The Truth About That Caribou Herd "Crash"


Published: January - 2002

The sportsman's show season will be starting in earnest soon, and that's when many hunters book their trips for the following fall. As always, outfitters and agents showing pictures of huge Quebec/Labrador caribou and promising 100 percent success rates will be making the rounds of these shows, looking for bookings. Quebec is close to home for many of us, easy to get to, relatively inexpensive, and it can produce both an exceptional hunt and exceptional trophies. But, with "crash" rumors circulating, is this the year to hunt Quebec?

Let me start to answer that with some general statements of fact. The combined George River and Leaf River herds of caribou in Quebec comprise the largest free-ranging herd of ungulates outside of Africa. The last aerial survey (the one back in 1993, not the one recently completed and just now being assessed) indicated the George River herd numbered approximately 800,000 animals and the Leaf Herd about 260,000, making Quebec host to over one million migratory caribou. Nonetheless, hunts for these animals generate more complaints than hunts for any other animal anywhere in the world. It's perhaps hard to believe, but the root cause of most of those complaints is a failure to take, or even see, a caribou.

I was in Quebec myself this past fall, and saw very clearly, yet again, what constitutes both the draw and the drawback to these hunts. I was hunting with Arctic Adventures, and they managed to put five of us smack in the middle of a major migration of the Leaf River herd. I saw, over the course of three days, at least 10,000 animals, nearly a third of which were bulls, many of which I could have stalked and shot. Significantly, however, while there were some very good representative heads among the caribou I saw, I didn't see a single genuine trophy-quality animal. By the end of the fourth day, the tide had dried to a trickle, and on the last day, I don't remember seeing a single animal.

Was it a worthwhile hunt despite the lack of........(continued)

 
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