At press time, the Quebec/Labrador caribou season in that vast stretch of land between Hudson Bay and the Labrador Strait was really just getting started, but it was not too early to see that things were off to a flying start. All the outfitters I talked to in early September were clearly ecstatic. The herds appeared to be following more or less regular migration patterns, the timing was right and hunters were coming out of camps with their animals. This appeared to be true for outfitters in both Schefferville and Kuujjuaq, the two major bases for hunting these animals. Anyone who has been reading this newsletter for long knows this is a dramatic change. Erratic migration of these animals in recent years has made these hunts, quite simply, the most problematic in world hunting. Literally hundreds - if not thousands - of hunters have come back from Quebec/Labrador caribou hunts in recent years singing the blues about seeing no animals at all. The problem is not a lack of animals, but rather too many animals. Quite literally, Quebec/Labrador caribou have been eating themselves out of house and home in recent years, forcing the herd to move in new and unpredictable patterns where the forage has not been destroyed. It is the unpredictability that has driven outfitters crazy.
To cope with it, they have built new permanent camps and created whole networks of spike camps across the tundra. The latest move to cope with the unpredictability has been the implementation of fully mobile hunts, with camp-location decisions being made on the basis of radio collar transmission data. We wrote about these new hunts and the controversy they have created in the October 1998 issue (see page 8-9), and we predicted this fall would see the first roll-out of this new concept in caribou hunting. Indeed, some fully mobile hunts were booked this year, but the unexpected cooperation of the caribou early on has left it up in the air how many will actually be fielded.
At press time, Horace Lane of Riverrun Outfitting in Lewisporte,........(continued)