SPECIES OVERVIEW - Caribou
All of the huntable populations of caribou are found in Canada and Alaska. Most hunts are guided (in Canada you must have a guide unless you are a Canadian resident) but there are self-guided options in Alaska.
While there are quite a few hunting options, caribou populations are down across both Alaska and Canada. If the populations cycle up then more hunting opportunities would be available but, of course, if populations continue to decrease then the chance to hunt caribou will become scarcer.
What are the major caribou subspecies? The five major subspecies are Barren-Ground Caribou, Mountain Caribou, Central Barren-Ground Caribou and Woodland Caribou. Below we’ll go through some of the basic information on each subspecies.
Barren-Ground Caribou are found in Alaska and the northern Yukon territory. If you’re looking to hunt the Barren-Ground caribou in Alaska, there are quite a few options including a fully-guided hunt, which has the highest success rate, and then an option to have transporters fly you to an area with caribou and leave you, and then a self-guided hunt with a hunt planning kit that can be purchased from outfitters.
British Columbia and the southern Yukon territory have the Mountain caribou, which is the largest of all caribou and a bull can weigh as much as 600 pounds. This group migrates less than most other caribou subspecies and have smaller herds. To hunt these massive creatures, nonresidents must go on guided tour and most of those tours are on horseback or backpacking.
Central Barren-Ground Caribou
In the Northwest territories and Nunavut, Central Barren-Ground caribou live, which is a smaller caribou with a bigger herd. The areas this population lives is remote, vast and flat and many of this population never sees a hunter. They can be hunted with a guide off a lake, but it will likely include some extensive hiking as well.
Woodland caribou live in many areas but there is only one huntable population and that is in Newfoundland, which lives in tundra and forests. This group is the smallest and a mature bull can weigh up to 400 pounds and they have smaller herds and do not migrate as far as many other types. This is a small population group and, therefore, an expensive subspecies to hunt.