Quebec-Labrador Trying Mobile Caribou Camps


Published: June - 1998

Anyone who is familiar with the recent history of the huge Quebec-Labrador caribou herds has heard the tales of woe caused by the increasingly erratic behavior of these animals. In the old days, the caribou migrated in fairly predictable patterns, crossing certain rivers within certain time periods. Yes, you could miss the migration by arriving too early or too late, or you could find that mostly cows and calves were passing a certain point at a certain time. Generally speaking, though, the caribou were fairly predictable until about 10 years ago, when the herds began to grow exponentially in size. Nowadays, the animals are so unpredictable that overall hunting success has plummeted and with it the fortunes of most outfitters.

The scramble of late has been to come up with strategies to improve hunter odds. With a few notable exceptions, the grand, fixed camps of the past have given way to outpost camps, which are set up before the season in places where the caribou are most likely to be. Most operators these days set up a number of camps, all based around large canvas tents set on wooden platforms with oil stoves for heat and gas stoves for cooking. While not as plush as fixed camps, these semi-mobile camps are certainly comfortable enough to keep hunters dry, warm and safe.

In Labrador, all mobile camps are inspected, and there are certain standards which must be met before clients can use them. In Quebec, outpost camps must be set up before the season begins. Sites are chosen well ahead of time to keep one outfitter from bumping into another. Laws spelling all this out were passed to prevent fly-by-night outfitters from infringing on the territories of legitimate outfitters, and to insure a certain standard of comfort and safety for clients. Some of these outpost camps see almost continuous occupation throughout the season, while others may not host a single hunter. It all depends on the caribou.

Unfortunately, this strategy has its limitations. For one thing, air travel is extremely expensive in this........(continued)

 
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