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Thread: You're experiences with rutty Caribou?

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    Default You're experiences with rutty Caribou?

    Iím planning on a Caribou hunt This Sept 11th-19th and am a bit concerned about meat quality that time of year. I am mainly interested in the meat, but if I do see a big bull Iíd hate to have to pass in fear that the meat would be questionable.

    I know the general rule of thumb Iíve heard is to avoid shooting bulls after the 15th of Sept. Doing some reading Iíve heard other people say the third week of Sept or even Ocotober.

    Iím wondering has anybody shot a bull that was rutty? What time of year was it?

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    Even my buddies dog would not eat the meat from a rutting bull I killed. The flavor is mighty powerful !

    I did a fly-out, unguided trip to the Mulchatna herd range and took 2 nice bulls, we hunted Sept. 1 to Sept 13. The second bull I shot was on the 10th as I remember it and was heavy in rut ( though it was'nt known before the rifle went bang ).

    The latest I have shot a bull was the 17th of Sept. and it had not gone into rut and tasted excellent. I think the rule of thumb-Sept 15 is a good one to go by.

    If your primary interest is meat, take cows or young bulls and you won't go wrong.

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    Member Kotton's Avatar
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    We got eight bulls on a trip about six years ago september 10-20 and they were the smellyest toughest bou meat I have seen yet never went after them that late again.Last years august bulls were great!some of the best meat I have ever ate,they were in velvet and we had european mounts made and all of us wish we would have shoulder mounted them,they all had a deep chocolate fur and would have looked awesome.

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    Default its bad

    caribou rutting is highly variable and its largely temperature and weather dependent... very generally speaking you really run the risk of getting into a rutting bull after the middle of sept. anytime in late sept and oct you have a very high chance of getting a rutting bull.... like mentioned above, if meat is your goal a young bull or cow is the way to go...

    the reason the meat is so horrid is because bulls "test" their cows for "readiness" by frequently sampling the urine of their cows..... if you find a migrating "family" IE a couple of bulls and numerous cows in a group... you may be able to tell if the rut is in full swing by viewing that behavior... if you cant, take a cow or one of the subordinate bulls and you should be ok....

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    Default Caribou Hunting out of Kotzebue

    We've hunted Caribou out of Kotzebue numerous times over the past 12 years and we have never had a problem with the meat especially in recent years. The rut doesn't seem to start until October now a days. They say it has progressively got later and later (due to global warming?) who knows! We've had great caribou meat and enjoy it all winter long. I guess it would depend on where your hunting, what herd and the temperatures/weather.

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    The ruttiness(?) of bulls is mostly connected to daylight around the beginning of fall and the estrous cycle of the cows, which is largely determined by the phase of the moon, with some minor variation. If it seems that the rut has been starting later it is because the moon phase progresses each year, until it gets to a point where the full moon comes early in September. I think there is some differences from herd to herd and I think also with Barren Ground and Mountain/Woodland bou. However you look at it, after the 21st of September a mature bull can be pretty dicey for meat. I have seen different bulls taken on the same day have different levels of rankness. I've seen it at the end of the rut too, when a day or two can make quite a difference in the hormone levels.

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    11th thru 19th is not really rut time. I would shoot bulls. Mature bulls if available. They will be fat and healthy and good eating likely.
    Shoot younger bulls if you want to compromise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ytlogger View Post
    The ruttiness(?) of bulls is mostly connected to daylight around the beginning of fall and the estrous cycle of the cows, which is largely determined by the phase of the moon, with some minor variation. If it seems that the rut has been starting later it is because the moon phase progresses each year, until it gets to a point where the full moon comes early in September. I think there is some differences from herd to herd and I think also with Barren Ground and Mountain/Woodland bou. However you look at it, after the 21st of September a mature bull can be pretty dicey for meat. I have seen different bulls taken on the same day have different levels of rankness. I've seen it at the end of the rut too, when a day or two can make quite a difference in the hormone levels.
    Does that mean the further north u go the earlier the rut?

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    It doesn't seem like it to me, but I'm no biologist. Barrenground herds migrate for a reason. Maybe they adapt to what daylight tells them for their range. As far as the meat quality/rut time, there doesn't seem to be a great variation. They start stripping velvet around the same time. That brings blackflies to mind. Often wondered if blackfly bites are what get them started with rubbing and stripping. Any way you look at it, 'hours of daylight' drives life in the north.

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    They really won't be "rutty" until October. Find a nice bull and let him have it.
    "Ya can't stop a bad guy with a middle finger and a bag of quarters!!!!"- Ted Nugent.

