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Thread: Brooks Range Float Trip

  1. #1
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Default Brooks Range Float Trip

    The wife and I decided to do a fly-in hunt into the Brooks Range and float out to the Dalton Hwy. We were after Grizzly and Caribou, and some adventure. We loaded up all our gear and six hunters and headed up the haul road. We had to stop at the Hill Top and get a good meal. Itís part of the experience. Our next stop was at the Yukon River Bridge; we got gas and enjoyed some conversation with the local saleswoman.
    Then onto the Arctic Circle stop had to do the picture thing. Then onto cold foot for gas and more good food. We had a cabin rented for the night in Wiseman at the Arctic Circle Inn, wow what a place, the wife really enjoyed it and breakfast was great. This made the trip for the wife.


    Logistics had us hauling one Beaver load and 4 people from Dead
    horse and the other 2 and gear from Happy Valley. So, off to Dead horse we go. We stayed the night at Prudhoe Bay, there are a couple hotels and one includes meals so show around. It was raining and we did not want to pack wet gear and we would have had to camp back out along the road with the bears that were know to be around. After the wife saw that hotel it was.
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    Up the next morning and over to the airport, we load the Beaver up and bid our friendsí good luck, we with the help of the transporter and one of his friends take all our vehicles to the Sag River take out. We entered this Grid into our GPS and we checked the river, high and flowing and boats launching. We leave and head for Happy Valley.

    After a short wait our Beaver lands we load the last of the gear and me and the wife get in. While flying in we see caribou and I see a huge braided section of river with little to no floatable water. We keeping flying into the mountains, we get to our gravel bar and a small plane is on the strip, we circle and wait for him to move so we can land. As soon as we land and get out he comes over and Ids himself as a Federal Game Warden and checks all our paper work.
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    We blow up our rafts and head down river.

    I have only floated a few rivers and the wife has never been on a raft. The upper part of the river was a little more than I expected and I was concerned that she and I might have issues. I tried to enjoy the white knuckled ride and magnificent scenery and crystal clear water. You could see the Artic Char and Dollies into the water as you floated by.

    We saw a Wolverine fishing in the river, it was before season opened and we had flown that day. We get to a good stop with places to glass from and set up camp.
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    One of the rafts hits the sharp shale rocks and cuts a tube, this only makes me more nervous about floating with the wife. She would have to learn fast.

    The next day they other 4 hunters headed off and the wife and I found a high stop to class from and a few paths to over watch. While glassing we see 2 young Grizzlies, and observe our friend change course and head up a blind canyon. After a while they disappear behind a ridge. Minutes later we here shots and know they connected.
    While they were tending to their animals we continued to glass. Right at 5:30pm we saw a herd of 19 caribou with a few small bulls. As these bulls walk right by camp Iím thinking heavy raft skinny water, I had to pass.
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    The others packed meat all day and came back to camp tired and happy. The next day I headed over to help pack out the last of the meat and the heads. Crossing the river proved to be too much for me and I had to have them help, they were both taller and heavier than me.
    At the kill site I had to say I was impressed, they had done well. We loaded up the packs and headed to camp with a lot of work still to do.

    One of their larger bulls.
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    The next day found us all at camp glassing and tending to meat and capes. The river proved to be a barrier to us as it was so swift that it would sweep the raft way down and you could not line against the current, so we had to hand carry the rafts back. We continue to glass and pattern the caribou. One evening while enjoying a nice campfire and friends we see 3 shooter bulls, we think they will continue the pattern and we jump into action to cut them off. We rapid deploy the raft with the Rod, Flor and I as shooters with Rich as support and packer. Get across and head to cut them off, itís a foot race with caribou and for those that know it is fair chase to say the least. Well Caribou being Caribou they turn and head up a saddle and we race to catch them, using the high ground to try to get into a shooting spot. I get to the over look first only because the guys are wearing packs and waders. All I see is Caribou buts at 400 plus yards. The largest turns board side and stops to look back. I range him at 425, I take a stead rock rest and fire my first shot from the prone. I able to stay in the scope and see that my shot has fallen low and broke his away front leg, he rears and starts to spin and I adjust my aim using my B&C reticle and fire for effect hitting him 3 times though the ribs. He was still on his feet and I reload and missed the next shot and broke his back with the next. The others had caught up and watched as I finished him off, the other 2 bulls just stood there at over 400 yards, too far for the wife. Rod and Flor moved to close the distance and Rich and I approached my bull. Rod glasses the other 2 and decided they had both taken larger bulls and let them pass and walked to help us with mine.
    Rich and I quickly dressed and quartered one side and Rod helped do the other and we were packed and ready to head back to camp before dark. We had spotted the bulls at 8:31 and had him quartered and back at camp by 11:00pm.
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    The next morning I skinned the head and 2 front feet and rested my sore back and feet.

