Todays the day , todays the day ! , was running through my head even as I awakened . It reminded me of the old joke about the oldtimer that , having been asked how often he had sex , replied " once a year " . At that point his questioner asked "then why are you so happy " ? " Because " , the old gent answered , " tonights the night " !
The day was dawning fair and the old familiar enthusiasm and optimism was building as I raced to dress . Scott , who had ended up in a different cabin than me , came in the door with a big grin plastered on his mug . He then sobered a bit and said " guess why Gee didnt want to put ashore to hunt the caribou we were seeing " ?
Not waiting for an answer he plunged on , " its because he is under orders to just look for the bou close to shore or in the lake " !
A lot of things clicked together at that point and my perfectly lovely morning grew a big fat pimple on it .
That cloud faded to insignificance when ,as we were having breakfast , the " camp boss from hades " announced that the boats were not going out today because he needed to prepare the animals already taken for shipment the next day " .
The silence that followed was a line drawn in the sand , cross it and what comes may be beyond unpleasant . I saw the others around the table looking with sympathetic faces at Scott and I since we were the only ones without a bou . Glancing at Scott I could see him struggling with disbelief in what he had heard and
his own rising anger .
It was too late for me , I was shot through with what I felt was justifiable wrath . I turned my gaze to the end of the table where after meeting my eyes for a heartbeat , the camp boss looked away . Then there was an eruption of sound , everyone at the table ,other than Scott and I , were talking with no small amount of volume .
We can all pitch in and help package the meat , was the gist of what was being said . And so , in this despicable fashion the camp boss once again shirked his duties and gained free help . If he only knew , I thought later , All he had to do was ask and all of us would have gladly volunteered to help .
An hour and a half later , the beauty of the land passing by on either side of the canoe was gently massaging all that ugly scene from my mind . Gee , Scott and I were 25 or so miles up the lake with a whole day before us . Cows and calves were beginning to appear and surely we would find the bulls .Gee was even getting into the hunt and accepted our directions to stay closer to shore and investigate the sheltered coves that came along .
As we were leaving one of those coves Scott turned around on the seat and was glassing behind us . I was about to say something to the effect that there wasnt anything there when he about knocked me out of the boat grabbing my arm .
"Bull!!! top of the ridge , he just came over " , came the most explosive (whisper ? ) I believe I've ever heard . Gee responded quickly by turning the boat around and moving closer to shore to take advantage of the cover . Scott was urging him to go further back into the cove but at this Gee balked and with some words and some sign language he explained that if the bull saw us he would leave even though he was hundreds of yard away .
"I just want to see how good he is " , Scott reasoned with me . " He is a grown bull and you are going to shoot it " I shot back at him . By now Gee had manouvered close against a patch of spruce and big boulders close to shore , good cover to start our stalk .
All this time the bull was doing his " caribou thing " , steady walking and feeding . Fortunately he was in the bowl end of the cove and that kept him from getting as far away since he was in effect coming back towards us from the end , only on the other side .
We ran out of cover at about the same time the bull looked our way . Hissing to Scott to freeze we crouched and I took a quick reading of the distance . " 347 yards , 20 mph wind , full value " , I reported and he clicked . Then the bull started walking ,headed to the ridge and safety .
I was in my binoculars when the 7STW spoke , the bull stopped and humped up before walking a few steps and laying down . The 176 gr. Cauterucio bullet had hit a bit far back , " gut shot for sure . The wind and the bulls walking speed had conspired a gainst a solid hit .
Since the bull seemed to be unwilling to get up we closed the distance by leapfrogging with Scott
picking his way and me keeping the bull under observation . If the bull offered to get up I would alert Scott so he could drop prone for another shot .
And thats the way it worked . The bull struggling to his feet as Scott hit the ground and then the sweet sound of the big 7mm . Solid hit !! the bull dropped like a hankerchief wrapped around a brick .
