once thought that if you hunted long and hard in the right spots,
using all of the skills that you have learned from your peers over
the years, you would some day shoot a Boone and Crockett Buck. Well,
I was never more wrong! As any avid hunter knows, there is one major
factor that I have left out, and that would be luck. While I have
had my share of good luck, I have never killed a book buck.
I prepared for my annual Alberta Whitetail hunt, I made the decision
that this year would be different. There
would be no 160's taken. It would be book buck or no buck! This
is something that only a few whitetail hunters will understand.
I would be the first to tell anyone hunting Western Canada that
they should expect to shoot a 150 class buck, and if he turns out
to be a 160 then you have your buck of a lifetime. However, if you
ever hope to shoot a book buck, you must pass up those 160's. For
those who ask,"How do you know if he is a 170?" I say,
"If you have a doubt, he isn't!"
arriving in Alberta and meeting with good friend and outfitter,
Bill Machura, I was once again hunting the vast fields and woods
of this great province. The first evening of my hunt saw my crosshairs
on a buck that may have been a 170. I had a slight doubt, and it
was the first day so I didn't shoot. Unlike the previous year, the
weather was unseasonable mild. The days were warm and windy, while
the nights were clear with a full moon. Deer were active all night
and they laid up in the thick brush all day. The kill was off in
our area. I did spot several good bucks and while a couple of these
would have pushed the 160 mark, none would have come close to 170,
except maybe, possibly, probably, that first evening buck!
good bucks were taken by other hunters in our camp but I wasn't
one of them. I went home without closing my tag, but felt good to
have stuck to my word, "book buck or no buck".
that I have had time to explain to my friends with that puzzled
"What, are you crazy?" look on their faces when I share
my deer stories, I wonder if I will ever pass up a 160 class buck
again. I sure missed that annual trip to my taxidermist!
only recently spoke with Bill and we speculated that next year would
be a great year! With the deer harvest low last year, the winter
mild, and the spring rains timely, many of those 160's I passed
up would be book bucks.
I knew it, I was once again hunting in Alberta. The weather was
great, and I saw several good bucks during the first 3 days, four
of which I am sure would score 160 B.& C. Mid day on thursday
we found a cut line with several good crossings. The deer were travelling
from a large piece of thick woods towards a long high bluff. There
was a lot of breeding activity in this area. After examining the
tracks, it was evident that several good bucks were present. They
were criss-crossing the runways looking for hot does. We decided
to hunt this hot spot the next day. On friday morning we set up
on a hill where we could cover two good runways. For three hours
nothing moved. Then a doe entered the cut line from the thick bush.
She paused for about thirty seconds as she watched her backtrack.
She wasn't out of sight for more than a minute when a 150 class
5X5 appeared with his nose to the ground. He crossed the cut line
in about five seconds. Then another smaller 5X5 followed. They were
definitely after the doe. The set up was perfect for a big buck
to appear, except for one thing: these deer were not using the runways.
We had set up for a 200 yard shot, and all of this activity was
taking place three hundred yards further away. Now I know a 300
Winchester mag. 180 grain bullet is capable of killing a big whitetail
at 500 yards with 1550 foot pounds of energy, however, I wasn't
sure if I was up to it. I was sighted in at 2" high at 100
yards which would put me 42" low at 500 yards. We whispered
back and forth as to what I would do if a shooter buck should present
me with a good broad side standing shot at this great distance.
We decided that Bill would size him up with his 10 X 50 Swarovski
binoculars and make the call. As I settled into a solid rest, we
waited in silence. After what seemed like much longer than thirty
minutes, he appeared. Just his head and front shoulders were in
view. He stood still as a stump staring across the twenty yards
of open cut line that he normally would not cross during the day
light hours. Bill
whispered that the buck had plenty of mass and a long drop tine.
I slid the safety off and waited. Finally, the scent of the doe
in estrus, mixed with the scent of the two smaller rival bucks,
got the best of him and he let his guard down. As he eased out into
the open, I settled the cross hairs over his back into the blue
Alberta sky and fired. The old buck dropped in his tracks!
we reached him, I was amazed at his antler mass, the heavy ten inch
drop tine, and the size of his body. He was a real "Alberta
Monster"! When we lifted him out of the pickup that evening
with the John Deere tractor, he pulled the scales down to 350 lbs.
His unofficial non-typical score was 172 5/8 B. & C. and he
had thirteen points. The rest of the camp did well also with 5 of
the 6 hunters taking good bucks.
again I had taken a giant Alberta buck and once again there were
equal amounts of skill and luck involved. Our skill put us where
the big buck lived and luck was with me when I made the 500 yard
shot on that memorable November afternoon...