Caribou hunts for 2015
I am planning a trip to hunt for caribou this year from July 14th Thru August 17th. Unfortunately i do not have enough money to fly in anywhere so I was hoping for some advice on where I can hunt for caribou that has road access. I have a bow so any sensitive areas, like along the haul road, is ok. If anyone can give me some advice on good caribou hunts at that time of the year it would be much appreciated.
Get a copy of the hunting regulations. You can download it from the ADF&G website. Skim through each hunting unit for the section on Caribou and you will see what options are available. There aren't many without a permit, and even less if you are limited to the road system or reasonable access from roads. The only areas that I noticed when I skimmed through there that would possibly fit your conditions are:
Unit 16 - harvest ticket - season opens 8/10 (no idea if this is even a realistic option from the very little road access in the unit)
Unit 20 - registration hunts for the most part in fourtymile area - season opens 8/10 give or take depending on the area
Unit 24 and 26 - Dalton Highway corridor - Probably your best and most realistic option. Archery only area within 5 miles of the road.
Again, all the information is in the regs. Permit application time is well past for this year, so you are limited to those marked as HT (Harvest Ticket) or some of the ones marked RC (Registration Caribou). Note that it is too late to get in for RC566 in unit 13, so that is not an option.
I would look real hard at those dates! You are so early that you will have very few choices and all of the bou will still be growing horns for another 30+ days. The Dalton is about your only real choice and packing meat 5+ milled each way sucks big time!
Northwest Alaska Back Country Outfitters
Drop Camps & Float Hunts
I will second what Walt has to say and I'll even go one step further. From the way I see it the Haul road is your only option for those dates given. And with those dates given you are taking a big risk. I have been up the Haul road many times in July, August, and September and I can tell you that the caribou up there that time of year is very hit or miss. And mostly miss. If you were going towards the end of August it would be a different story. I have been up there in late July and early August many times. Most of the time the caribou will be few and far between at that time. One time I was up at Galbraith Lake in late July and a very large herd of about 500 caribou came through. But 9 times out of 10 that time of the year all of the caribou at that time will be clear up by the Arctic Ocean where the breeze keeps the mosquitos at bay. By the end of August they usually start to come down in good numbers and they start migrating into the Brooks Range following the Sag. If you get a cold snap in late July or early August you might get lucky, but I wouldn't bet on it. The other big concern you will have that time of year is meat care. It can get very hot in the mid-day sun. If you do get a caribou, you will have a challenge on your hands preventing meat loss. If you can swing it, I'd opt for late August/early September. Plus you can fish for big sea run dollies (some guys call them Arctic Char but they are really big dolly garden because they live in rivers) coming up the Sag by the end of August.
Thanks for all the information. I have been through all the possible hunts that I can fit in, in that time frame and will probably go with the haul road hunts. The reason for the time frame is because school starts around august 20th, so the latest that I can hunt would be around that time. I have also thought about taking the ferry to kodiak for the general season deer hunt from august 1st threw November. I wonder if that option is more realistic?
I hunted the Haul Road 4 straight years in college ('06-'09). We usually went up between August 10th and the 17th (roughly). The first 3 years we saw plenty of caribou and bagged a few (some with bows, some 5+ miles off with a rifle) in 2 of the 3 years. We saw plenty of caribou the year we didn't get any but couldn't get close enough for comfort to shoot with our stick bows.
The last year I went up in late July (wanted to try to get a 'bou before a sheep hunt) and we hardly saw any all week. We did a significant amount of hiking too.
Most of the bulls we saw in mid-August had well developed antlers but they were all in velvet.
I'd recommend the haul road. It's a fantastic trip with a beautiful drive and some decent grayling fishing along the way. Make sure you go well prepared though. There were a couple times that the fog rolled in so thick that we wouldn't have found the truck without a GPS.
I'll second this advice. As a teacher I can commiserate with having limited time to hunt. If all you have is early season options, go enjoy yourself and have an adventure. If nature smiles upon you, perhaps you'll find the area crawling with caribou. If not, the drive is spectacular and the grayling fishing can be pretty awesome.
Originally Posted by nwsak
Thanks for all the advice it was all very much appreciated. I think Im going to just go up there after the first week in august and stay till at least the 17th-18th. Now i just have to get everything planned out.
If you've never been up there it will be a great scouting trip anyway, well worth seeing! Put a CB in your truck!
Originally Posted by kszimin
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