HEY i am glad you had a GREAT TRIP and that my directions worked so well... but WHERE are the DANGED PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HEY i am glad you had a GREAT TRIP and that my directions worked so well... but WHERE are the DANGED PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
... to a thread near you... OK, well, this thread then. I should finish cutting him up late tonight and darn it... that comes before pictures.
Yes, your directions worked perfectly. Though challenging in places, I got back in one piece with all my equipment (4 wheeler) intact. Though I just about flipped it in one spot when I first tried to carry the entire caribou out in one load.
Its a real nice mid sized mature bull. Rack is about 36" high and in beautiful velvet. The velvet made it out in one piece too; I was worried about that. It's about 2" diameter at the base and doesn't diminish much as it comes up.
I estimate that I packed about 350 pounds back to the 4 wheeler through some brush that was hard to walk through while carrying nothing. Good thing he was only 1/3 mile from the trail; would have been only 1/4 mile but at the end I didn't want to toss him off a cliff down to the the bike.
When I got my chance at him I could get no dead rest (which I greatly prefer; though my meds help some, I'm not as rock steady as I used to be) so had to shoot freestanding - so I took a lung shot. Turned out better anyway since this way the heart came out in perfect shape; its soaking now. And he only went 10 yards before he decided to lay down for a rest. I gave him 25 minutes to "rest" before approaching so as not to lengthen my packing distance; of course he headed away from the trail.
One thing about those directions though, Vince, that wasn't quite right: Yes, it is better to leave the vehicle at the wide spot instead of at the end of the road, but it isn't due to space reasons:
The real reason to do this is to protect the ecologically sensitive nature of the spawning grounds located at the end of the road. The locals drive daddy's car upstream from the local high school to this spot for a little afternoon delight between school and dinnertime.
Thanks so much Vince; I owe you one. OK, more than one. I know you didn't ask anything from me in return, but I would really like to get a package to you.
Do you think we can find someone driving from Anchorage directly to Fairbanks? I could meet them anywhere between Anchorage and the Valley. Obviously it would have to be someone you trust - a lot.
Ecological Sensitivity Nature?? ... and find yourself being a peeping tom or did you get a contact high...lol
Bait Em 907
Bear Bait & Moose Lure Company
Oh, now, you're makin' fun, when an entire generation of future generation of 20A hunters is at stake here.
You know the importance of not disturbing a specie's spawning grounds I'm sure.
The spawning creatures knew their environment well. Generally hunters only roar past there on there way out early, and very late when getting back. Virtually no one goes by mid to late afternoon.
I may have actually been responsible for slightly disturbing it. Ten to twenty years from now there might be two less 20A hunters in the world due to my coming through that area via ATV in the afternoon 2 days in a row, when I was hauling heavy loads out to my vehicle/trailer.
I was lucky enough to draw the DC827 tag to hunt a bull caribou in GMU 20A, a 1 in 14 chance. Got an over-the-counter sheep harvest tag in case a legal one showed up, but I'm not likely to be able to hike up to them.
Researching the specific stats for that hunt shows that about:
- 30% of the people drawing this tag don't hunt it
- of those that do hunt it, about 30% of them harvest a caribou
- many hunters fly in, which I can't afford to do. Many walk into the nonmotorized areas, which I can't physically do.
- there are no waterways big enough there for me to get my shallow-draft boat to the 'bou.
I looked for help on this forum, and did get a bit - some of it varied - some contradicted. Just like the clues you glean while in the field, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff. I strongly believed that the best advice I got came from member Vince, here. I'll say nothing publicly about the exact location (beyond GMU 20A) out of respect for him. Thanks Vince!
With a field camp good for 5 days fine living I headed out on my trusted Grizzly; here is the first creek crossing I came to; my ATV appeared to be on a real road for many miles until this:
This was but the first of about 30-40 creek crossings, most of which are not necessary once you know the best route up; which I didn't. But this was my first of the 4 times I did ATV this, and being only the first day of the sheep/caribou season the route wasn't apparent enough for me to follow, much. So, a-bushwackin' I went... The current is probably 8-10mph, fast enough to push my Grizzly sideways while fording and too strong for me to easily stand/walk in the places where it is deeper than about 16".
