Sitka Mountain Gear
Mountain Caribou bowhunt - Fall 2010
Caribou
Contributors to this thread:
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
Muskrat 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
Bou'bound 01-Mar-11
INbowdude 01-Mar-11
BC 01-Mar-11
Hawkeye 01-Mar-11
Bowboy 01-Mar-11
Bigpizzaman 01-Mar-11
city hunter 01-Mar-11
njbuck 01-Mar-11
Bigpizzaman 01-Mar-11
OFFHNTN 01-Mar-11
hntnfool 01-Mar-11
INDBowhunter2 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
caribou woo 01-Mar-11
Chip T. 01-Mar-11
Waterfowler 01-Mar-11
Charlie Rehor 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
Charlie Rehor 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
Charlie Rehor 01-Mar-11
Busta'Ribs 01-Mar-11
medicinemann 01-Mar-11
Bx3 01-Mar-11
Busta'Ribs 01-Mar-11
Florida Mike 01-Mar-11
bb 01-Mar-11
Turk 13-Mar-11
BOWUNTR 13-Mar-11
From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11
I had the good fortune to go on several bowhunts last Fall. Pat posted the brown bear bowhunt recently and when I saw the photos that Chris Green (aka Busta' Ribs) posted of his Mountain Caribou bull, I thought that I would share another story to confirm some of his thoughts and observations.

Tim Metcalf (aka Bigpizzaman) and I left to hunt Mountain Caribou with Dave Dutchik and Dallas Gertner of Redstone Trophy hunts in early to mid September. We flew to Norman Wells and caught a shuttle flight into base camp on September 9th or 10th.

You can see from the photo (below) that Wright Air uses more than enough airplane. Upon arriving at base camp, we unloaded the airplane and as we were carrying everything off of the dock and up the hill to the base camp's cabins, Tim slipped and fell. He probably stuck his arm out to break his fall, and while he probably didn't know it at the time, he actually severely injured his shoulder (he had surgery a few days after he returned home).

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
Tim Metcalf and I in front of one of the planes used to take hunters to base camp. The power of these planes is just incredible....and our ride (Otter) was even bigger.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
A picture showing the lake that our float plane landed on to drop us off at base camp.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
These photos just don't do the area justice....but I wanted to include a couple of them so you could see some of the color variations that are present just by turning your head and looking in slightly different directions....

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
After getting unpacked, we went out and set-up a target to sight-in our bows. This is when we really determined that Tim had injured his shoulder. He really couldn't even draw his bow to practice with me.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
So, Tim was kind enough to take pictures of the camp, and keep me company while I shot a few practice arrows. From twenty to sixty yards, everything seemed to be OK.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
The next morning found the guides and horse wrangler up early going out and bringing in the horses, many of which are hobbled. While I have ridden horses in my past, as a rule, I don't ride them in hunting camps. The area that we were going to hunt is several miles from base camp, so I walked those miles everyday.

Upon our return from hunting the minerals licks on the first day of the hunt, I found two completely different sets of fresh grizzly tracks.....how do I know that they were fresh? They were in my mornings bootprints....and that'll make you walk a little faster and pay a little more attention to your surroundings when you are heading back to camp every evening!! I carried a camp persuader (aka 12 ga. shotgun) slung over my shoulder a couple days later in the hunt.

Most mornings I would walk ahead of the horses (I have a long stride), and when the mineral lick was not too far ahead, I found the horses had a tougher time keeping up with me....LOL. It's funny what the excitement of the brisk morning air and thrill of anticipation can do to your pace and your stride!!

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
I actually took a double bull blind with me for this hunt. If it worked really well, I thought that I might leave it in camp for future bowhunters to use. As you can tell by the straps in the lower left corner, this photo was taken from the blind on the first morning.

However, after setting it up near the mineral licks, it wasn't fooling the caribou, so we really only used it to get out of the rain on the one day that it really poured with high wind. We built three ground blinds near key choke points, and we let the wind and caribou activity dictate which ones we used.

The vast majority of the time, we resorted to the ground blinds that we built out of dead pine trees and pine boughs. They worked extremely well....especially when placed near the most used travel corridors.

I had re-occuring problems with my camera batteries failing, so many of the attached caribou photos are compliments of Bigpizzaman.....who I might add is great guy to share a camp with....and it really kills me to admit that....LOL!!

