April 19, 2023
By Luke Guest
Years ago, I watched Bowhunter TV’s Curt Wells lead a group on a bowhunt for muskox and caribou in remote areas of Greenland. It quickly became a dream of mine to hunt the country, but I never thought it would become reality. You see, as someone who grew up hunting whitetails in Mississippi, venturing into the Arctic Circle to archery hunt seemed like nothing more than fantasy.
Fast forward to 2022 and I found myself on an Air Greenland flight to Kangerlussuaq, a settlement in the western part of the island. From there, our group that also included my father Donny and father-and-son-team David and Chris Smith of New York, caught a helicopter to a camp run by Frank Feldmann, who operates the Bowhunting Greenland guide service and was instrumental in getting archery hunting approved in the country.
Prepping for the Trip
I had corresponded on and off with Feldmann for four years and was finally able to book a six-day muskox and caribou archery hunt with him for September 2022. After a year of preparation, the reality of the trip was setting in. Not only would my shooting need to be sharp, but I needed to be in top physical condition to climb the island’s mountains. During my year of preparation, I developed an exercise plan and lost 60 pounds. I focused on cardio and made running a staple in my routine, but I also added in work with weights.
Feldmann recommended two separate bow setups for muskox and caribou. Greenland’s muskox regulations require a fixed-blade broadhead on an arrow that has a minimum of 525 grains, while arrows for caribou can be considerably lighter. I was shooting a Mathews V3X 33 with a 75-pound draw weight and, due to limited helicopter space, taking a second bow along was not an option.
The V3X has Bridge-Lock sight technology, so I was able to get one sight for the heavier arrows and another for the lighter ones. After weeks of testing and practicing, I knew that changing between the two sights was reliable and didn’t cause any issues.
For muskox hunting, I was shooting the Easton 5MM Axis with a 300 spine, with brass inserts and 125-grain Magnus Stinger broadheads. That setup came in at 540 grains, just over the minimum required weight. My arrow of choice for caribou was the Easton 5MM Axis with a 340 spine, again with the Magnus Stinger 125-grain broadhead. This setup came in at 420 grains and allowed for much smaller pin gaps for longer-range shooting.
It took four flights from Memphis, Tenn., for my dad and I to reach Kangerlussuaq. Feldmann’s wife Mette met all four of us in the airport and transported us to the helicopter hangar. The helicopter ride was surprisingly smooth, and we began spotting muskoxen before we even landed. We checked our gear, fired some arrows to make sure our bows were in good shape and dreamed of the hunt to come. After spending some time wetting a line, I even caught my first Arctic char. A great meal of Nordic soup was the perfect way to end the day!
I remember waking the next day after tremendous winds and rain had pounded our tent all night. It was early, and I slipped out of my sleeping bag and took my water bottle to the river to fill it with ice-cold water. While I was there, I looked toward the mountains around me. The clouds from the storm were beginning to clear as the world awoke, but the wind remained strong. Today was the day I had long prepared for, and I wanted to make the best of it.
I slipped back into my tent and checked my verse of the day. Matthew 26:41 read, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I knew I would have to have patience, and I prayed for that patience and the strength I needed to be at my best.
After breakfast, we spotted a nice bull muskox with four cows and calves not far from camp, and the hunt was on. They were about 1.5 miles away on the lower slopes of a mountain. I was hunting with Knud, one of Feldmann’s top guides. His English was limited, but it was clear he was a skilled hunter.
We hiked up the mountain above the animals and then over to where we had last seen them. After lots of crawling in the rocks we were within 40 yards, but I held off on shooting. I remembered Matthew 26:41 and told myself not to be tempted to rush a shot. Knud felt we could get closer, and I trusted his judgement. I watched as the group fed away from us, back toward the way we had just come.
It took a great deal of time and a lot more crawling, but eventually we were just above the muskoxen again. This time they had bedded down and it became a waiting game.
I settled in with my bow in the ready position and ranged the bull at 26 yards. Knud was right; we had gotten closer. Feldmann talked with each of us individually and told us to shoot mid-body, below the hump. He used a picture of a bull muskox to point out their surprisingly small kill zone.
As we waited, I went over everything I had learned and practiced in my head. Eventually, the bull stood and nudged a cow. I drew my bow and picked a spot, letting the arrow fly. The shot looked good and the bull wheeled around, allowing me to put a second arrow in it. Once the muskox bedded down, we circled below the bull and I was able to get off one final shot — the toughness of these animals truly amazed me!
After all these years, I finally had my archery muskox on the ground. I was in awe of the animal’s size — with an estimated weight of 700-plus pounds, he had good bosses and long, ivory horns with beautiful black tips. After a few pictures, we field dressed the bull and packed the meat and cape back to camp. A well-deserved dip in the river awaited us after the heavy haul.
Later that afternoon, I changed from my heavier archery setup to my lighter one, and after shooting a few practice arrows, my caribou setup was ready to go.
