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Advice Kotzebue Caribou
I've got alot of advice already and starving for more. 2 months till I leave to Kotz on a drop hunt with Ram Aviation. Anyone have more advice? I get 125lbs. Im at 85.. any advice is good.
Im gonna carry a rifle for protection but Im bow hunting.
Here's an article I wrote about hunting out of Kotzebue. http://forums.bowsite.com/tf/bgforums/thread.cfm?forum=10&threadid=368887&MESSAGES=25&FF=10
My advice is not to go with RAM Av.
I second the advice not to go with Ram. They really do not care about your experience at all. They are sad.
I already booked with Ram! The only thing I care about is they drop me close to caribou migration and pick me up. Thats all Im worried about.
Were not trying to get you all worked up here, but Kobuk Valley area is really big. Ram will most likely drop you off in the Squirrel River area. The migration goes through that area last. If the weather leading up to your hunt is warm they wont even make it that far. You better be willing to take the first couple of Bulls you see that will make a decent mount. Could be slim pickings.... Good Luck
Hopefully it will be good. Im going late end of sept early oct. Is it crowded there? Will there be alot of hunters and run ins with other groups?
PM if you want to talk about hunting in that region.
M12, that is very late to be hunting caribou that far north. Not because of the caribou but because of the risk of bad weather. No, it won't be crowded! Most hunters are gone around the 20th before the snow flys. Some years, we've had over a foot of snow by the 15th, other years its still 50 degrees on the 25th, each year is different. If your in a spike camp and it snows, just remember, you'll have to dig out the runway so the plane can land unless he's got skies.
Nice! Did u shoot that with your bow?
Congrats!!! Give us a full report! I'm anxoius to hear how it all went with Ram and the hunting. Congrats again, GREAT bull!
WOW nice bull!
Tell us all about the trip....................
Wow... that is a pig... an absolute giant. I guess you proved some wrong... congrats. Hope you got it with your bow. Ed F
Wow that is an impressive animal & a helluva picture as well. Congrats
Congrats, are you getting that bull scored? Just looking at the photo I am sure it won't have any problems making book. It would be an awsome caribou if taken with a bow but in any case it would be an awsome caribou to be taken with a rifle too. Whether it was shot with a rifle or bow you certainly picked out a monster and should be very proud of yourself.
As much as I wish this was an archery bull, it's a rifle bull. I couldn't pass on it. I didn't get it scored and already cut the skull. Ram aviation was great. They got us in and out of feild safely which is all their job really is. We were about 50 miles north of Kotzebue. I had shot opp with my bow 3 times. On 2 the bulls just weren't big enough, and on 1 my lack of experience with Alaska messed that up. I had a group of bulls at 60 yards, no wind broadside and I took pictures instead of getting ready to shoot. I thought they were going to come into 40 yards and busted me. Caribou were spooky and nothing like I thought after watching the hunting shows on TV. They don't let you get within 100yrds very easy. Instead of pulling up and shooting I got busted. We didn't see a ton of caribou. Maybe 250. The state troopers landed in camp to check on us and said they weren't grouped in the 1000s but more like groups of 30. The troopers were very nice by the way. Just make sure you are doing things correct.
There was 2 of us on this hunt, Kyle killed a goodone too with a rifle. He's weird about having his pic on the internet so he is in disguise. We didn't see any wolves or bears, but saw bear tracks all over the place. I had 2 caribou tags and a wolf tag. Kyle had 1 caribou tag. So I had some tag soup, but was only after something I would mount. We donated all the meat to the locals. We were told not to go into town but did anyway. The locals were friendly, and the store owners appreciate the business. Things are very expensive but its good to still buy something for their economy. Some of the houses in the village have huge antlers in their yards moose and caribou.
According to the Troopers the weather was great for that time of year. Days before hunt: Left Nebraska at 11am, slept in Anchorage airport and got to Kotz at 730am next day..... Lost one bag containing my tent, and waders and kyles sleeping bag. RAM loaned us waders and a 6 person tent and kyle a sleeping bag! Which saved us. Day 1 They say the tundra is like walking on a sponge.Well it's 10 times worse. I walk 5 miles from camp and got into a few caribou but only got 400yrds from them. It took all day to walk to them and back to camp. I burned up my legs and feet on day 1. Saw the most on day 1. Day2 Kill 2 bulls in the AM on the river about 1.5miles from camp. We were excited. After cleaning and quartering we get to trips of meat back to camp. Packs were super heavy and walking on the river in waders two sizes too small killed my feet. Walking on the rivers is like walking on softball and baseballs. The water is the clearest cleanest Ive ever seen. That night was the coldest night. Down into the teens. Still cold in a -20 bag. The days still got into the 40s and maybe 50s. Saw a little snow today. Mountain tops covered. Day 3 Finished packing out bulls. It too 4 trips of 80+lb packs. Total of 12 miles. After caping and salting I went up on mountain top and blew it on a real nice bull. It still stings. Day 4 Glassed all morning and saw one small group real far away. It took most of the morning for them to feed close enough to get to. Made a stalk later in the day and ended up 40 yards from them. Only had one small bull and cows in the group. Far walk for a few pictures, but worth it. A spotting scope would definatly save some miles of walking. Day 5 Didn't see any caribou but saw moose. Day 6 Didn't see any caribou and got picked up in afternoon. Didn't see any caribou on flight out! Did see 1 bear and 1 moose in flight.
