Ox season has opened here in western Alaska. The recent opener was met with a howling blizzard which caused some hard times for many hunters. Thought Iíd go over some of the things a guy should know to have a successful hunt.
1. Weather. Weather is the deciding factor in this hunt. Ox inhabit open treeless tundra. Even a light snow and mild wind can foil your hunt plans with low ceilings and visibility.
If your coming to Ox country from urban Ak. either keep your hunt dates flexible and watch the weather forcast or, if your stuck going on a certain date, plan for several days. 5 would be a minimum. If you score early, you can head back home. Weather can easily eat up 2-3 days of your hunt. Forcasts are generally accurate enough to rely on for about 3 days ahead.
2. GPS. Bring a good GPS that you are familiar with. Donít buy one the day before you leave. Donít pull an old one out of the drawer as your packing the night before.
Use the GPS during the hunt. Mark waypoints when your out. Things like bridges, cabins, something you can identify even in low visibility. Some waypoints can be marked even before you leave by using the lat/long coordinates from google earth. Bring a good compass also. Never know what might happen and a compass can be useful.
3. SPOT or Sat Phone. Bring one or the other and know how to use it. Make sure batterys are new or fully charged.
4. Winter gear. Iím not going to go into that in detail. If your unfamiliar with winter outings, especially on snowmobiles, ask someone who is. Good clothing wonít be cheap.
5. Fire starting stuff. Despite most Oxen country being open tundra, there are willows, and in some areas trees. A tarp and a fire can make a real difference if you have to spend a nite out unplanned. Bring a couple or 3 tarps.
6. Hunting equipment. Most of this is personal preference. Open tundra is binoc country. Bring good ones.
Ox hunting is mostly driving around on a snowmobile (ATV if you hunt early) looking for dark colored herd animals in a white, or light colored countryside. But with rolling hills and mountains, they are not always in plain sight.
Come prepared, with time to spare, and likely you'll leave successful.