Kenai Caribou Hunt
First up, I was unsuccesful so I won't bore with the details. However, given that I find it unlikely I'll get another week off of work this fall I figured I'd pass along what info I do have for folks that are headed deep into the mountains this fall as I'll just be striking around the periphery.
When we set out the Soldotna biologist reported that the 'bou were still in East Creek and Fox Creek moving west towards wintering grounds. I was the only one with lots of backpacking experience, an our group had three novice backpackers, so I set a more conservative gameplan of largely sticking to trails which the biologist actually thought was a good gameplan for this time in the year. So, we headed in over summit creek trail. First night was a good sign with lots of 'bou bones around. We then spent a few days over the first pass in East Creek drainage, scouting and glassing it thoroughly. We did climb some of the ridges to get up high and glass. We were optimistic at first as there was fresh sign near the large beaver lake there; clear hoof prints in the mud with still-green and supply broken leaves in them.
After a few days of scarce returns (only a few ptarmigan and ducks there -- and lots of marmots, but we didn't have a trapping license), we moved on to Resurrection Pass. This was more productive, with tons of ptarmigan for the evening stew pot. A few hours after we crossed the pass between East Creek drainage and Summit Creek, some horse riders reported seeing caribou atop the pass. We glassed and I saw some shapes that might have been caribou through my el-cheapo spotting scope (note to self: need to upgrade -- $$$...) so DW and I saddled up rucks again, climbed atop the ridgeline, and scouted as long as daylight and wx allowed. Zero sign; no tracks, no scat, nothing. We saw a lot of nasty looking weather rolling in and decided that safety was a higher priority than 'bou and decided to get off the ridge before the wind picked up, which may have cost us a 'bou. But I think it was the smart and safe decision to make given our group's gear and average skill level.
The rest of the trip was relatively uneventful as we exfilled via Devil's Pass. The horse packing group reported seeing black bear and goats back there but we saw nothing even after extensive glassing. I'm not scoffing what they said they saw but there were a lot of "tree 'bou" and "rock bears" out there that only careful glassing and observation over time to see that they were stationary let you break out, and I didn't see them packing a spotting scope or lots of binocs.
Anyways, I hope the info is helpful to others who drew the DC001 tag. I'd advise calling the biologist for an update. However, my assessment (with low confidence as I'm new to this big game hunting thing) is that the critters have moved out of East Creek for the most part and are headed towards American and the next set of drainages west. I doubt I'll be able to access that area with the amount of time off of work I have left so good luck to those who have yet to make their attempts!
I spoke with the biologist about two weeks ago and the information seems the same as others have reported...the bou move around a lot and are now trickling over to the West of the Resurrection TRail. I'm sure there are some on the East side too but that is what several folks have reported in PMs and on this forum. Even with horses the results sound similar, unless a person goes way back in there!
Well, on the bright side you did get some "Boots in the Field" time. And that is always a good thing. When were you back in there.....?