Winter Caribou Hunting

Have any of you people tried this, hunting caribou in the winter time at -30* It's a lot of fun and you hunters, you should try this. It was in 2004 I was out hunting caribou with my buddy Guy. We left that morning around 7 AM. and it was pretty cold it was -30* no wind. Guy had his little Tundra and I had my Artic Cat 580 Pantera 1995. I had the big sled hooked up and away we went. We were heading for Lake Wachuach, this is 65 miles north of Schefferville. It's an outfitter camp and belongs to Wedge Hills Lodge, the owner Mr. Albert.

As we travelled along, crossed a couple of rivers and following the marked trail, things were going just great. After 2 hours of driving we stopped and had a good cup of coffee. The sun seemed to have warmed up the day and let me tell you it was beautiful, all those mountains and steep cliffs and lakes, for awhile I thought that I was on another planet, it's hard to explain how nice it is. As we were going through a portage we saw fresh caribou tracks and a lot of tracks.

We had stopped and I was saying to guy, they are very close maybe just ahead of us, I unhitch the sleigh. I think that we might have to run after them. Got on our snowmobiles, I was in front and away we went, as we got out of the portage and on to Lake Wachuwach. The herd was about half a mile ahead of us, they had stopped and were looking at us. I say that their must have been a couple of thousand heads. We stopped again and took the rifles out of our cases, loaded up, Guy had a 308 Browning with scope and I had a 32 special Winchester model 94 and no scope. It was easy and lite to carry along and I liked it. The caribous were still standing there and looking are way. I told Guy did you know that caribou run at 65 km. per hour. He said I know that they run pretty fast.

I told my buddy I don't want to chase them, do you see the point that comes out on the right side. He said yes, well I will go up on the mountain and come out just on the other side of that point. You wait here until you see me going down on the other side. Them you can head straight for the herd with your snowmobile. Guy said OK. I head back slowly on my trail and then went left to the mountain and followed it on the other side right up to the point. Stopped the snowmobile and walked to the point, I could hear the snowmobile and I saw the herd coming for the point. When the herd was close enough, about 1000 feet I aimed the big bull in front the leader, pulled the trigger and he stopped, I shot the next big one beside him and he stopped also. The whole herd had stopped, why because the leader was not moving. Guy shot his two big bulls also. It took about 10 minutes before my bulls fell to the ground. Out with the knife and did the job as fast as we could while those caribous were still warm. Went back and picked up the sled, got those 4 wonderful caribous abord and on our way back to Schefferville.

Do you know what? We did not even make to the hunting camp. What a wonderful day and if any of you want to experience a trip like this inbetween the 15th, Feb and the 15th, April 2008 just e-mail me. God bless you all.


My Dogs attacked by 3 Black Dogs

I received an invitation from my aunt Jackie and Uncle Roy, who lived in Moosonee, three miles From Moose Factory Island. She asked me if I would like some spaghetti and meat balls for supper tomorrow. It was Saturday and told myself I’ll take a break from the wood cutting. I decide to go over early so I harness up Blackie and Whity and as usual they were ready to go. Away we went for Moosonee, crossed Charles’s Island and they were running as fast as they could go. Tied up the two dogs went in and said hello to Aunt Jackie, she was washing the kitchen and living room floor. I said I’ll do that and even if you have some wax I’ll wax it to. Which I did and the floor was shinning aunt Jackie said the next time I want my floor washed and wax I’ll invite for spaghetti and meat balls every week-end. I answered anything for a meal like that. I spent a couple of hours after supper talking with both of them. It was around 10 PM. And it was time to go. Untied the dogs and we were on our way. Just as I started getting on to Charles’s Island and pretty dark it was, three dogs came out of the bushed and jumped on Blackie and Whitie and what a fight. I jumped off the sled, ran and started kicking the dogs with all I could give. They finally let go of my dogs and took off for the bush. I looked both dogs over and they seemed OK. After tying the dogs up and feeding them. I went in and told my grandfather about what happened and I said they were a pretty good size, and I had to kick a couple of them. I was wondering why those three dogs there were. He answered and said you were pretty lucky, you could have been attacked by those wolves. He said their young wolves and stays black until they become adults.


I would like to introduce...

