Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 27

Thread: Haul Road 5 Mile Rifle Caribou Hunt

  1. #1
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default Haul Road 5 Mile Rifle Caribou Hunt

    This year getting time off to hunt proved a bit difficult; I ended up missing sheep and moose season. I hadn’t filled the freezer in over a year, so my wife and I decided to make a run up the Haul Road to get a ‘bou. I took a Pope and Young bull a few years ago with my bow, so I was looking for either a whopper bigger than that or a small bull to get me through the winter. My wife doesn’t hunt, but likes to come along and help with packing, so we decided we’d do the 5 mile hike to get away from the crowds.

    Day 1

    We left Wasilla about 8:30 am, Friday, September 28th, after dropping off the dogs at the kennel. Traffic was light and we made good time. We did get caught in construction twice and had waits of 15 and 25 minutes before being escorted through by a pilot car. We had the requisite stops in Cantwell, Hilltop, and Cold Foot for gas.

    When I lived in Fairbanks we would drive up and hike out the same day, but the extra hours of driving from the Valley made us decide to spend the night in Wiseman and get a fresh start on the hike the next day. We spent the night at the Arctic Getaway Bed and Breakfast.

    It wasn’t much to look at from the outside, but was very quaint on the inside and a welcome place to crash for the night.







    The owners, Bernie and Unta, originally from Germany, were great company in the morning and Unta cooks up some amazing sourdough pancakes for breakfast. I would not hesitate to recommend them and their home to others.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  2. #2
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    Day 2

    After breakfast we headed over the pass. There was plenty of snow, but overall conditions were very good because of the exposed gravel from trucks using chains.



    A friend of mine had been up the Haul Road a couple weeks prior and said he saw most of the ‘bou he stalked behind Galbraith Lake. Another friend had driven the road a few days earlier and said he saw them and milepost 44, 60, and 120. We decided to start our search behind Galbraith Lake.

    We left the Jeep and headed out light, just to scout. After crossing two small ridgelines we were at a point where we could glass from about 4 miles out to almost 10 miles…and there was not caribou to be found, except for one scrawny one hanging around the Galbraith campground. A couple hours of hiking wasted, but it was better than packing our entire camp out there.

    Next up we stopped to check the Solid Waste Transfer Station. I’ve hiked out from there three times before. We glassed for about a half an hour and couldn’t locate the ‘bou.

    We hit the flat area at MP 119 and saw several trucks pulled to the side of the road and guys with bows all racing like it was a fire drill…a sure sign we were in the right area. A couple minutes of searching and we saw a nice-sized heard of about a hundred just west of the pipeline. It looked like overall the herd was headed south, so we made the decision to head a couple miles south and start our hike in.

    We evaluated a couple of areas for parking and hiking, settling on the pull out at MP 126 where the pipeline crosses the road. We were excited after seeing the caribou and anxious to get out there, but concerned that it was already 5:00 pm and we had a few hours of hiking.

    We followed the pipeline about a mile and that got us ľ a mile from the road. From there we took the valley bottom until we were 2 ˝ miles from the road. Our plan was to camp there and hike out another 2 ˝ miles every day for the hunt. We figured we would pack our ‘bou back to camp and then have a shorter hike the next day to get back to the road. It was almost 9:00 pm when we finally found a suitable spot.

    As were setting up our camp, we had our first, let’s call it a “situation”. We realized we hadn’t eaten since breakfast and had drank very little water. Once some of our tasks started to involve a little bit of thought, we realized we were suffering from a bit of dehydration and low blood sugar. Things like pitching the tent and installing the liner became very difficult. I’ve experienced stuff like that in some of the more physically demanding military training I’ve been through, but it always amazes me at how it can sneak up on you. We took a break, had a snack, and got back at it.

    When I’ve bow hunted the Haul Road later in the season I’ve used my Arctic Oven, but because this was a backpack hunt I brought along my Kifaru Sawtooth and TiGoat stove. I packed out three Duraflame logs to use as fuel for the stove. The tent did very well and the stove made it down right warm when it was going.



    For sleeping accommodations my wife and I used a Big Agnes Cabin Creek double sleeping bag rated to 15 degrees. The bag had pockets on the bottom for inflatable pads, in which we used Big Agnes Dual Core pads. To insulate us from the ground we used Thermarest Z-lite pads and to prevent moisture transfer we put a GI poncho down on top of those. I was concerned the bag would not be warm enough because I’ve never used a sleeping bag that is actually comfortable at its rated temperature. As a precaution we brought along Hill People Gear serapes, which I especially like because they have so many potential uses. On this trip we used them as sleeping bag liners and also as an insulation layer while glassing for ‘bou. The temperature difference between inside the serape and only inside the sleeping bag was amazing and I would estimate it at a good 15 degrees. With temperatures in the low teens at night my wife and I were actually warm, including our feet, using the serapes inside the Cabin Creek.

