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Quebec Winter Caribou Hunt Overview

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Quebec Winter Caribou Hunt Overview

Old 12-14-2010, 06:50 PM
  #1  
Spike
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 9
Default Quebec Winter Caribou Hunt Overview

Quebec Winter Caribou Hunting Overview

A drive-in winter caribou hunt in northern Quebec can be an exciting adventure. However, it is not a trip for the faint-hearted. Here's an overview based on my own experience in 2010. This information applies only to winter (Nov-Feb) caribou hunting in Quebec. Look elsewhere for information on fall (Aug-Sep) fly-in hunts.

Caribou are migratory animals. As winter approaches, this herd leaves the tundra (barrens) and moves down into the taiga (forest) region of Quebec. This is the only time when they are accessible by road. This is a meat hunt, not a trophy hunt. Many of the caribou will have dropped their antlers, but a small percentage will be sporting racks.

Non-residents may only winter hunt Caribou in Zone 22B (see maps) and must hire an outfitter. Typically, the caribou start to arrive in the hunting zone around mid-November. However, sometimes they arrive early or late. They may also leave the hunting zone early. There is no guarantee that caribou will be inside the legal hunting zone during the time you have booked with an outfitter. You may see thousands of animals, or none at all. Outfitters do not offer guaranteed hunts or refunds.

Hunting Strategy

The basic hunting strategy is to drive your own truck along the Trans-Taiga road to locate the caribou herd. You may have to travel 100-200 km from your outfitter's camp each day. The road is well-plowed, but may be very icy. Some places can be quite dangerous in poor weather. Once the herd is located, you must pull over and park in a designated parking space along the road. You must find a safe shooting location that is at least 10 meters from the road. Depending on weather conditions, you may require snowshoes or a snowmobile to move through deep snow. You may require a toboggan to get the carcass or quarters back to the truck. Some outfitters offer snowmobile rental and guided hunts, which you may require if the caribou are not near the road. Those services will cost you plenty extra.

Travel Information

Driving to the James Bay region is a major undertaking with certain risks. The roads are good quality, but the weather can be treacherous. If you drive at night, you risk hitting moose, deer or caribou. The area north of Matagami, Quebec is extremely remote with few services. Do not expect to find cell service, internet access, hotels, shops, restaurants, automobile repair. Fueling stations are far apart and gasoline is expensive. Carry several cans of gasoline. Carry at least two spare tires. Your truck should be in excellent condition. Towing charges back to Matagami will be very costly. Ensure that you have plenty of balance on your credit cards. Carry plenty of cash for emergencies. You may have to pay somebody to help you out of trouble.

Winter is harsh and arrives in mid November. Temperatures can drop to -30 Celsius. Bring good winter clothing. Carry a 1st aid kit and emergency survival kit. Carry food, water and heat in your vehicle. The roads are often covered in sheer ice. Be sure to have excellent snow tires or tire chains. Pulling a trailer is not advisable, as they tend to jackknife and push the truck off the road in icy conditions. Travelling with another vehicle is a wise precaution, but don't drive too close together. Personally, I would never drive the Trans-Taiga road again without chains on my tires. It is a long drop off the road in some places.

Driving times (weather dependent)

Toronto, ON to Matagami, QC: 13 Hours
Buffalo, NY to Matagami, QC: 15 hours
Matagami to hunting zone: 12-15 hours

Regulations and Enforcement

The Trans-Taiga road is well patrolled by Quebec police and conservation officers. Hunting regulations are strictly enforced. Expensive fines are commonplace for rule breakers. Here's a summary of the basic regulations:

• Hunters must be registered with an outfitter.
• Hunters must carry caribou license on their person.
• Tag must be affixed to animal immediately after the kill.
• The animal must be registered at an official check in station.
• Hunters must wear approved hunter orange clothing at all times.
• Firearms must be unloaded and completely encased at night.
• No stopping or parking on the shoulder of the road.
• No shooting from or toward a road.
• No loaded firearms in any vehicle.
• No night hunting.
• No crossbow hunting.

Outfitters

There are several major outfitters who provide winter caribou hunts. Expect to do considerable driving each day, regardless of which outfitter you are with. You will find mixed reviews of all these outfitters on the web. They essentially provide expensive shelter, food, fuel and not much else. Don't expect five-star conditions or great customer service.

The Bottom Line

Winter caribou hunting is an adventure, and you assume all the responsibility for embarking on that adventure. Don't expect anyone to hold your hand. Don't expect to do this trip cheaply. Don't be surprised if there are unexpected costs, delays, or accidents. Be careful, be prepared, be helpful, don't complain, and enjoy yourself. If you are lucky, you may witness a spectacular caribou migration and take home some delicious meat.

Last edited by bhunts1; 12-21-2010 at 05:46 AM.
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Old 12-15-2010, 07:15 PM
  #2  
Spike
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 6
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So very true about the driving conditions and preparation for the road. Donít take any chances as the icy roads with the possibility of staying overnight in the truck 100 km away from the main camp, jackknifed trailer, driving too close Öit did happened to me this year. Some scary moments when I look back on it considering the consequences that could follow. One thing to add - fuel up your trucks whenever and always when you have a chance.
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