Caribou hunting and the Smith & Wesson 41 Mag
If I remember correctly it was the fall of 2001 when a friend and I planned out a weekend caribou hunting trip. He was planning on using his Smith & Wesson model 657 41 magnum while I was planning on bringing my Sako Model 75 Stainless in 300 Winchester Magnum mounted with a Leupold VXIII 2.5-8 x 36 and my Weathery Mark V Stainless 340 with Leupold 4X fixed power scope for animals bigger than caribou that is if we happened to see any.
When the weekend finally arrived we loaded up my skiff with our camping gear and headed upriver, we were planning on boating up as far as we could to hunt, but also to give my partner an opportunity to see the upper reaches of the river, which were nice that time of the year with all of the fall colors. We left early that morning since we had quite a ways to travel, all throughout the morning we would occasionally stop and climb a bluff or hill to glass the area for some animals, after a couple of stops we located a group of 5 bull caribou. All were wearing impressive racks they were mature bulls. From where we spotted them to where the caribou were it was a good 2.5 miles, so we planned out our approach. The distance seemed a little much so we brought our pack frames with us just in case he downed an animal, looking at the distance from the caribou to the river, cutting across an open field it was about 1.5 miles, it was a go. The pack back to the river would be possible.
We started our stalk by hiking along the edge of a small rise that ran most of the way to where the caribou were bedded down. Occasionally there would be a stand of willow brush to rest behind. When we were within 400 yards of the caribou we started low crawling since there wasnít much cover left to hide behind except for some tall grasses, and an occasional tussock. The last 100 yards was the most difficult, so we took it slow and easy, my partner was going to be the shooter with his 41. When we were within 25 yards of the caribou one of the animals got up and joined the other one that had been grazing. The wind all during the stalk had been in our favor and we had left our packs frames back behind some willow brush. The caribou were on a small rise and we had just completed a perfect stalk, 25 yards was his effective range for his 41 with open sights. And we were pretty fortunate that 4 of the 5 caribou were bedded down for most of the stalk. This was it, time for the shot. I was just off to the side of my partner when he stood up and aimed at one of the bulls, both bulls looked right at him and the remaining 3 got up and turned to look at him too, it was perfect. He fired his 41, all 5 caribou bolted and ran off so fast that by the time I stood up they were just on the other side of the rise. I ran up on the rise and to my surprise there was no dead or wounded caribou, all 5 of the bulls were running away heading straight for the mountains none of them looked wounded and I recalled not hearing the classic smack. I was tempted to try a running shot with my 300 but decided not too, this was my partnerís hunt. I turned to him and he didnít have anything to say, I told him it was time to walk back to the boat, we cut across the flat and made record time. I was thinking to myself as I walked back to the boat that after all that work stalking up to those caribou, he missed. Man was I disappointed, I told myself that I would shoot the next caribou I saw. When we made camp that evening about 15 miles or so further upstream he checked out his handgun and found out that his rear sight was loose and not where it was supposed to be. That was why he missed his shot.
Next morning I climbed the bluff along the river and spotted a small herd on the opposite side. I got ready to head across the river this time I chose to use my Weatherby Mark V Stainess 340 Weatherby with a Leupold Fixed Power 4X scope since I found out I didn't have any extra 300 Winchester ammo except for what was in the rifle. The Weatherby was loaded with 250 grain Noslers, a little much for caribou but I liked shooting the rifle since it had a nice muzzlebreak. When we made it across the river I climbed the high bank and looked over the top and there they were about 250 yards away all bedded down. I glassed the herd and found a nice bull with a decent rack only problem was he was facing away, so I figured I would shoot one of the cows first then swing over to the bull as he was getting up. I found a good fat cow put the crosshairs on her chest just behind the shoulder and squeezed off a shot she didnít even move. I quickly re-chambered another round and aimed at the bull as he was quartering away at a fast run, I squeezed off a shot and he was down, he never even moved after he hit the ground, it too was a good heart shot. I was totally impressed with the Weatherby and the 250 grain Noslers. By the afternoon we had all the meat in the boat so we headed for home, overall it was a great trip and since that day my hunting partner has redeemed himself by shooting other caribou with his handgun on other hunts that we were on together. He even went a far as mounting a good Leupold scope on his revolver to improve his aim. End