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Caribou 2021 late August out of Kotzabo
Caribou
Contributors to this thread:
Mr.C 05-Mar-20
LKH 05-Mar-20
wildwilderness 05-Mar-20
Busta'Ribs 05-Mar-20
Paul@thefort 05-Mar-20
bowonly 05-Mar-20
midwest 06-Mar-20
Busta'Ribs 06-Mar-20
KERRBOW 06-Mar-20
midwest 06-Mar-20
bfisherman11 06-Mar-20
bowonly 06-Mar-20
Mr.C 11-Mar-20
Mr.C 11-Mar-20
Mr.C 11-Mar-20
IdyllwildArcher 17-Mar-20
Halibutman 17-Mar-20
Mr.C 18-Mar-20
From: Mr.C
05-Mar-20
any tips on hunting Caribou in late August early September on unit 23 in Alaska ,more then likely a float plane DIY drop camp! thanks for any tips MikeC

From: LKH
05-Mar-20
Well, first spell it Kotzebue. Check with the state to see if the area herd is in a serious decline. The Haul Road herd went from over 70K to about 20K. Not much fun any more.

05-Mar-20
You will have to fly a long way in August to the Caribou. September would be better, the migration has been later with the warmer falls. Some people even wait til October!

From: Busta'Ribs
05-Mar-20
Like almost all Caribou herds, the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WACH) has changed quite a bit over the past 15 years or so, and continues to change. So the internet is your best friend for this trip, but you will have to spend some time doing the research. The Alaska Outdoors Forum is a good place to start, navigate to the general hunting forum and you're sure to find some up-to-date info there. There is also a group dedicated to the conservation and long-term health of the WACH that has a website with a ton of helpful info (westernarcticcaribou.net). The most recent photocensus (taken in 2017) actually showed an increase in the heard numbers, after many years of steady decline, so there is hope that the herd is now rebounding after crashing. The census estimated the herd at 201,000 animals in 2016 and it was up to 259,000 animals in 2017, the first signs of herd expansion since 2003. One thing to understand is what a tremendous adventure a trip to Northwest AK can be, whether you come home with a Caribou or not. Although we packed caribou off the hills when I went, what I remember most about my trip was the vast wilderness, of being alone there and the fantastic fishing we experienced on a constant basis (hunt a river system and bring fishing gear!). Above all else, make sure you pick the right pilot (transporter) and make sure you talk to as many of his clients from last year as possible. That is the best advice I can give you. Personally, I would also consider waiting until mid-September, but that is really a wild card because it can be early or late, depending on the year. But I'd bet on later rather than earlier if it were me. Good luck.

From: Paul@thefort
05-Mar-20
Great shared info. Nicely done. my best, Paul

From: bowonly
05-Mar-20
OK. We did that very trip last September 1-10. They Golden Eagle Air flew us as far out as they go. It was warm and not a whole lot of caribou. Later is better. Maybe the last of September.

From: midwest
06-Mar-20
bowonly, was the terrain bowhunter friendly?

From: Busta'Ribs
06-Mar-20

Busta'Ribs's embedded Photo
Busta'Ribs's embedded Photo
NW AK typical Caribou terrain, packing a bull off a hill back to camp...

From: KERRBOW
06-Mar-20
Did a 14 month research effort on this very trip and finally booked my hunt for this September. There are good transporters and some "not so good transporters" out of Kotzebue I found out. Be diligent in your investigation and pay attention to what long time Alaska hunters and others that have done business in Unit 23 tell you. We are doing a drop-off hunt rather than the float hunt. We chose to use a flying service with tundra wheels rather than a floatplane. Good luck as you proceed.

From: midwest
06-Mar-20

midwest's embedded Photo
midwest's embedded Photo
I would much rather bowhunt them in this type of terrain.

Stole your pic, pav. :-)

From: bfisherman11
06-Mar-20

bfisherman11's embedded Photo
bfisherman11's embedded Photo
I went in 2006, my base camp looked like the pic Midwest posted. My outfitter is retired now as I heard.

I got a bou with my recurve but it wasn't a slam dunk hunt. Mine wasn't a big bull by any means but I am proud of him. I had a lot of small bulls and cows to weave through to get this guy. I saw bigger bulls but not in range of my recurve.

I hope Kotzebue has better facilities than in 06 for meat handling. It sure could have used a place to freeze my meat. I used FedEx Gold Rush, they said they would refrigerate the meat. I packed in fish boxes and shipped it home. It did arrive home chilled but not frozen. The meat was still good so a blessing.

I would check with your outfitter/air service about meat handling. I was lucky in that I got mine on the last day and the temps were cool. At the airport I heard stories of guys that had killed the middle of the week and by the time they got their meat out it was spoiled.

I absolutely loved this hunt but that was in 06. Hopefully it is still good, I knew the herd size back then but don't recall now. Hope it helps. Bill

From: bowonly
06-Mar-20
The terrain was not the best for close stalking with a bow. Pretty open tundra, except right along the river where the willows were. They did seem to cross the river at some of the same places. We set up at those spots, but there just wasn't enough movement. There just weren't that many caribou. The rifle hunters before us shot some on the open tundra, but mostly small bulls.

From: Mr.C
11-Mar-20
thanks everyone there will be 3 of us going so I imagine well be taken in on a beaver float plane id rather go super cub but with 3 I don't know ,there's a lot of 23 closed to hunting so it kind of limits us on where we can be dropped, but yes its been a good few years for the herd so I hoping we see some good bulls and get a whack at a few, going the first week of September because of other stuff already planned next year and late September October can bring some nasty weather fast, taking the rifle maybe the bow too depends on my total weight once packed and because I don't know where well be dropped and there's more wide open area then brush and trees and wanna be ready for both...there's a lot of info on all the transporters some good some bad! well be flying with Arctic air previously Ram air owners and I've heard good and bad about both so I kind of think its the luck of the draw if you end up in a good spot with lots of animals around fingers crossed that happens keep advice and tips coming ..ps grammars not my strong point and I don't know how I got Kotzebue wrong I've written it down 10 times hahaha thanks again everyone

From: Mr.C
11-Mar-20

Mr.C's embedded Photo
heres one for Mr Tdvorak 2017 Carswell lake Sask
Mr.C's embedded Photo
heres one for Mr Tdvorak 2017 Carswell lake Sask

From: Mr.C
11-Mar-20

Mr.C's embedded Photo
Mr.C's embedded Photo
lets hope I can post some caribou next fall..I shot that moose from the bow of a boat at 47yrds and I forget to turn on the spy point ,once I seen him I wasn't thinking anything but here comes my shot as he trotted down the beach from 200 yrds yes I had time but I wasn't thinking about the damn camera hahaha my Yukon moose was shot over the tent at 40 I called him right into camp I was in a any bull unit but he still went 51" but only 3 brows on the left and 2 on the right

17-Mar-20
Eric with Golden Eagle is who to call if you want to go out of Kotzebue. Arctic Backcountry and Golden Eagle share a hanger.

The bou have been coming through later and later and now aren't even all migrating south for the winter anymore like they did prior to the 1950s when they'd just stay up in the upper Noatak Valley or the Western Brooks.

It's a long flight out to them in August, but Eric will put you on animals. The later you go, the farther south they end up, but you run the risk of them being broken up into smaller groups which can make getting into quality bulls tougher and it starts getting colder and wetter with shorter days.

When you fly out, show up to the airport hours in advance.

From: Halibutman
17-Mar-20
Another vote for Golden Eagle. I’ve used them a whole bunch of times. They’re absolutely the best outfit out of OTZ.

From: Mr.C
18-Mar-20
ive got the trip booked with arctic air Thanks for the info

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