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Thread: Kotzebue Hunting for Caribou, please help, newbie!

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    Unhappy Kotzebue Hunting for Caribou, please help, newbie!

    Hello, I am new to group. This will be my 1st hunt for Caribou. I've never been to Alaska. This will be my husband and my 5th anniversary trip/present to us (my idea on the whole thing!) I'm trying to find a good outfitters guide to hunt Caribou in Alaska. Is the Kotzebue area a sure bet in bringing home a Caribou? I am nervous about spending this amount of money and not being able to come home with anything. I found Alaska Wilderness Charters and Guiding at Weguidealaska.com (anyone hear of them?) Are they reliable or know of any other outfitters site in this area. Or do you recommend we go to another part of Alaska. Also can you guide me in the right direction of what I need to know on how to make this happen, what I need (equipment, trip planning, purchases, phone calls to make, etc.) I would greatly appreciate. Also what dates are the best time to go this year. Also after reading other posts, they mention this is not going to be a good year to hunt for Caribou and wait till next year -is this true?

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Senecaly75 View Post
    I am nervous about spending this amount of money and not being able to come home with anything.
    The above statement is a poor choice of words for this forum, IMO. Some will criticize you for wanting anything more than a good hunting "experience". Success should be a secondary goal in many eyes.
    However, since, in truth, success is important to all of us, and you are honest enough to state your lack of experience, there is good news.
    Contact either Pristine Ventures or Lost Creek(I forgot the last part of the business name). They both advertise here. They are "hunt planners" For a completely reasonable fee, they will set you up with whatever you desire. As a newbie to hunting Alaska, your chance of success increases greatly by using one of these hunt planners. Both planners I mentioned are reputable businesses with good track records. I believe both will give you some free advice to help you decide if you want to use their services.
    There are a couple other businesses associated with bou hunting in Alaska, tho they are not "planners" per se. I'm sure one of them will see this thread and also pipe in.
    Good Luck.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Default Sorry about that -

    Sorry, I do apologize about that statement. What I actually should have said, I will be coming home with an experience of a lifetime in what I have seen and done which I never thought in a million years I could have done. I am very nervous in away (I spoke with some outfitters and they told me we should do a non-guided trip, not guided to get the full experience.) I'm not sure if that is a wise choice for a newbie. The added benefit would be coming home with a Caribou mount. Sorry for offending you.

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    Just give it a try.

    Do you know how to camp? If so, then do a self hunt.

    Can you afford a guide? If you can and feela need to use one, then you will learn alot by hiring one, and maby next time you will do it yourself.

    keep looking, reading ect.

    Theres plenty of Caribou in Unit 23 (Kotz)

    good luck.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    We are not offended, don't worry. I, and a lot of us understand it would be better if we were successful after spending that much money but it is not the deciding factor, it just makes it a little beter. Although a do it yourself caribou hunt is very doable, I understand your reluctance as a "newbie". Most of us were at one time or another. Guided caribou is not all that expensive, especially if you consider the savings in not having to rent a lot of equipment or shipping it up. Up north, the Kotzebue area does indeed have a lot of caribou. There is a gentleman named Walt that frequents this site and I would recommend getting a hold of him and see if he can help with a guide service. Here's his website: http://www.northwestalaska.com/ You can also check the services part of this website for good information.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    No one is offended, including me. Just giving you advice on the tone of this particular forum. Didn't say I agreed with the tone, which I often don't.
    The business Bill provided a link to is one of the ones I mentioned who are not "planners" but will help you.
    Forge ahead ma'am. The help you need is available.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
    I have less friends now!!

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    Default lots of options

    Like has been said int his thread.... a self guided caribou hunt is within the realm of doable if you have some hunting/camping experience already. Bou hunts aren't that expensive compared to other big game species.

    I would certainly get a hold of Mike Strahan on this site. He is excellent and won't steer you wrong. If you don't do a guided hunt you might be too late to get a slot with an air taxi out of Kotz... most are booked at this point... there are other areas to hunt bou....

    For a guided hunt you can also look at Deltana outfitters... they are a sponsor on this forum and guid caribou out of happy valley. they guide on the north side of the brooks range. I think they charge roughly $5K per hunter for a guided bou hunt... its a 2x1 hunt.