What sweet work it was to disassemble the bull and pack him down to the canoe . Gee brought the boat over to the side of the cove the bull was on and then came up the hill and took over fielddressing as Scott and I marched the bits down to the shore .
With grins on our faces bright enough to give someone sunburn we motored back out into the main body of the lake , eager to locate and stalk another bull .
So why is Gee heading back down the lake towards camp ? The caribou are all north of us , radio reports overhead on the camp radio had relayed this info the evening before . Deciding that he was planning on circling the huge island we took Scotts bull on I relaxed and continued glassing . When the end of the island passed by and we continued on towards camp Scott turned to Gee with that universal palms up for "what , why " and so on .
Pointing at the waves ,Gee replied , " the wind " . With broken bits of english he seemed to be saying he was worried that it would become to great to motor in . In reality , the wind was only making 3 foot rollers and this great freighter ogf a canoe was riding light as a cork . He then suggested that he could let us out 30 minutes before camp and then come pick us at dusk .
Then it dawned on me that Gee was simply under orders again . Camp Boss had struck again . I was so glum for the next hour that Scott broke the silence and said " I wish you had shot that bull instead of me " That jerked me out of my little pity party , realizing I had put a damper on his enjoyment of having been successful .
"Scott , I am so glad you got that bull and I would never have dreamed of shooting it , its the last day and we have a bull and I am happy for that " , all true , I assured him .
You see , Scott had paid my way to this hunt . He had tried to get me to go with him but I had to turn him down due to a lack of the green stuff . "Too many irons in the fire" , was how I put it . Then after a number of days he showed up at my house with a video of the hunts in this area . Rubbing salt in the wound I was thinking when he asked me whether I would rather hunt caribou while in " velvet "' or " hard horned " .
Thinking he was asking this for his own decision making I answered , " If it was my first hunt it wouldnt matter to me " . " Good !! , he all but shouted , " cuz I have booked a hunt for you and I this fall .
All these thoughts were interrupted as Gee turned into shore to let us out for the evening hunt . " What do you want to do Jim " ? my hunting buddy inquired ." Sure " , I replied , " beats sitting back at camp " .
Climbing up a small slope to get a vantage point to glass from I must admit I had given up . So when we reached a good spot I sat down on a rock and decided to have a snack . Meanwhile Scott was pirouetting around like a ballerina with his binoculars glued to his face .
The next words I heard were ones I would have bet the farm against the odds of hearing them . " I've got a bull " !!! Jim , I've got a bull !! . I simply couldnt believe what i was hearing . One hour before dark and a bull in sight In an area that had been scoured for weeks on end beginning in August .
" See that first ridge , go left of the big rock then look over to the next ridge and then go left to the lone spruce and then to the next ridge " , he was dancing as he explained . " Thats over a mile away " , I whined .
Then it happened , a second wind if you will , a last minute chance at a bull , rising up from my rock and urging " lets go " we tore off down the ridge . All the miles walked in the days gone by were forgotten as we crossed bog after bog and climbed each new ridge eagerly glassing for the bull .
Approaching the final ridge , we crept bent over and glassed carefully as each new bit of terrain came into view . Then there was no more to see . All the other slope was in full sight and the bull was nowhere to be seen . Thinking he may have dropped off the end of the ridge down to the lake shore we worked our way in that direction .
Glancing back at Scott there was the bull ! ,apparently coming out of a depression we hadnt noticed . And he was staring at us !!. Scott, Scott , Scott get over here ! , I was dropping to the ground even as I spoke . Backpack off , rifle on pack , wallowing around like a hog , I was desperate to get the bull in my sights before he walked back over the hill . "300 yds give or take a couple" came the whisper ," and no wind " .
I never heard the big 7 speak , but at the trigger break I saw the bull move off smartly towards a bog just below him ." He's hit , lets go " Scott was yards away as he reported this . Scrambling to my feet we made our way to the bog and crept along glassing with each new step . Head down , breathing heavily , the bull was at the edge of a small lake .
And then he was ours !