Sep 14, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
As I move on in my hunting career, I find different things create the most standout memories from my hunting trips these days. On this Quebec caribou hunt with Jack Hume Adventures that we’ve been detailing in the last several posts there were so many great unplanned adventures to create memories.
We got weathered in Kuujjuaq for 2 ½ days and that turned into a learning experience. We hunted the first week of the season and dealt with not really knowing where the caribou were at. We managed to eke out a good first bull on the single sunny day of the trip. The outfitter was able to move us to a camp closer to the migration, and we scored quickly and saw dozens of other animals. We met a whole bunch of great hunters from all over the United States and Canada. I spent a whole day on the tundra hunting on my own with the camera – just looking over the country and the caribou – hundreds that day.
Yet I think the longest lasting, best memory of the trip was helping out a new caribou hunter on the last night of the hunt.
Cameraman Pete Palony and I were on our way in from out day of filming on the tundra when we heard university student Matt Muir on the radio with his older brother Matt. These guys were both on their first caribou hunt, in fact, there first hunt in the far north. They’d both flown in that morning from an unproductive camp for one last shot at the Inukshuk Camp where we’d arrived the afternoon before to find many animals.
Under the direction of their guide Doug, both had taken bulls simultaneously earlier in the afternoon. And while Doug was working on those animals, Matt took his second. So there were three caribou on the ground that needed dressing and transport back to camp.
They agreed James should go sit on a rock a few hundred yards out on a point to try to take his second bull. Which he was happy to do.
It wasn’t long when he spotted a great bull approaching in a small herd from a long way off. It took awhile for the animals to come within range, and James just let them come. He was just lining up the shot on the big bull when over the ridge came a helicopter! It was the game warden headed to camp to check in on everything! That happens surprisingly often for as far out on the tundra as these caribou camps are located.
James hung with the spooked bull, got down on a solid rest and lined up a shot, now at more than 300 yards. His bullet hit home, but didn’t drop the animal, so carefully watched the bull move off with the herd. Then he noticed it lagging farther and farther behind the rest. He marked carefully where it disappeared behind a ridge and hustled over to where he’d last seen it. He did this two more times before the animal finally dropped on the far shore of another small lake. He hiked around to claim his trophy.
That’s the point when we heard them on the radio. The brothers were trying to decide what to do as James was now over a mile from camp (on a straight line), it was getting on toward dark, and it was starting to rain. Oh, yeah, and neither of them had dealt with a caribou themselves before.
I broke into their conversation and told them we’d be right there! With a little guidance via radio, Pete and I found James. We helped him quarter and start caping his bull. I had a freighter-style frame pack, so we pulled off the pack sack and lashed the four quarters and tenderloins to it.
By the time we finished, Matt had arrived on the scene, too. The clouds really lowered and it started to rain and blow sideways. With camp marked on Matt’s GPS we all grabbed as much as we could carry and headed to camp. I took the pack with the quarters on it.
The memory that will forever remain of this hunt was our little human pack train winding it’s way across the tundra, through the rain and the fog. The weight on my back felt good, and I was proud that my 50-year-old legs and lungs didn’t need too many rests. Of course, it didn’t feel quite as good as dropping the weight off my back when we made it back to camp.
It was proof once again that a Quebec caribou hunt allows you to participate in the hunt to whatever level you choose, and that’s what makes it so great.
More Top Posts
- None found
- PHT: Blackhawks beat Bruins in OT to tie Stanley Cup Final series
- PFT: Report: Hernandez accused of prior shooting
- PFT: Hernandez reportedly 'not ruled out' as suspect
- PBT: Celts, Clips restart Doc, KG trade talks
- Puig shines, help Dodgers get doubleheader split with Yanks
- Posnanski: How Heat won a game of mistakes
- Woods to rest elbow, skip AT&T National