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B&C World's Record - Mountain Caribou

World's Record Mountain Caribou

Paul T. Deuling received B&C's coveted Sagamore Hill Award for his World's Record mountain caribou scoring 459-3/8 points.

Note: Following is Paul Deuling’s story on taking the world's record mountain caribou. It's reprinted with permission from Of Man and Beast, an Amboca publication.

 A lovely blonde lady from Vancouver (British Columbia) was visiting our family and quizzically asked, “Is that a very big moose you have on the wall there, Paul?” She had shown some interest in the taxidermy mounts in my basement as I explained what the various animals were and generally where they were found in the Yukon. I replied that the animal she was referring to was a mountain caribou and that yes, it was a fairly large one.

“Oh,” she replied, “does he have a name?”


This took me by surprise until she followed with, “I’m a vegetarian and the only way I can deal with seeing these animals is by giving them a name." She added, "His name is Clancy. Clancy the caribou.” And so, after all those years spent roaming the Pelly Mountains, and a few more spent on my wall, "Clancy" finally received his name.

My hunt for "Clancy" was incidental to a Stone’s sheep hunt that I had planned in late August of 1988, for the Yukon's northern Pelly Mountains. All of my boys had either returned to school or hockey training camp, so I decided to head out for a week’s solitary Stone’s sheep hunt before I, too, resumed my high-school teaching duties. And I was frantic to go—that season had been a wet one and already I had made several trips after sheep, but either did not find them or sat in the tent for days (weathered in) before heading down the mountain for home.

With my old GMC 4x4 loaded down with a camper and extra gasoline, I headed for the Ketza country where I would have a walk of nearly a day before reaching my sheep area. The weather was absolutely beautiful with sunshine, a gentle breeze, and best of all, no bugs. Upon arriving that afternoon at my camp spot—a tiny sidehill bench—I kicked out a seat in the shale and chewed on some trail mix while watching a cow caribou in the basin below. She was foraging on lichen, shaking her head and rubbing her back legs against one another in an effort, I suppose, to be rid of the bugs that were appearing as the heat dissipated. I watched her for a few minutes before she suddenly bolted across the basin with head held high. And, just as caribou are apt to do, a few moments later she pranced right back to the origin of her fright. A wolverine was meandering in and out of the rocks and bushes, snooping into everything before loping off in hunched-back fashion. The caribou was apparently fascinated by this, as she repeatedly ran off a short distance before turning, sniffing, and trotting right back to the disinterested mustelid, who continued to snoop for food. All this made great entertainment for a weary packer who was still sitting in sweat-soaked clothes and had yet to set up camp.

After pitching my tent, building a water pool from a tiny stream, and setting out clothing to dry, I spent the next two hours having a snooze. Later that evening, I left my rifle in the tent and hiked up the knob behind camp where my boys had spotted rams on previous trips. Halfway up I remembered the silly cow and stopped to peer into the basin to see what she was up to. She had left the basin and climbed the very ridge I was on and was grazing about 900 meters north of me. About 50 yards away from her was a large animal that appeared to have a black oak tree growing from its head. The huge bull caribou immediately grabbed my attention and I set up my spotting scope to have a better look at him. After a quick calculation of the number of days I had to pack this guy out if I shot him, I decided he was worth taking home. Big sheep could wait until next year.

The hike down to the tent became a scramble, as the closer I got to my rifle, the more excited I became. I'd seen a lot of good bulls in the Pellys over the years, but nothing quite matched what this guy was wearing. A quick drop off of the scope and a snatch of the .270 rifle sent me on my way, formulating a plan as I crept between boulders. Dropping off the ridge and paralleling it seemed the sensible thing to do, and a distinct dip in the topography made the stalk much easier. I was able to walk onto a ridge-cut that contained a pretty little tarn, and then climbed about 40 feet to the rim where the bull was feeding. My last step was only enough to clear the ridge and allow viewing through my rifle scope. Just 10 yards away, the large bull, resplendent in black velvet antlers and a summer coat, could be heard munching on the lichen. I could see only a black mass through the scope, so I lowered it for a moment to assure his shoulder was filling the aperture. At the shot, the caribou bolted away and headed downhill toward the cow while I stood there, dumbfounded, that he would run at all. A second shot at 50 yards quickly brought him down.

I had not packed a camera, since weight is an important factor in a solitary hunt, so I just sat beside the big fellow and stared at him. For how long, I don’t know, but it was getting dark before I got around to caping and cleaning him. Few words can describe the feeling after killing such a magnificent animal, and I stopped many times to stand back and view the scene.

The real work began the next morning when, loaded with meat, I began the first of three trips back to the truck. The loads were heavy, much heavier than I should have made them, but a 12-mile round trip up hills and over ridges is easier three times, rather than four. The next five days were spent pushing through willow brush and shin-tangle with many a cuss word explaining my experience. “What a stupid, stupid thing to do!” was the most muttered phrase.

Fortunately, the trip was worth the effort and my family dined on very tender caribou that winter. Taxidermist Tony Grabowski did a super job on a shoulder mount and "Clancy" continues to impress hunters with his tremendous antlers. 

And, from time to time, when the urbanites visit, I still receive a “That’s a fine looking moose you have there.”

Eldon Buckner, chairman of the Boone and Crockett Club's Records of North American Big Game Committee, interviewed a Yukon Territory game officer about Deuling's great hunt. "(That officer) told me that Paul was the only person he knew who would have tackled that job, as the area where Paul killed his caribou is extremely tough country to get around in."

Buckner added,"Along with being a hunter of the highest ethics, Paul also is an extremely modest man. It’s a story in itself, but he was finally persuaded to strip the hardened velvet from the antlers and have the caribou measured.”

After doing so, Deuling was honored on June 26, 2010, at the Boone and Crockett Club’s 27th Awards Banquet in Reno, Nevada, where he received the Sagamore Hill Award, the Boone and Crockett Club's highest honor. Though Deuling harvested his world’s record caribou more than 20 years ago, he was unable to participate in the Club’s triennial awards celebrations until 2010. The Sagamore Hill Award was created in 1948 in memory of Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and Kermit Roosevelt, and honors outstanding trophies worthy of great distinction. Only one Sagamore Hill may be given in any three-year period, but the actual frequency is less often. Deuling is only the 17th recipient of a Sagamore Hill Award.

Deuling received the award for taking a world’s record mountain caribou in a hunt that exemplifies the sporting values that Roosevelt championed—fair chase, self reliance, perseverance, selective hunting, and mastery of challenges. The bull scores 459-3/8 points, which is more than six inches larger than the second largest mountain caribou in the Boone and Crockett Club’s records book.




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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt