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Thread: Caribou in 2011 advice

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Caribou in 2011 advice

    I recently discovered the Outdoors Directory forum and site. There seems to be a wealth of information here, so hopefully some of you would be willing to offer tips for a planned 2011 Caribou hunt in Alaska. My father plans to bring my brother and I to Alaska in 2011 to hunt caribou.

    We are aware the caribou hunting in Alaska seems to be in a state of disarray. From what we understand, the Porcupine, Central Arctic and Western Arctic Herds are the only herds us non-residents can hunt. My Father just got back from a Caribou hunt in the ANWR (GMU 25A) and enjoyed it. The problem is that he had planned on a 2-bou limit only to find out a few weeks before the hunt that the limit has been reduced to 1 bull for non-residents. We enjoy hunting quite emensly and are not into the hunt where you fly in with the guide, see how fast you can get an animal and then beat it back home. We would prefer to have the option to take a bou early in the hunt and then spend the rest of the week or 10 days looking for bigger bulls and just enjoying being outside. Of course, having the option of a 2nd animal such as moose on a trophy fee basis, would be fine as well. It just seems things get really expensive after bou!

    We want a fly in wilderness hunt. We do not want to stay in a fancy lodge or even a cabin and we want to be in an area where we have things to ourselves. We are not against having just one guide as we are willing and able to help with camp chores and pack meat. We are comfortable with two of us hunting together while the other one hunts with the guide and then trade around. A plus would be fishing and maybe even other game on a trophy fee basis depending on the cost. Our ages are 56, 37, & 29. My father has hunted in Alaska several times but neither my brother or I have. We all hunt whitetail here in Indiana. Do you have any recommendations?
    Are there any GOOD caribou hunts anywhere that allow non-residents to harvest 2-bulls or more? We would like a central arctic hunt also for the simple fact that the weather is generally nicer than in zone 26 or 23. However, if there are better options, we are all ears! We would also appreciate hearing about any highly recommended outfitters. If there are those you would not recommend, feel free to email me as well.
    Thanks in advance for your advice and help!
    CSK

  2. #2

    Default 40mile?

    Since you gentlemen are from out of state you may want to hunt the Fortymile caribou herd in Area 2. Fly out with TOK Air and do a drop off hunt. You will be far away from other hunters and should have a great caribou hunt which will put you in some great country and leave you with fond memories around any campfire. Though this is limited to only a one caribou harvest. I am sorry to say that what you are reading in the recent posts concerning the Nelchina Tier II caribou is not hunting, but a meat harvest. This same thing happened in the 90's when 10,000 Tier I permits were issued for this same herd. Thankfully, this will not be repeated next hunting season. True hunters and sportsmen see this behavior by some in the field as a black mark and shameful.
    Last edited by akriverman; 10-25-2010 at 19:50. Reason: add
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    I agree on taking a look at the 40-mile. Might also look up deltana outfitters and see what they have to offer, they might possibly offer something that fits what you need.

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    Cruise thru this site and check for posts this fall on bou hunts. There were several. Caribou hunting is not in a state of disarray up here.
    The reg book is available online. Check thru it for bou bag limits. Most all good bou hunting during normal aug/sept hunt seasons will be in unit 26 or 23. 26 covers the entire north slope from east to west. Only other non res hunt with decent bou success is 40 mile herd from Tok. I think that is a 1 bou limit.
    Have you got plenty of money? 3 guys flying back to town with 6 bou won't be cheap!! You might find your check book prefers a 1 bou limit.
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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    CSK,

    Welcome to Outdoors Directory! You are certainly in the right place to find the info you're looking for. Use the search function in the forums here to find more info on Arctic caribou hunting. As was mentioned, there is a lot of that here in our hunting forums.

    If you get stuck, or if you need help, drop me a PM (link in my signature line below) and I'd be happy to help more directly. I am a commercial hunt planner, but I don't always charge for information. Depends on what you need and how much time it takes.

    Anyway, hope you enjoy the site!

    Take care,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Red face

    Thanks for the prompt input sirs!

    We had not given much thought to the Forty-Mile herd. I am still suspect of a hunt here due to the possible unpredictability of the season, bag limits, etc. As described in this arcticle and as you all no doubt know, the season was closed quickly on this herd this year due to meeting quotas quickly: http://www.adn.com/2010/08/27/142814...e-caribou.html Does anyone have outfitter recommendations we could check with in the forty-mile herd area? We prefer a guided hunt in areas we have not been before.

