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Next August if all goes well, I will be going on my first Alaskan cruise!!! I would love to try to squeeze in a caribou hunt either before or after this cruise. Could anybody give me any suggestions as to where I should try to go? I am most interested in a rifle hunt. Since I will be spending a lot of $$ for the cruise I want to try to do this as economically as I can, but yet I don't want to cut corners to the point that I reduce my chances down to "being lucky" if I get a chance to shoot one. I would probably only be able to hunt for no more than 3 days. If you can think of any other useful information that you think would be helpful to someone in my situation, please feel free to pass that along too. Thanks for the help!!
 

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First, its good that you are planning far ahead - you'll need the time to be really prepared. Second, I think 3 days is far too short a period to allow. I think most folks allow a week at least. Most likely it will take you at least 1 day after the cruise to get to a hunting spot - and generally you are not allowed to hunt the same day you have been airborn in a small plane. You'll need at least one day to get back and should allow more in case of bad weather or other situations. That leaves one day to hunt - way too short in my opinion. Once off your cruise I don't think you will be very close to caribou grounds - assuming you plan to end up in Anchorage or Fairbanks. And plan on it costing quite a bit to fly etc. You'll need to find out how much gear you want to carry on the cruise too.

I'd start but checking out the Department of Fish and Game website for seasons, bag limits, license fees etc. http://www.adfg.state.ak.us/

There is a lot of stuff on the site but you might have to dig around to find it. You might consider a black bear hunt as it might be easier to get into good country without a long plane flight - or none at all.

The formerly easily accessible and abundant caribou of the Mulchatna herd has declined to about 45,000 animals widely scattered over huge area. Hunting is much more restricted now. There are some proposals to close portions of their range to nonresident hunting as well.

So, research thoroughly and you might come up with something that will work. But seriously consider taking more time for any hunt yo might want to do.

Good luck. Dan
 

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First of all you need to check your itenery and see if you start your cruise in Alaska or end it in Alaska. Most cruises only visit Southeastern, the rainforest area of Alaska. There is no Caribou down there. Only small deer and an occasional Moose. I really do not advise cruises, they (the cruise people) keep you on their schedule, make sure you only have time to visit their gift shops, take you to the attractions that they either own or control. That way they get the maximum amount of your money. And you only get to see a small amount of Alaska. Last year my friend and his wife came up and they spent a week with the wife and I. We took them to places that they throughly enjoyed. Then we dropped them off in Anchorage for their cruise. They tell everyone that they saw more with us than they saw on the cruise. Their particuler cruise did not come to Fairbanks. The problem with the tour companies is that they only use some of the attractions we took them to. Like the Eldorado Gold Mine, Princess uses it on some of their tours but not on others. Holland Americia does not. River Boat Discovery, Most tour companies do use it, since they give kickbacks to the tour companies. But to see those you have to come to Fairbanks, only about a third of the tours come to Fairbanks.

You need to either schedule two weeks before your cruise or two weeks after. I would recommend after. And you will either have to use a guide of outfitter to get you to the Caribou area. Then also carrying a gun will be a problem since some of the tour companies do not allow guns on their ships. It's hard to combine both items on the same trip. Rog
 

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I would definitely say after. If you spend at least a week hunting (and do plan on at least a week) hiking around in real Alaska... seeing glaciers from a boat is gonna seem pretty lame. Though relaxing I'm sure. And also, being trapped on the boat for a week is going to get you all riled up and wanting to actually get out there and do something, preparing you even more for your hunt.

You need to look at which areas have an open season at which times. You will have to plan your hunt through a guide (at least you defintely should, if inexperienced in Alaska) and if you are going to be planning a hunt around your cruise, you will need to have a non permit non-resident hunt. Permit hunts are hard to get into for non-residents, especially as most caribou is tier II (subsitence)

For the open hunts you have to go very north or very west. All of which are fly-in only.

Spending little time and little money is really not going to happen when it comes to caribou hunting in Alaska, but if you are going to do it only once, the experience is worth it.

If the cruise is going to give you only short time and short money, then I would recommend coming up at a different time and focus on the hunt on that trip.

Is there a lady involved? If not, cancel the cruise. Go hunting.

As for the gun, if you are going on a cruise, call a gun shop in Alaska, tell them your situation, and as long as you pay the FFL fee, I'm sure they would be happy to hold your firearm for you, and get it back home if need be.

In your situation though, I would say definitely try and plan a full hunting trip at another time.
 

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12 ga....

When you say "hunt for no more than 3 days" do you understand that you can't fly in and hunt the same day in Alaska? So, to hunt 3 days (actually 2 1/2 to allow for flying out on the 3rd day) you really need 4 days for your hunting trip. Otherwise, you'll be hunting only 1 1/2 days if you are flying out and back to Anchorage on your last hunting day. This is something very important to consider when you're making your plans.

