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Thread: Alaska Caribou Info

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    Default Alaska Caribou Info

    Hi- first time posting on this forum so excuse anything that is out of place, etc. I am enjoying reading the forums.

    I am planning a unguided/drop fly out caribou hunt. Specifically I am looking for information about hunting caribou based out of North West Alaska (Kotzebue for example) vs. North Eastern Alaska (Happy Valley/Dead Horse for example)..... specifically about the similarities, differences, pros and cons, logistics, terrain, weather, your personal experiences if you have hunted both areas, etc.

    I have looked over the maps, herds, seasons, etc but would like to hear real world / hands on experience if anyone is willing to share.

    Thanks in advance!

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    Member ak_cowboy's Avatar
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    What time of year, how much are you going to spend, and are you going to be with someone else (resident or not) or solo?

    Western Ak will be a little cheaper, since you can fly straight to Kotz and then to the field. Up north will require you to fly to Fairbanks, then drive for 5+ hours to Happy Valley/Deadhorse, and then fly from there.

    The Haul Road Caribou will tend to be a little smaller body size.

    Have you looked at the 40-mile herd (RC860)? Fly out of Fairbanks/Tok/Delta Junction for 30 minutes and they can drop you right on the herd. Call the Fairbanks or Tok Fish and Game for more details on that.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    To be fair, a 5 hour drive from Fairbanks won't get you anywhere near Happy Valley, probably won't even get you to Coldfoot. We give ourselves a minimum of 10 hours to get to Happy Valley under the best of weather and road conditions.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    You can fly to deadhorse on Ravn Alaska from Fbks or Anch. Talk to the transporters who operate out of Deadhorse or Happy Valley.
    The unit 23 bou bag limit for Non Res. is 1 bull. Kotzebue is unit 23.
    Unit 26B, Deadhorse area, bag limit for Non Res is 5 caribou, bull or cow.
    Both areas are extemely weather dependant since your using aircraft.
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    Thanks for the info. Will be with 1 or 2 other non-residents. Waiting on 3rd guy to confirm. As far as budget goes its flexible but not unlimited. Flight to Alaska from east coast, transporter cost, rental vehicle to happy valley or additional flight to Kotz, license and tags... It's going to be around 5k not including shipping any meat home, etc.

    We are interested in early to mid August. Works best for family.

    Have looked at most all the transporters whether out of Kotz or Happy valley. Definitely going to an area that allows more than 1 caribou. 2 is plenty. Long way to travel to for a single tag.

    The ride from Fairbanks to happy valley is actually appealing. Would love to see the scenery and some of Alaska. Appears from research that it's about a 10 hr drive. Rentals are not cheap but booking now keeps the price down.

    I have considered 40 mile air as they appear to have an impeccable reputation. Haven't seen a bad word about them in all the years I have known them. Last I checked they were a 1 caribou area. That's a downside for me plus their policy of repeat customers first then opening up after Dec 15th I believe for any remaining open spots.

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    It appears caribou season out of Kotz area is Sept. Hunts out of Happy valley are August into early Oct. Is this accurate? Does this have anything to do with the migration?

    Is the August season / hunts it if Happy Valley before the caribou are migrating? It read somewhere they are "staging" that time of year.

    Thanks again for everyone's input.

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    Sorry.. Been referring to happy valley and meant Deadhorse.

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    Something else. For the transporters out of the Deadhorse area... Wheeled planes vs. float planes. Any opinions or hands on experience with there being an advantage to the float planes due to their ability to land on lakes which could possibly result in better hunting ?

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    With all due respect, many of these questions can be answered by careful research. I would recommend doing that first, then checking the forums for recommendations on specific charters and other commercial services. Have you reviewed our CARIBOU PAGE? How about our Alaska Hunt Planning section? That section was written specifically to walk you through the steps in planning your Alaska hunt. It might save you a lot of trouble.

    That said, there are two ways to get to Happy Valley, for most folks. First, drive the Haul road north from Fairbanks. Second, fly commercial to Prudhoe Bay (Alaska Airlines has multiple daily jet flights to SCC), and arrange a ride from Prudhoe to Happy Valley and back.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by millard123 View Post
    Something else. For the transporters out of the Deadhorse area... Wheeled planes vs. float planes. Any opinions or hands on experience with there being an advantage to the float planes due to their ability to land on lakes which could possibly result in better hunting ?
    Typically, a float charter will haul more weight. Cub charters on tundra tires can put you more places but most charters have very tight weight limits to do so.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    I guess you get to the point where you read so much that wires get crossed!! Deadhorse and the Happy Valley to is about 80 miles south... Same thing in regards to this thread!!

    Not the happy valley below anchorage!!

  12. #12

    Default Alaska Caribou Info

    If you hunt out of Kotzebue I would suggest mid to end of September or you could be flying a long way out to get on animals. 3 years ago we went the 2nd week in sept and had to go almost 2 hours out. Last year we went the end of sept and were 45 minutes out. It all depends on when they move. Whatever you do be prepared for bugs and ever changing weather.


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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millard123 View Post
    It appears caribou season out of Kotz area is Sept.
    Wrong! Bou for unit 23 non res is Aug.1 - Sept 30. Plain as day in the regs. If you want to hunt an area with a bag limit of more than 1........drop Kotz/Unit 23 from your planning now. The other hub that hunters can charter out of for Bou is Bettles. I think there are 2 transporters there and both have a Beaver. See the thread started by Gilliland 440 for a hunt out of Bettles.
    From all the questions your asking and the trouble you seem to be having interpreting all the data........maybe you should look at ponying up the bucks for a hunt planner. Strahan is one and the other well known one is Pristine Ventures.
    Good Luck.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Default Alaska Caribou Info

    Never mind..

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Wrong! Bou for unit 23 non res is Aug.1 - Sept 30. Plain as day in the regs. If you want to hunt an area with a bag limit of more than 1........drop Kotz/Unit 23 from your planning now...
    MT, the GMU 23 regs have changed since his hunt. In fact, they just changed this summer, from two caribou to one bull for nonresidents. Season dates changed too.

    It appears that caribou have not been crossing the summits of the Brooks Range on their southward migration until much later in the season, the last few years. I think this is why millard123 had to fly so far to find them. This pattern has been developing for a while. Good point on going out of Bettles, but of course you're going to want to go to the Central Arctic Herd then, over in GMU 24, however that is limited to one bull for nonresidents too. North to GMU 26 it is. Much longer season and up to five caribou for nonresidents. I would not generally recommend a charter out of Bettles for that hunt, because you have to fly through the Brooks Range to get there, and fall weather issues can leave the passes socked in. Better to charter out of Happy Valley.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  16. #16
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    MT, the GMU 23 regs have changed since his hunt. In fact, they just changed this summer, from two caribou to one bull for nonresidents. Season dates changed too.
    It was dvarmit who had to fly farther out of Kotz to find bou on his early sept. hunt. Millard has not hunted yet if I read his posts correctly. He is planning his first hunt I believe and thus having problems digesting the large amount of info. My statement you quoted was to counter one made by Millard.
    Pay attention, Millard. Each time Mike Strahan chimes in his company name, web address, and phone no. are at the bottom of his post. I recommend talking to him.............except I would recommend you DO check out a hunt out of Bettles!
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Millard, you have plenty of time to figure it out and in the end here's what's waiting for you at the end of a well planned hunt! There is nothing better to lay in a tent along a river at night listening to wolves sound off. Watching a sow smack her cubs around and herds of caribou coming over a ridge.




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