    In the middle of the night I woke and found the stove out. That was when we had our second “situation”. I tried to light the logs with the brand new long-nosed lighter, only to find out it was out of fluid. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. Luckily I had a backup lighter for lighting my cooking stove, but the old adage of two is one and one is none meant I didn’t want to spend more than another day in the arctic with a questionable ability to produce heat.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  3. #3
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    Day 3
    We heard a lot of movement near our tent during the night. We awoke to caribou tracks going around our camp and this on a nearby hillside:



    The only problem with the above picture is that they were inside the 5 mile corridor. But it sure was encouraging to see them heading towards our camp.

    For this trip I gave Hawk Vittles a shot as an option to Mountain House. I definitely prefer them over MH with one excpetion—the package needs to have a ziplock on top. It was frustrating filling them up with water, clipping them with a clothes pin, and still having them spill sometimes. Despite that, we had a very satisfying HV breakfast and headed out to the 5 mile mark.

    For packs my wife used a Kifaru KU 5200 and I used a Kifaru Longhunter Hauler with a load sling. I had the Gunbearer on mine and was really pleased with how well both packs worked out.

    The weather was excellent. It was lightly cloudy and got to about 30 degrees during the day, with a light breeze that actually felt good while hiking.

    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  4. #4
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    We had just gotten to about where I thought we were 5 miles out. I pulled out my Garmin Oregon GPS and verified we were 5.03 miles to the nearest waypoint on the road; I marked several waypoints before heading off the road because the GPS’s placement of the road is actually a little off. I told my wife we could start hunting and she very calmly says, “There’s ‘bou.” I looked up and saw this:



    They were about a half mile away and heading towards us. We had one small valley we could use as cover to close the distance, so we took off at a double time pace. As we approached the next crest I peeked over and saw there were still coming. I looked around and low and behold there was a huge snow-covered rock 50 yards away that would make for excellent cover and a great shooting platform. We snuck over to it and got in position.

    I pulled out my Blaser R8 in 6.5x55 and rested it on my pack on top of the rock. I got out my range finder and ranged them at 607 yards and closing. We put our earplugs in and got ready.

    I looked over the herd and saw two decent-sized bulls, but nothing near what I was looking for. I decided to look for a meat bull. I picked out a big-bodied bull with an unusually small rack. He had a small shovel, bez that were only spikes, and tops that made a very small arc with few points. This guy genetically was never going to be somebody’s trophy, so he was going to fill my freezer.

    The herd closed to 300 yards and I got down on the gun. They stayed tightly bunched, so it was a matter of waiting for my bull to separate himself. They kept coming and I kept ranging. Every time I would adjust my Leupold 3.5-10x40 scope’s BDC turret, until I saw my bull pull away from the herd at 227 yards. I made my scope adjustment and settled the cross hairs.

    Something startled the herd, probably our scent, and they started to move quickly. I squeezed the trigger and heard the pleasing thump of my 140 grain Sierra Game King striking him. The bad part was he was trotting when I shot and I hit him a little back, but slightly quartering away. I was sure I caught liver and one lung, but it was also likely I caught some stomach.

    The herd stopped at the shot and moved around in circles, trying to figure out what was going on and where the threat was coming from. I had to wait several seconds for other ‘bou to clear and saw my bull wobbly on his feet. I waited a second for him to drop, but he didn’t. I put another round into him that ended up hitting the heart and taking out the off-side shoulder.

    The site of the kill ended up being 5.31 miles from the road. Another rifle hunter (I know, unusual) showed up to congratulate us and verified his GPS said it was 5.4 miles to the road.



    After a couple of hours of field dressing we were headed back to camp. I had ACL and meniscus surgery back in January, so the pack out was a good test, which my knee passed with flying colors…and a little bit of swelling. The pack back to camp was just under 3.5 miles, which we made in 3 hours.

    Normally I wear hiking boots with gaiters, but my wife suggested we wear rubber knee boots since we were going to be doing some scouting into areas we weren’t familiar with the water conditions. We crossed several small streams and I lauded her idea…right up until the pack with meat on my back. The boots lacked stiff support in the arch area and my feet flattened out while hiking, which caused a good bit of discomfort. I think I’ll still wear them when bow hunting the Haul Road, but for rifle hunts I’m going back to hiking boots.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  5. #5
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    Day 4

    We awoke and began the process of breaking down camp. I was pleased to see the meat had frozen solid the night before.
    We each took two loads back to the Jeep, but I was fortunate enough to take meat both times while she took the camp.

    Looking back on the hunt, I can’t believe how lucky we were. We had good weather, a good camp, and good sleeping accommodations. We found caribou our first day hunting and we found them right at the 5 mile mark. It sure felt like someone was looking out for us on this hunt.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  6. #6
    Member tboehm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Soldotna AK
    Posts
    2,407

    Default

    Thanks for sharing your hunt with the rest of us and I would have to agree that the good lord was blessing you greatly. Congrats on filling the freezer.
    Semper Fi and God Bless

  7. #7
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Posts
    4,670

    Default

    Now that sounds like a nice weekend away with the wife! Congrats on your fine caribou and a good hunting trip.

  8. #8

    Default

    Way togo....thnx for sharing....

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,956

    Default

    Great story. Hiking the 5 miles is not an easy task. Congratulations on the success. Do you think a small sled to haul meat back would of worked? Just a thought.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Homer, AK
    Posts
    29

    Default

    That hunt sounded like a lot of fun. Congrats! And what a neat story to be able to share with you wife too. I like the pictures as well!

  11. #11
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
    Posts
    9,749

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill S. View Post
    Great story. Hiking the 5 miles is not an easy task. Congratulations on the success. Do you think a small sled to haul meat back would of worked? Just a thought.
    From the looks of it a small sled may have been a great way to go.....

    Congrats and thanks for the write up Kay9...!!!
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Wasilla, Ak
    Posts
    3,908

    Default

    Great story... You did it right most guys throw camp up on the road then walk in 5 miles

  13. #13
    Member Matt83's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Chugiak, AK
    Posts
    441

    Default

    Good story and some sweet pics! Good idea on setting up camp 2 1/2 miles from the road, I would have never thought of that and packed all my crap the entire 5 miles. If I ever get up there Ill now have to stay at that same bed and breakfast so my wife can sprechen some Deutsch with her fellow krauts lol.
    "The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
    Thomas Jefferson

  14. #14
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
    Posts
    9,749

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by 323 View Post
    Great story... You did it right most guys throw camp up on the road then walk in 5 miles
    Indeed..... I found out real quick that if you shuttle meat short distances you can pack all day. But if you try and take a heavy load a great distance, you are usually done in from the first trip....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  15. #15
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill S. View Post
    Great story. Hiking the 5 miles is not an easy task. Congratulations on the success. Do you think a small sled to haul meat back would of worked? Just a thought.
    I took a sled when I shot my bull a couple years ago. There was less snow on the ground then and the tussocks actually made dragging the 'bou more difficult than packing. This year I thought I would go without the sled, but we ended up having more snow. I think this time taking a light weight UHMW sled would have been perfect.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  16. #16
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    A note about my weapon:

    My Blaser R8 is stupid accurate, which inspires a lot of confidence. Mine has the 23" barrel in semi-weight contour with flutes. It's a bit heavy compared to most sporting rifles, but I find the weight is made up for in its accuracy. The barrel also has the optional iron sights.

    I shoot 140 grain Sierra Game Kings. I handload them with H4831SC to 2790 fps. Both of my shots were complete pass throughs. Both shots had some blood shot meat on the exit from hitting bone, one shot hit a rib and the other hit a shoulder, but nothing I would consider any worse than other premium bullets I've used. I know the SGK is just a plain old non-bonded cup and core bullet, but at the velocities I'm running it works very well.

    My scope is a Leupold VX-3 3.5-10x40. I like 1" scopes on the R8 because I get a good cheek weld with them. This one has the custom BDC turret and I verified it's range markings are accurate out to 400 yards, but the turret goes up to 600 yards.
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

  17. #17
    Member bushrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Now residing in Fairbanks from the bush
    Posts
    4,363

    Default

    Thanks for the writeup and pics, great to see folks doing the five mile walk in. Congrats on putting up some winter meat!

    One question; have you tried burning willow up that way in lieu of carrying duralogs? Either way, great setup you have to keep warm.

  18. #18
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage Alaska
    Posts
    4,835

    Default

    We burned willow in a kifaru large stove on our Brooks hunt this fall. We had some rainy/snowy days (4 or 5 of 10). The willow worked, ie. it burned. It doesn't burn hot. You have to keep stoking the stove. It also leaves a lot of ashes.

    It is very difficult to get cooking coals going that will last long enough to cook bou tenderloin not to mention for cooking the ribeye steaks we brought in to camp - we did get it cooked though - and yes, it was very good.

    The willow was better than no wood at all. We were able to dry out some clothes that would have been misserable if we hadn't. It also took the chill off while we were holed up in the tipi during the snow/rain/fog days we had.

  19. #19
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage Alaska
    Posts
    4,835

    Default

    I did take quite a bit of homemade firestarter with us, and I also took a quart baggie of charcoal briquettes with us. Ended up burning the briquettes in the stove instead of using it for the firepit steak cook. They definately helped make coals in the stove and helped to keep the sometimes wet willow burning.

  20. #20
    Member Kay9Cop's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Wasilla, AK
    Posts
    789

    Default

    I've used charcoal coals, but I've heard you aren't supposed to use them because of the off-gassing being harmful. I considered willow, but figured it would mostly be live, with little to no dry brush. I looked around as we hiked, but couldn't come up with anything I thought would give a good burn.

    Bushrat, I take it you burn willow?
    "Beware the man with only one gun; he may know how to use it."

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •