"John--We just returned from Lac de Gras. I thought I would write. Feel free to use this letter in any way you see fit. I cannot commend your operation too highly.
This was our fifth trip to Courageous Lake Caribou Camps since 2001. We have been to both Courageous and Lac de Gras. Both are excellent camps. The food was first class. Every meal was outstanding. The staff was, as usual, helpful in every way. The tent camp was very comfortable with good mattresses and heaters that work! Larry, out guide, worked day and night to keep us in game and preserve our meat and trophies. Larry, Virginia and Cheryl are like family!
We were aware that the early season hunts for resident caribou were very difficult this year, due to the vagaries of weather causing even resident caribou to move further north than normal during the summer months. When we arrived, we were all very concerned. On the first hunting day, our group of twelve brought in five caribou, and we were encouraged that more might be "just over the horizon". That is exactly what happened. On the second day, there were caribou everywhere, moving generally Southwest--of course, at their own pace! Most hunters were tagged out on caribou by the third day. Eventually, every hunter got caribou. All of us who had two tags got two caribou. Several hunters got chances at wolves and wolverines--but those animals are very wary, and most are still out there.
Near the end of the trip, Larry took me flyfishing for lake trout. I used an 8 wt. rod with floating line and tarpon flys that looked like baitfish. Once we located the fish on a shallow bar a mile or two from camp, the action was fast and furious. In about two hours, I got 17 lakers from 2# to about 9#. They came right to the surface, and I will bring some "popper" flys the next time. Larry apologized that he couldn't get me into a "big one". He told me his best was 48" long! A lunker, indeed.
I have some pictures that I will forward. This year was the one for "Mr. Big", and you will have to print my mug in your catalog whether you want to or not. Every now and again, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn. I think "Mr. Big" runs over 400 inches gross, but I cannot be exact because I asked that the velvet be preserved, and that makes precise measurement difficult. Not that I care that much! He is a great all-round trophy with great tops, shovels, bezes and backscratchers.
I cannot recommend this hunt or your camps too highly. Over five trips, your staff has become almost like family, and I still believe you have the best location for record book caribou in the entire North.
Best regards to you and Anita, Pictures coming!"
"This makes 4 hunts you've booked for me that resulted in 5 very nice trophies. Each hunt would be highly recommended. Keep up the good work!"
"Africa was outstanding! I got an Eland, Kudu, Gemsbok, Blesbok, Blue Wildebeast, Impala and Warthog...Thanks again for a great adventure."
"Thanks for putting me onto another great hunt... I took a great whitetail on my first day after viewing many...I had the opportunity to take a management deer on the third day. They are the best two whitetails I have ever harvested. The lodge was great, the staff were fantastic hosts."
Eagle River, WI
"Obviously, I was thrilled with my elk. Thanks, too, to the knowledge and ability of my guide...the experience was exactly what I was hoping for...I plan to contact you again for antelope hunting next fall."
"I couldn't be happier with my first elk. Taking my first elk and doing it with a bow was even better. Everything about the hunt was great...I couldn't have been any happier with the whole experience...Absolutely wonderful trip. First rate."
"I had a great time in some absolutely beautiful country and ended up taking a really nice Shiras Moose. The trip was everything I hoped it would be...I again wanted to thank you for the service that you provide through Shoshone Wilderness Adventures in helping me book memorable trips each year."
"What a fantastic hunt we had!!! Our outfitter and their guides were A+++ and we had wonderful horses, great equipment to work with and superb food. I want to personally thank you for booking our hunt...I will be using Shoshone Wilderness Adventures for my future hunts. Thanks again for your help and effort in making this elk hunt the hunt of a lifetime!"
-Jeff Nordhaus and Rodney Schroeder
Columbus Grove, OH
"In my first hunting experience with Shoshone proved to be the highest light of my hunting career to date...Your guides and camp manager are some of the hardest working people I've ever been around...I would like to thank you and everyone else that had a part in my hunt. My plans for my next hunt with Shoshone are already being made."
"Just some pictures of my recent caribou hunt at Lac de Gras. I enjoyed an excellent hunt and will recommend it to anyone who wants the best."
"I just wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoyed our hunting trip...The outfitter was awesome as well as our guide...I was lucky enough to kill a monster 8x8 which the guide and outfitter claim to be the biggest the camp has ever produced. What a dream come true. I can't thank you enough for your help and wanted to express my gratitude. Thanks again. P.S. The bull green scored 440!"
