WILD HARVEST: The Art Of Hunting Full Circle

In a flash I was able to reflect on how hard I had worked and planned the last few months – all the logistics and travel that brought me here. In that moment, I admired the majestic caribou bulls around me with an increased appreciation. I strategically placed myself in a rocky outcrop atop some high ground that overlooked a land bridge separating two long ponds. It was the perfect location to funnel any caribou moving around Schmock Lake in north-eastern Manitoba this foggy September morning. I had only just arrived yesterday and still had several days to locate two worthy central barren-ground bulls. I was greatly encouraged upon observing good numbers of caribou, starting with the floatplane ride from Churchill. In the heat of such an exciting hunt, I had to remind myself that I could be selective and wait for a real heart-stopping, no-question animal to materialize. Decent lone bull on the right, a couple more nice ones in a small herd sweeping from the left, and I began lowering my binoculars. Getting that feeling that something was behind me, I spun around only to catch a glimpse of a larger group of caribou sneaking out of view.

A glimpse was all I needed to confirm that there was a really beautiful bull in that group, one that made my heart hiccup! I made a move to a nearby boulder and they re-appeared, allowing me a better look. I decided that if I could manoeuvre fast enough and get into position for a good, clean shot, I would certainly take it. What an exciting moment in a hunting adventure!

I took off after the big bull, using the relief of the landscape to conceal my approach. As quickly as I could I ran though the valley, they snuck through and I poked my head and rifle over the rocks that they had just disappeared behind. At first, I spotted the big bull surrounded by cows at roughly 125 yards. Then the herd began to move, arranging themselves in single file as they prepared to skirt the lake. This offered me a clean broadside shot, aligning his vitals in my crosshairs. He stopped for a moment, to which I responded with a gentle trigger squeeze. My .308 chambered with 150-grain ballistic tips effectively and ethically tumbled the majestic caribou with the single shoulder shot. I was elated, emotional and very grateful. A self-guided hunt, alone in the tundra for such an animal, felt like the pinnacle of my hunting experiences. I would return home with hearty organic venison, a beautiful set of antlers and memories to cherish always – and all less than a kilometre from camp!

 

Wild Harvest blog

Welcome, avid outdoorsmen and women! My name is Adrian Skok and I’m pleased to bring you the all new Wild Harvest blog, in association with Western Sportsman magazine.

Topics I look forward to sharing include how-to articles, tips and tactics, culinary ideas and stories of outdoor pursuits for various fish and game in destination hotspots – all of which are linked back to exciting, first-hand adventures. References to species biology, wildlife populations and natural resource management will add to the exciting topics and our depth of knowledge.

The title Wild Harvest is something I feel describes my outdoor lifestyle rather well. Our environment is an ever-changing process of interconnected cycles. To me, wild, full circle harvesting means to assume an active role in our ecosystem in an attempt to mimic the framework that Mother Nature has already laid out. It means sustainability and living the hunt. It’s important to understand the relationships at play and give something back to the land. Some hunters and anglers may not realize the contribution and role that they can play. Licence sales and hunter surveys greatly assist with research, resulting in best-management practices benefiting wildlife and their habitats across our landscape. It put me in front of that caribou – and there, in that moment, I will be forever grateful. Wild Harvest – the art of hunting full circle.

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An experienced environmental field biologist and outdoors guide, Adrian Skok holds degrees in the Honours Program, majoring in both biology and environmental resource sciences. Adrian has conducted biologic field research ranging from genetic and reproductive success of shorebirds and waterfowl across the Canadian Arctic, to all-species productivity studies in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of the American southwest. More recently, Adrian has been involved in fisheries, furbearer and big mammal projects across central Canada, consulting hand-in-hand with government, private agencies and First Nations. Such exposure has instilled a holistic approach in terms of hunting and angling, culinary and cultural practices within the context of ethics, conservation and sustainability.

In addition, Adrian is a past member of the Canadian Armed Forces, serving seven years as an infantry rifleman and weapons detachment commander. Other work includes positions as a conservation specialist with Ducks Unlimited Canada, and a fishing, waterfowl and big-game hunting guide across Canada. Caribou, moose and musk ox are of particular interest. Building on these experiences, Adrian is also involved in outdoor journalism, founding social media sites, volunteering as a youth hunting mentor and pursuing outdoor video and photography.

Being a dual Canadian/US citizen and trilingual in English, Russian and French has enabled Adrian to live and pursue his interests across North America, Europe and Africa. A passionate, results-oriented attitude helps Adrian become deeply involved in his areas of interest, that being the outdoors and sustainable resource harvest, while maintaining its positive image and communication.

Below, Adrian with his Manitoba caribou.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below, Adrian fishing in the Northwest Territories.

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