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Kissed by an Elk
Sitka in the Khalarhi
Black and White
Dec 22, 2010
Another Sitka Christmas Party a success! Skeet shooting, fly fishing, archery tourny, and plenty of drinking. Cheers and happy holidays to you all! Sorry for the poor photos...mobile phone :)
"Bill" - This One's For You
Author: Chase Fulcher
Dec 16, 2010
My last hunt to finish my caribou slam in British Columbia, had to be cancelled due to no caribou migrating through this area. All the caribou outfitters left earlier due to the harsh weather and the bulls loosing their antlers by November 15th. Knowing what I had already endured for 8 weeks in the wilderness, going across Canada to harvest my other four caribou species, I was scrambling and willing to endure extreme conditions for three weeks for a chance to harvest #5, my Barren Ground Caribou. I talked with many of my archery friends and with their help I made preparations to hunt in Kodiak, Alaska.
With new plans I quickly packed for my last hunt and left October 22. In route to Alaska I received a phone call that my very best friend, Bill Bruce, who hired me 24 years ago for Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Company and was my DSM, suddenly died on his farm. I was in total shock and could not believe the news. We had just planned a trip together the day before to spend time in February bird hunting. I wanted to return home and be with Bill’s family, to somehow comfort them and myself through this terrible loss. My dearest friend whom I had spent so much time traveling, hunting, and weekends doing many different things we both loved and enjoyed had passed away. I contemplated what I should do, stay and complete my five species or return home to Bill’s family. I decided I would cancel my hunt and return home. Shortly before scheduling a flight I received a call from Janet Bruce, Bill’s wife, and I told her I was coming home. She told me not to come because Bill Bruce would have been very upset if I didn’t finish what I had started. She said that quitting would be the last thing Bill Bruce would want me to do. He had been following all my hunts and he wanted me to be the first to harvest all five caribou species in one year. She told me to stay and get this fifth caribou for Bill and for no reason return home.
It was the turning point of my hunt. It now became the Bill Bruce Caribou. I was going to harvest my last caribou no matter what extreme conditions or late weather challenges I had to encounter. I told my wife and office I wasn’t coming home until I had Bill’s caribou.
I began my hunt on Kodiak Island in Alaska. It took several days to even get to my destination, which took us flying on several floatplanes, fighting high winds, rain, and snow. Approximately one hundred caribou were seen on the island, so we knew I would have a chance to harvest one. After several days of hunting and stalking them in swamplands and using inflatable rafts to cross deep creeks we reached the area where we saw the caribou feeding. I crawled within 130 yards of the herd. The vegetation was short, with 100 animals herded together; there were too many eyes. The wind shifted and spooked the herd causing them to run. They crossed two rivers and traveled four to five miles before stopping, leaving me with no other opportunity of harvesting any of these caribou. They were no longer in my outfitters territory and legally I could not hunt them. I was very upset and disheartened because I knew now that Kodiak Island was no longer an option for me to harvest a caribou with that being the only herd in my outfitter’s area. I immediately called my friends Jack Frost, Frank Noska, Tony Mudd, Mark Buehrer, Joella Bates, Jake Jacobson, Brent Sinclair, Jake Ensign, and Bob Hodson with Barney’s for their help. I’m thankful for all their advice and support over Bill.
My plans shifted to an entire new agenda for another hunt. I immediately asked Ivan, my guide; to call the floatplane because I was going to leave Kodiak Island and go to the Ice Haul Road, where my friends felt was the only other place I had a chance to harvest a caribou.
I asked Ivan my guide on Kodiak where he lived. He said he lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, which is where I had been told the Ice Haul Road started and ran for a total of 500 miles north of Fairbanks ending at Dead Horse in Prudhoe Bay. I begged him to join me (as a friend) since I had paid for my Kodiak hunt, which technically had seven days left. Ivan could tell how devastated I was over all that had happened. The two of us had become friends in such a short time and he knew I needed him to continue on with my journey. After seeing me so emotionally upset for the last three days over Bill, and hearing Bill Bruce stories, he couldn’t tell me no. I was so excited, I couldn’t believe Ivan would leave his outfitters area as a guide and travel several thousand miles with me as a friend. In 35 years of bow hunting, I never felt such warmth and truly knew that God and Bill were watching over me. This was no longer about me completing my goal, but about Bill.
