For starters, I'd like to thank everyone on here who recommended 70 North as a flight service- great guys, fantastic service, and, considering the location, pretty reasonable rates.
My wife and I flew in from Happy Valley on Friday, Sept. 2. Bob Gill, our pilot, dropped us on a gravel bar where camp was an easy set-up. We'd seen some animals on the way in- not lots, but enough to let us know there were some in the neighborhood. We did some glassing that evening, and noticed a number of caribou heading north (?) in bunches.
Got up on Saturday and headed east from camp, over a mile or so of nasty tussocks. When we got out in the flats, we saw a small bunch of medium-sized bulls not far away. This was really open tundra, so there as no place to hide- these guys knew we were there, and were a bit wary. So, we decided to try a trick we'd heard about and used successfully at Denali, and were wondering if it'd work on animals who'd been hunted. What we did was crawl around on all fours and wave our hiking sticks around our heads like they were antlers. Sure enough, their curiosity got the better of the group, and it was one guy's last mistake. We weren't able to get it to work on bigger bulls, but if you're looking for a meat bull, this might help.
And of course, as we were cleaning my wife's animal, three bigger bulls came into view and wandered a bit too close. Soon enough, we had two animals on the ground- then, of course, the work started.
We got them opened up and quarters off, got the meat into bags, covered them with a tarp, and took our first load of meat to camp. Man, there's nothing more fun than carrying weight over those evil, treacherous, satanic tundra tussocks.
Got the rest of the meat boned out and moved over the next two days- great conditions for field dressing. Cool and overcast, temps in the 40s, no wind, and no bugs- can't beat that!
Tuesday we had five bulls try to walk through camp, but like a dope I managed to scare them off- my wife really wanted to take a big bull but, alas, it was not to be. Wednesday it snowed about 2 inches on us, Thursday they couldn't get in to pick us up due to fog, but we finally got out late on Friday. Mike offered to let us sleep in their bunkhouse, and even treated us to dinner, and breakfast the next morning. Quite a class act.
Then my wife wanted to see Deadhorse and the Arctic Ocean, but the tour company was closed. So, we gassed up and headed back down the road. After about 60 miles we got the obligatory flat tire, and had to take boxes, packs and crates out so we could get at the tire tools and laid stuff on a tarp on the muddy roadside.
We eventually got back on the road, but going over the pass was a white-knuckle affair- getting dark, blowing snow, just plain nasty. Glad to have that behind us. Spent the night in a luxurious room in Coldfoot for a mere $199.00, got gassed up and on the road in the morning.
Then, to complete the adventure, about 10 miles north of Healy, my alternator blew up. After scrambling around to find a mechanic, then having to drive back to Fairbanks to get the right part, we eventually made it home. Kept one rack, and had about 200 lbs. of boned out meat for our troubles. All in all, a great experience.