Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Haul Road Caribou Questions

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    47

    Default Haul Road Caribou Questions

    Hey guys,
    I am getting an early (VERY EARLY) start at planning a September 2012 caribou hunt on the haul road. This is my first trip up there and I am trying to figure a few things out. I both rifle and archery hunt, but am planning on packing the 5 miles out and camping for 5-6 days to give bagging a caribou with my rifle a shot. Antlers have some, but little appeal to me. I am really just interested in meat. I have a few basic questions and know that I will have more along the way, but here are the first few. I would appreciate any help anyone could give.

    1) I have been looking at going up near Galbraith Lake. Is this a decent area? Does anyone have any suggestions about where to leave the road? I see that there are 2 roads closed to vehicles that extend out ~2ish miles past the airstrip. Are these easier walking initially vs. braving the tussocks? If this isn't the most ideal spot for hiking off does anyone have any suggestions?

    2) I am anticipating a difficult hike to the 5 mile line, but it appears there are a couple old roads/trails that spike off the highway. Specifically my Garmin maps show a set of trails coming off the Dalton highway and heading west about 60 miles north of Gailbrath Lake. Are these real? Anybody have any experience with them?

    3) I have a small pump (MSR Clearwater water-filter). Would it be reasonable to say that I could pack out to a stream or lake 5 miles from the road and have a reliable water source or would my best bet be to pack all my water in and come back out to the river for water every couple days? I would love to camp at a stream/lake with pumpable water to save time and energy and maximize hunt time.

    Again, I appreciate any help anyone could afford to a rookie who is willing to put in the work to get his first carbiou! Thanks.
    MT2AK

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Wasilla, Ak
    Posts
    3,909

    Default

    What alot of folks ok majority of them do is camp by the road and make the 5 mile hump in shoot a caribou hump it back to the truck usually two trips to do this ,so looking at a 20 miles for one caribou. Once they have done that, they take down camp load up the truck and head south vowing never to do that again. As far as trails you speak of I have never seen them but I only have been up there twice but if they existed they would be well traveled trails by now and everyone would know about them. I think people head to toolik lake cause it gets you roughly a 1 mile headstart. So instead of walking 5 miles you only have to do 4 miles.

  3. #3

    Default

    I would find caribou, then determine where to start walking out. There might be caribou down that way in September, but it is pretty far south for that time of year. The caribou are all over Galbraith area right now.

    If you find tons of caribou in one area, then you might consider bowhunting instead of rifle hunting for a day or so.

    You could also consider setting up your camp about half way to the 5 mile mark. It would be less of a hike with heavy gear, and you could bowhunt around camp, then hike the 2 miles to rifle hunt. Not having to carry your camp an extra 4-5 round trip miles would be a plus. I wouldn't count on any decent trails to help you out much. Plan for travelling over tussoks the whole way.

    Take enough water for your hike, and make more out there. You'll want as light of a load as possible heading out there with your gear. If it dips below zero and doesn't warm up, you'll end up with big chunks of ice to deal with.

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Wasilla, Ak
    Posts
    3,909

    Default

    Hey Jerod if you make it up there this coming week keep an eye out for a grey 2011 extra cab chevy silveraldo they are my buds up there hunting. Knuckle heads decided it was a great time to go caribou hunting??? Have another group taking off in a few weeks to go up there hunting I'm sitting here scratching my head.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    47

    Default

    Thanks guys. So you all think that there will be enough water in there to pump without running into problems? I have run out of water 9 miles in the backcountry of Montana before and have vowed that I will never make that mistake again! I like the idea of packing in 2 miles or so and making the 2 mile hike to hunt daily. I think that is smart and something I had never considered but it seemed to make a lot of sense.

    Also, along the lines of water...Is there a ton of free standing water/creeks to cross out there or is it mainly the tussocks that you have to deal with?

    I had the sneaking suspicion that any trails would be too good to be true, but not having ever been up there myself I didn't know for sure. Is it consensus that Galbraith Lake may be too far south in early/mid September?

    Another question that comes to mind quick is meat. Once you get the animal boned out and packed out will it stay cool enough and keep at the pickup? Any special tricks here? Along the lines of keeping meat...what is the bear population like up there? I know there are brown and that you can even harvest them, but don't know what kind of population numbers to expect!

    Thanks!
    MT2AK

  6. #6
    Member AKluvr95's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Posts
    646

    Default

    Jerod is spot on.
    No trail ~ most likely no water dependent on temps.

