Please enjoy the photos and captions below from a recent hunt by KUIU’s own Todd Harney and Ben Britton. ~Jason
When I was a young kid watching hunting shows with my dad, every time a Caribou hunt came on, he would say “We’ve gotta go do that hunt one day.” As of earlier this month that day has come and gone; and the hunt lived up to the years of anticipation.
I traveled with my Dad Mike, and my long-time friend, hunting partner, and coworker Ben Britton. We flew with Eric Sieh into unit 23 for a DIY drop, and could not have been more happy with his services.
*Note: Eric doesn’t fly many hunt groups out each year, so for the record, from what we saw Jared Cummings’ services were top-notch as well.
Because we were hunting light with a pack each, Eric decided to drop us up on a ridge instead of a river bed. It would be harder to get water and to pack meat back to camp (plenty of climbing), but we would have a huge area to ourselves. Solitude and hard hunting was what we were after, so we were pleased with the location.
Eric’s Cessna 206 loaded and ready.
View from the ride in.
Dropped, Saturday September 6th.
Camp set up for night 1.
Getting water on day one. We had storage to pack about 22 liters at a time, which would last two to three days.
Lounging in camp, waiting for the next day to begin hunting. The NeoAir X-Lite makes a great lounge chair when leaned up against your tripod.
The first 4 four days were spent with a lot of glassing and hiking with only a few Caribou to be seen. On the first hunt day, we learned what twelve miles of tundra felt like. After that, we used creek bottoms and scree slopes to our advantage. This made for much easier and faster walking.
Chipping out ice for water close to camp.
View from camp on evening three.
The MSR Reactor stove was excellent. With three of us sharing the 1L stove, we burned just two canisters of fuel in eight days.
On day four, we decided to draw first blood and fill our first tags on cows. This day we also saw a change in the weather, which surely helped get the animals moving. For the first half of the hunt, the biggest group of Caribou we saw were four animals together.
Icon Pro 7200s loaded for the first trip back to camp. We packed out all three animals in two trips, with room to spare.
Ben preparing some citric acid for the meat.
Pack rain covers were a must. Our packs and contents were never wet after a night of rain. This saved a lot of space inside the tent.
PowerTraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer- couldn’t be happier with this charger/power storage. Our Sat phone wouldn’t even work unless it was hooked up to the Adventurer.
Fox fooled by Vias while glassing the next morning.
The next day we spotted a group of three bulls a couple miles away and decided to make a move. Two hours and four miles later, we caught up with them in a steep box canyon. My dad started off the shooting, then Ben, then myself. We killed all 3 bulls at ranges from 230-375 yards.
We got our first load of meat back to camp around 1:00 AM in the rain. A few hours later we would embark on an additional sixteen miles’ worth of packing trips.
Back at the kill site, mentally preparing for another load.
We caped and skull capped for the final load out (the first two trips were meat only).
Resting on trekking poles before the final climb to camp.
Airing out the clothes the next morning
Ben and I were each shooting a Weatherby Mark V Ultralight Long Range in .270 WBY Mag. These rifles have proven to be incredibly accurate.
We had a few days left to tend to meat, lick our wounds, and enjoy tagged-out time in the field. Out of nowhere, Ben pulled a bag of garlic powder, salt, and pepper out of his pack. For the last evening Ben and I headed down the canyon to collect some firewood. We ended up eating 2 tenderloins, a backstrap, and a fair amount of neck meat.
Last sunset before pickup.
Here’s the sunset we got to enjoy while eating dinner once we got back to town.