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Thread: Time of day for caribou?

  1. #1

    Default Time of day for caribou?

    I'm planning my first caribou trip up the haul road and there's one topic I haven't seen much about. I grew up hunting deer that are much more active in the very early morning and late evening, to the point that it's foolish not to be out in the woods ready to go at the crack of dawn. I haven't heard of or noticed caribou being the same way, but my experience is limited to watching them during fishing trips.

    So, is there a time of day when caribou are more likely to be on the move? Is there anything else that's important to know about time of day when hunting caribou?
    Jason -- Fly fishing photos & insect hatch encyclopedia. -- Exact 5-mile Haul Road corridor boundary for GPS & Google Earth

  2. #2
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Fairbanks Area


    From what I have seen they move all day. Let the lead cow go by, they will follow her scent trail. If you scare her they all will go where she goes, let her by and try to get setup on that trail.

    Good Luck


  3. #3


    Caribou feed on the move, and move when they feel like it. I've never noticed them being more active in the morning and evening like whitetails, so you're as apt to see some coming through at noon as at any other time.

    +1 on what Steve said, let the first few come through, if you divert the lead bunch, the whole group will be diverted.

  4. #4
    Member c04hoosier's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008


    Caribou are pretty much always moving. Besides, it's a completely different type of hunt. Up the haul road, you really can't afford to sit and hope the caribou come to you like you do when whitetail hunting. You can't imagine how big and wide open it is until you are up there. You have to locate them, then watch what direction they are traveling and get in front of them. If you are behind them and trying to catch up, forget it. If you do find a group that is stationary for awhile, use hills, ditches, low crawling, etc. to manuever into shooting position.

    The only thing I would worry about as far as time of day is making sure I give myself time to get back to the truck/camp. You don't necessarily have to get back before dark (you need to take a light and GPS anyway), but you DO need to get back before you are completely worn out or frozen. That tundra really takes it out of you. I think most people who get in trouble up there, do so because they overextended themselves and didn't plan ahead well enough. Keep that in mind and you'll do fine.

  5. #5
    Member B-radford's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default move along

    I agre with mdhunter, I have never really noticed a set time when caribou move, I have seen them moving around in the heat in the middle of the day just as much as i have seen them moving around in the cool mornings.

  6. #6
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Palmer, AK


    I havn't hunted the Haul yet but back when I got a Nelchina tag we found them comming down off of snow packs shortly after the hottest part of the day. The temps where in the 70's that hunt though.

  7. #7
    Member AkGreg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Default not time

    Bou don't move in any consistent pattern associated with time... like the threads above say they are very nomadic and move constantly. The one thing that is farily predictable about there movements are based around weather..... on hot and sunny days they'll find open, less buggy areas and tend to be less mobile (IE river beds, the coastal waters, snow packs in the hills etc....).
    On the tundra when the fog comes in it really alters their movements. Caribou do not tend to move actively in the heavy fog. They bed down and turn their ears and noses on when the visibility is really poor. So if there is fog, you can get out there and be "in the middle" of the fog bank and wait as well. when it lifts they'll get up and start moving, that is a good time to get in front of them for an ambush.

    good luck


  8. #8
    Member Stogey's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Best Times

    Between: Sunrise (~6:00 AM) until Sunset (~9:30 PM)

    Because in Early September, this is when the sun is up.

    They 'tend' to bed down around twilight (9:30 pm-ish), but it isn't DARK for another hour or two. You probably WON'T sneak up on a bedded down bou if there's ANY ambient light.

    If you saw bou walking a general trail yesterday... get in an ambush spot along that trail at 4 or 5 in the morning the next day.
    Stay there, if you didn't have any bou walk by that day, head south, and find them again.

    More often than not... they feed with the wind on their nose.
    Since they walk and feed... they move with the wind blowing in their faces.

  9. #9

    Default Thanks

    Thanks, guys... seems like very useful advice so far.

    Here's another general strategy question, for bowhunting (no 5-mile hike). How much do you use the road?

    #1 - Do you drive around glassing for a good group of animals to stalk, then get out and begin?

    #2 - Do you drive around looking for a general area that seems to be getting a lot of use, then hike out to figure out the details?

    #3 - Or do you just pick an arbitrary spot with good stalking conditions and head out to see what you can find?

    I'm guessing it's a mix of #1 and #2. The place just seems too big for #3. (I went up there last year and walked around a lot fishing for grayling, so I got a sense of the area, but I wasn't a resident yet and didn't have the million or so dollars for a non-resident caribou tag...)
    Jason -- Fly fishing photos & insect hatch encyclopedia. -- Exact 5-mile Haul Road corridor boundary for GPS & Google Earth


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