I originally posted this under the Float Hunting forum, but figured it was appropriate here also.
After almost a year of planning, my family float hunt turned out to be a spectacular trip on a popular North Brooks Range river. We took three days to drive from Anchorage to Deadhorse. Although the trip could be done in 20 hrs or less we chose a more leisurly pace. We took the time to enjoy the sights and stops along the way, including a guided tour of the Prudhoe Bay oilfields and sampled a bit of North Slope camplife at the Arctic Caribou Inn.
Day 4, August 4th had us loading up 70 North's Helio http://www.seventynorth.com/ for the first trip out of Deadhorse with myself and most of the gear. The second load with my wife and 2 kids departed from Happy Valley after they dropped off the truck at the takeout. The river had enough water for us to fly a little deeper into the Brooks than we'd originally hoped for. This gave us 1 more day of floating, camping, and hunting in what has to be some of the world's most spectacular scenery.
We managed to catch what apparently was the last day of the arctic summer. The temp. was 80+ up in the mountains under mostly blue skies. Fortunately, this was the last day of spectacular weather. The warm weather would've made for great rafting and camping, but would have made meat care very difficult. After moving the gear about a 1/4 mile from the strip to the river we opted to set up camp there for the night and relax.
After getting most of the camp chores done, raft rigged, and a dutch oven stew & biscuit dinner finished, we started seeing caribou approaching camp. They came in several waves. Most of the time within 150 yds or less of camp where they's stop and check us out. They were just as curious of us as we were of them.
We woke the next morning (our first legal day to hunt) and once again had caribou walking through camp as we ate breakfast. The kids could barely contain themselves with caribou at 35 yds while they were eating oatmeal. They were blood thirsty caribou hunters ready to put meat in camp. I tried my best to explain that we had a long, long ways to float to get back to the truck and that there's be more 'bou farther down the river.
This river, like many Alaskan rivers is very braided and shallow. Our first day of floating did nothing to improve this river's reputation and had us out of the boat 3 or 4 times an hour dragging the raft back into deeper water. This was not my first braided river trip and I'm pretty good a reading the water. But, sometimes it came down to just picking the least worst channel and 2 or more of us getting out of the raft until it floated again. We spent about 10 hrs on the river trying to put some miles behind us and looking for an ideal hunt camp. Just before a rain shower approached, we found a nice gravel bar with a large herd of caribou between it and the mountains. Pretty soon it began to rain steadily and we hurriedly set-up camp and cooked dinner. Hunting would wait until tomorrow.