Quebec Labrador Caribou Hunt

What A Trophy

What A Trophy

Few places on the North American continent rival the vastness of the northern Canadian barrens.  As a hunter walking amongst the soggy, marsh-filled land in pursuit of Quebec Labrador Caribou, it’s hard not to feel like you are the first ever human to do so.  The remoteness that surrounded me made me feel truly insignificant.  The rolling tundra is like no other place I have ever hunted.

It’s not everyday that you get to participate in a hunt that involves traveling to the Great White North stalking caribou with 11 guys you barely know.  I’ve been to Canada a couple of times for business and always enjoyed my stay.  Every time I departed from Denver for Canada I daydreamed about the chance to hunt this untouched wilderness.  Well, finally my chance has come and I finagled a way into a Caribou hunt.  You see, I professionally represent a manufacture out of Montreal, Canada and they invited me on this hunt.  I was also able to bring along one of my clients from Denver and other manufacture reps did the same.  This in turn, put 12 hunters in the middle of nowhere excitedly waiting for the opportunity to finally hunt caribou.

New Friends

New Friends

I’ve always pictured in my mind migrating caribou trotting in droves and wolves surrounding the herd just waiting for the right moment to pounce.  I always pictured lush, green, somewhat flat tundra just spanning for miles and miles.  Let me tell you something I didn’t picture…the amount of TRAVELING it takes to get there!   Hunting was the main objective in Canada but, getting to the hunting area was quite an adventure in itself.  I calculated on a GPS that I traveled 1,900 miles from Denver, CO, to the first spot I shot my first ever caribou.  The further North you go, the smaller the airplanes get, as do the cities.

Air Travel To Hunting Camp

Air Travel To Hunting Camp

I arrived in Schefferville, Quebec, an abandoned mining town that hosts thousands of hunters every year in transition to their final hunting camp destination.  Unfortunately, once arriving in Schefferville, the weather had us socked in for two long days.  Club Chambeaux, the outfitter we used, did everything they could think of to help pass the dreaded time we had in front of us.  But like I said, we were stuck in an abandoned mining town in the middle of nowhere.  Finally we caught a break in the weather on the third day and we all scurried to our assigned twin engine Otter airplanes.  We were headed to Lake Kaminapiskwasi, even further North than we already were. It would take two hours to get there, which felt like an eternity on an Otter.  As we touched down on the water with a victorious landing, the Otter puttered into Lake Kaminapiskwasi where I would spend the next 5 days stalking caribou. Excited?  Very, but at this point, more sick to my stomach than anything.  Prior to boarding the Otter airplane departing from the notorious jump-off point of Schefferville, I noticed a bush pilot in a red jump suit sucking down cigarettes almost like it was his job.  I couldn’t help but wonder to myself, “Is he incredibly nervous, or does he really enjoy those things that much?”  Regrettably, Mr. Red Jump Suit grabbed the controls of the plane and lifted us off the ground.  I don’t know if it was the Top Gun maneuvers to avoid the mountain tops, trying to stay below the cloud cover, or the dreaded cigarettes he puffed every few minutes, but I felt horridly nauseous.  To make matters worse, upon opening the coaster-sized window aboard the Otter, the smell of jet fuel bellowing into the cabin only proved to make me even more sick to my stomach, if that was even possible.  But with my feet finally on dry ground again and the rumbling of a potential caribou migration in progress, amazingly, my stomach began to feel better.

I am very familiar with getting out in the backcountry and glassing for hours on end but, I wasn’t used to getting into an outboard boat first and sometimes traveling hours to dry land before doing so.  At times the boat rides were as scary as the airplane rides, but this was all part of the adventure, right?  That’s what I kept telling myself, anyway!  And what an adventure it was!  I will never forget seeing a caribou in my binoculars for the first time.  What an amazing animal!  The caribou amble along the tundra with such grace and swim through water so effortlessly.  Seeing the caribou swim is one of the most unreal sites I’ve ever witnessed of a big game animal.  It’s funny because we all have our own views of what a hunt is going to be like and I, of course, had mine.  I pictured caribou coming in droves and eventually picking off the biggest bull in the herd, then posing for digital camera stardom.  Turns out, it’s not exactly that easy.  The caribou are like any other big game animal I have chased, they make you work for the opportunity to harvest them.  I calculated on a GPS that we walked about 8-10 miles a day in pursuit of the almighty headgear these animals produce.

