Alaska is home to caribou herds spread across 16 management units. It is nearly impossible to predict when a herd will increase or decline. Luckily, the Department of Fish and Game is quick to respond and has measures in place to close hunts by emergency order and adjust quotas quickly. As is to be expected, non-resident hunt opportunities are some of the first to be cut and should be considered by all hunters planning a hunt more than a year beforehand.
Currently, there are only a handful of units, 9D, 10 (Adak Island), 24A, 25A, 25B, 25D, and 26C, where a non-resident can harvest more than one bull caribou. However, the most popular units with plenty of transporter options fall within the one bull caribou bag limit.
The western Arctic herd, a staple for decades that had fallen on hard times, has seen an upswing in the last few years. The Western Arctic herd in unit 23 continues to offer the most popular non-resident hunting and is usually accessed out of the town of Kotzebue. There are multiple transporters and outfitters offering self-guided and fully-guided hunts throughout the range of this herd. Federal lands in the Noatak National Preserve in unit 23 are still closed for non-local access through the 2023 fall season.
Most units are managed by over-the-counter permit options through general season harvest tickets. Alaska also offers six different draw hunts available to non-residents for this year. These draw hunts are listed in the table and are found in units 7, 13, 14, 15, and 20. Hunters drawing these permits should be prepared to hire an outfitter and/or transporter for their hunt.
Self-guided drop-off hunts continue to gain popularity, and transporters are in no shortage. Most hunters seeking this option have generally looked to the Central Arctic, Western Arctic, and Porcupine herds in the northern portion of the state. A new General Season Caribou unit table is included to help hunters judge the pressure on caribou units when planning their hunts. When selecting a licensed transporter, we recommend checking multiple references and doing as much research as possible to ensure a positive experience before heading north.
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Alaska’s application deadline is 5 P.M. (AKST) on December 15, 2023.
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|Annual Hunting License||$160|
|Application Fee (each choice)||$5|
|LOCKING-TAG FEES (Purchase Before Hunt)|
|Black Bear Tag||$450|
Alaska Caribou Hunting Articles from Huntin' Fool Magazine