    I hunt caribou almost exclusively, feel free to drop me a PM if you have any other questions... I can't make any recommendations on guides because I don't use them but I can help out on herds and logistics etc...


    Greg

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    Default My first alaska experience (caribou)

    I was in a similar situation last year at this time, having never hunted in alaska. I was blessed with a good friend who lives in wasilla and that made the logistics of a self hunt far easier. If you are willing to pay for a drop hunt, where you would essentially just be using an air taxi and are willing to camp and hunt the animals yourself, your success rate should be fairly high.

    Your original post does not state your level of hunting experience and your comfort with camping. Remember this is not camping like at a KOA campground. You need to be comfortable living for 5-10 days in the wilderness. You have plenty of time to become knowledgeable enough to sustain yourself in a wilderness situation. Only you can decide if you feel comfortable doing so in Alaska. If you decide to do a drop hunt and choose a reliable air taxi they should put you in an area that has caribou. At that point it will just be on you to put in the requisite effort to succeed. This could mean that on the second morning you wake up and there are caribou outside your tent or you could put in a 3,4,5 miles a day depending on the terrain your hunting glassing for 'bou.

    My experience is that you can do a ton of research and there are many people on this forum who can provide you with the kind of advice and anecdotes that will prepare you. Understanding the potential weather conditions, reading about hunting caribou and understanding how to do so, reading about surviving in the wilderness, and generally researching Alaska will all provide you with invaluable knowledge and will certainly aid you in feeling prepared.

    Personally, I haven't done a drop hunt, instead taking a jet boat up a river on the north slope, but I think you would be safe to do a drop hunt. An air taxi is generally going to get you on or near caribou. Once you're on the ground in an area where there are caribou hunting them will just require a little patience and some hard work. If you choose a drop hunt will need to purchase excellent camping equipment including a good 3 season tent, synthetic sleeping bag, ect, ect, ect. Some people on the forum will be able to suggest where you can rent this equipment, but purchasing it ensures you'll be able to use it again. This equipment will be semi costly, but compared to 5k a person with Deltana Outfitters your still going to come up much cheaper. 5k per person really isnt that expensive for a guided hunt, but caribou are much easier to hunt than other animals that may require a guide (dall sheep, brown bear). If you are a decent hunter and the air taxi gets your near the caribou a guide really isnt needed.

    I hope this helps and good luck to you and your husband. I commend you for such a wonderful idea for your anniversary.

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    Check the link below from my hunt to the area awhile back.

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    Talking Kotzebue hunt

    Quote Originally Posted by Senecaly75 View Post
    Hello, I am new to group. This will be my 1st hunt for Caribou. I've never been to Alaska. This will be my husband and my 5th anniversary trip/present to us (my idea on the whole thing!) I'm trying to find a good outfitters guide to hunt Caribou in Alaska. Is the Kotzebue area a sure bet in bringing home a Caribou? I am nervous about spending this amount of money and not being able to come home with anything. I found Alaska Wilderness Charters and Guiding at Weguidealaska.com (anyone hear of them?) Are they reliable or know of any other outfitters site in this area. Or do you recommend we go to another part of Alaska. Also can you guide me in the right direction of what I need to know on how to make this happen, what I need (equipment, trip planning, purchases, phone calls to make, etc.) I would greatly appreciate. Also what dates are the best time to go this year. Also after reading other posts, they mention this is not going to be a good year to hunt for Caribou and wait till next year -is this true?
    I am also a new to the caribou hunting.I researched the Kotzebue hunt from piller to post.I spoke to nearly every Air Service and every rental person in the Kotzebeu area.What I came up with is this.If you are going this year most folks are filled.Mike Spisak,Ram Aviation., has a few dates left.He drops for $550.00 per hour.You tell him where you want to go and when you need to be picked up.For $1950.00 per person he will put you on the caribou,or moose.Must draw a moose tag.I checked references...ask questions get answers,.form your own opinion.Dont wear camo or orange clothes in Kotzebue around town...try to blend in.walk light leave attitude at home...once again form your own opinion on that.
    Caribou hunting is feast or famine,its hunting not killing.go in with the idea of great adventure.Game is a bonus to the over all expierence.Be prepared to take out the meat and bones according to the regulations.,have some idea before hand what you are going to do with the meat once you get back to Kotzebue,for they have very little services to deal with your meat.Have some room on your credit card for extra exspenses,do to weather and flight delays as well as lodging and meat shipping as well as capes and antlers.
    My finale thoughts.....
    The flight round trip from lower 48 $1268.95
    The flight out for the drop camp and back $1950.00
    The raft rental and gear drop for a ten day hunt $1565.00
    The transport of meat and antlers back to lower 48.$ 350.00
    An Alaskan Adventure of a life time PRICELESS!!!!!!!!

