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Thread: Areas to stalk caribou

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    Default Areas to stalk caribou

    So just some background info before I ask my question...I hunted caribou off the haul road last fall and we had a great trip but I was disappointed in the opportunities with my bow. We had guns along but I would have liked to have been in more stalkable terrain so I could have went after them with my bow. So I am looking for a different area to try (not until fall 2014) that has stalkable terrain where a guy can get in longbow range of a caribou. I have looked into the brooks range flying out of bettles but I'm not sure if that will be much better than where we were hunting last fall. Sounds like a lot of that area is open tundra. I have also looked at the 40 mile herd ad I think that may be a little better but I have not been in that area so I don't know what to expect. I am willing to put in for a draw area, do a fly in hunt...whatever is going to be my best opportunity. I'm not looking for anyone's hunting spot, just a general idea on which herd/area would be the best for a bowhunter wanting to crawl in on one.
    Thanks for your help.

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    Member northernalberta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_w View Post
    So just some background info before I ask my question...I hunted caribou off the haul road last fall and we had a great trip but I was disappointed in the opportunities with my bow. We had guns along but I would have liked to have been in more stalkable terrain so I could have went after them with my bow. So I am looking for a different area to try (not until fall 2014) that has stalkable terrain where a guy can get in longbow range of a caribou. I have looked into the brooks range flying out of bettles but I'm not sure if that will be much better than where we were hunting last fall. Sounds like a lot of that area is open tundra. I have also looked at the 40 mile herd ad I think that may be a little better but I have not been in that area so I don't know what to expect. I am willing to put in for a draw area, do a fly in hunt...whatever is going to be my best opportunity. I'm not looking for anyone's hunting spot, just a general idea on which herd/area would be the best for a bowhunter wanting to crawl in on one.
    Thanks for your help.
    If I understand you correctly you are asking about locations to caribou hunt that are more wooded, brushy or rocky. I'm no expert but my understanding is they winter on the south side of the Brooks Range, which is more brushy/wooded and if you dress in pure white you'll blend in in the snow that time of year. There's a good book on caribou in Alaska by Larry Bartlett, I believe.

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    Thanks for the reply. I will check that book out and see what I can find. I'm looking to do an early hunt preferable since work doesn't allow me to be gone as much in September. So just wondering if there are any herds that are better suited for stalking with a bow. I know the mulchatna herd was really good in the past but has dropped off a lot over the years.

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    The Nelchina herd comes to mind.
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM2K7sV-K74

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    Just have to get drawn. The unit 13 caribou can often be found in terrain more friendly to stalking.
    Bunny Boots and Bearcats: Utility Sled Mayhem

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    In open country, it's relatively easy to call a caribou bull into bow range. Use the same technique you would use for snow geese.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    In open country, it's relatively easy to call a caribou bull into bow range. Use the same technique you would use for snow geese.
    Electronic calling and a couple thousand decoys? I kid of course but I am interested in what you mean.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colonel00 View Post
    Electronic calling and a couple thousand decoys? I kid of course but I am interested in what you mean.
    Yep.......I have to say that I don't think I'v ever heard of calling in bull caribou, if I have I sure don't remember.....so I'm curious as well.....

    Actually, I do remember some waving white rags or something along those lines....???
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Just lie flat, raise your hat on the end of your bow or rifle, and wave it slowly about twice, lower it and then wait for the bull to walk toward the mysterious movement. When he stops, give it a minute, and then do it again. You'll probably be quite surprised at how close you can call him in . . . . . Have a little patience with it.

