By John Williamson
I have been reading magazine articles and watching hunting shows about Canada’s huge deer for the past five years. After seeing the quality of deer Canada offers and the excitement of challenging hunting conditions, I always dreamed of what it would be like. Finally, last year I got my chance to make one of my hunting dreams come true. I booked a hunt in early November with Alberta Wilderness Guide Service.
On the first day of my hunt my guide positioned me on a cut-line, watching the fence-line. Directly out in front of me about 300 yards was a thicket he said to keep a close eye on. The weather was a cold -11F with five inches of snow on the ground. The first does I saw that morning turned out to be regulars during the week to come. I patiently waited to see my first Canadian whitetail buck, watching the snow continue to fall during the morning. At last I saw a good 160-class buck chasing some does in the thicket out in front of me at 12:00 noon, but that glimpse would be all I saw of that buck.
The second day started out with hopes of seeing the same buck I had seen the previous day. As soon as daylight filled the countryside, I could see does running across the same thicket, exiting the trees like they had a hidden door in the far-left corner of my view. Around lunchtime I gave a few more blows on my grunt tube. When I looked up, I could see a buck looking straight at me, standing right at the edge of the thicket. I was motionless. He ran across the opening and stopped with his antlers in the trees and his body in sight of my scope. This was a good buck, but I did not know how big he was. Then he bolted to the same path all the other deer had been using during the week. That night I talked to my guide about moving my tripod closer to the thicket, where most of the buck activity seemed to be taking place.
The next morning, we moved my stand closer to the thicket of trees in hopes of bagging a trophy. Well, the bucks turned out to be bigger in my new spot, just of the wrong species. If I only had a mule deer tag! It was obvious that some does were already coming into estrus. So, after lunch I let out a loud rattling sequence only to see a coyote come running in on a string. He came within ten feet of my stand, looked right at me, and took off. Well, at least I could fool another animal into believing that I was two bucks fighting. That night after dinner my guide told me that he wanted me to try another area where he has been seeing a big buck in a small forest right in the middle of an oil field.
The following morning my guide moved me to another location to hunt a scrape in a small thicket surrounded by oil wells. Walking through the snow down a narrow cut-line, I found my tripod in the morning darkness. After things calmed down and light began to appear, I could see rabbits all around me with owls patrolling the area, hoping to get a meal. I rattled and grunted several times that morning but no deer.
After lunch my guide took me over to the graveyard, where he had been watching some does that morning. You could see for about a mile in every direction. Close to sunset I noticed some movement coming my way. Shortly thereafter a whitetail doe came out over a hill and a young eight-point buck was following her every footstep to the field. That was the end of activity as night fell.
On the fifth day my guide suggested that I go back to my original stand. That morning the first deer I saw was a small four-point buck coming along the trail where I had seen the other bucks during the week. When I checked with my guide at 10:00 am., he again suggested that we move my tripod back to where it was originally, at the clear-cut on the fence-line. That evening I saw some of the regular does feeding along the treeline, but darkness was near, and I anxiously realized that I only had one more day of hunting left.
All during that week I kept thinking to myself, “Let the smaller bucks go by and a bigger one would come.” My father’s late Uncle Clyde would always tell me that when I was hunting on his place back home in Texas while playing dominos.
When the next morning came, I jokingly told my guide, ” I thought the bucks were supposed to get bigger as you patiently wait.”
He looked at me, grinned, and said, “Well, maybe today you’ll see a monster!”
On the final morning the wind shifted to a strong south wind. As soon as I got up into my stand, I was seeing deer moving all around me. I started watching a group of does that kept feeding along the fence-line about 300 yards away. I turned and looked in another direction to see if there was any other activity going on around me, but there was nothing. I slowly turned back around, and when I looked up, a doe stepped out about 200 yards away, jumped the fence and went into the trees. Looking at the spot where she had come out, I could see the outline of a huge-bodied deer. Just when I raised my rifle, the pig of a deer walked out and turned his wall of antlers, looking right at me. I knew in an instant he was a shooter! The first things I noticed were his huge palmated brow-tines. Just as he came to the fence, he paused a second too long, long enough for me to get the crosshairs behind his shoulder and get a shot off. He dropped to the ground but acted like he was trying to rise to his feet. As fast as one can shoot a bolt-action rifle, I shot again, and he was down for good.
I don’t remember climbing down form the stand. I ran over to my deer, amazed at the mass, points and character he possessed. Just then my guide drove up in the truck, came over, took one look, and replied, “You know what you just did?” Then he added, “Most Canadian hunters don’t ever get to take a deer like that.”
That night after driving back to one of the owner’s houses, we decided to put a tape measure to the rack. After everybody finished admiring the antlers, we came up with a gross score of 180 Boone and Crockett. He had a total of 15 points, 6 ½-inch bases, 23-inch outside spread, and a pair of palmated brow-tines. The longest brow-tine was 10 inches. I’ll definitely be going back to Alberta Wilderness Guide Service every chance I get!