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|Hunting Tikchik River||Nuyakuk Lake||Chikuminuk Lake||Unloading at Chauekuktuli||Curious caribou|
The most successful hunts in Bristol Bay are for caribou. During the summer caribou live in high country to the north and west of the Wood-Tikchik State Park and the Nushagak /Mulchatna drainages.
Small numbers of caribou sometimes leave the safety and comfort of the deep ravines full of snow, and descend down into the valleys after a cold front or some other nasty storm sweeps through the area.
Often, when the storm passes the caribou are faced with warm temperatures and the aggressive persistence of the ever present swarms of bugs called: "no-see-ums" and white socks. This forces the caribou back up into the mountains sometimes miles from where they first came down. These are either single young bulls with their horns still in velvet or small groups of up to about six.
This type of movement goes on all summer and intensifies around the 1st of September. For this reason, early caribou hunts can be successful if the hunter is willing to hike, sometimes as much as eight miles, for a single bull.
Moose hunting in Bristol Bay starts around the 1st of September. Moose are in abundance, but very difficult to hunt. They tend to live in areas inaccessible to the hunter such as thick trees growing in soggy tundra with small deep creeks, which run into clearings full of thick alder brush. These areas are next to impossible to hunt unless you are able to climb up to a vantage point and glass for the hidden animals in the tick brush. The harder you are willing to work, the better your chances.
Boats are used to access different hunting locations around a lake and to transport a kill back to camp.
When hunting moose, you will have the best results hunting in an area, which has virtually no caribou.
Combination hunts work well if you choose an area for moose with some chance of caribou or caribou with some chance of moose.
Sometime in September, the mountaintops will wear their termination dust, like stocking caps and on the first clear night, frost will blanket the valleys giving a signal to the caribou that it is time to move.
Caribou seldom use the same migration trails, instead, they descend down the valleys in an orderly fashion, moving south and east, past the large lakes of the Wood-Tikchik State Park and out into the tundra where they seem to wander aimlessly usually facing the wind. Because of the constant movement of the caribou, river crossings are frequent during the last three weeks of September and early October thus contributing to the success of float trip hunts.
As the end of September approaches, the wind blows out of the north more often than not, driving the caribou northward as they increase in numbers with small herds joining.
By the 10th of October the lakes are too slushy for our amphibious water foul, so we fly south for the winter.
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