Contributors to this thread:
................but you're killin' us caribou77!!!!!! ;-)
How 'bout that story???!!! :)
To say I was I've been looking forward to this trip is an understatement. I've been to the magical tundra 5 times in the past, but this year the yearning to go was greater than normal. My bags have been packed....and repacked....and repacked again. Finally on August 21st I packed up my bow and made it official. In 2 days I would be heading north.
Let's get on with it!!!!!! :)
August 23rd rolls around and I find myself at work. I promised I'd come in for a half day, all the while knowing full well at 8:30 when the other supervisors went to the weekly meeting, I'd be running out the back door. :) And run I did. The fact I even made it 3 hours was an accomplishment in its own right. My minds been on overdrive for days. My flight leaves Minneapolis at 3:20 pm. I'm 3 hours south of the cities, still have to grab my bags from home, drop my car off at my uncle's house and catch a cab ride to the airport. Then there's the messing around at the airport to do yet to. I'm finally all settled in with about an hour to spare before my flight. So I made my last meal Dairy Queen and enjoyed a butterfinger blizzard just like I did with my father on our very first caribou hunt back in 2005.
My flight goes well. Flew 1st class this time to avoid some of the lines and get a nice comfy seat to myself. 2 70# bags are included in the 1st class flight as well so the cost difference between coach and 1st class was very small and worth the money.
The Montreal airport was a slightly different story. I knew I had to declare my "archery equipment". And I've done it 5 times in the past. What I wasnt ready for was lord only knows how many flights landing in Montreal at the same time. I was walking to the customs area when I heard the announcement over the intercom "expect long lines and delays". Ugh. They were right. To the tune of close to 2 hours.
Oh well, I finally made it through and now it was time to weigh in and get my comfy room at the Holiday Inn Airport. It would be a short night on sleep though. Wake up call is 3:15 am. Which is 2:15am to me.
August 24th arrives and I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed. Pretty sure I got a few hours sleep. We board the bus and head to the airport 45 mins away. There we have a nice breakfast and wait to fly north. The flight is roughly 2 hours to Lac Pau, with no hitches at all and once again a beautiful young french canadian stewardess. :) Doesnt hurt to look fellas....
As we are flying just above the clouds I could see our planes shadow out the window surrounded by a little rainbow.... I knew then it was gonna be a good trip.
It was mid morning when we landed. Cold. Windy. Misty.Exactly as it should be.Unfortunately it was so windy we would not fly on this day. Amanda showed me to my cabin for the day early that afternoon and I settled in for a long day of waiting. I managed a jog up and down the runway during my down time. Also managed to get a nap in and a little rest from a restless night before. The early afternoon wind finally died and by evening things were looking good for the next day.
August 25 started a little foggy but cleared just fine. My pilot would be Chris and with his Beaver we would be flying to King Lake. Richard explained that King Lake was 60 miles south of Bobbys Lake and Willy Lake. Both of which had 1000's of caribou pass through days earlier. In fact the numbers given to me were 10,000 and 2,000. I'm perfectly fine with these numbers :)
We land at camp 8, pick up Roger and then drop him off at camp 9 before we finally land at King Lake around noon. I am greeted by Wally and Franco. Who set me up with a nice place to stay. They were set up in the main cabin and I politely asked if I could sleep in the guide shack. I just sleep better alone and cold. They thought I was crazy as I had no intention of lighting the stove.... And I never did all trip. Dang I slept good. I'm now on the tundra, in my own cabin, an Italian Chef for a cook and all of King Lake to myself until august 28th, with 12,000 caribou heading my direction..... LIFE IS ROUGH.
That afternoon I made my first summit. There is a trail heading west out of camp that takes you out to the treeline and onto the rock field. From there its up the hill about 3/4s of a mile and 400 vertical feet. At the top you will find the first Inukshuk.
The 25th ended with no caribou spotted. Beautiful weather though. I returned to camp around 6. All smiles. Things are just about to start REALLY picking up.... To bad I have to go for a while..... I'll continue later.
Oh yeah! Keep her coming!!!
Missing the Tundra!