"...want to write and thank you and your associate for your wisdom and know how in putting together such a wonderful hunting opportunity for Garth and me. I shot the smallest caribou, but I bet I had the best time. Thanks for a wonderful hunt!"
Gig Harbor, WA
"Enclosed are several pictures of the big mule deer I killed...it scored green 180...the outfitter did a great job for us. The meals were outstanding. The (accommodations) were very nice. Would recommend this hunt for someone who wants to be sure of getting a nice buck. The guides were excellent with plenty of land to hunt without seeing other hunters..."
"I've just returned from my hunting trip in Alberta and wanted to take this time to thank you personally for making my first hunt in Canada a memorable one. I feel that our guide provided a first class hunt in every respect. He worked extremely hard the entire time and his efforts made my Alberta hunt an enjoyable experience all around."
"This hunt was one of the most enjoyable hunts/vacations I have ever been on. The accommodations were top notch and I gained 7 lbs if that says anything for the cook. We got 3 good animals the first day. the boys really enjoyed themselves as well as harvesting a nice buck for the wall. Thanks alot for the help and we will be calling you soon."
"Thank you for booking my party's combination hunt. We had a fantastic trip. Everyone harvested a nice mule deer and antelope. The outfitter was very hospitable and made every effort to accommodate us. It was a pleasure to spend several days at their ranch. The food was excellent and the guides were knowledgeable and hard working. Thanks again for your assistance and I look forward to booking future hunts with Shoshone Wilderness Adventures."
Belle Mina, AL
"Thanks again for the great hunt. It was everything you said it would be and then some. I am looking forward to hunting with you next year."
"I just wanted to thank you for your help in setting up my moose hunting trip. I though all aspects of the hunt were good including the amount of game, quality of horses, food, cabins and guides."
"My family and I want to thank you for setting up our hunt in South Africa. It was a trip of a lifetime. We saw lots of animals, with as fine of food and lodging as possible. Thanks again."
"Just a line to let you know I had a very good hunt in a well run camp. Killed on the 4th day and took the biggest bull. Almost forgot- it was a one shot kill! Thank you for putting me on a good elk."
W. Lafayette, IN
"Thanks again for booking me another quality hunt. I had a great hunting experience and got a trophy bear. I look forward to booking more hunts with you in the years to come."
"Thank YOU for the great trip. I want to go again as soon as possible. I fell in love with the tundra; it was easy to do with your staff. It's still hard to believe I was up on the tundra hunting caribou...I hope to start sending out my Christmas cards before long, and I'm using one of the photos from our trip for that. And I wrote an article for our newspaper about the trip, with Jill's photos...Thanks again for the great trip."
"I am sending you a few pictures of the cougar I took on my hunt in January. I had a great hunt and can't thank you enough for recommending the outfitter. The cat's weight was 180 lbs, 7'9" long and green skull at 15". Thanks again."
"Thank you so much for the camaraderie and fun. I really had a good time. If you need a testimonial or want to use me as a reference, I'll give you 100% of my support. You guys are doing a great job. It's operations like yours that makes hunting so enjoyable for the rest of us. Thanks again for everything. Memories forever...P.S. It was pretty obvious to me that you guys were doing everything possible to make my hunt a success. I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciated all your efforts."
"This past October, I shared a rifle elk hunt with three of my friends in southwestern Colorado with (outfitter). THANK YOU for steering us in the right direction and booking us with such a quality outfitter. Even though I was lucky enough to bag a trophy bull (the first day!) I can honestly say the highlight of my trip was making new friends with such great people. We all agreed when we left that we certainly will return. I will contact you when and after I get together with the others. I'm hoping to take my two sons next time! Hope to talk to you soon and thanks again!"
"I thought I would write you and let you know how my hunting trip went with (outfitter)...they run a great outfitting business. They treated me like I was part of the family from the time I got there. The camp was more than comfortable, the food was great, and Rhonda makes great sweet stuff. Eric the guide I had was easy to get along with and took care of everything. He wouldn't hardly let me do anything except eat, sleep and hunt.
If you have hunters that want alot of individual attention and don't want the commotion of a bigger camp this is a hunt I would highly recommend. We never saw another person the whole time I was in camp.
