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Thread: My Wife's First Caribou

  1. #1
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Thumbs up My Wife's First Caribou

    I am a lucky man. When I met the woman that was to be my bride eight years ago, my friends would ask me if she hunted, fished, or skied. When I answered all three questions with a no, the response was always along the lines of questioning my sanity for falling for a California girl. I knew her spark, though, and knew that once she fell in love with the mountains that she was my kind of girl. Turns out I was right.

    We headed north on Friday afternoon, bound for a weekend caribou hunt. We were thinking of this more as a scouting trip, but of course we were prepared with rifles and necessary gear in case we found an animal. Mostly, we were just excited to check out a new area and to spend some time alone together. This was our first "just the two of us" outing since the birth of our son the previous year, so we knew the time would be wonderful regardless of the hunt itself.

    We had the truck parked with ample daylight to spare, so we hit the trail and covered the miles quickly. Climbing out of treeline, we decided to continue up into the alpine as far as we could make it before dark. At about 10:00 that night I spotted the unmistakable color of a caribou on a distant mountainside. Just from the size of it I assumed it was a bull, but of course I had to stop to pull out the binoculars to take a closer look. As I focused in on him, it was immediately apparent that this was not just a bull - he was obviously large, both in body and in antlers. My wife took a look, and then we spent the next 20 minutes or so scrambling around the ridge we were on deciding whether a stalk was feasible or not. It was a tough decision to make, but we finally decided that it would be irresponsible for us to try with darkness falling. We didn't want to leave him there on the hillside exposed to scavengers if successful, and we weren't sure it would be safe to find our way back to camp in the dark which would have been necessary either way. Reluctantly we decided to camp right where we were, on the ridge in a semi-flat patch of gravel. As I climbed into the tent around 11:00 I looked up on the next mountain to see that he had grazed into view. With a quick prayer, we went to sleep hoping that he would still be there in the morning.

    When we arose on Saturday he was nowhere to be seen. Our view further up the valley was limited, though, so we set out quickly up the mountain. Within about 15 minutes of leaving camp my wife whispered excitedly "There he is!" He had only moved about 1/4 of a mile further up the valley and sure didn't seem to be in much of a hurry to go anywhere. We took a few minutes to study the area as well as possible, and then came up with our plan. We would move further up the ridge that we were on - somewhere close to a mile and another 800' feet of elevation - and then cross down into the valley he was in, following the creek bed and rolls in the terrain to move into position. Here we are just after making our plans.



    The next hour and a half of climbing was fairly difficult, made more so by the fact that we had to drop off the ridge and side-hill around some pretty steep loose rock. We wanted to stay concealed, though, so we just moved along slowly, checking his position every once in a while. We finally got to a point where we thought we could drop off the ridge without him noticing. As we descended we were exposed for about 500', but we were far enough away that it didn't draw his attention.

    Once reaching the valley floor, it was obvious that my wife's excitement had hit a new level. She was very much looking forward to this hunt, but on the precipice of her first stalk with rifle in hand, she was downright giddy. From that point forward, things went better than we could have hoped for. We were able to close the gap to less than 100 yards before we saw him. We were slowly walking across a hillside expecting to see him over the next rise, when suddenly I saw the tops of his antlers swaying in our direction. We hit the ground immediately, almost panicked for a moment that he would walk right to us when we weren't quite ready. Thankfully, he angled slightly downhill and ended up in some alders. With his head still concealed, we slid on our bellies about 20 yards to a rock that made an ideal rest. My wife got set up in position, ready the moment the bull decided to show himself. For the next few minutes he rolled his head around back and forth, taking a few steps one way and then back the other, the whole time never giving us even the slightest glimpse of him. Many false alarms later after fooling us into thinking that he was coming our way, his antlers disappeared from view. We tried to be patient, but from our earlier survey of the valley we realized that there was a chance that he could head downstream out of view and we might never see him again. After a few moments, we decided we had to move. We slowly crept the 30-40 yards down to the alders he was standing in, then quietly around them, expecting at any moment that he might appear below us. A minute later we were absolutely dumbfounded, standing there in the exact spot where he had been only moments earlier, yet nowhere to be seen. We could see down the riverbed, across the hillside...what the heck just happened? Then we saw it again - the swaying of antlers above the brush - but this time he was standing right where we had laid in wait just a moment ago. He must have circled around the left side just as we walked around the right side, a sort of slow motion do-si-do with unknowing dance partners.

