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With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island

16 November 2021

« île d’anticosti… you in? »

On a Sunday morning, last March, I was tying some salmon flies when I received a short text message from Franck, my good friend and hunting/fishing partner, asking me: “Anticosti Island… you in? Without hesitation, I replied with a convincing “YEAH MAN”!

My traditional big game hunting usually takes place in the Eastern Townships, at my in-laws’, in an area where the white-tailed deer population has been declining for years now. The successful hunting years are now memories. At this time, all permits were quickly snapped up by the end of November. Unfortunately, things have changed and I have never been able to experience this on my in-laws’ property. However, every year I remain hopeful and, that’s why when I received the invitation to go on a trip to the literal kingdom of the white-tailed deer, I was thrilled.

With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island

Between the invitation and the beginning of the trip, Franck and I had a lot of time to spend on Gaspésie’s rivers chasing Atlantic salmon while planning our impending expedition. Compared to our fishing trips, with the warm, low water and fish barely moving, hunting on Anticosti Island should be easy, we said, joking around.

The day of our departure finally arrived. We checked our equipment, calibrated our weapons, loaded the truck and headed towards Mont-Joli. At the motel bar, we met a ton of hunters who have been there for a few days – their plane could not take off due to high winds. Maybe the gin was speaking for them, but they seemed not worried at all about their upcoming success. After all, they were going to Anticosti.

As for our group, luckily, our flight took off without delay. As soon as we got to Port-Menier, we came across a mature deer in the street! Needless to say, the vibe was good in the truck as we made our way to our cottage, located at the tip of the island. The evening began with a little wine, lots of laughs and a prediction of a pretty certain success.

With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island

A few hours later, even if the sun had not come out yet, we were already on our four-wheelers heading to our respective hunting grounds. The day was rather calm on my side. We met for a drink and I learned that Franck had let a big female and her fawns go by. It was the first of five days of hunting and we were aiming for big, mature males. The fireplace was hot, the sea view incredible, the beer went down too well as small snowflakes started to twirl around. We went to bed happy despite our first day without reward.

When we woke up, we were in another world: half a meter of snow on the ground, huge waves and winds blowing at more than 80 km/h. Highly motivated, we didn’t let ourselves get discouraged and headed out on the trails. It was raining, the temperature was gradually dropping as a thin layer of ice built up on the snow and cracked at every step. In a curve, I scared a mature female, while Franck saw some antlers that quickly disappeared while walking on a trail.

SIMILAR to salmon fishing, the outcome of deer hunting is significantly determined by major factors over which we have little control.

With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island

We tackled the following days by trying all possible techniques and tools. We walked the trails. We waited in swamps. We got stuck in the mud on our four-wheelers. Occasionally, we crossed a few unlucky tracks, but nothing more. We were getting tired and the weather was starting to get worse. That evening, at the cottage, the group was much less cheerful. Through the window, it was still snowing.

The next day, the wind had died down, the sun was shining and it seemed like the wildlife had woken up again. Anticosti Island came back to life. As I covered a snowy path along the sea, I settled down and waited for fifteen minutes without a blink. Finally, a male came out. The adrenaline rekindled my exhausted spirit in no time. I then regained my pride and we ate its heart in a tartar for dinner.

Similar to salmon fishing, the outcome of the deer hunting is significantly determined by major factors over which we have little to no control. Of course, we may try to apply all the techniques, from the well-known to the obscure… but in the end, Mother Nature manages her generosity. For this reason, I am extremely grateful to her for offering us a very satisfying reward at the end of this challenging journey.

With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island
With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island
With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island
With heart and patience : hunting trip at Anticosti Island

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