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Thread: 40 mile air caribou hunt success

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default 40 mile air caribou hunt success

    Finally I have a chance to sit at the computer long enough to tell my story. First I want to thank everyone here on this forum who has helped me over the last two years of planning this hunt from scratch. I have learned so much from this place especially about equipment to buy, flight service to hire, and taxidermist to use.

    My best friend Chris and I flew out of Tok with Leif and Randy with a less than enthusiastic caribou forecast from the 40 Mile crew. They had not been seeing many caribou, and the ones they had been seeing were spread out and in small groups. They really had never seen it that bad before.

    We flew out on Thursday August 21st. They went the extra mile literally. Even in these times of high gas prices. To try and put us in what Leif felt might give us the best chance at bou, he carried us way north to Yukon Charlie Rivers Wildlife Preserve. The area was beautiful. The prettiest place I have ever seen.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default More 40 mile air

    We set up camp and were lucky enough to have water near by. We had a nice bull in camp soon after the planes left. We hunted hard and hiked our legs sore on the first day of the hunt. We didn't see many caribou and the ones we did see were far away.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default More 40 mile air

    The second morning was cold for us, in the 20's. There was ice in my tent and it was tougher getting out of the warm sleeping bag. After a little hiking I was lucky enough to stumble into a nice bull who was with five cows. I maneuvered towards it quickly to cut them off and cut down the yardage. Things went well and I took the bull.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default More 40 mile air

    I shot my bull at 7:30 AM. I spent the rest of that day cutting and hauling meat while Chris saw over 100 caribou. He had some close calls but no luck that day. On the third day things changed drastically. When we got up that morning we saw a good amount of caribou in the valley below camp that we dubbed Cow Valley. Chris and I crossed our mountain and glassed a good while and returned to cow valley but ran into a group of bulls. Chris took off and cut them off and took a dandy caribou.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default More 40 mile air

    The day Chris killed his bull we saw several thousand caribou. The rest of the week we saw over 500 a day. They seemed to have appeared from nowhere and they didn't seem to have any pattern to their movement. There was just caribou everywhere moving in all directions. They ran through camp day and night.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Default Way to go

    Congratulations on your hunt it is nice to see these stories coming out. It looks like you guys had a great time. I hear many good things on 40mile air & this sounds like another successful outing.

  7. #7
    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default More 40 mile air

    We had a grizzly sow and two cubs that we keep running into all week. She claimed both of our carcasses, but only after we had hauled all the meat and heads. They were well behaved and stayed out of our camp and away from our game bags. We also got to see a wolverine on it's way to Chris's caribou. Lots of golden eagles, peregrine falcons and a few ptarmigan.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default More 40 mile air

    Chris and I worked hard and the hunt turned out to be pretty physical. With no trees we used caribou shed antlers to set up our water filter system. We had an awesome time. Truly an Alaskan adventure. It was all we had hoped for and more. 40 Mile Air is awesome. We highly recommend them. They run a quality outfit. We carried our hides and antlers up to Rich Hamilton at Brow-Tine Taxidermy in North Pole. Rich and his lovely wife Cheryl have been great to us. I highly recommend buying and studying the Wilderness Taxidermy DVD. It helped me so much in skinning out the head for mounting. Thanks again to everyone here for helping with all your experience. I am ready to start planning my next Alaskan adventure.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default Any others hunt with 40 Mile this year?

    We were wondering if our hunt was typical for this year with 40 Mile on caribou, or did we just hit it lucky in seeing so many bous. I would love to hear from anyone else who hunted with via Leif. Thanks, Ben
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

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    Congrats on a great hunt!
    Love the water filter hanger!!
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  11. #11
    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default One word of advice to the lower 48

    Chris and I mailed most of our gear to Tok via USPS. The mistake we made was we each listened to the postal worker who told us that it would take two weeks to mail our packages to Tok by parcel post. DO NOT EVER send your gear to Alaska by parcel post!! I was lucky. My gear arrived a few days before we arrived. It took a month to get there. Poor Chris was not so fortunate. His gear didn't make it in time. So we got to go explore the Anchorage Sportsman's Warehouse and spend lots of Chris's money for gear duplicate gear.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

  12. #12

    Default Nice!

    Way to go on your DIY hunt. Gives you a good sense of accomplishment.
    That Wilderness Taxidarmy DVD. Is that Larry Bartletts' or someone elses?
    Tell us about your equipment that worked and what didn't or what you would do differently next time.
    Rifles and calibers also.