    We then spent a few minutes poking around the brush, trying to find an opening that allowed us a clear shot with a decent rest. About halfway through this process he stopped moving in a relaxed manner and began to hold his antlers straight up, often in our direction. Whether it was our scent or our sound, he had detected something was amiss. Thankfully, he wasn't fully alarmed, just aware. We finally made the choice to move straight towards him through some brush. We were concerned that the noise would startle him, but his only escape routes would take him across an exposed hillside, so we were fairly certain that we would be able to get a clear shot. My wife moved to the left of me and we both slithered up through the willows, trying as well as we could to remain silent. Soon he came into view. We finally got to where we could see his head, but laying down he did not offer us a clear shot. I don't honestly recall what it was that caused him to finally rise from his bed, but when he did he took off at a pretty decent trot. I knew he would stop, though, so when he slowed down for a moment I encouraged my wife to shoot. As she would tell me later, she couldn't find him in the scope at that very moment, so nothing happened as he began to trot further. At about 80-90 yards he stopped again, this time standing perfectly broadside as he glanced back in our direction. This time there was no delay. A shot rang out from my wife's 7mm-08 and the caribou immediately flinched. He stood there for a moment seemingly stunned. I encouraged my wife to put another round into him, but apparently her gun became jammed after the first shot. She handed me her gun and I fumbled with it for a moment, but when we looked back up we saw the caribou stumble around for a moment, and then it was over. My wife let out a "YEAH" that was more melodic than any song I've ever heard. She was one happy, satisfied woman.


  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    The weather was beautiful. Not too hot, but nice enough that we got away with short sleeves while cleaning her caribou.




  3. #3
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    On my previous hunts, my wife has always been awesome about helping me skin the animal, pull off the quarters, or trim meat. This time, though, I think she was particularly pleased to take part in the job.



    It took us until about 9pm to make it back to camp, but we finally arrived with smiles. While I ferried loads of meat, my wife took down camp and moved it down the ridge to treeline so that we wouldn't have to make the decent in the morning.



    Here is a shot from this morning. It rained overnight, but this morning we made the first load in just some heavy fog.



    The rain did come back, though, as you can tell from this last shot taken just about a mile before we made it back to the truck. Wet and sore, but certainly happy. I am proud of my wife!


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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Wow, fantastic story and great pics. Congrats to Sarah. Heck of a hunt.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

  5. #5

    Question

    Nelchina?
    What caused the rifle to jam?
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  6. #6

    Thumbs up Good job...

    Way to go for both of you. I enjoyed it all, the story , the pics, the smiles!

  7. #7

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    Great story, writeup, and pics man. I really enjoyed your post.

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    Member BrettAKSCI's Avatar
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    You're a lucky man Brian!!! I need to find some one as enthusiastic as she is!!! What a beautiful first caribou!!

    Brett

  9. #9
    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Awesome!!!

    Tell your wife THANKS for the call earlier Brian! She has no idea how great it made my day...(I've been in a bit of a slump for the last few weeks if you know what I mean, so it was nice to hear her excitement)!

    I had to log on here and check out the story, knowing you wouldn't wait a second longer than you had too!

    She wasn't kidding that it was BIG...very nice indeed!

    I hope her lucky streak continues next weekend...you wouldn't happen to have an extra seat in that plane would you Man how I wish I could do it over again!

    Get that Billy down so we can focus on the blackies again

    So how's school going? I'm guessing "share and tell" most the week eh

  10. #10
    Member akjw7's Avatar
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    awesome - hard to imagine a better hunt and story, good job both of you

  11. #11
    Member jkb's Avatar
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    Great bou and great story. What are you going to do with all that sausage?
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming-----WOW-----what a ride!
    Unknown author

  12. #12

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    Great pics, great story. Congrats to you both, thats what it's all about. Heck of a bou!

  13. #13

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    Brian, Congrats to you and your wife. Looks like an amazing time and great weather. I have to say that the pic with just your wife next to the 'bou makes it look HUGE!!!!! She's 5'9 right?? Congrats to you both and hope to do a double date hunt sometime.

  14. #14

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    Congrats on a great hunt. I know what it is like for the alone time after the kids arrived, it makes it that much sweeter. Thanks for the write up and the pics!

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    Default awesome

    Well what a story to wake up and read here in iraq. Love it time spent with the wife in the outdoors has to be priceless. Been married for 8 years my self but just cant get the wife into it. great job and Thank you for posting it.


    matt

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    Great story. nice bou... We'll worth the hike.

  17. #17
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default Questions

    Brian, looking at the pic below, of your wife, and reading your caption, it appears the head and antlers are in camp, and you are still ferrying meat to camp. Is that correct?


    Then the caption for this pic is: making the first load in fog. So your first load to the truck was the head and some meat?
    I can't help being a lazy, dumb, weekend warrior.......I have a JOB!
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  18. #18
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    Nice Caribou. Congrats to you wife.

  19. #19
    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Brian, looking at the pic below, of your wife, and reading your caption, it appears the head and antlers are in camp, and you are still ferrying meat to camp. Is that correct?
    There is always one person that has to infer that people are breaking the game laws...


  20. #20
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    Cool and kinda crazy with all that work, eh?

    The first of many, I'm sure. The first one is the hardest.
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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