C'mon ! C'mon ! , theyre back ! , the shout brought me out of my feeling sorry for myself reverie . Then came sounds of the outboard , growling ever louder as it was revved up to shove the canoe further up on the landing .
Hustling down to the cove I was treated to a lovely sight . Caribou !! and canoes full of them . A lot of smiling faces and everyone talking at once , what a grand feeling it brought .
Seems the lads had come upon a bit of a herd crossing the lake . Everyone had taken at least one bull and many managed two . Then we realized it was our turn . That grand feeling grew fit to burst .
Hurriedly loading our gear , we headed up the lake with
ever increasing excitement . About twenty miles into the trip bou in small scattered herds started appearing with regularity . Why arent we stopping to stalk them ? Turning to Gee , our taxi driver , I pointed out a group of caribou that was single filing along a small ridge and dropping out of sight one by one as we watched .
Holding my hands apart at my sides with palms up with what I hoped was a quizzical expression on my face I then pointed at the beach . A small shrug of the shoulders was Gee's response but he did turn to the land and we all piled out .
Two to the right and two to the left we planned a pincer stalk . Gee elected to go with Scott and I . Once he was out of the boat he seemed to be happier , as if some decision had been reached and he was no longer struggling with a private dilemna . It would not be until much later that I found out why this was so .
Climbing a rugged boulder strewn hillside we reached a vantage point where we could see where the caribou had filed off to . Rats !! , a spruce forest , grown close to the ridge we had spied them on had swallowed all sign of them . Our compadres on the other end of the pincer were nowhere to be seen as a bog was on their end and they were no doubt hidden by the dwarf spruce and larch that grew there . Trying to navigate a way through without sinking up to their necks would be slow going for sure .
Turning our backs on them we worked our way to the top of the hill in order to glass the steep slopes opposite us . 735 yds to the middle of the slope ,so said the Swarovski rangefinder and with a 25 to 30 mph full value crosswind a shot from our position was beyond our abilities . Sadly so because a nice bull was nested by a boulder the size of my house . Comfortably out of the wind it appeared he may spend the day there . This thinking led to a decision to go after him even though we would spend a minimum of an hour getting to within 300 yard of him without being seen .
Hindsight teaches that I should have joined Scott in explaining to Gee what we planned to do . I didnt want to let the bull out of my sight so continued to glass him as Scott made " arrangements" . Even so I am not sure it would have helped being as neither of us speak french .
An hour later found us staring at the giant boulder the bull had camped out at only to see .......nothing ! The bull , as caribou are more likely to do than not , had wandered on . Not disturbed by this at all we pressed on to the ridge top confident we would spot him on the other side . Double rats !! Nowhere to be seen and the ridge we were on culminated in a 500 foot sheer drop to the lake below. Glassing far to the east of the lake revealed nothing walking on four legs so we had a long walk inland to negotiate around the cliffs and make our way to the beach below . That was our plan , to be picked up on the other side of the ridge after Gee had collected the other two hunters .
Reaching the beach we found a sandy bit of shore suitable for grounding the canoe and sat down to some lunch . The camp cook always provided each hunter with more than most could eat but I was planning on giving it my best shot . Then a sentence remembered from the camp boss first day lecture paraded through my mind , " If you dont meet the boat at the appointed time you will be left until the next day " period , end of sentence . My appetite for the second thick meaty sandwich fled and I tucked it away in my backpack .
" Scott , I dont think Gee's coming " were the first words out of my mouth after a two hour wait and no sign of our boat . Aww ! , he wont leave us here , I told him to pick us up over here and I think I'm taking a nap " was his reply to my paranoia . Since taking a nap meant laying down in a depression out of the wind it also meant being out of sight of the boat should it round the point in search of us . So I asked him to take off his orange and tie it around a big rock that was plainly visible from all points .
Heading further inland I decided to make arrangements in case my fears of being left out overnight were realized . I knew the day faded fast way up here and did not want to spend the night in the open . With practically no prospects for building a fire due to lack of suitable fuel and knowing even if I did have material that would burn the wind was so strong and from every direction it would simply be blown all over the place including on sleeping Scott and Jim , I started looking for a way to build a shelter .
Spying a small grove of dwarf spruce I looked around until I found a small open space . Taking hold of the trunk of a tree and working it until I had it bent over I tied a bit of nylon rope to the top and continuing this process in a rough circle tied them all together in a way as to have around 3 feet of room underneath them with a small entrance to crawl into . By now three hours have past and I am resolving myself to spending a cold , long
night in this shelter that , up until now , had existed only in some fictional frontiersman novel I had read .
Jimmba !!! , the shout cut through my mental meanderings and then Scott , who knowing of my dreams of Africa had given me
that nickname to go along with them , came rushing up to my little castaway nest . Seems he had awakened to the sound of the outboard and spotting it far out in the main body of the lake watched first with unbelief as it proceeded to grow smaller ,then with relief as it turned in our direction .
I was a happy noncamper for sure but now a bit of anger was simmering as well . When confronted with our barrage of questions Gee simply pointed at one of our hunting partners and said in a broken english "that man see you orange , or for you , breakfast island " pointing at the spit of land we had just left . Suspecting that Gee knew more english than he could speak I pointed at the sheer bluffs that we had to work around and said " you knew those bluffs were there and you thought we wouldnt be able or willing too work our way around them to the beach so you just waited on us to return to the boat , yes ? For that bit of prescience I was rewarded with a small shrug and lifting of eyebrows . After discussing it with the other hunters this was confirmed .
Arriving at the camp just at dark I ate the excellent meal that was waiting and went to my cabin . Tomorrow was the last day .