I would like to introduce my wonderful wife Madeleine who gave me three wonderful children Bob, Gary and Melanie. Today is Melanie’s birthday and I still remember her first fish that she caught. She was going on to three years old, had her little fishing rod and reel. She caught a nice speckle trout about 1 lbs. When took the hook out she I want my trout and I gave it to her and she started kissing it on the head. She sure was happy and could not wait to show it to the others. Mado we call her, likes hunting and fishing when the weather is very nice let’s say. Today up in Schefferville Quebec, Canada we went out for walk and at the same time I said I’ll bring the 12 gauge along as there are a lot of white partridges around. So we got our snowmobile suits and big boots on, it was -30 and not with the factor wind or wind chill. I walked through the little village with my shot gun on my shoulder. Everyone is use to that here, it’s the paradise of hunting and fishing like I mentioned before. We were gone about an hour and a half and came back with 10 nice ptarmigans. They way I clean them is, I pluck the feathers off the breast, grab the wings and legs with one hand and grab the top of the breast with the other hand and pull. All that stays in your hand is the breast. You throw the rest away. We marinade it for about an hour. Then wrap it up in bacon and into the oven for about half an hour at 400F. Then serve it on a bed of wild rice. It’s a great meal… I mentioned a few episode back a place called Wedge Hills Lodge on the George River. This place is a hunter’s and fisherman’s dream, caribou, bear, salmon, char, lake and speckle trout. I will be getting into more details on that place later on in my stories.

The Dog Sled Race.

The race starts at 01: PM and have to be there for noon. That morning I took Blacky and Whity out for a short run and did not feed them any seal meat that morning. They were both in great shape; I knew that morning that no one could beat us. It was a beautiful sunny day and about -15. I put the harnesses on both dogs and yes I built a new sleigh out of broken hockey sticks that I had picked up here and there. It was a nice light sled and for racing. At noon we were already tide up on the side of the road and waiting. I was having problems with Blacky he was barking and trying to get to the other dogs, he wanted to fight not race. I tied his rope a little shorter to the fence post and my buddy Lloyd came and took care of him. They gave me number 13, for me it was a lucky number. The inscription was finished and we were 17 in the race. We were allowed 1 to 6 dogs, everyone had six dogs I was the only one with two dogs. The race was one and a quarter mile. The first runner did it in 6 minutes 15 seconds. I was the last one to run and the time I had to beat was 5 minutes 35 seconds. Lloyd helped me up to the starting line and we were having problems with Blacky, he wanted to jump on everything that was moving, not to bite them, he wanted to play and because of his size everyone who did not know him were scared. I managed to get going and on our way we were. Boy we were flying and the first corner that we turned I had to tip the sled on to one runner, if not the sled would have been cut in half by the steel pole that was there. About half I saw two dogs on the side of the road and I told myself oh no and it happened Blacky jump on one to fight with him. I got off the sled as fast as I could, grabbed Blacky by the ear and said no. (That’s the way I always made him listen to me and this ever since he was a pup. I just pulled his ear and he would stop.) On the way we were again and flying. I was on the last stretch, quarter mile and I could see the people, my friends jumping up and down. I knew that my time was good and maybe enough to beat 5 minutes 35 seconds. They were running straight for the crowd and I hope that Blacky does not jump on someone. As I pasted the finishing line Lloyd grabbed Blacky and said I think you won, I’m sure you won and yes we did my time was 4 minutes 20 seconds, what a race and I was proud. I the first prize in 1960 was $100. I kept $25. for me and bought dog food with the other $75.


Another Dog for me.

Yes I decided to adopt an albinos pure white husky it even had pink eyes. This dog had been following me home every day for the last week and I managed to touch him a few times. I asked my grandmother can I keep him. Maybe he belongs to someone in the village she said. I said I asked a lot of people and they said they never saw him before. I went out and fed him some seal meat. Blacky was just tide about 20 feet away and the next thing I knew Blacky broke his chain. What a fight and I decided to step in-between both of them. Whity I named him, grabbed me by the upper right arm, the two teeth marks are still there today. Lucky my grandmother came out and helped. She tied Blacky up and I tied Whity. I tied Whity so that him and Blackys were about a foot away, nose to nose and when I fed them they were a foot away. Well to make this short it took a couple of weeks for things to calm down or who would respect who and yes Blacky was the boss he was the leader. Let me tell you I had two great dogs. The dog race was in two weeks and every day we practised and this was one hour of intense running, none stop.

