Big Game Pursuits
Featured Guests: Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo, Derrick Ratliff, Travis Calhoun
Go big or go home! This week on The Revolution we’re talking Big Game Pursuits. Moose, caribou, elk, bear and more - there is no shortage of opportunity during the fall months for hunters that are looking for some adventure and to fill the freezer. So, tune in as Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo hosts of The Choice on Outdoor Channel join us to talk bear and moose hunting. Then, Derrick Ratliff, President and Founder of Horizon Firearms will discuss his DIY Alaskan caribou adventure. Finally, Travis Calhoun, Ford Motor Company’s F-150 Consumer Marketing Manager will highlight the new F-150 3.0L V6 Power Stroke Diesel. Jim and Trav’s Big Game Pursuits are presented by Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, World Fishing Network and MyOutdoorTV.
What is your favorite big game animal to hunt?
Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo are the hosts of The Choice with Ralph & Vicki on Outdoor Channel, Sundays at 12:00 p.m. ET and they’ve hunted more than 50 big game species around the world. The first couple to produce outdoor programming, Ralph and Vicki are staples of the hunting industry and have been in outdoor television for nearly two decades. This week Ralph and Vicki join us to talk elk, bears and moose.
While they have hunted bears extensively in Canada, Vicki says up until this year she had never taken a black bear in the U.S. That all changed on a recent hunt in Colorado. Ralph and Vicki reveal they were actually in Colorado to hunt elk and Ralph was successful in that quest. However, the dice landed a little differently for Vicki. While there, the temperatures were in the 80’s and 90’s and they found themselves hunting over water. Fred and Michelle Eichler advised them to pick up an over the counter bear tag if they happened to be sitting over water holes saying they would more than likely see one. Vicki says that is exactly what happened. They did some spot and stalk elk hunting one morning and then decided to head to a blind and sit over a water hole while the temperatures climbed. They got in the blind at 9:00 a.m. and after an all-day sit, at 6:00 p.m. a bear made his way into the water hole where she quickly made the shot and closed the deal. What initially was an elk hunt turned into Vicki’s first U.S. black bear, a beautiful color phase chocolate. When it comes to bear hunting, those with little experience are often surprised by just how much meat are on them. Ralph says that most people see bears as predators and as a result think they aren’t unpalatable; however, he argues they make fantastic table fare. When it comes to bear hunting, whether it’s in the U.S. or Canada, baiting is a popular method, however it can have a negative connotation with many people thinking that hunting over bait makes it “easy”. However, in contrast, bears are smart and don’t just pile in to a bait sight for a free shot. The Cianciarulos say that when hunting in the thick timber of Canada, spot and stalk can be almost impossible at times so the only practical way to manage and hunt bears is often over bait. Ralph highlights the similarities of hunting bears over bait and hunting deer over a food plot or another food source like acorns and asks, truly, what is the difference between the two.
Ralph and Vicki will then turn their attention to hunting moose. In their many encounters with moose, both Ralph and Vicki have taken monster bulls at unbelievably close distances. More specifically, they talk about a hunt in the Yukon where Vicki tagged a bull at only 5 feet away during a spot and stalk hunt. Both Ralph and Vicki agree that hunting in the Yukon is exciting and explain how you can tell if a rutting bull is in the area based on smell alone. Furthermore, they’ll highlight how using decoys, if done properly, can really pique a moose’s interest, get them worked up and bring them in. They note the sheer power that moose have and how a cow can hoof a predator to death. If that’s what a cow is capable of, Ralph says to imagine adding 120 pounds of headgear, up to 30% more weight and tons of muscle and that’s what you’re up against with a bull. When you are decoying, challenging and calling in a monster of this caliber, it can be intimidating but they both agree it’s an incredibly exiting experience.
Tune in for a fun and informative talk with “America’s Favorite Hunting Couple”, Ralph and Vicki Cianciarulo, hosts of The Choice with Ralph & Vicki on Outdoor Channel, Sundays at 12:00 p.m. ET.
What is your ultimate bucket list hunt? How about a hard-fought DIY hunt on the Alaskan tundra for caribou?
Derek Ratliff, President and Founder of Horizon Firearms, just returned from the “Last Frontier” after a challenging week-long hunt for caribou. Inspired by an old Tom Miranda VHS tape, this DIY Alaskan Caribou hunt has been a goal for Derrick for years and he was finally able to experience it. Derrick joins us this week for an inside look at this exciting hunt he embarked on with a few friends.
From Austin, Texas to the Arctic Circle, the trip just to get to their hunting destination was rather extensive. Austin to Seattle, Seattle to Anchorage, Anchorage to Kotzebue and from there, an hour plus flight on a puddle jumper into the Arctic Circle near the Noatak-Cutler Confluence. The pilot identified a location where there had been some caribou activity and dropped them off in the remote wilderness for a few days, giving them the opportunity to fill their tags before he returned to pick them up. What followed was success, challenge and a whole lot of bear encounters.