If all this wasn’t so unbelievable, even stranger things happened sending me further vibes that this was Bill’s hunt. While getting our supplies and gear moved from our camp to the small lake, I spotted a plane coming in but it didn’t appear to be ours. I ran over and met the pilot to see if he was here to pick us up and take us back to Kodiak. The pilot immediately recognized my accent and asked my name. When I told him my name, he recalled the two of us talking ten days, prior to my hunt and asked if I was the guy from Kentucky trying to get all the caribou species across North America? We had discussed whether he had seen any caribou on Kodiak Island and whose area was the best. I hugged him and laughed. It made me so happy just seeing him. I couldn’t believe it! This was Rolan Ruoss with Sea Hawk Air. How ironic it was that the two of us would ever meet, let alone run in to one another in this remote wilderness. He was the real reason I initially decided to come to Kodiak Island.
He said he had brought in some Sitka deer hunters with rafts for a wilderness hunt and wasn’t aware that anyone else was here, so he didn’t know about our floatplane. With that being said, I ran off to get the rest of our gear. Several hundred yards away I heard someone yelling my name. I turned around looking back and saw someone running towards me! I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was Fred Eichler, my great friend, who is on the Easton and Hoyt Pro-Staff with me. He was here to hunt Sitka Deer. We immediately hugged and high fived!!! What are the odds for this ever happening? Now here two friends who had no idea the other one was even here on this one acre lake out in the Alaskan wilderness, ran into each other and shared a short time talking. This truly brought me a ray of sunshine on what had been a gloomy hunt with some disappointment at this stage. Seeing Fred was quite uplifting. It was so nice to see a familiar face and one of my favorite friends. I was more eager now than ever to continue my hunt in a new territory and was thankful he had brightened my day!!
We spent two days getting to Fairbanks where we rented a 4WD Toyota Highlander. Ivan and myself spent the next day getting our gear, arctic tents, and C- rations ready for our hunt. Ivan’s friend, Clay, was nice enough to loan us most of this gear. We left late that evening and picked up the Dalton Highway, out of Fairbanks, where the Ice Haul Road starts and traveled 250 miles north. We arrived in Coldfoot approximately midnight and stayed the night. The roads were ice and heavy snow was falling making driving conditions extremely tough. The next morning we were up three hours before daylight and talking to many of the truckers at Coldfoot truck stop, asking if they had seen any caribou herds on the Ice Haul Road. To our surprise most of the truckers knew something about us being here because they were asking if I was the guy from Kentucky in the Toyota Highlander. It was known by most of the truckers because I had stopped earlier yesterday and offered to help a driver put chains on his tires. He had radioed other drivers about me and how I was here to hunt. Drivers we asked for any help were more than willing to do whatever they could do to help us. We found out they had seen several small herds approximately 100 miles north of us here over the Atigun Pass in the Galbraith and Toolik lake area.
