Caribou migration

FAQ’s – Caribou Hunting Out of Kotzebue

I’m sure you’ve been watching all the caribou hunting videos on YouTube, and they give you a lot of information, however, many times they don’t relay the realities of the hunts. No matter where you go to hunt – HUNTING IS HUNTING.

Weather and Animals are two things we simply cannot “control” and both are the major contributors to the hunts (for obvious reasons). You need to be prepared to HUNT while you’re in the field, generally speaking, the animals are not going to walk in front of you or through your camp (although it does happen sometimes). We are going to put you in the BEST place for you to be successful on your hunt based on the migration pattern of the Caribou herd. If you are prepared, your success is more likely.

Here are some of the most common questions we get about hunting caribou out of Kotzebue.

Our hunts are in Game Management Units (GMU) # 23, and sometimes in #26. It will all depend on where the herd is – but the majority of our hunts are conducted in #23. However, general Caribou Tags are good for “anywhere” in Alaska – so there’s no restriction on the unit you use them in.

I would purchase a minimum of six weeks prior to departing for your hunt. This gives the State plenty of time to process the purchase and send them out to you.

ALSO:

The State will NOT send your HUNTING LICENSE! When you purchase it online, please be sure to PRINT IT OUT.

How to Get Your Alaska Hunting License and Tags

You can purchase at any time, however, if you purchase PRIOR to July 1st when the new regulations come out, you will have to go back in and print out your FREE Harvest Ticket for Caribou.

The Caribou Tag requires each of you to have a Harvest Ticket in your possession while in the field – but the State does not provide these with the Tags themselves. We will send out a reminder later in July to ensure you guys have these printed and in with your Tags!

How to Get Your Alaska Hunting License and Tags

It is a Bull Only hunt – please be sure to read up on the Hunt regulations prior to your arrival for the hunt. Alaska Caribou Hunting in the Arctic is very specific on the meat care and salvage regulations and you’ll want to ensure you understand the rules surrounding your hunt and time in the field.

You need to be prepared to not only judge your animals, but you need to be able to deal with the meat on your own while you’re in the field. You are responsible for salvaging the meat according to the rules and regulations set forth in the AK Department of Fish & Game Unit #23’s guidelines.

Identifying a Legal Caribou

We suggest you plan on taking in a Wolf Tag (lots of them out there) and you can hunt Wolverine & Black Bear on an open Caribou Tag/Moose Tag as a “lessor” animal without having to purchase the tags.

Both of those animals are “few and far between”, but have been seen in the field. Hunting on a “lessor” animal tag is a great way to expand your hunting options, without having to put additional money into tags. HOWEVER – if you were to take one of these animals on a higher priced tag, it negates the use of that tag on any other animal.

Here’s a list (to use as reference … but not limited to) that you may incur:

  • The first, and most obvious, is the need to purchase your own hunting license, tags and a fishing license (if desired).
  • Your commercial flights up to Kotzebue, AK and back home.
  • Currently tags/licensing are running:
    • Non-Resident Hunting License $160
    • Caribou Tag $650
    • Wolf Tag $60
    • Non-Resident 7 Day Fishing License $70
  • Meals, travel arrangements & Hotel stays into/out of or while in Kotzebue. Sometimes we are unable to get you into/out of the field on the scheduled days due to weather related issues. This is something totally out of our control – Mother Nature has a mind of her own! When the weather is bad, we simply don’t fly because of safety reasons. If this should happen, we will do our best to assist you with finding a place to stay, but we do not pay for costs associated with these stays. These are the responsibility of the hunters.
  • Purchasing food, fuel, extra items for your hunt that you did not bring with you or is not provided in the Camp Gear Rental – this is your responsibility.
  • We are in a service related industry – if our Staff is working hard for you, getting you to and from the airport, assisting with your bags, boxes & meat, or our Pilots are working for you getting you into and out of the field in a SAFE manner and assisting you with your hunt, please make sure you show them your grateful and “tip” them appropriately. We all work hard for you guys to have a good hunt – please make sure you remember our staff members.

No, we don’t provide Citric Acid and/or a spray bottle. This is something “some guys” do bring with them, but it is solely left up to the hunter to decide if they want to use it.

We do not provide salt for capes. However, it is available in town if you want to take some in with you (but does go towards your 60# limit).

Not generally – we typically get our first freeze sometime towards the end of July/first of August which knocks them out. Unless it warms up out in the field and gets hot, the bugs stay away until the next Summer.

The cots we provide are Cabela’s cots – Sleeping area of 72.8″L x 24″W.. We do have a few that are the XL with 80″L x 36″W sleeping area – but we don’t guarantee we can provide the larger cots for everyone as they are very heavy in comparison to the normal cots. Much is determined with the weight restrictions for the flight of the group.

Game Bags are not provided – Tarps are. Game Bags are something you will need to bring with you. Make sure you bring enough to take care of the meat you will be salvaging while in the field.

Yes, a small basic first aid kit is provided with the Camp Gear Rental. If you think you would like something more while in the field, you will want to ensure to pack it in your things.

YES.

The #1 thing heard when our hunters come out of the field is: Tundra is constantly underrated/underestimated on how “tough” it is to walk in/on.

The Tundra a.k.a. “Tussiks” – is like walking on frozen rolling footballs. The tundra has permafrost underneath it, although it may look like it’s dry on the top and doesn’t look like it would be difficult to walk across, during the summer the top of the permafrost defrosts and keeps the plants slick! A GREAT pair of COMFORTABLE/GREAT FITTING, lace up, supportive hiking boots are ESSENTIAL.

You are hunting in ALASKA – above the Arctic Circle – it can be, and oftentimes is, COLD and snows during our hunting season. Remember having survival items like a good quality sleeping bag (which is rated down to at least a -20 degrees), a nice heavy jacket and clothes you can layer that will dry easily are also a necessity while in the field. It’s Alaska – the weather changes every 15 minutes (or so they say) – so plan on “layering” your clothes so you can put them on or take them off when needed!!

Hopefully this list of caribou hunting FAQ’s has helped, and please let us know if you have anything else you’d like to share and/or questions that we can answer. We would much rather you be prepared for your hunt ahead of time vs. arriving and not having the knowledge you need to have a great experience.