What the island doesn't have is monster bucks. Adult deer here are not big-bodied, typically weighing between 100 and 175 pounds, with a few bucks running 200 pounds, and their antlers average a 16- to 20-inch span, some up to 25 inches.
I knew all that when I first hunted Anticosti back in 1990. All I wanted was a good hunt, and that's what I got. Although I took home a small four-pointer and spike, I saw dozens of deer every day. This past fall, some 14 years later, I hunted Anticosti Island again, primarily because I had heard of some changes and wanted to see for myself what was happening there.
Rumors had it that the winter of 2002/03 took a heavy toll on the deer population, with perhaps 30 to 35 percent of the herd, some 36,000 to 40,000 deer killed off. This is a significant development for a place that offers numbers rather than trophy quality. And, as most experienced hunters know, it is the population of older bucks, along with fawns, that usually is hardest hit in a winterkill.
I wanted to see for myself how the deer had fared on the island. But I had another reason for going back to Anticosti, too. In 1992, the entire La Loutre hunting territory, it seems, some 135 square miles, was established as a bowhunting-only area. Prior to that, bowhunting enthusiasts shared the same territory with rifle and blackpowder hunters, but now they had a place of their own, and being a relatively new member to the bowhunting fraternity, I wanted to hunt it.
At the time of my hunt last fall, however, things had changed again.........(continued)