Derrick says their 4-man hunting party set up camp and saw some caribou the first evening there and, in a bid, to check off yet another bucket list item, he got up early to see the northern lights. They did catch the spectacular light show, but what he didn’t expect was to see a bear right outside their camp as he was shining his flashlight along the water’s edge. The bear didn’t pose a threat, so they headed back to their tents.
Because there were several people in the hunting party, the friends drew to establish the order in which they would hunt/shoot. Derrick says based on the draw he was the last shooter, so he went out with the first hunter to film and help scout/guide him. They spotted a herd of caribou a couple of miles away, to reach them, it required crossing the Noatak River. In order to do so, the pilot left behind an inflatable canoe like boat. Derrick said he had his doubts about the ability of this inflatable boat to carry two hunters and all their gear, but it sufficed. Making it across the river, they then began to hike across the tundra. Derrick says what many people may not realize is just how rough the terrain is. What looks like plains as you fly over, in actuality, is more like a marsh and can make traversing the landscape difficult. Illustrating his point, Derrick says that they could travel three to four miles in pursuit of a herd only to have the caribou gain two miles on them. There is no doubt that the animals definitely have the advantage in this terrain and the hunter is the underdog. Eventually, Derrick says they found a group of caribou with several nice bulls and were able to position themselves for a shot opportunity. His friend keyed in on a bull and made a successful shot. While Derrick drew the short stick and was supposed to be the last shooter, the other two members of the group weren’t with them. So, at that point, with bulls still around, Derrick was able to drop a bull on the spot. While many people say caribou are like a big mule deer, Derrick says when walking up on their bulls he realized just how inaccurate that comparison is, noting they are much larger. Two miles from camp, two caribou on the ground, 60 yards apart - the work to get their bulls back to camp began. A big caribou can weigh 350-400 pounds. That’s a lot to work up and a lot of weight to pack out, each one requiring multiple trips to pack out.
With both of them on one side of the Noatak River, each cleaning caribou, quartering and bagging it, Derrick says his friend went back to camp to retrieve the boat and float it down the river. Their plan was to load the caribou in the boat and float it back upstream which would be easier than packing it all upstream. On the way back to camp the hunter ran into a grizzly on the water’s edge, yet again. While waiting for the boat, Derrick says he stayed behind and walked back and forth, packing the caribou quarters, capes and antlers all down to the river side to get ready to load it in the boat. When the friend made it back, they were able to load the entirety of two caribou into the inflatable boat where they then made a harness from paracord and pulled it several miles back up river to their camp.
Derrick says by the end of the day, they were exhausted and woke around 1:00 a.m. to the sound of a bear in camp, right outside their tent. Yelling to scare it off, the bear went from one tent to the other, where they eventually fired a round into the ground to scare it off. However, the bears weren’t easily deterred. Derrick laughs saying the nighttime visits were an every night occurrence with three different bears, happening about the same time every night. The first night the only thing that succumbed to the bruins was the proof of sex the bear stole from one of the hind quarters. The following day, the group decided to move their meat, however that night the bears found it yet again and tore into it, robbing a cape and more.
The following days saw both other hunters in the party take nice bulls, so everyone met their goal of tagging out. While the hunt was all about caribou, the grizzlies in the area played a big role in the overall experience. On the final night of the trip, Derrick says the bears won. Moving their meat yet again and trying to secure it as best as possible, the grizzlies found it and this time obliterated it. Out of 4 caribou, the group only walked away with 82-pounds total, the rest was seized by bears, a bummer considering Derrick says it is one of his top 3 favorite game meats. What they lacked in meat when returning to the lower 48, they undoubtedly made up for in the overall experience!
Now, the question everyone is probably asking themselves is, what were these boys packing for firearms? Derrick says that his three hunting partners all carried custom 6.5 Creedmoors made by Horizon Firearms. Derrick on the other hand was carrying his personal custom Horizon Firearms 6.5 PRC, a caliber that he has discussed in more detail with us in prior visits on the show. The 22-inch 6.5 PRC has a KREMLIN stock and carbon fiber barrel and Derrick notes he was also shooting suppressed. Overall, he says the 6.5 PRC ran about 200 fps faster, with factory loads, then the other 6.5 Creedmoors in the group. He’ll also talk about the different loads chosen by each shooter and how those performed.
What is your most memorable hunt? This is one that, no doubt, Derrick and his friends will never forget! Be sure to check out Horizon Firearms on both Facebook and Instagram so you can see more photos from this cool DIY Alaskan Caribou hunt.
The Revolution with Jim & Trav - 10/11/2018