2011 was the year I decided to take up hunting. I did so essentially for meat and for some ‘dirty hippy’ environmental reasons. I had heard Gambier had good hunting on it but you needed a boat and to find Crown Land access. I did my research and settled on Douglas Bay on the Northeast of the Island where Gambier Creek emptied into the sea. With my brother and another buddy we loaded up the boat with the usual cruising gear and made our way up to Douglas Bay. The term ‘Bay’ is pretty loose, there is not much shelter at all but with the forecast benign we anchoured in 100’ of heavily sloping rock. I was not all that pleased with the anchourage but we set and appeared to hold okay.
The next morning we set out, although my brother remained aboard. You have to walk in up a trail leading along either side of the creek. The land immediately to the right is private property as is the dock so we steered clear of it. The terrain was quite steep at first but soon opened up into open forest with little meadows. There was a ton of deer droppings. Gambier is heavily populated with Black Tail Deer. There are so many in fact that every year many starve to death over the winter.
The ground was very wet and I slowly walked into a clearing stopping to observe. Not a kilometer into woods I spotted four deer. I stopped and knelt down and removed the scope cover off my sporterized .303 Lee Enfield. The deer appeared not to have noticed me although I was inside 50 meters of them. They kept eating and moved along the opposite edge of the slopping clearing. I raised the rifle and found that I was pretty nervous, as they came into focus I could make out through the bush that none had antlers, all were does. Two small juvenile looking ones were accompanied by a large female and her fawn. I slid the safety back on the rifle and lowered the gun and sat there watching them. While it was too early for the rut I decided on watching them in case a male showed up or they grew horns.
After the does moved on I went back for breakfast before heading out again. On my way back up the trail I again encountered the group of does and this time I moved past them heading west. I found a disused mining core sample site with the samples strewn around the area. I had no sight of any other deer or wildlife and eventually headed back down for lunch. Again and again I made the trip over the weekend only encountering more does. Finally Sunday we hauled our anchor and set course for Vancouver.
I learned a few things, more time was required to effectively hunt the area; I felt like this was more of a scouting trip than anything. Given the number of does probably waiting until the rut was on would have been better; the anchourage was not the best, I should have brought my line for a stern line and done so in the little cove to the North of Douglas Bay. I also learned that there was a neat little beach at the mouth of Gambier Creek with a Kayaker Campsite and box toilet setup. This would make an epic area for a beach fire. All in all it was a fun trip and the scenery was beautiful. I will be back next season for sure.