Made it just fine; still rubber side down and fully loaded.
Established field camp after more than 20 miles by ATV. Since it was raining pretty good then I didn't dawdle regarding location; by then I just wanted a warm dry place that didn't vibrate. Notice the baby tripod for the spotting scope works nicely on the front of the ATV.
I knew I was in the right spot when during the first 2 hours after setting up this camp:
- I'd seen caribou here and there all over, most quite a long hike away.
- I'd seen a herd of 40+ sheep, almost a thousand vertical feet above me and 1-2 miles away. Just before the rain stopped, they came out of one canyon up there over a large ridge and into another very small canyon, to again be out of sight. Glad I was out spotting during the rain or I'd have missed it.
Though I was there for caribou the sheep got me going. I was in the process of deciding if I should try to hike up there in the morning, if perchance they don't move out of their very tiny canyon before nightfall. Luckily, the sheep saved me from this crazy-talk, moving out of that spot right away and going to a further canyon that I didn't even consider hiking to.
No need to ATV-about - the 'bou are not in large herds but small groups of 2-5 are everywhere.
Here's the south end of two caribou (yes, that were headed north).
Saw small bulls within rifle range, but don't want to yet spoil a great hunt by shooting something.
The next morning, got up at 4am. Not a great night of sleep due to lots of rain, much of which was then frozen to my ATV and tent. Then discovered my 5 day supply of fine living would involve a really crappy breakfast every morning; shame on me for saving a little weight by choosing a breakfast I'd not tried ever before.
Hiked out and again saw caribou here there and wherever. I'm definitely in them. Saw two approaching my camp (I was a quarter mile or so from camp) and cross the rocks right next to my camp.
Then saw two mature bulls only 1/3 to 1/4 mile from where I could get my ATV. With the bad taste of my breakfast still in my mouth I decided that either of them (they were close to identical) could be my ticket to fine food back in my camper that very day.
Since they were slowly grazing my way I stalked slowly, taking lots of time. After the terrain got pretty rough/tough I'd started to sweat - not good. So after topping another rise and not seeing them yet I sat down in some good cover in started to remove clothing for the rest of the stalk.
Yeah, you guessed it. While I'm taking clothes off, shoulder holster danglin', Hellys undone/hangin', etc... one of the bulls appears on the closest rise, thinking about coming down my way - but once he gets off that rise I won't be able to see him.
Good news: Only 150-175 yards, clear shot, standing broadside.
Bad news: No dead rest available. Haven't shot an animal freehand in a lot of years because I'm way too careful on my first shot timing and don't mind passing a shot. And the last few years I've gotten more unsteady due to some health issues.
Worse news: I still taste breakfast, and its not good.
The worst news: Though I'm happy with this mid sized bull, the cross hairs won't settle down; can't do a clean heart shot for sure.
Then I remember what I've taught so many kids in (shooting) class over the years; I do a slow figure 8 with the cross hairs and yes, it is good enough now. I compromise by deciding on a shot to the lungs (certain to let him run a short ways; probably the wrong direction), but also certain to down him for sure.
I shoot; he jumps and disappears (yes, the wrong direction), and I've got a half hour to take my time getting dressed again before going to check him out up close and personal.
(Oops, forum won't let me do another picture, so bust this into 4 posts.)
Continued in part 2 of 4: Caribou down
... continued from previous post...
Yep, he's down all right:
Here's another shot of him at rest; this one shows the snow up on the mountaintops that just fell:
I was at that spot during some of 3 different calendar days, and it snowed my me 2 of those days (and rained each day some, of course).
