I liked the idea of mountain hunting as my age and physical conditions are becoming a bit challenging.
A mountain caribou hunt was soon booked with Yukon Big Game Outfitters in the Yukon.
I wanted the best chance at a mature bull and after consulting with Shawn Raymond and Buzz, we decided on hunting 25 Sept - 5 Oct.
Mountain caribou would be my primary target, with moose, and grizzly bears added to the list if our paths crossed.
We look forward to it!
I need a good hunt to carry me through until this Minnesota rut gets going!:)
There's no way the bow will be damaged in this case. Besides, I only carry one bow on trips.
Backpack with remaining gear was packed in a light wt duffle bag.
Flying Air Canada from Nashville to Toronto, Vancouver, and into Whitehorse.
Bless Air Canada's heart, they permit Canadian and US military both active and retired to ck three bags free weighing up to 70 lbs each. NICE! Will try and fly with them again.
All was going fine until I saw this about my flight to Toronto!
No problems. Air Canada had a nice hotel room reserved for me.
Caught the first flt next day.
My plans were to arrive a couple days early and stay a couple days after the hunt to allow for schedule changes.
This one saved me $$$ in one nites hotel fees. NICE.
I was relaxed and feeling good about this hunt.
I'm liking what I'm seeing here.
0730 pickup with a 0800 show at the floatplane dock.
Just me and the pilot flew an hour to basecamp on 25 Sept.
WHAT INTERNET??? I wanted to be off the grid and away from all that stuff. I refused to ask for the password (until the last day with the hunt over I caved).
Nice place. Hunters cabin to the right by the windsock.
A large stack of wood and a stove for each occupied cabin. NICE.
A whole lot different weather than back home in Alabama. I LIKE THAT!
Using field notes for most of the remaining posts.
25 Sept. After getting settled and doing some target shooting (stumping), the weather started to change. Wind and snow.
26 Sept: Snowstorm continues. Heavy at times with limited visibility.
Winds are strong with snow accumulation of 1-2" every couple hours.
Waiting for a break in the storm and the animals will be very active. Just need to wait.
Went fishing. Nothing caught. Hoping for lake trout.
Best fishing was reported at far end of lake. A bit far to walk without gun. Grizzlies in the area too.
2 PM winds starting to switch direction. Break in the storm?
Talk of possibly moving to different cabin via horse. Three hour ride. Valley that caribou are known to breed in.
Spoke with Thomas about the move. They call the remote cabin we're going to tomorrow "Trophy Valley."
Late afternoon the weather has cleared. We are departing for remote cabin in the morning.
I'll have to look into that,,,could be my next favorite airline!
look forward to the rest of the story
Weather is clear and winds calm. Temps in the 20's with 8-10" of snow covering the ground.
After a hearty breakfast and several cups of cowboy coffee, the horses were prepared for a ride to a remote cabin.
I'm not the biggest fan of horses but I'm getting better. Cole selected a horse for me called "Bitch." Great...really?
I greeted her with an apple in hopes of making friends.
I asked if the horses knew their names. No was the answer...we call them how they act. Sometimes we call her Sugar.
This aught to be interesting...I'm riding a horse named "Bitch" on a three hour ride through the mountains.
Why follow the trail and get my feet muddy when I can plow through these trees and take a shortcut (she must of thought).
When ever I corrected her path or tried to, I would soon pay dearly for my input. You see, she would find the next tree on the trail and walk right next to it, knowing it's going to hit me. It happened every time I corrected her path.
We eventfully had a "counseling session" that she immediately retaliated with a couple tree encounters.
Overall, Bitch and I got along well.
Here we stopped half-way and glassed for a few minutes.
Great photo documentation!
Thanks! Love this kind of tale!
Here's the remote cabin. Well stocked with food, a wood stove, and plenty of wood.
Did some stump shooting using a judo tipped arrow. Up and down hills.
I told my guide that I was good at 40-45 yards, but a lot better at 20. He didn't say much.
We talked a bit about expected shot ranges and he wanted me to start thinking about shots out to 70+ yards. There's normally no cover and the big bulls often stay away at this range.
My normal practice sessions back home were from 60 yards, with a few days shooting at 70 yards. A few shots closer to 80 using my 70 yd pin just to learn how the bow shoots.
Practice sessions also included kneeling at 35 yards wearing my backpack, binos, and hunting jacket.
Snow was starting to fall as the clouds rolled in.
Shot at a white Rock Ptarmigan two times (35 & 30 yds. just missed.
Took half hour each time to find my arrow under the snow and foliage. Mission aborted trying to kill dinner. I'm hunting caribous.