Getting Ready for the Dog Sled Race.

This was in Feb. 1960 and my dog Blacky really became a big and strong dog. I had a lot of offers for him, even tourists during the summer asked if I would sell him. A man and lady that summer offered me $500. for him. I went to see my grandfather and asked him if I should sell him. He said it’s your decision, All I can tell you is the dog will last a lot longer than $500. and I thought about that and said no to the lady and the man. At the age of 3 years old he was 180 lbs. and standing up on his hind legs was 6 feet. His jet black fur shined in the winter time, I guess it was because of the seal meet and fat I was feeding him. When I say he was strong, well that 45 gallon drums of water at first it was half full. Now it’s full and I get on the sled to and that mile no stop back to the house. Also that winter I was lumber jacking every week end. My grandfather was paying $6.00 a cord cut, third of a cord, split and piled. I said will you give me the same thing and he said yes. I did this for five years, with an axe and buck saw. While doing all this wood cutting I always carried the 22 rifle and a role of snare wire. So rabbits and partridges were always on the menu at home. We had time to do all that, in those days and this was all fun for me and my buddies


Fishing Trip up to French River, Feb. 1959

This was a long walk on snowshoes and I was happy I brought Blacky along. Uncle Howard his friend Charles and I were on our way to French River to fish for big speckle trout. We even brought our fishing rods. All this was tied on the sleigh with our packsack and axe. Blacky was ready to go, I had tied a long rope to the back of the sled, this was to slow him down once in a while. This snowshoe walk was 24 miles return. It was very cold that morning at 5 o’clock and around the -35 but no wind. All you could here was crispy and crunch sound from under our snowshoes and the sled runners. We stopped once after two hours, to have a good drink of hot coffee and Blacky was eating snow. We arrived at French River at 9:30 and to my surprise the river was not frozen and the banks on the side were about 10 feet high. I told my uncle, I thought that we were going to fish on the ice, but guess that’s not it. He said no we are going to cast from the side and be very careful on the side that it does not break or you slip in. My uncle gave the first cast and he had one and it was giving him a good fight, I was just watching and a good 10 minutes to bring it to him without loosing it, because it’s out of the water for about 20 feet before you get it to you. We caught a reasonable amount in 6 hours fishing and all big ones, 4 to 5 lbs. The wind had picked up and that looked like storm coming in. Blacky started jumping and barking and wanted to go. Darkness had set in pretty fast. We tied everything on to the sleigh, put our snowshoes on, grabbed the rope and said hike Blacky. After an hour of walking we stopped and talked, we could not see a thing, and the snow was burning our eyes. We did know where we were and the only thing to do is was to follow Blacky, he was our guide. I remember looking at my watch and saw 10 o’clock that was at night, we had been walking for 6 hours and no sign of the village.

We stopped for a drink of coffee that was left. My uncle looked tired; I told get on the sled, Blacky will pull you for awhile, which he did. Then Charles did the same thing and I did also. Looked at my watch it was 2 o’clock and still no sign of the village. We all took turns on the sled and Blacky had no trouble with that. As I was going along 3 o’clock in the morning and I had school that Monday. The storm was so bad that we past in front of the village and did not even see it, that’s where my uncle his friend live, I live at the end of the island. Well let me tell when we saw the house we were happy and the lights were on also a Bombardier snowmobile parked in front. Yes a search party was ready to leave as soon as it was day light. They were all happy to see us safe and sound. I gave Blacky a great big hug and told him he was a good dog, so did my uncle and his friend Charles.