    We planned on hunting the gut pile that evening. The evening finds Flor and I sitting high on a knob and over watching the kill site of my bull. The weather is wonderful and I take a nap in the sun. The next thing I know Flor wakes me up and says there are sheep. I say where expecting them to be mile away and see says right there. I look and they are at less than a thousand yards and closing. We are out in the open and wait for them to feed out of view. The terrain is to our favor but the wind is not. We move on them and get to within 723 yards. I did not have my stopping scope but one looked to be full curled and broomed. They gave us the slip going around us as we tried to go around them. Never thought Flor and I would get so close to sheep. We both were happy just to have been sheep hunting together and both said so.
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    When we return to camp we discovered that we had flushed the sheep into another drainage and the others were on them. The next day Flor and I glassed and got ready to leave. She had to be back to work and I was concerned about the falling water. We said our farewells and headed down river, our plan was to head to the next valley and try there for a day. When we got there the camp had been used for several days and 2 guys were there and packed and getting ready to float. They gave a grim report and we decided to float on. This part of the river was fast with lots of shale and brush. We started to gets to the braids and the dreaded 50/50. The 50/50 is where half the water flows one way and half the other way. We saw 3 other groups as we left the mountain and entered one of the several braided sections of the river. We were check by a state trooper in a cub and he told us the water was dropping, he was right. We were told river right then river left, I must have taken one too many rights because we found our raft without water. This is where the raft started to be powered by prayer and will power. The more I dragged the more Flor prayed. We both dragged as far we could then dragged some more. It had been a long day but nether one of us wanted to get up to a drag in the morning. We finally got to some deeper water and shelter from the wind that blew up river the entire trip. After a day of dragging we were done hunting we just wanted to see the truck, we had come over 20 straight line miles. We got up early to beat the wind only to find the fog down to the ground. We had to wait until about 11:00 am to get started. Not long on the river we met up with the floaters we had met earlier. They were kind enough to share the grid to the last braid before the take out. THANKS GUYS.
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    The second day of floating was pleasant we had clear skies and deep water and saw our first boat, we chatted a while and floated on, we took time to fish and both caught a few.

    After about 8 hours of floating and rowing my back and arms were done and we wanted to find a campsite, we rounded a bend and saw our first boat drop camp. We ask if we could share their spot and they said yes. They were great folks from Nevada and we might do one of their mountain lion hunts. They had taken 3 nice bulls but said they had to leave early because of the falling water. We set up camp and enjoyed some really good fishing landing numerous fish.

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    Great story and pics as usuall!! Curious, what did the pilot tell you as far as total weight limit for the flight in the Beaver? We're flying out to moose camp in a week and was told to keep total weight to 1200#'s.

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    That night I did some midnight sun fishing.

    We again awoke early to make it on the river before the headwind started but we were again fogged in. I fished and made the most of it sharing coffee and stories with our new friends. The fog lifted about noon and we were off for our last day on the river. The water was deep and fast and we kept to the left. We made the braid check point and soon faced a major choice. I knew that if I picked the wrong branch that we would have to carry our load to the road farther down river and have to walk back to the truck. We got to the grid the floaters gave me and we saw a minor stream with orange flagging tape, with little water flowing into it. I would have taken the right hand stream if not for the tape. As soon as I got into the channel we had little to no water and very little flow. I could see were boats had dragged on racks and knew we were in a boat lane. We had a 2 mile drag and row to the finish, I kept thinking a channel would come in form the right before we got there and boats we be using that lane. However that was the right channel just with little water. We had finally made it 56 straight line miles. We loaded up the truck and headed south.
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    We saw 2 Musk Ox bulls fighting by the road and got some great photos. We drove back to Wiseman and tried to get a room but it was full, so we had to make the combat drive back home.


    What a trip, a special thanks to forum member Afhunter for having me along and packing my Caribou Thanks Guys.
    The End

    Steve
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  13. #13

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    Great write up on your trip. Congrats on your bull! I've motored up the Ivishak on the 1st of September and you can really tell the water level goes down fast that time of year.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    They let us haul 1500 lbs in the Beaver Steve.
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    Member ratlmn's Avatar
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    Great pictures and story.......congratulations on a nice Bou also. Did your partners get a sheep?

  16. #16
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Don't know they were at it when we left and they are still not back. I hope they did.

    Steve
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  17. #17

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    Excellent story and pics stid, congrats on another great adventure!!

  18. #18
    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default WOW

    You really did a great job on the pictures & story. I hope your wife enjoyed herself enough to do it all over again. Great adventure thanks for sharing!

  19. #19
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Awesome story stid. The pics help tell it beautifully.

    Congrats

  20. #20
    New member AKDSLDOG's Avatar
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    Stid, excellent job! Sounds like you all had a great time, hard not to have a good time in the Brooks Range, eh'? Beautiful country up there!

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