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Thread: What you wish someone would have told you about the Haul road...

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    Default What you wish someone would have told you about the Haul road...

    Hey guys,
    So a couple buddies and I are going to go do the rifle hunt for caribou up on the haul road this coming August. All of us are rookies to this hunt and are going to drive up from Anchorage. I have been quizing some friends who have done it before pretty hard about the logistics, but was curious if all you guys that have done it before would share with me what you wish someone would have told you before you went the first time.

    There seems to be a lot of info on the forum about bowhunting up there (we are bowhunters too and will have our bows, but are going to focus mainly on the rifle hunt), but little on rifle hunting. I suspect it is because most people are scared of the walk. I know the trek is going to be difficult (especially to pack meat out) and I know about the tussocks. We are all young and looking foward to the challenge, so anything about animal behavior, meat preservation, gear, water, etc would be appreciated. Thanks all.

    MT2AK

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    I have walked 37 miles in a few days guiding a sheep hunt and would not consider walking outside of the corridor. It all has to do with the type of terrain. The tussisks are murderous on the alkles especially with a heavy load.I am not saying it cant be done as lots have done it just be prepared for a grueling hike. Also be very cautious of the 5 mile thing road does a lot of turns and such so pay very close attention to the maps..Treat it like most any hunt try to get air to the meat after butchered I spray lemon juice/tabasco mixed with water to keep flies off meat.. no trees so try to get meat on pile of brush or something similar to get air flow ,head net is mandetory as well as bug dope. Caribou are caribou and kind of just do what they want at times. Generally speaking you can just cut them off but sometimes they just turn around cause they can.

    as far as gear is concerned have you done any hunting in Alaska...do you already own some gear..since long distance I would treat it like a sheep hunt
    Last edited by Bear; 04-15-2012 at 16:32. Reason: content

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I would not even consider the rifle hunt in the corridor. It is not because people are afraid, it is because it is FREAKING hard and few do it twice. That area is one of the most heavily policed hunting areas and each year many good law biding folks make mistakes because they are overwhelmed at the task of recovering game and gear from that distance. One year some guys even tried to drive not one vehicle but 2 after one got stuck. Were they bad hunters, I don't think so, just overwhelmed by the task of recovering their game and the fact that is was going to take much, much longer than they thought.

    Okay,, with that said it is an awesome bow hunt and is a great hunt just hanging out and bow hunting. Take a quality raft (not a blow up toy) and cross the sag, you will be virtually alone. Most just drive the road and stalk, get out of sight of the road and you will do fine.

    No wood, lots of bugs, bears can be an issue, had a friend that had to DLP a bear at a caribou kill.

    Don't block the road or access points, if you run and gun, have a dedicated driver and have that person drop the hunters off and swap out. Nobody likes to wait behind a parked vehicle.

    For meat I prefer it up and off the ground and just take some poles with me to make a tripod or a frame. It can get extremely hot and compactor bags can be used to place the meat in and submerge, I have even used 5 gallon buckets in shallow water with weight on top and tied off in case water rises.

    Document and GPS you kill sites, very common up there for troopers to ask to see the kill site to check your carcass.

    I just use a filter and filter river water.

    Caribou are lead by cows most often, let the lead cow move through and watch her route, the rest will often follow her trail.

    Be safe and have fun.



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    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
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    I've gone outside the corridor three times and bow hunted it a few more. The one thing I do now when hunting outside the corridor is stop hunting two days before I have to leave. One out and back trip is enough for one day with a load of meat. Unless you're an animal you'll need at least two trips, probably three, to get your camp and animal to the road.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

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    I have done that hunt twice. Go in as light as you possibly can. That terrain is no joke. It looks flat and easy until you walk on it, then you will find it's like walking on bowling balls covered with wet pillows in the middle of a swamp.

    Make sure you have really good boots, and if they aren't waterproof, bring a few changes of socks.

    I would recommend that if one person makes a kill, stop hunting and pack it out. If you have more energy, go in after another one. The guys who got stuck on the tundra made the mistake of dropping 3 bulls at once and we all saw what happened there.

    Bring a range finder, distances can be very tricky to judge out there.

    100% deet, long sleeve shirts, gloves and a bug net are a must. You will get eaten alive if you don't cover yourself up. These bugs are bad enough to make the caribou migrate so they are pretty savage up there.

    Don't focus too much on one area, the caribou move so they will be in one spot one day, and may not be there another. I just drove the road until I spotted them in the distance, then went in from there, just make sure the road doesn't curve back in.