Ice Fishing in the middle of November 1958

It was around the 15 th. Of November Jud, Barry and I decided to go ice fishing at Maidmens Creek that’s an 8 mile walk return. Grandmother said the ice is not frozen all over, you have to be careful where you walk, not to fall threw the ice. My grandfather said, go and get 6 big nails in the shed, 6 inch ones and bring the roll of twine also. Which I did, then cut me three pieces of twine about 6 feet long. He tied a nail at each end of the rope or twine. When you put your coats on, put the nail and twine into each sleeve before putting it on. That’s what we all did, and he I hope it doesn’t happen but if it do fall through the ice, this will help you get out of the water and onto the ice. All you do is grab the nails and use them to pick into the ice and pull yourself along. We all understood and away we went for Maidmens Creek, pack sacks on our back, chisel and axe. The walk was great and in know time we were there. We made a couple of holes each, set in our lines that were baited with small pieces of salt pork. The speckle trout that we caught were all about the same size, one to one and half lbs and a lot of them, little to shy to say who many, our pack sacks were full.


Fall 1958 Geese Hunting.

My first trip up to Hannah Bay, goose hunting with uncle George and cousin Martin. During the summer I had a little practise with the 12 gauge, Stevens, double barrel. I fell on my rear end with the first shot and yes my right shoulder was blue the next day. Hannah Bay is on the east coast of James Bay, about 30 miles from Moose Factory. It was the Labour Day week-end and my uncle George said we will pick you around three o’clock to-morrow morning. Three o’clock that morning I was on the side of the river waiting for them. It was still dark. I had my grandfather’s double barrel shot gun and two boxes of shells, Canuck number 4 heavy load. I was ready for those geese. Uncle George had a 23 foot freighter Chestnut with a 18 hp. Evinrude motor, it was a big canoe. It was pretty chilly going up there that morning. As we entered the James Bay for my first time, I said holy smokes you can’t even see the other side (shoreline) it was like the sea it was big, I guess that’s why my uncle has a big canoe. As we entered Hannah Bay which also was a big bay and landed on shore my uncle George said we will have to wait for awhile. We cannot leave the canoe here, we have to bring it closer to those bushes, I said, that’s over a mile away. Do we have to drag the canoe up there? Uncle said that’s a good three miles away and no we don’t have to drag the canoe; the tide will bring us there. The land is flat; they call it the Hannah Bay flats. When the tide is low all the birds ducks and geese come out to feed. When the tide or water flows in they all fly back inland. So what we do is set up a blind with branches and mud. My decoys then were white toilet paper with a twig with a “V” at the end and this was the head with the toilet paper wrapped around it. Took out my little shovel out of my pack sack, turned the lump of mud over and stuck the branch in it. Yes this was my decoy, made about 20 of them. I got settle in my blind and all I had to do is wait for them too come. At about a mile away I could see about two thousand geese on the ground. My uncle and cousin had set up a blind about a half a mile from me, yes I was alone and that I liked. I forgot we set up the tent over the canoe and slept in the canoe. That’s the way they do it because you will never find a dry spot to set up camp. Oh I think that the geese are moving around, yes there’s a canoe coming up. The flocks of geese took off and heading my way, at least two thousand. Off to my right they were going, I started calling them and some started turning for me. I pulled the shells out of the box and laid them in front of me, this way I will be able to load faster I told myself. They were over me and I started to shoot I could see some falling, I loaded up and fired again and a couple fell. Loaded up and shot again and again some fell, I don’t think that I was even aiming. After calming down I went out and picked up 9 geese. Out of 9 only one was wounded, which I managed to catch without shooting it. This was a great week-end hunting geese and ducks. The total bagged that week-end was 26 geese 12 ducks. I killed 4 ducks and 17 geese, was I proud, when I got home and showed them to my grand parents.

Summer 1958 Fishing Trip.

It was the end of June my uncles Howard, Doug cousin Don and I were on our way to the Quatabahgan rapids to do some fishing. The canoe we had was a 23 foot Rupert’s House with a 18 hp. Evinrude. Up we went and not just a round trip we were there for two nights. After taking everything out of the canoe and setting up the big prospector tent, I think it was 14 by 18 ft. I got the job of cutting the spruce branches for the floor. We set up the little box stove, got some dry wood and that was it. Cousin Don said in a soft voice look on the other side of the river, a cow moose with her 2 calves. I said why the calves are a red colour. They were beautiful. I picked up my tackle box and rod and down the Quatabahagan River I went. My first cast with a dare devil was where the white foam and whirl pool was and “I got one”, what a fight, it was a 4 lbs. speckle trout. That week-end was great, we ate a lot of fish, bacon and eggs every morning. I even had my first bottle of beer, a Black Label in a clear bottle. My uncle Howard gave it to me and said, no fishing close to those rapids after that bottle. I drank it slowly and it was good. What I remember that week-end is that we did catch a lot of fish, but nice ones were the speckle
trout’s which were all a nice size 3 to 5 lbs.