We decided our strategy would be to sacrifice one day scouting the entire road with spotting scopes 250 miles further north, which would put us in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where the Alaskan pipe line starts and the road ends. I never dreamed I would end up on an Arctic hunt, with temperatures reaching below zero, heavy winds and snow. I was more determined than ever. We left before daylight and wanted to be over Atigun Pass by sun-up to scout for caribou. The roads were terrible and driving conditions were quite difficult. As we met a large semi truck, we went off the edge of the road since there were no shoulders on the road. We slammed into the ditch forcing some small gravel between the tire and rim causing a tiny leak in our right front tire. We knew this was bad for us because there was no help along this road. We spent fifteen minutes digging and pushing which allowed us to get our SUV back on the road. We continued on, hoping the tire would hold enough air to get us to Prudhoe Bay. Two hours later as we came into Prudhoe Bay, we breathed a sigh of relief, as the tire only had approximately ten pounds of pressure left. Thank goodness we made it this far. Approaching the main intersection in Prudhoe Bay, which was solid ice, we slid off the road into the tundra. The vehicle broke through the ice and sank to its frame. Lucky for us, God blessed us with two new friends, Tim and Marti, who stopped by to help us. Marti pulled us out with a huge industrial Volvo Loader and we all had a good laugh. Tim was a North Slope Operations manager and Marti managed the camp. Tim was also an avid bow hunter and had seen me on Sitka’s site. He laughed and asked what a Kentucky redneck was doing here in Alaska this time of year on the Ice Haul Road in Prudhoe Bay? It was far too late, windy and too cold to be bow-hunting caribou. I laughed and told him this certainly wasn’t my first choice. I told him my story and he shook his head laughing and said I was a crazy hillbilly but he liked my style. He told me he was going to help me as much as he could to get my last caribou because anybody crazy enough to go through all this needed all the help he could get. After pulling our SUV out, Tim had our tire fixed and put us up for the night in one of the oil workers camps. Kimberly, Tim’s assistant made sure we had everything we needed, fed us supper, breakfast, and packed us lunches for the next days hunt. Tim also offered to get me a truck because he couldn’t believe anybody would be on the ice roads in a 4WD Toyota Highlander with slick street tires. I told him that was all the rental car company had for us to rent and I’m not so sure they knew we were hunting on the Ice Haul Road. I was so touched by their kindness and could never repay them for all their help in getting us back on the road before daylight. It was the most unusual thing, three people helping me as if they had known me all my life and I had never even met any of them before. It was as if Bill was here watching over me and making sure I got the help to get the job done. No matter where I was or problem I had someone always came forth. I had so many encounters with people who just came out of the blue to help me without even knowing who I was or my circumstances. Bill’s presence followed me the entire trip. I felt as if he were at my side hunting this caribou with me. This was probably the wildest trip we ever had together. One he would have enjoyed telling for years to come.
We had breakfast at Tim’s camp and left Prudhoe Bay as soon as we ate to scout and glass the entire day back 250 miles to our Coldfoot Camp. Trying to stay upbeat, seeing only a few caribou, it wasn’t until that evening on our way back I spotted a very large caribou. I watched him bed approximately two miles off the road in some vegetation under a pond bank on Galbraith Lake. We only had thirty minutes of daylight so I knew there wasn’t enough time in the day left to plan a stalk. We headed back over Atigun Pass and had several hours in the dark back to our Coldfoot Camp. I told Ivan it would be unlikely the big bull would be there the next day but I wanted to leave two hours earlier in the morning.
I woke each hour through the night and couldn’t sleep for thinking about the large bull. This would be my largest bull of the year and that’s what I wanted for Bill’s caribou. I finally woke Ivan at 4:30 am, two hours before we actually needed to get up and told him I wanted to get ready to leave. Leaving Coldfoot camp our new trucker friends waved as we began our 120-mile trip over Atigun Pass, where we saw the large bull caribou the night before. It was extremely difficult traveling due to the high winds and drifting snow, which made road conditions exceedingly hazardous. I knew it would take us up to four hours to get there with our weather conditions so tough. The roads were worse than expected. There were several semi trucks stalled trying to put chains on and heavy cat road graders working steady just trying to keep the Atigun pass open for truckers. We arrived to the Gailbrath Lake Area a little later than anticipated. We quickly started glassing where we had last seen the caribou bull bed. Forty-five minutes of intense glassing and no caribou! I couldn’t believe there were no signs of the bull. I was in hopes he had not traveled such a far distance, especially since it was dark when I last saw him. However, I knew they were very capable of covering lots of ground in a short time. Approximately an hour later and a mile and a half away from where I had last seen him, I saw the tips of an antler over a small ridge. We immediately hurried down the road further to get a better look. To my surprise there he was! I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was so excited. There were two small bulls and the large bull was together feeding. I grabbed my things hurriedly and begin my three-mile stalk in the deep snow using the terrain, which took several hours and crawled within 52 yards of the big bull that had just bedded facing me. I couldn’t get into my backpack for my extra layers of clothing without him seeing or hearing me. I felt the bull would be back up feeding within thirty minutes allowing me the opportunity of a good shot. Over an hour passed and my knees began to freeze to the ground. With my heavy coat in my backpack, I started shaking all over from the extreme cold. I knew I had a short time before I would have to make a move or I wouldn’t be able to pull my bow.