...I had an unbelievable hunt. We saw bulls every day...it was exciting to see them. I've hunted elk enough to know that I had the best of the best and just seeing elk can be a challenge let alone getting one...On the third day we had a bull get close enough for a shot and I got lucky enough to get it. It was the first bull I ever shot so I would have been extremely happy with any bull. I never expected or realized how big the bull was until Eric and Jeff told me. It turned out to be a once in a lifetime bull (at least for me)."
Below are the unedited reports from The Hunting Report, on our camps in the Northwest Territories. These camps are closed, but the reports will give you an idea of how Anita and John Andre operate, and what we expect in a guided hunt from the outfitters we represent.
ARTICLE 1. The Hunting Report - Serving The Hunter Who Travels.
Print This Article ARTICLE DETAILS Article ID: 1775 Author: Lance Stapleton Date Published: December 2006 Geographic Focus: Canada - Northwest Territories
ARTICLE BODY Barren Ground Caribou: Is This Outfit No.1!
(Editor Note: Senior Correspondent Lance Stapleton takes a close look this month at one of the top producers of Central Canada barren ground caribou namely, Courageous Lake Caribou Camp. There's a reason why they succeed.)
Caribou offer one of the best hunts in North America. The country these animals wander around in is pristine; you get to see plenty of game animals; and, when you connect, a caribou is arguably the most striking mount in many trophy rooms. There are several subspecies of caribou, of course, but the one I want to focus on here is the central Canada barren ground variety. And the outfitter I want to highlight is John and Anita Andre. These two have consistently produced good central barren ground bulls for their clients, and a significant number of huge bulls. In fact, they are responsible for more record book entries than any other caribou outfitter. A visit to their web site's photo gallery is a must for any avid trophy hunter. Further, over the years, they have produced an outstanding hunter success rate of 98.5 percent. Clearly, hunting with this outfit is about as sure a thing as you can find in any fair chase hunt especially when you consider that caribou wander widely over a vast area and there is always the potential for bad weather in the far north. The Andres purchased their main camps in the Northwest Territories from Fred Webb in 1999 and later added another outfit in 2003. Their hunting area now includes exclusive use of 6,000 square miles of prime caribou country. With three camps located strategically on huge lakes, hunting is conducted with the aid of 16-foot boats powered by outboard motors. The actual hunting is done on foot by climbing to vantage points and glassing the open tundra for the wandering caribou. It is not uncommon for hunters to travel 20 to 40 miles a day on the waterways, far more than you can cover on foot. This mobility is one of the reasons for their success. Many other outfits in eastern Canada and Alaska are hampered by the vagaries of the migration, or the limited distance a person can cover on foot out of a spike camp - the caribou are either there or not, and if not, it can be a long and frustrating hunt. With Courageous Lake, you can cover such a huge area that caribou are seldom out of range. Clients stay in either tent-cabins (tents with plywood sides and floors) or cabins, depending on the camp location, but all are comfortable, heated with oil stoves, have electricity,
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outstanding food and a welcome hot shower after a long day's hunt. Hunts are scheduled for five days, and one guide is assigned to two hunters. Courageous Lake receives 264 tags, more than twice as many as the other seven outfitters in NWT. Hunters have the option of killing one or two caribou. The price for one caribou is $4,500; two caribou cost $6,000. Pricing for both hunts includes fishing and the possibility of killing a wolf or wolverine. Around 10 percent of hunters get a shot, and about half see one of these bonus trophies. These prices include all costs while in camp, incidental transportation (shuttles between the airport and a motel in Yellowknife, and to wildlife offices in town for the paperwork), but do not include the air charter ($750), licenses ($50 for the first caribou, $100 for the second, $50 for wolf or wolverine, and $40 for a fishing license) or trophy fees ($150 for each caribou, and $100 for a wolf or wolverine). They also do not include the cost of the Chateau Nova motel in Yellowknife ($150 per night), and of course, GST taxes are extra. A taxidermist is available in camp, providing the option of leaving the trophy with him for later shipment. Meat is typically donated to the local natives, but can be processed and transported home for an additional cost. Their six hunt dates normally run from around August 20 until about September 25. Andre says there is no real advantage to hunting early or late, since clients have killed big bulls on all of their hunts. He did note, however, that hunters on the last three hunts of the year tend to see more caribou than those on early hunts. Still, on the first day of the season this year, 14 bulls were killed that grossed over the B & C minimum, and there were many more bulls around the camps than in other years. So, the bottom line is that although caribou are particularly unpredictable, anyone hunting with Courageous Lake has a real chance of finding an outstanding bull. Hunting late does introduce the risk of a day or two of bad weather. It should also be noted that the Andres break camp and leave the country long before the lakes freeze over and travel becomes treacherous. Because of Courageous Lake's reputation, the seasons' hunts are typically sold by early spring, so I would urge you to contact them soon. This outfit would be a good hunt choice for a young hunter (must be over 16 years old in the NWT) as a Christmas gift, as game is plentiful and the hunter is almost certain to connect on a bull, perhaps a giant! . . . Life is too short go hunting! Lance Stapleton. (Postscript: See related story on next page. Seems a number of Central Canada barren ground caribou outfitters in the Northwest Territory had problems with this year's caribou migration.)