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    Member AkGreg's Avatar
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    Default rut timing

    the temperature is the major driver for the change into rut for caribou... I would imagine daylight levels play a role too with quickly diminishing light in Sept and getting in Oct... but it's the temp that push them to turn on the "migration" button, form up into harem groups and start the rutting process....

    we see a major distruption in this process when you have an abnormally hot spell in sept...

    Greg

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    I can only speak for the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH) as its the only Caribou herd Ive hunted.

    25 years ago, when it used to get down below freezing by mid september during the nights,we would be up Kobuk river hunting crossing Bulls by the second week of september. Caribou were on the move and "The Rut" began at the last days of September. Now we hunt the last week of Sept/first week of October, as now Rut is showing up in early October.

    We try and get bulls by the group and get up pile or two to get us throught freeze up and then the long Arctic nights, as hunting light is very limited untill mid January.

    We try and get the animals while the nights are cold and the days cool, so we can hang them in their skins and keep them whole as a "Package" to be brought in as needed.

    When its time to hunt, there will be cold nights and during the days, the puddles in the shadows are frozen or crusted all day long.Caribou will be moving across the land, crossing rivers in droves.
    The bulls will always be at the back of the groups of cows, and last to cross the rivers we hunt them in.

    Rut is indicated in bulls when they have almost no food in their stomaches and LOTS of water. They will "Go Stink" in a day or two, and some will have a faint oder about them.
    When groups of Bulls are travling together during prerut, they will be sparring and fearless, unlike the way they behaved a few days earlier, being shy and trailing.We stop hunting them right there.

    Since were after the big mature bulls, and they are first to rut, when Rut actually hits, it will freeze across the river in a couple days as well. Time to go home.
    If, for some reason we have missed getting big Bulls, we will set up a tent and catch young bulls and fat cows for the meat.

    Since it dosent freeze untill October now, and the Bulls Rut dosent come on untill then, I belive Rut is determined by temperatures.
    The occassional Ferral Reindeer (35,000 walked off with 350,000 WACH Caribou in '95) rut and birth about two weeks earlier than Caribou. There cycle was well known to herders, and its timeing was different as the seed stock to the Reindeer herds came from Norway, after a failed attempt at rearing Siberian Reindeer. Different herds most likely have different Rut times.
    I belive that the reindeer Rut is also effected by temps, as they too changed with the climate.

    Good thing theres no rut right now, as were hunting Caribou as well,down here along the ocean side, untill the boat is full and we go back to the river.


    Anyway, Good luck !!!!
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    Default Should be fine

    Those dates should be good for you. I agree with what the other folks are saying about rut times. I've hunted 'bou quite a bit through Sep & never had an issue. Stuck an arrow though one in mid-October up on the haul road a bunch of years ago & learned really fast what everyone was talking about. Took a half-day to air the house out after popping the lid off the crock-pot. Makes a man sick at heart to bring that much meat home and have even the dog turn away from it.

  14. #14

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    Thanks, I appreciate the help. Kind of interesting how much everyones experiences vary but I'll keep do my best to watch for the "rut behavior" described. I'm most likely going to Adak, but there is a possiblity I may do the haul road instead.

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    Member willphish4food's Avatar
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    Default rutty meat...

    Summer sausage... with heavy spice! Makes it palatable...

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    Why does it get cold in the fall and warm in the spring? Why do willow leaves turn green in spring and then turn color and fall off? Rut can be 'held up' or pushed on a little bit either way and there are minor local variations but the big light in the sky is what it is all about.

    Pacific currents have favored later fall and earlier spring and generally warmer winters for most of the last 30 years, particularly for northwestern North America. Influences go round the world. It seems to me that animals and plants have some sense of this.

    It looks that generally, we can expect change to the kind of weather that we had in the 50's, 60's and 70's. The warmer trend last began around 1977, ending somewhere around 2007. The colder trend before that began around '47. Not many of us have been around long enough to experience and remember the whole cycle.

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    ok, i see lots of posts about the meat taken in aug-oct, but what about the real late season hunts up around fairbanks? shot a reasonable bull up there last year on the 5th of december that seemed alright. i suppose that may be because it was far enough past the rut that everything had calmed down in him, or is it something I am missing? please tell me if I am wrong

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    December is far enough past rut , there should be little to no 'gassy' flavor on it.

    Skinny Bulls in December just are not 10% as good a meal as a healthy cow, though.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

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