I decided to take a chance, which was a huge risk, and make something happen because time was against me. I started drawing my bow hoping the bull would stand. The small bull nearby saw me draw first, got spooked and bolted. The big caribou jumped to his feet and looked back towards me. I immediately focused and settled the pin on his chest and released my shot. He ran and went down within my sight. I melted in my tracks and cried. Emotionally I was exhausted from the hunt and all the stress. I had spent many sleepless nights thinking about Bill, Janice, Johnny, and Cary constantly. My feelings of helplessness for them kept me stirring each night. I couldn’t help but feel such emptiness inside my heart. I had Bill’s caribou but it somehow wasn’t the same without him around to share my hunt. It was such a relief to finally have the hunt behind me and I could return home with Bill’s caribou. I was anxious to see Janice, Johnny, and Cary Bruce and be there for them.
Planning my five caribou hunts was quite a task and feat. My fifth hunt was supposed to be my easiest hunt. After harvesting four caribou, I thought I was home free. I never imagined my final hunt would be the expedition and arctic adventure it became. While being spontaneous with constant changes, it truly was a Bill Bruce trip. Every trip and adventure we ever shared together was always this way. We never knew when we would arrive at our destination, who we’d meet, where we would end up, the new friendships we would make, what would happen to us, how much sleep we would miss or when we would get home. Bill, I will cherish all our wonderful times together and will miss you more than words can say. You always made me feel the best and I knew I couldn’t disappoint you by not finishing our hunt, so this one’s for you, BILL!!
May you rest in peace and know you will never be forgotten. I will be there for Janice, Johnny, and Cary like you have always been for me.
Marjorie: I want to thank my wife, my dearest and best friend for putting up with me and allowing me to be gone for ten weeks. She understood I had to finish my goal and do this for Bill. She was my biggest cheerleader and fan. I love her so much for understanding me and her support.
Farm Bureau Office: I want to personally thank Roger, Terri, Tara, Julie, Donna, Mikki, DeAnn, and my special assistant Robin Branson, of 24 years, for all their extra time and sacrifices for me while I was away. I could not have done any of these hunts if not for their continued support and help.
Clay Baird: I want to thank you for being such a great friend to Ivan and for allowing a stranger to use your camping gear.
Ivan Henderson: I want to thank you for guiding me on two totally different hunts and sticking with me through all the trials and tribulations. I couldn’t have completed my hunt without your help. I appreciate our new friendship that is forged, tried, and true.
Bernie Babcock: I want to thank you for your exceptional help and great attitude as an assistant guide on Kodiak.
Jack Frost: I want to thank you for all our conversations and assistance on planning my hunt. I appreciate you picking me up at the airport and allowing me to stay at your home. I really enjoyed having supper with you and your daughter, Stacee Frost and was enlightened by her goal to obtain her super slam.
Paul Chevenek: with Kodiak Outdoor Adventures for allowing Ivan Henderson to leave your operation on Kodiak Island to go with me as a friend on my Ice Haul Road adventure.
Gary Keeton: I want to thank you for our friendship, all your support, phone calls and promise to take care of Janice, Johnny, and Cary Bruce until I got home with Bill’s caribou.
Tim Holder: I want to thank Tim and Marti for getting us unstuck, fixing our tire and giving us a place to sleep with plenty to eat and drink.
Coldfoot Camp: Thanks to all individuals at Coldfoot Camp, the Alaskan pipe line workers and truckers for all their encouragement, extra efforts and help.
The Last Go Round
Author: Ron Thomas
Dec 14, 2010
Looks like I'll be off the mountain for awhile, weather turned warm and the goats moved out of the canyon. Almost looks like this now, but more winter is on it's way. Wind, rain and SNOW is in the weather report starting Sunday. With anything like luck, that will bring my furry white friends back to the canyon. I feel like the deal closer is at hand. John says, "we'll be packing Thursday"... I'm thinking Saturday.