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    I'm not really new to caribou hunting, although compared to some on this forum, I may be. I've hunted them almost every year since 98. Anyquestions, just ask, someone here will have the answers

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    A good word here, QDM4SURE, Senecly75;

    Meat storage is a flying turd in Kotzebue.

    If you dont have a place to freeze it, try to find a way to hang it. Hang the quarters and such individually, and get good air cirulation. If you cant hang the meat , cut and pile willows to make a foot deep "Mat" that keeps them off the ground and air circulating around them. Game bags are good, plastic is not. Maby a loosley set tarp to keep the meat dry, but not a wrap.Cut the meat between the legs down to the pelvis if you keep you animal whole and let the Meat cool .......do not pile it or let meat touch meat, because that is where it will spoil first. A good thick crust, and the low temps will let your meat do well for a week +.....it only gets colder as September rolls along.

    Check in and ship your meat ASAP, because Alaska Airlines and Northern Air Cargo both have freezers.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by strangerinastrangeland View Post
    Check in and ship your meat ASAP, because Alaska Airlines and Northern Air Cargo both have freezers.
    My experience is they are both usually full, don't count on it being available. Good handling, as advised, is critical. September has been pretty warm up there the last few years as well. Consider the weather before pulling the hook on a caribou your first day.

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    Thank you so much for the link. I found that site to be VERY Helpful!!!
    Need to print it all out for later use.
    It also helped me try to understand and realize, not to get high expectations from the Daily Journal.
    Thanks once again!

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    As Martintrapper told you, Larry Bartlett of Pristine Ventures and Mike Strahan of Lost Creek are great resources and well trusted. Be sure to get in touch with Walt Maslen (forum member "Northwestalaska") at his website www.northwestalaska.com He rents high quality rafts/gear/etc.. in Kotzebue and is a valuable resource and super nice guy. He can be reached via his website of course. For pilots in Kotz, I use Eric Sieh of Hageland Aviation and recommend him very highly. Be sure to get a copy of Mike Stahan's book, "Float Hunting Alaska". It is available on the forum store under the hunting section I believe. Great resource and had some 400 pages of info. A must read. Mike was mentioned in a grizzly hunt article in this months issue of Outdoor Life magazine as well. Pick up a copy. It was a hunt in Alaska for grizzly and caribou. Good read.
    The two loudest sounds known to man: a gun that goes bang when it is supposed to go click and a gun that goes click when it is supposed to go bang.

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    Default Senecaly75

    I sent you a PM

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    Senecaly75

    First let me say, I wish my wife would plan a trip like that for me.

    Three buddies and I went up last fall for the first time and had great time, the area is absolutly amazing. We are going back up this year for the second time and a chance to redeem ourselves for some of our rookie mistakes. Let me say that bou hunting is not like hunting deer or elk. We made the mistake of watching herds go by for three days waiting for the monster that we all wanted and passed up on a lot of good chances for nice caribou. On the morning of the third day weather changed, migration changed and we were left high and dry and with nothing but moose and bears to entertain us for the next six days. We had already shot one medium sized guy that made for the best camp food you could ever ask for on the second day. My buddy from AK got an absolutly beautiful grizz as well, so all things considered the trip was a sucess. We used Jim Kinkaid and let me tell you what a wonderful group of folks he has and I highly recommend his survices for the DIY group.
    1) Take a bear fence
    2) Plan for the worst weather and hope for the best
    3) Read everything you can to gain as much local knowledge as possible, this web site is an awsome resource and there are lots of books out there
    4) get ready for a trip that you will never forget

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    First off you came to the right place to get help. Here is what you should do first.

    1. Call the Area Bio and talk to him/her. They should sent you maps of the area and other data. They also have a list of all guides and air transporters. They will not tell you which one is better then the other.

    2. Get the book Hunt Alaska Now by Dennis Confer.
    this book has everything you need to know.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

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