Not only did Boone and Crockett up the minimum score on these animals (from 345 to 360), but El Niño (or something) interrupted their normal migration pattern. For the first time in about 40 years, the caribou herd simply didn't behave as expected. Much of it wintered in neighboring Saskat-chewan. The upshot is, success rates were down this past year, inspiring some outfitters to consider the need to become more mobile. In fact, one outfitter moved clients this past year to protect his 100 percent hunter success record. Why the change in behavior? Anne Gunn, a biologist with the NWT Renewable Resources Department, says global warming is being studied as a possible cause, but ultimately there is nothing to worry about. Tribal elders from the native bands recall abrupt shifts in the past, she says. Always, the pattern has returned to normal and she expects the same to happen this time.
In the meantime, herd numbers are healthy and stable, if not slightly increasing. Almost certainly, central barren ground caribou hunts are not about to become "problem" hunts the way Quebec-Labrador hunts have. Blips aside, they remain one of the great values in hunting today. To help you find an outfitter for a caribou hunt of your own, I've provided a quick rundown of what several companies say they experienced last season, and what they........(continued)