Susan C. Anthony

Hunting with GrandpaHunting with Kids

August 8 - 11, 2011

Dennis' son and family moved away, but our grandson was old enough when they left to remember the homestead. In 2011, he and his dad joined us to hunt caribou. Unfortunately, we hadn't seen any caribou by the time they arrived, but while glassing the mountain they spotted a small herd high on a ridge. Dennis was anything but enthusiastic about hiking up a mountain to haul down meat, but there wasn't much choice.

Halfway up, we spotted a lone caribou busily feeding, rarely raising his head. Our grandson and his dad stalked it while Dennis and I stayed back to take photos. The first shot went wild but the second one killed the caribou instantly.

After that, we half-heartedly hunted for moose after spotting one at the end of the lake. Grandpa demonstrated how to scrape antlers and call for moose. We waited for what seemed a long time after we called, but didn't see or hear anything so went back to the boat and motored home.

We should have waited a little longer. Friends with a view of both the mountain and the area from which we'd called the moose saw an adolescent bull lift his head at our first call. He turned and raced down the ridge toward us. Not long after we left, he arrived, stomped through the woods looking for trouble, and churned up the water where our boat had been. He wasn't legal to hunt, but wouldn't it have been fun to take videos of him tearing around the woods?

Caribou numbers peak and crash depending on weather, predation, and other factors no one really understands. Between 1967 and 1972, the population of the herd in our area fell from 61,000 to 10,000. Between 2009 and 2010, it shot up from 33,000 to 45,000. Fish and Game opened a special season in October. Dennis and a friend bagged two large bulls with two shots just a few hundred yards from the cabin.

English teacher's trophy and the boysThe next year, there were even more caribou. Four teenaged boys arrived with six adults for a special hunt. The kids' job was to hike the mountain, film the event for a documentary, butcher the animals, pack the meat, and later cook up a feast for their local community. Thousands of caribou showed up, earlier than we've ever seen them. On opening day, everyone rose early, climbed the mountain, and all but one of the men bagged a caribou. Only one hunter, the boys' English teacher, returned sad and empty-handed.

The next day, as the boys cleaned caribou, Dennis invited the English teacher to ride down the trail and look for caribou. Not far from camp, right on the trail, they encountered a HUGE bull. The English teacher bagged it and had it scored for Boone & Crockett. It scored a very respectable 364 points!

It was great to watch the boys in a group of men, everybody having great fun doing guy things. No drugs, alcohol, violence or profanity. The kids were some of the nicest and most hard-working teens we'd met. One of them thanked us warmly, saying it had been the best week in his life. As soon as the boys left, so did the caribou. It wasn't until late September that we saw more. It almost seemed that the caribou arrived especially for those boys and that hunt!

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