AA1 – Unguided Caribou Hunt with Arctic Air
Alaska Fly-In, Unguided Caribou Hunt
Unguided, fly-in caribou hunts in NW Alaska Game Management Units 23 & 26
In mid-August through the end of September, the caribou migrate from the North side of the Brooks Range, heading South towards Kotzebue Sound. This transporter will do their best to put you right in the middle of that migration. Over the years, their success speaks for itself as you can see in the hunt reports below.
Unguided caribou hunters are responsible for setup and teardown of their own tents and camping equipment. If you don’t want to bring your own camp gear, camp rental is provided by the Outfitter in Kotzebue and is returned to Kotzebue when your Alaska caribou hunt is over. The camps are placed along the migration route, to ensure you of the highest success possible. Hunters can rest assured knowing they will be placed in areas that are productive. Be sure to read this post on preparing for an unguided hunt in Alaska.
- Season: End of August-End of Sept (recommend early September)
- 2 hunters minimum
- Trophy quality: Average
- Success Rate: 85-90% depending on the year
- Opportunity rate: 90%
- Combos: wolf, fishing, ptarmigan
- Difficult hunt. Tundra is very hard to walk in.
- Be sure to get a wolf tag! Although wolves tend to be elusive creatures, they are abundant in the Arctic! Wolf tags can be purchased over the counter and hunters can purchase UP TO 20 TAGS!
- The fishing can be great too! Also, don’t forget the fishing. Approximately 95% of the camps end up on a river or stream. This means that there is WORLD CLASS Arctic char and grayling fishing.
- Must be a US citizen.
- Five to Seven days of hunting depending on schedule
- One caribou bull
- Air transportation to the field from Kotzebue, AK
- Meat/trophy transport back to Kotzebue
- Trip Insurance
- Transportation to and from Kotzebue, AK
- Hunting License, Permits or Tags. *Hunters are encouraged to purchase a wolf tag.
- Shipping of meat and trophy
*Prices subject to change without notice, so lock your price in with a deposit asap.
If you choose the Outfitted Camp option, here are the details.
Above the Arctic Circle is no place to skimp!
In 35+ years of providing service to their hunters, along with their own Alaska experiences, this outfitter has put together a gear list that provides hunters with not only comfort, but the NECESSITIES of being out in what can be a very harsh and unforgiving environment. In addition to knowing what hunters will need while in the field, it makes it less expensive to travel on commercial flights. There are also items that can’t be taken on commercial flights.
- On outfitted camps, gear is limited to 60 pounds per person – to include personal gear, weapon, -20 rated sleeping bag/pad, pack frame, field dressing equipment and game bags.
- If you bring your own camp, weight limits are 120 pounds of gear per person
Camps go in and come out of the field with the hunters.
For every TWO hunters, they will receive a Cabela’s Six-man Guide Tent, which provides plenty of room for the cots and personal gear. Camps are located in areas with plenty of driftwood/willows for makeshift camping, temporary meat caches and building fires for warmth.
They pay close attention to hunters needs, ensuring their camps are filled with enough food, even in the event they are stuck in the field for extra days due to unforeseen issues. In addition, camp gear is closely gone over every time it returns from the field with damaged or worn items being replaced as needed.
Camp Rental Gear
5 Day Rental
- 1 Cabela’s 6 Man Guide Model tent
- 1 Stove/4 one pound propane bottles
- 2 Cots
- 2 Rolls of toilet paper
- 1 Tarp
- 1 Matches/lighter & fire starters
- 1 Cook set
- 4 Garbage bags
- 1 Lantern w/ mantels
- 2 Sets of silverware, plates, bowls & cups
- 1 Collapsible water containers
- 1 Roll paper towels
- 1 Dish soap
- 10 Quart size sandwich Ziploc bags
- 20 Twine
- 1 Coffee pot
- 1 Basic First Aid Kit
- 1 Set of kitchen pots, pans & utensils
For every two hunters
- 5 lbs. of potatoes
- 2 loaves of bread
- 5 onions
- 1 jar of jelly
- 1 jar of peanut butter
- Cooking oil
- Coffee Mate & sugar
- Candy/granola bars
- Instant oatmeal
- Hot cocoa
- Tea bags
- Ramen soup
- Salt & Pepper
Mountain House Meals
- Breakfasts include a variety of oatmeal & scrambled eggs, skillets, etc.