Been waiting days for this, had a cold beer ready to go and Luke stops posting and leaves! Like were not all excited enough already. Maybe if you guys ask nicely he will post a video of how he tried lifting a 125lb pack! It is defiantly worth watching :-)
Here is a pic of my living quarters for the first couple of days.
I sleep sound that night and awake the morning of the 26th to a very calm quebec morning. In for breakfast around 6 and then up the hill to the west again. Richard suggested the north end of the lake. I like to walk so I'm all for a big hike again. Wally and Franco will take the boat and head straight north and also the east side of the lake.
After making my way through the trees on a rough old path marked by surveying tape, I come to the first obstacle of the morning. My legs aren't in tundra shape quite yet. I've spent the summer running, pack training with 80 pound packs, weight lifting and doing an extreme fitness class with my girlfriend everyday all summer, but the dragging of the underbrush and hopping from rock to rock is something you never are ready for. Its 3/4s of a mile from camp to the 1st Inukshuk. Thats straight line...not tundra miles. When I hit the top I head north west to the 2nd Inuksuk and then to the ridge beyond. Glassing as I go. My gut tells me North West is the way to go....
After the getting to the top of the hill the walking gets easy. Its very open, but with enough cover every 50 yards to easily bowhunt. I've never been in a better spot to bowhunt caribou. I walk almost 2 hours northwest moving slow and glassing. I'm almost 2 "straight line" miles from camp when all of the sudden in my binos I pic up a real nice rack north east of me. 250 yards away roughly. 1st bou of the trip and its a VERY nice bull! I quickly formulate a plan to close in for a better look. I should also point out that the wind on this day is blowing out of the south west.....
Moving forward I was able to pic up in big lone bull bedded on the hillside. There was a draw straight in front of me filled with trees that was perfect for closing the gap. I circled way around to the north west and came in straight from the west on him. 150 yards out I dropped my pack and unfortunately my camera to reduce some noise. Marked it with the gps and went in for the stalk. As I was closing the distance about 12 more bulls and a couple cows showed up and bedded with the original bull. Cool but thats a lot of eyes....
I slowly pick my way through the brush and find my way to the last tree between me and a good bull. He's about 80 yards out and that is just to far for me this year. I've shot a lot at 60. And in years past have shot a lot at 80. But 60 was my comfort zone. So there I sat. 80 yards. 2 nice bulls. A pile of smaller ones. 10,000 black flies. And no camera cause my dumb ass left it in my pack......
My stalk was eventually blown as more caribou came in from the northwest. The would hit my wind and get nervous. That made the bedded bulls nervous and they soon made a big loop on me to the north west. I was actually able to get with in 65 yards of some of the smaller bulls just by tailing them but they were not worth shooting at.
Eventually I made it back to my pack and even was able to snap a pic of the bigger bull. He would have done me just fine....
That afternoon another band of bulls moved into the same area and bedded on the ridge. I backed off one ridge to the south knowing the wind was killing me, My thought was basically try to stay east of them and by being farther way I would have more time to set up. If they came south they would have to go through 1 of 2 funnels created by the big ponds at the bottom of the ridge. If they stayed on the ridge and went west I had no chance.
Sitting at my perch I could see 9 bulls bedded straight north of me. And 1 that snuck in from the northeast. He walked down the hill to the east water crossing all by himself so I hauled ass east to cut him off. He was no monster by any means. A mid 200s bull with fair tops. And I was totally fine with that. I managed to get east of him and he somehow didnt catch my wind. I positioned myself behind a tree and waited his arrival. As he closed the gap I could see it was gonna be a longer shot. I ranged him at 65. I successfully missed. I thought to myself, I missed for a reason, trying to cheer up my bruised ego...
So back to my perch I went. The 9 bulls were now on there feet and moving west. I paralleled them 600 yards to the south. They finally outran me.
About this time Wally shows up on the "bike" with is tundra talk for 4 wheeler. We talk for about 30 seconds before I spot a bull 80 yards away walking up a big ditch. Before I get in position for a shot another bull spots me (one I didnt see) and they bolt out of range....then stop and feed. Then meander out of my life forever. Wally then spots 5 more bulls straight north that bed down.
Wally takes off and I sit down waiting for the bulls to move....they dont. SO I head north, then west around the pond as I thought it would be the shortest distance, it wasnt.... Anyway up the hill I go, bad wind and all. By the time my stalk is done I'm again 80 yards form 5 bedded bulls. 1 nice one.
