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Thread: First Time Caribou Hunter-Advice Welcome

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    Default First Time Caribou Hunter-Advice Welcome

    I am from NC so hunting the north slope is a little out of my wheel house. I have been to AK twice camping/vacation but never hunting. My dad and I will be going on our first caribou hunt in 2016 on the North Slope about 50 miles south of Deadhorse. I would love any and all advice that seasoned caribou hunters and especially locals could give. Any suggestions on gear, weather, tips hunting caribou, and so on. My daddy will be rifle hunting and I will hopefully get it done with my bow. Thanks ahead for all advice.

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    Welcome to the forums! We think you are really going to enjoy this place.

    We have some great caribou information on our Caribou Page on the main site, which you can find AT THIS LINK. That page also contains links to books and DVD resources in our store that are of interest to Alaska caribou hunters. Check it out!

    -Admin

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    There is tons of information that could be helpful to you, and probably tons that probably won't help too much.... If you use the "search" feature and use terms that relate to your specific hunt, you will likely find some other threads that can answer a lot of question you have and probably some you didn't even know you had. It sounds like you are looking at a specific location. Search for "caribou" and the hunting unit number. If you are using a guide or a certain type of transport (fly in, float hunt, etc...) search those types of terms as well to narrow it down.

    One big thing that will help narrow things down is what time of year you are planning to hunt? Weather can change quickly up there and the extremes are about as far apart as you see across large areas of the US. Could be t-shirt weather one day and down jacket that night.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    A little more detail would be helpful-

    Which GMU?
    What month?
    Are you flying or rafting?
    Planning to camp near the Dalton and hike the 5mi out of the archery corridor?
    Backpack? Spike camp?

    The area you're talking about is enormous and there are several ways to approach it. The Dalton also has some interesting restrictions.
    Weather extremes can be 80F to 0F...in Aug. You will likely have rain and bugs in early Aug, Snow in Sept.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Read the bowhunting forum under hunting the haul road over the last couple years......should be plenty there to keep you busy. Sounds like you plan to use an outfitter on the ivisahk......
    BK

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    Warm weather = bugs bugs bugs
    I am serious... and don't call me Shirley.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by akiceman25 View Post
    Warm weather = bugs bugs bugs
    Don't take this lightly, bug nets AND some kind of bug spray are mandatory in my book, I wouldn't even step out of the car to take a leak without them.


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    Quote Originally Posted by limon32 View Post
    Don't take this lightly, bug nets AND some kind of bug spray are mandatory in my book, I wouldn't even step out of the car to take a leak without them.
    Do they made bug nets in that size???
    "Grin and Bear It"

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    Take the question of how you determine whether or not you are 5 miles off the road very seriously. The troopers are sticklers for it being 5-miles and they are flying around and watching. 4 3/4 miles will get you a ticket. And, the road winds a bit, so it's not 5 miles from where you leave the road, it's 5 miles from any part of the road.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tearbear View Post
    I didn't know that they made bug nets in that size...
    Oh yeah, the real kicker is cleaning them in the field!


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    I'm not an archery guy, so if you're on the haul road....different story, but if you're using a rifle, be very aware of your target and what lies behind. These animals get bunched up, and if you're not careful, you could pretty easily shoot more than one with a single shot. I'd suggest having one person on the rifle and another on optics spotting behind the one you intend to shoot. Then switch places.

    As noted above, there is a lot of information out there on caribou hunting. I do most of my searching from google and use the advanced search option. Once there, narrow the domain to forums.outdoorsdirectory.com

    Good luck!

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    Once you answer Hodgeman's Q's we can really help ya out. Way to many variables up that way..
    I think about hunting when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day. And I think about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm doing it. ~credit to Carl Yastrzemski~

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    After you do all the work to get there don't shoot the first one you see unless you are sure it is what you want. A pretty small caribou rack looks enormous compared to a white tail. I usually do the brown and down thing, but I am a resident hunting for meat. Along those lines, as mentioned innumerable times, rutty caribou is totally inedible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveintheburbs View Post
    rutty caribou is totally inedible.
    This is probably a good topic to expound on in this thread. I've probably eaten 40 caribou in my life, and I've never had the displeasure of eating a rutty caribou. I hear that they are awful. I've never shot a caribou that wasn't still in velvet. Is the presence of velvet a reliable indicator that the caribou isn't in rut yet, or that the flavor hasn't yet changed?