OK, where to go. There's only one place I know of where you can meet all your criteria, including keeping your costs reasonable and having a good chance of a successful hunt. The Alaska Peninsula. You can fly commercially from Anchorage to King Salmon direct. Then the same day fly down the AK Pen. with either Pen. Air in KS or King Air in Naknek (12 miles to Naknek on the only paved road. 12 miles is all there is!) (There may be other air taxi services there now, so check it out.) Since it's your charter, you are flying until you find the large peninsula caribou herd south of KS. They will be in bunches and all moving north. Your charter will land you ahead of the herd on one of the many sand blows or on a river gravel bar. The pilot will pick you up mid day on your last day and fly you to King Salmon for your evening flight back to Anchorage. So, that is either a day and a half hunt or a 2 1/2 day hunt depending on whether you have 3 days PLUS a "no hunting day" to fly in, or 3 days INCLUDING the no hunting day flying in. (Don't even think about shooting a caribou even if it walks right up to your tent that first day. If you're caught you will pay dearly, including a large fine, loss of your rifle, and loss of AK hunting privileges. Also, there was a time as I recall when ADF&G allowed same day hunting for caribou on the AK Pen because the herd had grown so big. Check that out.)

The advantage of hunting out of KS is that it offers you direct commercial transportation from Anchorage, bush plane service when you get there, and a large fairly close caribou herd to 1) keep your charter cost down, and 2) give you the best chance at taking a caribou. The caribou there are in velvet and are beautiful trophies in August. (Check with ADF&G for August bag limit.) The AK Pen herd also is known for producing very large trophy caribou. Check the AK map and locate KS about 300 miles SW of Anchorage at the NE head of Bristol Bay. The bulk of the caribou herd that time of year will be moving north somewhere above Port Heiden which is due south of KS. I've seen the herd even well north of Pilot Point in August and then you're in business with LOTS of places to land a plane. The plane you'll charter likely will be a Cherokee or C185 (both on larger 850 x 6 tires) and they can handle the sand blows. Most of these sand blows are huge. (You won't need a Super Cub for access.) Part of your advance planning is to be sure that your charter will land you off "runway." There are several remote strips in that area that Pen Air might want to limit you to. That will drop your success chances of taking a caribou to almost zero. Understand you can't "hunt" caribou when the herd is in migration. You have to be in front of the herd and let the caribou come to you. You have to know where the herd is and dropped off in front it to have any reasonable chance of success. Also, walking in that country is very difficult. I doubt you'll venture even a half mile from camp.

Well, I hope this helps you. I guarantee you would have a hunt to remember! A couple other pieces of advice: Watch the weather forecast. Always be prepared to be weathered in on the AK Pen for at least an extra week. The weather there can be bad. Your tent needs to be very high quality and able to shed wind, so I recommend one of the North Face dome tents or one similar. NOT a cheapy. Winds on the AK Pen ALWAYS are 20-30 mph that time of year and if a storm hits from the SE your winds likely will be above 75 mph. Also, no down clothing. Synthetic only. Finally, take a big enough caliber rifle with you and know how to shoot if VERY well. You're in brown bear country...very big brown bear. Oh, and take your fishing rod. Depending on the river, the fishing could be worth the trip!

Best of luck! PM me anytime.
 

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Alaska Peninsula Caribou - no!

Whoa doggies there Winchester!!!

Have you checked the regulations for the Alaska Peninsula lately? While there is a small portion of game unit 9A, B, portions of 9C that are open to nonresidents, its only Sept 1-15 for 1 caribou. MOST of the Alaska Peninsula is severly restricted or closed, even to residents. The North Alaska Peninsula Caribou herd is severly depleted and most hunting is limited to Tier 2 subsistence hunting - other areas are by permit on a "may be announced" basis.

There is no big herd of caribou south of Naknek King Salmon these days.

The kind of hunting Winchester is talking about ended about 10 years ago.

This is why it is important to check with Alaska Dept Fish and Game frequently. Lem Butler is the biologist in King Salmon - VERY knkowledgable and helpful.

Currently there is a joint study on caribou calf survival in the area. Of 52 calves tagged in May & June, only 5 were alive by September of 07. Poor range condition, poor cow health and consequent low calf birth weight is part of the problem, also predation. There is a parasite study being conducted as well.

Last fall's composition counts (they should be out doing this year's now or soon) was conducted Oct 2006 - they found 14 calves per 100 cows and 26 bulls per 100 cows. These are low figures and not encouraging for the near future. I think the total herd is only estimated to be a couple thousand animals and they are very widely scattered over a huge area. You aren't likley to find groups of several hundred like you could in the 80's and 90's.

This is a huge concern for locals and I've spent a bit of time on it as one of the members of the Bristol Bay Federal Subsistence Advisory Council. I live in Dillingham.

I would most definitely NOTplan a caribou hunt on the Alaska Peninsula.

As I said in my earlier post, even the Mulchatna herd isn't doing very well - but there may be an opportunity there. BUT 3 days isn't enough time by half.
Sorry to be a wet blanket. Good luck and keep studying the regs. You might be able to turn up some sort of Alaska hunt.
 
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