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A trip with Dad 2017 JHA
I told myself years ago my 40th birthday present to myself would be another trip up north with JHA. We planned for sept 3-9th. It would be dad and me. Possibly some friends we had met in camp back in 2013. Later plans fell through and we had to move our hunt till 2018. By January 2017 we all received the dreaded news, Quebec would be suspending the 2018 and 2019 seasons. As we all know this could very well never reopen. One never knows. Richard and Amanda worked with us (and everyone out there) and my dream of hunting Quebec moved forward. Our hunt dates were now August 28th-Sept 3rd. The same dates I hunted in 2016. 1 and a half weeks before our hunt I called Richard and once again asked for some help. You see I love bowhunting....but I made a promise to myself last trip that I would bring my muzzleloader on my next hunt. Richard luckily had some of my powder laying around base camp and it was now set.... For the 1st time in 7 trips north, my bow would sit at home. It was a tough choice but that gun has special meaning which I will touch on later.
On August 28th we landed in a place that will forever have great meaning in my heart. Dad and I went on our first big game hunt together back in 2005 and started this quebec caribou obsession and love for the tundra. 12 years later, almost to the day we were back. This marked dads 4th trip up and my 7th. I still remember us talking about how this was a once in a lifetime trip back in 2005....and then 2009 and so on...and so on.
Before the hunt even started i knew it was going to be special. Not only was Dad going to be there but so was Franco. He was my Chef last fall and we hit it off very well. To say his food is amazing is an understatement. We have always had good cooks...but nothing like what this man could do. And funny....oh my lord is this man funny. In base camp I also learned for sure our camp would be Inukshuk. This is the farthest northwest camp Richard uses. I've been fortunate enough to hunt 3 of the 5 old arctic adventures camps in the past (Bobby, Willie's and Trophy). Now I was on my 4th, Inukshuk. Someday with any luck I will get to go to the 2 places I still dream of making Ikirtuuq and Coursolles. I was fortunate to meet several other bowsiters at basecamp including TheSaint who just completed his caribou slam and have to apologize to Dhaverstick as we never did introduce ourselves even though we talked many times before the trip.
Our flight north was uneventful and right at 2 hours in length. The 2 cups of coffee I had before the plane ride were not setting well on my bladder by the time we hit camp....
We were all settled into our deluxe accommodations by 12 and Franco had made a large plate of spaghetti for our first meal. Life was gonna be rough for the next week.
By 2:30 everyone was ready to go and our guide Bob (who I shared camp with in 2012) drove us east across the lake. We made a rough landing as the waves were pushing into that side of the lake. Bob made a poor landing choice but we made it work and with in minutes we were officially feet on the ground and hunting.
To say things can happen fast is an understatement. Dad and I walked roughly 1/2 mile to the east and sat on a nice big rock. Within about a minute I had 4 caribou spotted. A couple bulls a mile out. We made a plan and by the looks of the terrain they would either come to dad right where we sat or East of us a quarter mile around the lake. I took off heading east around the small lake and then cut north behind a big hill. Eventually making my way to the top to look over and see where I needed to be or see if dad was in the action. Turns out neither of us were in the action and the bulls were now slowly feeding north.
The wind was out of the northwest and blowing pretty good. I started heading north, using the terrain to my advantage. Ever thankful for all the pack hiking I did to strengthen my legs and lungs over the summer. I quickly covered the mile to them just as they were heading over the next ridge. Dad called me on the radio to let me know they were in front of me. I answered explaining I was within 300 yards and could see antler tips. There was no response from dad. As I cleared the ridge the bulls were making their way into some short trees by a small pond. I pushed forward as fast I I could to get in range. The wind and cover allowed me to follow a couple hundred yards behind with ease. I started jogging at times just to stay in stride and gain ground. There were 4 bulls, a tiny no top, I giant with virtually no tops, a mid sized with everything and a giant with everything. I lost them a couple times in the trees and continued pushing forward as hard as possible. Huffing and puffing the whole way. All of the sudden I came to a huge halt... antler tips 60 yards out. I just ran myself undetected into bow range. It was the giant with no tops. In front of him what I felt like was a 100 yards was a bull with great tops. I dropped to my ass, ranged quick at 160 and took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. Thats all it took.... an hour on the tundra....a great foot race....and the squeeze of a trigger.... HA! If it was only that easy.... At the shot I hear the sound of a bullet zinging off the rocks and as the smoke cleared I see 2 bulls looking at me all stupid like. As they start walking away I realize my mistake. I ranged right over the bulls back. He was inside 100. My huffing and puffing caused me to click and read my rangefinder at just the wrong time. I start reloading and the 3 bulls walk up and over the hill. Notice I say 3 bulls....when before there were 4..... Well it turns out the small, medium and big bull with no tops walked right in front of me. The giant with great tops.... well I'm positive he went north.... and was probably within 100 yards of the others when I shot. Had I not rushed things. Realized I was looking at the medium bull with good tops and just stood up and looked around before I shot.... this story may have ended different. Unfortunately it was about 4 hours later when dad said something about 4 bulls not 3, that I realized my error. oh well!
