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Thread: Hunting Caribou off Dalton Hwy

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    Default Hunting Caribou off Dalton Hwy

    I am planning a Spring Caribou hunt off the Dalton next year. I am planning to rifle hunt so I will be packing in at least 5 miles as per regulations. I am thinking of going in on snowshoes with an expedition sled. Any pointers or suggestions would be appreciated.

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    Member MNViking's Avatar
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    I don't think there are any real secrets to that hunt. Pull over every few miles or at high points and glass for animals. It will be obvious when you are in the right area. I also think it is smart to do it when the ground is still frozen and snow covered. I absolutely despise walking on that garbage.
    Finally, Brad Childress is GONE!

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    That 5 mile hike is a real ball buster for sure... I would try to talk a couple other buddies into going with you... You will just need to find out if the bou are around...

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    There will be at least 2 of us going but could be as many as 4 I do plan to go when there's still snow on the ground for ease of travel. I know this would be hard to answer but what is the percentage of bad weather to good. Good being cold and clear as opposed to bad high wind and low vis. during the months from March to May.

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    Quote Originally Posted by codwyguy1 View Post
    There will be at least 2 of us going but could be as many as 4 I do plan to go when there's still snow on the ground for ease of travel. I know this would be hard to answer but what is the percentage of bad weather to good. Good being cold and clear as opposed to bad high wind and low vis. during the months from March to May.
    You're asking for intangables that mean nothing - look at the progression of "spring" in SC. In recent history, this spring is a first.

    Count on the weather to be shi**y whenever you go.

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    Ya that's what i figured. i have been on plenty of back country hunts in Wyoming where I live but usually their is access to fire wood. I am thinking on this trip that i will have to rely on a gas stove for everything from cooking to drying gear, from the pictures i have seen not a lot to burn up their.

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    Bring a light weight titainium stove and burn presto logs. Bring an insulated alpine mountain tent if you have one and good well below zero bags. Backcountry touring skis with skins maybe a better option than snow shoes.

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    I have hunted off the Haul Road numerous times. Spring is as rough as it gets aside from the bugs if you get up there soon enough. The five mile hike in in early spring may be too soon for the caribou, depending when you go. As with spring here, the weather will always be changing. I have been up there and hiked out about three miles (Bow Hunter) under a clear day and have had the weather change in less than an hour to visibility being less than 100 yards at best. BRING A GARMIN GPS AND KEEP IT WARM (keeps the batteries from freezing up!). Always travel with a buddy. The muskeg out there is like walking on a wet mattress with bowling balls and holes with every step. A twisted or broken leg is a life or death sit five miles out. I also recommend a tent, stove, compact sleeping bag and bare neccessities to survive on for at least two days. Five miles out, a hunt, quartering down an animal and packing back in realistically takes two days, maybe three. Be prepared for rain, snow, wind, lots of bugs. I wear Frog Toggs in the back country. You will never go wrong with that. For spring, you will need muck boots, Skis or Snow shoes, depending on when you go. Personally I like the early summer and get away with tennis shoes or light weight boots.
    Remember, if fish and game stop by, five miles is to the road, not your trek!

    A quick story, two years ago, I went up there and hiked out three miles on a "Quick" day hunt. I left the camp site at around 10:00AM and of course, being a bow hunter, took my SWEET TIME! At about 5:00PM I was WAAAY out there! (Mid October) with snow on the ground, but only a few inches. The fog had really rolled in and visibility was several hundred feet. No worries, I had my Garmin all warm and safe.
    The sound comming over a hill got my attention. It sounded like a truck on a gravel highway. Perplexed, I took a knee. "I thought I am no where near a road, what is this noise?" Instinct told me to get my bow off my pack! I knocked an arrow and got ready.
    A huge herd of tundra donkes came running over the hill right at me! I set my sights for the huge bull, but changed my mind to a cow(I got to pack this out!) and let the arrow fly. At 70 lbs draw, the arrow hit solid through the lungs and passed through. The bou slowed to a walk and stopped, stood for a few seconds, staggered and fell. BOU DOWN!
    Now started the hard work; in almost now zero visibility. I quarteded down the bou(Get rubber fish fillet gloves!) and loaded up the pack frame. Being that I could only pack out the hind quarters, I GPS Marked my kill and headed out. I had to zoom my GPS down to 80 feet to regain my bearings in the fog and headed back. As I crested the hill, I stepped over a buried boulder and slipped, pulling a muscle in my leg. OOOOUUUUCCCHHHH!
    I attempted to continue on, but could not handle the weight of the frame. Again, I marked the location and limped back to camp to where my wife was waiting.

