A group of seven of us scheduled a fly out Caribou hunt with Arrowhead outfitters on August 26. Near mile marker 366, after a 20 hour drive, we arrive at their base camp. Their two Maule's are in a lake just a short drive north. Three of us in Grant's truck, Grant who lives in Anchorage, Bob from California and me. Since we get there on the 24th before the other 4, we set up our tent and get a good nights sleep. Next day, Grant who has his bow can hunt the road. The rest of the gang shows up and they soon have 3 cows and one small bull on the ground. These guys are all residents so they have multiple tags. Bob and I just brought our guns this year so we are assigned pack mules, ha. After some contortions about the meat to be left when we go out on the flyout, we get to bed late Thursday night.
Friday we (3) fly out to Heart lake and the other 4 are about 10 miles from us. We get camp set up in bluebird weather. We see a few cows right from camp, which is all tundra but a few rolling hills. The group that was there before we were had shot a couple cows right from camp and the carcasses were a couple hundred yards from camp. Grant has a grizz tag, I have a wolverine and wolf tag. Wolverine season wasn't until Sept 1 so I know the chances are slim.
Saturday morning is nice and warm too. We hike in different directions and see quite a few cows and calves. No bulls and really too hot to have meat on the ground. The group before us had ziplocked their meat and submerged it in the lake. Sunday was a little cooler but more cows and calves. Rain and fog started so we were hopeful a weather change would help.
Monday morning rain and fog so we got a late start. Nothing from three different ridges. We met back at camp and were having a discussion about calling for a move. Grant looks across the lake and spots some caribou. I have my binos on my neck and look, one cow and her calf. Grant looks again and said what about that bull? I look and sure enough, a pretty nice bull is in tow. Bob and Grant jump up and head out, which entails going about half way around this lake, which is about one mile by 1/2 mile. I strap my gun back on my pack and head after them. I glass the caribou and they are heading West, which means we have to go around the east end of the lake and then try to catch them from behind. I see this and holler at the guys that I am going to head back and try to head them off from this side. I am running about parallel with them and then I hear shots. Bob and Grant get within 450 yards and can't get any closer. The wind is strong and affects their shooting. After 7 shots out to 600 yards they quit. I am still humping after seeing the caribou all moving yet. Can't move real fast in that wet tundra but I finally get to the west end of the lake and the caribou are getting closer, as we are both gaining a little elevation away from the lake. Finally I am close enough and the caribou are picking up speed as they have seen me. I strip off my pack, unsnap my rifle and prop up the pack for a rest.
I am carrying my rifle with the chamber empty so I have 3 in the magazine. Rack one in and try to steady the crosshairs. Breathing too heavy and miss the first shot. Caribou still moving, cow in the way. Second shot same as the first. Now only one more in the mag, the rest in my pack. I double check the wind and I am mainly shooting downwind. Rack the third one in and really concentrate on steadying the crosshairs and touch her off. Down he goes!!! Flops once and that is it, whoooee. I scramble for more ammo and stuff two in. Watch for any movement, nothing. Check the distance at 288 yards. I am zeroed at 300 with the Remington 300 WM. Handloaded 180gr Nosler Partitions. Stock XCR II except for the newly bedded stock.
Slowly made my way to the bull and no more movement. He is in velvet but when he falls the velvet starts to peel. I stripped it off easily after we get him dressed out. We eventually get him back to camp, the three of us making it in one hard trip across that wet tundra!!
He is a nice bull, nothing large but was the only bull shot out of the seven of us. The other camp took 3 cows but saw no bulls. They all figured the migration was late this year.