Caribou Hunt - Munroe Lake Lodge
We pretty much just got everything packed away, all the meat cut up, and now have some time to post some pictures of our (my dad and I's) first ever guided hunt, not to mention first caribou hunt.
A guided hunt was one of my dad’s bucket list items, so we decided to make it come true late last year. We booked it well in advance and most of the spots we full. We had to take the first week of the hunt and understood that the primary migration would probably not be in full swing. It was not the cheapest hunt but certainly worth every single last penny!
I'll start by saying again that I have never been on a guided hunt. We weren't used to having someone cook, clean, find the animals, gut, and butcher the animals, and then pack them all out for us. We deboned our animals and got dirty with the gutting and packed half of our animals out to help the guides - they didn't mind, and neither did we!
We ended up driving to Thompson early Wednesday morning. Stayed in a hotel for the night up there and flew out in the morning. You fly into Munroe Lake Lodge from Thompson and from there you take a float plane to another lake, about 45mins further north where the caribou outpost is. The first day is a half day of hunting after you get all set up and acquire your tags.
Now, I kid you not, maybe 20 steps from our lodge our hunt begins. We hardly have time to find out what our guides name is and there are three big bulls standing 50yds away in the bush/scrub and have no idea we are there. We get great footage of them grazing and walking away and decide not to pull on any of them. We had no idea what we were going to be looking at for rack sizes and just thought we would take the first day to scout out and see what the guides call "nice." After getting the footage home and seeing them on the big screen, we passed up three of almost the biggest bulls we saw the entire time! Oh well!
So after that excitement and such we carry onto day two when dad finally pulls the trigger on one. Put a long stalk on him and got within shooting range after about an hour and the first one was down.
I went the rest of the day without bringing up my gun. Day three, dad and I decide that I'm taking the next one. After taking half the morning to chase two shooter bulls, we lose them and walk back to the boat. After spotting another bull, we decided to put the chase on and get up to take a shot. I down my first one - a little disappointed but we were working against the clock.
So we gut, bone and pack this one out and walk it back to the water. Dad and I set down, and the guide goes for the boat. Meanwhile dad glasses across the lake and spots a monster bull bedded down. Once the guide got back, we put the sneak on the bad boy. It was at least a 20min hike around the lake thru the bush, but we get to the edge and there he is, still bedded with five other bulls milling around. We should be careful now that none of the other boys catch a glimpse of us. So, dad and I argue for 3mins about who is taking this one. He finally convinces me to take it because he says I'm the better shot and won't make a mistake... I know that's not the reason, but there's nothing I can say that will change his mind. Greatest dad I know.... Anyways I get down on my belly and start the five-minute crawl thru scrub and grass up to the tree I have picked out to take my shot. I take little peeks every so often to make sure he is still bedded. I get to the tree, scope him and begin to shake... I've never had buck fever like this! So I pull my bipod out, set up, and put the cross hairs on his neck as this is the only shot he's giving me. I take a minute to gather myself and squeeze... He lays over right in his bed. Didn't flinch!
Day four rolls around and brings 50km winds and rain and cold temps. We hike all day not seeing more than a dozen animals and not one shooter for dad.
Day five comes with the same conditions. Hiked all morning with only seeing three bulls and a herd of cows and calves. Dad would have pulled on one of the bulls, but they wouldn't give him a shot. It's now 4 pm, and we are all walking back to camp to hang up his tag, and the guide stops in his tracks. He points not 40yrds away and there in the thick bush is the rack of a bedded down bull. The bull got up and started walking in the bush. It's too windy for us to hear him, and too windy for him to smell us, so we wait. 5mins later there is no sign of him. For fear that he might have snuck past us on the other side of a ridge, we walk towards the ridge. I spot his tops, and it looks like he is on the move. Dad and I take off running along the ridge to try to get a bit higher to get some clear shots if needed. Half way I spot his tops again just over the ridge... he hasn't moved much and is grazing now. Five steps towards him and we get a clear broadside shot at maybe 60yards... Dad makes no mistake and puts one right through his heart! One of the most classic final days, last hour hunts I've ever seen. All three of us had our heads so low that I'm surprised we saw him. Just goes to show you never to give up!
Day five brings the same weather, and we can't fly out. So, it's another day spent in the tundra until better weather can roll in. It's just one of those things you can't control. I was glad we weren't the hunters trying to get in that day!
Anyways, that’s my story. Sorry if it's a bit of a plug for the Munroe Lake Lodge, but you couldn't find two better lodge owners that Robert or Michelle up there. Great people and a great hunt!