    Also consider the possibility of [bone jarring] breaking through the thin ice in places i.e. Franklin Bluffs area.
    Most areas I experienced were only calf deep but there are deep holes out there too.

    One year we packed caribou 5.25 ~ 5.5 miles back to the road. We shot them around lunchtime and didn't get back to the road until 2:30 the next morning. Just to give you an idea of how long it took us to walk back out...

    Lastly, there was a polar bear 32 miles inland the last time we were there. Talk about adding a new dimension to consider while packing meat.

  7. #7

    Default

    323, I just drove home yesterday. Glad I did since there are travel advisories on the road today with 40-50mph winds north of Atigun. I saw 10-15,000 caribou along the way, so I think your buds will bring home some meat. Nearly all of the big bulls have shed their antlers, I saw very few that looked decent size. I talked to a couple guys in a green F150 that were just getting there, and saw a couple other hunters, but not many. Somebody could easily do a day trip right now and bring home a caribou or two. I plan to put up a post with a video and picture of some of the caribou.

    MT2AK, if you head east, then you will have to cross the Sag River, if you head West, there is a good chance you won't have to cross any large creeks or rivers. In September I think you will be further north, between Slope Mountain and Pump Station 2. Getting on top of Slope Mountain and heading west is a good option if the bou are there. When you get up on the mountain, it is easier walking then the tussocks, but you will eventually get into them.

    Grizzly's aren't overly abundant, but they are there. I would be prepared for them, and get a registration tag just in case the right opportunity, or the necessity comes along that you have to take one.

    If you are setting up a camp a couple of miles in, I would find a place that has some water. If it's like September of 2010, then you will probably be melting snow for water. I packed this guy back to the road from about a mile out at Slope Mountain. 18-24" of snow on the ground. That leads to my next recommendation... be prepared for any type of weather!


  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    47

    Default

    Hahaha Thanks Jerod and everybody else! I am beginning to wonder what I am getting myself into, but it is all pretty exciting. We used to hunt Elk on mountain bikes in Montana about 20 miles from the trail head so I am up for a challenge, but this may be unlike anything I have done before.

    I like the idea of going in a couple of miles and camping at water and then hunting with bow around camp and rifle 2 miles in deeper! Your advice has been most helpful. I am sure that I will have more questions down the road!

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Fairbanks, AK
    Posts
    122

    Default

    I have had several friends who lined canoes up the rivers up there and they have done well. They went out ~3 miles and camped, then hiked to 5 miles.
    Also, you may want to give consideration to waiting until the 3rd week of October to hunt up there. The rut is mostly over aside from a few cows that didn't get pregnant in the first cycle. Most bulls have lost interest in the cows and their meat is fine again. Skiing over the tundra is a much easier way to travel. Usually the weather hasn't turned entirely sour by then either. Also, the caribou have moved farther south making areas like Toolik, Galbraith Lake, etc much more likely spots to find caribou.
    Jerod, this past week up there was indeed awesome! A great sight. Congrats on the bull. I pullled a cow out and my hunting partner got a bull. Another bud got a bull.

  10. #10

    Default

    Another option to consider would be to go with a partner and fly out of Happy Valley with 70* North air taxi. They could take the two of you in with their Helio and probly get you both out with 3 caribiou(total) if you pack light. The last time we did this it cost us about $750 apiece. Mike and Bob are really good guys and they will look out for you. You could always archery hunt along the road for a few days first.

  11. #11

    Default

    I have hunted up there this time of year. It is much easier with the snow cover. What worked well for me was to take snowshoes just in case although I didn't need them. But the key is taking a toboggan or sled of some sort to pull behind you. I got a cheap one at WalMart (or check Sportsmans) then attach some PVC poles to it that can be used to pull the sled. This allows you to also control it coming down hill. I also attached the poles to a waist strap I to free up my hands most of the time. I was able to put my camp gear in the sled and camped out since a trip in/out 5 miles this time of year is tough with so little daylight. I shot a bull and hardly noticed much difference when pulling the sled with the bou in it plus my camp. I think you could pull 2 caribou out in a sled plus your camp fairly well. Be prepared for all kinds of weather though and try to pick a weather window that looks favorable. I would not go up there right now with the cold temps that are happening.

  12. #12
    Member ripnlip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Eagle River
    Posts
    291

    Default

    Ive been up there a little and Jerod is right on. As stated, try to spot em or a known area before you go walking in. Sept is a critical time: early vs late could make a huge diff. PM sent.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •