Preface by Adam Greentree
An old earth changed only by mother nature
herself, carved by ancient glaciers, shifting tectonic plates and eons of life
garnished through harsh winters and summers. Creatures as wild as the day
of their existence, unchanged as if before the dawn of man, a land without
time. This is the country under the Arctic Circle in Northwest Territories
Canada where the Mackenzie Mountains rise high and divide a land from passage.
Where winter is a dangerous season and day and night are sometimes the same.
This is an adventurers dream location with
mountain beside mountain, rocky draws cut deep leading to streams, streams
glistening into crystal clear rivers and rivers twisting and widening into deep
cold lakes. Tall pine smothered ridges end as timberlines along the vast mud
flats. Dense mossy forests meet barren rock covered mountainsides. Sheer cliff
faces of upturned mountains tower alongside grass covered meadows, a diversity
of wilderness to be marveled. A land of such stark contrasts that one has to
catch their breath as each new day arrives and the sheer rawness of what a true
untouched wilderness on our ever humanized planet is revealed.
This is my hunting exploration to an
uncharted wilderness with South Nahanni Outfitters where I encounter Wolves,
Grizzly and Black Bear, Dall Rams, Mountain Caribou and the ever elusive Moose.
Late December 2011
Laying up in bed with a heel bone in four
pieces, I found the time to research an adventure I had dreamt of for a long
time, the hunt for monster Moose and Mountain Caribou. I researched the Yukon
and Northwest Territories region of Canada's extremely remote north. The
further out into the wilderness the better and the more hiking the better.
There were few hunts available for the 2012
season. With the Moose rut being September to mid-October, with peak rut towards
the end of September, the best time for calling would be the early part of the
rut when the big bulls are looking for cows and are ready and willing to defend
their harem from other bulls. South Nahanni Outfitters looked to provide a very
extreme and unique hunting adventure and they had a single spot left for the
2012 Moose rut, 10th September till 23rd of September with ten full days
Over the next ten months I trained and
prepared for the hunt of a lifetime and kept in contact with the outfitters,
Sunny Peterson and Warner Archibuash. The time came for me to travel the globe
and see a new and exciting wilderness. The travel was a mission in itself. From
my home town of Newcastle to Sydney, Sydney to Dallas, Dallas to Edmonton,
Edmonton to Yellowknife, Yellowknife to Fort Simpson, then a charter flight
from Fort Simpson to Root River where the South Nahanni Outfitters have their
base camp, an amazingly wild beautiful and incredible place.
Flying in, it looked to be a land lost in time
with Caribou crossing a lake and travelling along the Root Rivers rocky banks.
Grey arid towering mountains leaping from both sides of the river. Timber
covered valleys and lowlands. Ponds and streams in every direction and deep cut
shale lined draws cut by untold amounts of ice melt and ancient glacial movements
and of course, the South Nahanni base camp nestled right amongst it all, just
There was little time spent in base camp
though. Sunny showed me my room to leave anything I didn't need while spike
hunting in the mountains for Moose and Caribou. Virtually everything bar my
back pack, its contents and bow would be left here. My room in the cabin was
beautiful with a fire place, candle lights and of course the best look of all,
a set of caribou antlers over the front deck, awesome. But I hoped I wouldn't
be back here anytime soon as I came for an expedition away from luxuries, the
gold being the experience of wild things. It would take a Grizzly attack to get
me back here and even then I'd try my best no matter how mutilated to stay in
spike camp hunting.
Over to the kitchen next for a quick late
lunch and to meet the staff and my guide. I sat down to tender and tasty
caribou steaks, salad and a cold Canadian Dry ginger ale. The staff are amazing
and everyone is very organized. Off in the distance a single engine plane could
be heard approaching the dirt strip behind base camp. While chatting with my
guide, Byron, the craft landed and Werner the outfit operator/pilot stepped out
to say hi. Hi turned into a German/Canadians half decent Australian accent of,
"Yeah g'day mate," after I said, "Yeah g'day mate nice to meet you."
My guide Byron Werner is rightfully so nicknamed the
OutFather, as in "the Godfather of Hunting Outfitters" I had no hesitation in
also using this nick name when talking about or to Werner once I had heard my
share of stories about him from the guides. Soon after a visit to the trophy
shed we got the safety run down on the helicopter by Dave the pilot.
The helicopter would be a tool in getting
me in and out of the most remote places to hunt and also for meat and trophy
recovery over the trip, which is a very unique way to hunt your hardest in the
best of country and also continue to hunt once you have drop your first beast.
In this backcountry, away from land and water craft, a helicopter is worth its
weight in gold, as it would be nigh on impossible to recover the moose meat any
First flight for me was going to be another
single engine plane out over the mountains a ways. Werner packed the aircraft
with Byron's and my gear with enough food for six days and then if the area was
holding good game we'd get a food drop from the Cub aircraft or helicopter for
the remaining four days.
Down the airstrip we went, with Werner at
the controls, up and over the base camp heading further again from anything civilized.
Remarkable, I was speechless as we headed deep into the mountains over a
multitude of valleys. Small Mountain Caribou herds spread throughout the land.
Game trails cut through snow on the mountains and stamped dark lines on the
valley floors along with prints across sand bars and mud flats.
Imagine a place before time with millions
of year old earth that's has been unchanged by nothing other than Mother Nature
herself. There were mountains turned on their side with layers of rock shooting
up vertically instead of how they were formed horizontally, crystal clear
streams and rivers running through the valleys of these massive snow-capped
mountains with shear rock draws cut deep throughout the ranges. Pines, poplars,
brush and moss, timbered ridges, rocky mountains and berry bushes everywhere
you look, just bloody amazing. Forty five minutes up in the air, forty five
minutes past nowhere in the heart of wild adventure, I love you South Nahanni.
Werner landed on a crazy bit of ground, a
mud flat with bog holes and water sitting in them. He flew low to the "strip"
and over the head set in that German/Canadian accent came "Damnâ€¦ it's very wet Ayy," then silence as we circled around and came
in for landing. No dramas and I'd say he's experienced a lot worst. The landing
was beautiful, a bit bumpy with mud flying out from under the Tundra Wheels as
we dipped in and out of the bog holes and water, but beautiful none the less
and a part of the experience.
We unpacked the plane and moved our gear
out into a pile away from the aircraft and waited for the helicopter to pick us
up to take us to the final destination. It was required as the plane wouldn't
be able to land anywhere near where we wanted to go. Snow started to fall as we
waited and bad weather was rolling in through the mountains. This was my main
concern for the trip; being tent bound by extreme weather conditions.
The helicopters blades could be heard
cutting through the wind as he appeared out above a far ridgeline. We'd glassed
a desired spike camping spot back up the valley between the mountains on the
river with a few large draws on either side. Down the helicopter came and packs
and bow went in. See ya and take care to the OutFather and we were off. Approaching
our campsite, we flew over a massive grizzly bear also heading towards our
chosen spike camp. It was cool, interesting and slightly concerning all in one.
We set the helicopter down on a clearing on the rivers bank and quickly
unloaded before waving goodbye for hopefully the next ten days.
With pack on back and bow in hand, we moved
over to a flat covered in grass and rock. You couldn't really escape the rocky
ground for camp, so we just set up where we thought it best for hunting first
thing in the mornings and late afternoons. Byron set up the tent, The Kifaru 6
man tipi, while I collected wood, which was all pretty much damp from snow melt
a few days before. Anything up off the ground was best and that's what I ended
We shuffled a few rocks around to lay down
a small tarp each to keep the damp ground off our sleeping gear. I laid out my
Thermorest NeoAir and Marmot -20Â°C sleeping bag and Byron laid down much the
same with his gear. Then I got to setting up the ultra light tent stove and we
got it started straight away, as it was coming in really cold with strong
Byron started boiling some water and preparing
for our freeze dried Mountain House meals. A little scouting around camp
revealed a number of Wolf, Grizzly, Caribou and the elusive Moose prints. It
was going to be hard to sleep tonight and it was not because of the resident
grizzly, but the thought of hunting what I had crossed half the world for, a
big bull Moose .
It was an early night after a good freeze
dried dinner. I could legally hunt at 6.30am in the morning, as that was twelve
hours after our landing in base camp by helicopter.