2010 Arctic Float Hunting Trip
The following is a quick photo summary of our (Chad Hood, Mark Simon and Robbie Piehl) float trip into the the Brooks Range. You can look, but at no point will you ever find the name of the river we floated. No judgement need on my grammar, I know it is bad and I don't care for these type of things.
Mark and I on our way up to Fairbanks. We took the ferry from Juno to Haines and then drove about 12 hrs to get to Fairbanks.
We picked up Robbie in Fairbanks and did the final few errands before heading up to Coldfoot
We stopped by a little interp pulloff indicating we were at the Arctic Circle
The epic task of sorting gear and cutting out as much weight as possible. We had to go in light in order to be able to bring 3 caribou out in one Beaver load. It took about 7 hrs to get from Fairbanks to Coldfoot. About 225 miles with 175 of that on the Haul Rd.
Robbie sitting in front of the Coyote Air office. Dirk and Danielle ran a tight show. You couldn't ask for a better operation.
Our load of gear waiting for Dirk to get back from his morning flight. Clear blue skies had us confident we could make it out.
Amazing scenery on the flight out. We flew for 1 hr 45 minutes. I drank too much water in the morning and had to use a Gatorade bottle to pee in 5 minutes before our landing. I couldn't wait a minute longer before I pissed myself. Unfortunetly it turned into my water bottle for a few days. Good thing it was my piss and not Robbie's. I didn't spill a drop.
Just finished unloading gear at our destination. Quite an interesting landing with the tundra tires
Dirk heading back to Coldfoot. It is always an interesting feeling when the pilot leaves and it is just you to fend for yourself so far away from everything.
Our first camp with the bear fence set up. We stayed there for 4 days We could glass sheep from the campsite in three different directions and had a few cow caribou pass through.
Robbie and Mark glassing sheep.
Our camp and the river from a mountain we hiked up
The scenery alone was worth the price of admission
Robbie putting the scope on a ram we saw on day two. It looks really close to being legal and we decided to go for a closer look.
We got within about 300 yds of the ram and decided it was too close call for being legal and decided to not shoot.
A band of cows and calves we encountered on day 3. We also saw a bunch of sheep but no legal rams
Lambs and ewes everywhere but very few rams
Robbie decided to collect sheds while we were looking for game.
Day 4 of the trip. It was freezing at night which was nice since we did not encounter bugs much at all on the whole trip. Robbie had to borrow a coat of mine since he was getting cold at night. I offered to let him spoon but he said that was something he only did with his wife and immediate family
Mark with his caribou. We all were on the other side of the river when we spotted three bulls. Mark made a nice stalk and got him while Robbie and I watched and filmed from across the river. We also saw a few more cows and calfs in a seperate group.
Mark with the antlers on his back. The water level on the river was dropping fast since we had perfect weather to this point so we decided to start moving down river the next day.
Mark in the inflatable kayak. We made it about 12 miles as the crow flies down river. We encountered some challenging sections of braids and rock gardens. No caribou though and Robbie and I were beginning to get worried. We stopped at an area that we could see sheep in all directions.
Mark eating caribou fajitas. He was giggling because he had just told Robbie he used a piece of neck meat for the fajitas and Robbie was picking little pieces of tendon out of his teeth. This was in retaliation from me eating one of Mark's tenderloins the first night he got his animal.
Here is the carnage from day 6. We were floating and glassing a bit of the day. At one of the stops, I was putting the scope on a few sheep and Robbie comes tearing down the hill "caribou up on the hill and I think there all bulls!". We went up and put the scope on them and sure enough there were six bulls with a few big old boys in the group. Mister picky said he saw a shooter in the group. I did not really care much about size and decided I would try to get one as well. It was 16:30 when we saw the animals. We retreated and made a plan of attack. It took about 1.5 hrs to get in position and when we got where we wanted, Mark put the range finder at 350 yards. The bou were getting very anxious so we decided to shoot. This would be my longest shot ever but I was confident in my abilities especially since I was using Mark's gun which I had never shoot but had just watched him sight in. We both picked out the ones we wanted and Robbie shot first. I shot a split second after him. My caribou when down in a heap and Robbie's ran just a little. Mine was hit hard but was trying to get up, so I pumped another round into it. Once the dust settled both animals were down and the other caribou were scrambling. Robbie's was a double lung shot and I broke the spine on the first shot and lungs on the second. Did all the butchering etc. and were back at camp by midnight. We got up and went back up for the antlers and hides in the morning.
The Pro Pioneer loaded with gear and three caribou as we bust ass down the take out. It was quite a chore getting the thing loaded. We decided to try and get an early pick-up to keep the meet from spoiling so pushed hard to get to the take out 14 ish miles (crow flies) downstream.
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I ran the Lynx during our run down to the take out and it was great. It felt like a sports car compared to the loaded down PP. It was a long day but we made it to the take out around 21:00. We sacrificed some great looking fishing holes along the way but meat preservation was the highest priority. We saw two different bulls and a few sheep on the float down. We also hit some pretty nasty braids near the confluence of the mainstem of the river. Not bad for me on the kayak but a bitch for the guys in the heavy raft.
Here is Robbie working on his cape. He cut through one of the ears and would not quit bitching about it all morning.
Here is Mark rubbing salt on my cape. On a side note, Mark was sporting a thong from Patagonia. They make them out of synthetic where as almost all the other brands are made out of cotton. Anyone that knows Mark knows one of his favorite saying is "cotton kills".
On our last day before the plane comes. We did not get any fish at Small Lake but were able to get some big sea run dollies near camp in the river. This trip did not really pan out for fishing as we were more focused on hunting. Just the ways things work out sometimes.
The gravel bar we would get picked up on. We were about 51 miles from the ocean at this point. The mountains were beginning to give way to the rolling hills. We had a massive fire and burnt everything possible to cut weight. We also worked on smoothing the strip for our pilot.
Back in Fairbanks cutting meat up before the boys fly out. No problems on the flight back to Coldfoot and the drive down to Fairbanks. The truck was really loaded and we were quite a sight with the antlers tied down to the top of the truck. The guys were able to box up their antlers and did not even have to split them. They left on the 1 am flight and I began the long drive down to Juno. I was ready for a shower (16 days) and no more driving (1900 miles) when it was all said and done.