Monsters of Alberta
By Bill Charles
Just the title of the video caught my interest, and before long I would have the movie memorized. I was hooked on mass. The next step was to find a reputable outfitter to entrust my two year savings to. I had seen Alberta Wilderness Guide Service advertised in pages of The Journal of The Texas Trophy Hunters magazine, and gave them a call. After calling several references, the last one Dr. James Kroll, told me they were the most ethical people he has hunted with and I would have a fun hunt. I called Terry Birkholz and booked a hunt for November.
Now half the fun of the hunt for me is anticipation of what is to come, but nothing can prepare a South Texas boy for Alberta, Canada. Arriving in Edmonton the temperature was -20°F. Did I mention it was cold? I met my roommate that evening at the motel and the next morning we met Dave Bzawy who in turn introduced us to our guides. A two hour drive to camp, check out our rifles, and the hunt was on.
My first morning found the temperature at -28°F but hey, I was layered and dressed to the level that I resembled the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man in "Ghostbusters." My guide, Ash McKone, was an ex-game warden, who enjoyed snow shoeing all over Canada. The nicest, friendliest, and funniest guide I ever had. Most importantly, he walked at my pace and not his. Anyway, he walks me in a cable cut line (sendero to you and me) about a half of a mile and sets me up so I can glass both ways. Finally, here I was hunting the "Monster of Alberta.." The first two days produced only a doe and tennis neck (from looking left to right and so forth). It was so cold that my sandwiches froze; however, my spirits were on fire. The country was beautiful and the sunrise was nothing less than spectacular. Ash kept telling me there was a big buck working the area. The third morning started off windy with snow blowing out of the trees. At 8:15 a.m. I decided to rattle to see if anything would respond. At 8:31 a.m. I repeated the sequence. When I looked to my right a buck had just stepped out into the cut line and stared directly at me.
Not being able to turn in my seat for the shot, I waited until the buck turned his head, then tried to change the rifle from right hand to left. After three progressions I had my rifle in a position to take a left handed shot. At 70 yards I placed the crosshairs, took a deep breath and pulled the trigger. The buck was knocked backwards and hit the ground facing the opposite direction. The Winchester Fail Safe .270 had done the job. After observing the buck for ten minutes I walked the 70 yards to my trophy. He was buried in snow up to his chest so I didn't realize just how big he was. My adrenaline was flowing, my senses were on fire and I was so excited I let out a tarzan yell and started singing "Let It Snow." Hey, -20°F is not so cold, I was actually hot in all my clothing. I made my way back to the drop off point to put out the orange ribbon. The ribbon told Ash that I had a buck down I then walked back to guard my buck, stumbling in the snow and singing all the way. When Ash arrived he was grinning and was as excited as I was.
We returned to camp to weigh and cape out the buck It had a live weight of 325 pounds and the neck of the rutting buck was 46-l/2 inches. Ash caped the buck out and then pulled the backstraps out to be cooked as "Backstraps a la Ash." Whoa Momma, were those good. Other guys in camp couldn't believe how good the meat was.
The antlers on my buck were everything I had hoped for - 23 inch outside spread, 22 inch mainbeams and nine points. However, the mass is what got my heart pumping: 6-5/8 inch bases, 5-1/4 inches between first and second points and 5-l/2 inches at the H-4 between third point and beam tip. Truly, I harvested my "Monster of Alberta." Others had bigger bucks, but mine is a trophy to me.
Anyone who has never been to Canada, needs to give Alberta Wilderness Guide Services a call. The camp is great, the food is excellent and the people you meet up there make you feel welcome.