Caribou 4-Stroke

Caribou 4-Stroke

Caribou, Caribou And More Caribou

Caribou, Caribou And More Caribou

It didn’t help that my guide, Rodney, whom I followed around for almost a week, was part mountain goat and part Newfoundland.  Given this rare combination, It was virtually  impossible to capture any pictures of him in the field.  Let’s just say he is a rare breed almost like the Bigfoot legend…indescribable!  Moving on, literally!  I fortunately was in shape to keep up with Ol’ Rodney but traversing rocks and marshy land proved to be challenging.   A friend I made on this trip, Tom Tews, called the footing of the tundra, I quote, “Like hoping on a bunch of bowling balls smothered in Crisco!”  Must be Wisconsin humor…but that is why I enter the wilderness time and again; for the struggle and the almighty challenge.


Speaking of challenge, what a challenge it is to head off a herd of migrating caribou, as they negotiate the tundra flawlessly.  In order to catch up with the Caribou herd we saw through the binoculars a half mile away, it was our turn to migrate to a different area and propose a shot.  A rather steep ravine separated us from the Caribou and this fortunately allowed us to run to a spot, somewhat concealed, which put us almost parallel with them.  The Caribou were slightly downhill and hadn’t noticed yet that we were moving in on them.  Through the glass of my binoculars I could finally see the caribou without distance obstructing the view.  Wow!  What a majestic site it is to not only see actual caribou but to see several potential trophy bulls in the mix.  That was unforgettable.  This was my first day of actual hunting the great North and standing but a few hundred yards away was my goal.  A trophy Quebec Labrador bull!  He stood out of the herd as his gleaming white hide showed the age and stature of this trophy.  As we closed in on the herd they weren’t really hanging around, per say.  This is when Rodney, Steve and I got into position to hopefully fill our scopes with caribou hide.  As Steve and I found a nice rock to rest our rifles on we both had our sites on two caribou meandering about just below us.  The plan was to shoot at the two different caribou on the count of three.  One, two, BOOOOM!  Steve shot his caribou just before I pulled the trigger and the loud explosion threw me off just a bit.  Steve made a perfect shot on his first ever big game animal.  It was now or never and I rushingly squeezed the trigger and all I heard was “smack!”  I just missed the biggest and only caribou I’d ever had in my sights.  I just committed the cardinal sin…I shot over the back of my trophy caribou.  I couldn’t believe I just did that.  I felt totally disgusted!  Thankfully, the herd was somewhat confused and didn’t go far at all.  However, when they did move from the sidehill we originally stalked them on, they ran behind some lone trees and started to mill onward.  This gave me one last opportunity to put a sprinting stalk on the white-bodied trophy and I literally ran to get in position.  The trees between me and the caribou gave me enough concealment to get within range one last time.  And one last time was all I needed.  I pierced the vitals of the herd bull and watched as he drunkenly stubbled to the ground.  I couldn’t believe that I just downed a trophy caribou on my first ever stalk in Northern Quebec.  The best part was the walk over to him as he grew in size instead of the proverbial ground shrinkage effect.  I knew he was a trophy when Rodney said, “We are not splitting the horns on this one.  You need to get this one scored when you get back home!”  I indeed got my caribou scored after returning back to Colorado and he scored an impressive 357 2/8 gross and 347 3/8 net just missing the Boone and Crocket record book by inches.  What a dream come true!

Scuba Steve's 1st Caribou

Scuba Steve's 1st Caribou

Proud Moment

My First Caribou - 347 3/8 Inch Caribou

All in all, I was able to harvest two caribou on my trip to Quebec.  I was not the only one to do this, either.  All 12 of us in camp walked away with two filled tags.  And all 12 of us left caribou camp with new friends, great memories and a belly full of laughs.  It’s not everyday that you get 12 strangers together and they all bond like we had known each other for years.  I believe that the common bond of hunting brought us together and that this gave us a lifetime of friendship and memories.  Like every good thing it had to come to an end and we were soon South bond.  Needless to say, when the bush pilots arrived to fly our group out, I avoided Mr. Red Jump Suit like the plague and boarded the “asthma ridden plane,” if you catch my drift.

Canadian Sunset

Canadian Sunset

About the Author

Marc Montoya

Marc Montoya

Marc Montoya is a dedicated Colorado bowhunter who cherishes the challenge and mental fatigue that bowhunting presents. Marc has a passion for backcountry pursuits with his bow and arrow and wants to share that passion with the world.