Drove back from Prudhoe on Monday night/Tuesday morning. Saw lots of wildlife, much more than normal, and enjoyed the scenery. My main goal was to find a grizzly to stalk with my bow, but I only saw one on the trip south by Oil Spill Hill, but he was on the opposite side of the Sag and there was no getting over to him. He was a monster bear too, and was napping just off the bank in some willows. Would have been an easy stalk if I could have gotten over there.
Before seeing the bear, I had seen 2 wolves 50 miles south of Prudhoe about 500 yards off the road. One was considerably larger than the other. Along the drive down the flats, there were thousands of geese and ducks littering the ponds. A few musk ox were chilling around 30 miles south of Deadhorse. A second wolf sighting was right near Happy Valley. A lone grey wolf hanging closer to the road, but well out of bow range. He stuck around, but the season closes in unit 26B at the end of April so he was off limits.
The bear was the next sighting, and next to show themselves were about 150 caribou moving north by Slope Mountain. I saw a group of 30-40 heading towards a large hill and they were moving into the wind, so I found a pull off, got geared up and hiked out to the hill. It wasn't long after I got set up that the first bou appeared over to the side of me at 30 yards. A few more came over and got slightly downwind and nervous of the stench in the air. One came around to the top of the hill right next to me, so I sent an arrow right through her. She dropped in her tracks with a lung/spine shot. I waited to see if more would press over towards me, but they broke camp and headed off. After an hour I had the bou back to the truck and decided to try another stalk. One lengthy stalked didn't pan out, so I elected to keep heading south.
Heading south through the foothills was slower going with some rougher roads. It was nearly midnight when I reached Atigun as I spent some time glassing sheep and looking for a grizzly in the flats south of Pump 4. I was chugging along thinking about stopping to sleep as I was nearing the DOT station south of Atigun. I looked down to the left, and just off the road, about 30 bulls were marching along just off the edge. I did a quick U-turn in the driveway to the DOT station, got out ahead of the herd and hid myself in some willows. The herd passed by at 20 yards, and I held off for the 4th bull as he was a bit bigger body size then the first few. A 20 yard shot hit him in the boiler room, and by 12:30 I had the guts out and was pulling him into the bed of the truck.
I drove slow to Coldfoot, looking for bears, but no more sightings. Just a bunch of ptarmigan and I finally laid eyes on one of those large hares up there. Dropped a $100 bill off in exchange to top off the tank, and kept going as I wasn't too tired. I got south of the Yukon, and around MP50 at 3:00am'ish, I pulled into an area where I had done some predator calling this winter (with no luck) and pulled out the sleeping back on the back seat to get some winks. Around 4am I was rotating, and for some reason woke up and peeked outside. I caught movement through the spruce, so I got up and put my shoes on. I got out of the truck quietly, and soon noticed a wolf headed towards the truck. I grabbed my bow since he was still creeping in, and as he moved through a small stand of scraggly black spruce, I drew back. He stood broadside about 30 yards out, but there was a little brush in the way. I figured it was then or never, so I let the arrow fly and watched the arrow deflect off a branch and disappear into the woods. The wolf ran out about 40 yards onto the edge of the lake, so I grabbed the .243 and let him have it. By 4:30am the wolf was in the back of the truck and I was back to sleep. I woke up around 6:30-7:00am and had to look in the bed of the truck to confirm that the wolf kill actually happened. I pulled him back out to take a quick picture (included an arrow to remind me how close I was to finally getting a bow killed wolf), then took a shot of the three critters in the bed of the truck and proceeded to finish the drive back to Fairbanks.
A few moose sightings and plenty of grouse along the highway, but no bears seen on the drive south. Pollen clouds were being created with the heavy winds just north of Fairbanks, and I rolled into Fairbanks around 10:30am. We processed the two caribou Tuesday night, and I skinned the wolf out. Nice to have everything in the freezer already, and some fresh meat in the freezer this time of year. Fun drive to and from Prudhoe. Burned 67 gallons of gas, no flats, no rock chips, but brought home plenty of mud. Thought it was pretty neat to shoot 3 different animals in 3 different units in the span of about 8 hours.