40 Mile bou...
Well after an amazing summer and a lot of planning we left for the Steese around 8:30 PM the 28th. We had planned to hunt our butts off considering last year zone 1 closed the first day. I guess we learned a lesson that day about caribou migration spontaneity. Anyways we made it to our designated spot around 6 AM and had camp prepared and headed out by 7:30. We had 5 men and two atvs so we decided to split up, hikers straight into the mountains and four wheelers were going to explore their options. After a couple of hours of hiking I decide to hike up over the ridge 300 yards away and the others decide to eat. As I get close I see antlers sticking up over the ridge. Its amazing how your energy level sky rockets once your prize is in sight. Now this is where my schooling began... I only had my bow and my buddies both had rifles. I should have ran back and got them as back up but decided I could get one of the two larger bulls. But lets be realistic! I am a man, and I can get things done. Turns out I was wrong. As I crawled closer to the rim in front of me the wind switched up and the caribou went from 50 yards to 176. At this point I decide to circle around the top of the mountain and come up behind them. Ten minutes later I'm looking down from the other side and I witnessed my first disappearing act. They were gone. I searched everywhere for those caribou, but they were just gone! What a day! 12 miles of hiking, and a botched stalk.
Day 2 was even worse. I hiked over 14 miles (Not always smart, but I prefer to hunt by myself) and didn't see a thing!
Now day 3 was different! At least the ending was. This time I stayed with my hunting buddies for most of it and hiked about 7 miles with about 3 or 4 miles on the wheeler. Once again we didn't see a thing. I have never felt so defeated. The other guys hadn't seen a caribou yet and the 5 I saw might as well have been ghost. So we returned to the truck and as we were packing up we met a man named Richard and his wife Diane. What a blessing! I had been praying for a break for three days, and did God provide! Richard informed us that the hotline update reported the herd moving at a fast pace toward our location. I looked at my buddy Matt and he gave the nod so we went to check the ridges south east of where we were. We jumped on the wheeler again and left the others to see what we can see. After three miles we run into another hunter and he was telling us that a couple wheelers recently went by with a couple large bulls that they harvested. Now we don't usually like to put all our eggs in one basket butt when you have 4 hrs left on your last day, you tend to take more risks. In other words we headed back to get the others. We made it back about 1 mile when we ran into our other four wheeler Phil. After a quick talk the Phil and Matt decided to go back and gas up and return with the other two. And I decided to do what I do best. I hiked in over the next 4 ridges and over 6 miles and found the end of the rainbow. At 7:27 PM on that night I harvested my first caribou bull. I found it among a herd of 20 or so other caribou and although it wasn't as big as the bulls I saw the first night, I was every bit as proud as I would have been with a monster (or at least thats what I would like to think). Anyways I gutted, quartered, and hauled the boy up to the wheeler trail and finished as my buddies pulled up. Man what a day! Thanks Richard for that extra nudge! We had all but given up when you gave us that little bit of hope.
Here is the only pic I have of the boy. I was kind of in a hurry to complete all the dirty work and forgot to get a picture. And here is the Sunset we rode into with the bull on our backs. Or at least the four wheelers backs...