Whatever the case, we'll be up there. More sights to be seen, more pictures to be taken, and more tale to be told. I feel it's winding to a finish. Steve, Bart, Pete, Les, Gordon, Mike and all of you... I wish you were here, it's just to good too not share. I'll do my best to report what's happening, say a prayer for John and I and we'll do our best to close the deal.
See ya on the mountain.
... The last go-round
The last part of a hunt is always the hardest part to tell... main reason... it means it's over. And when it's a mountain goat tag and your 67, you know you'll never get another one, but let me tell you how we got there, how we got to the end of the hunt.
My hunting partner John and I were last out on November the fourth. We had been seeing lots of goats as I had reported to you, but it had warmed up a lot and we witnessed the last of the goats head-in up and out of the canyon for cooler haunts on top of the mountain. The long range weather reports looked promising, but our work schedule did not, it looked like a long week of hoping for more snow in the high country to bring them back to the canyon, but no time to hunt them. The week went slow! The weather was doing everything we were wanting it to do up top, lots of snow, but John was tied up the whole week, no chance to get out until Saturday the 13th. However, on Wednesday, I stopped to talk to my friend Dave who had just finished two weeks of guiding friends of his from Minnesota on an elk hunt. He said, give me a day to get squared away and lets hit it on Friday. So Friday it was.
Friday morning, about dark-0-30, I walked out to load the rig and was greeted to our first good snow of the year. Hey... this should be interesting, looking for white mountain goats up in the snow covered cliffs... well nobody said it was going to be easy. Dave and I hit the trail head just before first light, things looked good, the only thing that was missing was John, but he would join me the next morning for another hunt. We hiked up the canyon and got to our first vantage point to see goats... nobody home... just white cliffs and snow, with clouds coming down the canyon from the top. Looked like a repeat of our hunt up at Rock Lake, only this time we had a driving snow to add to the taking away of our visibility. The further up the canyon we hiked the more socked in it became. By the time we got to our last good vantage point at the top of the canyon, the clouds were so thick you couldn't even tell you were in a canyon. Well okay, let's just wait it out and hope the snow lets up and the clouds burn off. I hiked up a trail a little ways and cut a fresh moose track, so we decided to follow them, while we were waiting for things to clear. About an hour later nothing had changed and it looked like that's what we were in for the rest of the day. Reluctantly we decided to bag it for the day and hit it again in the morning. On the way down I was a little concerned, though we were clouded in at the top, we had had good enough visibility down below to see goats. We'd had snow all week, they should be back to their winter range, where the heck are they, they should be here.
As we worked our way down we seemed to be getting under the clouds a little, we could start to see the cliffs a little more on the side of the canyon. The visibility was "iffy" at best and it was snowing enough to make getting a clear focus in our binoculars pretty hard. But we could now see the cliffs and decided to stay for awhile to give them a good glassing. We dropped our packs and went to work glassing the cliffs. It didn't look promising. I decided to take a break, there was an apple in my pack that was calling my name and my eyes were getting tired anyway. I cut the first peace of apple and Dave said, "I got a goat!" Game on... out comes the spotting scope and lets get a good look at this bugger. In came the clouds, he was gone, but we knew he was there. He'd be there when the clouds cleared again... so we wait. We played hide and seek in the clouds with him for two hours. "Ron, what do you think, he looked pretty good didn't ya think?" "Ya he did, but I want to get a better look at his face, I want to see that long old horse face, the horns look okay, but at this distance the face will tell us more about how adult he is." The clouds started to lift again, we were ready, lets get a good look at this old boy. We finally got him in our scope and oh ya, he looked good. I have my eye to the glass and Dave said, "Hey Ron, look what's coming!" I looked up to see a big patch of blue sky opening up, looked like the gods were with us. It was finally clear enough to get a range finder to work, it read 587 yards. Okay, lets head back up the canyon, we'll get more level with him and it will cut the distance by a bunch, so up we went. We found just the opening we were looking for and the goat now ranged at 327 yards, that's out of my recruve bow range so it was time for the 300 magnum.
