Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Man in the White Pajamas

My Buddy Luke and I had planned on hunting caribou on the North Slope of the Brooks Range together this past weekend, but when his lower back locked up on him he was forced to back out. The weather looked promising and I figured that this might be my only chance to put some red meat in the freezer, so I jumped in my truck and headed about 160 miles north of the Arctic Circle in search of caribou, or at least a good story.

I woke up because of cold feet; I got out of my sleeping bag because I was filled with anticipation. Once I knocked the frost off of my sleeping bag and crawled out of the back of my truck the first thing I saw was the pipeline illuminated by the moon. The slope provides a a truly unique landscape this time of the year.

I started seeing caribou less than a mile off of the road. I was never alone after I spotted this little group; there was always a small herd within eye shot somewhere.

The moon was still visible at 10:00 A.M. This is a fairly representative picture of the area...wind blown exposed rock and fields of wind packed snow.

Once I got past the invisible "five mile marker", which makes it legal to harvest caribou with a rifle, I started reading some sign. Above are some caribou tracks, and below are some....

...caribou turds.

I made several unsuccessful stalks throughout the middle of the day but I was having a blast...the sun was shining, the temperature hovered slightly below zero and there was a light 8-10 mph breeze.

After dropping down into an expanse of lakes and moraines called "The Fog Lakes" I was able to make a successful stalk on a herd of about twenty caribou. One clean shot dispatched this young cow and it was time to get to work field dressing her. The wind picked up to 25-30 mph and made cutting her up a fairly painful experience.

Once I had the animal quartered out and loaded into my sled I made my way back to the Haul Rd. It took about three and a half hours of post holing and cussing to get back to the truck, but after I enjoyed my first steak last night it all was well worth the effort.

1 comment:

Heidi said...

The man in the white pajamas is sexy. The pictures he takes are even sexier. Can't wait to see the updates from the Birkie Winter Wknd in WI! Your blog is blog-o-licious. --Heidi