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Tales of the Biggest Mountain Caribou

As you read these tales of hunting mountain caribou, you soon realize these animals don’t come easy. Most hunts require backcountry camps reached only by foot or horseback. According to the B&C scoring manual, their range extends north into southern Yukon Territory, south into British Columbia, and east into Alberta. Find mountain caribou, and you will find adventure. 

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Number 1—Deuling’s Sheep 
B&C Score: 459 3/8
Location: Pelly Mts., Yukon Territory
Hunter: Paul T. Deuling
Year Taken: 1988

Hunting stories don’t get much better than this one, which is why the Boone and Crockett Club awarded Paul Deuling the Sagamore Hill Award in 2010, more than 20 years after his hunt. Paul Deuling, a high school teacher, set off on a week-long solo hunt for Stone’s sheep in 1988. His destination was the Ketza country in Yukon Territory. 

After hiking all day, he took a rest before making camp. He watched a cow caribou dance around a curious wolverine nearby. He pitched his tent, took a long nap, and walked to a knob behind camp—-without his rifle. He spotted the cow again, and 50 yards away from her was “a large animal that appeared to have a black oak tree growing from its head,” he wrote. He scrambled back to camp to grab his .270. Along the way, he devised a hunt plan in his head. 

As he neared a small rise where he hoped to see the bull through his scope, he could hear the bull munching on lichen. It was 10 yards away. The bull completely engulfed the sight picture in the scope. Deuling shot, and the bull bolted. He fired again at 50 yards, and the bull dropped. “Few words can describe the feeling after killing such a magnificent animal, and I stopped many times to stand back and view the scene,” he recalled.  It was a 12-mile round-trip hike with three weighty loads. Deuling was satisfied that his family ate tender caribou all winter. Sheep would wait for the following year. 

To read Deuling's hunt in his own words, check out our his World's Record story here.

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Number 2—A Sunny Day Bull 
B&C Score: 457 7/8 
Location: Finlayson Lake, Yukon Territory
Hunter: Gregory Smith 
Year Taken: 2016

The mostly gravel Robert Campbell Highway runs by the Finlayson Lake area in Yukon Territory, and that’s about all that’s going on—unless you’re hunting caribou. Gregory Smith was hunting caribou in mid-September with Yukon Big Game Outfitters and flew into the area by float plane. On the second day of the hunt, with clear skies and a relatively balmy 48 degrees, he used a .300 Win Mag to kill the second-largest mountain caribou in the book.
 

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Number 3—Blue Jean Bull 
B&C Score: 453
Location: Prospector Mtn, Yukon Territory
Hunter: C. Chandler Hunt
Owner: B&C National Collection 
Year Taken: 1998

You must admire anyone who takes a top-five, record-book animal while wearing blue jeans. The truth is, Hunt didn’t want to take a caribou at all; he was after Dall’s sheep. His outfitter in Yukon Territory only offered combo sheep tags, which included a tag for mountain caribou. Alongside his guide, Hunt did take a nice Dall’s on the fourth day of the hunt. As they lounged around camp near the airstrip, Hunt, his guide, and the wrangler rode out from camp on horses looking for a good bull. Eventually, they saw a whopper a good mile away. At first, it looked like a moose, but they decided it was a definite shooter ‘bou after setting up the spotting scope. 

After closing much of the distance with their horses, the men ran out of cover. They dropped to their bellies to crawl as close as possible. As they waited for the bull to present a broadside shot, Hunt’s guide warned him not to look at the antlers and to stay calm. It took three shots from his Ruger Model 77 to take down the bull. Both me were overwhelmed at the sheer size of the antlers. They attempted to score the bull, but with so many points, the men realized they were in over their heads. After the 60-day drying period, the antlers were scored by an Official Measurer. Turns out, Hunt had killed a World’s Record.

You can see this bull the next time you are in Springfield, Missouri, at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium, which is the permanent home for Boone and Crockett Club's National Collection of Heads and Horns.

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Number 4—Garry’s Hail Mary 
B&C Score: 452
Location: Turnagain River, British Columbia 
Hunter: Garry Beaubien
Owner: Cabela’s 
Year Taken: 1976

The hunt for this caribou was a true family affair, with three generations on horseback hunting northern British Columbia. In outstanding weather, the entourage set out for big bulls, which they found on day seven. That’s when Beaubien Sr, chosen to take the first shot, killed a fine bull. And then, out of nowhere, 10 bulls appeared on the horizon. There was one massive bull in the lead. They spotted the hunters, turned, and broke for the Arctic Circle. Garry was in hot pursuit. His first shot hit low and encouraged the bulls to double-time it over a knoll and out of sight. Another shot hit low. With the big bull more than 500 yards away, Garry aimed 10 feet over his target and dropped it with a hail Mary. For more than a decade, Garry Beaubien’s bull sat at the top spot for mountain caribou. 
 

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Number 5—Hollister’s Horseback Bull 
B&C Score: 449 4/8 
Location: Fire Lake, Yukon Territory
Hunter: James R. Hollister  
Year Taken: 1989

Jim Hollister is no stranger to hunting big game by horseback. He hunted plenty of elk in the backcountry of Idaho, where he lived. That’s a good thing because, in September 1989, his hunt included caribou, Stone’s sheep, moose, and grizzly. His trip, though, started on the wrong foot—literally. First he flew to Watson Lake, and then he flew into a base camp at Fire Lake. At base camp, his guide had twisted his ankle, which was already held together with pins that were poking out of the skin. There was another guide in camp, but he had only one working arm. Plus, he only knew about 11 words in English, electing to grunt the rest of the time. 

Nevertheless, Hollister saddled up for a six-hour ride to spike camp in rain and snow. The biggest downside was that he didn’t see any animals or tracks along the way. Once at spike camp, they did start seeing animals, and Hollister was ready to shoot the first bull he saw. Thanks to his guide’s grunts and gestures, he held off. 

Eventually, Hollister found a big one. The men waited for a 20 mph wind to die down, but it never did. He made a stalk, which included a sprint across open tundra. At 400 yards with his Husqvarna 7mm Remington Mag., Hollister made the shot. “The normally silent Leon [his guide] was falling all over himself when he saw the caribou’s rack,” Hollister wrote. He got himself a moose as well, but, he admitted, all he could think about was that caribou rack back at camp.
 

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The Importance of Records in Big Game Management

When you enter your trophy into the Boone and Crockett system, you aren’t just honoring the animal and its habitat. You are participating in a data collection system that started in the 1920s and was refined by Club members in 1950. Today, there are nearly 60,000 trophy records. By establishing a records database more than 70 years ago, the Boone and Crockett Club established a scientific baseline from which researchers can use to study wildlife management. If you’re still  on the fence about entering your trophy, we encourage you to read Why Should I Bother to Enter My Trophy. To the best of our ability, we ensure that the trophies entered into the records were taken in accordance with the tenets of fair chase ethics. Despite what some may think, the Boone and Crockett records are not about a name or a score in a book—because in the end, there’s so much more to the score.

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