Coleman Caribou Hunt
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By Brent Coleman

Rain buffeted off the windshield as the Dehaviland Beaver cut through the clouds. We emerge from the blanket of white and Jim flies us in for a closer look of Chuchill Falls. We land a few minutes later and Bushy, Jim's brother, immediately begins to prepare the plane for the trip back to camp.
My companions and I are returning from 6 days of caribou hunting in northern Labrador. Our pilot is Jim Hudson. Jim owns Torngat Wilderness Adventures, based in Goose Bay, Labrador.
While offering both sightseeing and fishing expeditions throughout Labrador, Jim's busiest time of year is the caribou season. Testimonial to this are the nearly 200 bookings for the 2001 season. His recurring success is due in part to the fact that he is the only outfitter in Labrador who owns his planes. Moreover he is committed to giving hunters their best chance possible of taking a ground barren caribou.
The George River herd consists of over 700,000 caribou, however, an early hunt can be challenginng. If the caribou aren't moving, the guides know that Jim will do all he can to locate animals. If moving hunters is necessary, Jim doesn't hesitate. There is constant communication between both guide and operator via HF radio and satellite phone. The guides also have mobile radios for use when they are afield.
The Labrador landscape is a breathtaking sight from above. Countless lakes are interwoven in a vast carpet of spruce and lichen. Lichen is the mainstay in a caribous diet and grows abundantly throughout Labrador.
Torngat operates out of two main camps, Andre and Crystal Lake. There are also four "spike" camps located north of the main camps. Weather is a crucial factor in any hunt and such is the case here as well. Warmer weather usually means using the northern camps.
We arrived at Crystal Lake and were greeted by our guides Marcel and Wilford. A third guide, Dave, joined us midweek. All three are from Newfoundland and have many years of guiding amongst them.
The first night we settled in after a great supper prepared by our cook, Angie. Morning came quickly. After breakfast, we headed out hunting. There were no caribou seen by either group. By noon, we had decided to fish for a while. We caught several lake trout and lost track of all the speckled trout reeled in.
The afternoon hunt was unproductive and we returned to camp.
Unseasonably warm weather descended upon us for the next two days. There wasn't a caribou to be seen and spirits were beginning to abate.
Our luck changed on day four as cold air poured into the region.
Jim had already planned on moving us that day. Four of us left that morning and headed north. Joining me were Dennis Winans and Ed Resch, both experienced hunters, and Dave, our guide. Jim set the plane down on a small lake. Several caribou had been spotted there the previous week.
As we were hiking in, we spotted our first caribou. It was a young cow, and, while we each had two tags, we chose not to shoot. We headed on. We reached our destination in twenty minutes.
Once there, Dave began to point out certain landmarks. He paused suddenly and in a quiet voice said " There's a beauty". We all laid down without saying a word. I grabbed my binoculars for a better look. The mature stag was facing us directly, about 400 yards away. I whispered to the others " He has double shovels and nice rear tines. This ones a shooter." Without hesitation, both Dennis and Ed whispered back" This one is yours, Brent."
With that, I dropped the bipod on my .270 caliber Remmington. I was dialing in the Bushnell scope when Dave told me to wait; the stag had begun a slow pace towards us. Minutes seemed like hours as the distance closed. The stag made an abrupt right turn with approximately 150 yards between us. He disappeared in an instant.
For two long minutes we scoured the direction he had been traveling. His reappearance was just as quick as his disappearance. He was moving to my right, downhill, at a steady pace. He was now at 85 yards and starting to move away. I spun around and planted the bipod. I placed the crosshair just behind his front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. The 150 grain corelokt round found it's mark and before I could reload, the stag was down. Though not my first caribou hunt, this was the first caribou I had ever taken. To say I was excited would be an understatement.
This, however, was just the beginning of a very successful day for all of us. Both Dennis and Ed took majestic stags that day. Dennis' caribou was taken only fifteen minutes prior to the time we were to have been picked up. Their selflessness from early in the day was rewarded.
On the final day of the hunt, I took another mature stag. I hunted alone that day, as Dennis and Ed had left camp a day early, due to other commitments. While neither of my stags were "book" caribou, they will always be trophies to me.
( As a note: several "book" caribou were taken as the season progressed.)
Labrador is a land rife with game. Torngat Wilderness Adventure made it possible to fulfill a dream, as well as see how beautiful Labrador is. Jim Hudson and his personnel commit themselves to the task at hand; providing hunters with a safe and successful trip. They have given me unforgetable memories of a lifetime.

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