sorry, working nights! It was August 28th. It was a mature bull. We took very good care of the meat and only had it hanging for a couple days till we could get out of the field. Had caribou tacos the other night and it was so good the wife even loved it and that is rare for her.

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    got my bou on sept 9th last year. we took good care of the meat, and process it ourselves. leaving alaska we froze it and hauled it back to ks in a freezer. meat tasted great, and everyone we have shared it with thinks the same. perferably on of my favorite wild game meats. very mild flavor

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    Member Matt's Avatar
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    I don't know. Killed a mature bull last year on Oct. 23rd and the meat turned out great.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Not all bulls become inedible, which is part of the risk of shooting one between the middle of September and October 15 or thereabouts. Sometimes it's hard to tell until you get the animal on the ground, and then it's too late.

    Mike
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    If the Bull runs to you, out in the Open, probly Rut.

    If the Bulls are travling, even grouped up, like they are spooked or in a hurry and not pausing to graze, they are probly in Rut.

    If they are fighting one another in all seriousness, They are probly in Rut.

    If they put out a noticable Punget oder, they are probly in Rut.

    If they are riunning circles around a female or a group of Females , they are probly in rut.

    If they have mostly water and very little food in their stomaches, they are probly in rut.

    They STINK, and you will not be pleased........definitly in Rut.

    One major advantage I have in popping Bulls in the head from 5 feet away as they cross rivers is that I can avoid that problem by smelling them .................

    Hunt them on ridge tops and high places where you can see what they are up to......get upwind, if you can, and see if they smell more than the Tundra around you. Watch their behavior, and ask other Hunters.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    If the Bull runs to you, out in the Open, probly Rut.

    If the Bulls are travling, even grouped up, like they are spooked or in a hurry and not pausing to graze, they are probly in Rut.

    If they are fighting one another in all seriousness, They are probly in Rut.

    If they put out a noticable Punget oder, they are probly in Rut.

    If they are riunning circles around a female or a group of Females , they are probly in rut.

    If they have mostly water and very little food in their stomaches, they are probly in rut.

    They STINK, and you will not be pleased........definitly in Rut.

    One major advantage I have in popping Bulls in the head from 5 feet away as they cross rivers is that I can avoid that problem by smelling them .................

    Hunt them on ridge tops and high places where you can see what they are up to......get upwind, if you can, and see if they smell more than the Tundra around you. Watch their behavior, and ask other Hunters.
    Excellent tips, and very practical field advice!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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    Well if the meat is inedible as you all say between these dates. Then WHY does the state allow the taking of bull caribou???? If it is so vile it will end up in the trash can. I think It's people's inability to properly care for the animal once it's down. My friend got a bull up on the haul rd 1st week of October he gave me some steaks and they tasted fine...

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    I think it varies from area to area and animal to animal. Had a friend shoot one Oct. 12 and it was inedible. Then shot a couple of big bulls the next week and they were fine. I think you are running a fine line shooting a big bull from about Sept. 26-to Oct. 20. I would spend a lot of time watching them and seeing if they are eating or not before pulling the trigger. When a caribou is bad, it is bad. There is NOTHING you can do to make it edible.

    If you are hunting cows, there is no window. They will be good.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 323 View Post
    Well if the meat is inedible as you all say between these dates. Then WHY does the state allow the taking of bull caribou???? If it is so vile it will end up in the trash can. I think It's people's inability to properly care for the animal once it's down. My friend got a bull up on the haul rd 1st week of October he gave me some steaks and they tasted fine...
    Not all bull caribou develop this issue during rut. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with meat care practices. Clearly you have not encountered this in the field. When you do (and you certainly will if you indiscriminately harvest bull caribou during rut), your perspective will change.

    Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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