One of my best bowhunting experiences I’ve ever had took place on the NWT of Canada.
My father and I flew in early august to a little lake located in the middle of the mackenzie mountians. About an hour flight to the west of Norman Wells.
We have been hunting for ten days for Dall Sheep and Mountain Caribou.
The bush plane dropped us on a little lake and picked us ten days later miles away, all we need was inside these packs.
We flew in to a little cabin located in a small lake in the middle of the mountians. The place is just a paradaise.
We met there our two guides, two hunting legends having taken both more than a hundred sheep! I love to hunt with experienced hunters, you always learn new things to become a better hunter.
My dad will be hunting with Alan Klassen.
I will be with Jeremy Hatala.
We spent the rest of the day preparing the packs and all the things that will be with us for the next ten days. Before hunting you need to wait 12 hours after a plane flight, so there is not much to do than relax after three days of travelling.
It was pretty cool to see some bears playing in the lake. I prefer not to play with them though!
We left Goober´s Cabin early in the morning and moved forward to a big valley.
We hunted all together, in order to warm up and enjoy hunting together for a few days.
We set up camp close to the river, left all the heavy stuff and started going up a creek to check one of the valleys.
We spent the whole day checking the valley, but we just saw a group of five very small sheep,nothing interesting. It is amazing how vast the land is, and how much land you can control.
We arrived at the camp, had some dinner and after a bit more glassing we went to bed.
We had some breakfast and headed again all together to check the next valley.
I love the feeling of discovering new land everyday, that maybe has not been hunted for years. Its exciting!
We arrived at the end of the valley a little bit past midday. We saw on our way up a group of some small caribou, but nothing worth trying, or.. worth packing!
We had some lunch, a little nap and started going back down to the tents slowly glassing in search of sheep coming out to feed in the afternoon. It looks like they were not hungry, since we didnt see any.
We arrive late to camp and we spot from the tents the two first sheep of the day. Two young rams and another ram that is so far away that we can not tell what it is.
Since there was no many sheep in the area we decide to separate in order to have more chances. So we picked the camp and wish each other luck.
Dad went back towards the lake to check the valleys on the other side. Jeremy and I kept going down the main valley checking all the creeks.
We found a really nice bull close to a strip line so we spent most of the morning trying to guess what it was going to do. Caribous are the craziest animals on earth, and they suddenly went up the mountain and our chances vanished.
We kept going down the valley and spot another two very young rams, and a few more caribous.
At the end of the afternoon we set up camp as farther down the valley we can, we need to find sheep as soon as possible to have time to prepare a stalk with the bow.
We woke up and there was fog everywhere.
It is useless to get out since we couldnt varely see anything, so we spent most of the day in the tent waiting for the weather to improve.
After lunch the weather improved a little, so we went out of the tent to quickly check one of the closest creeks.
In that creek we spotted a group of rams, but not exactly what we were looking for. It was great to see some rams though! They are one of the most beautiful animals on earth, aren’t they?
We went back to camp, hoping to have a better weather the following day.
We packed the full camp with us, and in order to try to cover as much ground as possible, we hunted with it full-time.
We saw a few more caribou bulls, but our main objective was the sheep, so we kept moving forward.
Shooting a caribou takes you one or two days to pack all the meat to a strip line, and maybe another day if you have to wait for the bush plane to land because of the weather. That can take you three days out of your sheep hunt, and at this stage that was not an option. This caribou pics were taken at just 40 yards.
It was a miserable day, but we saw two groups of ewes and lambs, and two groups of small rams. It look like we were getting closer, and that the rain had made the animals to move.
During the afternoon Mark flew over us to contact via radio to check we were still alive and that everything was going well. It was nice to have some news from Dad and Allen, they were both right but they had not been lucky yet.
We woke up and headed to the top of the mountains to try to get to the next main valley.
We got as much water as possible on the last creek just in case we needed to stay on top for a few days. The camp setting was just awesome since we could glass miles and miles around us from it.
We spent the whole day glassing and glassing, and bit more glassing after that.
Although we were covering a lot of land from the top, looking at several valleys we did not see a single animal, no ewes, no rams, no caribous… nothing!