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
This photo shows the mineral lick(s). Essentially, it is a grayish-colored boulder field. There are seeps and small streams with mountain run-off trickling under and between the rocks. The water probably runs over some evaporite deposits on the mountain sides (usually containing salts of some type). As the water level varies down in the vicinity of the boulder field, the mineral salts dry on the sides of the rocks. The animals probably visit the lick for both the water AND the minerals.

If you look at the extreme left edge of the photo, the top edge of the boulder field has a little yellowish patch of grass. I built my ground blind just to the left of that yellowish grass (literally right on the edge of the photo), in those darker pine trees. Tim built a blind almost directly across from me....probably about 150 - 200 yards away. His blind was right on the corner of the mineral lick, and it got quite a bit of attention over the 5 days that we were there. He would have been just off of the left side of this photo, on the lower edge of the grayish boulders.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
I don't have any close-up photos of caribou going by, but I'll share a few of the pictures that Tim took from the ground blind that I built by the yellowish grass.....in the previous photo, these animals would be moving from right to left.....the closest animals shown here probably crossed in front of us at 30 to 40 yards.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
This bull is actually going by Tim's blind when this photo was taken.....he'll probably be a shooter this Fall. Even though Tim's shoulder was pretty dinged-up, he had enough spunk in him that if one of these bulls wanders too close, it won't make that mistake again.....

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
On the second full day of our hunt, this caribou trotted by around lunchtime. I was hunkered down in my ground blind constantly scanning for caribou when I heard the unmistakable clik clak of hooves on rocks. I slowly turned my head to my right, and through my ground blind the first thing that I could see was antlers....BIG antlers.

I immediately grabbed my bow, nocked an arrow, and clipped my release onto my D loop. I slowly rotated my body so that the bull would be broadside to slightly quartering away when he reached his closest point of approach. As soon as I saw the double shovels, I knew that I would take the shot if I was given the opportunity.

I had a slight breeze in my face....coming right from the bull.....perfect. The bull stopped to drink from a seep that was right behind a small pine tree. I estimated him to be well inside of 40 yards. Once he finished his drink, he followed a smaller bull trotting past my position....and when he was directly at my nine o'clock, I put my pin on his shoulder and released my arrow. The arrow hit him about 5 inches behind his shoulder and slightly lower than the very middle of his body.

I have taken many caribou over the years, and once they were hit by an arrow, they would sprint a short distance, and then just stand around until they got wobbly kneed and collapsed. Not this guy....when that arrow hit him, he shifted into overdrive. I put a pretty good hit on the bull (the arrow probably could have been another 3-4 inches further forward), but it was a lethal hit nonetheless.

He ran about 250 yards and got just off of the boulder field, and collapsed in the yellowish grass. I thought that was it.....and I just sat there and watched his head drop. He actually got up one more time and walked towards Tim's blind a little bit more....he was 300 yards west of Tim's blind. When he bedded this time, it was for keeps.

I intended to wait until later in the day to clean the bull, as I would have to cross the boulder field to get to him, and I didn't want to spook the caribou and disrupt Tim's hunting. However, the guide (who had been sitting up on the hill all morning watching us hunt) saw the bull drop. He brought the horses down and led them over to some brush near the bulls position.

About that time, we had a slight break in the caribou action, so I gathered my gear and quickly made my way over to the bull.......

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
Shortly after I arrived at the bull, Tim came over to congratulate me. Don't get me wrong....DIY hunting is a very fulfilling way to hunt big game. However, as I have started to age (a little quicker than I wish, I might add), I have really started to enjoy the camaraderie of a fellow bowhunter as much as the satisfaction of hunting on my own. Having Tim there to share in my hunting success was a great moment for me.

It was when Tim arrived at the bull that I learned that he had been reading a book when the bull came into his view. He had been waving his book back and forth trying to get my attention, not knowing if I was aware that the bull was closing on my position. I never thought to look across the mineral lick!!

Since we had a lull in the action, Tim chose this opportunity to head over to the blind where I had been hunting. The guide and I took several photos, then we caped the bull and processed all of the meat for the trip back to base camp. Tim actually had some action that evening when a dandy of a bull wandered over in his direction, but he just couldn't quite close the distance enough to seal the deal. It was a DANDY of a bull, too.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11

medicinemann's embedded Photo
medicinemann's embedded Photo
I was really pleased with my bull. He had good tops, double shovels, and his bez points were almost as wide as his tops. He was a great representative of the species. However, what really struck me was his body size.