    As martentrapper suggested, I have done quite a bit of searching on this site. It appears, much of the bou hunting info is more relavent to residents. You all have more liberal bag limits and range of hunting area, and rightfully so.

    Some of our confusion is in regard to bag limits stated in the regs. For example, there is a limit for non-residents in the western part of GMU 25A of 5 bou. What we do not know is whether the area this far west is likely to have an abundance of bou. My father's experience along the Coleen River in eastern GMU 25A indicates there is an abundance of bou there... but the bag limit for us is only 1 bull. So, a big question is do the more liberal bag limits indicate more oppurtunities for harvest??

    Cost is always a consideration for us martentrapper but we would rather spend a little bit more to get what we are looking for.

    Thanks again for all the helpful info. Keep it coming!

    CSK

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    CSK,
    I also reccommend the Forty-Mile herd. Look back on this forum about 5 pages to a thread titled "2010 40 Mile Hunt". I would attach the link, but at my age, I am a little technically challenged.This was a hunt my son and I did this year. We both had moose tags, but also did the caribou registration for zone 2. We were able to shoot caribou and put the moose tag on them. I shot my bou on Sept 13, and the registration was still open at that time. We had a satelite phone to call in daily to make sure we were legal to harvest a bou. We did this hunt on our own, with a flight in/out with 40 Mile Air. I understand you would like to harvest more than 1 animal apiece, but if all 3 of you took 2 animals, that is a lot of work. I see that you are from Indiana. I was born and raised in Covington, and still have a lot of family there. Send me a PM if I can help you out.
    Knute

  8. #8

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    Just a thought; but perhaps you would be better served going to Quebec/Labrador and hunting up there. My friend who lives down your way found that to be a better option.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by csk View Post
    Thanks for the prompt input sirs!

    We had not given much thought to the Forty-Mile herd. I am still suspect of a hunt here due to the possible unpredictability of the season, bag limits, etc. As described in this arcticle and as you all no doubt know, the season was closed quickly on this herd this year due to meeting quotas quickly: http://www.adn.com/2010/08/27/142814...e-caribou.html Does anyone have outfitter recommendations we could check with in the forty-mile herd area? We prefer a guided hunt in areas we have not been before.

    As martentrapper suggested, I have done quite a bit of searching on this site. It appears, much of the bou hunting info is more relavent to residents. You all have more liberal bag limits and range of hunting area, and rightfully so.

    Some of our confusion is in regard to bag limits stated in the regs. For example, there is a limit for non-residents in the western part of GMU 25A of 5 bou. What we do not know is whether the area this far west is likely to have an abundance of bou. My father's experience along the Coleen River in eastern GMU 25A indicates there is an abundance of bou there... but the bag limit for us is only 1 bull. So, a big question is do the more liberal bag limits indicate more oppurtunities for harvest??

    Cost is always a consideration for us martentrapper but we would rather spend a little bit more to get what we are looking for.

    Thanks again for all the helpful info. Keep it coming!

    CSK
    THIS MAP shows the general distribution of caribou herds in Alaska. Note that the Fortymile Herd moves in and out of Canada. This movement pattern is unpredictable and makes planning a hunt in that area somewhat of a gamble. Still, hunters take caribou up there every year, so clearly it is possible.

    You mentioned a guide service. If you want to go that route, I would recommend Deltana Outfitters. They've operated in the Arctic for many years and know what they're doing. Check them out AT THIS LINK. Their rate sheet indicates a 7-day, 2x1 (two hunters , one guide) caribou hunt, for $5400 per person. A second animal may be taken for a trophy fee of $1500. I do recommend going to an area that allows you to take at least two. Shoot something you like, and take your time looking for a larger animal (assuming this is a trophy hunt).

    Best regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
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    Thanks again for the info Mike! I sent you a P.M. to follow up.

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    $5,400/person for a guided 'bou hunt? Wow, that's a lot of coin! Add to that, cost of license ($85), tag ($325/ea), transportation to Deadhorse then Happy Valley, etc. and you'll spend $7,500 plus per person. A DIY for $5,400 total could be had if you do your homework. Not saying Deltana isn't a good operation because they have a good rep, however, you can hunt the Central Arctic or Porcupine herd for much less, with good opportunity if you go unguided.

