Crazy bush pilots, caribou cowboys and bulls with nine lives all add up so some entertaining times around a Quebec caribou camp.
My Quebec caribou camp had all the modern inconveniences, like a gas-powered generator for electric lights. It was handy to have electric lights for reading magazines all night because the noise of the generator kept you awake. We had a quaint little wood stove with no draft control, and with everybody’s wet clothes hanging everywhere, it turned the tent into a kind of canvas sauna. It would get up to a balmy 95 degrees and we’d hit the bunks buck naked and sweaty. Of course the fire always died at the coldest part of the night, which was always well below freezing.
So naturally one morning I woke up feeling pretty ill. I got ready to hunt, then went to see if there was any flu medicine around camp. I found the camp boss having a little ptarmigan chili for breakfast. “I’m sick,” I announced. He turned around, and a look of horror came over his face. “I think we must get you to a doctor.” I finally convinced him he was overreacting and graciously declined the offer of a plane ride, which would have done my stomach no good. But when he brought me over to the medicine cabinet, I saw in the mirror the reason for his concern. He’d apparently never seen a man wearing camo face paint before, and my green and gray complexion — which admittedly was reminiscent of a cross between Frankenstein and Dracula — made me look somewhat like a walking cadaver.
Bowhunting for caribou in the wilderness/bush of Quebec challenges bowhunters physically and mentally.
Hunters Team Up
Later that afternoon three of us went out to see if we could persuade some caribou to accompany us back to camp. We figured that teamed up, the chances were better that I would stay found, Jerry would have an adequate supply of arrows, and Ralph would avoid an accident — or at least have help if he didn’t.
We beached the boat and hiked across the rolling tundra. Actually, the tundra was sitting still — rolling is just an expression for hilly — but I admit the handful of cold pills I’d taken gave the terrain a sort of swaying appearance. Anyway, in case you’ve never been there, let me tell you the tundra is big country, and hiking through the thick, knee-high vegetation is like walking on bedsprings. It wasn’t long before Ralph sat down.
“I’m not walking anymore,” he said. “If God had meant for us to do all this walking he wouldn’t have given us binoculars.”
Suddenly, the ridges on two sides of us bristled with silhouettes. It reminded me of a clich