The travel back was tough and long. RAM help us with the shipping of antlers and packing capes. The antlers showed up 2 days after we got back. I would recommend using RAM they did everything we could have asked for. Sheila is great. Pilots were serious and safe. This hunt was about 4 times harder than I thought it was gonna be. Alaska is awesome but wild. I'd love to go back and hit big migration.
This is that group of bulls I spooked. There were 2 real nice bulls in there. Kicking myself as I type.
This is that group of bulls I spooked. There were 2 real nice bulls in there. Kicking myself as I type.
Very nice pics and story, thanks for sharing your experience in Alaska.
that is a stud bull!! congrats on your successful adventure to Alaska
marchery12, Nice caribou! I am glad you had a great trip!
As far as the people that do not recommend RAM I am wondering why?
I too was up there last year, and I had a wonderful trip! But, that is Matts plane in your picture. Did Matt give you any grief because you had a bow? He kept making fun of me because I was bow hunting, but when he picked up my big rack, he didnt say much... he he. He is a pretty funny guy, we had a great time with eachother. :) It is a wonderful trip, I would recommend it to anyone! There are a ton of animals, it is up to the hunter to determine how far they want to hike to fill their tags.
Here are a few of my pictures from last year, Matts 180 is also in our pics as he dropped us off and picked us up. Not to highjack your thread marchery12, but we were at the same place, mise well keep the photo book going! :)
Here is the last picture. I forgot to mention, we booked with Nothern Air Trophies, which is right beside RAM. They work together and fly eachothers clients out together. They are both great guys and I would recommend both of them! They used both planes during our hunt, and they are both amazing pilots!
We hunted for a week up north of Kotz. We harvested 11 caribou total during that time frame, and on the last day of hunting I filled my second tag with my bow. He would be a beast if he would of had a second front shovel... he looks great in my livingroom though no matter what!
Cheers everyone! You better start booking for next year, I know they fill up fast!
Yeah I think Matt dropped us off. They called him Captain Crazy. It was a fun flight in. I didn't get a chance to actually meet the piolet because we were in such a hurry to get into field before dark, we were behind because of lost bag. Mike from RAM in the white plane picked us up. I notice three companys all worked together and out of the same area. It looks like you guys got into them! Sweet pictures. I want to go back already, I'd like to get into the migration at it's peak. And your right. If you are willing to hike your butt off you got a real good chance of kill a good bull. Im a flat lander from Nebraska I took a 5 mile hike and then a 5 mile hike back and I was beat. I think the way to do it is pack some food and a little shelter so you can stay out a night if you get too far. There was a time I wanted to keep going after some but didn't think I would get back by dark. Your right, i bet they book real fast with all the crap going on in Canada with caribou and struggling herds. I think this is the place to go if you are able to do it yourself. DIY is more rewarding too. Sweet pics again. Thanks for sharing.
Very nice bou! Funny how some guys have bad experiences with outfitters and some have good. Everybody wants to blame somebody but sometimes things just turned to crap and sometimes we fall into heaven. Glad you guys had fun. Mike
Can't beat 3 week turn around time! Already on the wall.
John Prentis taxidermy is the best I've seen, If you are in Nebraska and need a mount look hime up!
When I was guiding alot of clients starting bring their deer to him instead of bringing them home because his mounts were so nice. He really puts time into every mount and it shows.
For some of you that are booked with Ram Aviation. You might want to try and start getting your money back. Probably not going to happen if he's in prison.
full cry, your scaring me, i am booked with ram air, even though the money would be an issue ,legal ethical hunting is my big priority...whats going on?
He's been in Federal Prison since Oct. You can probably get a hold of him in about three years!
Here's the last article I've read. Not sure if there's been any updates. You can send me a PM, and I can let you know who his partner is/was up there.
A 50-year-old Kenai man was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Anchorage for tax evasion. Michael A. Spisak failed to pay over employees’ taxes to the Internal Revenue Service for two companies, according to evidence introduced during a federal trial. This failure led to expensive tax penalties, which Spisak did not pay. Spisak was sentenced to 44 months in prison, the Alaska U.S. District Attorney announced in a press release. A jury found him guilty of tax evasion on Oct. 29, 2012. He was taken into custody on that date and has been incarcerated since. Spisak was a commercial pilot who worked as an assistant hunting and fishing guide and transporter in Alaska since the 1980s. The jury found Spisak responsible for not paying over income taxes, social security taxes and Medicare taxes withheld from the employees of two aviation companies. He operated the companies under Ram Aviation, which he establish sometime in the ‘80s according to a federal indictment, as well as Hunt and Fish Alaska. He failed to pay over taxes totaling $140,134.32 in 2000. And in 2001, the IRS began issuing penalties against one of the companies. For four years, Spisak continued to avoid paying over taxes, and he purchased and transferred ownership of multiple aircraft, according to the indictment. As a result, the IRS handed down more than $200,000 in tax penalties in 2005, according to the press release. To evade the payment of the tax penalties, the evidence presented at trial showed that Spisak committed numerous illegal acts: he created nominee companies to hold aircraft which he either used in his businesses or controlled; he created an overseas bank account in Belize; he placed assets in the names of others; he paid creditors but not the federal government; he transferred funds through the bank accounts of his children; and he provided false or incomplete information to the IRS and to his tax preparer. The IRS’s Criminal Investigation Division led the probe of Spisak’s tax evasion. Upon sentencing, Chief United States Judge Ralph R. Beistline said Spisak is a “fundamentally dishonest” person. “Everyone wants to pay as little as legally possible to the IRS,” but his action showed he was a “tax cheat” and had “no respect for the law,” Beistline said.
