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Packing out Caribou

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  • Packing out Caribou

    After reading about the guys getting their pickups stuck in the tundra I have a few questions?

    How heavy is a boned out caribou? Will all the meat fit on a pack frame?

    Does the tundra make packing out a caribou a little bit more difficult or a lot more difficult? I'm curious if the flat boggy tundra is worse than steep rocky mtns.


  • #2
    50-175 pounds of meat not counting cape and antlers. Just that figure right there makes it a two load trip or a two person trip. The tundra is very rough in spots, sometimes wet with holes, sometimes rocky but never flat. It is also spongey in spots which adds to the problems. I can not think of many places in the lower 48 to compare it too except a spongy bog with a few rocks and pot holes thrown in for good measure.

    When people come to Alaska and have asked for advise on this forum and others, we Alaskans that answer are serious in our replys. (For the most part, a little humor now and then is a good thing.) We have been there, done that, and usually more than once because we are hard headed and still want to hunt no matter how hard or difficult the trip is.

    I did goat hunt on Saturday and if I was to compare it to my hardest New York whitetail hunt, there is no comparison. White tail hunting is a piece of cake. Alaska can be the toughtest hunt of your life or the costliest.

    So when someone says, "Don't try it." " It is going to be a tough haul'. Or, "Plan on extra days". People might want to listen up.

    99% of the advise from the experienced people on this forum is going to be correct.

    Enough said.

    Patriot Life Member NRA
    Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
    Life Member Disabled American Veterans


    • #3
      Did you look at the 2 pics that were attached to the original post? Check them out. I believe the tussocks were quite visible, plus the tire tracks from the vehicles give an indication of the softness of the ground.
      I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
      I have less friends now!!


      • #4
        Western - I've taken a number of caribou, including 3 that I had to pack long distances. By far the hardest one was on the Haul Road. It looks flat, but those little ankle-rolling tussocks make it an extremely tiring and injury-prone pack. In my experience, it takes two heavy loads to carry out a boned-out bull and one heavy load for a boned-out cow. I find that it's easier up in the mountains because of the solid ground, though side-hilling can be brutal with that weight on your back. I feel like it's worth it to hunt caribou long-distance on foot, but it's not for the weak-bodied or, even more, the weak-willed. Once the animal is down, we owe it to the animal to salvage everything.



        • #5
          I took one on july 6 5 miles out it was the worst thing I have ever done. And thats saying a lot, I am a walking fool! I ended up having a partial tear in my achilles when it was all said and done. I will never do it again, thats a promise. It ended up being 33 miles total walking, 8 miles from truck and we did 2 trips, thats not including the initial walk out. It took 5 hours to walk 5 miles, stashed what we had walked back out to the rest for another trip, then two more trips back to the truck for the last leg. But if this says anything 5 miles in 5 hours when 1 month earlier I walked 30 miles in 6.5 hours.
          Last edited by HuntingAK; 09-11-2006, 18:36.


          • #6
            one time I was stupid enough to carry out a completely butchered caribou. it was getting dark and with all the bear activity, I didnt have a choice if I wanted to save the meat. It was a decent bull and my pack broke twice (about a 3/4mile trip). This was out of lake illiamna. usually we were doing 2 guys/caribou but this time we only had time for this return trip to camp.

            I was whipped when we got to camp. those tussocks are a killer on the ankles, even with good boots. Not to mention the other 10 caribou we shot earlier in the day. That was when the mulchatna herd was a good deal. we got all 11 back to camp before dark fall (4 people hunting/carrying). we were knifeslinging fools and wanted full freezers.


            • #7
              Thanks for the reply's. I'm somewhat of a hard hiking fool when it comes to hunting. I've spent the last 2 days hiking from 7,500' to 9,500' looking for elk, about 7 miles each day (only caring a bow and backpack, no elk quarters yet). A lot of this is over patches of deadfalls and through boulder fields. I'm betting that the tundra is much worse. Glad I'm also a bowhunter as it looks like they can hunt closer to the road.

              I'm moving to Alaska next week. When does the caribou season on the haul road, and in general, end? Looks like I'll have to wait until Sept 21 of 2007 before I'm a resident. Hopefully I can find a couple of rookie hunts to go on next year.

              Thanks again.


              • #8
                Having just packed one out - with the help of 3 friends, I would venture to say it might well be the toughest pack of your life. Of course that depends on how far in you are. I hunt elk in the mountains and hunted sheep last year in some very steep and rugged country but the tundra was worse! I did the 5 mile thing and shot my bull at 5.2 miles. Without the help of my friends I would have just had to stay up by the road with the crowd and bowhunt. We packed it out in one trip including cape and horns but it was the toughest thing I ever did. Not sure I would do it again.