But now it was time to do some real studying. If I shoot him, can we get to him? It was going to be a real nasty trip up a boulder field that was also covered with alder and buck horn brush, snow and ice and that would get you to the base of the cliffs below the water fall, then it would really get interesting. We would have to climb up along the water fall, find a place to cross it and then do some cliff hugging to get to a chute that would take us up to the next two layer's the goat would be on. "I think we can do it!" I KNOW John can do it. Let's make it happen.
I put my pack on the roots of an up turned tree, put my rifle on the pack and snuggled in behind it for a look. The goat was there, in the cross hairs, it was a solid hold, a couple of deep breaths and start the squeeze. " You nailed him Ron, it's down!" Dave was all smiles and pumping my hand, "congratulations, we did it!" What a feeling, what a mixed emotion I was feeling, we did what we set out to do, but now it was over, part of me wished we had walked away and left that magnificent creature, but I hadn't and it was over... well not quite over yet.
We headed down the canyon to the rig, dropped off our packs and rifle, grabbed our pack frames and the gear we would need to get to the goat and get the job done. Soon we were back and started bush-whacking our way up the mountain, it was harder than we thought. I checked my watch, it was 3:30, there was no way we could get to the goat, dress it out and get off the cliffs before dark. Tomorrow we could hit it early and have the whole day if need be to get the job done. It was cold, the goat would be fine, more importantly... we would have John.
John was at my door at the given hour, now we would pick up Dave, have a little hike up the mountain, climb the boulder field, ease up the cliffs and pick up our goat. NOTHING TO IT. The nothing to it part seemed to fade away quickly when we reached the cliffs. Now mind you, by the time Dave and I made it to the cliffs, John was already up them, been to the goat and had some less than encouraging words for us. "This could be a little interesting," John said. Let me tell you... something interesting to John, is of no interest to Dave or me. (Youth, you gotta love it) Well we got through the interesting parts (and it was) got to the goat, got some pictures, dressed it out and started back off the face and hopefully off the cliffs and back to that wonderful boulder field. (After the cliff's the boulder field seemed wonderful)
Well it was over, the head and cape was in my pack, the meat was in John and Dave's pack, we were on the trail heading back to the rig and the end of the hunt was at hand. It was a very quiet walk, each of us having our own thoughts about what the past seven trips into goat country meant to each of us. I don't know what all their thoughts were, but I knew what mine were. I am so very thankful and blessed for the opportunity to discover "Goat Country" and what it's all about. To have friends that would give up their own hunting time to accompany me on my hunting trip of a lifetime, just to help me, just to be part of a trip into the most beautiful country you can imagine. My tag was more full than I could of ever imagined.
Just One Caribou Left To Harvest
Author: Chase Fulcher
Dec 13, 2010
Trying to harvest the five Caribou species in one season has been far tougher than I expected. An unbelievable 7 weeks of adventure in the wilderness, spreading across the entire Canadian provinces from the West Coast in British Columbia to the East coast in Newfoundland. We traveled with backpacks, by foot, horses, boats, super cubs, and a dozen float planes while staying in the Canadian provinces. It has been an unforgettable experience with lasting memories and new friendships forged for life. We experienced some of the worst weather in the last 10 years with complete whiteouts, heavy fog, a lot of rain and snow with 60 to 70 mph winds, causing our boats to be swamped several times. We also had several delays and unexpected landings to allow the bad weather to pass so we could continue our journey. Three years of logistics and planning, I knew Mother Nature would be the boss and final rule maker. Boy, I was right!!
While the weather proved to be a major problem, it turned out not to be the biggest issue!! I never expected to miss the migrations on the first three hunts and barely catch the front of a migration on a fourth hunt. This made the hunting much more difficult with super long daily hunts and late nights!! We left camp most mornings in the dark and hunted all day, then had long 3-4 hour travels in the dark back to camp. The amount of heavy duty hikes and running has been second to none on any of my backpack and wilderness hunts when you put the four different hunts together. I also will never forget the 196 mile, one day journey glassing for caribou in a jon boat, burning 30 gallons of fuel with a 25 hp motor getting back to camp at 1am in the morning. Hunting a few resident weary caribou has been a tough experience, at best. As a sub-prime bow hunter, I have been blessed and lucky that my shooting has held up in the heavy winds, and fortunate to watch all my animals fall.
