Alaskan Adventures – Bou 2013 by Zach Sanders

posted in: Caribou | 1

I’m excited to announce that our longtime friend and author of the Rifle Hunting chapter in Public Land Elk Hunting, has agreed to document some of his Alaskan adventures.  Those who have read the book will already know of Mr. Sanders, former Recon Marine and wildlife law enforcement professional.  However, they may not know he’d always dreamt of living in the last frontier of Alaska.  Several years ago he resigned from his position with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, loaded all of his worldly belongings onto a flatbed trailer and headed north.

He’s currently residing in the town of Eagle Alaska and reports the “road” out of town is snowed in for the winter.  The only way out is by plane or a 175 miles snowmobile trip to the nearest town of Tok.  He’s also living in a “dry” cabin, meaning he has to haul water every day and do a lot of other chores most of us have never dreamt of…

I’m sure our readers will enjoy his tales from up north…

2013 – Alaskan Bou

In 2008 I hunted caribou and backtail deer on Kodiak Island.  The trip ended up costing close to six thousand dollars and I spent about 6 months preparing.  One major difference between that hunt on Kodiak and the hunt on the Yukon was residency.  In 2012 I moved from Colorado to Alaska, and am currently living in an area that has a decent caribou population.   This year’s caribou hunt was a little more random and luckily inexpensive than my last.

I figured I was done hunting in Alaska for the year, and came to work one day after lunch to find two of my park service co-workers out behind the headquarters building watching a massive caribou migration across the Yukon.  Apparently this isn’t very typical, and the last time anyone in town remembers a similar crossing was in the early 80’s.  It is speculated that this migration is part of the 40-mile caribou herd mixing with the Porcupine herd.  As I peeked through the spotting scope at a small herd of about 150 milling about on the far bank, it dawned on me that the season on the north side of the river is almost year round, and as a resident I can kill ten/year.  Surprisingly I started to feel a little ill, and wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the rest of the day at work.  My co-workers agreed that I didn’t look so good, and maybe I should take the rest of the day off…

I went straight to my hunting partner’s house, told her to grab some warm clothes, and off we went to launch the boat.  We motored to the north side of the river, shut the motor off, and began floating toward where I had seen the last group of caribou on the far bank.  Because there were other boats on the water with the same objective,  I thought floating into the migration corridor might not be the most neighborly thing to do in case someone else was already in pursuit of a group yet unseen to us.  We had only floated about a quarter of a mile, still well within sight of town, when we saw a lone bull start swimming about a half mile ahead of us.  Motionlessly we watched the bull swim a little over half way across the river before I dropped the hammer on my little 25 HP motor.  I scooted down river of him, slid the nose of the boat onto the bank, and got a solid sitting position, just before his feet found the bottom of the river.  When his chest cleared the water I squeezed the trigger on my 22-250 and thumped him right behind the shoulder at about 75 yards.  He tried to trot up the hill a little, and I contemplated giving him another dose of lead, but got the feeling he really didn’t want to go far, and I didn’t want to risk ruining any meat.   I just watched through the scope while his lungs filled with blood and his legs gave up trying to support him.

The next group we chased was about 100 deep, and we hit the bank right in the middle of them.  They scattered up and down the bank, but didn’t go far, and had little fear of our presence.  This time it was the gal’s turn to take a poke with the 7mm.  She had a hard time getting a clear shot and when one did present itself, she may have experienced a little “Big Bou Fever”.  Earlier in the season I watched as she shot a bull at about 70 yards off-hand with the same rifle and that bull tastes great.   Unfortunately nothing flinched, went down or even bled.  She was bummed and decided that I should shoot when we got another opportunity.

Yukon River Caribou

We ended up sitting on a cooler on the river bank for about an hour just watching a couple groups on the far side, that were going to make the plunge any minute.  When they did, another boat that had been chasing other caribou swooped in and claimed the first group in the water.  While that boat made a few mistakes in the placement of their vessel, and approach, the other caribou bailed off in the water, and Gina and I went into attack mode.  As our group got closer to the legal side of the river, this other boat that had just finagled their way in on the first group, broke off and decided to try for our group as well.  That didn’t sit well with me, so instead of beaching the boat and taking a rest like I had wanted to downstream of the caribou, I just motored up next to the bank, shut down the 25 horse power house, waited for the boat to begin to drift with the river, and shot one from the floating boat as he ran out of the water.  The 7mm was deadly as always.  All the while the other boat load of hunters were shooting at the caribou, and in our general direction, and they never cut hair.

It was a good trip, one to remember.

Look for more posts by Mr. Sanders in the future…



One Response

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    Great job Mr Sanders!

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