- Lunch/Dinners include a mixed variety of chicken, beef & pork entrees.
- Desserts included are based on availability.
*PLEASE NOTE: If you require any special medicine and/or foods associated with your daily diet and health routine, you will want to make sure you pack it yourself and bring it with you.
Unguided hunters should bring good quality game bags with them. The Outfitter will provide burlap sacks to haul/load meat. Meat will stay in the field with you for the entire time unless arrangements are made between you and the pilot. The Outfitter is not permitted to store meat at their facility in Kotzebue. Kotzebue does not have freezers or processing facilities to accommodate hunters.
For people wishing to take meat home with them, wet lock boxes can be purchased from the Outfitter for $15 each. Boxes can be checked on as luggage. Boxes must not be over 50 pounds. Excess baggage fees will be charged by the airlines for additional pieces of checked baggage on Alaska Airlines. Remember it is the hunter’s responsibility to see the meat is properly donated or boxed for your flight home. Deboning meat is not permitted by airport regulation at the airport facility. Fee for boxing game meat is $50 per box, plus the box fee, and is only done on a time available basis.
For those of you wishing to donate meat: you must complete a transfer of possession form (the Outfitter has them). Meat can be donated to local citizens or to the food bank. Partially butchered quarters of meat are not accepted for donation.
You will fly to Anchorage, AK (ANC), then catch a flight to Kotzebue, where your Outfitter will meet you to the airport. It is important when booking your commercial airline tickets to and from Kotzebue that you arrive on ALASKA AIRLINES FLIGHT #151 on the day you are scheduled to go into the field. This will put you in Kotzebue at approximately 8am. Arriving later in the day may not allow enough time to fly you out to the field. This will allow us the most time to get you out to your hunting area. At times we must wait for the weather to clear or frost or snow to melt off the wings before we can start flying. If such conditions do exist, be patient. *This outfitter will use either a float plane or a plane with bush wheels to get you into the field. Their schedule and caribou movement depicts which plane will be used.
We recommend departing on flight #152 or #153 back to Anchorage on the day after you are scheduled to be extracted from the field. This flight departs Kotzebue at 7:50pm.
TIP: Book “flexible” return flights and we HIGHLY recommend trip insurance! *Weather is a variable that no one can control. Weather conditions may prevent us from being able to fly. Such instances are rare, but can occur.
With travel insurance through Travel Guard you’ll have valuable coverage that travels with you and your family. We’re America’s leading provider of travel insurance plans and assistance programs and we’re here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Request a Free Quote
Suggested Gear List for an Unguided Hunt in Alaska
This gear list was put together by Outdoors International Hunting Consultant, Kyle Hanson who has been on our DIY moose hunt twice. Based on what he learned on his first hunt, he has revised his list to what you see below. You can see the notes from his first hunt at the bottom of this article.
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The first thing to consider is weight.
- Outfitted camps: gear is limited to 60 pounds per person – to include personal gear, weapon, -20 rated sleeping bag/pad, pack frame, field dressing equipment and game bags.
- If you bring your own camp: weight limits are 120 pounds of gear per person.
- Hunters will be weighed prior to flying into the field:
- For any two hunter group with a combined weight over 440 pounds, an additional surcharge will be required in the amount of $500.
- For any two hunter group with a combined weight over 520 pounds, an additional surcharge will be required in the amount of $1,000.
Gear for Camp
Tent: Cabelas Geodesic 6 man *33.15 lb.
Cots: Cabelas lightweight x2 *22.15 lb.
Tarps: 2-3x Lightweight 10×10 ft. *5 lb.
Stove: Coleman 2 burner *8.95 lb.
Lantern: Primus Micron *.27 lb.
Heater: Mr. Heater Little Buddy *4.29 lb.
Chairs: x2 Tillak Sika Ultralight Camp Chair *3.64 lb.
Cook set: Primus Litech pot/pan *2.02 lb.
Utensils: GSI kitchen set *1.16 lb.
Long spoon x2: *.1 lb.
Plate, bowl, cup set x2: Fozzils sets *.5 lb.
Drink ware: Yeti Rambler Bottle *1 lb.
