Sépaq Anticosti: my first deer

A travel story by Simon Boivin, Sépaq's Media Relations Coordinator.

A mere 48 hours earlier, I had never fired a single shot in my life. Never hunted a single thing. And here I was on a beautiful November morning, on Anticosti Island, decked out in camouflage from head to toe, with a shotgun strapped to my shoulder and a deer in my crosshairs. A totally surreal moment! 

Sépaq Anticosti Sépaq Anticosti
Sépaq Anticosti Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq

The guide's valuable lessons

Just before beginning our walk down a trail in the Vauréal sector, Robin, my guide and a Sépaq institution, handed me a knife.

“If you kill a deer, you must quickly open it under the sternum and along the stomach to prevent the meat from spoiling,” he explained to me.

I listened, goggle eyed, as he provided details about the technique, without thinking that this information would actually come in handy. I slipped the knife into the pocket of my orange flash vest.

Light snow that had fallen during the night covered the tracks from the day before and unveiled fresh fox, hare, and deer tracks from our very day.

Less than 15 minutes had gone by since Robin's explanations. I was walking slowly down the trail, amazed by the beauty of the area, scrutinizing the woods on each side. That’s when I saw it.

Lying about thirty metres away, believing itself concealed, the deer had its head raised and was looking in my direction. I froze. For half a second, I considered acting as if I hadn’t seen it. I’d just continue along my merry way.

Deer are beautiful creatures. In Port-Menier, the only village of Anticosti, they can be spotted all over the place. They come eat from your hand. You can pet them a little. They’re totally endearing.

But I had come to Anticosti for a hunting experience. The day before, we hadn’t seen a thing. It was my last day on the island. It was now or never.

The moment of truth

I slowly released the safety catch of the 30-06 and brought my eye closer to the sights. I placed the middle of the cross directly on its vital parts, a few inches above the shoulder, as suggested by those in the know. I didn't allow myself time to think anymore. I pulled the trigger. Detonation.

I saw the animal sprawl on its side. There were three or four seconds of slight convulsions before it became totally motionless. Dead. Everything was silent again.

I definitely felt something. I’d be lying if I said the opposite. I was a little incredulous about what had happened. I took a few deep breaths before leaving the trail to get closer to the deer. Robin let me go alone.

We hear all kinds of stories about felled animals that suddenly get up and leave the scene. This is what I had in mind as I got closer. I stayed alert. It could start moving. I must have missed it… No!

I was told that if the deer had its eyes open, this meant that it was dead. The animal was lying on its side with its eyes wide open. I took a few deep breaths.

I rested my weapon against a tree and got on my knees next to the creature. I touched and petted it a bit. I think I said a few words to it. It was a special moment. Intense. Tinted by a mixture of emotions. I had done it. I was now a full-fledged hunter.

Strangely, there were no signs of the bullet's entry. Only the exit wound. I noted with relief that my shot had been well placed.

Sépaq Anticosti
Sépaq Anticosti Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq
Sépaq Anticosti
Sépaq Anticosti Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq
Sépaq Anticosti
Sépaq Anticosti Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq
Sépaq Anticosti
Sépaq Anticosti Mathieu Dupuis | © Sépaq

Respecting the animal

It was time to put Robin's teachings into practice. Letting the meat spoil was out of the question. I had to have shot this creature for a reason.

I placed the animal paws-up and maintained the position with my legs on each side of its body. The fear that it would suddenly start moving again hadn’t completely disappeared. I put my hand on the knife. And I got going. Carefully, to avoid piercing the abdominal cavity.

We would return at noon, equipped with plastic gloves stretching almost all the way to our shoulders, to completely eviscerate the deer. I followed the method that Robin explained as the process unfolded. We then took the animal out of the woods and attached it to the front of the all-terrain vehicle before going back to the 4x4 parked a little further away and heading off for lunch.

I harvested another deer in the afternoon. In the evening and the next morning, I helped Robin skin and cut the animals into pieces. The meat was put in boxes, then in the plane, before ending up at a butcher in Cap-Rouge. It would eventually be braised, roasted, and otherwise cooked, as well as used for fondues.

The experience of a lifetime

Ultimately, did I enjoy the experience? Yes. Absolutely. I was certainly not predisposed to becoming a hunter. But I love meat and I understand that it doesn't grow on trees. I’m convinced that my two deer died quickly and painlessly.

Hunting transforms walking in the forest into a thrilling quest which puts all your senses on alert. I was lucky to have my first experience in the paradise that is Anticosti Island, a mythical destination for many hunters. I'll never forget my first deer.

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