Much like its cousin, native Woodland Caribou run rampant throughout the forest and tundra of Newfoundland, this being the only place in north america where you can hunt this majestic animal and tags are very limited. Feeding on moss and lichen's these animals are found in small groups in early season and larger heards latter in the season. Although a more modest weight than the moose, the caribou will weigh approximatly 300-400 pounds.
To hunt the caribou we focuss on the higher grounds on what is known as the Gaff Topsails and Buchans plateau areas of the long range mountains. The hunt is primarily spot and stock from vantage points.
Our Caribou Camps
Red Indian Lake Outfitting has two caribou camps situated in the areas mentioned and are fully equipped lodges with all the amenities, these locations offer some of the best woodland caribou hunting in Newfoundland. Also from these locations we offer excellent spot and stock bear hunting.
Red Indian Lake Outfitting and Tours have had Woodland Caribou score B&C, P&Y AND SCI every season.
The Woodland Caribou
With its dense stands of mature spruce forests, abundant supply of lichens and low-growing shrubs, and balanced blend of uplands, lowlands and wetlands, the Exploits River Valley provides an ideal habitat for caribou. The province of Newfoundland is home to the world's most southerly herd of woodland caribou, one of 7 subspecies of caribou found worldwide.
While woodland caribou numbers in western regions of Canada's boreal forests have dwindled to the point of endangerment (due to timber harvesting, oil and gas exploration, mining and other development), Newfoundland's caribou herds have remained healthy. The total caribou population of Newfoundland is estimated to be 40,000, with more than 15 herds roaming the island. Once found only in the dense forests of the interior, the antlered animals are now frequently sighted along busy roadsides and populated coastlines.
In the Exploits River Valley, and throughout Newfoundland, human hunters are the woodland caribou's most significant predators. The optimal habitat conditions that produce trophy-sized animals also attract big game hunters from far and wide. Newfoundland is the ONLY location in the world in which sport hunting for Woodland caribou is permitted. Success rates approach 100%.
Black bears, lynx, and the eastern coyote are also prey on caribou, but the most deadly natural threat to the province's herds disappeared in the 1930's, when the Newfoundland wolf became extinct.
- Woodland caribou are members of the deer family. Other caribou subspecies around the world include barren-ground, Svalbard, European, Finnish forest reindeer, Greenland, and Peary.
- The woodland caribou is short and stocky, with a flat muzzle and prominent antlers. Its summer coat is dark brown, with a white neck, chest, belly and rump. The white mane of the males becomes more pronounced during breeding season. The caribou's coat fades to grayish-white during the winter.
- Woodland caribou are about 1.2 metres tall, and 1.8 metres in length. Males (bulls) weigh on average, 180 kilograms, females (cows) average 130 kilograms. In Newfoundland, where environmental conditions are optimal, males can grow to weigh 250 kilograms.
- Caribou are the only members of the deer family in which both sexes grow antlers. Mature bulls shed their antlers after breeding season in early winter, while young bulls drop theirs in mid-winter. Cows retain their antlers during the winter, dropping them in the spring when calving is completed. The antler racks of both bulls and cows are large and intricate, but the bull's antlers are larger than a cow's, growing to a width of 1 - 1.2 metres.
- Unlike barren-ground caribou that migrate vast distances in large herds, woodland caribou live in small bands and inhabit a limited territorial range.
- The woodland caribou is an herbivore (plant-eater). Its diet consists of ground and tree lichens, shrubs and grasses, with 60% -70% of its calorie intake provided by lichens.
- The woodland caribou is highly adapted to rugged terrain and harsh winter weather. Its keen sense of smell allows it to detect snow-covered lichens, and its digestive system contains microorganisms that enable it to process large quantities of the carbohydrate-rich plants. Its large, crescent-shaped hooves allow it to maintain balance and speed over snow and muskeg, to paddle quickly through rivers, streams and bogs, and to dig through deep snow to reach winter food. Short, fur-covered ears, a short tail, and a coat of hollow air minimize heat loss and provide excellent insulation in cold temperatures, and a slowed metabolism reduces wintertime energy requirements.
- Woodland caribou have a low reproductive rate compared to other ungulates such as moose, deer and elk. Most cows give birth to only 1 calf per season. Calves weigh approximately 5 kilograms at birth, but double their weight within 10 days.
- Woodland caribou can live up to 15 years, but their average lifespan is just under 5 years.
Big Game Facts
Big Game Balance
With about 120,000 moose, 80,000 caribou, and 5,000 black bear roaming the forests of Newfoundland, big game hunting is both a way of life and a thriving commercial business. Each year, provincial government big game managers use information derived from aerial surveys and annual hunter reports to determine population numbers and trends. Hunting license quotas are set, based on a balance between the mortality rate and the "recruitment rate" (the number of animals being produced and surviving to adulthood). Quotas are adjusted so that target populations will be achieved over a 10-year period.
Although it is commonly known by the misnomers "caribou moss" or "reindeer moss," the dietary staple of the woodland caribou is actually a lichen. The low-growing, foamy, gray-green, sponge-like plant that grows throughout Newfoundland (and around the globe in arctic and northern temperate regions) is a "fruticose" lichen, with a structure that resembles a miniature tree or shrub. It is composed of both an alga and a fungus. The alga produces chlorophyll, and the fungus is made up of spongy threads that keep the plant from drying out.
The tissues of caribou moss can survive cold temperatures and low light conditions, allowing it to survive beneath the snow. The plant is low in protein content, but high in carbohydrates, providing caribou with the energy they need to survive long, cold Newfoundland winters.