Dalton highway winter hunt


Aug 21, 2020
I have hunted the haul road in August, but never in November. Considered taking leave for Veterans Day and going up for 8 days. Any pointers? Mostly wondering if the weather even allows for archery hunting and since the rut should have ended the meat should be fine correct?
thank you


Senior Member
Jul 20, 2016
Good luck! Extra gas and stay warm. Seen a lot of them use sleds to pull meat and gear around
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Larry Bartlett

Senior Member
Rokslide Sponsor
Feb 13, 2013
yes Nov is usually pretty successful because bulls are lethargic and taxed from rutting behavior and are weak from a lack of digestive nutritional energy. I've walked up and touched rutting bulls on the Slope on Veterans Day weekend, and some appear drunk and wobbly. NO on meat quality unless you shoot a non-sexually active male or a cow.

There's a lot of myth and personal preference with meat quality associated with rutting behavior in all deer and goat, and scientific literature is scant on the effects of rut on meat quality.

As briefly as I can, here's what I know and not just what I think:

urophagia in ungulates is a period and tendency for that animal to drink urine. Some animals do so when they are mineral deficient and lacking important biochemical markers in their digestive system. But we're talking about rutting behavior, which is known to make bulls and bucks drink that nasty urine from cows and does.

Urine contains all sorts of toxins in the form of hormones, chemicals and minerals. When ingested, the kidneys function are to filter these toxins, retain the important ones and release those which are abundant and/or toxic. Of these chemicals and minerals, urea, nitrates, sulfur, silcon, and a few others have not only odor but also chemical and oxidative affects on the muscles (meat) and cells of that animal. Depending on the quantity of ingested urine, each animal will present a strength of taste and odor changes directly linked to that volume, concentration, and state of said urine. Rutty piss stinks more than non-rutty piss and therefore rutty meat is a real thing for a 1/4 of each year in sexually active, especially dominant breeding, males, and here's how that window measures out:

Caribou enter the rut in early October, and for weeks caribou will drink copious amounts of female urine. Scientists believe the reason is for bulls to sense and taste when a cow has reached estrus (the 72-hour window of baby making egg release). During the month of October and by early November, kidney function is labored and taxed out, causing an absorption of digestive contents into the bloodstream while it waits for the kidneys to resume normal filtration. As a result, urea, nitrogen, sulfur and nitrates are hypersaturated in the bloodstream through the gut and therefore into the muscles of its body. This, contrary to anything the arm-chair scientists claim, has a taste and odor affect on the meat.

In domestic animals when urophagia is observed, the animals are routinely separated from the herd for 6-8 weeks to restore the health and energy of the piss drinker. In wild caribou, bulls are often lethargic in November and generally slower to recover physically. In my experience, it takes about 12-16 weeks post rut for surviving animals meat to recover in taste. I've sampled harvested meat to my own dismay during this window to graduate from the armchair to the lab on this topic...so to speak.

So, October 15- November 15 is the worst time to shoot a mature bull if meat quality is desired. If hunting during this window, search for small healthy-acting bulls or cows without accompanied calves. Antler drop in Dec/jan make it difficult to determine sex, so body size and animal behavior helps us determine the health of a caribou. By Jan/Feb meat quality has lost most of the offensive odor but not all its rutty residual taste, but by March those who survived the taxes of rut and winter are healthy and edible by most palate consensus.

We are what we eat, fellas. That's true with humans and animals. It's important for us to have these discussions even if we disagree on the science behind it. But science doesn't give a **** what we think. I recommend harvesting caribou meat that we hope to eat during the months of March through September. Any month in between that window will taste different and less appealing to your women and children...and we need their support and encouragement to spend those hundos for hunting every season. Meat quality matters!