My first AK trip: DIY caribou hunt.

luke johnson

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Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
19
Location
N Idaho
I've been wanting to head North for quite awhile now; I finally got tired of "wishing" and started doing! My best friend and I are going to do a "Haul Road" hunt in late August/early September. If you've already done this hunt...any words of wisdom you'd like to pass along? I appreciate any feedback.
Thanks guys.
 

articman

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Mar 6, 2012
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4
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Alaska
Luke,
I have lived in Alaska for 30 years. I moved here when i was 18 from eastern Oregon.I hunt and fish every opportunity I get. I have only been involved in archery for a short period of time 5 years. Most all my hunting has been with a rifle. I have done that hunt a total of 4 times. I have driven the haul road all but 1 of those trips. My wife works for a in-state airline so I flew into Deadhorse with a buddy in late Oct. I rented a truck and stayed at one of the camps in Deadhorse. If you are looking to get a trophy bull, that is a great time to go the horns are chocolate brown and they have their winter coat with great white mains. August is also a good time to go but the Caribou are still in velvet. Most people go in AUG.the weather is better. I have a 13 year old daughter that has been on two of the trips. We took a small bull in AUG. of last year. I hunt different than most people. Caribou are heard animals and so are humans. Where their are pockets of Caribou there are also hunters, most of whom don't really care if you are stalking a bull. If it don't have an arrow stuck in it its fair game. Not a place I want to teach my daughter to hunt and enjoy the outdoors and the experience. With that being said there is plenty of room for everyone. Its about 160 miles from the north side of Atigun pass to the Arctic Ocean. That is like road hunting from the northern boarder of Idaho to the southern boarder. plenty of room and plenty of animals the difference being if you want to be away from the heard animals (humans) you will have to get out of your truck and actually hunt the animals. The other people are only interested in killing something with there bow. This may sound negative but you will see what I'm talking about when your there. you'll be driving along and all the sudden you will see a heard of Caribou and there will be 10-20 people trying to get close to the same head of animals its both fun and sad to watch. You would be smart to move on because here is where the Heard mentality of Humans kicks in. The thoughts are like this: Here are some Caribou and i see people hunting and man those are nice bulls lets jump in. Again I say resist and move on. The hardest thing about this hunt is there is very very little cove to stalk. I once belly crawled for two hours 1300 yards to get within 40 yards of three bulls. I missed the bull I was after but man that was a great stalk. Last AUG. I spotted a very nice bull he was a mile or more of the road heading right toward us. The road is gravel and built on the tundra, so we used the opposite side of the road to hide behind. We moved along the ditch to stay in front of the bou. It was all coming together the Bull stopped directly in front of us on the other side of the road my daughter had an arrow nocked and ready to go and a semi truck came barreling down the road and decided to stop and watch (#@$%!). He stopped 30 ft from the Caribou end of story. Caribou will generally let you get to about 150 yards then they just walk the other way. you will never catch them and they don't need to run. Your best bet is to find the lone Caribou or small groups of two or three. less eyes on you. That time of year the bigger bulls are by themselves. that's not to say that some of the larger herds wont have bulls but it will be tough to get to them with all those eyes on you. Some people base the quality of there hunt on whether they killed an animal or not. I don't know if you are one of those or not. The second time I was on the North side of the Brooks range hunting Caribou there was a group of about 200 caribou me and a young man that was wanting to learn how to hunt spent the better part of the day trying to get close to these animals. All the sudden out of the blue they decided to run, They ran straight toward us until they seen us at about 30 yards at which time they split and went around us. They young man was upset with me because I sat down and watched, after they moved past he couldn't believe that I didn't try throw an arrow at one. I told him that there are people that save up there entire life to experience what we just experienced. I asked him how many people he knows who can say they sat on the tundra on the north side of the Brooks Range and watched as a few hundred caribou run by them at 30 yards. I hope you enjoy your Hunt and the experience. I would be glad to answer any questions you might have
 
