Caribou - Optimal Number of Hunters

robie

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I'm putting together a group for a caribou hunt and am trying to decide the max number of hunters to allow to come with.

Two of us drove to WY from TX and tagged out in 1.5 days of a 7 day trip. I want to avoid this and enjoy my trip to AK I've been planning for close to a decade. I would like to watch multiple animals hit the ground and enjoy the experience over several days.

I've read stories of 4 caribou going down the first day and of course of people getting dropped and not seeing a caribou for 5 days.

I'm operating on the assumption we see plenty of caribou (who knows if that will be the case), but if so what would be the right size group for your hunt?

I'm thinking in the 5 to 6 range, but for those that have done it what are your thoughts?

This will be a drop hunt, not float.
 

AKBorn

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Have you selected a hunt area or a transporter yet? 5 to 6 guys sounds like a great time, but that will cost some serious coin to fly a group that size, with packs, tents, camp gear and kitchen gear, into the bush. The only way it could be not terribly expensive is if you were flown out in a beaver or otter, and not flown too far. That might save some flying time and money, but might not equate to a great hunt.

I always hunt with one partner, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt for sure - good luck to you and your group!
 

Yellowknife

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In my experience, the more people, the higher the odds that somebody will flake out at the last minute, show up with the wrong gear (or too much gear), miss a flight, or otherwise screw up the hunt. Generally, I prefer groups of 2 - 3, although I did a caribou hunt last year with four that worked out fine. Can't even imagine trying to manage the logistics of 5+ guys coming from TX on a drop hunt. That sounds horrible honestly. No advantage and lots of disadvantages.
 

FlyGuy

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I respect everything yellowknife says. When I am ready to make my 1st trip to Alaska he is at the top of my list of people to talk to.

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robie

robie

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I'm going to try and get a spot with 40 Mile. So logistics for me worrying about them is minimal. Bring your own stuff and your limited to 50 pounds.

I could see if we were trying to share food and had a big camp with an otter it be a big pain.

It's 1 buddy and his dad and potentially another and his.

I like the idea of my buddies being able to take their dads. Mine isn't able to anymore so I have a soft spot for those memories.

One of the guys dads used to be an outfitter. So I feel he would be more of an asset than a liability.

Not sure what the best answer is but I like the idea of more than a couple. I told my buddy I'm fine with just the two of us.

Thank you for sharing all of your experiences. I've done several hunts out west over the past 7 years and know this Alaska trip will be a while new animal.

I honestly can't wait for the feeling of whatching that plane go away for 5 to 6 days.

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AKBorn

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Not trying to dissuade you at all – 40 Mile is my transporter of choice, I will be hunting caribou with them again next fall. Just want you to be aware of costs and logistics…

A caribou hunt with 40 Mile will cost $2,3000 per man for bush flights, and another $800 to fly each caribou out of the field and back to Tok. This good news is they have a chilled boxcar in Tok where your meat will be stored until you return to town.

The logistics for 5-6 guys will be a bit of work – typically 40 mile flies a group (in your case it will be 2 groups) out of Tok in a 206 to one of several remote airstrips 50-60 miles from town, and goes the rest of the way to your hunting spot via Super Cub. They fly 3 Super Cubs during hunting season; for your group that will require 3 Cubs for 2 trips each. It will take most of a day to fly all of you into the field, and to bring all of you out of the field at the end of your hunt.

40 Mile country is rugged and beautiful; on a typical caribou hunt we see moose, caribou, and grizzlies, and have also seen black bears and wolves on rare occasions. Less black bears the past few years due to so many grizzlies being in the area.
 
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I’m not as experienced as the others for sure. We had 5 and I thought It was perfect. Especially packing out animals. Widgeon shot his 4 miles on top of a mountain, help makes a big difference physically. Especially with the toll that tundra takes out of you. Also need positive team players, makes a huge difference mentally when it’s slow.
 
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I will have to agree with AKborn, if you're planning on using 40 mile I would keep it small and simple. If going in a larger aircraft a bigger group would be doable. Extra shuttles turns into a magic show. Wolf tags are cheap if you want to hunt longer.
 

