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Thread: Kotzebue vs. Haul Road

  1. #1
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    Default Kotzebue vs. Haul Road

    I am planning a unguided fly out Caribou hunt for 2011. I have heard a lot of good stuff about 70 North and Deltana out of Happy Valley. But I have also heard that there are less people and more Caribou in Kotzebue. So I would like to hear what all you guys out there think. What is the better hunt and why? And any extra tips from people who have done either one of these hunts would be awesome. Thanks in advance, I cant wait to hear what you guys think.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    I have done both and can say that Kotz can get expensive. Kotz does get less people, but they are all there at the same time trying to do the same things. Timing the last few years has been a crap shoot at best. Mike with 70 North is a great guy and will give you quality service. If you decide on Kotz I recommend Northwest Aviation. PM me if you would like to chat about either.

    Steve
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    "there are less people and more Caribou in Kotzebue."

    Yes There Are

    WACH Caribou are 400,000 strong and healthy.

    Some call it "Narvana" ,some call it "Eden", some call it "Shangri-la", some call it "Heaven" but we call it "Unit 23"

    Jim Kincaid with Northwest Aviation is top knotch.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

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    gana third that on northwest aviation, they are the best in the area. as steve said the hunt get prety exspensive, keep in mind that all youre gear will have to be flown in, and on return you have all that meat and a rack, they charge by the pound. when i mean gear too, thats everything there is only one store in kotz and they have what they have, not much to choose from, bring everything you will need, costco sized coolers worked well for me, shipping to and back. but all in all it is a amazeing place, lots of bou when they are there, and lots of bears. cant wait to get back!

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    the haul rd is realy a adventure too, dont over look it, less people, but its not like its crowded either? the herd is healthy and there are plenty of bou, this trip would be way less exspensive, ive drove up and hunted it 3 times now, lots of opportunities for a guy there, if you bow hunt, bring it, theres a five bou limit, however all transporters went to a 2 bou per person limit, still good from the road system. only down fall hear its a long drive!

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    What timma year are ya gonna go Hunting?
    September? August? Next week??
    Definitly all are doable, of course, but its easier if a given time is chosen.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

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    We fly in with Ram Aviation in Kotzebue and have had great success over the years hunting Caribou and Moose. Last year was a freak year early out of Kotzebue but if you plan a mid september hunt the success should be great. Ram gets you in and out on time and safely. They can rent you all the gear you need as well so you don't have to bring all your own. We will be back in Kotzebue the last week of September hunting Caribou again. It's nice that the Fish and feathers changed the bag limit back to two Caribou for non residents in gmu 23. At least it gives you a chance for a nice second one after you shoot the wrong first one! We've never run into anyone in the field on any of our hunts with Ram Aviation, they space you out so your not hunting on top of other groups. Their prices are set so their are no additional fee's! We use Northern Air Cargo (NAC) to ship our stuff back to Anchorage to get the meat processed at Indian Valley Meats. We put all the meat and antlers on a pallet and wrap it in a tarp and NAC drives their fork lift right to Rams building on the airport and puts it on their aircraft back to Anchorage. All you do is the paperwork for them. We've always hunted in the Noatak National Preserve, which I still think is the best place to hunt for Caribou and Ram has the most permits to fly hunters into the Noatak preserve. I've hunted the haul road once and won't do it again! Weather was crap! running into people in the field, sounded like a rifle range in the field with so many hunters shooting, and the caribou were few and far between. Also the guides their think they own the land! I hear the sheep hunting could be good off the haul road though.

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    If you chose to hunt out of Kotzebue I would do an extensive search of who you chose to fly out with. I heard quite a few stories while hunting there this year of a certain air transporter (that may have been mentioned on this thread already) that runs a VERY SHADY operation. Stories I heard include this company having been investigated several times, setting people on top of each other, putting up false camps etc. etc. Kotzebue is a expensive hunt, but a great experience. You are probably out of luck for getting into the Noatak preserve for 2011, but if you plan early you could get in for 2012. We flew with Northwest Aviation and had a great trip with them, nothing but good things to say. Good Luck

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    OK, I don't get it. I've been looking at the prices from both happy Valley and kotz and there just doesn't seem to be that big of a difference. When you take into consideration the cost of driving up and the risk involved to your vehicle, it is minimal. If a guy is coming from the lower 48, the addititional $$ for the ticket is hardly anything. Am I missing something? Sure there is freight involved in bringing back meat, but that is the only ting I really see different. For a resident, if you have air miles, Kotz is only 15k.

