Dropping an unguided caribou in the field

Suggested Gear List for a Caribou Drop Hunt in Alaska

Obviously, as an experienced hunter, you have a list of things you like to carry. However, there may be a few things here that you hadn’t thought about. Here’s a suggested gear list for transport only hunters.

Weight is the first thing to consider.

Overall Total Weight of this Gear List: 204.73 lbs + [Your Body weight]

If you stick to this gear list, weights will vary, but should get you close. Be sure to do your homework so that you are properly prepared for your hunt. If you have questions about this gear list, be sure to contact us.

PERSONAL GEAR

Keep your clothing lightweight, warm and waterproof. Synthetic materials work best for hunting clothing due to their drying and wicking capabilities. we suggest you do not bring cotton. It is slow to dry, and does not wick away moisture. In short, COTTON KILLS. Blaze orange is NOT required in Alaska.

Clothing

Total weight of your clothing will be approximately: 16.12 lbs

Keep your clothing lightweight, warm and waterproof. Synthetic materials work best for hunting clothing due to their drying and wicking capabilities. we suggest you do not bring cotton. It is slow to dry, and does not wick away moisture. In short, COTTON KILLS. Blaze orange is NOT required in Alaska.

Footwear

Total weight: 11.7 lbs

Make sure you have broken in your hunting boots (including your waders and wading boots). The #1 thing we hear from our hunters when they return from their caribou hunt is that tundra is awful to walk in. It’s like trying to walk on frozen rolling footballs. A great pair of comfortable, well fitting, lace up, supportive hiking boots are ESSENTIAL!

  • Hiking boots: Lowa Tibet GTX *5.13 lb.
  • Rubber boots: Irish Setter neoprene uninsulated *4.29 lb. (may forgo)
  • Gators: Outdoor Research *.63 lb. (may use Sitka Stormfront)
  • Waders: Match your waders to the area you will be hunting. Consult with your outfitter. *.9 lb.
  • Socks: Darn Tough & Farm to Feet 4 pair *.75 lb.
  • Camp Shoes: Crocs work great and are lightweight.

Electronics/Photography

Total weight: 1.61 lbs

Your smartphone will probably be your go to. That being said don’t forget external chargers, they are awesome. Solar chargers don’t usually work very well because overcast days are the norm.

  • Phone with case: *.55 lb.
  • Phone Scope bracket: *.08 lb.
  • External chargers: Poseidon x2 *.55 lb.
  • Charging cords: Poseidon cord, Suunto cord, wall charger *.24 lb.
  • Flashlights: Petzl Tikka & E-lite headlamps *.19 lb.

Possibles

Total weight: 2 lbs or less

Definitely bring something as a fuel source such as wet fire or trioxane tablets.

  • Batteries: AAA & AA Energizer Lithium Ion (Keep your batteries in something warm (like a wool sock) while you are in the field. Cold will drain them.)
  • Patch kit: Misc. glues and tenacious tape patches
  • Weapon cleaning & maint. Kit: Leatherman Skeletool CX w/ bit set, misc. small tools for rifle & oil (bits for scope caps and lug bolts) *.5 lb.
  • Tape: duct tape & leukotape
  • Fire kit: Trioxane, flint/steel, lighters, waterproof matches
  • Insect repellent: 100% deet
  • Extra 550 cord: 50-100 ft.

First Aid Kit

Total weight: 1 lb or less

  • IFAK
  • Band aids/basics
  • Meds: pain killers, anti-diarrheal, antibiotics, energy
  • Chapstick

Hygiene

Total weight: 1.5 lbs or less

Definitely take these items!

  • Baby wipes
  • Toothpaste & brush
  • Eye Drops
  • Skin Moisturizer

Paperwork

Total weight: 1.5 lbs

  • License & Tags (Non-Res Hunting License, Harvest tickets for caribou, Locking tags for caribou bear and wolf, everything signed)
  • Be aware of the Alaska caribou hunting regulations and take a hard copy into the field with you. For example: Alaska requires ALL meat to be packed out (bone in) prior to packing out the antlers and cape. This includes the ribs and neck meat.
  • Copy of Contracts: Both Agent and any from Outfitter/Transporter (Inside ziplock)
  • Transfer of possession forms: From Outfitter (inside ziplock)
  • Write in the rain journal and Pen

Weapon(s)

Total weight: 17.14 lbs

Our hunters use different setups from 7mm Rem mag up to 338 Lapua; the 300 Win mag seems to be the more common choice, as well as Barnes bullets.  I also wouldn’t buy a new gun over it if you have something in that range. Side arms are just matter of preference. A pistol is fun for ptarmigan hunting after you shoot your bulls.

  • Rifle & ammo:  *11 lb.
  • Pistol & ammo: *5 lb. (optional)
  • Hard travel case: Pelican 2 rifle with customizable foam *N/A
  • Soft case for small plane travel: *1.14 lb. (optional)

Pack

Total weight: 10.83 lbs

  • Pack frame/bag combo: EXO 500 or Kifaru Hunter frame, DT2 bag, Guide Lid, small belt pouch, Nalgene pouch *7.38 lb.
  • Hauling attachments: Cargo net & lashing strap, & gun bearer *1.5 lb.
  • Walking sticks: Easton Carbon Trekkers *1.05 lb.
  • Lightweight tarp: Kifaru Sheep tarp with MSR Groundhog pegs*.9 lb.