And now I make yet another dumb choice. Its pushing 3 pm. I know it took me hours to get out here. My original plan was to wait until 3:30 before I headed back but I choose to leave just after 3. I back out and head back south. Once I reach my vantage point on the south ridge I look back and see them still bedded. I walk a few more minutes and notice its now 3:30, so I glance up at the bou. Sure as hell they are walking within feet, like 5 ft of where I was just set up on them at the north ridge. I roll my eyes at my poor choice and make my way to camp. Very very successful day. There are now bulls around and Franco is making a meal to die for. I cant even tell you what he made but I can tell you I was beyond full!
The morning or the 27th rolls around we are still unsure if we are moving north or not. Plans were never finished last night but it is our belief we will stay as the caribou are now here and the northern camp was now seeing only cows. Wally was going to run to the 1st inukshuk and check things out then get back to Richard. I ate a quick breakfast and headed up the hill again planning on sitting where I last sat the day before. The wind was now north and in my favor. :)
I met Wally up top and he pointed out many bulls going west of us again. He left to call Richard and I headed west. Soon I spot a large bull southwest of me. To far to even try for with a rifle. He was really nice though. 300 yards more to the west and I find the edge of a swamp. Keeping a lookout to the north I pick my way through. Half way through my boot disappears under the water. So its 8:30 and my boot is now full of water. Sweet. Finding a nice rock I sit down, drain my boot and wring my socks. Oh well it could be a lot worse, it could be cold out. Deciding i've wild goose chased enough I head north again. Gonna get to my perch. 500 yards later I walk right into a group of bedded bulls. 5 more just laying there. Looking at the terrain and brush I circle to the right of them. Around 100 yards out I choose to take my boots off completely. Heck I had one wet foot already, why not 2!? I knew I would be quieter, as I felt they could here me moving the day before. Could they? I dont know. But I could hear me and that was enough to convince me.
The stalk was simple. And quiet! I closed the gap to that magic 80 number again but realized if i had any chance of getting closer I would have to circle back and come in a little bit farther north.
While backing out I noticed a better bull coming in from the north. He was going to cross between my position and the small lake to the east. He was moving at a good clip and I hustled to close the range. Plenty of trees to dodge behind but he just got there to quick. He was a giant. A bull I would put in the 365 range any day of the week. Great tops, tall, wide, big bez, for sure 1 giant shovel and back points. Whats not to love!? I range him at 65 and its now or never.... I settle my 60 a bit high and the arrow is off. For a second I thought I smoked him but as he run out I glassed him and it was a clean miss. He did a semi circle and stopped again at 65. I may be a touch rattled at this point. My shot goes high.... Now things are crazy. I've missed this guy twice and within 10 seconds I have another shot at 65. I must be a wreck at this point. Its all I can come up with because i get another 65 yard shot....And no I hold lower thinking my pin must have been bumped. The arrow is off. But the bull once again turned on his shield and my arrow goes...high. WTF.
All the while this is happening I know another nice bull is coming in behind me. I feel its time to cut my loses and concentrate on the next bull. I turn around and locate him and move west to cut him off. Only making it 30 yards before I can move no more. He's simply gonna spot me if I try to move closer.
I have a sick feeling looking at my 4 arrow quiver....with 1 arrow in it. This is it. 1 shot. I tell myself 50 yards or less. I've drilled 50 yards every single day all summer long. No more excuses. Get him to 50 and take him. Well he stops broadside at 52. And that rounds down to 50. My shot is true but he steps forward as I shoot. My shot hits back a foot. My bull bounds off 50 yards and lays down.
Now the game begins. No arrows. Wounded bull. 1.5 miles from camp. I kick myself as I purposely bought a 3 arrow quikie quiver just in case things got crazy....