Chris Green (aka Busta' Ribs) was exactly right in the thread that he started yesterday....these caribou are BIG.....I would say that they are closer in size to an elk, than the caribou that I have taken in the past. I would like to know if Chris shares that observation with me.....

From: Muskrat
01-Mar-11
Fantastic Pictures, great explanations under the pictures. I would love to read more about your hunt.

Thanks MUSKRAT

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11
I actually have a photo somewhere of the other hunters in camp and the results of our Mountain Caribou hunt. If I can find the photo, I will post it as we took some really nice bulls.

Chase Fulcher and Dr. Warren Strickland both tagged nice bulls on this hunt, Chase's son hit a great bull that was eventually recovered, but not until after we left camp. When I spoke with Chase at GSCO last week, he told me that they had gotten the antlers and the pictures that he showed me suggest that the recovered animal was probably a 370" bull....give or take a few inches. Everyone in camp was great, and it sure does add to the experience when the camp atmosphere "clicks".

Even though I tagged out on the second day, I walked out to the mineral licks everyday with Tim (it was after I tagged-out that I carried a shotgun with me for the walks back to camp). Tim was never able to get an arrow in a bull that he wanted, and like I said, he is quite a trooper. I believe that he had shoulder surgery about 3-4 days after he returned home. I wouldn't want to be a Mountain Caribou bull the NEXT time that he sets foot up there.

I have hunted at Redstone on two occasions for Mountain Caribou and I saw one really monstrous bull. It sure seems like the Mountain Caribou have the healthiest numbers at this point in time. Jim Fink has good Barren Ground caribou (when the Porcupine River herd decide to migrate from Alaska down into the Yukon wintering grounds), and he has Mountain Caribou on his concession as well.

While I have never had the opportunity to hunt with Gana River or Arctic Red River, I continue to hear good things about them. Stan Stevens has people talking about some of his Mountain Caribou as well.....so Chris' observations about Mountain Caribou sure seem to add up from what I have seen and heard.

A 2X1 caribou hunt with Redstone was $5,500.00 last year (2010). Including airfare, charter fees, licenses, shipping of horns, etc.; I had about $8,500.00 to $9.000.00 in my hunt. I hope that this helps anybody considering such a hunt.

From: Bou'bound
01-Mar-11
thanks for sharing Jake. great bull and photos. another species in the book. not many more to go for you.

these post-season updates are a great way to filloff season lulls on the Bowsite.

From: INbowdude
01-Mar-11
Cool hunt Jake! I can picture you leading a packtrain out of the mountains, bow in hand. Congrats.

From: BC
01-Mar-11
Very cool Jake. Once again, thanks for taking us along.

From: Hawkeye
01-Mar-11
Thanks for taking us along Jake. Great thread and really nice job on the hunt summary. That bull is an awesome animal. Congrats!

From: Bowboy
01-Mar-11
Thanks for sharing the pictures and story. There definitely on my short list.

From: Bigpizzaman
01-Mar-11
Ahhh seems like it was just a few weeks back! Great hunt. Really enjoyed hunting with Jake, will do it again! I am looking at returning to Redstone in Sept of 2012 for a Moose/Bou combo hunt with Clutch. I know why Jake doesn't ride horses, they'er scared of him!! LOL I'll tell the story later, gotta go workout, get my "wing" back to 100%!!

From: city hunter
01-Mar-11
NIce story congras , great looking bull ..

From: njbuck
01-Mar-11
Congrats on another fine trophy Jake. If you have any other pics, please share them with us.

From: Bigpizzaman
01-Mar-11
Quick story about hunting with Jake, after I told him my shoulder was "toast" he seemed more worried about my hunt than his. He offered to sit next to me and aid in drawing my bow, this was his second attempt at mountain bou and is in spitting distance of his NA 29 and still is worried about me!! I was honored to see him take his Bou', I got "almost" as excited as he did when it went down!