It was quite a frustrating day since we had already covered a lot of ground and we just had two more days left to hunt. We were running out of time.
On the other hand, Dad and Allen made it happen!!. It was awesome, I would have love to be there!
They saw from a long ways a group of rams with at least two shooters. After spending the whole day to get into shooting distance they had to wait for several hours for the rams to stand up to shoot the biggest one.
Dad made a great shot at 270 yards, putting down on its track a gorgeous ram. His face says it all!!
Effort paid off!
They still had to pack out the ram and get back to the camp which was miles ago. They actually arrive at camp at dark, which there that takes place after 12:00 pm. It was a long and tough day for everyone, but the reward worth the sacrifice. Proud of my Dad once again, one of the best hunters out there if not the best!
We packed the whole camp and kept moving towards the next valley.
It was raining a little but at least there is was no fog. That morning was quite special since we saw a few ptarmigans and a weasel, which was the Jeremys luck animal. It was signal to dont lose faith..
Before lunch we finally spotted a group of rams, in which there were at least two shooters. It was hard to judge, since they were way down the valley about a whole day of walking.
It was nice to finally have an objective, so we headed down towards the group of rams as quick as possible.
The following day was our last hunting day, so we had to make our best to make it count. We needed day 10 and 11 to get to a bush plane landing strip, and although we didn’t know the exact location of it, we knew it was going to take us more than a day to get there.
We tested the bow to make sure nothing happened in all the hunting days. 55 yards…Perfect. We were ready.
We saw the rams bed down on the top of a mountain. We set up camp in the distance, since we didn’t want to spook them, and went to bed.
Neither of us slept that night… We woke up surrounded by fog and by the time it was gone, the group of rams was also gone. They were not on the spot we left them the day before, and we couldn’t find them again.
We started glassing around and spotted two beautifull rams close to camp. It looks like god was giving us one chance. It was tempting to get the rifle, but after all the training I needed to try it with my bow, although I knew I could come back empty handed. Dream big. They were feeding slowly in the middle of a steep slope.
I went around the mountain and locate myself above the rams, while Jeremy was below controlling their movements. After about an hour everything went as planned, and the rams passed way below me. After missing it and thinking I have wasted a lifetime opportunity, the ram stopped for a few seconds before turning over to the next valley. I will never forget the second it took the arrow to travel the 90 yards between the ram and I, that “thock” sound and that picture of the ram with the orange blazers right behind the shoulder. It just ran ten yards before starting to roll down the mountain… The craziest adrenaline rush I will ever experience for sure. Yahooo!!
A dream came true. I couldn’t be happier!!.It’s hard to express all the feelings, and anything I write would fall short..
Tagged out on our last and first chance, unbeliable!
We had our best lunch ever and started the hard work.
Day 10 was a looong day. We packed everything and headed down towards the bush plane landing strip that was down the valley.
It took us 9 hours to arrive to the Ram River. The packs were around 80 pounds each, but the weight has never felt so good.
By that time it was quite late to find a way to cross the Ram River, since the strip line was at the other side, so we set up camp and went to bed. We needed some rest!
We packed everything again and headed down the river to fin the most favorable spot to cross the river.
It was a refreshing experience, especially on the deepest parts. This was just the beginning…
We finally found the strip and waited there for the bush plane to come, triying to delight the last moments of our great adventure in the mackenzie mountains.
We will never forget those ten days…
It was a long 30 minutes flight, I couldnt wait to share everything with Dad and check how he was doing.
It was an emotive momment when I arrived with the pack fully loaded to the base camp, and Dad went out and realized we had made it in the last moment.
I could not thank enough to be able to share this things with my father.
It was also nice to know that our buddies from Idaho had been all successfull in their caribou hunts too! Great bunch of people for sure.
We spent the whole afternoon telling stories about our respective hunts, too many things to share!
Just to remark that anything of this story would have been possible without Jeremy. Thanks for everything my friend, I will see you again!
The following day the plane came to pick up us, and we had to say goodbye to the Artic Red River. Hope we can see it again in the future.
It was nice to meet on our way back a good friend that was going to be hunting the following 10 days, Jason Hairston, creator of KUIU.