Well it all started leaving my place at 8am, meeting Lou around 11am in Vaughn and heading up for the first overnight stay in Rouyn - Noranda. We made good time and got there about 8pm with no issues. Gas prices were down which was a great thing and the truck was getting great milage. I filled up at my place just outside Windsor and had to fill up just past North Bay. The next day we hooked up with Get-R-Done, Chevyman and his brother Lou. Made the trip up to the check station at km 381 where we stayed another night in what can only be described as a step up from a small jail cell, well maybe a step sideways as the room didn't have its own toilet but you could walk out the door when you wanted to. We decided to leave early in the morning to beat the rest of the travellers so we headed out about 5am. We filled up with gas $1.11 a litre and away we went with visions of big bou awaiting our arrival.
A few hours later we saw our first caribou and a real dandy bull was with the group, well this did nothing but cause the excitement to grow. We stopped off at Namouchi for a coffee ($2 a cup, $4 for a sandwich) and to fill up with gas $1.50 a litre. Finally made it to the camp about 2pm and booked into the room, got our licenses and got ready for an afternoon drive. The first group of caribou we saw had Lou jumping out of the truck and tramping into the bush where he filled both his tags. Tagged the animals and got them back to camp, 2 real nice eaters for Lou and he was now the official spotter the rest of the week.
i should note that the camp canteen burned down the Thursday before and some of the stories we heard at the check in station at km 381 were that we would be eating only sandwiches and nothing real good, this was not the case. The camp did everything they could to make sure they fed everyone, and really i wasn;t there for the French Cuisine. The had made the TV room into the new canteen and with very little equipment and room they created a schedule so everyone could eat and not be crowded. I really have to tip my hat to the camp and the cooks that did everything they could to make sure everyone was fed, heck i might of actually lost a few pounds during the hunt which isn;t a bad thing.
The next morning had us driving around to find a spot to sit and really to see the area and how many caribou were around. Both my son and i had 2 tags each and we were going to hold out for a nice bull. After seeing well over a thousand animals we finally decided to sit for the last couple of hours and watch a few spots. While Mike was with Lou they only saw some cows and calfs so he didn't shoot. I was watching an open area and had about 20 or 30 animals come out and start feeding. After watching for a little while i decided to take the largest bull of the small herd. Not a real monster but wanted to make sure i had one down. One neck shot later about 100 yards dropped the animal in his tracks. The rest just stood around and watched and went back to feeding. i decided to wait and see if any more animals came out, about 15 minutes later i decided i better go get my animal. Dragging the animal out, gutting and loading it up got me back to Mike and Lou just before dark.
The next morning we decided to find a spot and sit for the morning, i was watching a lake and had a few animals walking across but the vehicles that kept stopping along the road got them moving in a different direction so it was time to find a more secluded spot. A few miles up the road we came upon a likely spot where there was loads of sign of animals crossing that morning. I set Mike up between a couple of trails and i went for a walk. I had only gone a couple of hundred yards when i heard the shot so i went back to see what my son had shot. Appears there might be a dead spruce tree somewhere along that stretch as he missed. I left them again and headed down a caribou trail to where it came to a lake and there was a bull just a bit bigger than the one i got the night before, but it was still early so i got some video of him. 15 minutes later another gun shot from Mike, i figured the animals would be coming to the lake so i waited and a cow and calf came out to the lake and stopped within 50 yards of me. Took some more video and decided to see what the kid had done. Seems there are now 2 dead black spruce tree's along that stretch.
I told him to head down to the lake and wait about a half hour before coming back, just to follow my tracks and sit on the rock, figured he needed to warm up and the walk would do him good. I was sitting with Lou and he needed to warm up as well so he decided to go for a walk, he had only gone 50 yards and i had 4 caribou walk past me heading towards the lake. Thought if Mike was where he should be he could take one of the animals. Within minutes 2 bulls came out and i dropped my second of the hunt, not a huge bull but a bull non the less.
Mike came out along the trail about 5 minutes later and he didn't wait long enough so we all sat at the same spot and within 15 minutes here come some more animals. Mike decided to take one and with a few shots he had his first on the ground. I decided to check his gun to make sure it was still shooting right as he had missed 2 animals clean and have on video him missing and hitting the one he got. The gun was shooting just fine and we were off for lunch.
On the way back we ran into a flock of Ptarmigan and i had my small game tag so 3 birds were taken, got 6 birds all together and if the gun was clean could of shot a few more. the grease on the ejector on the single shot stuck a few times and had to pry the spent shells, oh well lesson learned.
On the drive out we were checking out the lakes and open spots, a few times we saw animals and got out for a stalk but only to be a little too slow on these moving animals. I was going to go back to where i shot the bull the day before for the rest of the day when a cow and calf ran across the road, i told Mike to see if more are coming and maybe make it down to the lake where he could get a good shot. There was 1 more animal coming with the cow and calf, a nice looking bull, not huge but i think bigger than mine, just no shovels. Well i got to see him kill another black spuce and the the bull made its way down the ridge and trot past Mike, i saw him raise the gun again and this time the tree's were safe. One shot and the bull maybe went 5 yards.
All tagged out and it was 1:30 on the Thursday.
We decided to leave a day early so we had the truck pretty much loaded up and were going to leave early Friday morning. A long drive on Friday (17 hours) with lots of animals on the roads and a bit of snow to make things interesting. Think the biggest issue was people who aren't used to driving on roads with a bit of snow on them with huge trailers.
Chevyman ended up with a flat tire at the km 381 check station but with some help from some good Ford parts he was able to get moving again. We were thinking of stopping at Matagami for the night but it was still early enough to make it a bit further, so at midnight we spent the night at Rouyn - Noranda. Early to rise again and back on the road. Ended up dropping off Lou at his place around 2pm and i made it home around 6. Just over 4800km put on the truck and i would turn around and do it again, a few lessons learned thats for sure.
packed a bit more clothing than i needed
packing 4 jerry cans to save $40 really isn't worth the trouble
find a spot and stay put, maybe a pop up blind with a heater
bring more snacks