No region of Canada consistently produces the kind of top-quality hunting you find in the MacKenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories. Why...? For openers, there is practically no resident hunting here. This may be because the entire mountain range is virtually roadless wilderness, with access limited to planes, helicopters or horses. Furthermore, this vast wilderness is at the end of a very long trail, whether you come by vehicle or commercial air travel. Outfitters in the MacKenzies all have huge hunting areas, too, making it possible to select for top trophies. This hunting season should produce especially good results, as the past two winters have been excellent in this area, with terrific game survival rates. I recently checked in with several outfitters in this region to ask about their latest successes and current offerings.
I first spoke with Stan Stevens of MacKenzie Mountain Outfitters Ltd., who has a reputation as an ace bush pilot and has been outfitting for 23 years in his area west of Norman Wells. I have personally taken two big rams in his area, both just under 40 inches. I will never forget seeing the 177-7/8 monster taken while I was in the area in 1987. Last year, Stevens was 95 percent on rams and 100 percent the previous season. Most of Stevens' guides use pack dogs, which eases the burden for both guide and hunter on a backpack hunt. Instead of packing in several hours by horse, Stevens will fly you into an area and leave you, your guide and pack dog to set up a base camp within your hunting area. Stevens' 12-day sheep hunt has run $10,500 US, but you can look for rates to climb in the year 2001, for which Stevens is already booking. There are also super moose possibilities, with 60-inch heads expected. His combo moose and caribou hunts for 2000 are $10,500. Hunts for just caribou also are terrific, with seven-day affairs in 2000 running $3,500.... I also spoke with Kelly Hougen of Arctic Red River Outfitters Ltd., who is president of the Association of McKenzie Mountain Outfitters. He is careful in his........(continued)