Well, by now some of you have made the trip to Kotz and this report is of no value, sorry! Lets take a look at what is happening in the Unit 23 area!
The weather has improved a bunch in the area and most river are getting back down to near normal levels. Keep in mind that Sept is monsoon season in NW Alaska and you should expect wet sloppy weather as things cool down and the area slides into winter conditions. The eastern edge of the unit-Wulik and Kivalina Rivers are still above normal and hunting in both rivers is tough. Very poor river conditions and not many good places to put a plane down on. We had a moose hunting group pull a nice sized bull out of that area (58 inches) last week but very little caribou movement.
The Kobuk River is just starting to receed but there are still very few islands in the lower section much above water. Caribou numbers are good below Ambler and that is the norm for this time of year. The Squirrel River is just starting to see small groups of early bulls and small groups of cow-calfs working in to the drainage. The reports from the pilots show better numbers in the upper section above the North Fork near the split between the Eili, Aggie and Squirrel Rivers. The upper Omar near the upper air strip is also seeing nice numbers passing through. I would opt for the upper Omar or Timber Creek right now, the higher the better.
Noatak. The area above the Nimmi and Cuttler is seeing very nice bands of bulls. We have the majority of our groups in this upper section and they are tagging and bagging good bulls.
Sept. 15th is coming and it does not look like the NPS will open the lower section any earlier. The Eli and Noatak flats will be a zoo because they are close to town and the package services will hammer them for sure. Ask your flight service where you are going before you go wheels up. If the name is the Noatak Flats or the Squirrel expect other camps to be close. Ask to get a quick fly around so you can see who/what is down there. This is a big unit and there are lots of good places to hunt without a crowd. Quality of the hunt is what is important... and bulls to!
Have a back up plan. Most flight services will have a primary and a secondary drop site. Talk with your service about the options. It is your money, why not have some input!
Time to get busy boys! Most of out caribou groups will be in the field in the next 7 days. Something to think about... Next time consider a later hunt! In years gone by we had all of our guys out of the field by Sept. 25th but with the warmer weather we have a number of drop hunts going out in late Sept through early Oct. We still pull our float hunters by 9/25. Nothing worse that getting froze in when you are on a float hunt!
Good luck and let me know how your hunt goes!
float hunts and drop camps