                • #9

                  Western: You can start by reading the regulations and it will help a lot. You will have many questions as sometimes the regulations are not the clearest. You can also search around the and you will find information on different species, hunting techniques and some good reading on hunting and fishing up here. In the mean time back home, take an archery certification course (IBEP or state) and you will at least have your certification out of the way. You first year will be expensive but remember: That if you buy a higher costing tag (like a brown bear) you can use it for a less expensive animal if you do not harvest the brown bear like a caribou.

                  Buy a non-resident fishing license your first day up here as it is proof that you arrived in state on that date. Or, your first phone bill, utility bill or change your drivers license. Most work for residency and if you are here long enough to collect a PFD you will need them anyways.

                  Hunting regulations:


                  Best of luck with the move!

                  Daveinthebush; or alders or Devils Club or blueberries, or anywhere out there.

                  Patriot Life Member NRA
                  Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars
                  Life Member Disabled American Veterans


                  • #10
                    For me taking out a caribou is a 4 trip deal. I've only done it alone and I'm not into heavy loads where I might get injured on a solo drop-off. Some areas the quarters cannot be boned. So 1st 2 trips are a rear quarter and a shoulder. 3rd is all the other meat stuff. 4th is the easiest, cape and antlers. Farthest I have done is straight line GPS at 3.2 miles, 2 trips per day.

                    I think the tundra can be extremely difficult or not so. Some at higher elevations can be hard with very low growth, pleasant. Other is nothing but tussocks, soft moss, and very draining on the body.

                    If you're accustomed to hunting above 7000 feet I don't think you will have a bit of problem. At least until you lose that conditioning. As you know high altitude adds an extreme level of intensity. I don't believe I have ever been over 6000 feet in either the Brooks or the Alaska ranges. In Alaska that will be alpine and out of the tundra range. My physically most demanding hunts were in New Mexico at the elevations you are talking about.


                    • #11
                      Bring a plastic sled!
                      1/2 to 1/3 of the load on your back and the rest in the sled. Tie everything in good and drag your animal out. Rigging your sled with drag poles that hook to your pack's hip belt is optimum, but rope works too. Those little-kid sled slide over unfrozen tundra pretty well, and leaning into the weight of the sled helps maintain your balance on the uneven tundra.
                      If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today


                      • #12
                        Get ready for some work

                        I have not packed out a caribou yet? I plan on it this week. However I packed 2 moose out from a tundra area two years ago. One cow quartered 2 trips with 2 people and 450 lbs of boned out bull 2 people and 5 trips at 1 mile in and 1 mile out and one more to get the antlers. When it was all said and done all we had back at camp was some real expensive icehouse beer. Sure was good eating though. It all depends on how bad you want the meat.


                        • #13
                          I have been killing caribou from the Mulchutna heard for about 15 years. Our party usually does not "tag out" but we do kill quite a few animals. Last several years 15 +. We bone and pack all our animals. I just explained how we do it on the tread about deer hunting in Southeast. We butterfly the forearm portions of the legs and take off the rear and front quarters with only the femur/humerous bones attached. That way you get all the meat and it is still attached to the bone. We remove the rib meat the same time we take the neck, just be careful and you can get it all. Our packs are about 65 pounds when we are finished. Two packs per animal. I have packed meat 7 miles this way and I'm one of the geezers everyone keeps talking about, so you should have no problems at all. Be sure you have a quality pack and it should be easy. Jim


                          • #14

                            Living up in the Northwest Arctic I have been lucky enough to bag and pack out a few caribou. The rule of thumb is (for a nice bull) 2 trips if your just packing meat and 3 trips if youíre packing hide and horn. I believe this is a situation where these guys did not use the common sense that we are all given at birth and many of us develop into a fine tuned little voice that keeps us from making to many major errors when we are out there hunting/fishing or just loving life.

                            Getting the trucks stuck was not 1 error but a whole series of mistakes starting with not listing to the advice that was given to them when they were at the Haul Road and even thinking about the 5.1 miles ahead of them.

                            The Inupaq have an interesting and wise way of looking at to shoot of not to shoot. An elder told me once that if you canít flop the dead animal into a boat or on to a basket sled donít pull the trigger!

                            Sound advice if you donít want to pack it back!



                            • #15
                              If you are use to packing out long distances and heavy loads, go for it. Theres only one way to experience it just give it a try. Just practice doing that on basketballs. Try walking on a bunch of basketballs and thats what its like. Good hunting.


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