    If I were you I would bring my bow along (and make sure you get your bowhunter cert) just in case you think you may be biting off more than you can chew with the rifle hunt.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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    Thanks guys. So far very helpful. I know that people say that the hunt outside corridor isn't worth the walk, but I am one of those people that has to figure it out for myself. I don't doubt that it will be one of the harder things I have ever done though! I have done some backcountry hunting before in MT and am no stranger to packing out heavy loads. I will have to let you all know if I will do it again after I have done it once.

    I will definitely bring my bow and that way can convert the hunt to an archery hunt if need be. If that is the case would you still pack camp out a couple miles? Would that increase my odds?

    Love the info about only taking down one animal at a time since, after all, as basic human instict is...."TAG OUT FAST"! Also, very good info regarding packing out and leaving enough time to get home. I think that if we harvest an animal we will likely pack it all the way out though vs. just taking it back to camp. Still good advice nonetheless.

    This is most helpful...keep it coming!

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    That they changed their mind and were not going to build it ever.
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    Member duckslayer56's Avatar
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    I would find a pull out and set up my camp there if I was archery hunting. Just remember to not block any roads, and keep your vehicle off the the highway if you park. The truckers up there will be much happier if you do this.

    One other thing, if you aren't in shape I would start getting there now. It will probably be the single hardest hunt you ever do. If you are in shape, you are still going to be sore and exhausted, but you will recover faster. Start by loading up about 50 pounds in your pack and go on some long 5 to 10 mile walks. As you get stronger, up the weight. My pack was about 90 pounds every trip after I got my caribou and it took 3 trips to get it out.

    You may also want to look into bringing a sled. I used my back and legs to get mine out, but when I got back one of my buddies was laughing at me, and said I should have taken a sled. I will never do that rifle hunt again, but if I did I would definitely look into it.
    Some people call it sky busting... I call it optimism
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    Pay a transporter to fly you out of Happy Valley.

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    try to walk ridge lines and creek beds. they aren't easy but they are doable. me and a buddy had a debate once he said shoot the biggest bou you can find to make the hike worth it, I say shoot something you can hike out (you will have made that decision after you have made the hike) I would also get some map software for a GPS and use the ruler function to figure out where you can/can't hunt. I love the slope and will be going up agin this august or September!

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    I'm not sure why but I can think of 5 times I've hunted the haul road with a rifle, not sure why I keep doing it, it's straight foolish of me, lots of work. Ive done it once in august and I'll tell you that the noseeums don't care how much deet you're wearing if it's bare skin you'll regret it. A sled is tons more work than it's worth unless there is snow, if there is snow it makes the drag out bearable. I compare the tundra to a soaking wet matress with basketballs and footballs under it you gotta be careful. As stated before the 5 mile corridor is no joke, I talked to the trooper up there a few years ago and asked him about 4.9 miles he said something like "4.9 miles is not 5 miles, you could loose your truck, rifle, lisence, and hunting privileges" make sure you know where you are. Next thing is all of the bulls will still be in velvet and it'll be warm meat care will be an issue, my opinion is wait till sept and pray for snow don't go in October- Bou in rut is inedible. 2 of the 5 times I've been out it's been in groups of 4 hunters and we took 3 big bulls, it took each of us at least 2 trips out to the truck, one trip we had a three group party and shot 3 big bulls, there was snow and sleds, one trip out was all it took, one trip out there were two of us and only one big bull was harvested, we had no extra gear so we took him out in one trip, the last time out was a group of 2 and we nearly died, had we done more than knock the antler off the bull we shot at I'm sure we would not have survived as it was we narrowly escaped with our lives, that being said Alaska is no joke. The weather will change on you, she will kill you, you have to be prepared for everything, the north slop is nothing like hunting Montana, I grew up hunting southern Idaho and thought i knew how to hunt, I was wrong. That being said I did survive and am here to tell about it so it is doable, on the trip in every time I ask myself why Im doing it again and I really have no answer, it's more physically demanding than anything I've ever done but i just keep doing it.

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    If it's been raining on the road plan on LOTS of mud removal after you return. The mud has clay in it and sticks to everything under your truck. One trip to the self-service car wash will not be enough to get it out of brake calipers, wheels, suspension, etc. Other than that, the drive up and back is awesome! Write a hunt report with lots of pics when you get back. Good luck.

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    I loved it but can't add much more, but 2nd the raft it save the hunt.By crossing and using the higher ground to get the 5 miles in, shoot a bull load half back out cross the river and sleep in the tuck ,got up in the morning. Their was 2 of use both killed ,on the return had to wake up a huge grizz on the first sight, gathered what was left and got the other half of mine. Most of my elk hunts were tougher.

