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Thread: My First Caribou Hunt.

  1. #1
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    Default My First Caribou Hunt.

    So, to me, It felt like seeing a football for the first time and deciding to go straight to the Super Bowl. Yeah right-

    This last weekend was a first for me in many ways. First time Bow hunting, caribou hunting, first time on the Dalton, First time above the Arctic Circle, first time meeting some really good friends.

    We set the hunt up on this website, DakotaBoy, his buddy and co-worker Travis and myself. I first posted that I wanted to try Caribou hunting before I retired out of the military. I am a combat medic, 8 years in the Army. Was injured in 2009 that lead me to needing brain surgery, long story short I felt I have rehabilitated enough to keep pushing the envelope. A little brain surgery was not going to stop me.

    DakotBoy first contacted me to set the hunt up, we swapped contacts and traded plans for logistics and overall it seemed to work out pretty well. If it was not for Dakota's experience. I probably would have been... well you know.

    I originally planned to rifle hunt off the Dalton, didn't have an IBEP cert. so I was going to deal with it expecting skis or snowshoes would do just fine.... THANK GOD I DIDNT. I somehow managed to squeeze into the last IBEP course offered at ADFG 3 weeks ago and qualified on a bow I had only shot for 2 days prior.

    Once we figured that I didn't have to go 5 miles off, I practiced shooting everyday for 3 weeks. Almost to the point of muscle failure....EVERYDAY.

    I spent about $200 on some new cold gear, buddy heater, gasoline, gloves, socks and some other things specifically for the hunt. Dakota planned to use his buddy Travis's truck since he had the chains and studs on the tires.

    They picked me up early morning Saturday, took us about 10 hours to get north of Atigun (in the dark) during the Winter advisory storm that just blew in and is still coming through. Needless to say, driving through Atigun pass at night during 40-50 mph winds and white out conditions was huh, lets say I could almost taste the leather my ass was sitting on. Super pucker factor 5.

    We made it through and it was unbelievable how gorgeous the weather was on the other side. There was hardly any snow since the wind had blown it all away. Pretty much what I was expecting.

    We set up camp near the airfield just by Gailbrath Lake, was really happy we had an Arctic Tent and stove to keep us warm.

    Somehow we all forgot to bring coffee, so we were slow to wake up, but we got out on the Dalton somewhere around 0930.

    I believe we were incredibly lucky to spot caribou within the 1st 15 minutes of the hunt. We spotted about 20+ caribou on the East side of the road about 100 yards past the pipeline. We made a stalk using all 3 of us, but they were clearly shy of us. We learned quickly that the stalking method was going to take some skill that we needed to hone REAL fast.

    Throughout the day we saw probably 15 more small herds between 10-30 caribou. One herd was particularly big but they always seemed to be grazing in a spot nearly impossible to stock.

    One stalk, I got within 40 yards low crawling for almost 2 hours, It was a cow all by herself. Some how she got spooked and it took off away from me. Im positive she never seen me.

    About an hour later on a separate stalk, Dakot and myself found a small herd with some decent size caribou. They were briskly moving in one solid direction so Travis dropped us off about 500 yards down from the direction of travel. We got into position and I kid you not 3 massive trophy worthy bull walked right by us at about 30-40 yards. Now here is where my inexperience comes in. 40 mph winds, on my first time ever hunting. Was the first time I ever drew on a living being, I felt pretty **** calm and tried to tune out the massive size of rack on this beast head. I shot and my arrow just spiraled away coming no-where near. The bull saw me, actually stopped and started walking to me. Had to wait for it to turn back to broadside. Shot another one. same thing. Mind you my arrow is traveling directly in the crosswind. Missed again. The small herd picked the pace up by this time and I managed to get another shot off on a separate moving bull that walked in the same path yet again, missed. Only had one arrow left in my quiver. and by that time the herd had moved on far beyond my capabilities. Lets just say the walk back to the truck was a long hard walk.

    I got one more chance at another herd, a small bull but I decided not to shoot and just film it, while Dakota shot. He was SO CLOSE to connecting but that wind was ruthless.

    At the end of the weekend, we had a super fun time. I learned allot and most importantly made 2 very good friends. We swapped military stories and somehow figured out all 3 of our wives were quite similar to our hunting hobbies. For the fact they hated us leaving all the time to pursue wild game. Unless, we returned to fill the freezer. Well, we didn't. all we have is memories a few pics and a friendship that will last longer than any of the caribou which to me at the end of the day is what is most important.

