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Thread: Dalton or Adak for caribou

  1. #1

    Default Dalton or Adak for caribou

    So if a guy wanted to do an unguided caribou hunt would he have a better chance at bringing meat home along the Dalton highway or on Adak?

    Which of the two would you recommend for someone who hasn't hunted caribou before and why? As for time, I'd say I have 7-9 days to work with.

  2. #2
    Member ACNDHO's Avatar
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    Default

    Access costs, Dalton is driveable but bow only in the five mile corridor. Adak will be a little spendy to get there and more than likely really wet.
    Even a jackass won't stumble on the same stone twice.

  3. #3
    Member bigdog's Avatar
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    Drive the Dalton to Happy Valley or Cold Foot and fly in with an air taxi, the weather will be better than on the coast. The drive is actually a good time if not in a hurry, and you get to see more of Alaska that way... Good luck

  4. #4
    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Default Budget

    Look at your budget.

    Haul Road can be the cheapest deal out there. Doesn't mean you'll get a bou, might not see one. I went in early Aug in 2007, we were there for 7 days, beautiful weather, cool, sunny, slight breeze - saw NINE caribou. Total.

    Be sure to book a fly-in before driving to Happy Valley, or you're likely to be fishing. Happy Valley isn't a 'town'. It's a gravel runway that has a few shacks and bush pilots with planes. More than likely they have their schedules full by the time they fly in.

    I've only done the drive five times... I have yet to have had a bad trip. Good times, lots of scenery. Bow hunting caribou can be frustrating, especially on the Haul Road - LOT'S of hunters doing exactly what you're doing - trying to get a bull.
    Bow hunt only within five miles of the road - strictly enforced.
    Get outside five miles you can use your gun; it isn't as easily as you think. Period.

    Time frame has been Aug-Sep... and usually leave Anchorage on Friday afternoon, spend the night in Fairbanks, leave at 8am or so on Saturday, and arrive Galbraith around 4pm. We reverse the procedure and depart the following Saturday. That gives six full days of hunting. Plus a little time on either Saturday. One year we drove straight through Anchorage to Galbraith (16 hours).

    Read the wiki... for more.
    http://wiki.outdoorsdirectory.com/wi...l_Road_Hunting

    Point to ponder; driving from Anchorage to Deadhorse is equivalent to driving from Chicago, IL to Atlanta, GA.

    • Half of it will be on a gravel road.
    • You can get gas in Anchorage, Wasilla, Talkeetna Turnoff, Cantwell, Healy, Naknak, Fairbanks, Fox, Yukon, Coldfoot and Deadhorse.

    Be sure your rental company knows or allows you to drive on the Dalton... there used to be a few that would not allow it.

    Hope that helps... have fun!

  5. #5

    Default

    I noticed there are some small roads that head east out of the Dalton once you get north of the Brooks. In particular, I noticed one just south of Happy valley that heads south east for 5 miles then ends. Anyone know anything about these roads? If they aren't drivable, are they at least walkable or are they nonexistent or gated? I'd imagine even a poorly maintained jeep trail would make for an easier way to get 5 miles from the Dalton.

    How about places to pull off to the side of the Dalton to park for a few days. Any idea how far apart they are spaced (every 5 miles or 50?). In other words, do I need to plan my hunting location entirely based on where I can pull off to the side or will I likely find a place to pull off within a few miles of most places?

    Anyone know of any good books on this particular hunt?

  6. #6
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Adak/North Slope

    I would stay away from Adak only because the weather is potentially the worst of the worst, with honors, sir. And I ain't kiddin.

    And because the ankle twisting/breaking walking conditions are almost the worst of the worst, still with honors.

    And because of the days of fog and then the hurrican wind and horizontal rain X10, which I could mention ten more times and would still be an understatement.

    And because the trophy quality on Adak is now questionable.

    If you are doing an unguided do-it-yourself hunt you can go north, still have a bad hunt but still find caribou and still have a blast.

    And because you can go to the north slope and shoot two caribou per hunter in the 350+ class. Last year my group of friends shot north slope caribou up to 399 gross / 392 net B&C pts.

    Dennis

  7. #7
    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Default Haul Road

    One drivable exception is at Galbraith lake. You can get nearly 2 miles from the Dalton by driving.

    Not too many other options.

    There are lots of places to pull off the road. Be absolutely certain you are OFF the road, not just sort of out of the way.

    There are pipeline access roads that will assist you in getting away from the road - sometimes by as much as a mile or more.
    There are old trails, and pathways that can make things easier to walk.

    Caribou are migratory critters; with that, one doesn't know where they'll be at any given point. Two years running the critters stayed on the ice fields and coasts longer than 'traditional' - making the haul road a tough place for hunters - there were still caribou, just more hunters per bull.

    Planning your hunt... get in the truck, drive North.
    When you see caribou; find a place to park, and hunt.
    Somewhere in that general area, find a place suitable for a camp.
    "Usually" the caribou will run through a particular section of road a couple of days.

