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Day 9

Mountain Caribou

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 ‘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.

Next - Day 10


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