Back to the chase! After the miss I followed the bulls on their new course. They started heading south. For a while I just followed. They knew I was there. They were 500 yards out and it was open. I just now hoped they would head back towards dad. Time rolled on and as I'm watching the bulls I realize I have more and more cover and their path that was looping away from me was now looping back to me. I continued to look at them and realize I shot at the wrong bull. When they stand together the no top bull dwarfs the bull with tops. Its not even funny.
I continue to follow and push the pace. Running at times. Falling flat on my face at times. Im so cotton mouthed its not even funny. I've soon pursued a mile and a half back to the southeast. The bulls are not moving slow this time. Everytime they head over a hill top I wait until I cant see antlers and then sprint to the top hoping to catch up. This goes on hill after hill. I keep talking to myself out loud. 1 more hill. 1 more hill. Dont F ing quit. Dont F ing. 1 more hill. And then I can see it all unfolding in front of my eyes. I watch them take a big loop around the top of a big drainage. I follow up just to the east of them. I have huge rocks to run behind and gain ground. Soon they head straight east to a lake crossing. Their path will take them right in front of me. I drop down. Range TWICE. Take a deep breath and squeeze. As the smoke clears 2 bulls are still moving to the east. 1 is doing the caribou shuffle.
Reality sets in as I walk up. I'm 2 hours into my hunt and its over. I'm in awe. I just accomplished something I've wanted to do for years. And there I sat. Me and my muzzleloader. A gun that I fell in love with the day I saw it. I left that store without it that day. 3 hours later when i was at home I called them and bought it over the phone. What really makes that gun special for me is that my grandfather drove the 3 hours back to get it for me. Its not that he never did things for me or wasnt one of the best men I've ever known. Its just that he's no longer with us. And when I pick up that gun, its me and grandpa again. Grandpa passed way in 2012 the morning we returned from our caribou hunt. So anyway, the guns just special and as much as I wanted to take my bow. I decided to make this a family hunt...it was dad and me....and a little bit of grandpa in the mix.
More stories and pics coming....just time to accomplish something for the day.
We woke up to some wind on the 29th. Hopefully the link to my facebook video works. We started at the Inukshuk just a quarter mile west of camp on top of the hill. We didnt make it there long as glassing was impossible. Needed to get out of the wind which meant find a big rock or a patch of those monster 5 ft tall trees. I found a large bolder to the north and we set up camp for the day. At one point we had 22 cows and calves walk up from behind us within 20 yards, some as close as 10. Funny thing is we were told all the caribou were moving north to south... these were heading back north, just like the group of bulls I saw yesterday. We made a couple moves that day. Fighting the wind all day. It was so windy I'm not even sure if shooting a bow over 10 yards accurately would have been possible! I know the long bow shooters Kim and Craig were less than trilled.
All in on the 29th we had counted 32 caribou. We headed back to the Inukshuk we started at before we went in for the evening. This turned out to be a good move as I spotted 4 bulls before we got there. He asked if they were big enough... I said well theyre bulls lets go look. I grabbed him and we headed out to circle in front of them. Popping up over the hill I quickly realized they cut back on us. We hustled to a big rock and dad asks "which one". My response is anyone you want...... lol. To be honest i think dad partially shot just because I was there. But we both made the decision early to not pass on anything on the 1st day that we would shoot on the last. The bulls closed the distance to a whopping 25 yards. Dads 30-06 sounded like a pop gun going off in the wind. Seconds later....it was all smiles. Honestly a moment in my life i will never forget.
His bull is no giant but to say we were happy is an understatement. Every caribou dad has taken has been with that rifle. Its his caribou rifle. He has one for mule deer too. One for moose someday. Apparently he has convinced my stepmother that he needs a different caliber for every animal....
Good hunt shared with your dad. Good memories that will never leave you. Nothing better !
Excellent Luke.....thanks for sharing your hunt........
The days after our quick hunt were spent scouting for the 2 long bow hunters in camp. Craig and Kim had opportunities at bulls (both missed 27 and 37 yards I believe) they also passed multiple opportunities at cows. On day 5 Craig picked up my muzzleloader and I got to spend the day playing with his longbow in camp. My 10 yard skills were right on. My 20 yard skills....sucked. Lotta respect to all you traditional shooters! We fished several days. Mostly lake trout in our lake. A few char were caught.
I even managed to catch a few fish! Which means it was EASY!
Thanks for sharing. Congrats on your hunt!
Congrats! Great story and pictures.
It was a great week saw you guys on the plane. Father son hunts are what it is all about
Great experience right there! Congrats!