We spent a great deal of time planning and preparing for our 2015 Alaska Caribou hunt! Well over a year in the making, we were headed to Alaska to hunt Caribou north of the Arctic Circle. We chose to do a drop style hunt. No guides, no knowledge of what to expect and no experience on the tundra. It was sure to be an adventure and a learning experience.
We packed and repacked everything we would need for the trip, checking our gear and then checking it again. To keep weight down we only took one rifle with us on the trip and headed to the range the day before our departure to double check the accuracy and zero after putting the new Boyd’s Custom Stock on. Everything was in order and the excitement and anxiety were high.
We arrived in Fairbanks without incident. Baggage and weapons were all accounted for so the first obstacle was overcome. We were looking forward to the long but scenic drive along the Dalton Highway to our final destination near Deadhorse, Alaska. The drive was amazing as we crossed numerous types of terrain and habitat. The Brooks Range was absolutely breathtaking and no picture taken could ever do this place justice.
Stopping at several river and creek crossings to stretch our legs, we caught grayling and saw bear and moose tracks in the mud. I was having the time of my life and we were still making the journey north. Upon arriving to the Happy Valley air strip, we met with our pilots and began condensing gear to fit in the small compartments of our bush planes.
In Alaska, you are not allowed to fly and hunt in the same day so we were anxious to get into camp and get camp set up and begin to glass and scout our area for caribou. As always, anytime we travel, double checking the rifle and bows is a top priority. There was a target and bench set up next to the air strip for exactly that. Despite the best efforts of the commercial airlines, the .270 WSM was exactly as we had left it in Oklahoma!
270 WSM with Boyds Pepper Laminate Prairie Hunter stock
After a quick but very beautiful flight in the bush planes, we landed on a small gravel bar in the middle of a river. During the flight, I couldn’t help but notice several caribou and even a grizzly in the immediate area. We thanked our pilots and began to set up camp. The area we were in seemed to be perfect. Several peaks with large bowls fed down into the riverbottom we were camped in.
Our optics would be able to do a good deal of work right from camp. Tents went up, water was gathered and the spotting scopes came out. Several small groups of cows and calves worked their way through the area that afternoon and anticipation was high for the next morning.
We woke to heavy fog and less than desirable conditions. Visibility was reduced to basically the first few hundred yards from the tents. Mountain House biscuits and gravy and several cups of instant coffee broke the chill in the air and really tasted good. Despite the fog and drizzle, spirits were high and we were just enjoying the entire experience. Days passed and we experienced every possible weather condition from fog and drizzle to snow and even had a bright sunny day mixed in.
Day six started out pretty much like most of the others, fog and light drizzle. The fog quickly lifted and we were excited to see several bulls feeding in the bowl about 2 miles from camp. There were several good bulls in the group and we decided to attempt a stalk on the group in hopes of getting within range of one particular bull. The tundra is tough walking, especially uphill! The bulls casually fed across the tundra and it seemed like we needed to jog just to keep up with them. We worked a small drain that was bordered by blueberries on both sides and eventually found ourselves within rifle range of the group. I was running the camera and allowed my friend Chris the opportunity to put the .270 WSM to work. The wind was right, the range was right and there was a bull in the group that Chris really liked.
Chris worked to a position where he could clear some of the leaves and limbs from the blueberry bushes and eventually settled on a tundra hummock that offered a good rest. He pressed the Boyd’s stock down into the tundra to give himself a solid rest and eased his cheek into position. He went over all the little details aloud: “good tops, good mass, big shovel”. The next question was “are you on him?” I quickly replied “yes” and the deafening muzzle blast almost caught me off guard.
We watched as the giant bull only took a few steps and then fell over dead. We were celebrating and swapping high-fives in some of the most beautiful country we have ever set foot in. Two Point of view cameras captured Chris getting settled in behind the Boyd’s Stock and the look right down the barrel. The big bull lay motionless in the viewfinder of the main camera. What an amazing hunt in some amazing country! I recommend trying a drop hunt on the North Slope of the Brooks Range if you love adventure, and beautiful scenery.
This blog was submitted by Brain Magee with Fired Up Outdoors.