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Thread: Hunting caribou during rut

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Hunting caribou during rut

    Okay, this should while a few late winter (pre-spring?) hours away...

    We've had some discussion in the distant past about hunting caribou during the rut. Specifically, the quality of the meat of certain bulls during that time. I thought for the benefit of the many new readers we have, it might be interesting to open that discussion again.

    Here are a few points to consider:

    1. Some bulls ingest urine from cow caribou during rut and the meat is so tainted you cannot eat it.

    2. The rut generally occurs anywhere from the last two weeks of September to the first two weeks of October (does this depend on the area / latitude?)

    3. Responsible hunters should avoid shooting a rutted bull, regardless of rack size.

    4. Experienced caribou hunters can usually tell, by the actions of a particular bull, whether it is in rut or not.

    5. Not all bulls are in rut at the same time, or at least, some are shooters (eaters) and some are not (tainted).

    What's your take?

    -Mike
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  2. #2
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    All I know is that a

    BULL+ RUT = BAD TASTING MEAT
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

  3. #3

    Default Rut

    I totally agree to avoid rutting bulls. Not enough ketchup in this state to make that meat taste good!!!!!!

  4. #4
    New member akhunter02's Avatar
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    Default rut

    I hunt up north almost every year (Haul Rd), I have yet to have a rutted bull in Sept, thats not to say some arent. By mid Oct most have started and its a crap shoot. But by late oct they all are, and if you have ever taken one that is rutting, you will smell nothing but urine. Take a nice roast, clean it up really good, then hold it up and take a good wiff, NOTHING but urine. I only shoot really young bulls in early Oct and nothing but cows by mid Oct

  5. #5
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I've always struggled with the fact that there's not a short season closure, similar to what they do in Unit 13, for caribou statewide during the period where they're most likely to rut. In that time frame there are still hundreds (thousands?) of hunters coming up to Alaska for their dream caribou hunt. I think that in most cases these hunters don't fully realize what they're doing, nor do they intend to waste meat. But, as those of you who have tasted rutty meat know, there's not much else that can happen when a bull is shot at the height of the rut. It's a shame that we keep allowing it to happen.

    -Brian

  6. #6
    Member Ripper's Avatar
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    I am hoping to do my first 'bou hunt this fall up the haul road. What is the approximate time period from when they shed their velvet to when they go in rut? Can you hunt after the rut, or is the meat still tainted for months?
    Last edited by Ripper; 02-16-2007 at 09:16. Reason: spelling

  7. #7
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    In Oct. I don't take a chance it's cow season
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    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

  8. #8

    Default Routting Caribou

    Over 30 years ago I was in on the taking of a nice big old caribou in mid October. I can still smell and taste it. YUK! I will never shoot another bull caribou later then Sept. 20th again. I don't care if it is the new worlds record. I know that some caribou may be ok to eat then but I am not going to chance it. I like caribou meat better then moose so I will always try for late August or early Sept. When I was a kid in the 60's I grew up hunting the Nelchina heard and we also had ok meat in late winter. Why do some choose to roll the dice and hunt caribou in October? Because it is legal to do so in some areas.

  9. #9

    Default Stinks!!!!!

    You can't miss that enticing aroma of a rutting caribou. It stinks to high heaven. A number of years ago 3 buddies and I went behind Galbreath Lake on the haul road and took 7 caribou between us. We got them home and hung them in one guy's unheated garage overnight. It was in the teens during the day. The next day we went to start the butchering, and when we opened the garage, the smell nearly overwhelmed us. We left the door open to air out a bit and when we could go in there, we thought maybe one was diseased or had a rotting old wound or something. I went to each one and smelled the carcass, and when I got close to mr. Rutter, there was no mistaking it. We took it to the Fish and Game office in Fairbanks and talked to a biologist. He examined it and said it was just full in rut, and wasn't even fit to feed the dogs. He said if it was him, it wouldn't make the trip home, but he couldn't tell us to dump it. The other 6 were in prime shape and excellent table fare.

    After that we were very careful when we went and took caribou. If it's close to the rut, I stay home........
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  10. #10
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    Moose too do the same. During the rut, somewhere past the second week of September, the dominant bulls drink enough cow urine to taint the meat.

  11. #11

    Default Moose

    Yes, you're right. I've seen and smelled rutting moose and it is loud, but not near the taint as a caribou can get.......
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  12. #12
    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Personally Ive yet to be on a caribou hunt, wanted to but you all know how life deals the cards. That being said, what does a rutting caribou act like?

    Also regardless of timeframe, does the weather affect there rut? Ive learned (in my particular area of moose) that a good cold snap really pushes rut and gets them on the run lookin for cows. Makes for much better hunting, but also run the risk of a rutted bull, Ive never came across it before luckily.

    How would you characterize a rutting bullmoose? My last trip we stalked up on a real nice 64' bull to less than 30 yards as he was laying down after a mid day "walk" with the misses who was about 50 yards away on the other side of a small pond drinking and grazing. Hell he didnt even stand up until we were 20 yards out and really didnt care we were there, but I'm sure we were the first humans he'd ever seen given the area I hunt. As far as I know the meat was fine and dandy but I dont remember any particular smell.

