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Mountain caribou. Mid August vs late se
Looking to book a mountain caribou hunt in 2019 and have my search narrowed down. But I can’t decide on mid August or late sept date. Basically it boils down to high country bachelor groups vs pre- rut in lower country. I am a Saskatchewan archer so have hunt in all kinds of weather but this would be my first mountain type hunt. I have read enough to know both can be successful but still can’t make up my mind. Anybody with some experience would be glad to hear it.
Hunted fall sheep with rifle in the Makenzies. The hunt was mid August. Saw lots of caribou. Most likely could have stalked and arrowed one. Bulls still in velvet. I did take a nice one with rifle.
Either is good...the Mackenzie Mountains are the last best place on earth (or at least in North America as far as I am concerned).
Early will be stalking lone or bachelor velvet bulls in the alpine (mountains) in most cases. Bugs may be worse. Weather will likely be warmer but it still could snow, or be 90*F like the 2018 Dall hunt I was on.
Later in Sept will have the caribou rutting or preparing to rut. They spent a fair bit of time in the willows, often making it difficult to get a clear shot. Big herds also make getting a crack at the herd bull challenging with all the eyes and noses. They do move around quite a bit then so you are apt to have some move past you. Weather can be wintery if you catch a storm system.
I went last year I believe it was the first week of season. Killed a bull on day four think it was the 29th of july. I have know idea what the late season is like but was told by my outfitter that it can be hit or miss. Met a father son team on the flight out and he killed a 430ish bull with a rifle at another camp. Said he saw thousands of caribou and they were in good stalking cover in the valleys. Mine were in the mountain bowls up high trying to escape the flys. PM me if you want Ill tell you what I learned...
I am looking at the McKenzie range. Want to experience another adventure. The pic is from my solo elk hunt I did this year.
I did my Mountain Caribou bowhunt with Arctic Red. I wanted a hard horned, white-maned bull, so I booked the latest week Tavis Molner would give me. Tavis told me my best chance for a huge bull with my bow was early season, when they were still up high in bachelor groups, but I wasn’t interested in a summer cape, velvet racked bull. And I wanted to experience fall in the far North. The Makenzies are spectacular and being there as autum slipped into winter and watching the Caribou react to that was something I’ll never forget. A Mountain Caribou is the perfect archery species and you’ll have an incredible adventure regardless of when you go. Besides the seasonal differences, I’d look at lots of pictures of early and late season bulls and decide what you like. My bull is only average, but everyday when I look at him on the wall with his big white mane, I know, for me, I made the right choice. You will too, it's such an awesome hunt you really can't go wrong. Good luck.
Hey busts. Your thread about that hunt is one of the few places I could read about that someone had done a late archery hunt. I would like to see a lot of country as well as and the early season hunts sounds like you will see more country and less caribou but have really good opportunity for a stalk. On your hunt did you see much country and what did you do when you flew out early? Your mount is awesome!
I went to the Mackenzies with Gana River Outfitters (just south of Arctic Red) in August.
The caribou were mostly up above treeline in the high basins like our elk and mule deer in Colorado. We did see them crossing the bottoms but they were much more approachable and stalkable up high.
We did get some weather - wet snow and rain that cost a couple of days - but overall very nice weather - basically perfect temperatures and it was beautiful to be there and see the colors changing.
Early would be my choice for stalking sheep as well. Climbing those steep hills or even finding white sheep on snow covered slopes would be very difficult.
It could be tough stalking conditions in the late season with them herded up and the potential for noisy snow. Those later season capes are definitely beautiful and it would be a good time to combine caribou with moose.
Photo dysfunctionality on this site...
Mounted bull. Much less white than later season, but still pretty.
I went in mid-August. I would be concerned about weather in mid-September. While you could get snow in August, the likelihood increases the later you go. And colder temps add more complications. Far north hunts have enough weather variables without increasing your risks. If you are bowhunting, the lone August bulls are fun stalking vs. dealing with herded up groups later on. The caribou will probably be there in either case. The better weather and stalking lone bulls made my choice easy. I stalked up on this one and shot it at 10 yards. Regardless the Mackenzies are spectacular. Just go.
I did a full Bowsite trip report following my late season Mt. caribou hunt. Click the link if you want more details.
Thanks for the link busta! Got something to do now!
Im looking at doing the last week of August first of Sept for my hunt. I like the thought of a hardhorned bull. But want to explore the high country and hoping bugs will be minimal. ThatsThat's my thought anyway.
Bugs were minimal on my hunt.
Just read Busta Rib's story! Spectacular hunt and writing! Some of the pictures were missing, but enough were there to get a good idea of how awesome of a hunt that was. Makes me want to go back up there in the late season and combo with a moose...
Here is the thread for my hunt that happened a couple of years after Busta's.
I hunted combo for sheep and caribou in the Mackenzies in ‘17. I arrowed my sheep on day 10 of a 10-day backpack hunt, so I never hunted caribou (would have pretty much ended my sheep hunt). I hunted end of July and first of August. In my opinion, that is too early for caribou. When I go back to hunt them, I will go either the last week of August or the first week of September. Bulls will be shedding or at least full grown, weather has cooled a little and I think they start to move a little more versus early. In early August, the capes are almost completely chocolate. I do like at least a little white to the neck area.
Regardless of when you hunt them, the Mackenzies are amazing!!!
i shot a mountain caribou in the NWT divide lake on August 15. If i did the hunt again, i would hunt the first week of Sept. as the bulls move down from the mountain tops. Hunting bulls high is great, but be ready for long hikes.
I've hunted them a number of times from Aug 15th to the end of October and every day in between, in Northern BC. I think my favorite would be early to mid September for all around weather, bugs, nice cape and mostly hard horned. If you want velvet, then near the end of August.