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    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daveintheburbs View Post
    After you do all the work to get there don't shoot the first one you see unless you are sure it is what you want. A pretty small caribou rack looks enormous compared to a white tail. I usually do the brown and down thing, but I am a resident hunting for meat. Along those lines, as mentioned innumerable times, rutty caribou is totally inedible.
    Back in 1978 I had two friends from the lower 48 come up to caribou hunt. they were going across the inlet to hunt the Mulchatna herd.

    my paring words were "Don't shoot the first one you see "

    They decided to carry one rifle as they were going to coin toss and shoot only the biggest one they saw. Here's their story. Within an hour of camp they spot about a dozen animals. looking them over Toby decides he's going to pass and hands the rifle to Ron. well, if it's not good enough for you he says, I'll pass also. The day goes on with hundreds seen. Finally Toby says "you know Ron, that was a HUGE Caribou we passed on this morning. Lets go back and see if we can find them. As luck would be they find them and Toby takes the biggest. A couple days later Ron shot a nice bull. When they get back to my house I said this is a book animal. as it turns out after the 60 day drying period it scores




    #13 in Boone & Crokett. I f anyone has a recent book could you look up Toby Johnson Sheridan WY and see where it stands today ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland on the River View Post
    ...#13 in Boone & Crokett. I f anyone has a recent book could you look up Toby Johnson Sheridan WY and see where it stands today ?
    Didn't see it at all in the 12th edition, which I think is the current one. They have about 850 Barren Ground caribou in there. Does he travel under a different name? Do you know the final score? It would be a cinch to find him that way.
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    Here's what we learned in our drop-off out of Happy Valley the year before last.
    Be prepared for anything from warm and sunny to snow.
    Thermocell, deet and head net - those white socks can be brutal
    If you are going on a drop off, rent a satellite phone just in case.
    Take ankle fit hip boats or something equivalent -the tundra is not really land at all and you will probably have to cross some streams.
    pack rod with some small spinners for grayling if you will be on a stream.
    small raft if there is a chance you will be on a bigger stream or river - can use to cross and also float meat back from upstream
    shotgun for ptarmigan.
    Get two tags each - that way you can put one down and then hold out for a big one.
    Be aware, they can be everywhere one day and then disappear.
    Cows have antlers too.
    Wolf tag - best $30 you will ever spend if you see one close.
    I am a bowhunter, but I would leave my bow at home on this one. It can be done but it is a lot tougher - that is some wide open country and those things generally don't stay in one place very long.

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    Member shimano 33's Avatar
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    Bfish made a good point on the bow statement. I was a diehard archery guy before coming to AK..I have learned to adapt and realized that trading the bow in for a rifle allowed me to take MUCH more game than I would have ever got a shot at with stick and string. You can definitely do the North Slope hunt with a bow and be successful. Just realize how much you can be decreasing your odds is all, especially if bou happen to be sparse. Best of luck on your hunt and be prepared for some etrordinary country.

    Mark
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    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Didn't see it at all in the 12th edition, which I think is the current one. They have about 850 Barren Ground caribou in there. Does he travel under a different name? Do you know the final score? It would be a cinch to find him that way.
    Thanks for looking Mike. as far as I know that's his only name. Anyone have an '80's book ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    A little more detail would be helpful-

    Which GMU?
    What month?
    Are you flying or rafting?
    Planning to camp near the Dalton and hike the 5mi out of the archery corridor?
    Backpack? Spike camp?

    The area you're talking about is enormous and there are several ways to approach it. The Dalton also has some interesting restrictions.
    Weather extremes can be 80F to 0F...in Aug. You will likely have rain and bugs in early Aug, Snow in Sept.

    GMU is 26 I believe
    Hunt Dates are August 25- Sept 2
    Fly in Drop camp
    Hoping to stick one with my bow but will have the rifle along for backup. Any suggestions for areas in this unit that might be easier to bow hunt would be welcome as well.

    THANKS to everyone for all the suggestions.

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