They looked like dots w/legs moving around on the snow through my 10x42 binos.
Both Thomas and Cole were using spotting scopes and Cole told me to take a look. Hmmmm...I see antlers. They were calling this bull a "Toad" (what's a toad in Yukon lingo?)
A 1 1/2 hour ride to get over there, too late in the day to stalk this bull.
We will return next morning to the lookout point and look for the herd. Weather pending as we are in the mountains and the weather changes very fast.
Notes from previous day: The ride from base camp to remote cabin was spectacular.
Snow covered the entire landscape, with the frequent ponds being lightly frozen over.
As we rode along with six horses, numerous brooks and an occasional stream were crossed.
Our trail took us along breathtaking mountain passes with periodic stops to stretch the legs and glass for caribou and moose.
This was a hunting adventure that was planned over two years ago and was well worth the wait.
Started the day with warming temps and rain.
Rode up to the lookout point. Glassed for caribou for 30 minutes.
Didn't see any caribou so we rode over to where the herd was the day prior.
Lots of tracks and sign of a couple bulls fighting. Tuffs of hair found.
Saw a yearling spike bull traveling alone.
The young bull watched us riding and setup to glass. He came over to investigate us. He got within 20 some yards. He was curious but confused. Must of thought our horses were the worlds largest caribou.
As we glassed, my horse started sniffing the air strangely and starring off toward the far valley.
I found that interesting (remembering from a previous elk hunt in Colorado via horseback, horses often see the elk before we do) and told my guide that I think my horse sees some animals.
A few minutes later Cole (the wrangler) spotted a bull caribou a mile away moving toward the lookout mountain.
Soon another bull was spotted.
Cole got on the spotting scope and both he and Thomas viewed the largest of the two bulls. They thought it was the big bull we saw the evening prior with the 40 some cows.
Thomas and Cole discussed a plan and soon we were riding fast to ambush the bulls.
As we got closer, I was shedding extra gloves, tucking in hoods and collars, and getting ready for a shot of a lifetime.
All this horse riding is bringing my nervous twitch back!
Keep it coming!
agree, Great story!
The caribou up there were not too tough to get up close on, if you played it right. Earlier hunt while they were in velvet. But with all those cows it sounds really tough!
Awesome story so far! Keepin up on my cell phone from South America! Keep it coming!
Thanks for bringing us alone.
Your pics and story def brings back memories, I rode an exact twin of Bitch at Blackstone years ago hunting caribou...she was named Penny and was an absolute sweetheart to ride.
And the story continues:
Within 20 minutes we dismounted and Cole unlashed my bow.
Thomas and I quickly moved down a shallow ravine while Cole tended the horses.
Within a hundred yards of moving down the ravine, we could see the antlers of the big bull coming our way.
Thomas said "Laydown!" Really I thought...I'm a bowhunter, so I kneeled on both knees.
Thomas laid down and ranged the bull as he slowly moved our way. We whispered while trying to decide when to shoot.
85 yds, 75, 60, 55. All frontals or hard quartering toward us. No shots.
My focus was only on the vitals. I only looked at the towering brown rack once.
Focused and relaxed...I was in the zone.
The bull stopped a few times and stared at us, but still continued toward our way but angling to our left.
Remembering what my Alaskan moose guide told me last year as a 70"+ bull was working toward us: "Don't look into his eyes." I did not look into the eyes of this bull either.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the smaller yearling bull to my left about 30 yards away.
Without us knowing, Cole was moving the team of horses in a loop to attract the attention of the big bull.
It worked until the bull blew a warning at around 50 some yards. He turned and ran a bit.
Thomas whistled lightly to stop the bull. It worked and I immediately came to full draw.
"How far"? I asked. 76 yards was the whispered response.
Yes, Steve sort of spilled the beans on this one. It's all good. No harm intended.
So, where were we? O yes, kneeling with backpack at full draw, and focused on the lungs of a mountain caribou bull standing broadside looking my way.
I was rock steady and held my 70 yard pin a few inches high while focusing on a spot.
Muscle memory kicked in; the sight picture was perfect and soon the arrow was on its way. Maintaining my focus on the center of body, I lost sight of the arrow but heard a sold thud as the arrow hit.
I don't remember the release, but I can still see my green pin against his brown coat.
Thomas saw the arrow arc through the air and disappear into the bull's vitals.
I ran to the left to higher ground looking for the bull.
Soon I could see the yearling bull and a blood trail in the snow that was eight feet wide!
Seconds later I saw antlers of a bull down.
We hugged, high fived, and ran down to see the big bull. I think we repeated the hugging, handshaking, etc a couple more times before we got to the bull.
