When a 38 year-old hunter and factory worker from the Buckeye State set out on his dream of pursuing the king of the north, he never imagined how successful he would be. Herbert Stevens from Warsaw, Ohio, hunts deer and wild turkey in his small corner of the mid-west but had bigger fish to fry!
Pursuing farm country whitetails with his wife and children was always his passion, Stevens’ ultimate quest was to harvest one of every big game species in North America before he died, and his sites were now set on the king of the north, the caribou!
The Quest Begins
In the summer of 1998, Herbert Stevens began his quest, after leafing through magazines and talking to people, Stevens settled on an Outfitter to provide the service he required. Herb heard about all of the trophy caribou taken in Northern Quebec and he wanted a piece of the action. A date was quickly set and Stevens began preparing himself mentally and physically for his adventure north.
Meticulous in his planning, the hunter embarked on a strict physical workout to prepare himself for the northern climate and harsh terrain. He also had to be choosy when picking out equipment for the trip, since a maximum 70-pounds of gear was allowed in the float plane.
Arrival at Camp
As his plane taxied into camp, four guides and the cook were there to great the enthusiastic hunter. The staff made short work of unloading gear and firearms, and helped the group settle in. While transporting supplies to camp, one of the hunters spotted the unmistakable form of antlers some 1000 yards off in the distance.
“Where is my gun?” the hunter inquired. However, was quickly told that a camp meeting must be held, and that there would be plenty of time to pursue the ‘boos’ afterwards. A guide, Richard Green was assigned to Herb Stevens and two other hunters, who reassured his team they would have time for a short hunt before dark, after the formalities were taken care of.
With three hours left in legal shooting time, the guide escorted Stevens and his partners on foot for a short ‘tundra tour’ behind camp. It was not long before the crew spotted antlers silhouetted on the horizon. “Over there on the rocks!” the guide motioned to the hunters. “There’s a small group of bulls bedded down” He then instructed the hunters to move slowly towards the animals before they bolted.
Arriving at a slight rise in the tundra, Stevens scanned through the valley and across the lake below. He spotted a group of 3 bulls and 4 cows moving across the shore line at approximately 300 yards out. Stevens recalled what he read about caribou, and features that separate trophy antlers from smaller ones. He had the vision in his mind of what to look for, as he watched the caribou approaching.
Moment of Truth
The animals were too far out for the other hunters liking, but Herb decided to go for it. His decision was confirmed when the bull of a lifetime materialized from behind a rock formation. It was a truly massive animal which completely dwarfed the others it was traveling with. Stevens told his partner; “that’s the one for me!” as he scuffled across the dry ground to gain a better angle on the bull.
Stevens lost sight of his dream bull as it ran across the end of the lake, but as luck would have it, the caribou magically reappeared. By now they were getting closer and angling in the hunter’s direction. Stevens got into position and readied himself for a shot. As if destiny, the giant bull moved into a clearing and started up a small slope at 75 yards out.
A Giant Appears!
The bull’s rack was so enormous, that Stevens knew this bull was definitely the one he had read about. “That’s a lot bigger set of antlers than any Ohio whitetail” he thought, settling the cross-hairs of his Leopold 3 X 9 scope on the bull’s front shoulder. Stevens gently squeezed the trigger on cue, and the 300 magnum rifle blast broke the northern serenity.
The bull staggered sideways, and the hunter knew it was a solid hit. Seconds later the northern monarch hit the tundra like a stone, and remained there for the count. It was a clean harvest, and the big boy did not travel more than 20 feet before expiring!
Herbert Stevens was ecstatic! The bull was incredible with an extremely palmate rack, sporting a total of 36 points and a spread of nearly 4 feet. When the guide eventually made his way over to the monster bull, he could hardly believe his eyes!
“That’s about as good as they get!” the guide stated. “How good would that be?” Stevens inquired. The guide said he’d have a better idea when he ‘puts a tape to him’ but he certainly was larger than the other 10 bulls taken on the first night. Herbert Stevens’s quest for a trophy caribou was complete, but this was only the first night of the hunt and he still had one tag remaining!
By the second day of the hunt ten more caribou were ‘tagged out’ and Herbert’s giant was still the king of the hill. On the third day Herbert and the remaining hunters with tags, were transported up the lake in search of a migrating herd. The guide quickly noticed some animals off in the distance and eased the boat up on shore to gain a better vantage point.
“You see the tops on that one” the guide asked. Stevens estimated the spread of the bull in question at around 60”. Unfortunately, the bull was lacking mass in ‘palmation’ department which he knew were important factors for a high score, so he chose to pass. On their way back to the boat, the men spotted two more animals across the other side of the lake and one looked like a taker. Stevens told the guide he wanted to give him a try.
“He’s at least 350 yards out. Do you think you can take him, Herb?” the guide asked. Stevens felt confident, took a solid lean on the boat and aimed high on the bull’s shoulder. He slowly touched off a shot and the animal went down like a load of bricks.
To his delight, this bull was almost as impressive as the first. Later on that week, both of Herbert Steven’s caribou were ‘rough scored’ for Boone & Crockett Club’s coveted record book, at over 400″ conformably making the book. They turned out to be the only two bull caribou taken that trip to make B&C.
Record Book Caribou
Herbert Stevens could not believe how well he picked-out two trophy caribou. The Stevens caribou officially scored 414 4/8” B&C and 401” B&C. Enjoy reading stories about record big-game? Check out this feature on pursuing Record Canadian whitetails.