    Is there anyone still looking to go? I would be interested in hooking up with another group of two and taking the cost down even lower. I was offered a sweet deal on the drop (by a reputable outfitter)if anyone is interested. Especially if you are a resident/non-resident pair. If you are interested, drop me a PM. Think 4 guys, 12 'bou. No additional cost, drop under 2k.

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    My greatest challenge, was with housing and shipping after coming out of the field in Kotz. There is not much for cold storage or housing and what is available is quickly overwhelmed by the influx of hunters. The last few falls have been really warm and your meat could spoil on the ramp waiting to be shipped. This fall the caribou were late arriving and I talked with many unhappy hunters.

    I have never heard of anyone having any problems with vehicles left at Happy Valley.

    Steve
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    This is all great info. My group is 4 Alaska Res. we plan on going in Sep 2011

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    running into people in the field, sounded like a rifle range in the field with so many hunters shooting, and the caribou were few and far between. Also the guides their think they own the land!

    You or people you know seen other people while hunting after being droped off by air plane that would make me mad you pay so you can get away from other people

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Your forgetting Bettles. Very hunter friendly town. Fly into unit 26, 5 bou bag limit. Brooks Range Aviation and Bettles Lodge are good folks with good references. Not sure on price. Check them out.
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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    Kotzebue has two grocerie stores,AC and Rotmans, both selling ammo and such,, an "Ezymart" and 'Bison' for ciggs and latenight gas, as well as two reterauntas and a fast food delivery as well as a NAPA/KIC store for gas, automotive, ammo, camping gear. As well, a pawn shop for more ammo and rifles/pistols/reair/accessories.
    NANA has built a new 4 tory Hotel that will be brand new and open next summer. Theres also 4 B&B's in town for a bed, or you can go to the City of Kotzebue and lease a small tent plot North of Kotzebue at "tent City" where in former days visiting folks and Fishermen from upriver villages stayed. Nobody will bug ya there if you r looking to avoid the 250$ a night beds at the Bayside, an nice resteraunt but a dive hotel.

    In August The Caribou are in the mountains and North Slope. They have thin hair on their hides and darkness is just getting ahold again, and they avoid the pounds and tons of Misquitos up there.

    In September, they will move in droves as it cools, and crisp days are awsome in river vallys when the migration passes a few hundred through.
    They will be quite a bit south of where they were in August, and progressing that way with teh weather.

    It dosent snow at the beginning of September anymore. its usually late in the month nowdays.

    No matter where you go in the "Bush" you Might see people. Its not abondond out there, theres locals out there doing their daily thing as well. Theres also just so many airstrips that will be "in front of" any migrating herd.

    As well, NO MATTER what the weather is like where YOU are, September in Kotzebue is just like May, Foggy! They will not fly out alotta mornings, evenings, and if they dont think they can get back into Kotzebue they usually will not leave.
    They are next to the Ocean, and when its cool as it is in Sept, its foggy there. The airstrip litterally ends at the Oceans edge.
    Be prepared for up to 3 days extra, it happens no matter who your transporter is, not always, but its a pretty good chance at such.

    Res limits are 5 Caribou a day, every day of the year......
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

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    the wierd thing about kotz is that i saw more caribou in the last few weeks (mid november until now) than i did all fall, go figure. I should have just saved the gas and waited till the end of november to hunt. I heard mixed review from out of area hunters this fall. some did well some got dropped in crappy spots without a caribou in sight. I guess it was a difficult year though and the guides cant control the migration. I did hear about some transporters dropping people off in less than quality spots so make sure to get some good references.

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    Theres fresh trails with Cows going South to Rielly Wreck, Justin, Saw 'em this afternoon.(They'er behind you!!)

    LOTS......
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

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    Member cjustinm's Avatar
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    you been going south? ive been heading north... haven't been hunting though just checking stuff out. lots of animals coming down. no big herds maybe between 30-50 at a time but lots of groups. Saw about 5 groups one day last week.

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    I went East to West, and then reverse 2 hours later

    Them little groups will pool together South of here , Im sure you'll see them on Oxacution day ~~LOL!!~~

    Too bad the sled was full, I too just checkin' 'em out....."But" I suuuuuuuuuure hope you got on some today....fresh Fat Cows and all
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Your forgetting Bettles. Very hunter friendly town. Fly into unit 26, 5 bou bag limit. Brooks Range Aviation and Bettles Lodge are good folks with good references. Not sure on price. Check them out.


    Is that south of Galbraith lake? I remember seeing a small airstrip with a few buildings I believe off the road a little ways. On the left headed up the Haul Road? Not sure on exact location but the lake came to mind.

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