If you tend to get buck fever thinking about whitetail hunting, your heart probably races at the idea of stalking moose and caribou. These huge animals lure hunters from all over the world. How much do you know about moose and caribou hunting?
Both moose and caribou are species of deer. The moose, of course, is the biggest of the entire North American deer family.
Once the sun has set, moose often stick around in the same area until morning. If you return before first light, you may well get a good shot at the animal.
Caribou wander the open tundra in massive numbers. With an intelligent guide, you should be able to bag a sizeable animal much sooner than you would a whitetail.
Many hunters (like many Americans in general) neglect their physical conditioning until it's too late. Just a bit of cardio and strength work will make your hunts more enjoyable, and safer, too.
Moose are creatures of habit. Provided they haven't been disturbed, they'll use the same bedding areas for years.
Caribou herds are found mostly in remote tundra areas best accessed by bush planes. That means you'll take a bumpy (but fun) ride into the wilderness to reach your prey.
Unlike whitetail deer, moose are solitary creatures. They mostly hang out alone or in very small groups.
Hunters spend hours or days scanning the horizon for signs of caribou. When they spot their prey, they slowly stalk the animals, hoping that they can get close enough for a clean shot.
In the Lower 48, caribou are found in small numbers in three states -- Montana, Idaho and Minnesota. But their numbers are much greater in the lands farther north.
Caribou herds tend to use the exact same migration paths each year. Armed with that knowledge, guides set up their clients near the ancient paths.
Water crossings tend to focus the animals into a specific area. They are good locations to help you set up and stalk the animals.
Cows typically hang out near ponds and lakes during the breeding season. That means the bulls will show up sooner or later, too.
Don't be nuts -- break in your boots before your big hunt. Otherwise, your feet may give out long before you even lay eyes on your prey.
In many places, you'll have to lug the meat until you reach the bush plane's landing site. A good pack can make this task easier. A low-quality pack, however, can make it an agonizing ordeal that you never want to repeat.
Compared with whitetails, it's typically harder for bowhunters to get close to caribou. You should practice shooting targets at greater distances if you want to succeed.
In the early season, moose tend to spend most of their time at higher elevations. That means you should be prepared to go higher if you really want a good shot at filling your tag.
Caribou appear huge, especially on the open tundra. But in most cases, your whitetail bow is more than adequate to make a clean kill.
Binoculars and spotting scopes are indispensable tools for big game hunters, but many people take these optical devices for granted. If you don't practice at home, you'll never be able to focus on moving animals during a hunt.
Some jurisdictions require that hunters use guides as part of the trip. In some other places, such as Alaska, even non-residents are allowed to hunt caribou without a guide.
Caribou hunting can seriously test the patience of any hunter. If you don't see any herds, you'll likely have to wait until one wanders closer before you have any realistic chance of reaching an animal with your weapon.
All deer have a great sense of smell and good hearing, too. If you set up camp near your hunting spot, you're asking to get skunked.
Moose are very sensitive to hunting pressure. You'll have far more success if you expend your energy in areas where other hunters don't.
The Boone and Crockett Club recognizes five subspecies of caribou. No matter the species, most hunting seasons begin in August and end in October.
Moose don't like warm temperatures. They retreat into deep, dark woods as the weather warms, so you'll have to be prepared to follow them.
The Alaska-Yukon Barren Ground Caribou tends to reach the largest size of any of the five species. The bulls are around the size of a bull elk.
If you see a moose with flattened ears and raised neck hair, you're facing an angry or agitated animal. Be sure to take the appropriate precautions or risk serious bodily harm.
At $7,000 or so, a guided caribou hunt means you need serious disposable income. In spite of that price tag, these hunts are a bargain compared to some other big game pursuits.
As the season wears on, moose go deeper and deeper into the wilderness. That means you need tools to help you find your way home, otherwise, you risk losing your way in the dense forest.
The northern tundra is a vast and wild place, and its open vistas can confuse even people with extensive outdoors experience. A compass or GPS unit is necessary and could save your life.
Migrating caribou look like they are just walking or trotting, but they move much more quickly than humans can walk or run. Your only hope is to wait for another herd or hope the one you're watching changes course.