Caribou Hunting
Unit 18

(Click on the thumbnails below for larger images.)

First Caribou killed Kagati Lake Landscape Fall colors Electric fences
First Caribou killed... Kagati Lake... Typical landscape scene... Just look... Electric fences work...
Glassing is easy in Unit 18 Typical landscape Average caribou Bone pile Nice double shovel
Glassing is easy
in Unit 18
Typical landscape
in Unit 18
Average caribou for
Unit 18
Bone pile in Unit 18 Nice double shovel
Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake
Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake Goodnews Lake

In 2002 unit 18 was open to Alaska residents and non-residents. Unit 18 south of the Yukon River open to residents up to five caribou open season August 1st through March 31st. Non-residents to take one bull caribou Open season September 1st though September 30th.

There are about a dozen lakes that are deep and long enough for FWA to fly hunters in and out of in Unit 18.

Middle Fork

also few others that are not named or numbered on the topographical map.

Most of the caribou around these lakes are large resident bulls that appear to be constantly on the move. To hunt big resident bulls from one of these lakes in unit 18 requires patience, you don’t chase after an animal that is prancing at 15-20 miles per hour. Instead you find a perch with a large field of vision and wait for the caribou to move through your area, then you can position yourself to intercept. Often caribou will graze their way right into your area. This will give you an opportunity to choose and stalk the BIG bull. Bull hunting is more difficult but there is a lot of cover near and around the lakes. Bull hunters may want to budget more days for the hunt to assure success. There are patterns in caribou behavior but the driving force in their movement is the weather. Hunters tell us that during and immediately after a storm, they see the best movement of caribou through the area. Caribou are most often spotted traveling into the wind so caribou spotted down wind of you are usually coming your way. The caribou you spot up wind of you are usually leaving.

Since the only thing the caribou seem to be up to around these lake is being driven up and down hills, zigzagging across valleys driven by storms and wind, its logical that all you have to be is patient and a big bull caribou will come to you.

This is much different from migrating caribou given the signal to move by weather but with a particular goal primarily to drop down from the mountains moving easterly into the flats. The majority of migrating caribou are cows and calves.

 Consistently the largest antlers we have seen in recent years have come from unit 18 during the first three weeks of September. 

Unit 18 can be hunted as early as August 20th or so. The antlers will still be in velvet until possibly early September but the racks are spectacular. For non-residents the first three weeks of September should be great hunting, but after that the weather gets really tough in the mountains. Besides that, the bulls will be in rut by then and the meat will be no good.

Floating the Kanektok, Arolik, Kukatlim or Goodnews Rivers for caribou hunting would be a great choice because not only do you have awesome hunting prospects, but also the fishing is world class. These four rivers offer excellent grayling, char, rainbow and silver salmon. The rivers are class 1 with excellent camping opportunities. To read more about these rivers please refer to: Arolik River , Kukaktlim Lake and Kukaktlik River , Goodnews Lake and River, Kagati Lake and Kanektok River.

Floating any river with meat should not be taken lightly, the meat will require more attention to keep from spoilage as well as protected from predators. Keeping your meat dry and aerated is crucial. Once the meat is hanging and air is allowed to get to it, it will begin to glaze; this is a form of curing. With extra care, meat can be kept in warm, wet weather without spoiling. There are all kinds if excuses for meat to go bad, but in reality simply keeping your meat dry, allowing it to get lots of air will prevent spoilage.

The most effective game bags are made from a similar material as bed sheets. In fact we see a lot of homemade game bags that work extremely well. A regular mesh type game bag won’t do anything but keep grass off the meat, blow flies can penetrate with little effort. A sheet type game bag can be brushed off as long as its hanging under a tarp on a rack and the game bag is not allowed to get wet.

 In September 2002 the hunters we dropped off in unit 18 lost over 50% of the meat to bears. Since that time hunters have been able to protect the meat with the aid of electric fencing.

FWA has electric fencing complete with meat racks available, the unit weights 100 pounds. You can put the fence around your meat rack or around your entire camp, however, it makes more since to take two separate electric fence units so you don’t have to sleep with your meat.

Now that we know the electric fencing works, we are recommending them to every hunter hunting unit 18 in the future. Any feed back from our hunters in the upcoming season is always appreciated.

Click here for estimated costs

For more information contact:

Wildlife Conservation Division
P.O. Box 1030
Dillingham, AK 99576
Sport Fish Division
P.O. Box 230
Dillingham, AK 99576