We got back from the haul road this morning around 6am, we were there for 4 1/2 days, we arrived saturday afternoon, didnt see any caribou until after happy valley, closest caribou that we saw to the road was a 1/2 mile, I think they are catching on. We spent the first day driving the road, boring, we got up on a knob that was about 10 miles south of Pump 2?? We saw about 400 caribou for miles from the road out in the open, we went down to pump 2 and spotted some caribou on the south side of the road, we stalked got to within 300yds when the bull looked up, stalk over. Next day my troop and I hit the road as we didnt see anything, we ended up coming back to a knob 2.5 miles south of pump 2, caribou all over the flats, didn't think we could get to them so we decided to check out the skag river north of pump two, there is a ton of caribou over there and no one hunting them, and now we know why, you need a good raft or chest waders, wouldn't recommend it, we get back to our truck and there is a bunch of bou 800 yards off the road skylining themselves, we saw hunters making a stalk, so we watched, we ran into a nice guy from wasilla, he said that we should walk about 1.5 miles out and we would see plenty of bou the next morning, well he wasnt wrong, we ended up seeing 1K bou from as far as the eye could see left to right and as far back as your binocs would see, unfortunately after covering 7 miles we were about a mile from home and I saw more bou coming, we sat behind this small dirt mound and had 2 cows/calves walk to within 60 yards of us, wish we had a blind. We decided the day had been a success for the lessons learned as this was both of ours first time north. We decided we didn't care how we got our bou, but that we wanted one, so we packed our gear to make the 5 mile hike out. I told my troop that my only worry was getting socked in, we had several nice days of hunting. Sure enough we get up yesterday and visibility was roughly 2 miles south and 4 north of the road, we didnt have a good feeling, but we did have our GPS. When we got over the ridge and the visibility dropped to a mile, we felt ok, but didn't want to see it get worse, our goal was to make camp 4 miles in by a lake we had seen the previous day. It was a straight shot from the car. I let my troop take the lead as he felt we needed to go more right, an hour later things werent seeming right and visibility was at best a half mile, I asked him to check the GPS because I didnt remember a huge hill being to our right, thats right you guessed it, we did a circle, luckily I caught our mistake when I did because it was getting worse, needless to say we made it back and found the weather was supposed to be bad for a couple more days, so we called it a hunt. GPS may have saved our lives, though because of my faith I don't believe in circumstance, It wouldn't have been hard for us to be out there still now lost if we didnt have the GPS. We only ended up 8/10 of a mile from the truck, could have been much worse.
Lessons learned as a first timer
The bou were all north of happy valley, but the hiking was much better from pump 2, if I was to go again in oct I would go to the same spot, 6 miles from pump 2 there is a road that is blocked off but it leads out to the skag.
I would take a blind, not only would it hide you, but it would cut down on the wind drastically
We should have been out of bed sooner, I would say up by 6, in the field by 630 because with good binocs you could see the bou
If I had a blind I would try to figure out where they are headed and put the blind there, then stay put for several hours like stand hunting, though I enjoy spot and stalk, there were way to many eyes out there!!
By far one of the best hunts I have ever been on, hope to go again next year if I can get an extension to my time here at Elmendorf
More food for thought, between yukon/coldfoot we had two flats and one leaking tire, that cost $210, luckily we got 2 used and were able to patch the leak, new tires in coldfoot go $335 and our labor was $100 for 30 minutes work. The roads weren't bad, we did put chains on the tires to go over the pass, it was easy, but was getting snowed on as we were leaving.
Cant imagine how such a desolate place could be so pretty, but it was
We also saw 20+ sheep and 16 live musox
Hope this helps someone