My bull soon gets uncomfortable and starts moving. I follow keeping an eye on him from a distance and try to locate an arrow at the same time. By the grace of god the tundra coughed one up pretty quickly and I was back in the game. The bull would bed then get up every ten minutes moving ever so much deeper into the wooded swamp. I continued to follow in my soaking wet stocking feet. Finally he beds in some really wet grass. I slowly make a stalk and close the distance to 20 yards. That that point I was out of cover. He was bedded 5 yards on the opposite side of 2 little evergreens. I made the choice to stay put. Either he will die there or get up and give me a 20 yard shot. 10 minutes later he made the choice for me, stand and walking 3 yards west. At 20 yards my shot was true and he fell over 30 yards away. There I stand, ankle deep in water with just my socks, flies buzzing all around me. And a 4 foot wide smile on my face.
Luckily I was smart enough to bring my camera when i dropped my pack and boots
To say I was happy was an understatement.
Now the work begins. 1st thing first, find my pack and boots. Wisely I marked them on my gps. Just 300 yards way. Stupidly I failed to mark my caribou in the swamp. Luckily I found him again right away. :) An hour later he was caped and quartered.
Now all I have to do is pick up that pack and carry it 1.5 miles as the crow flies to camp..... AS Cornfed77 eluded to...the comedy show was about to begin. Attempt 1 got it to my knee. Attempt 2 slightly farther then it fell off my opposite shoulder. Attempt 3 was the lay on your back and roll over.... or as it turns out more like the lay on your back and dont even move your pack. Attempt 4, well that involved swinging it from my right shoulder to my left....and then the pack weight flipping me right onto my back. SO I'm rather stubborn. Attempt 5 finally put things in the right place and I was ready to roll. I should have set it down and adjusted things, or MADE 2 TRIPS..... but I'm stubborn. I made it 1/2 mile before I became unstubborn and set my pack at the 2nd inukshuk, called Wally for the 4 wheeler and walked back to camp.
This is the 2nd year I've used my delorme inreach explorer. Love that thing. Not a fancy gps by any means. But I like to keep it simple. And loved being able to tell my family Big Bull Down.
I have 100's more pics and incredible video, more stories to come. My week up north is not even close to being over.
Way to go, great bull. I enjoyed reading your story, congrats.
Great story I love caribou hunting thanks for sharing
Congrats...Always fun to hear about a successful caribou adventure.
That afternoon Wally and Franco build some boxes for the "bike". We feel we can easily haul 3 boned out bou in 1 trip.
While they build I decide to go check the caribou situation west of camp. 500 yards later as I break the tree line.....
I was really wishing for that 2nd bull tag at this point as there were some real good ones floating around.
great adventure and story. thanks for sharing, and congrats. I really enjoyed this thread.
My heart really sank not having a 2nd tag when this guy popped up. The bull of my dreams 100 yards away. But I was lucky enough to get great video and snap a few great pics of him. What a wonderful day to be alive!
The 28th was change over day and I set out to take my cow. Another guide was flying in, Cookie (Wally's brother) and 5 more hunters. I went for a short hike and perched myself at the first Inukshuk out west. It was a great morning with hundreds of animals walking through. I finally picked out the dumbest cow in all of quebec to shoot. The had walked past me and then down wind a few hundred yards out. Caught my sent, circled me and finally walked to within 30 yards checking me out. Cows are very curious animals. Bulls not so much.
Look at that smile! I think its because there are actually arrows left in my quiver after this adventure!
4 bulls moved in on me and bedded just 80 yards out while messing with this cow. And I saw the Otter come in. So now there are 4 good bulls spotted and 5 hunters in camp. I tried relentlessly to reach camp but to no avail!
An hour later I finally reached Wally on the radio. He sent the Johnson family my way and went to retrieve the Bike. Steve and Kyle met me at the Inukshuk while Blake and Luke (1) (I'm Luke(2) according to Steve). Luke(1) Shot a Nice heavy bull in the 325 range before he even reached me at the top of the hill. Apon talking with Steve and Kyle I learned all there gear was lost by the airport. They had the guns/bows and anything in their carry ons, a few things they borrowed from others along the way and little things they were able to purchase before the flight north. Steve asks to look at a bull (that he should have shot...) through my binos. I took off my harness and handed him everything. I was done hunting other than the bear tag. So he used my binos for the next couple of days. Kyle was bowhunting so I showed him roughly where they were coming from (which was everywhere) but west was best. When Wally showed up I headed back to camp to move my living quarters. On the way back I walked to 20 yards of this guy. I had given Steve my radio so I couldnt get anyone down the hill to take advantage of the opportunity.
