I just finished up talking with a law enforcement friend of mine who has spent the last week flying patrols in the upper Noatak. He tells me that there are large group of primarily mature bulls coming through the Hunt River and through Howard Pass. Now this is way up the Noatak up near Gates and it is unusual because it is early but the groups were not the main herd by any stretch. The word is that there are groups of 25-35 animals in the upper passes (Howard Pass) and groups of 75-100 down near the Hunt and the Nimmi Rivers.
This is good new for any one who is heading up there. Most of the guys who come to hunt out of Kotz find themselves funneled into the Eilli, Kelly or Aggi Rivers where the numbers of animals are usually good but the numbers of camps are increasing. This places a lot of hunters, hunting right on top of other groups. My recommendation is to pony up for the extra trip and have your pilot take you above the No-Fly zone and you will have a better hunting experience. The fly time to get above the Canyons will be around 2 hours 1 way, meaning you will pay for 4 hours of flying time but your hunting experience will be better because there are far fewer hunting groups up there.
I will keep you posted as I talk to the pilots and keep in mind that when you hire a transporter you are paying the bill and should choose where you want to hunt. (Safety first though!) If you are leaving it up to the pilot to put you down in front the migration you are asking to get dumped on top of other groups. Do your home work and ask lots of questions. Being an educated hunter allows you to have a safer and more successful hunt.
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