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    1. Have an 80, 90, and if you have a bow that shoots fast enough and practice enough, have a 100 yd pin! I had to pass on quite a few big bulls because I didn't have a 90 yd pin and I was not comfortable shooting at a bou from 90. I practiced at 90 quite a bit, but when you're bow hunting in the rain (IT WILL RAIN!) 90 gets pretty far, had I put in a little bit more work, I coulda done 90...instead I grabbed the rifle and did the hike! We went up for 10 hunting days and after the 6th day, we went for a walk with the rifles.

    2. Get a topper for your truck...not sure how anyone does that without a topper....if it aint dusty, it'll be misting mud that covers everything. My truck's color changed from red to Dalton Brown.

    3. A good tent...it was 70 the first day and snowed 6" on the 9th!

    4. Plan on having a few days where you go into town and get gas and a cup of coffee....this takes a few hours depending how far north you camp.

    5. Be considerate of other hunters and don't blow thier stalks!!!!! I saw too many times, people pull up in the truck doin 75 and jump out and spook the bou that we've been set up waiting for an hour on! If you see people set up on something just keep goin...maybe take a shot in the dark and set up further down, the bou might move and cross the road closer to you.

    6. Bring 5-7 arrows solely dedicated to hunt ptarmigan...it is the most fun I had up there....we didn't bring blunt tips or anything, we put a field tip in a spent 12G shotgun shell with the primer knocked out and a piece of high density foam crammed in. It flew incredibly straight, knocked the bird out pretty good, and was impossible to bury in the tundra.

    7. Like any hunt, keep a positive attitude...you will have an argument with your hunting buddies, cuz stuff goes wrong with stalks and what not...good luck and have fun!
    Missing the greatest state in the Union!

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    Most important I think are E rated tires. D's might hold up but I have never had a flat with the E's. The AutoClub is going to laugh if you call to get a flat fixed.

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    Just make sure you get Mike into shape and you will all love the hunt. Have walked out 2 bou from 5 miles and it was tough but I would never say I will not do it again and again and again, you get my point. I have walked that 5 miles many times without carrying a bou out and actually though it was fun because you see so many of the **** things as well as the ptarmigan, snowy owls, wolves, foxes and many other things. For me easy hunts are very forgetable because just killing something is not the only reason i'm out there. Sure it is tough to walk on but I would not say it is as tough as a walk-in sheep hunt, and you have many different animal you can harvest that are not as easy to come by driving the road. I will say that I would start archery hunting and then go the 5 miles if you don't harvest a bou with your bow.

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    Not to rain on your party but consider getting a part time job now and stash the money and do a fly out from happy valley. See Mike at 60 deg. North and he will take good care of you. It takes the risk out of river crossings, gives you more hunting days, more gear for a nicer camp and better food. But I guess if I wasn't in my 60's I'd be walking too, have fun and good luck, Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveinthebush View Post
    Most important I think are E rated tires. D's might hold up but I have never had a flat with the E's. The AutoClub is going to laugh if you call to get a flat fixed.
    Oh yeah E rated tires helps A LOT...no flats

    If possible, consider taking a diesel truck...I did 2878 Miles in 12 days from Anchorage, averaging 18 miles per gallon. That includes two nights of sleeping in the truck with it idling. That's not really the great thing about it though...I was getting 600-650 miles per tank!

    Also like 350 bull said...try w/bow and then go w/the rifle it don't pan out! I'd go 5+ miles again in a heartbeat!
    Missing the greatest state in the Union!

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    680 on AM radio dial will get you the Barrow NPR radio station. You can pick it up all over the Slope from Alpine field in the west to Badami in the east and up to the Atigun Pass towards the south. Every so often maybe hourly they give you weather forecasts for the areas of Deadhorse, Franklin Bluffs, Sag Jaun hills, Galbrieth Lake, Atigun and Anituvik passes plus more. Not a bad thing to get at least a general idea on what is happening, plus the usual NPR stuff and the not so common village programs.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Algonquin
    See Mike at 60 deg. North and he will take good care of you.
    Agree totally on Mike taking care of you but wanted to clarify it's 70 North...above the Arctic Circle <grin>:
    http://www.seventynorth.com/

    Also, an inexpensive Coleman canoe is your friend up north. It beats packing meat across five miles of tundra.

    Some good advice I got from others about driving the haul road:
    1) Never go left of center lane unless you can see for a long ways
    2) Never go left of center lane unless you can see for a long ways
    3) Always count each marker and know where you are at all times
    4) Carry a satphone
    5) # 1 and 2

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