Pocket Boiler: Primus ETA Lite *.9 lb.
TP & Paper towels: *2 lb. (2 rolls paper towels, 6 rolls TP)
Aluminum foil: *.55 lb.
Soft sided Cooler: *.85 lb.
Propane & Isobutane Canisters: Purchase in Alaska as you can’t take them on a plane
Salt for Capes: Purchase in Alaska or prior to trip 5-10 pounds
Total weight: 86.53 lb. (not including fuel and salt)
Breakfasts: Off Grid Predator Fuel and “real food” (egg beaters, sausage &/or bacon)
Lunches: Misc. dehydrated & real food (Off Grid, Peak Refuel, Mountain House, PB&J, Salami cheese n’ bagel)
Dinners: Off Grid, Peak Refuel, Mountain House
Snacks: Probars, Probar Bolt Energy Chews, Dehydrated snacks, jerky, PB
Coffee: Dark Timber packs
Drink mixes: Hot Chocolate mix, Propel packs, Renu go packs
Real food for breakfasts & lunch: Meats, egg beaters, bread, PB&J
Seasonings & Olive oil: Garlic powder, Sea Salt, & Pepper, Olive oil packets and small bottle
Supplements/daily vitamins etc.
Total weight: 25-30 lb. or less
5 gal collapsible jug: GSI folding cube x2 *1.4 lb.
Bladder in pack: 4L MSR Dromlite with drink hose*.37 lb. (may forgo hose attachment)
Nalgene Bottle: Bottle with human gear cap *.44 lb.
Chemical or pill form: Aquamira A&B *.14 lb.
Steripen; Classic Steripen with batteries *.41 lb.
Pump: Katadyn Hiker Pro *.92 lb.
Total weight: 3.68 lb.
Game Processing Gear to Take to Camp
Game bags Moose & Bear: TAG Bags, Caribou bags or Black Ovis Game Bags
Knives & blades: Havalon Piranta & Baracuta
Gloves: HME Kits
550 cord: 50ft reflective orange
Citric acid: Caribou gear kits
Large Contractor Bag
Total weight: 5.31 lb.
Game Processing Gear to Leave at the Hangar
Packaging for skull: bubble wrap, shrink wrap, cardboard, duct tape, packaging tape
Meat storage/freezer bags: Gallon & Quart Ziploc freezer bags
Knife set & sharpener: Outdoor edge kit
Hard Cooler: Igloo 100
Rifle & ammo: *11 lb.
Pistol & ammo: *5 lb. (optional)
Hard travel case: Pelican 2 rifle with customizable foam *N/A
Soft case for small plane travel: *1.14 lb. (optional)
Total weight: 17.14 lb.
Base layers top/bottom: Sitka Merino Core top/Bottom, First lite Merino boxers & T’s x2 *1.96 lb.
Intermediate layer top: Sitka Heavyweight Core Hoodie *.9 lb.
Puffy top: Kifaru Full Zip Parka*1.45 lb.
Soft-shell top: Sitka Jetstream *1.49 lb. (optional)
Vest: Sitka Mountain Vest *.52 lb. (optional)
Pant bottom: Sitka Timberline *1.89 lb.
Rain Gear Top: Sitka Kodiak *1.94 lb.
Rain Gear bottom: Sitka Stormfront *1.54 lb.
Gloves: Sitka Mountain & Merino liners *.44 lb.
Beanie/Hat: Sitka Jetstream & Merino, Baseball cap *.39
Lightweight bug net: Sea to Summit *.1 lb.
Extra Clothing: Sitka Apex top/ bottom, lightweight core hoodie, Sitka Kelvin Active puffy, Exofficio Give & Go boxer *3.5 lb. (Extra Base Layer, boxer, pant, mid layer, puffy)
Total weight: 16.12 lb.
Hiking boots: Lowa Tibet GTX *5.13 lb.
Rubber boots: Irish Setter neoprene uninsulated *4.29 lb. (may forgo)
Gators: Outdoor Research *.63 lb. (may use Sitka Stormfront)
Waders: Match your waders to the area you will be hunting. Consult with your outfitter. *.9 lb.
Socks: Darn Tough & Farm to Feet 4 pair *.75 lb.
