Wisconsin resident planning Caribou hunt
For the last few months, I have become pretty fascinated with the idea of hunting in Alaska. Most of my hunting experience comes from deer hunting in Wisconsin or Michiganís Upper Peninsula. I generally go with a group of two or three friends, and we try to find spots at least a four hour walk from any roads in order to avoid other hunters. After that we will camp in that spot and hunt from nearby.
Iím looking to do something similar to this in Alaska and am looking for help getting started. Iím planning on going in September or October. Iím pretty comfortable with camping and backpacking in the cold, and I am aware that if I go in October, this will be a factor. Iím mainly interested in solving many of the unique logistical challenges that come with Alaska.
We are looking to spend a week or so hunting and our main goal is to go the week without seeing anyone else. If the hunt is successful and we shoot something, itís just a bonus. My goal is to do the trip for less than $800, (Not including airline tickets). To accomplish this, I realize we will have to forgo a guide, which is why I figure Iíd better start planning now.
- First, I have decided that I am looking at hunting either Caribou or Black bear. Any suggestions on which would be a better bet for a first timer in Alaska would be appreciated.
- The Noatak preserve (just west of the Gates of the Arctic National Park) looks like a beautiful area that would give us a good chance at avoiding other hunters. What would be the cheapest way to get there? For example, is there airline service to a nearby town or would a privately chartered flight be the best way to go. Even if I could get near the outskirts of the preserve, then walk in for a day or two, I would be happy. This would probably be cheaper than chartering a float plane as well.
- Logistically, it may be easier to fly to Fairbanks, then drive north, park somewhere and walk a few days rather than to relying on a chartered flight, especially if weather is an issue. Would I still have a good chance of going the entire week without seeing other hunters this way?
- Any equipment I may need that someone from the Midwest may not have thought of. I have been backpacking for quite a while so I have all the basic equipment, but Iím wondering if there is any equipment needed that is a unique requirement to Alaska that most people from the CONUS donít think about.
- I have quite a bit of time left to plan till then and plan to read every bit of reading material I can get my hands on. Any good books on the subject would be appreciated.
- Any other general suggestions would be appreciated.
is not going to cut it, at least not for what your wanting. Walking is a bad idea, the only place your going to do that is along the haul rd and that is a brutal walk!!!!!!! You can fly out of Happy Valley for that much, but your not going to be all by yourself. You need to double your budget if you want to get away from the crowds and have good success
In that case, what are some possibilities that may work within this budget. Keep in mind I'm planning on dividing all costs (except the liscence of course) between 3-4 people. I will be able to get free air fare on any airline, so airline tickets are not an issue. In that case, I would fly as close as Alaska Airlines could get me, to allow for as short of a flight as possible by chartered aircraft.
Otherwise, renting a car from Fairbanks, driving 4 or so hours and then walking a day or two may be the way to go.
I have done this trip several times and I am in Wisconsin also. If there is anyway I can help send me a pm.
On the Cheap
Your not going to drive 4 or 5 hours from Fairbanks and get to caribou, its more like 9 or 10 hours. Caribou hunting from Anchorage will be at least $1200 per person.
Yes you can walk off of the Haul Rd. There are some that do it each year, ask anyone here that has done that before, theres no way to discribe how hard it is!!!!! Ducktape basketballs to a bed matress then put a 100lbs pack on your back and then try to walk on it. Walking on tundra and tusaks will be the most difficult thing you will have ever done.
You must go at least 5 miles one way to hunt with a rifle. Figure one trip in the 5 miles with camp, then you shoot a bou, it will be at least two and more likely 3 loads to get your bou and camp back out to the road. Do the math. Your looking at 20 to 30 of the hardest miles you have or will ever do. Ive done the 5 mile death march before and will never do it again!!! Remember you must salvage ALL the meat and pack it out
There's a outfit that runs hunters up the Sag to the Ivishak via air boat, not sure what they charge, (you wont be alone). Then there is the flying option, that will cost at least $500.00 per person. You have a better chance of getting away of other hunters, but no gaurentee.
Both of those options will have to be done by early Sept because those services start heading south by mid to early Sept.
Consider Commercial Flights
Dear Cheese-Head :-)
Ex Yooper typing to you. There are some places int he State that offer Commercial flights from places like Dead Horse that are cost effective however your timing is off by a month if you wish to know more about it P.M. me I do not like to share over the public forum concerning those places :-)
Unit 20 does have some ops for you check out the regs on line:
Akhunter02 is spot on about cost concering what you wish to accomplish on the figures you provided. When you ad up the cost of tags alone you limit your monies to a walk in unless you wish to fly commericial as stated above in August maybe the first week of Sept.
Renting a car and driving north of Fairbanks 4 hours will put you at the Yukon River Bridge which does have ample Black Bear but no Caribou and Late Sept and Oct will be Winter or at least starting that time of year. Look to Finger Mountain area if you still plan on walking in. IBPE will be require anything with-in 5 miles of the Haul road so gun hunting will require a fun walk.
If you apply for None Res Tags Caribou Alaska Range and get drawn you might be able to accomplish your hunt in Sept by walking in and that would put you in the price range. You can fly with Wrights in a 206 as a group to several locations however no hunters will be difficult becuase of Moose Season. There are also registration hunts for None Res in Unit 20 however most are limited and end by 30 Sept.
Early - Mid Sept you could accomplish a walk in for Black Bear just about any place along the Chulitna River System or you might consider a drop off by Mayah's River Service if they have a transporter cert which I am sure they might have off the Telkeetna or Big Su rivers lots of bears looking for the last meal early Sept to Mid Sept.
I will stop the rambling.
If you wish some more data shoot me a P.M.
Blue Moose Rafting Sales & Outfitting
You can always put in for the DC001 caribou hunt during the spring drawing. The success rate for the drawing is about 14% so its not the best. However, if you get it, it would be a lot easier to do it for your $800 budget. The only way to get into there is hiking ntil the snow flies. There is/was and outfitter that will take you there on horses but most walk or wait for the ability to use snow machines. The chance of being alone in late August early September is fair, although there were 250 permits this year. Just a thought on how to make it with your budget.
So here's the problems it looks like I have right now along with some possible solutions that I was hoping for input on.
Iím sure there are a lot of better solutions than these, so I hope to hear youíre input.
- Walking the tundra looks to be a bit tougher than I thought.
- Would it be possible to wait till October when the ground hardens. Right now, Iím pretty comfortable camping down to about -20 F, so it seems like I would still be safe in October, but much later than that would be out of the question.
- Would it be possible to avoid the swampy areas by hunting hillier terrain and sticking to higher terrain as much as possible and using hip waiters for any wet spots I canít avoid?
- The licenses seem a bit hard to come by that I thought.
- Are there any units that sell over the counter tags to nonresidents without a draw or at least have a higher probability of drawing tags?
- It seems like if I do choose to fly, most operators shut down in September
- Are there any operators that operate through mid October, or would I be restricted to places served by the airlines.
- Otherwise, I think my best bet would be to take the Haul road as far as I can. I would have to plan to start walking in areas that are mostly high ground.
Originally Posted by WIsam
I'll take a stab at two of these.
1. October can be a bit easier for walking off the Haul Road. That being said, there are two potential problems. Bulls are rutting during the first half of October. Bulls in the rut are not just gamey tasting, they are literally inedible. Do not compare this to whitetail in the rut. They are truly horrible when in the rut. Do not shoot a bull during the rut, as the meat will go to waste. You could shoot a cow, of course, but most non-residents aren't going to fly to Alaska just to shoot a cow. The other potential problem is that it is possible for the temp to drop even lower than that. I hunted the Haul Road in late October once, and we had temperatures of -30. Brrrrrr!
2. Most units sell over-the-counter tags to non-residents. The notable exceptions are Units 7, 13, and portions of 20. The WACH and the Central Arctic Herd (Kotzebue and the Haul Road) are both available with over-the-counter tags.
The problem with hunting caribou is access and the expense of getting out to where they are, expect $1200 to $1600 per person depending on where you go. If your looking for an edible bull your hunt will limited to August and the first two weeks of September. Good luck...........
Most auto rental places won't allow you to use their vehicles on the haul rd. or they have certain vehicles which they will allow but will cost you more. Balck bear would be the way to go with your budget and you could rent a vehicle at regular price since you wouldn't have to hit the haul rd., There's plenty of area's with good blackbear #'s and even the possibility of a wolf too within an hours drive of Fairbanks., you could even rent a canoe and do a float on birch creek and still be within your budget. Plenty of options out there for black bear...........
When you say $1200 to 1600 per person, would that include airline costs, or would that be the fee to get from Fairbanks to the final destination?
