We just returned from my 10th hunt in Alaska. It proved to be one of the most difficult. Hurricane Ida hit, Newark, NJ flooded and it cancelled our flights. From that point on, the trip became more challenging.
We finally got to Kotzebue where we would take a bush plane out. The landing areas were we would be hunting were very limited due to flooding. Once we finally got out, the terrain was beautiful but unfortunately the Caribou didn't make their way to our valley. We spent days walking miles, glassing for hours never seeing an animal. Our extraction proved just as difficult. High winds kept the bush planes in Kotzebue. The transporter finally got a window to come and pick us up, and we had to take advantage of it. We started at dark to pack up the whole camp up to the gravel strip where the plane would land. As we sat on our gear waiting on the plane one amazing shooter Caribou came walking our way and came within 200 yards of us.
The open terrain made it impossible for me to stalk with a bow. My fellow hunter Bill Sabal had his rifle. This being his first trip to Alaska and the fact that he had never taken a Caribou made this a golden opportunity. Packing this animal out would've been a breeze, we were right where the plane would land. But at that moment we looked at each other and decided not to shoot and just video the animal. Some people will ask, why didn't you shoot. While this animal would've been an incredible trophy, it just wasn't the way we wanted to take him. We felt like he beat us....this time.
To quote Bill "I may have not come home from Alaska with a Caribou, bit I did come home with memories that will last forever, and that's what life is all about!"