The recent travails of Quebec-Labrador caribou populations have been well documented, particularly the declining numbers in the George River herd. But the Leaf River herd, whose range overlaps with that of the George caribou, is fortunately doing much better. Plus, it continues to offer outstanding hunting.
As the animal’s name suggests, Quebec-Labrador caribou are indeed found in Labrador, but Quebec has long been the epicentre of hunting for this subspecies. Of the 199 Quebec-Labrador caribou entered in the B&C record book during the last 20 years, 185 were taken in Quebec. And the very best locations are all found on the western Ungava Peninsula.
These caribou have always been less predictable in their movements than their brethren from the N.W.T., so camp operators here have learned to be mobile. As a result, record-book qualifying specimens have come from a wide range of area lakes and rivers. Tops among them, however, are Minto and Mollet Lakes and the Caniapiscau and Leaf Rivers.
Veterans of the area will tell you that the best hunting was in the 1970s and 1980s, and the record books support that notion. However, the fourth largest Quebec-Labrador caribou ever taken was shot in the Ungava region within the last 20 years, so clearly there are still some giants out there.
When to go: The latter half of August through September is most popular. As with caribou elsewhere, early in the season you can expect antlers, though hardened, to still be in velvet. By September, however, most of the velvet will be gone.
Tactics: This is a spot and stalk hunt. In some camps, you’ll glass from boats until moving caribou are found, at which point you’ll hit the beach and begin your stalk. Other camps have excellent hunting literally outside their back doors; you simply walk from camp across the tundra, glassing for animals as you go.
Gear: All northern hunts require that you come dressed for a wide range of weather conditions, and this region promises no less. For rifle hunters, calibres from .270 on up are plenty. Shots are often less than 100 metres, though the opportunity is certainly there to shoot at extended ranges if you so choose.
Next best bets: South and east of Ungava Bay.