    Ever stalk up on a bull with your rifle horizontal above your head cantering side to side? really throws them off. wwwwwwwwwwwwah...wwwwwwwwwwah. yes im in full moose mode LOL.

    Sorry to sound naive to the topic, Ive just never dealt with it first hand.

    -d
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  13. #13
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    I disagree, Ray. Moose do not do the same. Sure, the animal smells(moose I mean) but rutting does not taint the meat. Moose meat loses it's fat, and as the rut progresses, it can get stringy and tough. But no way does it get totally stink and distasteful like bou meat does.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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  14. #14

    Default Moose

    I don't know what they do, but some rutting moose meat can get real "gamey" smelling and tasting. From what I understand, it is from their hormones changing and not from drinking urine, but it sure can get bad. However, it is nothing like what a caribou does. That is just vile, and once you've smelled it, you will think twice before you shoot another one.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  15. #15
    Member gusuk1's Avatar
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    Cool Moose/bou Rutt-slight Diff

    From what i have seen in my neck of the woods is that for 1-one who hunts bou's after the 1st of oct is an id--t,or greedy a-- guide,have seen both,have had guide use our airport for bou transfer meat in mid oct.,dogs will not get close to pee on the tires for the rut aroma was to much.have not gone out of my way to hunt the bou's during the rut season,learned my lesson in the early yrs.but when i see them starting to buck heads its time to think about waiting till winter.as for the MOOSE,have not personally seen a bull having a sip of cow urine,i have seen up front and in person is a cow come out to a bull,and get hosed down,this was a cow that had a boyfriend with a 66 inch spread that my clienet just harvested,we were taking pic's and skinning when another bull came out into the field and just gave us that uh look,the cow that was with the bull that was harvested came out to the new daddy and placed its head under the the little bulls shower nosel and took a serious bath,little bull would move a little and the cow layed and rolled where the shower took place,this went on until i opened up for gut removal, With trying not to get any longer, a moose bull pretty much does the pissing and a bou bull is to stupid to know any better.p.s.( don't shoot a bull moose if the inside of his hind legs are green)

  16. #16
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    I have read a couple of Alaska books where it's said that bull moose in the rut drink cows urine, but i have never seen a bull doing that. I have seen bulls on film where they poke their nose for quite a while on the cows rear end, but I have no idea of what they are doing.

    In the Book Alaska's Wolf Man, Frank Glacer talks about bulls not touching food during the rut, and drinking urine from their cows. He also says that caribou get so smelly that even the dogs refuse to eat its meat.

    I plan to ask Cathy Harms at F&G. Maybe she can ask the biologists if the moose/urine thing is true. But their web site has been down, and I can't get her e-mail.

  17. #17

    Default Cathy Harms

    Just don't ask her what a bull moose is doing when he sticks his nose up the rear end of a girl moose........... LOL.

    Actually, what he is doing is trying to determine if she is ready to mate or not. He takes a whiff and processes the aroma to see if she is ready to bump uglies. To see it is quite funny when he curls his lips, closes his eyes and snorts and shivers while testing the aroma.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawken54 View Post
    Just don't ask her what a bull moose is doing when he sticks his nose up the rear end of a girl moose........... LOL.

    Actually, what he is doing is trying to determine if she is ready to mate or not. He takes a whiff and processes the aroma to see if she is ready to bump uglies. To see it is quite funny when he curls his lips, closes his eyes and snorts and shivers while testing the aroma.

    LOL I won't. She is a pretty nice lady, and I ask her questions every now and then.

  19. #19

    Default caribou in the rut

    If you do make a mistake and shoot a caribou in the rut you might try this recipe. It can pretty much cover any scent and truly hide the flavor of the meat. Not what i am looking for in wild game as i like the flavor but if you have to hide a flavor this will work.

    Caribou Adobo
    Brown the meat in oil add chopped garlic add a fair amount of chopped ginger continue to brown add cider vinagar and soy sauce let simmer slow. add black pepper corns bay leaves and water adjust seasoning and simmer.
    If the meat is really tainted soak it in vinagar the night before then rinse it and boil changing water three times. Truly a pain but better then waisting a beautiful animal.

    There is also a German dish similar called Sauerbratin which is thickened with ginger snaps, again boil meat change water and marinate with apples cinnamon cloves pepper and cider vinegar. Or make it like the German rabbit stew boil change water add lots of pepper red wine sugar and vinegar. I used these recipes on a less then perfect grizzly bear hind quarter and the meat cam out great. It took lots of work and much time but the end result was delicious. Good luck Chef Viktor

  20. #20

    Default Recipes

    Sounds worth a try.

    I have a good one for rutted animals, too.

    Cut into steak-sized pieces. Season heavily with garlic, pepper and onions. Select good-quality cedar planks. On an open fire, place the planks on the fire with the meat facing down. When the meat burns off the plank, eat the plank. Tastes better that way..........
    Last edited by Hawken54; 02-20-2007 at 18:24.
    Now just why in the hell do I have to press "1" for English???

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