CONTACT DETAILS FOR COMPANIES/INDIVIDUALS MENTIONED IN ARTICLE (if any) Courageous Lake Caribou Camps; John and Anita Andre; P.O. Box 520; 320 North First St; Hamilton; MT; ; 59840; Tel: 406-375-8400, ; Fax: 406-375-8401, ; E-mail: ShoshoneW@aol.com; Website: www.courageouslake.com;
ARTICLE 2. DATE AND PLACE OF HUNT Report ID: 5617 Weapon Used: Rifle How Hunt Was Conducted?
Date of Hunt: August 27, 2006 to September 3, 2006 Place of Hunt: Canada - Northwest Territories
Hunt Area: La de Gras
OUTFITTER, GUIDE AND BOOKING AGENT DETAILS Outfitter (or safari company): John and Anita Andre; Courageous Lake Caribou Camps. P.O. Box 520; 320 North First St; Hamilton; MT; 59840; Tel. 406375-8400; Fax: 406-375-8401; Email: ShoshoneW@aol.com; Web www.courageouslake.com Personal Guide (if any): Stacy. Booking Agent (if any): John Andre; Shoshone Wilderness Adventures. 1144 Jidd Creek Hollow Rd.; Hamilton; MT; 59840; Tel. 406-375-8400; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web www.shoshonewilderness.com Trip Arrangements (if self-guided): License Required:
Major Game Animals Taken:
Caribou, Central Canada Barren Ground - Availability: Abundant - Trophy Size: Excellent. Very good.
Game Sought But Not Taken:
Wolf - Availability: My buddy won the coin toss.
Game Condition Comments:
Excellent, abundant and fat animals with great antler development.
SERVICE RATINGS (excellent, good, fair or poor)
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Quality of Outfit: Excellent Guide/PH Ability: Good Condition of Camp: Excellent Condition of Equipment: Excellent Quality of Food: Excellent Trophy Care: Excellent Name of Airline: Air Canada and Air Tindi. Airline Service: Poor Airline Comments: Air Tindi bush service was great. Air Canada is without a doubt the worst major airline I have ever flown. Late flights and lost luggage are the norm.
COSTS Hunting Fees: Amount: $5500 Trophy Fees: Amount: $0 Permits/Licenses: Amount: $257 Commercial Airfares: Amount: $1050 Charter Airfares: Amount: $750 Other Costs: $219.00 GTS taxes, $300.00 Hotel Amount: $519 Total: $0
Problems of Hunt:
Just Air Canada. Hunt itself was flawless.
Highlights of Hunt:
Watching my buddy take a Wolf and his first Caribou. Northern lights. Great people.
Good rain gear. Be able to walk all day if the game becomes scarce. Would You Recommend This Hunt to a Friend? Yes Why? Great hunt all around.
Hunter Name: John Garr Contact Information: Tel. 562-596-4024 - 6621 East Pacific Coast Highway, #230, Long Beach, CA 90803 E-mail: email@example.com Hunting Experience: Lots. Physical Condition: Very good.
IMPORTANT NOTES (actions taken if hunter unhappy with hunt) Notified Outfitter? Notified Personal Guide? Notified Booking Agent? Seeking any kind of restitution or other settlement from agent, outfitter or guide?
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If Seeking Restitution, What is Sought?
ADDITIONAL HUNTER COMMENTS AND/OR OUTFITTER/BOOKING AGENT REBUTTAL I shot my first Caribou with the new Winchester XP3 ammo with horrific results. Zero bullet performance. I switched to Noslers, and game over. Weather is always an issue as we lost one day to high seas. Shoshone Wilderness Adventures seems to be an outfitting company that wants to get it right.