The winner of the "North American Hunter-TV" Dream Hunt Giveaway was Charlie Valdez of Las Cruces, New Mexico! Charlie joined me and the "NAH-TV" team this past week in my favorite place in the world to hunt big-woods whitetails—Anticosti Island in Quebec.
We hunted with good friends Gilles Dumaresque, who heads up Sepaq outfitters on the island, and Gregory Cloutier of Quebec Tourism. There was also a special surprise awaiting Charlie on the island. We shared the St. Marie Camp on the south shore with none other than Jim Shockey, his daughter, Eva, and their cameraman, Matty Gibson. It had been many years since Jim and I shared a hunting camp, so it was a treat for me, too. Before his globe-trotting hunting adventures began consuming more than 330 days of his year, Jim was a regular columnist and feature writer for North American Hunter magazine.
Everything about the trip was wonderful, except for some uncooperative deer. Normally, the December hunt is fantastic because snow pushes the deer toward the seashore and the cold temperatures keep them active and feeding throughout the day. This year there was not a flake to be found when we arrived on the island. And although snow arrived on the last day of our hunt, it wasn’t enough to truly impact deer activity. As the saying goes, “It was too little, too late.”
Of my 12 hunts on Anticosti to date, this was only the second where I failed to bag a deer. I saw a number of bucks, but not a shooter willing to cooperate for the camera. Charlie, on the other hand, took his first white-tailed buck not only on the island, but ever! The "NAH-TV" cameras captured the momentous event, and Charlie’s genuine reaction of happiness and awe. Even when he was retelling us the story back at camp, his legs and hands were shaking just like when he walked up on the downed buck. I’m pretty sure the trip turned out to comply with Charlie’s definition of a “dream hunt.”
For me, being able to share in Charlie’s first buck, laughing loud and often with Team Shockey, enjoying the bounties of Gregory’s culinary and wine expertise, and most of all, hunting the deep woods of Anticosti Island with consummate guide Gilles, made it another fairytale hunt in this paradise. These memories will far outweigh and outlast the unfortunate circumstance of my unfilled deer tag.
And that, my friends, is truly a “dream hunt” by every measure.