Around 8 p.m., we spotted two good bull caribou with the spotting scope — they were almost to the summit of a mountain about three miles from camp. It was too dark to move on them, so we decided to wait until the next morning, hoping they would still be there. The Smiths had also taken muskoxen with their bows, and they would be hunting caribou with a rifle. Hence, I assumed they would be going after those two bulls the next morning.
Change of Plans
When I awoke the next day, it was absolutely beautiful out. Since I did not think I was going hunting, I planned to take it easy. I ate a big breakfast and was preparing for a day at camp. So, imagine my surprise when Feldmann stopped by the tent and told me I was going up the mountain with Chris to try and track down the two caribou we had spotted the night before. My mind was racing as I dressed hurriedly, checked my pack for supplies and grabbed my bow. I once again prayed for strength and patience as I laced my boots on tight — I knew it was going to be a long, physical day.
I looked at the mountain where the caribou were and wondered if this guy from Mississippi was really going up there. The base of the mountain was about three miles from camp and the mountain seemingly went straight up from there. We used a boat to cover one mile and then hiked two miles to what I would consider the base. It was an unforgiving climb as we marched higher and higher. We moved slowly as we picked our way through the boulders and the brush; at times it was more like climbing a ladder than hiking.
We didn’t know where the bulls had ended up or how far they may have moved during the night, but suddenly, Knud stopped and pointed to our left. “Caribou! Caribou!” he exclaimed.
I quickly nocked an arrow while Knud ranged the bull. Unfortunately, he was not able to get a range, and as I was peeking around a large rock, the bull stood and bolted.
We eased up to the ledge where the animal had disappeared, and to our surprise he was at the bottom of the mountain, heading across the river bottom to the next mountain. I could not believe how fast he descended what had taken us more than an hour to climb, and I became concerned about getting within bow range of one of these wary animals.
We eased another 100 yards or so and spotted the second bull about 200 yards above us. Chris took a good rest with his rifle and when the bull stood, he made a perfect shot. We were elated we had made the hike worth it and taken one of the bulls. After celebrating, taking a few pictures and breaking down the bull we climbed even higher, cresting the mountain and going to the backside of the summit. With each step, I wondered if all the commotion from the rifle kill had taken away any chance of finding another bull.
Our trio hiked 1.8 miles before we spotted another bull. It was the most incredible scene, with a small, mountaintop lake surrounded by huge boulders and a small patch of green. Knud and I circled around the caribou, trying to find a way to get within bow range. We had spotted him about 250 yards away, and when we got to about 100 yards, we ran out of cover.
Closing the Gap
I looked around and saw a small rock shelf about 25 yards away that went up above the bull. If we could make it there, it might come together. I motioned to Knud, and he nodded in agreement.
We began crawling on the rocks, but the going was rough and slow, and I struggled to keep my bow off the ground. That said, I will never forget the feeling of clearing the last rock and getting to a point where we could stand. Knud looked at me and gave me the thumbs up — we knew we had a chance!
We slipped along the narrow rock shelf and crept slowly to the edge. Knud ranged the bull and held up two fingers and then eight. I could not believe we had gotten within 30 yards of the animal.
Next, I stood and drew but could only see the caribou’s hindquarters. So, I slowly took two steps to my left to get a better angle. The wind was so strong on the mountaintop that the bull never knew we were there. I put a perfectly placed arrow through both lungs, and the caribou didn’t even go 10 yards. I then put an insurance arrow in him, just to make sure he didn’t go over the nearby ledge.
I could not believe it; in back-to-back days I had taken my dream muskox and a very nice caribou, making it a bowhunt I will never forget. Finding satisfaction in my toil took on a whole new meaning. I knelt by the bull and prayed, giving thanks for the opportunity — it was a true gift from God!
Even though it was about five miles back down to the river, I had never been so excited to carry so much weight. After the long pack out, it was a welcome sight to see the boat waiting for us. Back at camp, congratulations awaited as everyone celebrated our return with two great bulls.
That night we ate a well-deserved supper of caribou stew, with caribou and muskox steaks on the menu the rest of the week. The last three days at camp were full of hiking, laughs, good food and fishing for char.
Looking back, I can honestly say it all still feels like a dream. The beauty of Greenland is something to behold — a seemingly endless number of muskoxen were always visible from camp and the occasional caribou sighting would always cause a stir around the spotting scope.
When the helicopter picked us up, it was bittersweet. Greenland is a place where the prehistoric muskox still reigns supreme, the Northern lights shine bright, glaciers abound and Arctic hare dot the mountainsides. Sometimes, even the wildest dreams do come true!
Book a Greenland Muskox & Caribou Hunt
Frank Feldmann is an amazing host and the hunting experience is top-notch. All four of us took a muskox with archery gear, and we all tagged caribou as well. For more information on the world-class muskox hunting in Greenland, contact Feldmann at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit bowhuntinggreenland.com.