Judging caribou



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  • Judging caribou

    Anybody got any tips on field judging(before the shot) a good caribou bull?
    I can do whitetails and elk but no experience with caribou.

  • #2
    A Good Bull Caribou.....

    Here are my criteria:

    - he's a decent sized bull (not a baby)
    - he's not 9 miles from camp (reasonable packing distance)
    - he's (hopefully) not rutting yet
    - there aren't any other hunters already chasing him

    Not trying to be a wise ass, Bruce, just giving my meat-hunter criteria. I'm sure you were asking about judging antlers, others can help with that much better than me! Good luck on your hunt, whenever and wherever you go.



    • #3
      Judging Caribou

      Hoo boy. If accurately judging moose antler spread only comes with field practice (and it does), caribou are even more so. In terms of the record book (Boone and Crockett or P&Y), even experienced guides have a tough time doing it accurately and consistently.

      My advice for someone starting out with this is to look for lots of length (main beams should curve all the way forward (not pointing straight up or angled forward, but sweep forward parallel with the back), good long top points, back points, long bez tines and double shovels. Palmation is really nice too. What makes a big bull special is that he's necessarily different. You'll see a lot of them with good tops but no bez, or great shovels but no tops or back points. All of that has to be there.

      Look at a lot of caribou and you'll get better at judging them. If you're hunting I recommend an area where you have two tags. Shoot something you really like, and spend the rest of your hunt looking for a bigger one.

      Hope it helps!

      Michael Strahan
      Site Owner
      Alaska Hunt Consultant
      1 (406) 662-1791


      • #4

        Judging a good Bull is alot different than judging a record bull. And alot easier.
        Caribou antlers come in alot of different patterns as MS said. What the outfitters told me on my first hunt was just look at alot of pictures in magazines/online and find what pattern has the attributes you are looking for and try and find a bull that matches. For me I really like the Palmated tops and a double shovel. Some people like long points on the top instead that look a little more like an elk antler. The double shovel is almost always a good indicator as this is almost certainly a mature bull. Also like mike said look for that curl back towards the front of the animal if it's going straigt up or only a slight curl he won't be mature yet.
        I'll post 2 pics here of my hunt this year to get you started. these are downed animals of course and much easier to judge from 2 feet than 350 yards. DON"T FORGET YOUR SPOTTING SCOPE!!
        The two pictures in this thread are of my bull I took this season. As you can see the tops are palmated and he's got a double shovel, although one is quite a bit larger than the other. The total rack height isn't quite as tall as some of the monsters you will see in the record books, but certainly a mature bull and he's very photogenic
        Attached Files
        Last edited by Adventures; 07-11-2007, 23:16.


        • #5
          If you have time get the book Hutn Alaska now. The have a chapter on this. This will give you some ideas on what to look for.
          Living the Alaskan Dream
          Gary Keller
          Anchorage, AK


          • #6
            now the other

            Now this is a picture of my brothers bull. While it's a fine meat animal and certainly a decent bull for a first time hunt the only attribute he has going for him is the width notice how his antlers go back a little ways and then go pretty much straight up. Sorry if you're reading this Jesse this is for educational purposes only I wish I would havee seen a bull this size on my first caribou hunt as it was pretty slim pickings.
            From a distance this bull looked alot bigger when he would shake his head you could see the rack shaking like an elks and it really gets the blood flowing. However, this probably isn't the bull you are looking for especially early in a hunt but probably will work if you havn't bagged or seen much toward the end.
            Of course these are just my opinions.
            Also, I've been told to look for antlers that are pushing 4 feet off the head. I don't know how good of a guide that is but I thought it might be helpfull.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by Adventures; 07-11-2007, 23:11.


            • #7
              Once I find a mature bull I look to see if the rack is balanced with both the top and bottom being strong, I want some "trash" high and low. How close is his beam and spread to 50"/50"?, I want the beam length to be very close to 50" if not over the spread isn't as crucial and if the bull has all the right stuff he should still book out with a fairly narrow spread (38" or so). Palmation of the tops are very desirable score wise as it's a triple whammy, Width + circumfrence + the additional inches it add's to the tine length (caribou tine's are measured from the "bottom" of the beam), you can see how the palmation can drive the score up quickly. I like to see six good tines on top of each beam with two long ones each (20+"). Bez should be long, coming out of the beam at somewhat of an upward angle, also look for wide bez with lots of trashy points. One really good brow (Shovel) point that is long and wide with some points and if he's got the duce that bonus. Double rears are nice and can drive the score up quickly especially if they have good length. Mass should carry well.

              You can find bull's that have unbalanced rack's that score extremely well, but the strong portion of the rack will have to be freakishly strong. If you want a good representative of the species go for a well balanced rack. Don't forget that "trophies are in the eye of the beholder too, if you see a bull that does it for you well' go get'im!

              If you see a bull a 3-5+ miles out and it looks like he's got cannon balls floating above his head and one on his nose, you better get after him!
              Look for beam that parralels the neck for a foot or so. If you think a bull has a 40" spread he's probably closer to 30" ect. Imagine taking the caribou's rack off and setting it next to him on the ground, it should be as tall as his back or taller.

              All the above are generalities And trying to put an accurate score on caribou on the hoof is next to impossible. I aim for ballpark estimates, like he should go 380+ ect. Caribou are one of, if not the hardest antlered animal to score when you can put a tape to there antlers, it's no different on the hoof and is beyond my ability and I've had the good fortune to look at hundreds and hundreds of "trophy" bulls!

              The only sure fire rule in hunting caribou is that after you tag out you'll see a bigger one! Good luck in your pursuit of the nomad of the north.


              • #8

                LOL, good stuff grizzly. nice post.


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