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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

2012 P&Y Quebec Labrador Caribou

Contributed by Prostaffer Gary Martin

On Sept 18th 2012 I was finally successful in shooting my record P&Y Quebec Labrador caribou. It's funny how things can go in full circle. Twenty seven years ago I hunted Quebec Labrador caribou with Jack Hume's Adventures. On my last day I killed two caribou one cow and one bull. I was told the bull wouldn't make P&Y book so we cut the horns in half.  We were wrong! Five caribou hunts and twenty seven years later I was back with Jack Hume's Adventures and his son Richard and his wonderful wife Amanda were running the operation. They have an awesome outfit but, it's all about caribou. The Canadian caribou outfitters have had a rough go the last ten years or so with the caribou migration and herd populations. Many outfitters had hard times and some went out of business. The migration patterns had changed and disease impacted the caribou population. Herd numbers had exceeded one million and now were estimated at 400,000. I lost my full cost of hunt to Tuttulik  outfitters when they went out of business. Jack Hume's adjusted his business practices to remain in the game. He increased prices to purchase more camps and offer to move hunters to another camp if caribou weren't in the camp you were dropped off at.

When we arrived in camp on September 15th the guys who were there had been successful, but no animals that were P&Y class. On the second morning while we were in camp Nick saw six bulls crossing the lake right next to camp. We took after them and Nick  killed One!!!! Those were the only bulls we saw the first three days.  I was concerned after three days of minimal caribou sightings. On the fourth day Jack Hume's moved us to two other camps. The caribou were there but, it wasn't going to be a cake walk. The fifth day brought us a snow storm. It was one of those windy wet snowstorms. We were pretty bundled up with our rain suits on. My guide (Rick Drudge) and I witnessed several big bulls fighting about a 1/2 mile away. We decided to try to make a stalk on them. When we got closer I proceeded ahead on my own.
I was able to get within 150 yards and then I ran out of cover. I was thinking about rushing them and then I saw the group of a dozen cows standing close by and was concerned they would warn the fighting bulls. I vowed to be patient and suddenly one bull started to head in my direction. It was the smaller of the two, but I was thinking about shooting him. That quickly passed when I caught a glimpse of the bigger bull following him out of the corner of my eye. I waited for the smaller bull to walk by my hiding spot  in several small conifers. I drew on the big bull as he approached, but I was having a problem with my release because I had my rain suit hood pulled over my head. My release went off accidentally as I was trying to find my anchor point. Oh my gosh!! It shocked the bull a little but he stopped, quartering  away at a distance that was pushing the envelope on my range limitations.  I hit my anchor and released the arrow, hitting him back, but he reacted very positive from the standpoint of hitting something vital. We were able to track him with the blood on the fresh snow and before long we caught up with him. He was still alive, but we could see he was hurting because he was limping and he had bedded down several times. Once we caught up to him he was down and exhausted. I was excited but apprehensive. He was a dandy bull but I was not sure if  he would make 325 P&Y minimum.
We took a lot of pictures and then the work began. We cut, caped and quartered him. After packing him up among us we made the long hike back to camp. I slept good that night. God and my friends helped me accomplish another one of my hunting goals!

Great Friends make success even sweeter!

The next and last day of our hunt started out good. I went with Don and he was able to harvest a cow and a nice bull that day with his bow. Brian killed two nice caribou also and Nick was able to kill his second one. What a trip! We all had successfully taken one or more caribou.  Great outfitter, guides, accommodations, meal and last but not least stronger friendships. Thanks again to all. God Bless and Happy journeys. Gary