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Caribou Hunting Guide: How To Hunt Caribou

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

The barren-ground caribou is a majestic creature; its form appears as if it were crafted from the North itself. Its coat blends in seamlessly with its environment, allowing it to roam through forest and tundra alike. The challenge of hunting this elusive animal entices those who seek adventure and thrills. This article provides an insightful guide on how to effectively hunt the barren-ground caribou.


For hunters looking to take on the task of tracking down this beautiful beast, knowledge is key. Successful hunting takes more than luck; understanding the habits and behavior patterns of the species plays an integral role in becoming successful. Knowing where to find these animals, what time they will be present, and how best to approach them are all essential components for any aspiring hunter.


This article outlines strategies used by experienced hunters that have been proven effective when pursuing a barren-ground caribou. With a thorough understanding of their lifestyle and habitats, readers can expect to gain valuable insight into hunting this remarkable creature.


Understanding Caribou Behavior And Habits

Barren-ground caribou, also known as migratory tundra caribou, are a species of deer found in the Arctic regions of North America including Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Northern Manitoba. Hunting these animals is an essential part of many northern cultures and has been for centuries. To be successful when hunting caribou, it is important to understand their behavior and habits.


Caribou form large herds during migration which can contain thousands or even tens of thousands of individuals. Mature bulls tend to lead the herd and they usually stay at the front while cows and younger calves typically lag behind. Caribou migrate between calving grounds, wintering areas, and summer ranges depending on seasonal availability of food sources such as lichens. Male caribou will separate from females and juvenile members of the herd during certain times in order to mate with other mature bulls. During the fall season, hunters may have access to greater numbers of male caribou due to this mating ritual taking place far away from females and young ones who remain in more open terrain where they are vulnerable to being hunted. Knowing this information can help improve one’s chances when going out to hunt barren-ground caribou.


Interested in booking a caribou hunting trip? Check out our page on caribou hunting in Canada to learn more.


Preparing For A Caribou Hunt

Once one has become familiar with the behavior and habits of barren-ground caribou, it is important to prepare for a successful hunt. Hunting in remote areas requires an individual to be well equipped and prepared for various scenarios that could occur during their expedition. You can check out our full list of suggest clothing and footwear here.


The first step before going on any hunting trip should always be acquiring the necessary licenses or permits from wildlife agencies in the region. This will vary depending on which where you plan to hunt but is essential nonetheless. Additionally, bear spray and other protective gear should also be taken along as safety precautions while out in the field. Furthermore, hunters must bring enough supplies such as food, water, shelter, clothing, etc., to last them throughout their entire trip. Longer trips may require more extensive camping equipment like tents or sleeping bags and GPS units can help navigate difficult terrain if needed. All these preparations are key components when planning a successful caribou hunt.


Fortunately at Munroe Lake Lodge, we offer a delicious 3 meals a day, warm beds, hot water, rustic lodgings and everything else a big game hunter could ask for!


Scouting And Locating Caribou

Once the necessary licenses and permits have been acquired and all preparations are in order, it is time to start scouting for barren-ground caribou. As a deer species, they typically travel in herds and can be found across wide open tundra or along tree lines. While hunting caribou, one should keep an eye out for feeding bulls as these are the easiest targets to identify when locating herds. Additionally, hunters should also listen carefully as caribou tend to make loud noises while running and can alert them of their presence even if they cannot be seen.


When looking for caribou, it is important not to pursue too many animals at once as this could lead to over harvesting. Instead, only select a few that meet certain criteria such as size or gender before obtaining a tag from wildlife agencies. This ensures that sustainable practices are being followed during the hunt and helps manage herd populations overall. Once located, proper stalking techniques must then be implemented in order to successfully harvest a caribou without scaring off other members of its herd.


Tactics And Strategies For Caribou Hunting

Once the desired caribou have been located, there are several tactics and strategies that hunters can employ to maximize their chances of success:

  1. Spot-and-Stalk: This technique involves spotting caribou from a distance and then quietly stalking them on foot to get within shooting range. It requires careful observation, patience, and stealthy movement.

  2. Ambush Hunting: Setting up blinds or stands in strategic locations along known caribou travel routes or feeding areas. Hunters wait for caribou to come within range before taking a shot.

  3. Calling and Decoying: Using calls and decoys to mimic the sounds and appearance of caribou to attract curious individuals or draw them closer. This technique can be effective during the rutting season when caribou are more responsive to calls.

  4. Glassing: Using binoculars or spotting scopes to scan vast open areas, hillsides, or valleys for caribou. This technique is particularly useful for identifying caribou herds or solitary individuals at a distance.

