Hunt of the Week for Oct. 14 | SteamboatToday.com

Hunt of the Week for Oct. 14

Mike Homier and Tom Fox

Age/occupation – MH: 57/retired; TF: 57/Owner Fox Construction Inc.

Years hunting – MH: A lifetime; TF: 45 years

Guide/outfitter name – Self-guided, four of us were dropped off by bush plane approximately 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle

Club measurement – MH: N/A; TF: No official measurement taken

Weapon used – MH: Long bow; TF: 70-pound Mathews Drenalin

Distance out – MH: Plus or minus 20 yards; TF: First shot 20 yards, second shot 50 yards.

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Time and date – MH: Approximately 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10; TF: Sept. 13

Area – 100 miles north of Kotzebue, Alaska, 150-200 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the Noatak River.

Hunt details:

TF: We were flown to a small landing area on the Noatak River near the Brooks Range. Our gear was unloaded and the pilot was gone in 15 minutes. We were prepared for harsh conditions but the temperatures were above normal.

MH: I was hunting with one of my companions the first day of the eight-day wilderness hunt. The weather was unseasonably warm and the caribou were not migrating the way we had hoped. My partner spotted a small herd of caribou a mile away and we decided to get closer. There isn’t much cover to hide behind in the tundra, but we found a series of thigh-high bushes we used to get within 300 yards. My effective long bow range is 20 to 25 yards, so the rest was up to which direction the herd decided to go. They slowly moved in my direction, and I crawled into position. Unfortunately, the herd fed by me at about 50 yards, and it appeared I wasn’t going to get an opportunity to shoot. Just as the disappointment was settling in, a flash of light caught three sets of antlers, apparently stragglers, heading my way. A slight crawl and I was behind a new bush not much more than two feet high. The first straggler went by at about 35 yards, still too far for me to shoot. The second caribou however, passed by within my 20-yard range. After a successful shot, the obligatory high fives and the numerous pictures, we began the two-day task of carrying all of the meat four miles back to camp.

TF: Three days later, the caribou still were not migrating, so we went after them on foot. While glassing, we noticed a particular spot along a small lake where the caribou seemed to pass. I set up there for an entire day. After numerous hours in the rain and wind we spotted two bulls about two miles away. In what seemed like an eternity, the bulls worked their way to the lake and passed exactly as hoped. The first shot was good but a little high and after a few minutes I was able to get a second shot at 50 yards. The arrow passed through both lungs, putting him down in a few seconds. We took the head and antlers off the carcass as well as the quarters and back strap. Half the meat was hauled to camp that evening by three of us.

The next morning, I arrived at the kill site alone, with three pack frames and the intention of loading meat on each for us to pack out at day’s end. I dallied some looking for my arrows that had passed through the bull. A short distance to the carcass, I took off my packs. In a matter of seconds a strange feeling rushed through my body as I realized that I might not be alone. Everything at the kill site was gone, as if vacuumed from the tundra face. The hair stood up on the back of my neck as I frantically stared into the bush looking for Mr. Grizzly. I did not have any weapons to protect myself. I got on the radio to Mike, who was on the ridge a mile away and whispered my dilemma. Smarter than I, he was packing a .44-Magnum. With heavy deep-water bogs between us, he couldn’t get to me soon. We agreed I should get the (heck) out of there as fast as I could go. The dilemma was – should I take the head and antlers that I stashed away from the kill site? I figured the grizz could outrun me 10-to-1 either way, so I tied together the head, antlers and three pack frames to my day pack. The shortest distance to safety was a drudgingly slow pack through the bog to the ridge. We didn’t hang around to see if Mr. Grizz ever showed up again. Only my imagination can lead me to what, when and who came to my kill site and stole my carcass.

– Hunt of the Week submissions can be e-mailed to dshively@steamboatpilot.com