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Thread: My Crazy Busy Caribou Season

  1. #1

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    My Crazy Busy Caribou Season

    This season was both awesome and overwhelming. Back in November I had encouraged a few family members and friends to apply for a drawing tag that would require me flying them in. I’m always looking for an excuse to spend more time in the woods, so win-win, right? When my son, nephew, father, and two friend all drew the same tag, well…wow! Helping to fill five tags in a 40 day season when I’m a weekend warrior and can only take one passenger at a time seemed like a tall order, but we sure were going to try.


    Trip #1 was with my youngest, who was hunting my father’s tag on a proxy. First of all - August 20th and snow?! What the heck! Yes, I live in Alaska, but that’s a bit early. We had to change where we planned to hunt, as the intended strip was invisible under the snow. Anyhow, I couldn’t have been more proud of how hard he worked - we climbed many ridges, hiked many miles, and had several close calls and blown stalks, but on that first trip we came home with an unfilled tag. One of those blown stalks was definitely my fault, but my kid had a great attitude and couldn’t wait to get back out to try again!



























  2. #2

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    Trip #2 the next weekend was with my oldest. He took his first caribou in this same area three years prior, and he was excited to return. A friend also joined us, though the three of us were working on a compressed time schedule. We weren’t able to make it into the mountains on Friday night as planned - low clouds and rain led to dinner in a nearby town and a return home, so we weren’t able to start hunting until Sunday. Turns out that was enough. We spotted a small group of caribou early in the hike and, being the curious critters that they often are, we soon were within range of several caribou. My son took this young bull with a single shot 15 minutes after leaving camp and my buddy followed up with one of his own about an hour later.








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  3. #3

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    The following weekend wasn’t flyable, though we waited around all weekend in hopes of the weather breaking. Just after the weekend things improved, so I flew my brother and his son into the hills on a Tuesday after work to see if they could find some success. He’d kill me if he knew I was sharing this info, but he forgot his stove at home and I found out well after I could make another flight. I had to work the next day, but the Alaskan aviation community is amazing. I reached out for help, and another local pilot graciously offered to drop a stove to my brother the next morning and insisted on nothing in return. If he happens to be reading this - thank you so much! Anyhow, my nephew managed to take a young bull that next morning. Tag #3 filled!


    The next weekend my youngest and I were back at it. Like his brother’s hunt, we were unable to get into the mountains on Friday due to weather. Saturday was beautiful, though, so we headed into the mountains in the early afternoon. Due to the fact that we couldn’t fly and hunt in the same day, much of the day was spent playing football on the mountaintop while keeping an eye out for animals.














    We didn’t see anything that day, so the next morning we set out to cover some serious ground in hopes of finding some over a distant mountain that we had seen from the air the previous day. As we started to climb, we looked back towards camp and saw a lone bull working its way down the middle of the valley close to camp. We quickly reversed course and went straight back the way we had come. A few weeks prior every caribou we saw was skittish and getting close was next to impossible. This one, though, behaved just as caribou sometimes do - it was curious, and came straight in to check us out. My son made an excellent shot and soon was helping me butcher his second caribou.












  4. #4

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    For the last weekend of the season I was solo. My friend had really wanted to hunt this tag, but he is a disabled veteran who has had several service-related surgeries in the past couple years and was unable to hunt due to his ongoing recovery. As such, I hunted his tag as a proxy on his behalf. As I flew north on Friday evening things once again grew more and more wintery on the landscape. I found a place to land that wasn’t snowy, but it wasn’t to last. By morning my camp and the surrounding mountains were draped in a thin coat of white.











    There were a couple cows and calves near the strip when I woke, and as I crested the ridge above camp after a half hour of climbing I started to see more activity. It took me a few miles of hiking and climbing, but soon I saw the first reasonably large bull of the season. A mile-long stalk ensued, and soon I began work on the bull that will fill my buddy’s freezer this weekend.

















    I’ll admit that I wish I had some time to chase sheep or moose this fall, but ultimately I got to spend several weekends in beautiful places and help some family and friends out in the process. Perhaps I’ll find time to pursue a goat in the weeks to come, but if this is the extent of my hunting season for 2021, I feel incredibly fortunate.


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  5. #5

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    Definitely one of my favorite places somewhat close to home. Thanks for sharing the story and great pictures!
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  6. #6
    SJ's Avatar
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    Great write up! Thanks!

    sj
    "Often Mistaken, but Never in Doubt"
    ------------------------------------------

  7. #7
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Making great memories for and with you boys, priceless and they will last a lifetime.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers

  8. #8
    Utah-Jay's Avatar
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    Great story, thanks for sharing

  9. #9

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    Those are beautiful photos. Where in Alaska were they taken?

  10. #10
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Glad to see that Tango Charlie is still out there making memories!! Glad she's still working hard for you.

    MTV
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  11. #11

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    Nice Work! Jealous would be an understatement.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by n180tf View Post
    Those are beautiful photos. Where in Alaska were they taken?
    North of Anchorage, south of Fairbanks. Not exactly a secret area, but….

  13. #13
    scout88305's Avatar
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    I feel like I was there! FANTASTIC

    “We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”

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