A coffee in the dark of morning under
candle light with some eggs and toast went down well, certainly a cut above the
freeze dried meals in camp that were admittedly pretty good. We headed off in
the ATV, making our way onto a meadow and down onto the river bank before
driving out across the flowing river, which took some meandering around to
avoid getting washed away.
The water flowed crystal clear under the
ATV and freezing cold when it rushed up your leg. On the other side of the
river against a vertical wall of mountain we stopped and dismounted the ATV and
headed up a tight draw that was surrounded by matted game trails. We sat down,
somewhat concealed by a few small scrubs just twenty meters away from where all
the trails leading down the mountain gathered.
An hour passed and the sunlight was
starting to tip the mountains with a beautiful glow when the first Caribou
walked in front of us. First a cow and I brought the bow upright and ready in
case a big bull came over and in view, but the cow was only followed by a calf.
They crossed the river together, which was great to be a spectator of.
Hours passed with no other caribou coming
past our stand. We had been doing a lot of work through the spotting scope and
having put the glass over a few good bulls off in the distance upstream, we
decided to head up for the afternoon.
I suppose we travelled a good eight kilometers
up river into yet again more remarkable country that cried wilderness and game.
Sure enough I soon had the binoculars on a lone bull lying out on the river
flat at the base of the mountain. The bull looked great side on lying amongst
the rock and small scrubs.
Byron set up on the video camera and
spotting scope while I started to close the gap on some rather bare grounds.
These animals are used to being hunted by wolves and bear, so theres little
noise that goes unnoticed, including the grind of a rock under my boots. Id gotten
to sixty meters, but the bull was switched on to the slight sounds of my stalk
and now stood up staring in my direction. A long concentrated pause in a
standoff between eyes eventually settled the bull and he started grazing,
coming closer to where I stood.
A closer look at the antlers changed my
mind on wanting to shoot the bull, as they were narrow and short. I came for
something bigger and would leave without a Caribou if need be, it would only
make the next hunt more exciting again. The Bull grazed within range before I
walked off continuing upstream, a snapping stick caught my attention up in the
mountain as another bull appeared and trotted down onto the river to join the
grazing bull that was now spooked and half way across the river. This bull too
was not what I was looking for in the trophy realm. As the day faded away we
looked over many â€˜Bou but no good bulls today, time is running short, but the
adventure is still long lasting.
It was a late night in base camp as the
Outfitters, guides, camp staff and myself sat up sharing stories. I want to
live here Ive decided. There were some unreal stories told and most of them
from the Nahanni. Charging bears, bad weather, landing aircraft, hunts for
great beasts and using a Leatherman to fix just about anything. Eventually at
some time in the morning I walked out across the pitch black ground and curled
up in the cabin.