Winter 1957/58 Training Blacky.

Blacky was big and heavy he was 19 months old and it was time to start training him to be a sled dog and the best one. It was late November and enough snow, the river was frozen. I had built a sleigh about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide. I had no steel or copper tubing for the runners. But got the pail of black earth that my grandma told me to keep for the runners. I said grandma what do I do with that black earth. She get me a pail of warm water, with this she pour a little in the bucket of black earth and started mixing like dough to make bread. When it was thick enough we went outside and started building up a thick layer on the runner. About 2 inches thick, we did the same thing with the other runner. We waited until it harden, well froze. Then we scraped it smooth with a knife, watered it with a cloth until it was smooth and slippery. Turned the sled over and it was sliding by itself. My grandma said every time you the sleigh after a long sit, you water it with the cloth. Oh yes my grandmother made a canvas harness for Blacky, on went the harness, tied him to the sled and go. I jumped on the sled; he stopped, turned around and got on the sleigh to. I had to get some weight on the sleigh, and walk beside him that’s what I had to do. My grandmother was watching and laughing at me. I said grandma you Said you would like to have treated water from the power house at the hospital. Well that’s what I’m going to do. The power house gave the heat and electricity to the hospital and there was a water hose that anyone could use for fresh water. I got the 45 gallon water drum onto the sled, tied it solid, put the wooden lid, grabbed Blacky by the harness and away we went to the power house. It was in the village one mile from home. I walked beside Blacky all the way. At the power house I said to myself I’ll fill it only half full, which I did, patted Blacky and said lets go, I said, hike and we were on our way. Did not even help him, it looked easy for him to pull. Once at home grandma was all surprised and said you have a good and strong dog, treat him well. I emptied the drum with a pail into the drum in the porch. All that winter and few more to come I hauled drinking water and not just half filled it was filled to the top. We hauled a drum of drinking water every week

Summer 1957 Big Fishing Trip by Plane.

It was the end of June and my uncle Howard asked me do you want to come on a fishing trip; we will be a group of twelve and all going by consul to Lake Kasagammi and that will be around 6 o’clock Saturday morning. I was tickled and could not wait until Saturday. At 6 sharp we were up in the air and away for that lake. It took an hour and what a big lake with nice sandy beaches. They dropped off 6 people at one end and another 6 at the other end. The pilot said be ready for 6 PM and he took off. I was in a hurry to get that first cast in. About a couple of hundred yards up was a nice rocky point, that’s where I fished for my first cast. I had a red and white lure a dare devil and I yelled I got one. It’s something pretty big and it sure was and what a fight. A 27 lbs. musky and let me tell you what a fight it gave me. It took at least 30 to 35 minutes to pull it to shore. We fished all day and everyone caught pike, pickerel and muskies and all big fish and what I remember, the biggest musky was mine. The biggest pickerel was my uncle’s which weighted 18 lbs. and the biggest pike was Charles’s 25 lbs. everyone caught their big fish. Oh yes, during the afternoon it was sunny and hot so I went in for a swim. A few hundred yards on the lake was fishing net, maybe natives or commercial fishermen had set it. I asked my uncle, can I go out there and see what’s in it. Be careful, and away I went. When I got to the net I took a deep breath and under I went, as fast as I went under faster I was up and on my way too shore. Boy, were those fish ever big. The net was full, maybe 25 to 30 fish caught. I guess things look bigger under water. At 6 sharp we were boarding the plane and on our way back to Moose Factory. I will always remember that fishing trip.

Doctor’s Creek, nice size pike and pickerel.