The bull traveled 52 yards.
Arrow entered on the right side. This picture show the exit.
All this was spread-out on some nearby patches of snow.
The next morning we are bring the pack horses for pack-out and ride back to basecamp.
This picture better reflects the terrain we hunted.
Thanks for taking us along for the ride!
Great job all around!
Best of luck, Jeff
Thanks for sharing your adventure.
I was thinking about contacting Bowhunter magazine and writing an article in journal format. But figured they would remove some parts and names, besides, I think more folks would enjoy the story on Bowsite.
Alphamax35: My horse was one of the smartest in camp. She knew when a guide or wrangler vs hunter was riding her.
I shared my snacks and lunches with her daily. We had some talks along the way too. She was a real nice horse, but sometimes a hardheaded female at times.
Thomas my guide is on my right with Cole the wrangler (also a guide) on my left.
My horse Bitch is in the background enjoying life.
Ate a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausages along with a few cups of strong black cowboy coffee. Just what I needed for this upcoming day of packing-out the bull, breaking camp, and riding back to base camp.
Just in case a grizzly found the kill, we approached downwind. However, a few days later another hunter in camp reported seeing a very large grizz on the remains.
We broke camp quickly and rode back to basecamp. Saw a herd of 30+ caribou with a couple nice bulls.
Arrived home-away-from-home tired and sore! Nearly five plus hours in the saddle. My left knee hurt and my butt was sore.
A little rest, good chow, and some practice stumping, I'm ready to hunt moose in a couple days after the cape and meat is cared for.
Cole rough scored my bull at 358 P&Y.
Strong winds today with gusts to 40+ mph.
Caped bull and finished prepping the meat for fly-out. Due to the meat being very strong during the rut, I have donated all except the heart to First Nation people that are in need of meat.
Thomas cooked the heart along with potatoes, inions, and gravy. It was camp dinner for two new caribou hunters. Nobody besides me had seconds. I'm glad caribou only have one heart!
Plan is to hunt moose starting tomorrow.
Weather is supposed to break and temps plummet for the next couple days. Clear skies too.
4 PM Winds still strong with snow falling. Temps are dropping fast. Gathering extra firewood for the cabin.
That said, what a great hunt and great bull!
Thank you spike
Thank you spike! :)
Not a problem Steve. It's all good.
Here's a picture that was posted inside my cabin's door.
Shot in the area back in 94 and still P&Y #1
1 Oct Weather has cleared, winds calm, and not too cold, maybe 30 degrees F or so.
Rode about an hour to a high ridge overlooking a huge valley of swamps and beaver ponds.
This last picture had me smelling the horses, wet leather, and fall alders in the snow when I saw it. Great pictures!
Can't wait to see how the moose hunt goes:)
We hunted a few more hours glassing and calling. Nothing seen nor heard.
Northern lights were out last night. Got up and watched them a few times throughout the night. They danced well around midnight and then I retired to my warm sleeping bag for the night.
Woke up to a cold morning of -19 degrees C, crisp and clear. Something like 0 degrees F.
Lake is nearly completely frozen with an area open in the middle.
Rode a couple hours back to the big valley and beyond. Called for 5-6 hours.
He had love on his mind and we could only tease him with calls.
He followed us for a few miles until Thomas stopped calling.
All camps were closing down early and a Beaver would be arriving tomorrow afternoon to take myself and one other hunter back to Whitehorse.
The hunt had ended a couple days early. I was ok with this, because I got my primary animal. A moose would have broken the bank.
Standing by for more action.
A great way to end a dream come true.
The folks at Yukon Big Game Outfitters run a quality operations and the A-Team do things with a twist. (that's an inside joke)
It's not fancy, but it sure was nice. I like rustic conditions...maybe a touch warmer next time.
Thanks all for the kind comments.
PM me if you have questions.
Deer season here on 15 Oct. Can't wait...my freezer is empty of venison.
fantastic hunt/trip and share with us
Great Bull and write up. Thank you
This tread is only intended to share an awesome adventure with my extended family, "bowhunters."
huntmaster: The grip is a Van handle Death Grip.
Congrats on the bou..... and on an awesome adventure.
Thank you, Buzz Marvin Hosted Hunts, Inc.
Good memory Gaur: Actually during this trip I was reading the book written by Saxton T. Pope, Hunting with the Bow & Arrow. He talked about routinely shooting at game at 80 some yards and beyond.
it'd be nice if all the threads like these get put in their own category... There are a few I'd like to go read again, but have a hard time finding them
Russell outstanding photos as well. Great effort all the way around.
Congrats and Thank You for taking the time to share.