Possible candidate for Treasury Secretary :)
Honestly, how do these guys figure they are beating the system?
Wonder how many folks like WT185 are "booked" with this crook?!
Guess it shows this can and does happen in the US too.....................of course the BIG difference here is this guy is behind bars(for a long time). If this had happened in Canada, he'd still be walking around a FREE man! ;-)
I spoke with ram this last month i couldn't get my deposit back but sheila said i could wait a yr and talk to the clients from 13 to show me the good job they would do, i opted to just go this year her strongest point was that they didn't have many clients as we know why.If there is any recent news let me know and any individual pilot that would be a good back up plan
Hey Whitetail, I am sure you are going to have a good trip. Matt, with Northern Air is family friends of RAM, and good chance he might be the pilot flying you in and out. Even if its not him i am sure they found a good pilot or two to fly. And when you look at the big picture, you are just hiring a pilot, the caribou are there, they use the same migration routes year after year. So as long and you get flown in and picked back up at the same locations, which i am sure they are doing, you will probably have a great hunt!
Thanks dry lake, I am hoping that they didn't loose any of their permit area over this.. 2 years ago i flew with matt, i'm not sure why my son booked a new outfitter [ram air] but looking forward to the hunt. take care
Sounds like this guy should have been a politician, they are never Tax Cheats they just occasionally make a mistake (like getting caught).
we are hunting late sept with Ram Air, if anyone hunts with them before that let me know how it went.
ok, back from kotzebue with Ram air..Sheila did every thing she promised, god i hate freeze dry food, she got us in the day we got there got us out the day we were spose to, but very tough winter conditions, could not get to the caribou, no one that week saw a single caribou, lots of unhappy hunters at the airport, 3 groups were left out over a week longer than they were spose to be, and didn't buy the outfitters explanation either ram airs or northern air, just seems like there is always poor communications..but i did want to report that ram air did every thing right for us at least...
No reason they shouldn't have got you into the caribou, all they had to do was fly another 15 min. North. Thousands of caribou up around the Wolick. There's a reason the owner of Ram air is still in prison,, he isn't the most honest guy.
FWIW - I also had two friends go to Kotz with Ram and they were unsuccessful in getting caribou, but did have good things to say about Ram.
Caribou is another name for Murphy's law. Made six trips to Quebec out so six two outfitters went broke. Made a caribou hunt with two friends who live in Dillingham Alaska for a do it yourself hunt. When we chartered a plane they said we had two much weight and had to take two planes double charter $3000. Floated ten days ,rain ten days. No caribou the salmon did not run that year, no fish.when the plane came to get us, same plane ,we had eaten about 10 pounds of food loaded up all the gear and flew back in one plane. When we got ready to leave I walked over to the river and picked up a large rock. My buddies wanted to know what I was going to do with the rock, I told them I was going to give it to my wife and if I ever mentioned caribou hunting again to hit me in the head with it.
full cry, I am sure if all they had to do was go 15 minutes further they would have, 11 different hunters did not see caribou that week.we were 40 miles out one group was 65 miles out one was 86 miles out and one was 110, the 110 and 86 were stranded for a week extra and didn't see a caribou, obviously i won't go back with ram or northern air but if they would have gotten us a caribou i would of, so i am not sure about your 15 minute comment, but i would like to find your article again. and have some further discussion about just hiring a pilot. i do think the owner is in prison for tax and mail fraud, not because he can't find a caribou, which should be a punishable offense
Matt, owner of Northern Air wrecked his 180 on the Wolick river last month. Then, last week was down flying for Warren at Bear Lake and totaled his plane. Fortunately, he wasn't injured in either crash.
Fullcry, good to hear from you ,Here is my thinking i would like to hire just the pilot, so i can communicate directly with him and make the arrangements myself, for example i would like to take the first day and just fly to see where the caribou are and then go out that evening or next morning to set up camp. Do you have a recommendation that would accomplish this.
Caribou- LMBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)
Is it just me, or would anybody else be a little leary of hiring an air service whose owner is currently sitting in prison?!(for ANYTHING ;-) I don;t think I would trust them to carry my bags from the car to the terminal, let alone fly my arse 40 miles into the wilds of Alaska in a bush plane!
but he wasn't in prison when we booked with him
Guess you didn't have much choice, then!