Dangerous Game Hunts with a Bow
Day 1: Mike Deschamps Bowhunts Arctic Wolves and Polar Bears
Editor’s Note: Mike Deschamps from Brooktondale, New York, has been on the PSE (http://pse-archery.com/) Pro Staff since Pete Shepley first started the company. He’s taken most of the 28 big-game animals in North America. He’s had great adventures, created wonderful memories and taken some magnificent animals. Seasoned bowhunters like Mike Deschamps realize that the taking of trophy animals is more about the hunt and the adventure rather than the animals.
A Unique Hunt for an Arctic Wolf:
While I was hunting grizzly bears in the Northwest Territories with my bow one year, some Indian Inuit people came and knocked on my door at the camp. They explained that they’d seen three wolves out on the ice and wanted to know if I wanted to take one of the wolves. The Inuits hunt, trap and sell fur to earn their livings, as they always have. They know the ways of the critters that live up there where they hunt better than anyone. So, when I told them I wanted to hunt the wolf, they put me on a snowmobile. We headed to a canyon that had a river at the bottom of it before emptying into the ocean. They told me, “Stay right here, because this is where the wolf will show-up,” and then they left. I had a makeshift blind that I sat in, and within an hour, I heard two shots. As I looked at the canyon, 700- or 800-yards away, I could see a wolf running, closing ground toward me. Then in nothing flat, the wolf was within 100 yards. “Man, I better get ready,” I told myself.
The wolf kept coming exactly the way the Inuit people had said he would come, before finally stopping out at 30 yards and looking back in the direction from where the two shots had come. I drew my bow and shot at his chest, and the arrow went all the way through him. My PSE Mach 12 proved its reliability, and the big wolf went down. This wolf was the number-5 all-time wolf ever taken and entered in SCI (Safari Club International). He was a beautiful dark black and gray color, and I had him mounted with my grizzly bear I took on this same hunt. This Arctic wolf was a great trophy. I was working on taking the Super Slam of archery.
Mike Deschamps Says He’ll Never Go on a Polar Bear Bowhunt Again:
For this polar-bear hunt, I used a PSE Mach 10 bow (http://pse-archery.com/) and a Thunderhead
(http://www.newarchery.com/products/fixed-blade/thunderhead-9/) 125-grain broadhead. But, before I went on that hunt, I took this bow completely apart, removed all the lubrication and replaced the lubrication with dry graphite. I knew that in extremely-cold weather, wet lubricants might create problems with the bow. So, I opted for a dry lubricant. I decided to go on this polar-bear hunt when I was in Old Mexico hunting. One of the hunters on that trip had drawn a polar-bear tag. Once our hunt in Old Mexico ended, this hunter called me and explained that he and his wife were splitting-up, and that he couldn’t go on this polar-bear hunt. He asked if I’d like to buy the tag and go on the hunt. I purchased the tag from him, flew to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in Canada and then flew to Camp Felix, which was where I saw the last building I’d see for many days.
We left the camp and went-out on the ice in freighter dog sleds, because you couldn’t hunt polar bears on snowmobiles. Once we arrived out on the ice, we hunted from dog sleds. I didn’t find my animal until the eighth day of a 12-day hunt. The hunter who had made this same hunt before me actually was out on the ice for 16 days. For $2500, the outfitter would fly supplies out to a hunter who opted to stay for more days than the 12-day hunt. However, on the eighth day of my hunt, we found the tracks of a polar bear and began to follow the tracks.
This hunt was very grueling, with 20 hours of daylight each day, and we spent most of our days in a sled, being constantly pounded by rough terrain, while pulled by a dog team. We were constantly going over uneven ice. My Inuit guide stood behind me on the sled and directed the dog team.
Once we could see the bear and got close to him, my guide turned the dogs loose from the sled. They charged the bear and bayed him. I was able to walk within 32 yards of the bear and draw, but I had to hold my shot, until the dogs were clear of the bear. Once I was finally able to release the arrow, I hit the bear behind his front shoulder and double-lunged him. When the arrow hit the bear, the polar bear turned and ran with the dogs in hot pursuit, but only went 25-yards before he went down. My guides were two young Inuit boys, and for backups, they both had .22 rifles. Shooting a .22 rifle would be about like a bee sting to a polar bear. Because the air temperature was negative-62-degrees below on the day I took the bear, we had to skin the bear quickly, before he froze, and the hide froze to him. We also had to keep the dogs away from the bear while we were skinning him. If the dogs ate the liver of the bear, the dogs would die very quickly. Once we took the cape and the skull, we wrapped the hide up. Within an hour, the cape was frozen solid. Then, we packed the skin and the skull in a tarp and returned to the village. Four days later, I was picked-up by a charter airplane and flown back to Yellowknife. I left the hide and the skull with a taxidermist and petitioned the United States Government, to bring my trophy back into my country. This hunt was really tough.
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About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.