    I just got back from a Brooks Range DIY 'bou hunt with my nephew (20) and my brother-in-law (53). I'm 38. We're from Louisiana but like your dad, I was the only one with any Alaskan hunting experience (DIY moose in '06 and guided Dall sheep in '05). See link

    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...unt?highlight=
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    Units 23 allows 2 caribou per non-res. There are multiple air transporters that fly out of Kotzebue and Bettles. It's an easy DIY hunt and has a good abundance of caribou. I'd look into Brooks Range Aviation or Bettles Lodge/Air our of Bettles.

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    I'll second the motion for Bettles. But have them take you into 26A. Non res bag is 5. That should give you plenty of opportunity to empty your check books.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    The 40-mile herd is an excellent option, but you will be limited to 1 bou apiece. There are 3 zones for that hunt and if you do the fly in hunt you will be in the road less zone. As far as I know you do not have to worry about that zone getting closed early because of the quota. Each zone has its own quota and that one usually doesn't get filled early. Please double check this for yourself, I am only going off of memory from 2 yrs ago. I highly recommend checking with 40-mile air out of Tok, their service is 2nd to none. you will need to make arrangements by early dec. with them because they book up early. You also might check with Golden eagle outfitters to access that herd. From my experience this hunt can be done for apx. $4,200, that includes everything once you walk out your door and return home with meat and antlers. If your heart is set on having 2 tags cont looking up north. I can't offer much advice up there but look for costs to be higher because of logistics and handling more meat if your successful.

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bklogs View Post
    The 40-mile herd...From my experience this hunt can be done for apx. $4,200, that includes everything once you walk out your door and return home with meat and antlers... I can't offer much advice up there but look for costs to be higher because of logistics and handling more meat if your successful.
    Not trying to be contentious here, but you're quoting an all-inclusive dollar amount that suggests you have some experience with this hunt, but then you say you can't offer much advice for that "zone" (in Alaska they are called "Game Management Units" or GMUs for short; I know, it's a little thing, but let's call things by their proper Alaskan names. Zones are for the Lower 48).

    Do your numbers include out-of-state airfare (the OP is coming from Outside and did not say whether he's in Maine, Florida or Washington), lodging in Alaska on both ends of the trip (almost always required for logistical reasons), vehicle rental (you have to drive out to Tok and the vehicle sits there while you're afield), fuel for the vehicle, nonresident licenses and tags, food, salt for capes and hides, game bags, cordage, satphone rental, possible camping gear rental (might be cheaper than buying and shipping), possible raft rental (is this a float hunt? the OP didn't say), misc. gear (most groups have to spend at least SOME money on gear for Alaska), air charter, meat processing and shipping to the Lower 48, trophy prep and expediting, excess baggage fees, freight costs for shipping gear to Alaska and back home, maps and incidentals? Or is it just a ballpark number?

    In terms of the location, my experience with that herd is that their migration patterns are highly unpredictable. Yes, you can plan a hunt out that way, but you had better keep your ear to the ground all the way up to departure day, otherwise you could end up with a very expensive camping trip while your caribou are vacationing in western Canada. Some years you get lucky and some years it's a bust. My suggestion would be to also have a moose tag in your hip pocket, so at least you have another option if the caribou don't cooperate.

    A better recommendation for strictly caribou is the Western Arctic or Central Arctic herds, where numbers are still good and you have a reasonable chance of encountering game. Those areas present different logistics, and could entail a commercial flight to a village, camp, or town in the area, such as Kotzebue, Bettles, Happy Valley, Prudhoe Bay or perhaps even Kaktovik.

    Again, not dinging you on your comments, just trying to see if you're figuring all the details in this...

    Regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    I only stated a cost cause other's had stated prices and I was just trying to be helpful and give a number(for reference only) but to outline that figure it includes--- Transportation to my local airport and back home, round trip airfare to Anchorage, sat phone rental, car rental for the duration of the trip( to drive to Tok and to sit in parking lot till hunt was concluded) fuel, lodging on front and back end of being in the field, food, flight service to access hunting area and back with meat and antlers, game bags, hunting lic. and tag, mailing camping gear up prior to hunt and back home and transporting the meat and antlers back home. I did not figure any camping gear that had a multiple use other than this trip(of which I already owned most of from moose hunt from previous year). Just a running tally I kept of what the trip actually cost me. I did try to save money and do things the cheapest way I could find to do them.

