Skipping Canada and Hunting Caribou
I will be honest, and tell you I thought the Alcan Highway to Alaska was just one dirty, bumpy, boring trip. So let’s zip right through and do a little hunting adventure, because that is the basis of my book.
Some people might imagine Alaska to have a moose behind every tree, or one walking the main street of every town. I’m sorry to disappoint, but it’s not true. Other people might think Alaskans live in igloos: not true either, but they make a cute picture. I imagined thousands of caribou tromping across the tundra running from a pack of wolves on every hillside. I thought with over nine hundred fifty thousand caribou in Alaska, they would be on every hill or valley. This could be true if you were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
After living in Fairbanks for three or four months, snow had fallen, winter had begun, and I had yet to see a caribou. Then came the highly anticipated report that the caribou were migrating on the Steese Highway. Filled with excitement, we loaded our truck and headed out for our first caribou hunt.
This was a rather expensive hunt because we were not Alaskan residents yet, and had to purchase non-resident licenses and specific tags for hunting caribou. We weren’t the only ones anticipating this reported migration, and the farther up the Steese we went, the more hunters we encountered. As the snow got deeper, the highway became impassable with trucks stuck every which way on the road. It became more of a “helping people dig their rigs out” than a hunting expedition.
The Department of Fish and Game had reported thousands of caribou were in this area, but where were they? It appeared that we had all missed the migration, maybe we weren’t in the right spot, or with all the noise from the digging party perhaps we had scared the caribou away.