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Thread: Dalton Hwy AK, Caribou Hunt

  1. #1
    New member Joey Rott's Avatar
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    Default Dalton Hwy AK, Caribou Hunt

    This hunt has always interested me. A DIY caribou that you can drive to, going to the Arctic of Alaska. But I have also read a lot of mixed reviews, with most of the negatives being hunters driving the road back and forth on the road, looking for an easy caribou crossing the road or next to the pipeline.

    Here is my "initial" breif gameplan. My wife will be hunting with me. We both hunt hard and feel we're up for the challenge. We will fly up to Fairbanks, and rent a vehicle to drive up north. I understand that many rentals will not allow you to drive on the Dalton Hwy, but I have found a few which will. With roughly a 14 hr drive, we should arrive to the general area of the caribou. I'll plan 7 days to hunt.

    We haven't decided on whether we want to archery or rifle hunt(beyond 5 mile buffer). Our preference would be to archery hunt, but depending on what the pressure is by the road along with success rate vs going 5 miles in and rifle hunting, we may be using the rifle instead. We also plan on doing some fishing and making it a vacation by soaking up the scenery.

    I do have some questions though,

    1. I'm looking into a July/August hunt...mainly for warmer weather and a chance of getting a bull with velvet. Are there any week timeframes when you should see more caribou than other times?

    2. Is the Caribou tag specific to the weapon, or could we bring a bow & rifle, and decide later on how we want to hunt? (We are both archery certified) And are the seasons the same?

    3. Is it worth buying a wolf tag in the caribou areas? Think we'll have a chance at seeing one?

    Also, if you have any recommendations or experiences, feel free to share. Thanks for the info!

  2. #2

    Default Renting Vehicles

    Just might want to consider about renting a vehicle to drive the haul road. Most rental companies don't want you to take their vehicles up that road. Also if you do, you may want to get atleast an extra spare tire, 2 total. I have never done that hunt but hope to be able to go do it one day. I just know that in Alaska if the Highway starts with a "D" rental companies tend to want to keep their vehicles off the road. Hope that helps.

  3. #3

    Default hope this helps

    It is just luck to find them migrating through, could be great one week then nothing the next.
    With the license you purchase you can hunt either bow or rifle. I am sure you have heard/read on the forum that the 5 mile hike is a b!t(h.
    Save you money, not enough wolves way up there to worry about, if you are just going to hunt them way up there.
    Did the exact same trip last year, pm if you have any questions.
    Just my $.02

  4. #4
    Member kahahawai's Avatar
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    I have been up there several times last year, I drew a moose tag for the area south of Cold foot last season, I went all the way to deadhorse and worked my way back for caribou. Never got a flat and never even got a chip in the windshield, Maybe that was just good karma but I always go prepared, two extra spares, and five cans of gas, and when you go prepared usually nothing happens. Saw a few Caribou north of Happy Valley but it was slow, its hit or miss on Caribou, the time you are thinking about going around mid-late July you might intercept the herd, and yes they will be in full velvet! That herd can be unpredictable last year some hunters shot caribou just past Atigun! which is unusually far south for them. Pretty much the only two animals for you to hunt is Bou and Black bear, I can almost guarantee you will see a couple blackies! Moose is draw for all that area along the Dalton corridor, If You go way up, look along the Sag river, thats where the bulk of the herd usually cross. I would not waste buying a tag for wolf , especially if you are sticking to archery, its tough to get one, I have seen wolves but they are very skiddish, but if you are planning on doing a 5-mile hike with rifle, then you might consider. The big thing is if you are planning this hunt seriously with your spouse then you need to decide for sure if you want to hunt archery or rifle, doing both can eat up 7 days real quick, I have done that the first time I went and that Undecisive factor kicked in, and when I'm bow hunting, I'm not too keen on leaving my rifle in the truck unattended, and vice versa, leaving my bow and truck unattended for several days when you are doing a five plus mile hike in with rifle. Overall in Alaska no hunter will mess with another hunters property, campsite, etc. but in mid-summer up the Dalton theres a lot of other visitors other than hunters that travel and there have been a few minor incidents. I should have PM you this but thought this might help any others thinking about doing the trip...Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, you will see single lane road construction probably right before the Yukon river, its usually about a 30-40 minute wait....K

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joey Rott View Post
    This hunt has always interested me. A DIY caribou that you can drive to, going to the Arctic of Alaska. But I have also read a lot of mixed reviews, with most of the negatives being hunters driving the road back and forth on the road, looking for an easy caribou crossing the road or next to the pipeline.

