There are five different trophy categories for caribou throughout North America. They include the mountain, barren ground, central Canada barren ground, the Québec-Labrador, and the woodland caribou. One of the most prized of all the subspecies – the woodland caribou – is sought-after for its wide, long-beamed antlers that often have palmated bez points.
Newfoundland is mostly known for its quality moose hunting opportunities, but it’s also the only place where non-residents can hunt woodland caribou. In fact, many sportspeople travel to this scenic and pristine province in hopes of bagging Newfoundland’s grand slam, which includes a bull moose, black bear and the extraordinary woodland caribou. I was hoping to do the same on my trip.
After bagging a trophy bull moose on the third day of my Newfoundland hunt, my guide and I switched gears. I soon found myself stalking through a variety of terrain, including mature and old-growth conifer forests and in vast open areas, bogs, tundra, and cutover timbered country in search of a good representative woodland bull.
Hunting for caribou takes grit, but is well worth the effort put forth. Each day, we saw several small groups of caribou with the caribou making a hasty retreat for cover, or with me passing on the bulls we saw.
One of the extras to a Newfoundland hunt is getting to experience its uniquely beautiful and rugged lands. From climbing craggy hills, to stopping to look at spectacular views of the ocean, stalking along bogs around the countless vast lakes and ponds, or glassing through binoculars at the extreme colours. Around every turn there was another inspiring scene that etched itself into my mind.
On the last day of my hunt, we made plans to take whatever decent bull I saw. As Lady Luck would have it, by mid-afternoon we hadn’t spotted one bull. We took a short break, and ate lunch in a clearing surrounded by colorful lichens and huckleberry leaves. Without much warning, a small group of caribou moved into the area and began to feed. Luckily, the wind was with us and we slowly backed up and melted into the edge of the wood line for cover.
With each passing minute, more caribou filtered into the area. My anticipation began to grow, and the excitement of seeing caribou all around us momentarily distracted me from noticing a “taker” bull gliding noiselessly through the woods behind us. As he passed to my right, I flipped off the safety and placed the crosshairs on his chest. As he exited the woods into the edge of the bog, I slowly squeezed off a shot. The .270 WSM XP3 150-grain bullet put the bull down in its tracks.
Although I ran out of time to try to bag my Newfoundland grand slam, I considered my hunt an overwhelming success. I had a trophy bull moose and a dandy woodland caribou bull. I was as happy as a hunter could be. Newfoundland and Labrador is a unique place that offers special hunting opportunities for big game hunters. It is a hunting adventure location that should be on every dedicated hunter’s “must-do” list, for sure. A word of absolute caution here – hunting Newfoundland and Labrador is addictive – and once you have tried it, you will go back over and over again. I have.
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Home to one of the last great wilderness areas in the world, Newfoundland and Labrador is the ultimate hunting destination – especially for big game. Whether you’ve got your sights set on moose, rare woodland caribou, black bear, or our ‘Newfoundland Grand Slam’ of big game hunting, you’ve come to the right place.