  13. #13
    Member Ben424's Avatar
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    Default Wilderness Taxidermy DVD

    The DVD is Larry Bartlett's. I could not have done a decent job on skinning the head out without that DVD. The rifle I used was a 300 Win. Mag. Probably too much caliber for a caribou but it did the job. Our shots were not as far as we had anticipated, both under 100 yards. Chris used a 30.06.

    The equipment that worked great was my Pack Mule haul pack. It was perfect for caribou and probably undersized for moose. The Katadyn camp water filter was great. Gravity fed, NO PUMPING!! I would recommend taking a bunch of the cheap silver emergency blankets. We used them for everything. Put one under my tent, carried two in my pack and used them to place meat on as I was cutting it up and then used some to cover the meat bags up at night and to lay my hide on as I salted it. They are light and take up no space and can be used like a tarp for most jobs.
    Pocket rocket stoves worked fine. Didn't really need the expensive stoves for this hunt.
    My Thermarest Pro-Lite 3 3/4 length self inflating sleeping pad was a disappointment. It is too slick on both sides. I could not keep it under me. I fought it every night. Either it was sliding on the tent floor or my slick sleeping bag was sliding off of it. It will go on eBay soon.
    We didn't have any big rains so rain gear and tents didn't really get a work out. A spotting scope would have been nice but not necessary.
    As far as the hunt goes I am not sure if I would do anything different. We saw bulls that were much bigger than what we killed later in the week but I doubt if we could have gotten shots at any of them.
    I did a ton of research on gear so most of it fit our needs fine. I am really happy that 40 Mile took us so far north into the treeless country. There cannot be a prettier place.
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    "The wildlife and it's habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will." Theodore Roosevelt

  14. #14
    Member AKDoug's Avatar
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    Hey, I know those planes Leif and Randy are good people. I can't wait to take my son on a moose hunt for his 16th birthday with them.
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    Great reort Ben and nice photos.

    I've hunted with 40 Mile for a couple decades.....hard to beat!

    We were primarily hunting moose but one of our grou did have a caribou tag which went unused as we saw very few and those we did see had wolves chasing them. The caribou were widely scattered for sure.

    Your 300 mag is very acceptable for caribou when you have grizzlies in the neighborhood.

  16. #16
    Member Anglette's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great report, pics and story. I hope our trip up north is as good as yours!!!!

  17. #17
    Member dwhunter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben424 View Post
    Chris and I mailed most of our gear to Tok via USPS. The mistake we made was we each listened to the postal worker who told us that it would take two weeks to mail our packages to Tok by parcel post. DO NOT EVER send your gear to Alaska by parcel post!! I was lucky. My gear arrived a few days before we arrived. It took a month to get there. Poor Chris was not so fortunate. His gear didn't make it in time. So we got to go explore the Anchorage Sportsman's Warehouse and spend lots of Chris's money for gear duplicate gear.
    Unfortunately I learned the same thing about USPS many years ago, I have an account with UPS and use them to ship everything north before my annual trips, it does cost more to ship but having buddies to ship things to locally and the peace of mind make it worth it every time.

    Doug

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    Member algonquin's Avatar
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    great story and pictures, congtats on the hunt

  19. #19
    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben424 View Post
    Chris and I worked hard and the hunt turned out to be pretty physical. With no trees we used caribou shed antlers to set up our water filter system. We had an awesome time. Truly an Alaskan adventure. It was all we had hoped for and more. 40 Mile Air is awesome. We highly recommend them. They run a quality outfit. We carried our hides and antlers up to Rich Hamilton at Brow-Tine Taxidermy in North Pole. Rich and his lovely wife Cheryl have been great to us. I highly recommend buying and studying the Wilderness Taxidermy DVD. It helped me so much in skinning out the head for mounting. Thanks again to everyone here for helping with all your experience. I am ready to start planning my next Alaskan adventure.

    I am curious about the filter bag and your report on it. I have been considering purchasing one. but the cost seemed kind of low for it and its claims... as compared to the back pack models i have now....Thanks Vince
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

    meet on face book here

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince View Post
    I am curious about the filter bag and your report on it. I have been considering purchasing one. but the cost seemed kind of low for it and its claims... as compared to the back pack models i have now....Thanks Vince
    Hey Vince,

    I think there's also a thread on this bag over in the Gear forum, a few people seem to have used it and liked it.

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