Another hunting season off to a good start. This year was a little different than the past few, as my wife also went with us on this hunt. Times are changing; I had a few more “constraints” placed onto the hunt with time available. As our kids grow, I find that more and more, the time open for some things gets pretty limited. So, with the schedules and cross country activities kicking for Mal a little earlier than normal, I had to be back by Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Would have liked some more time, but you get what you get. So we get to our the parking area on Saturday evening, and set up our “base camp”, get horses fed and organize some gear for the next day’s pack in. I had been looking at the weather forecast for the hunt, and the first couple days looked pretty wet. So, I was prepared with enough gear for the wet forecast, all the while trying to balance that with available space to take everything in. So, Sunday morning we get up and start to load up the horses for the pack in. With the gear and feed going in this year, I had to load up two of the three horses, which meant that at least two of us humans would be on foot for the 10 miles in. I figured that the girls could alternate riding and walking, which is what they did.
So, after a few hours, we get to our campsite. We’ve been using the same site for the last 4 years now, and it shows….as there were oats growing in the area we high line the horses. It’s not there anymore though, the horses made sure of that. We get the camp set up and everyone fed, and wait for the next day to start the hunt. The weather had been pretty decent to this point, with it raining off and on but not too bad. We passed a couple of guys who were set up about a mile and a half from where we camp. I saw their camp on the way in and was hoping we’d be far enough apart to keep from stepping on each other’s toes. So, with everything done for the day, we go to sleep. At about 0130, something woke me up. I could hear something moving around outside, and could hear the horses stomping around. I grab my 45-70 and a flashlight and go have a look. The horses were all looking at whatever it was, but I never could see it. Brush probably too tall to be able to see anything. I’m thinking it was some caribou moving by, but we did see some bear poop on the way in. Anyways, it started to rain just as I was getting back in the tent, and I don’t think it quit for about 16 hours.
I wake up and make myself a cup of coffee, and start to glass around while the girls slept on. Seen a couple small groups of cows and young bulls, but nothing bigger. The girls wake up at around 0830 and we have a nice hot breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon ala mountain house….I continued to glass around and seen a nice bull up on the hill side above our camp. He was visible in the fog for a few minutes, but then disappeared. We saddle up and move around and found a small group of caribou consisting of cows and a small bull or two. I asked the girls what they wanted to do and got a thumbs up to go after them as they both said, “meat is meat, let’s go get them”. I’m ok with that. So we made our way below them as they moved along the hill side, but as we stopped to set up for some shooting, they take off running the other way. I figured they caught our scent, as the wind was then blowing right at them. As we get ready to leave, we hear a rifle shot, then watch as a small bull hits the ground, then another shot or two and we watch another one pile up. Apparently, they guys we seen down the valley went after the same group we did. Had no idea they were there, and am glad it all worked out and we didn’t blow it for them. Continued to ride around, but the weather got pretty nasty, so I decided the only thing we were going to accomplish at this point, was to get the girls wet and cold, so we headed back to camp, and they went into the tent to dry out and warm up. The weather let up a bit in the evening, and we did see another group of about 8 caribou right above camp, and went after them. But when we snaked around to where they were….they were nowhere to be seen. That’s caribou hunting…..Next morning, I wake up early and notice it’s sort of chilly. I got out of the tent to go make my coffee and see a nice dusting of snow on the peaks, but lots of blue sky. Love to see that. I glassed around for a while, and then Deb wakes up to join me. We continued to look around, found some cows and calves, then see a bull and a cow about 2 miles away. I tell Deb, “let’s get that girl up and go after them”. Mal was already up and we got geared up and take off on foot. We get over there, and pass by the cows and calves without spooking them too bad, and then move uphill after where we had seen the bull and cow. We got about 2/3 of the way up the hill, and stopped so Deb could pull a layer off. I was turned around and heard Mal say “dad, bull”. Turned around to watch him cresting the hill top above us. She gets down prone, and I pull the range finder. Tell her he’s at 266 and he has no idea we are here , so take the time to get a good shot off. So as he feeds around, he eventually turns broad side, and the shot goes off, he stumbles around but stays on his feet and I say “hit him again”, next shot hits and he stumbles then goes down. As I slap her on the back on her success, the other caribou runs from over the top of the hill, and stands right next to the downed bull. Deb pulls alongside me and gets down into the prone to line up for a shot. It gives her a slight quartering on shot and she takes it….almost the same scenario… the cow is still up, but hurt and I tell her “hit it again” and she does, and it goes down then tumbles about 20 feet to a stop. Then its congratulations and pictures time.
We quickly gut the caribou, then go back to camp and pack it all on one horse. We move to the point in which we leave the trail to go to the caribou, and dump the camp off and head up on the horses. It takes a couple hours to take everything apart and get them loaded onto the horses, then head out for the long walk out.
Fortunately, the weather was absolutely gorgeous for the walk, and we eventually get back to the truck just after 7pm. We break everything down, and get on the road, and eventually get home by 0300 Wednesday morning….I made my time limit….All in all , a great hunt, and a great time spent with my wife and daughter. I was completely impressed at their ability to keep happy and in good spirit with the rain, wind, and then the long walk out. I am also continued to be very happy to see the young lady that my daughter has grown to become. I’m already looking forward to the next adventure.
And to head off some of the wondering…….how can my wife and daughter both have a tier 1 permit? My daughter, unfortunately, does not live with me full time (same as my step daughter), which makes this possible.