Optics

Total weight: 10.64 lbs

I feel that a decent 10×40 or 8×40 is adequate. A spotter isn’t critical, but it would be nice.

  • Binoculars & harness:  Vortex Razor 10×42, Sitka Bino harness *2.86 lb. (w/rangefinder & pouch)
  • Rangefinder & pouch: Leupold TBR 1000, FHF pouch ***
  • Bino tripod adapter with qd plate: FOR adapter w/qd plate *.19 lb.
  • Spotting scope with qd plate: Vortex Razor 27-60x85mm angled w/qd plate *4.38 lb.
  • Tripod & head: Slik 624, Manfrotto 700RC2 panhead *2.93 lb.
  • Foam butt pad: Z seat *.08 lb.
  • Cleaning items: Lens cloth, Lens pen *.2 lb.

Land Navigation and Communication

Total weight: .79 lbs

A decent GPS and a compass are important. Lots of these areas are flat and everything looks the same when you start getting away from camp. Especially in the alders, would be easy to get lost. Learn to use some kind of coordinates whether it is latitude/longitude or UTM grid coordinates simply because if something were to happen, being able to communicate precise location is necessary. Also good to set waypoints when you find good calling spots.

CAMP GEAR

Prior to setting up your camp, survey the area; try to locate your tent(s) on a cleared off, level spot next to trees or bushes that will protect you from the wind. Keep food items in totes with lids, out of and a short distance away from your tent.

This camp gear list is for two caribou hunters. Adjust accordingly.

Total weight: 86.53 lbs (not including fuel and salt)

  • Tent: Cabelas Geodesic 6 man *33.15 lb. (I wouldn’t recommend a floorless tent as most of these areas don’t have the solid ground for it. Also don’t bring too large of a tent because the flat spots that you can find usually very big.)
  • Cots: Cabelas lightweight x2 *22.15 lb.
  • Tarps: 2-3x Lightweight 10×10 ft. *5 lb.
  • Stove: Coleman 2 burner *8.95 lb.
  • Lantern: Primus Micron *.27 lb. (Take extra mantles.)
  • Heater: Mr. Heater Little Buddy *4.29 lb.
  • Chairs: x2 Tilak Sika Ultralight Camp Chair *3.64 lb.
  • Cook set: Primus Litech pot/pan *2.02 lb.
  • Utensils: GSI kitchen set *1.16 lb.
  • Long spoon x2: *.1 lb.
  • Plate, bowl, cup set x2: Fozzils sets *.5 lb.
  • Drinkware: Yeti Rambler Bottle *1 lb.
  • Pocket Boiler: Primus ETA Lite *.9 lb.
  • TP & Paper towels: *2 lb. (2 rolls paper towels, 6 rolls TP)
  • Aluminum foil: *.55 lb.
  • Soft sided Cooler: *.85 lb.
  • Propane & Isobutane Canisters: Purchase in Alaska as you can’t take them on a plane.
  • Dish Soap
  • Salt for Capes: Purchase in Alaska or prior to trip 5-10 pounds.

Sleep System

Total weight: 6.48 lbs

  • Sleeping Bag: Kifaru 20 degree Slick Bag *2.84 lb.
  • Air pad: Big Agnes Q-core SLX *1.56 lb.
  • Pillow: Nemo *.19 lb.
  • Woobie: Kifaru *1.89 lb. (optional)

Water Storage/Purification

Total weight: 3.68 lbs

Storage

Total weight: 2-3 lbs or less

  • Dry Bags: Outdoor Research 55L & Ditty sacks
  • Compression sack: Kifaru 5 String Medium
  • Lightweight pullouts: Kifaru Lightweight Pullouts
  • Contractor bags: 1-2 Large heavy duty
  • Lightweight trash bags: 2-3 Hefty trash bags
  • Ziplocs: Quart & Gallon, small assortment

Game Processing Gear to Take to Camp

Total weight: 5.31 lbs

FOOD

This is just an example of food you could take that will keep your weight reasonable. Feel free to mix and match, but be aware of weight.

This food list is for two caribou hunters. Adjust accordingly.

Total weight: 25-30 lbs or less

  • Breakfasts: Off Grid Predator Fuel and “real food” (egg beaters, sausage &/or bacon)
  • Lunches: Misc. dehydrated & real food (Off Grid, Peak Refuel, Mountain House, PB&J, Salami cheese n’ bagel)
  • Dinners:  Off Grid, Peak Refuel, Mountain House
  • Snacks: Probars, Probar Bolt Energy Chews, Dehydrated snacks, jerky, PB
  • Coffee: Dark Timber packs
  • Drink mixes: Hot Chocolate mix, Propel packs, Renu go packs
  • Real food for breakfasts & lunch: Meats, egg beaters, bread, PB&J
  • Seasonings & Olive oil: Garlic powder, Sea Salt, & Pepper, Olive oil packets and small bottle
  • Supplements/daily vitamins etc.