    About a mile in 10 degree temps, I kept hearing something behind me, but did not see anything. My sixth sense kept telling me something was WRONG! What to do? I kept limping and struggling on...
    As I continued to limp; lots of stops, I looked over my shoulder when I stopped and did not see anything. Hummmmm....
    Finally, I looked as I walked.
    Behind me a pack of atleast five wolves were following me, circling up behind and dropping down when I stopped, looking like a clump of moss. Wow, what intelligent animals!
    I turned back around and pretented to walk- limp again as I unholstered my hand cannon (460 Smith and wesson Mag) and again looked over my shoulder as I walked, this time noting the positions of the tundra dogs.

    They were in their circle pattern when I turned and administered a little lead poisoning. Five out and three down before the pups decided to leave me alone. Again I GPSed the site and continued on at a full limp!


    11:00PM came quick as I got sight of the trucks on the haul road and was sometime after when I hit camp. Earlier in the day, several Airmen stopped there and hiked out. One did not follow winter clothing guides and over heated and then was hypothermic. They could not get their deisel truck started and the wifey and I helped them to warm up, coffee food and a trip to get a generator, place to stay, ect.

    They volenteered to get my bou and all else. THe bou was gone. Only fur was left! Wolves got the rest

    In short, I recommmed EVERY safety precaution! ALOT OF THINGS COULD HAVE HAPPENED! SPRING IS THE WORSE!

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    That is some story. I am planning on doing this with some friends I would never go alone I was thinking of going in for up to a week and I figured it would take a couple of trips to get our stuff and any animals we have down out. I have heard the wolves can be troublesome up their. The reason why I was thinking about a spring hunt is because I want to travel when it is still frozen so we can use sleds and figured it would be easier to walk with the ground frozen I was up their at the Yukon river about 5 years ago in the summer and the little walking around i did told me I did not want to go very far in those conditions. I have a place in Tok where I keep a truck and all my Alaska gear and I am bringing more stuff up next month. And thank you Alaska Ray for your suggestions they have been noted.

    About 10 years ago my brother and I were hunting elk just a little S.E. of Yellowstone N.P. we were back packed in 14 miles at 9000 feet you could here the grizzly's fighting over gut piles at night kind of made the hare on the back of your neck stand up. Any way I had killed my elk the week before and we had packed it out 110lb packs for each of us all we brought out was the meat and the antlers and our rifles. Now we were back the first morning my brother took out early I was still in camp when i heard a shot that i know it was him, i assumed he had an elk down and i was making preparations when he came back in to camp and informed me he shot a Griz when he returned with fish and game and US fish and wild life protected spices and all they found another boar grizzly had ate the whole bear except the head and the feet they still did their investigation and it was determent the he shot it at 13 feet it was ruled self defense.

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    Watch for bigfoot too. Several sightings on the slope. No joke.
    Passing up shots on mergansers since 1992.


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    There is no shortage of willow up there in all the draws and creek valleys to use for firewood. I'd recommend skis over snowshoes if you x-country ski. Either way is typically pretty hardpacked most places in spring and you shouldn't be breaking through much on showshoes or skis. Definitely easy to get lost if the weather comes in, good to have a gps and know how to use it.