    In my opinion you will find less congestion about a mile off the road. There will still be hunters out there, but less of them.

    I'm unaware of any books on the Dalton.

    Logistically, this is a pretty easy hunt.

    • Pack food for the amount of time you'll be there + one day
    • Bring along two spare tires
    • Bring about a tank of gas in gas cans (optional)
    • Fill up with fuel at the Yukon and Coldfoot
    • Bring one or two days water, saves you the trouble of water hunting on day one
    • Bring gear for all seasons (Hot, Cold, Wet, Dry, Snow, Mosquitoes)
      • You don't need LOTs of gear, just good stuff:
        • Layers for clothing
        • Quality sleeping bags
        • Quality tent

    That's about it... the list could go on, but I think you'll get the idea.

    I attached a zip for Google Earth (free download); has some waypoints marked on it that might help someone plan a trip.

    Good luck!
    Attached Files Attached Files

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks, much appreciated! So it sounds like the idea of picking a spot to hunt in advance is not the way to go and I'd be much better off driving till I see animals, then hike the 5 miles. Does that mean that if you see animals along the road there is a decent chance that you will see them 5 miles in as well?

  9. #9
    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    Default

    ANSWER TO YOU LAST QUESTION ....NO
    if you are rifle hunting, and it sounds like you are, I would say don't even think about the 5 mile walk. do some searches on this site for haul road there are plenty of old threads talking about walking off road. I would strongly recommend get set up with air boat service out of mile fifty boat launch or air service out of deadhorse or happy valley. none are cheap but your chances are much better.
    you can drive for 100 miles and not see caribou.....So how do you pick a spot 5 miles off the road that will have caribou??? but people do it. IT is a tough 5 mile walk not like 5 miles in lower 48. also pretty much 2 pack loads to carry out a decent caribou plus camp that is 30 miles +.....haul in sled and drag bou and pack out....less walking but 5 + mile walk out just got alot tougher.
    if you do the walk put various way points with gps along road then use way points to be sure you are off the road a full 5 miles....many folks have gotten tickets from not getting full 5 miles off road . Fish & Game fly over regularly and mark gut piles.
    unless you bring a raft or canoe you are limited to going to west of the road. the Sag river is pretty good size and runs north along east side of the road. i know of at least one prson that drowned trying to cross, actually coming back across. i also know of people that have made it but i would sure not try it. It could be easy when you go across and if it rains be unpassable when you return. very little boat traffic if any so you would be pretty well be on your own. i run a jet boat in the bowhunting part of the Sag ( small portion of it) and rarely see any boats that aren't just going up Ivashak. A few stretches have some raft and canoe activity of bowhunters but still not alot and a couple select spots not full run of river.
    if you are a very experienced in rafting (class IV white water ) the Atigun River to Sag float is an option that will get you 5 miles out.......Atigun river gorge is very tough thou and parts of the upper sag reportably can be tough. research that real well before you try it.
    RETIRED U.S.A.F. CAPT.; LIFETIME MEMBER NRA; LIFETIME MEMBER ALASKA BOWHUNTER ASSOC.
    MASTER BOWHUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR; MEMBER UNITED BLOOD TRACKERS; POPE & YOUNG MEASURER

  10. #10
    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Default Not likely

    Quote Originally Posted by WIsam View Post
    ... Does that mean that if you see animals along the road there is a decent chance that you will see them 5 miles in as well?
    Maybe, maybe not. That's ten miles of tough hiking for a maybe.

    To simulate walking on the tundra...

    Get a king size mattress, not the box springs, just the part you sleep on. Use four or five 5-gallon buckets, randomly placed under the mattress to get the mattress off the ground (yes, it will sag, they won't support the mattress). Throw a couple bricks on top of the mattress. Get your garden hose and soak the mattress. Put a sheet over the wet, brick covered mattress on buckets.
    Put your gear on and walk across your new piece of tundra.
    Wear a pedometer, let me know when you get to 5 miles.

    It really is tough; not impossible - just a long tiring walk across an uneven, ankle twisting and usually wet surface.

    Most folks that get five miles off the road and successfully harvest a caribou have done so with the assistance of the rivers or an airplane.

    If you're planning to hunt with a rifle, get the boat or plane. Increase your odds of success.

  11. #11

    Default

    The problem for me with a boat or airplane is that I never know my schedule till a month out. I regularly get 15 days a month off, but don't know when those days will fall till the month before and from what I hear most stuff books up quick.

    Originally I had a few places that looked like they would be easier hiking such as routes that followed ridges or would let me walk some of the few side roads or trails to get farther in. From there I figured I'd sit one of a few places that the topo maps suggest a good view and hope for the best, but from what I'm hearing there is a pretty small chance of doing it this way and I'm better off hiking in when I see something.

    With the higher population density, would I have a better chance hunting Adak, assuming I'm not afraid to get a little wet.

  12. #12

    Default

    By the way, I did do a search on hunting the Dalton. I noticed that people complained much more about hiking the tundra than going though Alders and Devil's club to the above the treeline in search of black bears. I've done the second one a couple of times and based on the description, the tundra sounds tougher.

