Our 2018 season is now just a memory. All in all we had another great year and many clients went home with wonderful memories and some great trophies to remind them of their time spent in the Mackenzie Mountains. As always we began the season with our winter wolf hunts in early April. We had two pairs of hunters come this year but did not have near the good fortune we did last year taking wolves. The weather was the coldest I have seen in April in 8 years of doing the wolf hunts, but we still enjoyed seeing the country and the wildlife. The new log cabin on the Ram River is very snug and we spent quite a few nights there as that seemed to be the area the caribou were using this year. The snow was not deep and with the cold weather the rivers were easy to navigate without hitting too much open water. The game seemed to be wintering very well with the light snowpack. We hunted long and hard but in the end the wolves had more luck than the hunters and we only harvested on big grey male on the second hunt. Hopefully we will have better luck in 2019.
We once again hosted our annual youth camp at Palmer Lake. My wife Laura, my sister in law Melodie, our kids and I, as well as some of the youth camp group flew into camp on June 26th through some rough weather. The pilots made the correct decision to delay the second flight with the rest of the kids and leaders until the next day–hopefully with better weather. Those of us who came in on the first flight got the cabins opened up and found some supper and then got some sleep. The next morning was much nicer weather and the rest of the crew arrived in good spirts and we got to work getting camp set up. We had the hydo system working before noon and the cooks were feeding us all home cooked meals by supper time. This year we hosted 13 younger teenage boys as well as 4 youth leaders. We had a great time and did lots of fishing, hiking all of the things you do in a wilderness camp. We can hardly wait for next year!
Spring seemed to come a bit late in the Mackenzies in 2018. Some of the lakes still had ice on them the last week of June. When we arrived at our base camp on June 26 it was nice and green but I would say things were a bit later than normal, and it was quite dry early in the summer. We had pretty nice weather through the first 2 weeks of July–some timely showers and some nice days. The boys did not have any trouble with high water on the trail in and all arrived at Palmer Lake in good shape. We decided to put a new deck on the old dock this year–I guess it was time after 20 years of service. I found good patch of timber at the end of the 2017 season and had milled enough lumber for a new deck with the chain saw mill. We also replaced the bridge over the creek at camp as it was getting a bit shaky. We also did a facelift on the “moose cabin” with new metal siding and roofing–it sure looks a lot better! It seems that there is always a project or two to keep us busy at the start of the year.
All of our hunters on the first hunt took good rams and had time to enjoy themselves around base camp for a few days before heading home a few days early. We were especially blessed when Israel Hale, who lost both his legs at the knee, was able to take a beautiful ram on opening morning. Israel’s family was able to come and stay at our camp to share in his experience. What an amazing family! By the time we started our second hunt of the season the weather took a turn for the worse with lots of cloud, wind and rain. Despite the rotten weather everyone took nice rams and added caribou–including our archery hunter. The three caribou hunters also took nice bulls–one with traditional archery equipment. The weather just seemed to get worse over the course of the summer but everyone hunted hard when they could and on the third hunt all were successful taking good rams and caribou. One of our backpackers lost so many days he ended having to stay a few extra days to take his ram. The fourth hunt featured more ugly weather but with a bit of snow mixed in. One backpack hunter and one horseback hunter were not unable to harvest a ram but both took wolves and one a nice bull caribou–both are also planning to come back in 2019 or 2020 to try again. The other hunters on the fourth hunts did very well and took some great rams and caribou. Both sheep hunters on backpack hunt #5 took good rams after waiting out a couple of snowstorms and enduring some very cold weather. One was also able to take a nice hard horned caribou with his wife along as a non hunter. We also had a husband and wife pair of caribou hunters that took nice bulls at the bordertown cabin. With the cold and snow they were thankful for a warm cabin to stay in. The cold weather made for some great moose hunting–all of the horseback hunters took good mature bulls as did our backpack moose hunter. We also had a father and son team do a raft moose caribou hunt that produced very well with a 67 in moose and a 400 B&C caribou.
When all was said and done we took 19 rams that averaged 10.75 years of age and 36 inches in length. All 5 of our moose hunters took good bulls that averaged 61.5 inches wide. Clients harvested a total of 22 caribou that averaged 375 B&C. We were also able to send home a total of 7 wolves in total for the season. The 2018 season was undoubtedly the worst weather year I have seen in my 23 year in the NWT but despite all of that we had another great year of hunting and were blessed to host another bunch of wonderful clients. We want to extend a huge thank you to all of them and to all of our amazing crew who toughed it out to make the 2018 season such a success.
Harold, Laura and family