By Kevin Orton, Sportsman’s News Pro-Staff
It is very difficult to explain the absolute breathtaking beauty and remoteness of northwestern British Columbia. You know in advance, when an outfitter has horses and it takes five days for them to ride into camp each year, you will truly be “in the middle of no-where”. Tahltan Outfitters is located in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, west of the Tuya River and east of the Nakanaw Mountains, encompassing the famous Kawdy Mountain. They hunt some of the most remote country in northern BC, undisturbed by logging, mining or human development…Home to stone sheep, mountain goat, grizzly, moose and mountain caribou, owned and operated by Carmen Nyuli, Jim Peterson and a small group of family and friends. I have personally had the opportunity to hunt with them on two different occasions. Some of the greatest hunting days of my life were spent with them…but more on that later. First let me share some insights on Carmen Nyuli, one of the owners of Tahltan Outfitters.
Carmen Nyuli graduated from guide school in Smithers, BC in 1983, graduated from Porterville Horseshoeing School in 1985 and then went on to guide for Muskwa Safaries, Blunt Mountain Outfitters, Fox Lake Outfitters, Upper Stikine Adventures, Dickson Yukon Outfitters, BC Safaries and finally Fletcher Day whom Carmen purchased Tahltan Outfitters from. He brings almost 30 years direct experience to the team. In Carmen’s own words he says, “I have worked for some of the greatest and witnessed their shows and we try to incorporate the best parts of all of them into our program. You need a first class hunting territory with quality stock and equipment, staff that works as a team and has passionate care for the area, the game and the clients. I feel we have all of that and more”.
Ten to 12 day sheep hunts start on the 1st of August. Clients fly from Dease Lake by float plane to their base camp. Here is where acquaintances are made, equipment and gear is discussed and the beauty of the mountains is absorbed by campfire. The next morning begins with the heartiest of breakfasts. Canadian-back bacon, hand cut from the slab, eggs cooked anyway, hash browns from fresh potatoes, fruit, toast and hot or cold cereal. They will stuff your belly with everything you need to get to the sheep. After breakfast it’s time to pack gear and the ride to the sheep camp begins. Sheep camps are high, quiet camps with plenty of feed for the horses, firewood and clear stream water. Low impact wall tent camps that can move easily can be set up close, but not too close to the sheep, strategically placed and windwise. Rams will score on average 37 1/4” with some going 41” plus. The harvest percentage has been 92% with great country, great sheep and great guides, which adds up to a hunt of a lifetime for you.
A corridor of swamp systems and lakes run through the heart of the territory that can be seen from google earth. Where else would you want to hunt trophy Canadian moose? Summertime brings horrendous flies of all kinds and the bulls leave the bottom land to the high alpine. Here they rest quietly in bachelor groups, growing their enormous battle gear. This high country is where the moose hunts start. By horse they cover look-out points that may span vision for two miles. With scopes they spot them and with clients, they stock them! As September progresses, so does the rut. The weather cools down and the bulls separate and start to move in search of their princess. Tahltan’s hunting technique also changes with the season. Now they add cow calls to their bag of tricks. Sometimes the bulls will circle, sometimes they come in quieter than a fox and sometimes they come in like a D-8 Cat. You just don’t know what level they are at, but what a thrill! Kawdy Mountain and the surrounding area hold some of the highest scoring moose in Canada. Tahltan continues to consistently harvest record book bulls at the tune of three to five a year. Several bulls from their area have been recorded in the top 15 B&C. They will someday harvest the new world record, the only question is, who will pull the trigger?
As I mentioned earlier, I have hunted twice with Tahltan Outfitters. Both times, the guys I hunted with, as well as myself, brought some incredible trophies home. When you are coming to hunt moose and caribou with Tahltan Outfitters you arrive in Dease Lake where you take a short 30 minute float plane ride followed by a ride in an Argo to camp. Here there are three permanent cabins that house the guides, hunters and kitchen hall. However, some of us know that the amount of antler that is going to be brought home makes it worth driving as well. Not to mention that most of the scenery along the way is more than incredible, especially the last eight hours from Smithers to Dease Lake.
On the last morning of one of the trips, I had already tagged out with an awesome moose and a caribou that scored 401 gross. My cousin, Brad Jeffery, had killed a great moose, but still needed to fill his caribou tag. That morning we all jumped on the horses and rode for about 90 minutes to our glassing point. There was a pass that a lot of the caribou come through as they migrate to Kawdy Mountain. I call it “caribou pass” as all of the caribou harvested both times I have been there were taken in this location. We tied off the horses and sat down to glass across the valley. We hadn’t been there long when we spotted caribou about two miles away. So back on the horses we went and before we knew it we were right on top of them, looking them over with our binos. I just happened to look to the north and noticed a small herd of caribou moving over some small rolling hills at the base of a very large mountain. The caribou we had come to this point to look at were not quite what we were looking for so we turned our spotting scopes on the new group. We barely got our scopes on them before they disappeared behind one of the rolling hills, but Brad thought one of them looked promising. After about 15 minutes the caribou still had not come out to give us a better look, so we jumped back on the horses and headed their way.
After about 20 minutes, we had gotten the right angle on them and we could see them again. The crazy thing was, they had actually layed down to take a nap and that was why we were unable to pick them up again in our spotting scopes from our previous position. We ducked behind one of the rolling hills in order not to be spotted by the three or four caribou that had drawn the short straw and had to be sentinels while the others slept. We crept to about 100 yards and we could see the two bulls in the group. We could tell which one was bigger, but the way they were laying made it difficult with the terrain to tell if he was legal. In this area the bulls have to have five points on the top of one side and even with our binoculars from this close range, we just couldn’t tell.
All of a sudden the bull shifted and picked his head up for a couple of seconds. The words, “HE IS LEGAL, HOLY $#%* IS HE LEGAL, SHOOT!” will be forever burned into my brain. The caribou ended up scoring 476 gross and at the time was the new #5 in the world.
If you are like me you have used the excuse “But honey, it is the hunt of a lifetime” more than your fair share to convince your significant other it is the right time to go on a hunt. Well let me just tell you, getting to hunt in this country with Tahltan Outfitters is the hunt of 10 lifetimes. Give Carmen a call today at 250-847-0143 or call Jim at 250-877-0555. You can also visit them on the web at www.tahltanoutfitters.com to book a hunt that you will talk about with your friends for the rest of your life.