Day one we saddle up, Jake takes off walking, we catch him about a mile out of camp. Jakes wearing a leafy suit and our guides horse is a bit freaked out by it. As we approach Jake, Volmer (the Guide) tells Jake to walk up slowly and put his hand out so his horse will smell him and settle down. As Jake reaches out to the horse, he comes unglued, I mean National Rodeo Finals action! This horse explodes up an starts bucking and kicking for the sky, the guide is pulling all he can on the raines, then they break. Horse takes off straight for a tree throwing the guide smack into it! Danm that had to HURT! He comes up cussing, heck he cussed the horse, the "cheap" tack, the boss, me for laughing, you name it! I told Jake as long as I was on a horse to stay the heck away!!! We had Rodeo action most every day, but I gotta go work now!

From: OFFHNTN
01-Mar-11
Congrats Jake!!! Great story, thanks for sharing!

OFFHNTN

From: hntnfool
01-Mar-11
Congrats again Jake, great story!

01-Mar-11
I was wondering if I would see a story about this hunt. I got the Redstone flyer in the mail about a month ago with a picture of your bull in it. Congrats on a great caribou. Also saw the pictures of Dr. Strickland's bull and Chase Fulcher's bull.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11
Every single person in camp had at least one "rodeo" with the horses....EXCEPT for the person that didn't ride them. One of the apprentice guides got absolutely "TATTOOED" by one ill tempered animal. I expected him to have cracked ribs at the very least, but he just got up, dusted himself off, and went about trying to catch the horse.

I've had horses try to "sweep" me off of the saddle by running under a low limb....and that is a great way to damage or destroy a bow....hence my decision to walk everywhere that the horses walk.

From: caribou woo
01-Mar-11
Awesome pix Jake, thanks for sharing. That was one dandy bull. Congrats.

From: Chip T.
01-Mar-11
Great hunt and story Jake! I too have had my troubles with horses so I can't blame you for hoofing it, but 7 miles each way!!

From: Waterfowler
01-Mar-11
Good looking bull Jake.

01-Mar-11
Double shovel, very nice indded! C

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11
Charlie,

I must admit that I am surprised at the P&Y minimum for the Mountain Caribou. The minimum is 300 inches, unlike the 325 inches that are required for Quebec Labrador and Barren Ground Caribou. Yet the animal, and their headgear seem every bit as big (or bigger) than their "cousins".....just struck me as unusual....nothing more.

I wondered if you (or anyone else for that matter) had any idea or explanation for the slightly lower qualifying score.

Jake

01-Mar-11
It's no different than the minimums for say Alaska/Yukon Moose versus Shiras Moose. The Mountain and Central Barren Ground Caribou (minimum 300 inches) just don't grow as big racks as the Barren Ground and Quebec/Labrador Caribou (minimum 325 inches). For example in the P&Y Club Record Book there are approximately 35 Barren Ground Caribou netting over 400 inches but less than 5 Mountain Caribou and less than 5 Central Barren Ground Caribou over 400 inches. C

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11
My comment was based on body size, not as much on antler size (thought they do seem big to me)....hence my erroneous conclusion.

01-Mar-11
Oh, Ok! I have only hunted two species of Caribou - (Barren Ground and Woodland) and I thought the Woodland Caribou (220 inch minimum) had a bigger body than the Barren Ground Caribou (325 inch minimum). The Woody's do a whole lot less migrating and traveling. JMO

Your Mountain Caribou is an absolute beauty. The double shovel is always rare!

From: Busta'Ribs
01-Mar-11
Although I have only hunted one other sub-species (Alaska) I'm pretty sure that the Mt. Caribou is the biggest of all Caribou. Of course, we had no way to weigh my bull but my guide estimated it at 600 lbs and it's body size looked much more like an Elk than a Caribou.

Great bull and great report Jake, thanks for sharing.

From: medicinemann
01-Mar-11
Chris,

My guide estimated my bull right at 600 pounds as well. Was your hunt in the middle of September?

From: Bx3
01-Mar-11
Those wide bez's are really cool. Congratulations and as always, thank you for sharing!

From: Busta'Ribs
01-Mar-11
Jake, if I remember correctly, I shot my bull on September 21st, which was the first day of my 7 day hunt.

From: Florida Mike
01-Mar-11
Very nice Jake, good read, nice animal! Mike

From: bb
01-Mar-11
These are awesome threads, thanks for posting, the juices are flowing now, I'm motivated to start looking into a hunt in the future.

From: Turk
13-Mar-11
Jake,

Congratulations and thanks for sharing. Great story, with pictures, and recollection of the hunt!

From: BOWUNTR
13-Mar-11
Very nice. Congrats and thanks for sharing. Ed F

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