Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 31
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like

    2018 caribou write up

    When I moved to Alaska I had a list of hunts I wanted to do.

    1. Sheep
    2. Moose
    3. Arctic
    4. Float
    5. Kodiak

    Well this year we were on number 4. So we decided to float the charley river since it was a float that could give us the opportunity to harvest 6 different species. The charley river is 82 miles from 3 fingers charley to the Yukon river and from the mouth of the charley to circle was 70 miles. We planned for 12 days to float hunt 152 river miles.

    Plans were made, Deposits were paid, research was done, videos were watched, raft and extra necessary gear was purchased.

    A lot of friends from the lower 48 said that they wanted to come up and hunt with me in 2018 so once the trip was planned I went down the list and invited all of them. Everyone of them balked at the idea of doing a 12 day float hunt. So it was just going to be my core hunting group: myself, my wife, and my best bud BJ. Only problem was that I put a deposit down for 4 people, not really a problem just 4 people would save us some money.

    May rolls around and a guy named Steve posted a video that he made of a previous hunting trip on the Alaska outdoor forum. The video is put together really well, so I connect with him via PM. We hit it off right away. So I ask him if he would be interested in going on a 12 day float hunt. He said possibly, so we made plans to meet up face to face in June. We had dinner with him and his wife and immediately knew that this guy would be an asset to our hunt.

    After dinner I tell Steve that we would really like for him to go with us on the trip. He agreed, but little did I know that I wasn't the only one to invite Steve on a hunt this year. Turns out he already had 4 other trips planned for this fall, and was planning on hunting 50 days this fall. But as luck would have it he was free during the time of our float hunt. Game on!

    My wife and I are beginners at rafting so we spent all summer doing trial runs down the Kenai river. My wife was super nervous about the floating aspect of this hunt and to be honest I was a little nervous myself.

    Fast forward to August 28,

    Day 1, we hit the road from Fairbanks to circle village at 0400 with an ETA of 0730 and a pick up time of 0800. We'll if you've ever hunted Alaska you've probably had weather delays, and this is exactly what happened to us. The wind was ripping at the strip, not flying today. So we drove the long 35 miles back to central, AK where they had a bar and a hotel. We grabbed a burger and a room for the night. A very nice family runs the corner bar and inn, highly recommend stopping in if you're ever in central.

    Day 2, head back to Circle for pick up, weather was great and pilot was on time. But the pilot had some bad news, the caribou were way west of the charley river basin. Oh well, we're going. Two loads in the 185 and all 4 of us are sitting on the air strip at the head waters of the charley river. We inflated the rafts loaded them up and started dragging. The weather was 55 degrees and clear. After the mile drag we made it to the river.






    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  2. Likes 7 Member(s) liked this post
  3. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like

    2018 caribou write up

    During our trial runs down the Kenai I always say in the back of the raft. We'll about 100 yards into floating I realize that's not gonna work due to the boat wanting to track backwards because it's back heavy. I called an audible and my wife and I switched spots in the raft. We float about 3 miles before the sun starts setting so we decide to set up camp. After camp was set we enjoyed dinner around a driftwood campfire before we called it a night.

    Had some nice floating the first evening




    First nights camp, we set our tents on top of grizz tracks.




    Day 3, we wake up to cold clear weather and was everything frozen. Restarted our fire and boiled some water for coffee and oatmeal. It's suggested by many transporters to not kill an animal on the upper portion of the charley river due to low water conditions. Taking that warning serious we packed up camp right after breakfast and hit the river. The weather was clear when we hit the water but it didn't stay that way. As the day went on the weather kept getting worse, and so did the river conditions. The river went from nice easy flowing to spread out and shallow, with mixed in rapids. After 8 hours of fighting the weather and river we decided we had enough. As we were looking for a spot to camp my wife points out 4 grizz on a nearby hillside, it was too late in the day to chase them. Tomorrow maybe. It took us another hour to find a semi suitable place to camp. Again set our tents on grizz tracks.


    Day 3 camp






    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Dexter Grayson; 1 Week Ago at 06:20 PM.

  4. Likes 5 Member(s) liked this post
  5. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like

    2018 caribou write up

    Day 4, it rained all night and most of the morning. We were worn out from the day before so we slept in and waited for the rain to stop. Once we thought the rain let up we got up and around. We looked around for the grizzers we saw the night before with no luck. Ate breakfast, packed camp and hit the river for another fun day. About the time we got on the water the rain came back. The first 4 hours of floating was dealing with rapids and skinny water. The rest of the day was good weather and good floating. We finally saw our first caribou, there were two bulls staring at us as we came around a bend, we tried to put a sneak on them for an archery shot but the wind was wrong and they said nah! We arrived at gelvins cabin about 8pm.



    Gelvin's cabin, god bless Stan Gelvin! It was truly heaven sent, we had a place to dry out our gear and a wood stove to dry our clothes and warm our souls. There were also 4 cots that some gracious people had left behind, and we were happy to not be sleeping on the ground. We ate dinner around a big fire and told old stories and wondered about all the people that had spent time in the area. Steve had a box of wine he shared with everyone and it was truly appreciated after 3 hard days on the river. We slipped off to bed about 10pm

    .