Gunnersdad49

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We did a float trip for caribou last fall. Ended up with 6 of us going. We made sure each 2 man “team” was self suffecient so that if someone wanted to head downstream or linger, they wouldn’t inconvenience the rest.
On the river, we had 3 rafts. Hunting was done in pairs. Fishing, campfire, etc were group activities.
The planning and travel to the pickup site was a nightmare. Some guys wanted 7 days, some 10 days, some wanted to make the others do all the driving, some wanted to leave earlier. People griped about hotel costs, rental car types, meals, everything.

On the hunt, life was good. But I won’t try to plan something like that with more than 4 people again unless I say “ these are the dates and details. Take it or leave it. If you take it, I need 75% down today to hold your spot.”
 
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robie

robie

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Thanks everyone for the details and their experiences. Im thinking about capping it at 4, two teams of two. Each plan on working together when hunting.

The trip dates will be set by the pilot and everyone's knows the cost. Makes some of the issues a non issue.

I couldn't imagine trying to do a 6 man float trip. You are a brave man.



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Gunnersdad49

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In the past, if I invited 5 guys on an adventure, I might get one to commit. I guess “Alaska, 150 miles above the Arctic Circle” was the magic phrase. Everyone said yes.
 

AKBorn

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Yea, I typically post on a couple of hunting forums for an Alaska hunt partner in October - the initial post usually yields 20-30 responses. When I reach out to all of them and say that the hunt will cost about $7k and will take 2 weeks of their time, that weeds out the posers pretty quickly. :)
 
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robie

robie

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Yea, I typically post on a couple of hunting forums for an Alaska hunt partner in October - the initial post usually yields 20-30 responses. When I reach out to all of them and say that the hunt will cost about $7k and will take 2 weeks of their time, that weeds out the posers pretty quickly. :)
My buddy once said finding a hunting buddy is more difficult than finding a wife. You need someone with similar interest, physical abilities, mental fortitude, a similar hunting budget and someone you can get along with for long isolated stretches of time. Not an easy tasks and sometimes you don't know how well you will get along with someone in a shitty situation until its to late.
 

AKBorn

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That's especially true during the long days when weather keeps you both (or keeps all of you) inside the tent in close quarters. I've been very fortunate to have selected awesome Alaska hunting partners, have not had a bad one yet. Next fall I'll be hunting with a former high school baseball teammate and former small game hunting partner, who I had lost touch with. Will be great to catch up and share the wilderness Alaska experience with him.
 

hodgeman

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I've hunted caribou solo and in a group of up to a half dozen...if the caribou are there, it's not usually a problem to fill tags.

But... handling the logistics for a larger group of 5 or 6 can be a giant PITA...at some point, you're not hunting anymore- you're a tour guide. Somebody will be "that guy" and ruin it for everyone else- complain, lose his crap, stiff someone on gas money or a hotel bill. There are a couple folks who will never be on my trips again for just such an occurrence. Not bad folks...just too much maintenance for what they bring to the table.

Bigger group and the larger chance "that guy" will be there. If I were going, it'd be 2-3 max.
 

weekender7

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My buddy once said finding a hunting buddy is more difficult than finding a wife. You need someone with similar interest, physical abilities, mental fortitude, a similar hunting budget and someone you can get along with for long isolated stretches of time. Not an easy tasks and sometimes you don't know how well you will get along with someone in a shitty situation until its to late.
No truer words ever spoken
 

Mudslinger

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In my opinion it would be four. We did three this year with Arctic Air and had a good hunt. The weather was warm but we still saw around 400 caribou. I know other people had a hard time so it is luck of the draw where they are also. I was kind of in the same boat finding people to and backing out. It turned out to be a really good hunt for all three of us and the guy that took the third spot had his first trip up under his belt.

Keep in mind also that you could have weather delays getting in and out of camp. Their might be some complaining on that end also.
 

Kevin Dill

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My only suggestion: Don't make it a consensus hunt in terms of planning. When everyone has a voice and vote it easily gets too complicated and everyone tends to think they should be consulted. One or two guys plan the hunt completely and then let the other guys join and follow the itinerary. I'm almost 100% sure there will be many who disagree with this but I've been there and done it. It's a hassle to customize things for 4-6 people and make everyone happy.

And fewer guys simply mean less potential for things to go wrong. More guys mean you'd better know the others very well and be 100% assured they're the right stuff for such a hunt. I dunno....I'm weird. It's me and a partner for moose or caribou and that's it. I'd only go with more if I knew them personally and had hunted with them on tough hunts previously.
 
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