    Quote Originally Posted by archer1968
    I turned back around and pretented to walk- limp again as I unholstered my hand cannon (460 Smith and wesson Mag) and again looked over my shoulder as I walked, this time noting the positions of the tundra dogs.

    They were in their circle pattern when I turned and administered a little lead poisoning. Five out and three down before the pups decided to leave me alone. Again I GPSed the site and continued on at a full limp!


    And to archer1968, are you saying you killed three wolves, and those weren't retrieved? Did the other wolves eat them? Wonder what the airmen who went after your caribou had to say on that. Glad you got out of there in one piece.

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    Aside from the hindquarters, the wolves got the bou and the three wolves were gone as well.

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    I will take my GPS I will need to know for sure I am at least 5 miles and have some good maps of the area also I am a Merchant Seaman and hold an unlimited Oceans endorsement so i can for sure use a GPS good to hear about the willows too It is always good to be able to start a fire. Right now I am writing this from where I am working in Korea but I will be home on the 12th of June and I bought my plane tickets this morning to come up on the 17th of June I think I will try to take a drive up to see the area first hand to see what i am getting in to, I know it will be summer but i can at least see the lay of the land. i keep a truck parked in Anchorage that i can just hop in to when i arrive from the flight.

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    Default Some spring pics out on the tundra

    Some pics of the type of country you'll likely be getting into from late April and early May.

    Willow filled bowl a few miles east of Happy Valley:


    And vast expanses like this, about five miles west of Happy Valley:


    Until you find these guys <grin>:


    One last thought. I was really amazed and how deceiving distances are up there. Not used to wide open country like that. This last pic is taken three miles according to gps from the road, looking south toward the Brooks Range. You can see the Dalton and the pipeline and I could even hear the trucks from that spot. And best not to camp in the bottom of these willow draws, they will fill in with drifting snow pretty bad. But lots of dead/dry willow to be found for fires.




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    This stuff really helps thanks for the pictures. I know what you mean about wide open areas distances can be deceiving. I live in the High desert in North West Wyoming and i make my living on the open ocean. I hope i am thinking correctly that the country looks mostly flat fairly easy to traverse as apposed to
    backpacking in 14 miles over very steep country at over 9000 Feet

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    Well it is getting closer to spring and I am still on track to come up hopefully in April to hunt Caribou as long as the weather is good if not i will just work on my cabin and do stuff around Tok. I was wondering when do Caribou loose their antlers? I am still planning to go up north of the Brooks range I got all of my gear i will need up last summer and stored at my place so all I need is some clear weather

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    I shot a young bull in March up there with his rack still on. Most bulls have shed by then though. In April, if you see hard antlers, it's a pregnant cow. The bulls will be showing some growth of their new racks by then.

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    I hope i am thinking correctly that the country looks mostly flat fairly easy to traverse


    Hehe... nope!

    Lots of people say North Slope tundra is like walking on a waterbed filled with bowling balls. It's not quite that bad everywhere, but it's not even close to the flat cakewalk it looks like in some pictures. Maybe it's better in the winter on skis with deep well-packed snow. I haven't tried that. You can do the 5 miles but it's hard work.

    Also, I sell a GPS track for the exact 5-mile corridor boundary (see my signature) if you're interested in being able to find it with a quick glance at your map instead of calculating the distances on the fly.
    Jason
    http://www.troutnut.com -- Fly fishing photos & insect hatch encyclopedia.
    http://www.daltoncorridormap.com -- Exact 5-mile Haul Road corridor boundary for GPS & Google Earth

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    Thanks for the info I was afraid that would be the case with the antlers. I have to plan my trip for my time of I work in the offshore oil field and that is when i will be off I want to do this hunt when it is cold so the ground will be froze I will keep that in mind about the GPS I will drop you a line when I get home. Right now I am working offshore in the South China Sea I wonder if a late fall hunt would be better but I have heard then that when it is closer to the rut the meat on the bulls get rank.

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    I checked out you GPS app I will order one when i get home

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