    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Dexter Grayson; 1 Week Ago at 06:20 PM.

  6. Thanks 1 Member(s) thanked for this post
    Likes 6 Member(s) liked this post
  7. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like
    Day 5, BJ wakes up early and decides to go fishing, not sure if he consciously did not take a bow or gun but he was weaponless. About the time I step out of the cabin I see him running back and I immediately know that he's seen something and he did not have a weapon. Out of breath he's able to get the word 'wolves' out. He shows me some pics from his phone, 2 wolves across the river, 1 white, 1 jet black! I snatch up the long range and head after them, no sign of them where he last saw them so I head after them with perfect wind. I get in a spot where I can see a Lon ways up and down river and just wait. After 10 minutes the white one pops out directly across the river from me. I sneak into shooting position without being noticed and get the cross hairs on him and notice he has a radio collar, I come off the gun to look for the black one, I don't see the black one so I settle back into the stock and the white one is gone. I'm at a loss! I wait in the same spot for 30 minutes and nothing. After beating myself up mentally for being greedy, I tuck my tail between my legs and head back to camp. Luckily they weren't too hard on me.

    White fang!



    Blackie




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. Likes 3 Member(s) liked this post
  9. #5
    Senior Member VernAK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Delta Jct, Alaska
    Posts
    528
    Post Thanks / Like
    A great write-up!

    I've enjoyed much of that country for decades.

  10. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like
    Continued Day 5, after the wolf debacle I tried my hand at fishing. Everyone always says the grayling fishing on charley river is phenomenal, well I'm a black cloud when it comes to grayling fishing. I could buy a bite. Atleast I had lunch to look forward to.

    On December 21, 1943 a B24 bomber crashed in the charley river valley. 4 men died in the crash and 1 man survived, 81 days in the wilderness in the dead of winter. It just so happened that the bomber crashed on the mountain behind gelvins cabin. Knowing that the bomber was up there Steve and I wanted to go take a look at it, it was only a 3 mile hike. So Steve and I slogged through the tundra for a couple hours we made it to the ridge the bomber was on. But the weather was turning bad and it was getting later in the evening so we decided to head back towards the cabin.

    On the bomber ridge looking into a valley with weather quickly approaching.



    After hiking a couple hundred yards back towards the cabin with my head down Steve almost has to almost tell to get my attention. As I look back I see him pointing in the direction we are headed, when I turn around there are 5 bull caribou feeding up the hill 125 yards away from us. I pull out the binos and determine that one is a definite shooter. Steve gets the camera ready and I get my shooting sticks. I look back at Steve for the go ahead, I settle into the gun and lay the hammer. After a couple of follow up shots for good measure he was in the dirt. After paying my respects to the animal and thanking the lord for my harvest we used the inreach to let the other two know that we had a bull down, they relied with 'on our way'. Picture time, the lighting from the sun coming through the clouds was perfect and Steve took full advantage.



    We broke down the animal and finished about the same time Ashley and BJ showed up. They were not please with our decision to harvest a caribou a couple miles of tussocks from camp. After loading up the packs I had BJ help me up, about the time I got on my feet he starts screaming in pain and grabbing his face. I was unsure what was wrong with him until he removed his hand and I knew exactly what happened. The horns had come over and popped him in the face, less than a quarter inch below his eye.



    We made sure BJ was okay and then started our way back to the cabin and that's when the weather hit. We hiked back to the cabin in the rain. We were all soaked by the time we made it back, we were very grateful to have a cabin to go back to.



    By the time we made it back to the cabin we were beat. We made sure everything was out of the rain, fired up the wood stove, hung up all our wet clothes, grabbed some grub, and called it a night


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. Likes 7 Member(s) liked this post
  12. #7
    Senior Member slick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    599
    Post Thanks / Like
    anxiously waiting for more. This sounds like the dream.

  13. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    348
    Post Thanks / Like
    Great story telling so far. Waiting for the rest!

  14. #9
    Senior Member VernAK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Delta Jct, Alaska
    Posts
    528
    Post Thanks / Like
    "81 Days Below Zero" is a great read about the lone survivor.....a true wilderness adventure in mid winter.

    That's a very nice bull Dexter!
    The herd didn't cooperate with hunters at that time but there
    are a few stragglers wandering in that country.

    Another good read is "Alaska's Wolfman"......as Frank Glaser wanders that country
    on foot for months trying to determine migration routes. He made his sleeping bag from a few calf hides
    and fed his dog grayling he caught along the way.

  15. Likes 2 Member(s) liked this post
  16. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    Idaho Panhandle
    Posts
    160
    Post Thanks / Like
    Awesome write up. Cannot wait for the rest!!

  17. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like
    We were reading 'wolf man' on the hunt. I ready 81 days below zero after the trip. I'll post some more of the story at lunch. Sorry it's lengthy and taking so long, posting as I get time.

