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Thread: caribou racks

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    Default caribou racks

    When do you think caribou racks in velvet are done growing for the most part?

    Terry

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    Member Phil's Avatar
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    Default Growing

    I don't know about other parts but we did a float on the Mulchatna several years ago in early September. About 1/2 of the caribou were still in velvet - the other 1/2 were hard. I suspect all the growing was done by then - say by the beginning of September.

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    Default variable

    There are many different variables that go into when caribou racks stop their growth and shed their velvet.... diet, age, weather, location of the state (IE arctic slope vs Kenai Penn)...

    Safe bet that the vast majority of your caribou will be in solid velvet mid way through August. After that it gets iffy. Its not uncommon to have big southern bulls still is semi decent velvet into late sept, early oct....

    Do you have a hunt planned?? if so when and what region...

    Greg

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    Default Hunt this Weekend

    I might go either hunt the mulchatna or cruise to the brooks this weekend for a hunt. Last year my son shot a decent bull around the 15th of Aug and it was still in velvet with only soft tips in the Brooks. Shot a few bou in Kotz in mid sept, and they hard racks but still had half velvet. Shot a B&C mulchatna bou about 4 years back on 1 sep and it was totally hard. Going solo again, so not sure which way to go.

    Terry

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    Default Along those lines

    No hijacking the thread, but this brings up a few questions that I had.

    -How is the meat (flavor, tenderness, etc) in relation to the velvet dropping? In other words, if I'm hunting for good meat, but want a nice rack too what's the best phase of antlers to go hunt?

    -How hard is it to get the velvet off if you take a bull while in velvet but want it off for the mount? Can I do it properly, or do I need a taxidermist?

    Thanks for any info.
    AKF

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    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    Default

    I was wondering the same about caribou out of Kotzebou, my hunt is Sept 20th-26th. Should I be concerned about the rut?

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    Default Kotz and rut

    We hunted about the same dates back in 02 or 03 and 2 of the bulls had started to rut, but meat was still ok. The bou from last Aug was the best meat I think I ever had. You should have fun if the weather is good.

    Terry

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AKF View Post
    No hijacking the thread, but this brings up a few questions that I had.

    -How is the meat (flavor, tenderness, etc) in relation to the velvet dropping? In other words, if I'm hunting for good meat, but want a nice rack too what's the best phase of antlers to go hunt?

    -How hard is it to get the velvet off if you take a bull while in velvet but want it off for the mount? Can I do it properly, or do I need a taxidermist?

    Thanks for any info.
    AKF
    If you pull the velvet off right away it comes off easy, wait a couple weeks and you'll need a log peeler. The antlers will be very white and the tips will be rounded.
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default leave it

    Velvet antlers make a nice mount. If you shott one that is still in velvet then have it mounted that way. I beleive that there is a new process (not sure its real new) were the taxidermist send the antlers off to have them velveted.

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    Member AkGreg's Avatar
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    Default rut

    Your Kotz trip should be ok. If you see bulls gatherin up harems and paying close attention to the cows, don't shoot them. If you find bulls that are still in their bachelor groups then they are good to go.

    a rutting caribou bull is the worst meat you'll ever taste in your life. You can't even sausage them. They ingest large amounts of cow urine to identify estreus cows.... its bad..

    Velvet shed and rutting are two distinct activites that aren't directly tied to each other... there is some overlap just with timing but they are not directly linked.

    For velvet antlers.... you'll want to freeze them asap if they are still in heavy velvet. the taxidermist will then have to preserve it to keep it from drying out and falling off over time. If the velvet has started to shed or is real loose on the antler you'll want to strip it asap (no preserving those ones)

  11. #11
    Supporting Member AFHunter's Avatar
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    Default

    We ended up with three bulls from the Brooks during the last week of August last year. The older/biggest bou had the most secure velvet. We tried to salvage the velvet for mounts from the two smaller bou. All of the velvet was still intact. The shedding process had not started at all. The smaller bulls velvet was loose in spots, but not shedding. The Fairbanks tannery said the velvet would not stay on the two smaller bulls with the chemical process he uses. The Fairbanks Tannery owner was about 80% sure the largest bulls velvet could be saved, but he would not guarantee it. We ended up getting the largest bulls antlers done and they turned out great. No slipping at all.

    We did get the antlers in the freezer as soon as we returned from our hunt. The Fairbanks tannery closes for the first 15-20 days of september for moose season. The cost was around $400.00. I believe it was closer to $300.00, but $400.00 would be a safe guess if planning for a budget.

    Every drop of the meat from those bou was sooooo tender.

    24 days and I will be in paradise again in the Brooks.

    I have heard that putting the horns with velvet on--in water for a day or so to ease the stripping of the velvet process if you desire to strip the velvet. I have not tried this. I will try it this year.

    I spent about 20 minutes stripping the velvet off the antlers after we were not able to keep the velvet on for mounting. A pair of needlenose pliers is all I needed.

  12. #12
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default

    Quick note on antler growth.

    Antlers are marrowless bone and comprised of a mineralized protein matrix. As the antlers grow they are partially mineralized starting at the core of the bases and radiating outward. As they harden, blood flow migrates to the surface. Eventually the perimeter of the pedicle fully hardens and blood flow is cut off. The velvet skin rapidly dies and sloughs off almost immediately in a bloody mess or in some cases, dries on the antlers until the bull rakes it off on brush.

    Generally in all members of the deer familiy, antler growth stops about 3 weeks prior to the shedding of velvet. For the next 10 to 14 days the mineralization process completes itself. Usually, the antlers are completely hardened for several days prior to the velvet shedding off.

    From my observation, haul road bulls begin to shed around the 3rd week of August with some staying in velvet well into September.

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AFHunter View Post

    I have heard that putting the horns with velvet on--in water for a day or so to ease the stripping of the velvet process if you desire to strip the velvet. I have not tried this. I will try it this year.
    If you are not keeping the velvet then as you know they strip easy if you strip them right away and the water treatment....well try it if you want but I have seen guys put their horns in water only to recover antlers that had been gnawed on (tips) by something...fish I suppose.


  14. #14

    Default bou racks

    Just spoke with fish&game guy today about caribou meat. And he said that bulls are in best shape (more fat) in the beginning of September because their antlers don`t grow any more and they don`t rut full time yet. And I`m in western Alaska.

  15. #15
    Member Gr is for Greg's Avatar
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    Default Should be good to go into Sept

    I got a Brooks Range bull last year on Sept 1. Meat was out-of-this-world delicious. Even gave some steaks to a guy that usually sausages the entire caribou, and he says he is going to rethink his practice. This bull was half in velvet. For tasty meat, I hear you are okay until about mid-September. Then stay away! If you're looking at the North Slope, you can wait until October 1st and take a cow. The rut affects the bull's meat, but not the cow so much (I've been told).

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