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bearguide

Guest
sounds like a super fun thing to do/ if you want to get away from people just get someone to fly you in a ways and you will be alone
 
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luke johnson

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2012
Messages
19
Location
N Idaho
Thanks for the input, arcticman! We had planned to set up camp...but with all the "traffic"; I'm kind of worried about leaving the rig alongside of the highway. And not ever being up in AK; I have no idea what to expect or how to go about things. I would like to hire a plan and be dropped farther in; but I worry about not being in the right place at the right time. I most certainly don't want to spend my hard earned money and time; trying to run away from "road hunters"! I want to go to Alaska to experience what I can't experience down here!.
 

articman

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Mar 6, 2012
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4
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Alaska
Luke,
your vehicle will be fine on the side of the road. There is no problem with stealing it's pretty remote. And there is plenty of room for everyone to hunt. The state created a corridor that is archery only 5miles on each side of the highway from the Yukon river to the Arctic ocean. It's the haul road so there are trucks hauling equipment to the oil fields. I have a bunch of pics from the Aug hunt the pipeline runs along the road for the most part. Let me know I'll send you some pics from last fall There is a outfitter that flies out of Deadhorse 70 North is the name. Also contact Mike from CaptvativeM outdoors. He knows the area well and is very helpfull.
Will you be driving your own vehicle most rental companies won't allow there vehicles on the haul road. There is also good hunting on Adak island. Might check into that.
 
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luke johnson

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Feb 25, 2012
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N Idaho
Yeah, actually Mike from Captivate Outdoors offered to help line me out. He did suggest flying out of Deadhorse and being dropped. I'm starting to see that about the rental companies not being keen on you driving their rigs on the Haul Road...this might propose a problem; since we plan to fly up to AK to save on time. I would love to see some pics! Either post them here for everyone to enjoy; or you can email them to me. I say share em!
 

Darin Cooper

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Feb 25, 2012
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Idaho
I've done the haul road twice now and it's a hoot. We saw and killed several of the best bulls we got off the road in spite of having a jet-boat and airboats to run & camp up the river. I like being on the road because it lets you cover a lot more country. You can hike in off the road if needed to get away. Really rare to see anyone more than 1/2 mile off the gravel. It is one of the coolest drives you will ever take. Highly suggest you try it! Brooks range is awesome - we saw griz, wolves, musk ox, blackbear, dahl sheep, foxes, ptarmigan, oh.. and caribou all off the road.

Coop
 

hodgeman

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Mar 4, 2012
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Delta Junction, AK
Great hunt....caribou are my favorite quarry. Your rig will be fine and finding the critters is the trick. A fly out with 70 North is highly suggested if you want to rifle hunt but the 5 mile hike isn't too tough if you know the terrain and are in shape. The corridor can have significant numbers of hunters but a lot of critters too.

Happy Valley camp is being run by the Richards this year. Suggest you stop in and ask for his advice as well.
 

billy molls

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Apr 4, 2012
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Wisconsin/Alaska
Luke, Mike from Captivatem Outdoors knows that road about as well as any one. He will be a good resource. You are getting good advice here as well. I have guided out of Happy Valley for 13 years. You will run into alot of hunters on the road. Your camp and gear will be safe, but you will likely be racing to the caribou.

It is easy for me to say, because I am not paying the bill, but i would highly recommend flying out. You will get a true "Alaskan experience" that way. I am sure you would enjoy hunting off the road, but hunting in Alaska, is about being "alone" in the wild. So if you can swing it, go with an air taxi, but be SURE that they will move you if caribou dry up wherever they drop you.

And don't shoot the first one you see,,,,, unless he's big!! good luck
 

Hardstalk

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Apr 29, 2012
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Awesome thread I'm starting to plan a trip for next year as well the wifey wants to get out of state and we agreed on Alaska only if I can shoot something would any one mind posting prices as you plan it's best it comes from the source so we can start planning. Thanks ahead of time!
 

luke moffat

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Feb 24, 2012
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Being as my wife got bow hunter certified a week ago we'll likely be doing the haul road shuffle possibly as early as next summer (too many trips already planned this summer). At some point I'd like to do a fly in Brooks Range sheep hunt as well being as I fly over it twice a month, but costs are a bit steep for us to make that an annual event in addition to our annual Kodiak goat fly out and Prince of Wales deer hunts.

