Deb's 2016 caribou hunt
So, with the first attempt not being so productive, we took another trip back up into the CCUA, this time with just the intent of putting meat in the freezer, not so worried about antlers and such. Mal was tied up with work and school, so it was just Deb and I for this second attempt. We still had a tier 1 tag to fill for our household and Deb’s dad had proxied his tag to to her. We took off early Sunday morning and made the 6 hour drive without troubles. The weather was pretty nice, but the forecast looked to be pretty wet for the duration of our planned time. We found a place to camp along the road, which isn’t so easy when you have horses to make room for. We get things set up, feed the horses and then ourselves and go to bed (this is our cushy hunt, so we even had cots and a heater for the tent). My alarm goes off at 0400, which is my “go feed the horses” wake up. It’s raining pretty hard by now, and when I step out of the tent, see that there is a very heavy fog with the rain. I thought to myself, “well, no point in getting up super early for the hunt, can’t shoot what you can’t see…” So, I throw hay to the horses and go back to bed. Got up about 0630 and still pretty foggy outside. Do the breakfast and coffee stuff, then tack up and head out. The fog was just starting to breakup, but still pretty drizzly and wet. We ride out about 3 miles from camp then head off the trail to see what we can find. Which it turns out, wasn’t much. We spent most of the first day glassing from high points and seen very few caribou, most of them a long ways from us. Toward the afternoon, it started to monsoon……which really started working on the fun factor. After several hours of hard steady downpour rain, I tell Deb “well, that is about as much fun as I want to handle for today, let’s go back to camp and dry up, and warm up”. She was as ready as I was. We get back and take care of the horses, then ourselves, and head to bed to get ready for day two. Day two starts off much the same as day one. Rain, fog…….we tack up, don the heavy rain gear and head out to the same area as the day before. Day two was a lot like day one….lots of glassing, lots of rain, few caribou sited. At one point, we were moving along the river and I got off to take a better look at some caribou off in the distance. I had left the reins loose, and after a couple minutes heard my horse begin to walk, then walk fast, then trot…….I looked at my wife, who was still on her horse, and said “well, go get him” and off she went. She eventually caught up to him and brought him back. She said that while I was glassing, “Hoot” had spotted a moose about a hundred yards away and decided to go have a closer look. When the moose ran out of site, he stopped and that’s when he was caught. I guess he seen the moose, and thought we could just end all this silliness if he went and caught the thing himself…..who knows what goes through a horses mind…..So, back to the caribou…We glassed for a couple more hours and found some caribou above us. They were on the move, and we had no hope of cutting them off, but figured we’d head up that way just in case more followed…..didn’t happen. Was getting late, so we set off toward camp. On the way back to the trail, we came into a little grassy meadow, and my horse, Hoot, swung his head around and started snorting and blowing. The other two started doing the same thing at that point. I told Deb, the only time I’ve seen him doing it like that is over bears. So, I kept my eye out, as we moved into the wind back to the trail. We crossed a little brush line to a small lake, and I stopped to give my knee a rest (riding with a rifle scabbard under the stirrup for long period’s kills my right knee). So, as I’m stretching out my knee, I see three caribou pop onto the shore line of the lake and start trotting toward us, on the opposite side. These appeared to be all cows or small bulls, but at that point, I figured meat was meat. I jump off Hoot and sat down for a shot. The caribou stopped and down it went. I looked at Deb and said “do you want to shoot?”. She sits down, lines up on the second caribou, which is just standing looking at the downed animal, and she plants that one also. So, as it normally goes, we just ended up in the right spot at the right time. Got the animals quartered out, loaded up and headed back to camp. Woke up the next morning to nice blue skies…figures. So, in the end, not a ton of meat, but not tag soup either. Deb’s parents were happy to get some nice caribou meat also.