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Thread: Arctic or 40-Mile Herds???

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    Default Arctic or 40-Mile Herds???

    My college buddy from the L48 is wanting to come up this fall to join me on a quality caribou hunt. As a non-resident, I think his best opportunity will be either the 40-Mile herd or going far north to the big herds. Right now we're weighing options out of Happy Valley, Kotz, Fairbanks and Delta Junction. I'd say our budget is in the $800-$1200 range for transport but a high quality experience is more essential. We would consider a float hunt and are looking at the last few weeks of September as our timeframe. Any recommendations or personal experiences are much appreciated!

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    If you are talking about air transport, then I would say your budget is low. At least triple it. Once the budget is up, I think success can be found in many different areas. I would say a float hunt would have to be pretty tight with the same budget.

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    You indicated that you are looking at the last few weeks of September for this caribou hunt......
    When planning a hunt out of Happy Valley I would suggest that you consider hunting a little sooner, like the FIRST two weeks of September.
    Snow comes early to that north country. Some of the flying service providers stop flying in mid September. Of course, check out all the usual suspects, all the usual Cold Foot (Coyote Air-Dirk and Danielle Nickisch) and Happy Valley (Seventynorth-Mike McCrary) flying services (and others).
    And as vadimb suggested, I'm not certain that you have projected enough money for your drop-off budget, unless your drop-off trip includes a float back to Happy Valley.

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    Member ArcticNorseman's Avatar
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    Just to clarify your budget of $1200 does not include airfare to AK and tags, right?

    Transport to the field and back via most super cubs would run $1000 for each, plus if you each bag a trophy caribou, you may have to pay a trophy fee, plus flights to pack the meat out . . . check with transporters for their rates on that.

    the 40-mile herd hunt is rather ameoba-like. Even for residents, it's a pain to figure out when the season will open or close . . . however, Zone 2 (between Steese and Taylor Hwys) usually stays open for the duration. If you search the threads in here, I remember a couple guys posting pics of the caribou they saw and the ones they took out of Zone 2.

    There pics and thread were impressive to say the least. Maybe you could e-mail them for more details? if I recall, they flew 40-mile air out of Delta Junction.

    The herds up the Dalton start seeing rough weather in mid-late Sep.

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    The 40mile herd would be great option if your budget was higher, double the $1200 and that would get you into a great hunt in zone 2, and you would want to go couple of weeks earlier than what you stated. 40-mile air out of Tok is 1st rate operation to check with, and Golden Eagle out of Delta jct has good reputation. May be getting kind of late for this year though good reputation = booked up early

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    Member tiger15's Avatar
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    Also, keep in mind if you fly out with 40-mile air or Golden Eagle out of Delta, you will be competing with folks flying for sheep hunts and previously booked moose hunts. Their available times might be dwindling quick so make the call sooner rather than later.

    As far as up north on the Dalton, remember the rut might affect the hunt during your proposed time frame. I have no experience with rutty caribou, but most folks on here who have tell of horror stories with the smell and meat. You might want to consider going an earlier time frame.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bklogs View Post
    The 40mile herd would be great option if your budget was higher, double the $1200 and that would get you into a great hunt in zone 2, and you would want to go couple of weeks earlier than what you stated. 40-mile air out of Tok is 1st rate operation to check with, and Golden Eagle out of Delta jct has good reputation. May be getting kind of late for this year though good reputation = booked up early
    Golden Eagle is pretty much booked through the third week in September. Later September should still be good for caribou in zone 2, no?

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    On your budget, and with the time constraints since your buddy is just visiting, I think I'd opt for going up north. The 40 Mile hunt can be tough depending on how/when the caribou are moving during the season each year. I used to have a good "secret" spot (meaning more secret than Chicken Ridge) where the chances were pretty good every year that I would get a caribou without much trouble or competition. The last 6 or 7 years, they just haven't moved that way. Up north, your chances of running into caribou are better if you only have a small window of opportunity to go hunt.
    We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.
    James Madison

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    Great information everyone, I appreciate the rapid feedback! While we were optimistic that the $1200 would get the job done, we're now prepared to fork over a bit more. It sounds like the 40-mile herd is more of a wild card. At this point I'm leaning towards a hunt up north. We're also considering a hunt out of Kotz. I'd be interested in hearing some pros and cons of each northern herd, (ie. flying out of Happy Valley/Coldfoot or Kotz). Season timing? Herd predictability? Hunting pressure? Flight time to get to the herds?

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    Member Bearclaw67's Avatar
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    Dont over look Bettles area either.
    Paul

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