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Thread: Howard Pass

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    Default Howard Pass

    We are heading out to the Brooks Range for our first caribou hunt unguided....Howard pass area. What will be our succes rate? Will we see game this time of year

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    Default Howard Pass

    Howard Pass is a good choice for early season bous. The animals stream through HP on their way to the wintering grounds in unit 23. All will depend upon when you are going up to hunt. We are having very warm weather right now and this usually means that the animals will hold up on the North Slope until the weather turns nasty and pushes them over the Brooks Range. If your hunting late Aug I would guess that you will see few animals but they should be better in early September. I would start praying to the weather gods for some cooler weather because it is mid summer right now in Kotzebue!


    Walt
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    Default Howard Pass

    Leaving Sunday to the Brooks Range...Howard Pass area. First time caribou hunter and unguided. What is the success rate?

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default No offense, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spider1957 View Post
    Leaving Sunday to the Brooks Range...Howard Pass area. First time caribou hunter and unguided. What is the success rate?
    Spider,

    I don't know where to start with this one... No offense intended, but this is information you should have uncovered months ago when you researched the area... Did you research this area, or is a charter operator just dropping you in there? You are leaving in two days and you don't know your prospects for success in the area you're hunting? Do you have maps of the area? Have you called the ADFG area biologist for that unit?

    You mentioned that you are a first-time caribou hunter. The fact that you are asking questions like this two days before your hunt makes me wonder if you know much about the animal you're hunting either? Do you know that the cows have antlers too, and that in many areas you cannot shoot a cow? What do you know about caribou hunting? Nothing wrong with not knowing, but asking these kinds of questions two days out is really scary.

    Be careful out there! Please let us know how it went.

    Again, no offense intended, I'm just flabbergasted. Most folks are asking questions like this in Febuary or so. What if we said, "slim to none"? Would you go anyway, or would you cancel your hunt?

    -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
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Default Howard Pass

    Mike, thanks for the honest reply. Yes, I have done all my homework and had Larry with Prestine Adventure coordinate the trip over 15 months ago. Last I heard from Bettles field is the weather is hot and the animals are still on north slope.

    I was just looking for some positive reinforcement.







    the
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Spider,

    I don't know where to start with this one... No offense intended, but this is information you should have uncovered months ago when you researched the area... Did you research this area, or is a charter operator just dropping you in there? You are leaving in two days and you don't know your prospects for success in the area you're hunting? Do you have maps of the area? Have you called the ADFG area biologist for that unit?

    You mentioned that you are a first-time caribou hunter. The fact that you are asking questions like this two days before your hunt makes me wonder if you know much about the animal you're hunting either? Do you know that the cows have antlers too, and that in many areas you cannot shoot a cow? What do you know about caribou hunting? Nothing wrong with not knowing, but asking these kinds of questions two days out is really scary.

    Be careful out there! Please let us know how it went.

    Again, no offense intended, I'm just flabbergasted. Most folks are asking questions like this in Febuary or so. What if we said, "slim to none"? Would you go anyway, or would you cancel your hunt?

    -Mike

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Spider1957 View Post
    Mike, thanks for the honest reply. Yes, I have done all my homework and had Larry with Prestine Adventure coordinate the trip over 15 months ago. Last I heard from Bettles field is the weather is hot and the animals are still on north slope.

    I was just looking for some positive reinforcement.

    the
    Spider,

    Okay, that helps a lot. No offense intended! Your question was worded in such a way that it appeared you were asking a basic question about your chances of harvesting a caribou in the Howard Pass area. Put that way it seemed as if you were conducting basic research just before launching your hunt; research that should have been done months ago.

    I have heard good things about your hunt planner, but I don't know what information he supplies to his hunters. That said, I am happy to assist with whatever I have on such short notice. Unfortunately a call to the area biologist is of course out of the question between now and Sunday, so you're going to have to rely on user reports from folks who have been up there in the last week or two, and the ramblings of guys like me who may or may not be of any use to you this late in the game. I will try.

    As you probably know, caribou move around quite a bit, so wherever they were two weeks ago may mean nothing today. Generally, the area you are talking about should see migrating caribou moving from the north slope over the Brooks Range about this time. Are you floating, or is this a drop camp?

    If you are attempting to float the Nigu / Etivluk system, or perhaps the Ipnavik or any of the several other tributaries that drain north into the Colville, I would expect very low water this year, for starters. I realize that this says nothing about game movements- I'm getting to that. Extremely low water means you should probably hold your fire until you pick up more water farther downstream. That would be my advice. Otherwise you will have to portage your meat AND your boat through those shallow sections (unless we get some rain VERY SOON). At any rate, caribou should be starting to think about moving south, and if they do you will have them coming upriver as you descend. In that case I would shoot what you can while you can. You never know when you'll run out of critters, and the migration up there typically moves in pulses of animals, instead of a steady stream.

    If you are hunting the Aniuk, the Alatna, and so forth, which drain off of the south side of the Brooks, you could expect to have caribou following you downriver, if they have started migrating. In that case, you can take more time to be selective. Still, you may have low water to contend with there too, until you decend far enough to pick up some more water in the form of tributaries.

    If you are drop-camping up high near the passes of the Brooks, you might find some caribou bulls that spent the summer up high. That's often the case with caribou bulls- bachelor groups in the high country during summer, then as the migration comes through the bulls join the herds and head south. I have drop-camped just below the passes through the Brooks and done quite well in mid August. Your timing might be perfect, as far as that goes. And you won't find a finer eating animal than an August caribou. Remember that groups of bulls often hang together during migration, and are as likely to be in the front, middle, or end of the group. Some hunters mistakenly assume that the big bulls are always found at the end of a herd. This is not always the case. Be careful if you're dealing with a herd, too. It's easy to shoot through one animal and wound or kill a second or third one behind it. Make sure your animal is in the clear before you shoot. One of the challenges of hunting caribou at times is making sure you have a clear field of fire. I've had to let many a bull walk away because I couldn't take a shot without hitting another animal.

    The temps up there have been running in the upper 30's on the low side, with highs in the low 60's which is great for keeping meat cool, and for hunting in general. For perspective, our low temps in Anchorage have been roughly ten or fifteen degrees warmer than that of late.

    I would be at least slightly concerned about being just a bit too far east for my liking if I were hunting the Western Arctic Herd. If it were me I would prefer being closer to the Nimiuktuk or perhaps the Kuguroruk, to really hit that herd dead center. But then you would probably have more hunting pressure over that way (to the west of the area you're looking at).

    Well, I'm out of time. I hope this is helpful. I wish I had time to give you more details; I know you must be excited about this hunt. I would suggest you consider at least two caribou tags per hunter. If you've never seen caribou in the wild, you're in for a big treat. But their outlandish antlers may throw you into fits of antsy buck fever. If you're not careful, you'll shoot what you think is a big one, then the real bulls show up. Keep in mind that you can never outwalk a caribou, or catch up with them when they are even just walking along at their normal pace. Take your time, pattern the critters for a while. They have interdigital glands beween their hooves, and one herd will follow the scent trail left by previous groups. Watch them a while and then make your move to intercept them.

    Hope it helps! Please post photos when you return, okay? Good luck!

    Best regards,

    -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
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  7. #7
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default More info

    Walt mentioned that it's still really warm up north. I would listen to that- he lives there and would know. But understand that this is the time of year when we change from summer to fall to winter. In the Arctic, that can happen within about three weeks! Okay, I'm exaggerating, but one or two weeks is all you need to see completely different weather patterns up there. I will say that that last few years have been unseasonably warm, and it looks like this year will be the same.

    Hunt high and hope for the best.

    -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
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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