    Also I ment that if he chooses for sure he wants to pursue 2 caribou, then he needs to look to the north...... as in the central arctic herd and western arctic herd. Of which I can offer no specific advice other than the costs would most likely be alot higher since you would have to travel alot further to get to where your bush flight would start and the extra weight of the meat and antlers of 2 caribou if he is successful.

    As far as the 40-mile herd, I am looking at the registration hunt info right now. They have the area divided into 3 zones (Their words not mine). Zone 1 is the area by the Steese Hwy, Zone 2 is the roadless area(where I hunted, and most likely anyone flying in to hunt them) and Zone 3 the area along the Taylor hwy. As far as I know each has it's own quota and just because one zone closed doesn't mean the other zones closed. Things may I have changed since I was there, as I was advising him to check for himself.

    If he thinks this might be a hunt of interest then he should talk to the area wildlife biologist, Jeff Gross. To learn more about the movements of this herd and any regs that apply to hunting them. Or talk to 40-mile air and find out the details of this hunt further.

    Just trying to be helpful, I have been in those shoes.

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    bklogs, is right about the zones in Unit 20. I flew in with 40-Mile Air to Unit 20E, and was within Zone 2 of the caribou RC860 registration hunt. My son and I both had moose tags for the area, but we also filled out the registration for the caribou. We saw a few cows, but the rut was late for that area this year, and the bulls were not close by. We were fortunate though, that the caribou were in the area, and we both tagged nice bulls. We saw approx. 150 to 200 animals a day.

    As for trip cost, we drove from Kansas to Tok, and back. We mostly tent camped along the way. Total cost of flights with 40-Mile, including meat flights, round trip gas, license and tags, motel room at Young's for 1 night on each end, and food that we did not bring with us was just under $8500 for the both of us. I think we did pretty well. I pulled a small trailer with a freezer on it for the meat, which kept very well. We are doing euro mounts ourselves, which are about done, at a cost of about $15 for the detergent and peroxide, and a few hours of work.

    This was my first trip to Alaska, and it took a lot of research, many on this forum were helpfull. I think it shows though, that it can be done at a resonable cost, and I can't express howmuch of a great time my son and I had. We will be back!

    Knute

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    Does anyone know of any reputable guides / outfitters in this GMU 20 area? We would be open to considering moose and / or caribou here. We prefer the fly-in, wilderness, no-sign-of-human areas. In an area where none of us have been before, we think we would prefer to have at least 1 guide, especially if working for moose.

    Those of you who have been with 40-Mile Air...
    Did you have an option to move camp if the animals were not around?
    Did you see any other sign of humans or civilization once to camp?

    Thanks again all!

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    csk,
    I don't know if 40-Mile will move you. In our case, I'm sure the bull moose would be around once the rut kicked in, as the cows were present. We were dropped in on a gravel bar along the river. We made our camp on the higher ground just off the gravel bar, where others before us had made their camps. This was the only sign of human activity we saw, except for a high flying plane maybe once a day. Other groups that were waiting to fly out when we did had guides with them. Personally, I didn't want one on this trip, and I won't in the future. There is something to be said for doing it yourself, but I understand that it isn't for everyone.

    If you do decide to fly with 40-Mile, do know that they open their bookings on Dec. 1st, and only book repeat customers for the first two weeks. On Dec. 15th, they open it up for new customers for any areas that they have left. I had to wait till the later date last year to book with them. I will say, as my prior research confirmed, they are a class act of hard working pilots, and I will not hesitate to book with them again.

    Knute

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Knute and bklogs;

    Thanks so much for the clarification, and your patience with my questions about your numbers. There's a lot of bad info floating around out there, and I'm very cautious when it comes to costs to our visitors from the Lower 48. It's clear you guys have done your homework and your help with this is greatly appreciated. Looks like you did a nice job putting your hunt together too!

    It might be helpful to recount your experiences going through Canada, with respect to meat, trophies and firearms. Some have had mixed results there...

    And I stand corrected on the Zones in GMUs 20 and 25! I missed that somehow, and mistakenly thought you were referring to the GMUs themselves. Oops!

    Thanks again for your patience!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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