This is a good one!
I think you need to understand that this is Alaska and it cost an arm and a leg to live here so $800 will not get you started. The real problem with waiting until Oct is the caribou are not going to wait for you. These critters are on the move and by late Sept. most of WACH has moved down into the lower stretches of the unit below Buckland so Oct is just not an option.
I think you need ask yourself why you want to come all the way up here to cheat yourself of a great experience by trying to cut corners. This is not a forgiving country and most guys who approach hunting g up here the way you are have a bad if not dangerous experience.
Check out my web site and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and contact me if your interested in hunting WACH.
500,000 caribou canít be wrong!
Northwest Alaska Backcountry Rentals
Your best bet in Rafts and camp rentals
33 miles north of the Arctic Circle
It was $1250 just to fly from Happy Valley 20 minutes east to hunt. Of coarse, we had to get to Happy Valley first. Like I have said before, best money I ever spent compared to the "death march"!! I'm sure we will do the flight again too. We used Deltana Outfitters the last 2 years and have NO complaints!! Thanks again Ralph!!
Originally Posted by WIsam
I'm a non-resident who has had the good fortune to hunt Alaska 12 times. I'll just echo what everyone else has said - $800 each will get you started. For a successful hunt I would figure on $1600 to $2000 PLUS the airfare to Alaska. There are just too many variables (like weather). Try to find a motel in Alaska for under $100 per person per night!!!
Having said that, I will offer these suggestions. Consider a spring black bear hunt in southeast Alaska. Flights are shorter (and therefore less expensive), the license is less expensive, and there seems to be places with minimal pressure.
If you must hunt in the fall, consider getting a moose license since you could legally put it on anything less expensive (like caribou, black bear).
Last, Alaska is VERY unforgiving (someone else said that) so it's best to not cut corners - even to the point of renting a satellite phone.
Yes it is unfortunate but that area became popular & supply & demand now dictate the costs. Not that many yrs ago Dave Neal lived there & would fly you the 20 minutes to the Ivisahk for $500 pp. Now there is a airboat transporter, & 2 more outfitters that took over & with the current demand just keep raising the price.
Wisam, I think the best thing to do right now would be to get a couple books & read up. It will save you asking a lot of questions.
I know there is one by Dennis Conifer & one by another AK auther that will give you a good general idea of hunnting up here & in addition Larry Bartlet has one specifically on different bou heards & locations.
Hopefully someone else here knows the two books which I am trying to remember.
Mr. Wisc. Are you stuck on Late Sept and or Oct? If you move you plans to the last week of August it can be done.
There are air services that charge by the plane that are not transporters i.e. $750.00 for a 207 fits 1000 lbs verses having to pay $700.00 per person to fly out and bring meat back.
That being said the scope of your challange is the dates.
My brother, wife, cousin and my-self fly out on one plane to a remote strip on a commercial flight for $750.00 total. Walk 2-3 miles from the strip and have the hills to our-selfs. Mind you to get out we do not harest 4 animals. The down fall is timing there is no way to accomplish this hunt once the snow hits.
IMHO I still think you may want to look at a qaulity black bear hunt.
Originally Posted by Bill S.
My wife and I had a sit down with a ADFG biologist in Soldotna a couple years ago. He said that, at that time no one had ever harvested a caribou in December with the DC001 drawing. It sounds great, ride in on the snowmachine, bag the caribou and you're out, but it's never worked that way for anyone who has tried it previously. Just thought it was worth mentioning.
ok i've got to chime in
left wi in 81 to come here. have hunted the dalton since the day of the " pipeline rode guard" that would turn u back when u went much past wiseman....but was 100 and 25% self see -fish -ant. and went any way! over 25+ hunts up north ( 1 every year.) ..800$ is a small price to pay X3 or 4 ..u will fine it about impossable to rent a truck that "they"will let u take up there ..10 hour drive IF u know the road/weather/ etc the 5 milke walk will smoke the best of them and i'm a member of that club (but i do learn from my mistakes) it can be done we have not as much light as u are use to . the boo are moving all the time and some times u "hit it" an some u don't. 1. aug is a bug swatting contest 2. about 0 degs every morin starting oct 1, but u can walk all over - some moving water (75%) of the time 3. weather can change 4.pm me i suck at typeing .......
ps save your bear hunt 4
canada ont till u see what your 800$ is git'in u..you will have over 60% spent in tags etc before u leave town