    Here is my "initial" breif gameplan. My wife will be hunting with me. We both hunt hard and feel we're up for the challenge. We will fly up to Fairbanks, and rent a vehicle to drive up north. I understand that many rentals will not allow you to drive on the Dalton Hwy, but I have found a few which will. With roughly a 14 hr drive, we should arrive to the general area of the caribou. I'll plan 7 days to hunt.

    We haven't decided on whether we want to archery or rifle hunt(beyond 5 mile buffer). Our preference would be to archery hunt, but depending on what the pressure is by the road along with success rate vs going 5 miles in and rifle hunting, we may be using the rifle instead. We also plan on doing some fishing and making it a vacation by soaking up the scenery.

    I do have some questions though,

    1. I'm looking into a July/August hunt...mainly for warmer weather and a chance of getting a bull with velvet. Are there any week timeframes when you should see more caribou than other times?

    Like some of the others have said, Caribou are a crap shoot. If you can stay in the field seven days, they will find you eventually. One thing you should remember though is that earlier means bugs and lots of them

    2. Is the Caribou tag specific to the weapon, or could we bring a bow & rifle, and decide later on how we want to hunt? (We are both archery certified) And are the seasons the same?

    The tag is not specific to the weapon.

    3. Is it worth buying a wolf tag in the caribou areas? Think we'll have a chance at seeing one?

    I have been up there about 10 time and have only seen wolves once and that was a fly in to the Canning river.

    Also, if you have any recommendations or experiences, feel free to share. Thanks for the info!
    Here is the bottom line. GO FOR IT! If you really want to experience the tundra then I would recommend flying in. Walking on the tundra is very difficult and five miles can feel like 15. I would recomend not hunting along the road as there are a lot of people who do it that time of the year and it is dangerous. Those truckers running the hall road don't have a lot of room and people are always pulling over to chase Bou. This is just an accident waiting to happen. There are a few private guys that operate up there that will fly you in about 10 miles for about $150 a trip. It is money well spent. If you really want to do it on foot by rifle, plan on only shooting one caribou between the two. Lastly if you are willing to cross the sag on foot and walk about a mile in you will be all alone. Most people are not willing to walk that far. You could take your bows, likely see lots of bou and would probably average a couple of stalks a day. People on here may try to talk you out of coming, but don't listen its just a game everyone plays.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    Agreed 5 miles is a long hike up that way go with the bow and hike in a ways you'll be away from the crowds and not have to kill your self to get a shot. August will be buggy so don't forget the deet and ya might want too get a bug hood.

    Good Luck
    Rick P

  7. #7
    New member Joey Rott's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info. It sounds like the 5 mile hike would be plenty tough. And that the mid-late August would be a better timeframe, instead of July.

    There are a few private guys that operate up there that will fly you in about 10 miles for about $150 a trip. It is money well spent
    Sounds like a great idea. Can you recommend any individuals? Feel free to PM me. Thanks again for the info.

  8. #8

    Default HAul Road hunting

    I have hiked and hunted past the 5-mile corridor on a number of occasions, and it is not for the timid, weak-willed or out of shape. Walking through that tundra on those muskegs is torture. As I have said on here before, I equate it to trying to walk across a field of hairy bowling balls. The tops of the give with you, and if you are unlucky enough for your foot to go between a couple, it is usually full of frigid water, or you run the risk of breaking a leg. Walking a mile is bad, but 5 is brutal. It is more than tough.

    Good luck, but be prepared for the worse and expect it. If it doesn't happen, and you have a good trip like someone on here did, it is a fantastic journey.

    Be wary also in that area for grizzly bears. They are fairly aggressive up there, and certain times they do concentrate between Slope Mountain and Atigun Pass, moving into their denning areas.

    The most important thing to remember about that road is that is is an industrial road to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay. It was not intended, nor is ir suitable as a touristy trip. Many large trucks will be on the road, and some are hauling loads not legal on most other roads in the nation, and if you impeded them or meet them in a blind corner, you could be seriously hurt or killed.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  9. #9
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    I wonder if snowshoes would help walking across the tundra...
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ak_powder_monkey View Post
    I wonder if snowshoes would help walking across the tundra...
    negative.. but i'd love to spend 15 minutes watching someone trying.. hahaha.....

