Caribou Float Hunt Success (No Name River)



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  • Caribou Float Hunt Success (No Name River)

    I had limited time last year for a big game hunt and tried the Tier 1, Unit 13 option for the first time. I knew it would be crowded, but holy was worse than I had expected! :shot: This year I had moose plans somewhere else, but I still put in for one of the Unit 13 caribou draw permits. I was lucky and got one. However, I needed a way to get away from the crowds. Putting my raft to use proved the perfect option. I will not name the river and if you know it please do not post the name in a reply to this post. The rivers in that unit don't need more pressure than they already receive.

    My older son is a senior and the younger is a freshman and both opted to stay home to avoid missing school. This trip it was just my best buddy (my wife) and I. We rigged the raft & gear in a cool rain and set off on our adventure.

    We floated and hunted in intermittent rain towards our planned camp location without seeing any caribou. We did see a couple of beached milk crates and a plastic container with someone's years-old lunch in it that we picked up on the way in hopes the river gods would offer up a caribou for cleaning the river. Just as we reached our camp area, a loan cow nervously crossed the river after seeing us. I circled around a mid-river island hoping to cut her off but she scrambled up a hill and out of site. She provided us hope though. We set up camp, cooked dinner and made plans for the next day to hunt the bluff above camp. My wife went to bed and I rigged a fly rod for greyling. I fished with a rifle on my back as I explored the area around camp. The sun quickly set behind a purple sky.

    We woke a little later than planned the next day to cloudy, cool skies but thankfully no rain. It was still difficult to crawl out of warm sleeping bags, but we eventually packed for the day and scrambled uphill to glass the river and surrounding area. Just as we reached our spotting hill another cow started crossing the river toward us. I watched her for almost 30 minutes as she wandered from island to island. Unfortunately, she crossed farther down river than the cow from the night before and I lost her in the brush.

    My wife had set off on a blueberry picking mission. I wandered uphill to see how she was doing and hoped to maybe catch a glance of the earlier cow. As I was chatting with my wife, a flash of white caught my eye about 500 yards away. It was a mature bull looking over a handful of cows and 3 other younger bulls. I needed to close but my only options were going to put me almost directly upwind. I closed about half the distance using the undulating terrain and willows for cover. The bulls were now blocked by trees and were feeding into an even worse position for me. Cows were an option. However, I wanted a bull!

    I made my last move knowing I'd be directly upwind, but hoping the breeze blowing over the hills would deflect my scent up and away. I reached my spot, peaked over the hill, and was greeted with 10 sets of eyes and noses pointed my way from just over 100 yards. I dropped into a prone position behind the scope, saw the caribou start to trot off...looked....nope chance of pass through....selected another...same...multiple caribou filling the scope....selected the last bull in line....tail up following the rest. I don't remember pulling the trigger. My brain saw what it needed and sent the signal to my trigger finger......BOOM! I thought I heard the thwack of a solid hit, but wasn't sure. I put the scope on the fleeing herd. They were all close together. None seemed wounded. I was afraid to take another shot. Off they went as I replayed everything in my mind. Time to go look! Nothing. A little farther...nothing. A little farther...ahhh...antler tips!

  • #2
    I was thrilled. He wasn't the lead, older bull that first caught my eye, but I'd filled my tag. My wife had hurried back for my pack after hearing the shot and soon caught up. We set about dressing the bull through horrendous bugs. If I had known they bugs were going to persist I would have hiked back to our glassing location for the other pack with the bug nets. Never again will my pack be without bug nets! Three trips back to camp and we were done.

    We found someone's abandoned den along the way. I'm not sure what made it? There were no tracks visible.

    After the last load my wife started dinner and I took care of the meat.

    The next day began with rain...and more rain. and finally some more rain. Every time I left the tent to work on chores the rain started again. I stripped the antlers, checked on the meat cooling on a willow pile under a tarp and retreated back to the tent. All the extra tent time during the rain provided an easy excuse for lots of nap time. lol Finally, Friday evening the rain mostly stopped. We picked more berries, ate, and fished a bit. Saturday dawned clear and beautiful. The Alaska Range had fresh snow on top and I thought of the sheep hunters that had probably woken to a white morning.

    We broke camp under sunny skies, made our way back to the truck with a load of fresh meat and blueberries, and enjoyed the last of a few, well-spent days together :topjob: Four days and we only briefly caught a glimpse of one other pair of hunters.


    • #3
      Thanks for the great write-up and pics. It looks like you had a good time.
      Vegetables arenít food, vegetables are what food eats.


      • #4
        Nice write up and pics, birdstrike. Would love to do a trip like that with the wife. Thanks!


        • #5
          Nice hunt report. Congratulations to you and your buddy.


          • #6
            After enjoying the fresh September air outside this morning, this was the perfect read at lunchtime.

            I've had a gnat filled no bugnet caribou dressing experience just like that. Hope it makes the meat taste better!


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