As of today, I have harvested 4 out of the 5 Caribous species and an unexpected super large Eastern Canadian moose the last day in Newfoundland. We trailed him for hours in heavy winds and misting rain, crawling within 40 yards for the fatal shot. I want to thank my new friend and guide super Mick, and all of us working as a team packing out the moose, missing a night of sleep, so I could catch my plane at 4:00 am in the morning.
There have been major dilemmas which have complicated things for me in the last few days. I learned my last booked hunt was not going to work out as planned. There are no Barren Ground caribou migrating from the porcupine caribou herd down thru British Columbia. This has only happened twice in the last 10-12 years.
This last hunt has certainly thrown many surprises and again I’ve had to work hard to even have the opportunity to complete my last hunt, but I’m not about to give up and throw in the towel now.
New tickets and all new plans (thanks to my new acquaintances and friends, and special thanks to Jack Frost, James Jacobson, Rolan with Seahawk Air, outfitter Paul Chervenak, Jarod Cummings, Susan Aiken, Joe Miller and Mark Buehrer), I’m almost ready to go. I wouldn’t have had any options or opportunities to hunt the 5th caribou without their help. Jack Frost, I appreciate the offer to stay at your home.
There were only two hunting options left for me because all the outfitters left their areas in Alaska by September 30th, due to the harsh weather. The first hunt will drop me off by float plane to hunt on Kodiak Island for 8 days, where 200-300 Barren Ground animals have been spotted. If I’m not successful there, I will fly to Fairbanks and hunt out of Prudo bay and up the ice haul road, 400 miles North of Fairbanks on the North slope of the brooks range. This will be an arctic hunt with -20 to -40 below and two hours of daylight and loosing 8 minutes of daylight daily!! I have three weeks to meet my goal as the Barren Ground Caribou will be loosing their antlers by November 15th. .
I want to personally thank four of my best friends, my son, Dale, brother Jarod, Warren Strickland and Randy Ulmer for flying up and joining me on three of the different hunts. It was great to see and spend time with them!! I also want to personally thank my friend Jack Frost and Brent Sinclair for their ideas, inspiration and help in me going for all five caribou species in one fall!! Jack himself had looked into it twenty years ago and just couldn’t get it all worked out. He must have been 15 years of age then, HA HA
Thanks to the support and efforts from my great friends and prostaffs. They have been exceptional and gone above and beyond. Special thanks to Kevin and Jeremy at Hoyt, Gary at Easton, Josh and Cabe at Spot-Hogg, Dan at Trophy Taker, Mike with Winners choice, Dan and Nina at AAE, Forrest at Carter Releases, Jim at Kenetrek, Butch at Morrell Targets, James and Sandra at Rinehart Targets and my dearest friend Neil Kaufman for my special machined and weighted stainless inserts and outserts for my Easton arrows, increasing my FOC for the heavy winds.
Special thanks to David at Sitka, Mark and Katie Seacat at Seacat Creative, LLC, they have kept up with all the hunts using Sitka Gear facebook and blog, (you can view my blog at www.sitkainsight.com ). The Sitka gear has been unbelievable and has performed flawlessly and I have not gotten wet once. Thanks to Sitka for supporting me and making such good products!
The first Caribou picture was Central Barren Ground, Nueltin Lodge 800 miles, north out of Winnipeg in the wilderness with Outfitter Shaun Gurke and guide Ralph Thomas.
The second Caribou picture was MTN. Caribou in the Northwest Territories with Dave and Dallas Dutthik, Redstone trophy hunts.
The Third Caribou picture was Quebec Labrador out of Sheffersville, Tunalik adventures, outfitter Petter Palmer and guide Perry Anderson.
The fourth Caribou picture was a Woodland Caribou and an Eastern Canadian Moose in Newfoundland with Otto and Annie Roberts Outfitting and guide Super Mick.
Have a great fall hunting season, may God bless you and your families in every way.
Author: Chris Awe
Dec 6, 2010
Still reeling from the throws of Elk Season, I find myself smiling. It was literally down to the buzzer this year.