ITEMS TO BE LEFT AT THE HANGAR

  • Packaging for skull: bubble wrap, shrink wrap, cardboard, duct tape, packaging tape.
  • Meat storage/freezer bags: Gallon & Quart Ziploc freezer bags
  • Knife set & sharpener: Outdoor edge kit
  • Hard Cooler: Igloo 100

ADDITIONAL NOTES

This Alaska caribou hunting gear list would not be complete without these tips. Be sure you are fully prepared, and you will have the hunt of a lifetime.

Hunt Insurance

Any time you go hunting in Alaska, or anywhere for that matter, you should absolutely insure your trip! 

If you’re thinking about chancing it, think again. ALASKA WILL HUMBLE YOU. Stack the odds in your favor.

Weapons and Ammo

  • Alaska law does not separate licenses or seasons by weapon.
  • Appropriate caliber selection is important. We recommend .30 caliber or larger. Smaller calibers will work just fine for caribou, but remember you are in grizzly bear country.
  • Select PREMIUM ammo and sight in prior to your hunt. While on a commercial flight, your ammo needs to be in the original box or a container specifically made to hold appropriate ammo.
  • Alaska archery requires a 40 lb. minimum draw weight for caribou hunting.
  • Also required is a minimum of 7/8″ broadhead with a 300 grain minimum (shaft/tip) weight. No mechanical broadheads are allowed.

Field Care of Trophy

We recommend consulting your taxidermist prior to your caribou hunt for instructions on caping and fleshing your trophy.

  • Heads must be caped and fleshed in the field with the ears and lips turned and salted.
  • We also recommend splitting the skull caps. They can easily be put back together by your taxidermist, and you will save hundreds of dollars on shipping fees.
  • While in the field, keep your cape opened up, out of direct sunlight, and preferably hung in a small tree or bush so it can have air circulation and stay cool.

Meat Care

All edible meat must be salvaged.

Cooking caribou ribs out in the field
Cooking the ribs out in the field saves on weight and is a great treat.
  • You are responsible for packing all edible meat back to the runway at your camp (including rib and neck meat).
  • Meat of the front quarters, hindquarters, and ribs must remain on the bone until removed from the field (or eaten).
  • Keep meat out of direct sunlight and a short distance away from your camp. Set it so it can cool and have circulation all around it. Don’t put your meat in a pile – it will either quickly spoil or freeze into one solid hunk.
  • Antlers MAY NOT be removed from the kill site until ALL salvageable meat is removed.
  • DO NOT STORE YOUR MEAT IN LAKES OR RIVERS.

Fishing

It is likely that you will be dropped near a stream or river which will probably contain Arctic char and grayling. If you wish to fish, an Alaska fishing license IS required. *Consider purchasing the short term license as it is much less expensive.

Wolves

We recommend that you purchase a wolf tag. They are a great bonus to a any hunt.

  • Harvested wolves must be skinned (hide and skull) for transport out of the field.
  • Once you are out of the field, they must be sealed by local troopers or Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Bears

You are in grizzly country. Respect them.

  • If you see a bear, avoid it if possible. If you encounter a grizzly, make noise. YELL continuously. Stand up and make yourself look as large as possible.
  • Do NOT run!
  • Defend yourself by shooting the bear as a last resort.

Cooking

Do not cook inside your tent!

This can deplete oxygen and can damage the ten leaving you without shelter. Use of your camp stove to heat your tent can cause you to run out of propane. Bringing the proper gear will have you outfitted to be comfortable without wasting fuel.

Staying Warm

Moisture is your enemy!

  • Your sleeping bag will hold moisture and a few days build up may make it lose its ability to effectively insulate you. Open bags up, hang, etc to let them dry as needed.
  • Wet or damp clothing can be dried in the sun or next to a small fire… be careful.
  • Damp clothing can be worn in your sleeping bag and your body eat will dry it overnight.
  • Utilize layering of clothing during the day, and do not overdress while hiking. Sweating will make you cold for hours.

How to Handle Waste

  • Select an area away from camp for your “privy,” and cover waste prior to leaving.
  • Consider burning food items, which are odorous or greasy to prevent problems with bears.
  • Bag up metal and other garbage items to be hauled out.

Getting Picked Up

  • On the day your are to be flown out, have your gear packed and ready to go.
  • Do not pile gear/meat/antlers on the runway area. Keep it neatly assembled off to the side where it was unloaded.
  • Depending on the weather, you may need to keep a tent up for shelter.
  • Stay near camp and be attentive to air traffic. Pick up times are weather dependent and not time specific. If the plane comes to get you and you’re not at camp or ready to go, the pilot may not be able to wait for you.
  • If weather is unflyable, don’t panic. Remain at your camp and know that you will be picked up as soon as the weather breaks.