By 8 that evening 3 of the 4 Johnson clan had tagged great bulls on day 1/2. Kyle tagged a great bull with his bow which should score right around 400". All the bulls made mine look small. Turns out we all killed GREAT bulls. Here is yet another great bull that walked by the treeline that evening.
Here's a pic of Kyles bull.
The next day (29th) Blake and Rory both take good bulls. I snapped this action shot of bowsites own rtkreaper (Rory).
After everyone tags bulls the real fun and relaxation begins. We enjoy the lake trout fishing, cow hunting, blue berries and hiking to every far and away hill top we can find. The Johnson family were a great bunch. All the boys and I are roughly the same age and enjoyed swapping deer hunting stories. The weather stayed perfect for all but one day. Mid 50s during the day. Freezing at night. Franco's meals were to die for. He put us in a food coma every evening. We spotted giant bulls daily until sept. 2nd when things pretty much came to a halt. Great times and great memories with what are now great friends.
L to R "stokem" Steve, Luke 2 (me), Kyle, Luke 1 and Blake
Back L to R Kyle, Franco, Wally, Steve, Blake and Luke 1
Front L to R Cookie and Luke 2
another amazing hunt and some awesome pics. I hope not very many people miss this hunt because of the topic name!
Maybe RutNut will change it for me? lol its his thread....
nice,,,,thanks for sharing,,,congrats as well!!
Hey Luke, Had a fantastic trip except for getting my truck totaled out in Duluth!!!! We were OK and got brought home in the tow truck. See you on the tundra. Rory
Luke- you have a PM. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to change the title. If you can tell me how to do it and what you want the title to be, I will gladly change it.
I just figured you would start a new thread.
BTW, great story and LOVE all the pictures! :)
Congrats on a great and successful trip!
Congrats on some great bulls gentlemen! Excellent story! Thanks for sharing!
Looks like an awesome trip, congrats!
...Great hunt again with Richard and Amanda....Luke - our paths didn't cross this year. Maybe next time....
Chuck, Jerry, Rory, Dennis, Tom and Todd....great bunch of guys and would share camp again with any of them....
I absolutely love the tundra.........
great story and photo's. Thank you for sharing.
Who was the outfitter?
Great writing and pix! . About what did that hunt set you back?
Great story. Thanks for sharing.
...opps....forgot this one..... ...me, Todd, Jerry, Dennis Tom and Chuck.... JHA was our outfitter. The best is the business. Richard and Amanda set the bar. Ben - PM sent....
Great pics Dave. What camp were you at? Looks like you all took some good bulls as well!
...you too Luke.... ...we were at Willie's. Everyone saw nice animals to include bear and musk ox. Beautiful place to let the world go and reconnect......
The mystical and mythical orange hat struck again. See you on the tundra. Rory
Wow- great pic to end with! Congrats to all the successful hunters!
Great post!!!.... I think most of us like lots of photos.... Men are visual creatures.
Congrats on some great bulls, adventures and pics!!
Dave, thx for sharing your photos and congrats! WITH THE BOW... Excellent !
Well done guys, looks like a blast once again.
Great story telling and pictures! This one is on my short list.
" beautiful young french canadian stewardess. :)"
without pics it didn't happen......
Congrats on a great trip guys!
Caribou hunting is an absolute blast! I hope to do it again in the near future!
Great story Luke!! You just can't get through a hunt staying dry! You guys really saw some nice bulls. I am jealous! Thanks for bringing us along.
Jumped on this late but just the same, great hunt and it was fun coming along.
my best, Paul
Never have I thought about hunting caribou .. till now....great trip buddy....thx for sharing.......
Sure wish those pics were still all on here. Man do I miss being up north
Couldn’t agree more, Luke! We went in 2006 & again in 2008. Our ‘08 trip was great, but the ‘06 trip was the most incredible hunting trip I’ve ever experienced. We hit the migration jackpot, especially on the last day of the trip. We were right in the middle of 20,000-40,000 caribou on that last day.
Should have made it a point to try and do that trip a few more times before it got shut down.
An awesome adventure Luke, in beautiful country!
That was a fun read. Thanks for repost. I could see a few pics which was nice.