As each year goes by, it seems that life continues to get busier and busier. With my beautiful wife Annie; expecting our first child in the next 5 weeks… Life’s priorities have taken a whole new meaning. My commitments to her, and my job (Sitka Gear), have instinctually risen well above my need to chase Wapiti this year. –Let’s not kid ourselves though…. I REALLY love my wife, I REALLY love my job, and I still REALLY love to hunt. So yeah… My wife would still say I’m an “Elkoholic”, and that when the baby comes… “Things will be different”.
In hindsight; I wouldn’t trade the lost sleep, lost knee-cartilage, the gallons of gasoline, the day-dreaming and distractions, the solitude, lost weight, and enriching wild moments for anything. For the last 3 months; from Archery Season to Rifle Season, I took advantage of every opportunity to hunt that I could. I saw lots of animals, had many close calls, and ended it strong with 48 hours left of the 2010 Season.
Whether I would’ve tagged an Elk or not… My season was complete long before it was over. Spending time with great friends, family, and Mother Nature. -AWESOME!
Here are some pix from the journey:
photo: Josh Gage
Photo: Josh Gage
Chasing... 'Him' A photo slideshow by Jeff Simpson
Author: Jeff Simpson
Dec 3, 2010
Author: Ron Thomas
Dec 2, 2010
The return to the (hope they are still there) mountain goat hunt was rewarding. They were there... where we left them... now, only more than before.
However, before we could get to the goats, before we even knew they were still there, we came across our first obstacle and it was a dandy. When you start out on the trailhead, you're walking maybe 80 to 100 yards above Rock Creek. You have to cross a boulder field that's a real ankle buster, but it's do-able. There are a couple of trickles of water coming through those boulders that find their way down to Rock Creek, no big deal. Well as I told you, we had a lot of snow in the high country and that's what drove the goats down. However, now the temps were warming up, that trickle through the boulder field was now a raging river, crashing down to the main stream. Hunt over! No way across. And there wasn't.
It looked like this hunt ended right here right now. Optimistic, John said, "Let's head up stream and see what we can find." Maybe 150 yards up stream we found a big tree that was laying across the torrent. And I mean torrent, the water was running down hill at a steep angle, atop of boulders. The water was three to five feet deep and pounding down the mountain. You fall off the log... you're dead. Not sort of, not kind of, your dead. Remember now, John is 27 and bullet proof. I'm 67 and not so much bullet proof. (I like to think of it as being smarter.) It's a 20 plus foot walk across this wet tree, over some water I want no part of. John say's, "Just keep your feet turned out and you'll be fine", after which he walks across like he was walking across a gym floor. When on the other side he said, "nothing to it, come on over." Well, over I came, but not quite like John did. I straddled that tree and did a butt bump across, seemed like the thing to do as far as I was concerned.
Once on the other side, we met up with our trail and headed up the canyon, I was glad to have that behind us.
A half mile later we were to the first place we might be able to see some goats... well, they were there. We set up the spotting scope and John took a look behind us to see what we might of walked past. I started glassing ahead and here's what I saw. (first picture) There's five goats... can you find them? Glassing a little further up the canyon I saw this (second picture), there's five more goats in this one. Seeing them there is great, but to get to them, well you'd better be one of the "Flying Belindas"... it's a hard climb.
We were in goats the rest of the day and saw 18 to 20 different ones... it was incredible! But we were still looking for Old Horse Face, the big billy that we spotted our last time here. We spent the day trying to find him. Bottom line... we didn't. But it was hardly a day wasted. To be able to see goats just plain posing on this cliff and then that cliff. To watch them move from ledge to ledge, cliff to cliff, like they were standing on a highway and not a sheer cliff, well you had to be there, it was way past cool.
We were not disappointed. The goats appear to have moved in for the winter. Now it's time to find Old Horse Face and get the job done. He's there. John and I just didn't find him today, but he's there. I'll tell ya-something... if we find him again great, but just being here is... well you'd just have to be here.
Two more posts follow this blog entry.... stay tuned to find out if Ron and John find Old Horse Face
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