Caribou has become one of our family’s favorite sources of meat. Winter caribou hunting in Alaska is full of unique challenges, incredible adventures, and amazing views.
Winter Caribou Hunting in Alaska
Although it sounds crazy (hunting in negative temperatures?!) winter caribou hunting in Alaska is James’ favorite hunt. He enjoys the challenges winter hunting brings and he really loves taking his snowmachine along. Sometimes he hunts by himself, other times with a few buddies.
Our oldest daughter, Sophia, went along on a previous hunt but didn’t get an opportunity to take a shot. This winter she was hoping for a chance to try again and she got it. She brought home her first caribou for her family.
I haven’t had an opportunity to hunt since moving to Alaska. I’ve always stayed home to hold down the fort. Last year I was pregnant and now I have a nursing baby so I’ll continue to stay home for now. I hope to go hunting with James eventually for the experience.
But for now, our oldest daughter, who just turned thirteen, has stepped up as a provider. She has been interested in hunting since my husband started going out so he has spent a lot of time teaching and preparing her.
Last spring, she harvested her first black bear after trying the previous year with no luck. It was an amazing experience for her! And we love black bear meat so we were thankful to her for bringing one home to us.
Hunting With Your Child
This winter her goal was to get her first caribou so they set out on New Year’s Eve on another great adventure together. They drove about two hours north of where we live and then took the snowmachine over five miles from the road to hunt. The temperature got down to negative 20.
The first day they didn’t have any luck so they spent the night and tried again the following day. A large pod came through but she didn’t feel that any of them were in the right position to get a clear shot.
Later in the day, another pod passed by and she found the right one. At first she thought she had missed it when they all ran off but after checking with binoculars, my husband saw it. She was so excited and thankful!
Unfortunately, the days are still short here so even though she got her caribou at 2:30, daylight was fading. My husband was concerned about the time but she was able to get it processed and they made it back to the truck before dark.
As a mother, waiting at home while your husband and daughter are off hunting makes you worry! He is extra careful when she is with him and takes extra precautions, of course. They contacted me several times via our satellite phone and I enjoyed hearing bits and pieces of their adventures.
I can’t put into words how incredibly proud we are of her hard work. Alaskan kids are something else and we’re so glad she (and soon her sisters) had an experience like this. She knows where her meat comes from and understands all that goes into getting it.
Why We Like Caribou Meat
Caribou meat is delicious and we eat it in many different ways. When preparing meals, I typically use it in place of beef. We haven’t bought red meat from a store in a few years. We don’t need to thanks to James (and now Sophia) bringing it home to us.
When our family is processing the meat after it’s brought home, we divide it up according to how we’ll cook it. We freeze the back straps, roasts, and tenderloins for grilling, roasting, or the crockpot.
We also pressure can a portion of it. This is one of my favorite ways of storing the meat. Whenever I need a quick dinner, I can just open up a jar and make a pot pie, stew, or a number of other meals. The meat is already cooked and ready to go.
The remaining meat we put through our meat grinder, freeze it and use it instead of ground beef for tacos, meatballs, burgers, and such.
Lastly, I use the bones to make nutritious stock to have on hand for soups, stews, and other recipes.
There is no end to what Alaska provides to those who are willing to brave the arctic conditions and unique challenges. We are so thankful when we sit down around our table as a family with a delicious and healthy meal made from the caribou that we harvested together!