Five of us left last Sunday morning at 4am on an adventure that none of us had done before, but had been planning for several years. We decided we would be sleeping in tents even though we heard that the temps were a little low even by north slope standards! It would be a great test of my Arctic Oven that had, prior to this trip, only been exposed to a few zero degree trips and a fall moose hunt.
The drive up was gorgeous. The weather was beautiful and the scenery was breathtaking! I have made this trip in the early fall, but winter was a whole new perspective! There was so much to take in, but we were on a mission so the photography was somewhat limited.
Those that have made this trip know the variety of scenery on the way. It never gets old!
We were hoping to see lots of predators and caribou and our wish would be granted very early in the trip. About 10 miles south of the yukon a beautiful black wolf crossed the road half a mile in front of us. We went up to where we last saw him and the saw his tracks enter an extremely thick section of tree's. My heart sank as I ran through the ditch post holing up to my knee's thinking there was no way we were going to see him again! My buddy Tracy stayed up on the road and got ahead of me. He could see a small clearing in the tree's and gambled that the wolf would pass through that. Well, his gamble paid off and he took the black wolf he has been searching for the last 5 years! That would be the only one we saw this trip, so my quest continues!
We did end up taking two red fox as well, but I did not get any pictures of them and those were the only other predators taken on this trip.
Day three brought my path across that of two caribou about half a mile off the road in a slight depression that would make a very difficult stalk a slight possibility. We were just north of Toolik lake so those that have been up there know the type of terrain around there. It was the most challenging stalk I have ever done, taking over an hour to cover the last 200 yards, and towards the end I had to wait for a semi in the distance to start climbing the hill to provide a little background noise to mask the extremely loud snow! In the end I could only close the distance to 75 yards, but I regularly practice out to 70 so I took the gamble and it paid off big time! One shot took her down extremely quick and my first archery caribou was on the ground!
We made several other stalks that day, but none would pan out.
In between stalks we glassed heavily for predators and I did as much photography as I could at the -30 temps we had north of Atigun. My camera's performed flawlessly at those temps though so I was very impressed!