Not exactly a wilderness hunt, but what else ya gonna do end of July beginning of August. :D
 

Darin Cooper

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Randy Quincy runs air-boat hunting/fishing trips off the haul road and can set you up on a raft-down drop camp or fully guided air-boat based hunt with a first-class camp. His outfit is called Alaska Gold Rush Adventures. I have spent time with Randy twice up off the haul road and he is really a top-notch guide and person.

Another friend of mine runs similar trips, air-boat based with amazing camp on the same river system (Roy Thomas, TNT Outfitters) but I'm not sure if he has any openings for the next two seasons. If you want to check out some haul road and river/air-boat photos you can see some on my FB page here. Roy guided me on my sheep under Randy Quincy at the time. We hunted caribou DIY, but did spend some time in Randy's camp and on his boats. Fishing is also amazing Char and Grayling - world class. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.101599176532766.3949.100000480534862&type=3

The AK photos are mixed in with other 2009 pics, but you can tell what's AK in there... Not as many photos as I thought I had posted but enough to get a flavor. Two good friends have a lot of experience on the haul road and that was a big help.
 

Liv2Hunt

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Feb 25, 2012
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GA
Randy Quincy runs air-boat hunting/fishing trips off the haul road and can set you up on a raft-down drop camp or fully guided air-boat based hunt with a first-class camp. His outfit is called Alaska Gold Rush Adventures. I have spent time with Randy twice up off the haul road and he is really a top-notch guide and person.

Another friend of mine runs similar trips, air-boat based with amazing camp on the same river system (Roy Thomas, TNT Outfitters) but I'm not sure if he has any openings for the next two seasons. If you want to check out some haul road and river/air-boat photos you can see some on my FB page here. Roy guided me on my sheep under Randy Quincy at the time. We hunted caribou DIY, but did spend some time in Randy's camp and on his boats. Fishing is also amazing Char and Grayling - world class. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.101599176532766.3949.100000480534862&type=3

The AK photos are mixed in with other 2009 pics, but you can tell what's AK in there... Not as many photos as I thought I had posted but enough to get a flavor. Two good friends have a lot of experience on the haul road and that was a big help.

Any chance you would happen to have contact info for Roy Thomas. I couldn't find a TNT outfitters in AK.
Thanks
Sam
 

colonel00

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Jun 19, 2013
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Lost
Good luck with the hunt. We did it last year and it was a blast. We learned a lot and I am taking my father up there next year to try to get him one. As others have said and will say, get off the road and get away from other people. One hint I will give you if you don't want to spend the money on a flight/boat service is to look into getting a raft and getting across the Sag. Most of the road hunters will not have access to that side of the river and you will be all by yourself. Last year a state trooper was nice enough to help me drop our truck at the pull-out point and brought me back up to the raft. We hadn't thought that part through so it was quite fortunate that he stopped by. Feel free to PM me with any questions.
 

Spike_Sniper

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Jul 3, 2013
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Plan on stopping at Coldfoot for gas and a meal. Also a gas can or 2 strapped to the car comes in handy. Watch out for the trucks. You will see a ton of animals on the drive. We always bring a spotting scope to check out the sheep on the drive up to the slope. It's a nice break to get out and stretch but then it makes you want to sheep hunt. Going to be a sweet trip. Enjoy and post pics when you get back.
 

flatlandr

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Feb 23, 2013
Messages
8
Great thread! I'm leaving a week from Thursday from the lower 48 for Anchorage to pick up our hunting partner. We're flying out of Happy Valley and doing an 8-day drop. I'm excited, but a bit nervous as well just because there are so many unknowns.

Be sure to post when you get back to civilization! I'll probably drive past your truck one direction or another.
 
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