British Columbia Moose and Caribou Hunt 2007

By:

In September of 2007 I had the good fortune to travel to northern British Columbia to hunt Canadian moose and mountain caribou. The hunting concession I booked with was Cassiar – Stone outfitters. Their area lies to the west of the Cassiar highway and south and west of Watson Lake Yukon. Tuya Lake is in the middle of this area and access by a float equipped Beaver brings hunters into the center of an excellent area for moose and other game.

To get north I first flew my Cessna to Cranbrook, British Columbia and cleared Customs and boarded an Air Canada flight to Vancouver. I’ve flown my plane through BC, the Yukon and Alaska in the past but I know that the North Country can turn ugly weather-wise this time of year and chose to go on the airlines for the long leg of the trip. A second Air Canada flight took me to Whitehorse, Yukon. After overnighting in Whitehorse the other hunters and I jumped on the float equipped Beaver for a two hour ride into Tuya Lake.

We'd soon leave for Tuya Lake, British Columbia on this Beaver. This is the float pond at Whitehorse, Yukon.
We’d soon leave for Tuya Lake, British Columbia on this Beaver. This is the float pond at Whitehorse, Yukon.

I chose a horseback hunt since I was also interested in shooting a caribou. The caribou are found up on a high plateau and horses are the only way to access that area. We had fourteen of the beasts in our string bringing our entire camp with us. Winter came early this year to the northern part of BC and perhaps that lead to an early migration for the caribou in this region. For whatever the reason we didn’t see many, just five in fact, but I did manage to shoot a respectable bull from that small group. Glenn, my hunting partner on this adventure, liked to smoke a cigar after dinner. That evening we were standing outside the tents while Glenn smoked, planning to move to the moose camp the next morning. Glenn spotted five caribou moving though the brush. I quickly grabbed my rifle and saw there were two bulls and one looked respectable. Neil, our guide had his binoculars and said the bigger one looked nice and had good tops. That was all I needed to hear and I pulled the trigger. By then the other caribou were out of sight and mine was down in the arctic birch. I shot from about 10 feet from my tent and the caribou were just 200 yards further. That was the last caribou we saw.

My close-to-camp caribou.
My close-to-camp caribou.
Packing out of the high caribou camp for lower country and moose. This is typical of the weather we had in September.
Packing out of the high caribou camp for lower country and moose. This is typical of the weather we had in September.

We moved out of the high caribou camp the next morning and into our moose camp. The moose were just coming into the rut near the end of September. One big boy responded to our call though and in he came, grunting all of the way. I shot him with my Lilja barreled 340 Weatherby Magnum topped with a Nightforce 2.5×10 NXS scope at just 75 feet. He was still coming in at that distance but straight on. At about the 75 foot mark he turned slightly to go around a spruce tree and I put the first shot into his lungs. He staggered but continued on his feet turning to the left and revealing more of his broadside. As long as he was on his feet I continued to shoot; putting two more 250 gr. Sierra Game Kings into the boiler room. Down he went with a crash and I had my first moose in the bag. Now the work started. In about two hours though, my guide Brian and I, had him caped and quartered. Darkness was approaching and it was about an hour by horseback back to camp. We planned to come back the next day with pack horses provided the grizzlies didn’t find him overnight. The next morning was uneventful though and we loaded him up and packed him back to Tuya Lake where the float plane would pick him up later.

 My 75 foot moose. He's a nice mature bull with a 50" plus spread and 12" wide palms.

My 75 foot moose. He’s a nice mature bull with a 50″ plus spread and 12″ wide palms.

Somewhat ironically the day before, Glenn, the other hunter in camp, had shot a nice bull about 100 yards from mine. We were hunting a lot of country on our horses and to shoot two nice bulls in one little area was a surprise and we were cautious about bears on Glenn’s moose gut pile too. Earlier in the week we rode up on a sow and her cubs on a caribou kill. We were about 150 yards from them when they came into view. Luckily she took her cubs in the opposite direction when she smelled us, teaching them a good lesson in the process – run from man-smell.

Because of poor weather we were unable to get back to Whitehorse for our scheduled return flights. An unsympathetic Air Canada wanted me to wait four days and pay an additional $900 to get back to Vancouver. That option didn’t appeal to me and after a few satellite phone calls I was able to meet another hunter on the Cassiar highway and rode with him back to Cranbrook. Tony had been hunting from Tuya too and got back to Whitehorse with his moose in the Beaver before the weather soured. He also lives in Montana and agreed to meet me where the Cotton River meets the Dease River on the highway. The Beaver pilot was fueling from a cache of fuel there and dropped me and my meat and antlers off there.

I found this fresh grizzly track about 100 yards from my meat cache after unloading from the Beaver along the Cotton River. I waited about two hours for my ride down the highway.
I found this fresh grizzly track about 100 yards from my meat cache after unloading from the Beaver along the Cotton River. I waited about two hours for my ride down the highway.

In all I had a great hunt, shot nice mature animals and saw some of the more remote parts of British Columbia and the Yukon. And I also made good friends with some other hunters in camp.