by Keith Davis

    I am definitely not a writer nor a great story teller but I do love to talk about hunting, especially whitetail deer hunting, so here is my story.

    This past November I was fortunate enough to travel to Alberta, Canada for my long awaited whitetail adventure. I was joined by two good friends, Terry Marshall, and Dr. Bill Bryant. I have watched dozens of videos of heavy snow, frigid temperatures and giant bucks running around chasing does with snow on their backs and could hardly wait to start the hunt.

    We hunted with outfitter Bill Machura of Diamond Willow Trophy Hunts out of Vilna, Alberta, which is 2 hours northeast of Edmonton. The camp is run out of his home on his farm. The downstairs has been converted to a relaxing game room/trophy room that can sleep 6-8 hunters. The morning and evening meals are provided by his wife, Karen, and were outstanding.

    The first day there, a Sunday, was spent in preparation, checking rifles, getting to know other hunters, and talking about game plans for the week. The first hunting day brought a lot of excitement. Generally you hunt from daylight till dark unless you come out and tie a marker in an area predetermined by you and your guide. The guide usually comes by and checks at 10 am, 2 pm, and then at dark. After climbing into the stand and watching my guide disappear, I began to get comfortable for the possible long day ahead. The stand I was in was a 14 ft ladder with a swivel seat and a shooting rail around it. Around 10 am I caught a glimpse of a big bodied deer coming through the bush. As it stepped out, I could tell something wasn't right. This giant buck had broken the right beam off past the brow tine. I watched this buck walk away. A few minutes later I thought he was returning, but when I looked up this buck had both sides! It was only an 8 point but was over 20 inches wide and very tall. I told myself this is the first day and you've got to wait to get the big ones, so I watched him slowly disappear.

    Day two was also exciting as I watched two nice bucks come to a mock scrape that I had made. The first was a 130 class that sniffed the dominant buck lure and bolted away never to be seen. The second buck, the largest I saw and later regretted not shooting, was a main-framed 10 point with a 3 inch kicker. He came to the scrape and licked the canister for nearly a minute before slowly walking away. My guess was mid 150's but this was still just day two.

    The next two days were pretty uneventful with the snow melting away as the temperatures climbed to nearly 50 degrees. I saw a few smaller bucks from other stands and had been on several unsuccessful drives (bush pushes).

    The fifth day was unique not for seeing deer, but a strong front was pushing through and winds of 50-60 mph were felt most of the day. After 10 hours of that and not seeing deer my hopes were falling fast. I began second guessing about the deer I'd let go.

    Well we were down to the last day, Saturday. I knew chances were slim now but that front that had passed had brought the coldest temperatures of the week. When we got up Saturday morning it was a chilly 7 degrees. I had spent nearly 50 hours in a ladder stand over the previous 5 days and had decided to take the first decent racked buck I saw that morning, come in, get cleaned up and watch the Alabama-Auburn game on the couch with a cold beverage of choice.

    As it turned out that's exactly what happened. Because I had seen nice bucks in that first stand, I decided to return there for my last day. It must have been the only place that still had snow on the ground. But now, because it wasn't fresh and was frozen, I couldn't have made more noise tearing sheets of paper as I walked to the stand. I was only in the stand for 30 minutes when I heard someone or something else making all of this crunching noise. It couldn't be deer, it was too loud. I finally caught a glimpse of a doe running and not 50 yards behind was a nice buck. At that moment I remembered what the outfitter Bill had told me. He had said "Don't waste your time trying to stop these deer with a grunt. They don't pay any attention. If you need to stop them, just yell, HEY!!" So as soon as the buck hit the line I yelled, but he didn't stop. So again and louder I yelled HEY! With that, he threw on the brakes just quick enough for me to get a broadside shot, and he was off. I knew the 150 yard shot was good so I waited.

    As I made the walk down to where I had last seen him, I was relieved to find him piled up. He turned out to be a pretty nice buck. A heavy 8 pointer which scored just over 140. As I stood over him, and began to reflect on the weeks events, a light snow began to fall.