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Author Topic: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt  (Read 35828 times)

Offline Pathfinder101

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Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« on: August 27, 2016, 07:43:06 AM »
Since Pathfinder JR was old enough to hunt, he and I have planned to take a big hunting trip for his graduation present.  He is going to be a senior this year, and although he doesn’t technically graduate until next June, he is looking into a military career, so he may not be around next summer.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2016, 07:44:10 AM »
Most of you know I am retired from the Army and am teaching high school now, so our options for a cool hunt are limited to things we could hunt in August.  A couple of years ago, I decided that we would go on a DIY caribou hunt in Alaska.  So we saved up, and last winter I contacted 40 Mile Air out of Tok, Alaska and booked a trip for this August. 
The original plan was for us to leave southeast Washington on August 8th and drive 40 hours north to Tok.  That plan was going great until I went to get my oil changed on August 1st and they found oil in my radiator.  That necessitated a scramble to buy plane tickets to Anchorage, rent a vehicle and figure out all of the other logistics now that I wouldn’t have my own truck up there with me.  I actually started a topic on Hunt-WA asking about how to get meat and antlers home and of course a bunch of members chimed in and gave me accurate advice (which I am glad that I followed). 
So, after the flight, rental van and shipping increasing the cost of the trip (that I was in trouble with Mrs.Pathfinder for to begin with..), we loaded our carefully packed gear at the Walla Walla airport and flew to Anchorage on August 10th. 
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2016, 07:45:14 AM »
For those of you who haven’t done it before, flying with rifles requires a couple of things; first, the gun case must lock on both ends (TSA Agents must not be able to pry either end of your case open when it’s locked), and your ammo must fly in a separate case than the rifles.  We packed GPS, rangefinder, and binoculars in the rifle cases to cut down on weight for our checked bags. 
We landed in Anchorage just a little before midnight and caught a cab to the rental car company.  We rented a huge creeper-van from A-1 Rental.  He knocked a few bucks off for paying cash, and pulled all the back seats out so we could sleep and store gear in it.  It killed me to know that we were paying $100 a day for a rental that was going to spend most of the week sitting on the airfield in Tok, but I couldn’t think of a way around it.  We drove to Cabelas, rolled out the airpads and sleeping bags in the back and slept until morning.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2016, 07:46:16 AM »
After picking up a few things at Cabelas in the morning and renting a satellite phone from Surveyors Exchange, we were headed to Tok.  Siri and Mapquest had optimistically predicted a 5 ½ hour drive, not taking into account that Alaska has two seasons; Winter and Road Construction.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2016, 07:47:22 AM »
A few hours in, I let PathfinderJR drive for a bit and we spotted our first moose, a cow.  I told him to pull over so we could get a look at her, and he promptly drove off the soft gravel shoulder and into the ditch.  15 minutes later a couple of good Samaritans with a pickup and a tow chain pulled us back out.  No more teenager driving the rental…
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2016, 07:48:26 AM »
A while later I spotted three white dots about a mile above the highway in a draw, so we stopped and put some glass on them.  Turned out to be 3 Dall rams, a little one, a medium one and an old, heavy beast of a sheep.  Snapped the best pics I could through the spotter and made it the rest of the way to Tok by 7pm.  Siri was a little bit off.  Counting for the ditch, the road construction and the sheep, it was a solid 8 hours since we had left Anchorage.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 07:49:28 AM »
We checked in right away at the 40 Mile Air office.  Actually, the “hunters” office is next to the hangar.  Chris met us at the office and gave us a quick briefing on what to expect the next day.  We had planned to sleep again in the back of the van, but found out (to our surprise) that there were bunk rooms in the “hunter’s office”.  So we got one good night’s sleep on a real mattress and a decent meal at Fast Eddie’s across the highway for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.  Chris suggested that we repack and weigh our gear that night to make things smoother the next morning.  40 Mile Air limits you to 50 lbs of gear per hunter, plus your rifle (in a soft case) and what you wear and carry on your body. 
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Karl Blanchard

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2016, 07:50:00 AM »
Tagging along :tup:
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Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2016, 07:50:41 AM »
The next morning we were up at 6, got a last shower and breakfast and waited on the pilots  There was a group of 3 bowhunters being dropped north of our location.  Nice fellas from (of all places) California.  Visiting with them we learned something that I didn’t know; they were paying half of what I was for their rental van (same van).  They got it from U-Haul.  They were paying an outlandish mileage fee, but the van only cost $20 a day.  In the end, their bill was going to be about $450 (exactly half what I paid).  Good to know if I ever do anything like this again.  The flight plan was to fly us by a Cessna 206 to a remote airstrip on the 40 mile river about an hour north, then transfer us one at a time to Supercubs for a final 15 minute leg to the area that we were to be dropped in for the week. 
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2016, 07:51:40 AM »
Right on!
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Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 07:51:59 AM »
They brought me to our hunting area first.  Our original area was changed at the last minute, because the group of two hunters that were there had already tagged out and said they were seeing lots of good bulls, so we were brought in as they were being brought out.  Since their meat and antlers had to be flown out first, I got a quick tour of the area from them while they were waiting for the Supercub to come back.  Both guys were from Pennsylvania and it turned out that they had shot two decent bulls at 5am the first day, had to shoot an aggressive black bear at 15 yards while they were quartering up one of the bulls, and spent until 1:00am getting everything back to the airstrip. The bear, a large sow, had obviously been shot in the head at close range, so I tend to believe their story.  They gave me two pieces of good advice; “Don’t shoot the first bull you see” (this from the guy who had shot the smaller bull of the two), and “DON’T shoot two bulls at the same time”.  They showed us a good level spot to pitch our tent, and an area to get “fresh” water.  “You got a water filter…right…?”
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2016, 07:53:12 AM »
PathfinderJR was dropped off with the plane that took the last guy out, and we were on our own.  Our instructions were that if we tagged out early to call 40 Mile Air on our Sat phone and they would pick us up.  The alternate signal for getting us out (if the Sat didn’t work) was to stake out a tarp on the airstrip, grey side up.
I say “airstrip”, like it was a thing.  It was really an uneven patch of gravel on a saddle between two hills on a ridge, and honestly it took skill to land on it.  I am retired from the Army (21 years) and spent the first half of my career as an Infantryman, Paratrooper and Ranger, so I can appreciate good flying when I see it.  These guys can fly. 
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2016, 07:54:24 AM »
As soon as we were dropped off, it looked like weather was moving in, so we pitched the tent and headed to the draw where the water was.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2016, 07:55:09 AM »
Awesome!  Can't wait to see this play out.
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Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: Pathfinder and PathfinderJRs Alaska Caribou Hunt
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2016, 07:56:13 AM »
I use the term “fresh water” lightly.  It was actually a series of standing marshy puddles.  The water was stained so dark brown, that even when filtered, it came out a pale yellow in the jug.  Like weak urine.  But, it tasted fine and we never got sick, so I guess the filter did a good job. 
PathfinderJR got tired of holding up the gravity fed system with his arms (no trees around), so he improvised.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

 


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