You know the drill then: tag'm and bag'm, in pieces small enough to be carried to the closest that the ATV can get to (not close enough...) and lash the bags to the ATV:
OK, that didn't work; too heavy; just about flipped the ATV because the load is too heavy for the terrain. Two trips out are in order, with the antlers on the second trip.
Yay, the sun is out!
continued in part 3 of 4: Getting out
...Continued from part 2...
I had overloaded myself with too many days supplies on the way in, and now the caribou won't all fit on one load, so now who knows if I can get out with just two trips out? Not me, so I try.
Always carry an air pump. And a first aid kit, survival kit, game down kit... I could go on... did I mention I brought too much stuff in? You can't always see the rocks when you're tired and one almost knocked my tire off the rim, losing quite a bit of air.
Of course now that I have my caribou, on the way back to base camp with him a larger one basically walked right up to me and stood broadside on the trail long enough for me to stop, de-glove, find my camera and shoot. Is he smiling?
Likely it was only in my head, but I clearly heard a "neener, neener" from him.
During parts of the trail out, I was now taller than the trail:
Several times I had to move small tree limbs to avoid busting my antlers sitting up so high.
Yes, my big load is just low enough for me to peek over while driving:
Continued in part 4: back in base camp
... continued from part 3...
Dead beat tired, all shook up, and with a throttle-thumb that will just barely function at all, I make it back to base camp:
What a relief to know that I won't have to head back up there until next year or so, when I'll surely choose to. Why we (OK... me) do these things is beyond me sometimes.
So many studies have shown that we could buy more meat like this while in a 5 star hotel cheaper than hunters pay for it, once you figure in their total costs of time/tools/toys/guns/bullets/etc... so the "its cheaper than buying meat just doesn't wash in this house...
It must be the fun, experiencing the different environment and getting to know it and its inhabitants and such. 'Cause it sure isn't cheap.
The caribou's body, hindquarters, and head/rack are rebagged and loaded on trailer.
The next day got'm hung and skinned in the garage; plus a lot of manly things that men do, that accomplished nothing towards the goal of getting back to the house. Made it.
Then I butcher it, vacuum packing all trimmed steaks; had one; yummy and tender. Then Saturday my wife drops off 42 pounds of trimmed up meat scraps to Alaska Sausage Company - they do nice work there.
The trailer is loaded to go home with bags of torso, hindqarders, and head/antlers in a clockwise order.
Ready to drive home; just about exactly 48 hours since I'd shot him.
Again thanks to member Vince; I trusted him and it paid off - in spades. Thanks Vince!
I am working the night shift and about to get off. That story and the pics made my night. I was a successful hunter in the Ferry area several years ago and look forward to doing it again. And yeah...that bigger bull was laughing at you. That laugh is the motivation you need to go back there someday and find him
I don tknow Vince ... YET, but I live in Fairbanks and am going to swing by one of these days to find out more about him. From what I see on here, he is a stand up guy and knows his stuff.
Thanks again for the story, I bet I know what I dream about in a couple hours.
Great hunt report, Family Man. Thanks for sharing! We'll be going out after my wife's 20A caribou next weekend for a scouting/hunting trip. Thanks for the encouraging report!
Congrats on the Hunt! You did a great job and it looks like you had a darn good selection of equipment and gear too. Look like you'll be eating good for a while......are you still going to do a moose hunt this year?
Congrats bro!!!! looks like it was a good hunt.
Thanks fair sharing a great hunt.
Even a jackass won't stumble on the same stone twice.
what no photos of the camping areas? LOL i prolly know the swimmers DADS!!!!
Yes, I'll get out for moose, much to the wife's chagrin... but I'm a lucky guy; she'll come around.
I plan to go back to my same camp as last year in my big canoe; 25 miles out, camping streamside, looking for a legal moose among all the non-legal moose grazing by and no-tag-for caribou running through my camp.
Wow that looked like an incredible adventure. Great story. I can't wait to get out hunting one of these days.
thanks for letting us share in your adventure...looking forward to some opportunities next year...Nice job