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B&C World's Record - Central Canada Barren Ground Caribou

World's Record Central Canada Barren Ground Caribou

Donald J. Hotter III's World's Record central Canada barren ground caribou has a final score of 433-4/8 points.

As any experienced caribou hunter might tell you, when you're in the animals it can be difficult to decide on which bull to shoot. Especially if you're seeing lots of antlers and it’s only day one of the hunt.

That was Donald J. Hotter III's dilemma when he visited the Northwest Territories in September 1994 to hunt central Canada's barren ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groelandicus).


In fact, he and Wes Vining, president of The Trophy Connection in Cody, Wyoming, were just trying to narrow the options down to a couple bulls that they'd spotted near Humpy Lake.

"We saw lots of antlers through our binoculars and two were worth a closer look," Hotter said. "We examined them for 20 to 30 minutes. Wes said, 'The third bull from the left has fantastic bottoms, good tops and outstanding main beam length.' I agreed.

“We asked Leon Wellin, our guide, how to get to the bulls," Hotter said. "He suggested we go back to the boat, circle a ridge, and climb above the caribou to relocate and intercept them. Everything worked perfectly, and our guide knew the ground like the back of his hand. After about 30 minutes, we were in place and found the caribou feeding at a fast walk up a valley, so we hurried ahead to intercept. Everything went as planned, and the bulls were feeding straight up the anticipated route.

“I heard Wes whisper, ‘Not that bull, I know the bull I was looking at had better palms. He's too narrow,'" Hotter explained.

Hotter continued, “On it went with Wes’ whisperings until the fifth bull stepped out and Wes said, ‘That’s the bull. Look at those palms and bezes!’

“I concentrated on this one bull as it slowly walked behind a ridge and out of sight," Hotter said. "I rushed farther up the ridge and hoped to see the bull again. The other bulls saw my movement and became alert. I heard Wes say the bull was only 100 yards in front of me, but I still couldn’t see it.

“I sneaked forward and saw the bull," Hotter said. "I looked over my shoulder to ask Wes if this was the bull, and could see by the excitement in his eyes that it was. I asked if I should shoot and he responded that if I didn’t, he would shoot for me. My shot was an easy 100 yards downhill, standing, one-shot kill.

“I had killed the new world’s record central Canada barren ground caribou by 10 a.m. on the first morning of the hunt," Hotter said. "We all knew we had an exceptional bull, but we were hesitant to dream of the final score. We taped the antlers and thought we made a mistake. Back at camp, we measured and remeasured the antlers, each time getting a slightly different score. ‘This is some kind of trophy,’ Wes kept saying.”

After packing out the prized caribou from Humpy Lake, the trophy was taken back to Cody where resident and Boone and Crockett Club Official Measurer Bob Hanson taped it. Hanson came up with a score of 428-1/8 points. That score beat the previous world’s record by more than 15 points! Later, in May of 1995, when the Judges’ Panel officially measured the rack in Dallas, the final score ascended to 433-4/8 points. 


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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt