The girl is on a roll.
Another caribou hunt success for an up and coming young hunter. This year, we decided to try and get into our area the day before the season opened, so that we could be out looking come opening day. This year, it was just the two of us, as my wife wasn’t able to make it due to commitments at work. We arrived at the trailhead just after noon on the 9th, and took a bit of time to get the horses all loaded up and ready to hit the road. Every year, I learn a little more about how to do this horse pack hunting the right way, and this hunt was no exception. Next time, I pack EVERYTHING in the Manties except for the cloths we’re wearing. It seems all that little “stuff” kept adding up and by the time we were all ready to hit the trail, I had every bag, pocket, and empty space filled up, and felt like we were part of a Gypsy caravan……But, we got out and were on our way.
The ride in was pretty uneventful, had to stop a couple of times and balance/tighten up the load, but otherwise, no problems. Weather was pretty nice to start off, but eventually it began to rain. Not too heavy, more of an afternoon shower or two. We moved back in about 9 or so miles and found a place with “trees” so that we could tie a highline for the horses. Needed three things for camp, trees, water nearby, and relatively flat ground. Not an easy thing to find up in that country. Anyways, got the camp all set up, set up the highline, and electric fencing, and got the horses fed and watered.
Next morning, wake up to the sound of rain hitting the tent. Of course, having checked the forecast for the next several days, which said sunny and NOTHING about rain, I just shrugged it off and though to myself, well, that figures……Got my coffee going, and then breakfast ready. Woke up the girl and started out day. As we ate breakfast, we could see about a dozen caribou scattered all over, all cows/young bulls, or calves. One small group we seen were very close to a tent set up about a mile or so from us. Laughed and said, well, that’s goofy caribou for you. Since this was Mal’s second caribou hunt, I told her she was leading the show, and asked where we were going first. She picked a drainage that was to our east to go look into, so we saddled up and were on our way. Got to a point that gave us a good view of the entire drainage and nothing. So, she says that we are now heading to the spot she shot her bull the last year. I couldn’t argue with trying to duplicate success, so off we went. An hour or so later, we were sitting in the “spot”, glassing and eating lunch. The sun was out by then, and I was having a hard time not taking a nap in the tundra.
After a while, I asked “well, what next?” I already knew our next destination as it was the only valley we could not see into. I’m thinking she was looking for the “valley of bulls” that we all want to find. So, she confirms my guess, and off we go. Had to cross a small valley with some swampy ground. While doing so, my horse sunk in a bit and appeared to be going down, so I bailed off, in a not so graceful way, and got clear. Well, I think me getting off, helped him regain his footing, and he was able to pop right back up. Of course, I was then a little wet and muddy, but that’s way better than broken. We get across the valley floor, and begin going uphill to the saddle between our valley and the next. Got to the top, and no valley of bulls was evident. No big deal to her, she was pretty positive and just shrugged it off to hunting. I’m pretty impressed with her growth as a young hunter in these last couple of years. She has developed patience which I think is the key to being a successful hunter. During the past spring, both my daughters spent many hours in a stand waiting for a bear to come in. I was very impressed with both of their patience in waiting for bears to come in then, and was happy that it paid off in a bear. The patience and good outlook continued on this day, and we moved to the next leg of the plan. We were moving back toward camp, skirting the valley floor (as it was pretty wet), and got within about ¾ of a mile when I see a caribou standing off in the valley floor. I told her “hey, caribou off to our side” I told her it was bigger and probably a bull. A quick look through the bino’s confirmed it, and it was a decent one at that. We get the horses off the trail, tie them up to some brush, and begin making our way to him. We covered about 400 yards and tried to find a place to shoot from. Lots of waist high brush made it difficult to try and get a good stable shot off, so I kept looking for a spot, all the while hoping the bull didn’t move off and disappear in higher brush that was all around him. Our luck held, I found a good open spot to set her up on, and she got the rifle on its bipod, and set the crosshairs on him. Only his back and antlers were visible at that point so I just told her to wait until he gave a shot. He had no idea we were there, and the wind was perfect. He popped out of the brush and gave he a hard quartering on shot. I tell her to take the shot, but she said she didn’t know where to aim at an animal standing like that. The antlers were casting a shadow on his body, and the tip of the shadow was at the right spot, so I tell her “you see where the antlers make a shadow on his body?, shoot right there”. She said ok, and was taking aim. I ranged him and it came up at 213 yards. I thought to myself, you’ve got to be kidding, that’s the exact same range she shot her bull the year before. So I told her “hey, you’re not going to believe it, he’s at 213 yards, just like last year”. She looked back at me and smiled and said “ that’s amazing”. I hear the safety click off, and hear the boom. Through the bino’s I see him throw his head up, and he goes straight down. “GREAT SHOT MAL!!!”. All smiles and she says
“my hands are all shaky now”. I told her yep, and that should never change. So we got up, gathered our stuff and head over toward him. High brush had me a bit concerned about finding him, but we managed to walk right up to him. Great shot, right where I told her to aim. The girls got talent.