  5. Tracking: Following fresh tracks or signs of caribou, such as droppings, hoof marks, or trampled vegetation, to locate their recent activity areas. This technique requires good tracking skills and knowledge of caribou behavior.

  6. Hunting with Dogs: Employing well-trained hunting dogs to track and locate caribou. Dogs can help detect the scent of caribou and lead hunters to their whereabouts.

  7. Glassing and Stalking: Combining glassing techniques with stalking, where hunters use optics to locate caribou from a distance and then plan and execute a careful approach for a closer shot opportunity.

  8. Still Hunting: Slowly and silently moving through caribou habitat, constantly scanning the surroundings for any signs or movement. This method relies on a hunter's ability to blend into the environment and spot caribou before they detect the hunter's presence.

  9. Winter Tracking: Taking advantage of snowy conditions to track caribou during the winter months. Fresh tracks in the snow make it easier to follow caribou and anticipate their movements.

  10. Travel Corridor Ambush: Identifying well-used travel corridors where caribou frequently pass through, such as narrow valleys or ravines, and setting up an ambush point along their route.

When on location during a hunt, it is also important to consider other factors that may affect one's chances of successfully harvesting game. For example, if temperatures drop significantly at night then a heat source should be brought along in order to keep warm while camping outdoors. Furthermore, mature cows tend to be more prone to stressful situations compared to smaller bulls so they should be targeted first when possible. Finally, since bulls urinate forward while walking it can sometimes leave behind scented trails which could give away their position - thus making them easier targets for experienced hunters.


Shot Placement And Ethical Harvesting

When hunting barren-ground caribou, it is important to keep in mind the importance of shot placement and ethical harvesting. According to research conducted by the Department of Fish & Wildlife Management, over 80% of harvested animals often suffer a non-fatal wound due to poor shot placement or inexperienced hunters. Knowing the animal's anatomy can help prevent such cases from occurring - bulls typically have larger sexual indicators than cows which can be used as references when aiming at them. Additionally, shots at feeding bull should always be taken from above and behind since this increases accuracy while also ensuring that the bullet passes through vital organs for an immediate kill.

Lastly, responsible harvesting practices must be adhered to regardless of whether one is successful in their hunt or not. This includes disposing of any waste generated during the trip properly, avoiding unnecessary stress on game populations and respecting local laws governing wildlife conservation efforts. Hunters are ultimately stewards of nature and thus should take extra caution when engaging in outdoor activities such as these.


Field Dressing And Meat Care

After a successful hunt, the next step is to field dress and care for the harvested caribou. Due to their location in remote hunting grounds, it can be difficult to transport large amounts of meat back home; thus, most hunters will opt to store their catch on-site with the help of bush pilots or pack animals like dall sheep. To ensure proper preservation of the meat, hunters should immediately begin cleaning and wrapping individual pieces after gutting them - this will prevent bacterial growth as well as reduce odor that could attract predators.

Once complete, all wrapped portions should then be placed into specially designed insulated bags so they can remain cool for long periods of time without spoiling. Not only do these bags protect against extreme temperatures but also keep out dirt and other contaminants which are common in outdoor environments. Furthermore, hunters should take extra precautions when storing game in warmer climates by ensuring there is adequate ventilation within the bag prior to sealing it up tightly.


Conservation and Ethical Practices in Caribou Hunting

Caribou hunting is an exciting and challenging endeavor that offers interesting opportunities to experience nature. It presents a unique set of challenges, but those who understand caribou behavior, have the right equipment, scout carefully for good locations, and use appropriate tactics can be rewarded with a successful harvest. In North America, the estimated population of the Qamanirjuaq barren-ground caribou herd was around 288,000 in 2017 and has been facing a steady decline due to various factors such as predation by wolves and climate change. Ethical harvesting practices are essential when it comes to caribou hunts in order to preserve these animals for future generations. Hunters must take into account shot placement and field dressing techniques so that they can ensure minimal wastage of meat from their harvested animal. By following these tips detailed in this article, hunters will be able to effectively hunt barren-ground caribou while leaving behind a positive environmental footprint.


Booking your Caribou Hunt with Munroe Lake Lodge

At Munroe Lake Lodge, we're passionate about providing unforgettable hunting experiences for avid outdoor enthusiasts like you. If you're ready to embark on some unforgettable caribou hunting in Canada, our seasoned guides and pristine hunting grounds are sure to fulfill your hunting dreams. With our extensive knowledge of the majestic caribou species and the northern Manitoba area, we ensure that you'll have the best opportunities for a successful hunt. Join us at Munroe Lake Lodge and let us guide you through the breathtaking Manitoba wilderness, where you'll not only create lifelong memories but also become part of our tight-knit hunting family. Book your trip with us today!

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