    DakotaBoy- Thank you for everything. You and Travis were a great pair to go out on a first time hunt. I look forward to maybe doing the Minto cow/moose hunt.

    Also Stid- Offered me a lot of education and opened his doors to have me swing by to get some info and fill me in on the stuff to expect. I never followed through, due to the busy life but his caring did not go un-noticed.

    Everyone else. thank you for the information. I got tons of help where the Caribou were and things to bring. The overall atmosphere this forum provides was warm and helpful to our hunt. Thanks Again to all.

    -Curtis

  2. #2
    Member uh60baldwin's Avatar
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    Default

    Good to see you guys made it back I was in that last bow class with you I had the green jeep . I have been waiting to see if you guys got anything .

  3. #3
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Well, I would say that your hunt went far better than my first trip up that way. I had tag stew on the way home as well. I'm sure this was only the first of many more trips to come.

    Might have a look at trying FOBS, they are better than vanes in a crosswind. If you are wanting some meat, I'm sure I can spare enough to ease the pain and make that tag stew more palatable.

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  4. #4

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    Curtis,

    I tried firing a pm off to you before you left, I had some good info on where a lot of caribou were moving through right before you left. There were hundreds just north of Finger Mountain. I drove through on Tuesday and they were just moving into the area.

    Good to hear you enjoyed your hunt, and getting shot off is a lot better than most have been doing up there. Did you see any of the wolves chasing the bou around in that area?

  5. #5
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    Good write up and pictures. Sure looked like a fun time, better than working any day.

  6. #6
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    Glad you had a good time and a safe trip! I ended up not going up but look forward to maybe getting up there next year! Although I often seem to come back from hunting trips empty handed, the experience and memories are priceless. When it is windy up there though, bow hunting sure is a challenge!

  7. #7

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    Great write up!
    Thanks for the story and pictures!
    One day I'll make it up there to hunt.... I hope

  8. #8
    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    How do the wood stove pellets work? Good idea there I think.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    How do the wood stove pellets work? Good idea there I think.
    The wood pellets were great. Kind of a task lighting them, but once they start burning they get really warm. We had that stove crammed all night both nights and we still came back with half a bag. Super efficient, and hardly any ashes. I would recommend rather than toting a hundred pounds of wood.

  10. #10
    Moderator bkmail's Avatar
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    Curtis,
    Sounds like an awesome trip. Glad it all worked out for ya, regardless of the windy conditions.
    Bet you can't wait to do it again.
    Thanks for posting a follow up on your adventure and congrats on the retirement.
    BK

  11. #11
    Member shimano 33's Avatar
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    Cool pics thanks for sharing the story! Sounds like you have it all figured for next year. I also missed a nice bull on my first trip up (without the wind) So I know that long walk you described…

  12. #12

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    Curtis--sounds like an awesome trip!...great story and pics!! .... man, it looks cold up there!! sheesh!!


    ...what was the color or patten of camo you guys used?..white?...thanks for sharing! larry

    29' Wooldridge Pilot House, Twin 200 Hp Etecs! "...Pez Gordo..."
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  13. #13
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    I had my army over whites, pretty much why I was able to get so close. Dakota boy had the White camp which was actually perfect since there was allot of grass, shrub showing through the snow.
    can't blame it on the camo.
    Quote Originally Posted by bcriverhunter View Post
    Curtis--sounds like an awesome trip!...great story and pics!! .... man, it looks cold up there!! sheesh!!


    ...what was the color or patten of camo you guys used?..white?...thanks for sharing! larry

  14. #14

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    Just read your post. Next time well get one,but I would have to say of the previous four times I was up there I got more education on stalking them any time previously. There spooky as hell but with a little less wind getting one would of been a breeze. Let me know if you'll still be around I. Spring time well go for round two

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerod View Post
    Curtis,

    I tried firing a pm off to you before you left, I had some good info on where a lot of caribou were moving through right before you left. There were hundreds just north of Finger Mountain. I drove through on Tuesday and they were just moving into the area.

    Good to hear you enjoyed your hunt, and getting shot off is a lot better than most have been doing up there. Did you see any of the wolves chasing the bou around in that area?
    No bou on that trip surprisingly first time up there this year where I didn't see any.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dakota boy View Post
    No bou on that trip surprisingly first time up there this year where I didn't see any.
    I meant no wolves not bou

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