    I'm wondering how big of an elevation gain you need to do before the ground gets firmer. In other words, if I pick a ridge line 200 feet above the surrounding terrain, how much firmer is the ground? What about a 100 foot ridge line?

  13. #13
    Member Stogey's Avatar
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    Default Elevation

    Quote Originally Posted by WIsam View Post
    By the way, I did do a search on hunting the Dalton. I noticed that people complained much more about hiking the tundra than going though Alders and Devil's club to the above the treeline in search of black bears. I've done the second one a couple of times and based on the description, the tundra sounds tougher.

    I'm wondering how big of an elevation gain you need to do before the ground gets firmer. In other words, if I pick a ridge line 200 feet above the surrounding terrain, how much firmer is the ground? What about a 100 foot ridge line?
    When you gain elevation, the ground does tend to get firmer.
    As you gain elevation, the caribou population tends to get lesser.

    There aren't alders or devil's club on the tundra; One could say the complaining about the tundra is because it's the only thing to complain about.

    There really just isn't much in the lines of elevation change.

    If you look at topo's of the area you'll see that it's mostly rolling hills and the odd valley.

    If you are geared only for a rifle hunt, I'd recommend calling the air and boat charters to see what they know; call them now; these guys are pretty creative someone may have a solution that would meet your schedule.

    Good luck!

  14. #14

    Default Adak can be cheap and easy

    I just sent you a PM Let me know if you want more info.
    19' Lowe Roughneck
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  15. #15
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    Don't take all doom and gloom of hiking out as terrible as what is stated as above. Have done it eight years running, yea it sucks but almost always get good bou out the distance... Walk the ridges of the little hills and stay out of the bottoms as much as possible, granted you'll find swamps on the sides of hill too but typically the ground is firmer on the red shaded areas.. Might be a bit longer than five but you'll be fresh. We spike camp out at that distance and you'll have the whole time to hunt versus hiking back before sunset... Pack the meat back then spend a night by the road in a comfy camp and then head back the next day for the second trip. If you decide to archery hunt within the cooridor, WATCH out for archery hunters along the main road, some and I mean some have this issue with cutting off folks already on stalks, yea sometimes you don't see the other party, been guilty of that before, but if there is vehicle near, chaces are they are already on a stalk and give them some space. Nothing worse than you have been stalking and getting close to a good bull for the past hour when some jack%&# comes straight across the tundra at the animal your set up on at a full rate run, thinking they have got a chance... Any how enjoy the trip up, it is one of the most beautiful drives anywhere, roads really isn't that bad, depends upon if it rains or not. Atigun pass can be very bad in the late season but follow the trucks up and over if it is really bad. Like someone said above, have gear for all weather, could happen in one day for sure... And lastly if the weather comes from the North, holly crap be prepared for something nasty...

  16. #16

    Default Adak

    Out of three friends that have recently made the trip to Adak...the first said it blew like crazy for the week...the second had a good trip...and the third is as of right now...stuck on Adak until Thursday due to canceled flights/Wx.

    Adak...buld in some "extra" time that much I know.
    Alaska Outdoors Television ~ Outdoor Channel

  17. #17
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    Default Haul Road

    I've hunted Adak once and the Haul Road 8-10 times. Go with the Haul Road hunt. There is a limited road system on Adak that most of the time will not get you to where the caribou are. Granted, the scenery is great but its a long way to go for scenery.
    The Haul Road hunt is as previously described. Hard work, but not impossible getting out to 5 miles. But even if you are unsuccessful in getting a caribou, driving to the north slope is an experience you won't forget. Chances are good that you'll see grizzly, wolves, Dall sheep, and at least a few caribou. If you only have 7-9 days though, that'll leave you with 5-6 days to actually hunt. Most folks that get into problems up there do so because they run out of time. Getting a caribou out from 5+ miles will take a couple days at least if you're alone. If you can add a couple days to your hunt, it will help you out immensely. Besides, once up there, you probably won't want to leave.
    Another option is to hunt them post rut (late October) when the ground is frozen and there may be enough snow on the ground to ski over the tussocks rather than stumble through them. At that time of year though, winter is usually settling in pretty hard and its pretty easy to get yourself in a serious situation.
    Anyway, best of luck with it.
    Blair

  18. #18

    Default

    So it sounds like the Haul road might be logistically easier than Adak, but might be more difficult due to the hike. Is that correct?

    Also any input on which would have a greater probability of success? (just looking for meat)

  19. #19
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    Keep doing your research, but if you are going to come all the way up here spend the money to fly out and buy two 'bou tags. Flying out will allow you to spend all day hunting instead of several days packing. It's a lot cheaper to buy two tags than to find the time and money to come again later on. Start talking to charter services today. They have bills to pay and will work with you on short notice as long as you contact them ahead of time and explain your situation. Plan your return flight a couple days before your jumbo jet heads south in case you get weathered in. Hunt late August/early September. Bring shorts, sunscreen, and a snowsuit!

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