A Last Minute Trip to the NWT

By Rick Larkin

A last minute trip

Rick Larkin
Northwest Territories, 2008, Guided 

After eight hours on three planes, a twohour pickup drive and long boat trip, I was finally in the Northwest Territories. My guide and I were standing in the chest-high willows, frantically trying to get a look at the bull that was moving up the hill trying to get our scent. My emotions were going crazy. Was this real or was I dreaming?

Like most hunters, I had been planning all summer for hunts. For me, it was family elk and deer hunts in our home state of Colorado and for antelope in Wyoming. It was the Friday before the Colorado archery elk opener when a good friend, Blayne St. James, stopped me on the road and said, “I have the hunt of a lifetime for you if you’re interested.”

I was thinking he found a great deal on an elk or deer hunt. Instead, he told me that his dad couldn’t go to the Northwest Territories with him and he wanted me to go in his place. All I had to do was get my plane tickets.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He also told me the moose tag was taken care of. The next piece of information caught me by surprise – we were leaving in less than two weeks. He asked if I was in, and I told him it was a no-brainer for me, but I had to check with my wife and arrange the time off all by that night!

Blayne needed to know if I was in as soon as possible, so we could get my info to the guide to change names on the moose tag and book travel arrangements, because time was running out. I called him the next night and told him I was in. That’s when reality started to set in. I knew nothing about where I was going other than I had an Alaska-Yukon moose tag in my pocket.

The next couple of weeks were a blur, and before I knew it, I was sitting in the main camp of Nahanni Butte Outfitters in Northwest Territories after two full days of travel. I was on Cloud Nine and it all still seemed like a dream.

Sitting in camp, I was starting to get nervous. This would be by far the most intense backpack hunt I had ever been on. I hoped I was ready.

We were headed 60 miles from the main camp and the nice thing about that was that it only took about 30 minutes to get there by helicopter. In the Northwest Territories, you are allowed to use a helicopter to get to your hunting spots, but you must wait 12 hours after your feet hit the ground before you can hunt. We ended up sitting in the main camp for two and a half days waiting for the weather to break just so we could fly. When we did finally head to our spike camp, the weather was still nasty and we ended up being dropped off three miles from our intended destination.

A last minute trip

For a full account of Rick's adventure, go to page 22 in the October/November 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.