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    Grizzly
    I am going to try this and report back this fall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly 2 View Post
    Just lie flat, raise your hat on the end of your bow or rifle, and wave it slowly about twice, lower it and then wait for the bull to walk toward the mysterious movement. When he stops, give it a minute, and then do it again. You'll probably be quite surprised at how close you can call him in . . . . . Have a little patience with it.
    Ok yes......that is what I'd heard as well. Can't say that I ever tried it though. Good for a bow hunter to know for sure.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    The trick to getting caribou in close is to get out of your sleeping bag and toss on you warmest jacket and camp shoes on. Next grab your roll of charmin and head off to find a good rock to hang a cheek off of. Guaranteed the moment you set your rifle out of reach, slide your pants to your ankles and bare your hind end to the world the biggest bull you will see on the trip will pop up within 50 yards to take a peek.

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    I am sure that the waving a rag up in the air tactic works, but hunting with a longbow and having an effective range of only about 25 yards I don't want to head up to the tundra and rely on that working to get them in close. I would rather just stalk in on them using cover. I looked into the nelchina herd but as a non resident it isn't an option. How is the 40 mile herd for stalking?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt_w View Post
    I am sure that the waving a rag up in the air tactic works, but hunting with a longbow and having an effective range of only about 25 yards I don't want to head up to the tundra and rely on that working to get them in close. I would rather just stalk in on them using cover. I looked into the nelchina herd but as a non resident it isn't an option. How is the 40 mile herd for stalking?
    The trick to longbow hunting for caribou is to pattern their movements and locate an ambush point. Caribou have interdigital scent glands between each of their hooves, and they deposit a scent trail when they walk. If they're on the move, other herds will tend to use the same path. Watch them a while and you can find a place that might give you the close shot you require. Yes, you can do it on open tundra; there are always terrain features that will aid you, and of course you need to use full camp.

    I have tried the white flag method one time. It didn't work, but it's something to remember. Game bags are great for this purpose.

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    Perhaps hunt them in the mountains or along flowing water where you can use cut banks as cover. Caribou are not shy about climbing up and sitting on high windy ridges that keep the bugs at bay.

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    I'm a completely inexperienced bow hunter and I was able to get within 70 yards just last week, just by watching which way the small herds were moving, and then driving a half mile further up the haul road and hiding behind a hogback and just waiting. Still not close enough for me to land one. But I probably could have gotten even closer, with enough time and patience. I wouldn't give up on the open tundra just yet. I'm giving it another go for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    The trick to longbow hunting for caribou is to pattern their movements and locate an ambush point.

    -Mike
    Exactly....even while hunting with rifle, there were a number of times where I could have almost reached out and touched some caribou. If you find where they're headed, pull up next to a bush or lay in a low spot on the tundra, and have patience.....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    I have been hunting up there for years, those flat open plains are a true killer to stalk and to be honest I dont even try, I look for caribou that are hanging in stalkable terrain and pass on the ones I deem impossible. Pattern there movements is a great idea and use what terrain you can, my opinion you must use terrain because cammo really doesnt hide you well .

    I did see a guy use a fan with streamers he set in in ground and whacked a few, those caribou seen the movement and v lined right to it. good luck its fun up north to hunt them get away from road there is alot of stalkable terrain up there

    I hunt with a recurve and stalked a few bou in the 15-30 yrd range

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    Thanks for all of the replies. I think I have narrowed it down to flying our of Bettles to hunt the south side of the brooks or hunting the 40 mile herd. Has anyone out there hunted both of these herds? Which would you say is more bowhunter friendly?

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    Maybe your problem is "stalking" them. The easiest way to hunt Caribou is to watch them and figure out where they are headed and get in front of them and ambush them as mentioned in previous posts. Of the 3 I've shot on the Haul Road with my bow ive not stalked a single one, i figured out where they were going to walk and i ambushed them there. My shortest shot was 10 feet and longest about 25 yards. The other was 22 yards. Patience is the key. I've tried the white flag deal, I snuck into 100 yards and ran out of cover. I waved my white shirt for just a second and the "sleeping" caribou went on full alert and went crazy, it did come to within 85 yards before taking off. Might have a difficult time finding the Western Arctic Caribou herd in any large numbers on the south side of the Brookes in August.

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