DC608 Caribou Hunt - Gear Help and Some Questions

weber87

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I drew for DC608 in the Kenai Mountains and will be flying in late Aug/Early Sept. Planning on 5-7 days currently.

Got a little info on where to go (but by all means DM me if you have suggestions). I wanted to see if anyone could provide me some insight weather/gear wise. Any tips are of course appreciated. I'm a skinny guy and get cold easily when at rest.

I do most of my hunting in PWS and am used to walking around a rainforest. I guess a lot of people pack pretty heavy and camp near the landing site but I'm opting to hike out quite a ways so weight is a concern. I have quite a bit of gear and don't mind buying more if it's the right tool for the job but yes, I do tend to stick to KUIU both out of fit, familiarity and trust in them. On that note I just wrote KUIU 100 times, just assume all gear is KUIU unless otherwise specified. If you think there is something else I should be using I'd also say it's safe to assume I have it or have 0 qualms getting it if it adds value. I only get to hunt 2-3 times a year and I live for it.

Going with my Dad so we'll probably just use the one tent. He's bringing a .457 WWG so I thought I'd leave the 460 Rowland at home and save myself 5lbs. Doesn't sound like bears are to thick up there but I'm actually hoping to see some black bear too.

Not going to post every trinket (spork) but mostly stuff that could be less than ideal due to weather, topography, etc. Looking for some experience where mine lacks.
My other open questions right now:

What are the odds of seeing other game up there like Wolves or Black Bear in rifle range (or stalkable range)?

Does anyone have a ONX map with some detail on where to start? I'd love to take a look, read some earlier messages on here about it but visuals are always nice.


Let me know if any of this feels over/underkill or if there is something critical I should be thinking about. Again, really appreciate the help ahead of time!
 
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Brian M

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Wolves and black bear are always a possibility - might as well have a black bear tag in your pocket, especially at that time of year when many are in the alpine eating berries. Also carry a sheep tag. Kenai sheep have been struggling, but years ago my brother took a ram out on the rolling tundra while hunting this caribou permit.

I wouldn't worry about your knife being too short. I've taken apart a whole moose with a havelon, and moose and caribou with 4" $8.00 Victorinox knives. It doesn't take much of a knife to break down an animal if you know where to cut.

If you already have the gear, I'd go with the Chugach raingear for breathability. That's all I run in August and September coupled with the super down ultra for insulation and a couple merino baselayers. I get cold easily as well, but that system works well for me (though I also usually carry a synthetic fleece).

I can't personally see a reason to run a suppressor on your rifle. But I never have, so maybe I just don't understand the benefit.

Didn't see any mention of communications (inReach?) or food. Only tip there would be to bring 3-5 days extra, as low-lying fog in the mountains can slow extraction considerably.

Lastly, a personal thought from someone who also really likes his KUIU clothing - at some point, check out Stone Glacier packs and their 2-person mountain tent. I prefer both to what KUIU offers.
 

weber87

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Wolves and black bear are always a possibility - might as well have a black bear tag in your pocket, especially at that time of year when many are in the alpine eating berries. Also carry a sheep tag. Kenai sheep have been struggling, but years ago my brother took a ram out on the rolling tundra while hunting this caribou permit.

I can't personally see a reason to run a suppressor on your rifle. But I never have, so maybe I just don't understand the benefit.

Didn't see any mention of communications (inReach?) or food. Only tip there would be to bring 3-5 days extra, as low-lying fog in the mountains can slow extraction considerably.

Lastly, a personal thought from someone who also really likes his KUIU clothing - at some point, check out Stone Glacier packs and their 2-person mountain tent. I prefer both to what KUIU offers.

My ultras run a little cold for long sitting sessions in November, but if its generally pretty warm up there I think they make sense. I might just run Super top and my bottoms I'll run ultra. It's a pretty big weight difference (8 oz).

In the rocks and stuff It's real nice to not think about earpro. Probably not necessary on this hunt but when I deer hunt I run a suppressor on my AR-15 to not blow everything within 2 miles out of the area. Probably going to leave at home this trip. Sounds like up there is pso open you have a ton of time from spot to shoot to slap some earpro in.

Tried to upload full gear list as it sits currently before I modify but I cant add attachments to the forums yet. Food I just make packs for the day and eat house at breakfast/dinner, stuff it all in the boned out bags. Seems like a lot of weight but keep in mind hunting partner will split some of the gear like the tent, tripod, spotx, medical, etc.

I've heard great things. I know my old man is looking to pickup the pack and tent actually so at some point I'll get to try out his and do some direct comparisons. Maybe I'll make a post when he does on our findings head to head.

Tags arent required for bears/sheep up there as a resident right? Good to know on Wolves/black bear. Will bring some additional game bags.

I appreciate the insights!
 

Brian M

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Tags arent required for bears/sheep up there as a resident right? Good to know on Wolves/black bear. Will bring some additional game bags.

Harvest tickets are required for black bear and sheep - either pick them up at a store or print them from home. They're free and not limited by drawing, but required to have.

Good luck!
 

weber87

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Harvest tickets are required for black bear and sheep - either pick them up at a store or print them from home. They're free and not limited by drawing, but required to have.

Good luck!

Awesome, thank you. Would you run a 30 degree or a 15 sleeping bag up there?

https://imgur.com/a/FHIJHwg updated
 
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orangejuicy

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I would bring more water than just the 32oz, but I tend to drink a lot of water when I am hiking. Last year I took 48oz for drinking, plus a 72oz bladder in the pack and then also a 32oz as part of my field dressing kit for mixing the game saver. When I go out for the day, I'll take the 32oz full and the bladder 1/2 full or more. I keep the 48ozes full for camp, one for cooking and one for drinking. I could probably get away with less, but it means I only have to pump water once a day, and if needed, can go two days if everything is full. Next year, I might take some lighter containers like large Aquafina bottles instead.

*Edit.
I would not take a supressor or spotting scope. I've done the spotting scope a couple times and never ended up using for anything that helped the hunt. I have had bad luck with Spot trackers, and when I looked into it, seems like their system doesn't do as well in AK as inReach. I think that knife is fine, but I would also bring a backup. I usually use a folding razor knife, and have a benchmade folder as well if needed. I did not see it on the list, but water purification tablets are a good backup to the filter.

Have fun!
 

weber87

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I would bring more water than just the 32oz, but I tend to drink a lot of water when I am hiking. Last year I took 48oz for drinking, plus a 72oz bladder in the pack and then also a 32oz as part of my field dressing kit for mixing the game saver. When I go out for the day, I'll take the 32oz full and the bladder 1/2 full or more. I keep the 48ozes full for camp, one for cooking and one for drinking. I could probably get away with less, but it means I only have to pump water once a day, and if needed, can go two days if everything is full. Next year, I might take some lighter containers like large Aquafina bottles instead.

*Edit.
I would not take a suppressor or spotting scope. I've done the spotting scope a couple times and never ended up using for anything that helped the hunt. I have had bad luck with Spot trackers, and when I looked into it, seems like their system doesn't do as well in AK as inReach. I think that knife is fine, but I would also bring a backup. I usually use a folding razor knife, and have a Benchmade folder as well if needed. I did not see it on the list, but water purification tablets are a good backup to the filter.

Have fun!

I might bring an MSR Dromedary (or 2), that makes sense to save trips to the creek. Will grab some tablets just in case somehow I break the filter and the steripen dies or some other act of god.

I've been considering swapping the SPOTx as well, maybe I'll prioritize that this year, it works "fine" for me, but sometimes messages take a really long time. It's never been such a big deal because most of PWS has some semblance of cell reception, and I don't solo hunt but I'm eyeballing more and more remote areas where it probably makes sense to not chance it. Good call. - edit: I own a PLB as well so rather than replace the SPOTx I'm just going to bring both, if there is a failure I have a redundant system. Something I should probably do even with the inreach as I've read posts on them having power issues in the field (won't turn on or blank screen).

I have been iffy on the spotting scope but I'm bringing sheep tag and could be the difference in "looks legal lets chase it" and not. I know it's unlikely I see a legal ram up there but I'd kick myself if I did and didn't have a good way to make sure it was worth the walk.

Suppressor dropped, will have time for ear pro, not worried about blowing stuff out of the area really.

Old man will have his knife as well, and there is a leatherman in the gear list as a kind of heavy backup.
 
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4merguide

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A couple things to consider: If you end up not being able to find water and are closer to Skilak glacier than you are Benjamin Ck., if you hump up over the top, many of the steep chutes falling off down towards the glacier will probably still have snow in them and melting nicely...(especially with all the snow we've had this winter.) While sheep hunting up there years ago, this is how I got a lot of my water. There are also a couple pretty good-sized ponds up high that always hold water. Also, if you decide to want to take a day off from caribou hunting to look for a ram, that same general area that the snow chutes would be, there is a spot where the rams would go when pushed. Like you said, it's pretty unlikely that you may find a legal ram up there now, but if they're going to be anywhere around there, that's where they'll be. If you are interested pm me and I'll give you the info. Also be advised, if the weather turns really warm, you could find the caribou up high getting away from the bugs in a nice breeze cooling off on snow patches.
 

weber87

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Anyone have any experience in terms of flying into Twin or further south? I've gotten a lot of mixed reports on going NW vs SW from twin.
 

4merguide

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Anyone have any experience in terms of flying into Twin or further south? I've gotten a lot of mixed reports on going NW vs SW from twin.

The only other lake you can really land on in that particular area is Iceberg. Further south you can also land on Green Lake which is just above Tustumena glacier. You used to be able to land on Sheep lake after a certain date which I can't remember. I've never seen, or heard about caribou in the Green lake area, but that doesn't mean there aren't any. I know there are/were caribou in the Truuli Glacier area, but that's outside of unit 608. People have been known to hike up Emma Lake trail off of Tustumena, and kill caribou up there above tree line. That's a pretty long haul though as we aren't allowed to land on Emma Lake.
 
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weber87

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Anyone have experience flying into and hunting Iceburg?
 

4merguide

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Yep. Also for my secondary targets of bear/sheep. Anything worth sharing about hunting out of there for Caribou?
Like caribou are, there's a chance to find some anywhere up there. Like Twin Lakes, they've been seen right on Iceberg. They can move further south into the Killey drainage as well. There's a chance you may see some sheep, but unfortunately it's probably a longshot finding a legal ram. Population has been poor for many years, but there's usually one or two guys that get lucky. Usually because they hike way back in from Iceberg. For years the bulk of sheep were between the Killey and Indian drainages, which can be hard to access. Like the caribou, a blackie can show up almost anywhere up there. I've seen them up high chasing sheep as well as far lower into Benjamin Basin. Luck favors those who have the time and know how to glass.
 

weber87

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For those landing on twin, where do y'all head to glass? SW? NW?

If on Iceburg?
 

weber87

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got my bou. Thank you, especially 4merguide for the help!

Hoping to go out there again one day. Beautiful country even though it rained/howled wind non stop.

The bugs are strong when the wind dies down, bring nets.

Glass... glass... glass, and be ready to move once you figure out where they are hanging out.
 

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