Total weight: 11.7 lb.
Sleeping Bag: Kifaru 20 degree Slick Bag *2.84 lb.
Air pad: Big Agnes Q-core SLX *1.56 lb.
Pillow: Nemo *.19 lb.
Woobie: Kifaru *1.89 lb. (optional)
Total weight: 6.48 lb.
Pack frame/bag combo: EXO 500 or Kifaru Hunter frame, DT2 bag, Guide Lid, small belt pouch, Nalgene pouch *7.38 lb.
Hauling attachments: Cargo net & lashing strap, & gun bearer *1.5 lb.
Walking sticks: Easton Carbon Trekkers *1.05 lb.
Lightweight tarp: Kifaru Sheep tarp with MSR Groundhog pegs*.9 lb.
Total weight: 10.83 lb.
Binoculars & harness: Vortex Razor 10×42, Sitka Bino harness *2.86 lb. (w/rangefinder & pouch)
Rangefinder & pouch: Leupold TBR 1000, FHF pouch ***
Bino tripod adapter with qd plate: FOR adapter w/qd plate *.19 lb.
Spotting scope with qd plate: Vortex Razor 27-60x85mm angled w/qd plate *4.38 lb.
Tripod & head: Slik 624, Manfrotto 700RC2 panhead *2.93 lb.
Foam butt pad: Z seat *.08 lb.
Cleaning items: Lens cloth, Lens pen *.2 lb.
Total weight: 10.64 lb.
Phone with case: *.55 lb.
Phone Scope bracket: *.08 lb.
External chargers: Poseidon x2 *.55 lb.
Charging cords: Poseidon cord, Suunto cord, wall charger *.24 lb.
Flashlights: Petzl Tikka & E-lite headlamps *.19 lb.
Total weight: 1.61 lb.
Total weight: .79 lb.
Batteries: AAA & AA Energizer Lithium Ion
Patch kit: Misc. glues and tenacious tape patches
Weapon cleaning & maint. Kit: Leatherman Skelatool CX w/ bit set, misc. small tools for rifle & oil (bits for scope caps and lug bolts) *.5 lb.
Tape: duct tape & leuko tape
Fire kit: Trioxane, flint/steel, lighters, waterproof matches
Insect repellent: 100% deet
Extra 550 cord: 50-100 ft.
Total weight: 2 lb. or less
Call(s) and Decoy
Total weight: .9 lb.
Meds: pain killers, anti-diarrheal, antibiotics, energy
Total weight: 1 lb. or less
Dry Bags: Outdoor Research 55L & Ditty sacks
Compression sack: Kifaru 5 String Medium
Lightweight pullouts: Kifaru Lightweight Pullouts
Contractor bags: 1-2 Large heavy duty
Lightweight trash bags: 2-3 Hefty trash bags
Ziplocs: Quart & Gallon, small assortment
Total weight: 2-3lb or less
Tooth paste & brush
Total weight: 1.5 lb. or less
License & Tags (Non-Res Hunting License, Harvest tickets for bear & moose, Locking tags for Moose Bear & Wolf, everything signed)
Alaska Regulation booklet: Hard copy
Copy of Contracts: Both Agent and any from Outfitter/Transporter (Inside ziplock)
Transfer of possession forms: From Outfitter (inside ziplock)
Write in the rain journal and Pen
Total weight: 1.5 lb.
Hunter Body Weight: ___________
Overall Total Weight: 204.73 lb. + [Body weight]
*Weights will vary, but should get you close. Be sure to do your homework so that you are properly prepared for you hunt. If you have questions about this unguided moose hunt gear list, be sure to contact us or your outfitter.
Kyles gear notes on the 2016 Unguided Moose hunt gear list he used:
Clothing: Everything I used from my unguided moose hunt gear list performed well and kept us warm and dry. My father used almost the identical setup without any issues either. If I had to do it over again I would go with First Lite rain gear as it would have matched my kit better for layering. By the end of the trip I tore a couple eyelets out of my wading boots from hiking in them. Maybe go with a better boot. If given the chance I would have also liked to bring a slip on rubber boot for around camp. I highly recommend the Sea to Summit lightweight bug net.
