Caribou Hunting Tips



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The Animal

The caribou is from the large species of North American deer more commonly known as the reindeer. Depending on their habitat, caribou can be broadly classified into three different types.

1. Barren Ground Caribou or RANGIFER ARTICUS ARTICUS

2. Woodland Caribou or RANGIFER CARIBOU CARIBOU

3. Mountain Caribou or RANGIFER MONTANUS

However, there are numerous sub-species and there exists a lot of confusion as to which sub species belongs to which general species.

In the US Caribou are found only in the states of Idaho, Minnesota and Montana. These are sparsely populated with only few animals. Greater numbers of these striking animals are found in Alaska, Canada, coastal areas in the south of Greenland and major islands in the Arctic Ocean. This is the reason why caribou hunts usually require traveling long distances into remote hilly and mountainous ranges that house the ever-moving caribou. One has to first locate a herd before bagging a trophy. The hunter then has to travel back carrying his boned out meat and the trophy.

Caribou Hunting Methods

This being the general situation, caribou hunting needs to be arranged through an outfitter. Hunters have to be flown to bush landing strips where the outfitter meets them with an experienced guide to take them on the hunt. The hunter uses light planes provided by the outfitter to be flown directly into the caribou country. The small planes can land on small lakes and after the hunt is over can fly back the trophy and the meat that is carried to the lake landing field on back boards. The guides do most of the lugging.

The best way and most adventuress way to hunt caribou, is on horseback. Horses are able to cover good distances; up to twenty miles a day in bog, muskeg, and moss, that the amateur hunter finds very discouraging while traveling on foot to reach caribou locations. A horse also helps to carry back the meat and the trophy after the hunt. Caribou meat is excellent, but ages more rapidly than other wild game meat. This is a different case if you take a bull in the rut. Then the meat can be very tough and gamey in taste.

Another mode of travel in caribou country that is gaining popularity is the bush tractor. When used in conjunction with horses it can reach remote areas, which would otherwise be inaccessible through other means of transport. These machines can carry heavy loads of hunting equipment weighing up to a ton through heavy bush country; even fording creeks in their way. Hunters follow on horses or ride on the vehicle itself.

The first and major part of the hunt is locating the caribou. This is done by reaching high open areas, which are above the timberline. Reaching there on foot or on horseback, the entire surroundings should be surveyed through high quality binoculars or a light folding spotting scope fitted with a tripod that allows it to rotate freely in a full circle to see for miles all around.

After spotting the caribou, the hunter(s) move within rifle range and then proceed to stalk the animals. Since caribou is rather unpredictable in its movements,the cariboushould be observed for at least a half hour or so to determine the general direction it might move in. If the animals have bedded down, it is a good time because they will remain bedded for some time, usually for an hour or so. Their favorite places for bedding are under elevated knolls on high slopes that allow them to view most of the country below.

To get closer, it is best to circle around any obstruction offered by some elevation in the countryside and then move closer taking advantage of the cover. It is best to keep watching the caribou until they get up to feed again with all heads pointing in an opposite direction, then speedily move on all fours for some time over uneven craggy terrain and then become stationery again before they raise their heads. In short bursts of movement one should try to reach within 300 to 400 yards of the prey before attempting a kill shot.

Rifle Cartridge Selection

In Alaska, caribou are killed by Eskimos using .243 Winchester cartridges. Being excellent rifle shots, such type of ammunition proves adequate for them. However, in Alaska, many grizzly bears are found in the same areas as caribou. Therefore, to tackle both with the same ammunition, the best way for an average hunter would be to equip himself with .338 WM, .300 WM,.300 H&H, or .300 Weatherby with 180 to 220 grain bullets. In the case of caribou any of the following would prove suitable ammunition: .270 Winchester with 130 grain bullets, .264 Winchester Magnum with 140 grain bullets, .280 Remington with 150 grain bullets, .308 Winchester 150 grain bullets, or .30/06 with 180grain bullets.

Bowhunting

100 grain broadheads with 50 ft.lbs.+ of kinetic energy will serve as adequate killing power. When bowhunting caribou it proves more challenging as your stalking skills will be tested.




Posted November 30, -1 by Justin Ott






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