I told them anything with red and white that’s what they jump on. They started casting and let me tell you we all had something on our lines. I can still here them yelling and saying holy smokes what do we have here; their monsters said my uncle’s friend. We all pulled out a pickerel and nothing less than 5lbs. We caught about 10 each and a couple of nice pike. It was noon so I said it’s time for our shore lunch. Grandma had packed up everything we needed to eat a fish or two. Even the flour, salt, pepper and the lard Tenderflake. I was going to cook it the Indian way; you boil the fish in the lard, like Kentucky fried chicken. This my uncle and his friend talked about during their one week stay. Lunch was just over and they were both casting away and pulling in another fish each. I said if you want to catch a few speckle trout we have another 5 miles up the river to do. Into the canoe we got and our way to French River. A little wind had started to blow. Like mentioned before the Moose River is big and in some place its 3 miles wide. As we pulled into the French river we saw a few big splashes the speckles were jumping. I said red and white is ok. Again the first cast everyone had something on their line and yes all speckle trout’s. Nice size speckles and 2lbs up. We caught around 30 in all. My uncles and his friend were very happy. We were on our way back home and a good twenty miles to do. It was windy with 2 foot waves and my uncle and his friend looked scared and asked me if everything was ok. I said yes all is ok. The waves got little bigger about 3 feet and the motor stopped. I cranked and cranked nothing. I said maybe theirs water in the sediment bowl. To check that I have to take the motor off the canoe. Keep the nose of the canoe straight into the wave I asked my uncle. Unscrewed the motor and lifted the motor into the canoe. Took off the lid and unscrewed the little glass bowl. I could see the water in the bowl. Wiped it clean put it back on placed the motor pump the gas button a couple of cranks and we were on our way. I could see my uncle and his friend had a smile on their face. Once at home and all the stories told and I saw that they really enjoyed their fishing trip, it felt good. But to my surprise they were more than happy about the trip; they both gave me their fishing rods and tackle boxes.


Summer 1957

I was 12 years old that summer and my uncle Sid from Toronto was down with a friend of his, Don. They came down with their fishing tackle and wanted to go fishing for big fish. My grandpa glanced at me and said, you know some good places. I said yes the Quatabahagan rapids, which are 17 miles long and on the Moose River, we could also try the French River and also Doctor’s Creek. My uncle said to my grandfather isn’t he a bit young to go up there with a canoe and motor. Grandfather said you’ll see for yourself to-morrow. The next morning we were on our way at 06:00 hours, nice sunny day and no wind. Blacky wanted to come; he swam about a quarter of a mile after us. He was too big and still clumsy. My grandpa’s canoe was a 20 foot chestnut with a five and half evenrude. The year was a 1950 but in good running condition. As we got into the rapids and looked at the shore line you could see that we were hardly moving up stream. I noticed once in awhile my uncle or his friend would look at me, not saying much. They looked scared. It takes two hours to do the rapids and that’s what it takes. Doctor’s Creek was just ahead. I said to them this is the place for nice pike and pickerel…..I’ll let you know about the fishing in the next episode.

That Fall 1956

I did get to kill my first partridges and quite a few during the fall and winter. Even during the winter, while fishing, snaring for rabbits, I always carried the rifle with me. I killed also my first white partridges and let me tell you their very hard too see on the white snow. Blacky was growing fast was very clumsy with his long legs and big paws. He followed me all over the place. My grandmother told me you have to build a warm dog house and keep him outside; he’s going to be too big to keep in the house. The reason was that he was knocking over the coffee table and everything on it, even the end tables and one day the book shelf. So as what my grandmother wanted I did build that dog house. Also I said to my self Blacky is going to be a sled dog, yes I’m going to start and train him now while he is young. Grandfather said to me good luck.

Summer 1956

My grandfather kept his promise and I got my 22 rifle shooting lessons. We practised in the backyard (like I mentioned before we lived a mile from the village) for about 2 hours the first day and an hour the second day. My grandfathers said your good at shooting, but never and never forget what you’re shooting at. You must always see your target and always remember that. This always game to mind every time I used a fire arm. I could not wait until fall. Also during that summer I bought my dog Blacky for $5.00 He was half Saint Bernard and half Labrador retriever. He was the smallest of 14 pups. He was all black with a white spot on the forehead white diamond on the chest and a white spot on all four feet. He was not for me the healthiest but I thought that he needed help. So this is what I told the lady that sold him to me. He grew up to be the biggest and strongest dog, in the whole village. I will tell you a few stories about him later.