Pack: Worked out awesome! That being said I believe any Kifaru pack combined with a grab-it would work just fine. Next go around I will probably bring the new cargo panel for ease of loading. It’s tough loading those giant moose parts into a tube style bag. Also, a guy can get by just fine with a more affordable frame style pack such as a Cabelas guide frame model. I saw a little bit of everything up there, the guys that had the hardest time packing were either smaller guys or they just didn’t prepare for it… nothing to do with the pack.
Shelter: Those tents are tough and affordable; my only complaint is that they can be a little tight for a longer hunt. More annoying than anything. I would bring my own shelter next time. If you are bringing your own I wouldn’t recommend a floorless tent as most of these areas don’t have the solid ground for it. Also don’t bring too large of a tent because the flat spots that you can find usually are not much bigger than the 4 man Cabelas tent we were provided.
Sleep System: I went with more of a lightweight backpacking setup than I really needed to. My father used a much larger Big Agnes 0 degree square camp bag with the big thick air paid that slides into it. You are on cots for ten plus days; make the best of it since you won’t be carrying camp with you!
Optics: I feel that a decent 10×40 or 8×40 is adequate. I didn’t bring a spotter but at times it would have been nice. Personal preference. I will be bringing a spotting scope next time.
Cook System: no issues
Food: We had the outfitter supply the food. It was just fine however some of the stuff was a little more elaborate than what I wanted to take the time to prepare. I would bring my own food next time consisting of things that are fast to prepare combined with some fresh items purchased in bethel. Starbucks instant coffee packs are awesome!
Water purification and storage: The Nalgene bottles were our go to. I kept a bladder in the tent next to my cot just to have handy for later at night. The outfitter supplied 5 gal collapsible water containers that were awesome to have on hand. The pump “clogged” right away. Come to find out I just needed to lube the seal. I’m not that versed in water purification, especially when it’s out of a stagnant lake so lesson learned there. We ended up just using the aquamira for the 5 gallon containers and then steripened what we poured into our water bottles just to be safe. Everything we cooked with got boiled so that works great also. Definitely recommend multiple purification sources as it just gives a guy more flexibility. I may go with a bigger bladder next time for camp water, maybe 6-10L MSR.
Fire starting kit: Definitely bring something as a fuel source such as wet fire or trioxane tablets. We waited until we killed both our bulls to have a campfire.
Kill Kit: Basically an overkill version of the one on Rokslide. The interchangeable blade knives are awesome. My theory on using the havalon and the outdoor edge was that I would use the larger thicker bladed outdoor edge for the main butchering and the havalon for the detail work and fine caping. Never broke a blade with either and they both performed exactly as I thought although I thought for sure I was going to break the folding outdoor edge while making the cut up the back of the hide.
Hygiene Kit: Definitely bring this!
Photography/Videography: My smartphone was my go to; I honestly never even got the gopro out of the tent because it was much more convenient just to reach in my pocket. That being said don’t forget external chargers, they are awesome. Dad’s solar charger only worked for brief periods on 2-3 days. Very over casted.
Comms: Would not go back without my Delorme! It was awesome!
Land Navigation: A decent GPS and a compass are important. Lots of these areas are flat and everything looks the same when you start getting away from camp. Especially in the alders, would be easy to get lost. Learn to use some kind of coordinates whether it is latitude/longitude or UTM grid coordinates simply because if something were to happen, being able to communicate precise location is necessary. Also good to set waypoints when you find good calling spots.
Weapons: I saw different setups from 7mm rem mag up to 338 lapua; the 300 win mag seemed to be the more common as well as the Barnes bullets. I’m very satisfied with my choice and wouldn’t hesitate to use it again. I also wouldn’t buy a new gun over it if you have something in that range. According to an article I read that surveyed 1500 moose hunters from Canada the most popular calibers were 270 win, 30-06, 308, 7mm rem, and 300 win mag. Side arms; matter of preference. I left it in the tent as something to make some noise with if something decided to get at us in the middle of the night. Thankfully that was a non-issue. The glock was fun for ptarmigan hunting after we shot our bulls.
Misc.: I used the crap out of all the stuff on that list. Kind of wish that I had brought the “Moose Magnet” calling funnel as I ended up making a makeshift funnel by the end that worked well. With the funnel it not only projects volume but gives you more of a raspy sound.
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