    Try to walk along the tops of any ridges to avoid as much saturated ground as possible. Also, footwear with excellent ankle support is a must.

    I wonder, if you were to camp a few miles off the road, are there areas where there aren't as many tussocks? (I think that's what they're called, all the bumps). How would you camp if the ground were covered with tussocks?

  11. #11

    Default Dalton Highway corridor

    There are areas that are barren, as on ridgetops, but nowhere I have been was open for any distance. It is tough, regardless of where you try it, and 5 miles is more than most think.

    Remember, this is what motivated those Elmendorf retards to try to drive their trucks across the corridor to their downed caribou last year (The so-called Tundra Trucks). Walking it once is a heck of an accomplishment. Doing it multiple times to retrieve game is torture.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  12. #12
    Member akndres's Avatar
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    No amount of adjectives can describe what a five mile hike is like on tundra (not to mention with a loaded pack). This is something you will have to gain your own appreciation for. Does it suck??? you bet. Should that hinder you from trying it??? Absolutely not. You cuss yourself while your doing it, but when it's done, it doesn't seem as bad as it actually was at the time. Then after a year goes by, you talk yourself into thinking "It wasn't THAT bad", and you do it again..... It's like a right of passage.

    Why not do a two prong attack. Take a rifle you and the wife can shoot effectively. And if you can effectively shoot her bow (take it too), then you are covered from the Dalton to Russian on one side, and Dalton to Canada on the other.

    Another trick possibly--- take a small plastic sled (you know the sturdy plastic type with the rope to pull them). Load your meat and what-not on it. Sometimes it can be easier to pull a load than carry a load. Plus it can slide down the hills. Might sound crazy, till you see someone else doing it, and your carrying a 100lb pack.
    "The rich... who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own excellence, these are the real enemies of game".... Theodore Roosevelt's A Principle of the Hunt

  13. #13

    Default no sleds

    Tried the sled trick on the tundra, It didn't work for us one bit, If you are going to try using a sled, don't put too much weight on it. I think it is hard enough trying to walk, not to metion pulling a sled through and over the tussocks. IMO

  14. #14
    Member akndres's Avatar
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    exactly Longrange

    it just depends on how the land lays in the area your hunting. Doesn't hurt to take it along just in case. Your right though... doesn't work every time.
    "The rich... who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own excellence, these are the real enemies of game".... Theodore Roosevelt's A Principle of the Hunt

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    Quote Originally Posted by futurerancher View Post
    There are a few private guys that operate up there that will fly you in about 10 miles for about $150 a trip. It is money well spent.
    Wow this would be great, does anybody know how to get a hold of these guys?

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    I PM'ed Futurerancher and ask him the same question. No reply. Maybe he is just talking. I think it would money well spent also. Does anyone know who will fly a couple a guys 10 miles out for 150 and then pick them up for another 150. Any help would be appreciated.

  17. #17
    Member akndres's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barko View Post
    I PM'ed Futurerancher and ask him the same question. No reply. Maybe he is just talking. I think it would money well spent also. Does anyone know who will fly a couple a guys 10 miles out for 150 and then pick them up for another 150. Any help would be appreciated.
    I've never heard of that service up there for that price.... doesn't mean someone isn't doing it though. With the amount of traffic that goes up there after bou every year, I would have thought this service would have been more publicized. Maybe it has been, and I've just missed it. Seems like that 10mile mark would get pretty crowded for that price.
    "The rich... who are content to buy what they have not the skill to get by their own excellence, these are the real enemies of game".... Theodore Roosevelt's A Principle of the Hunt

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    Default never hunted here before looking for tips

    my name is brady and i am looking foward to going on a caribou hunt with my father. we are planning on using a bow. does anyone have any pros and cons or tips for me and my father if you do it would be very much appreciated

  19. #19
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Brady - Spend some time looking through the bowhunting forum. There are loads of threads dealing with bowhunting caribou over there.

  20. #20
    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    If a "private" guy is doing it then that means he is likely operating without an outfitters license, and that is a BIG no-no in Alaska. A person willing to break one game law is often willing to break others, so I'd steer very far clear from that individual, unless he can show his outfitting credentials and commercial insurance.

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