  18. Likes 2 Member(s) liked this post
  19. #12
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Zeeland, MI
    Posts
    22
    Post Thanks / Like
    Outstanding story here Dexter. You are doing a great job and I look forward to the rest. You have also started to get the wheels turning in my own head here about a DIY Caribou hunt. Sounds like a blast for sure.

  20. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like

    2018 caribou write up

    Day 6: The rock gardens!

    I read tons of stories, forum post, and videos about the charley river and every single one of them included treacherous stories about the rock gardens below Gelvin's cabin. We flew over them on the way in and even from the air they were intimidating, with the river being all white from the torrent water.

    It rained all night, so we left the rain subside before we got out of our bunks. I had brought some potatoes, tortillas, an onion, and some seasoning just for this moment. We fired up the wood stove and mixed all the fixings and threw them in the stove. BJ sliced up some backstrap and cooked then to the perfect temp. We threw it all on a tortilla and ate until we were stuffed. The breakfast was a real morale booster for all of us.






    As we packed up our gear and loaded the rafts there was uneasiness amongst the crew, not many words were spoken, we all knew what was ahead of us. We wrote our names on the door and left a story in the journal before we left. As I walked away from Gelvin's cabin I had a sense of separation anxiety knowing the comforts of the cabin and what the river conditions we were about to encounter. After prayer we shoved our boat into the water and settled in for the adventure.

    .




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Dexter Grayson; 1 Week Ago at 11:46 PM.

  21. Likes 5 Member(s) liked this post
  22. #14
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like
    The rock gardens continued.

    The first hour was relatively calm and easy. Then we hit the first rocks and all hell broke loose. It was all my wife and I could do to keep the boat facing down stream. The rapids were so bad at times that we would lose sight of each other. We would have to stop at least every 1/4 mile to empty our swamped rafts and tighten our gear straps down. It took us a good 4 hours to get through the bad stuff. It's not that long of a stretch but we had to stop a lot. After the rock gardens there's still rapids but they aren't near as bad. We floated another 4 hours until we were too wet and too cold to continue. We slept on an island that night in the middle of the river. It rained most of the day and into the night. We had to eat dinner in the tents.

    My wife showing her enthusiasm of the rapids.





    Our island camp that night.



    Day 7, we wake up to some sheep on the hillside across the river. 2 ewes and an lamb feeding their way down stream. With minimal caribou sign in the area we loaded up camp and hit the river again. There was an area that a friend told us about that was a good caribou crossing, so the plan was to float to that area, set up camp and hunt the area that evening. After about 4 hours of floating we found ourselves setting up camp again. The float wasn't terrible but still had to fight some rapids. We hunted the area that evening with no sightings and very little caribou sign, so we headed back to camp for a warm meal some more wine and sleep. Around dinner time the wind decided to pick up and we found ourselves in a blow hole. Earlier in the day we noticed blown down trees in the area. We didn't think much of it, figured it happened during a big wind storm. But as the wind started picking up I noticed that the trees that were down were not all blown down at the same time, some were fresher than others. As I started watching the trees sway in the wind I also noticed that we put our tent directly under a tree that was leaning on another tree. I told the crew that we're going to have to move our tent. After the move I still didn't rest easy. Overall a pretty uneventful day.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  23. Likes 3 Member(s) liked this post
  24. #15
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2018
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like
    Great write up and amazing pictures thanks for sharing

  25. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Kenai, Alaska
    Posts
    84
    Post Thanks / Like
    Day 8, again we woke up with sheep on the hillside across the river. we deliberated over breakfast on what to do for the rest of the trip. We came to the conclusion that the caribou were not going to play nice with us so we decided to make a run to the mouth of the Charley where we could start moose hunting. Knowing that it would be quite the haul to make the mouth we didn't waste much time packing camps and loading the rafts. Luckily for us the river did decide to play nice, we encountered very little rapids and increased water speed. The floating became much more enjoyable! We watched as the terrain faded from mountains to Yukon river valley. After 10 hours of floating and 48 river miles we made it to the mouth of the river. It felt good to be out out that boat. After camp chores we enjoyed more backstrap around a camp fire and discussed moose hunting tactics for the following day.

    Sheep across from camp



    Calm water made for happy boaters









    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  26. Likes 5 Member(s) liked this post
  27. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    39
    Post Thanks / Like
    Can't wait to read more!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  28. #18
    Senior Member MuleyFever's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    S. UTAH
    Posts
    2,217
    Post Thanks / Like
    This would be a dream. Put my name on that list of people that asked to go hunting with you for next time.
    "If you are on the right path, it will always be up hill." ― Henry B. Eyring

  29. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Kelowna, Canada
    Posts
    111
    Post Thanks / Like
    Nice write up! well done, can't wait to find out what happens.

  30. #20
    Senior Member robie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    500
    Post Thanks / Like
    Congrats Dexter! Sounds like another great adventure.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •