For the past 25 years I have been hunting with my good friends George and Warren Garrett of Atlanta, Georgia. This year would be different however since my wife Susan and I had planned on a long awaited trip to Israel. But as often happens in the Middle east, trouble erupted and our trip was postponed. George and Warren had already booked a trip for white-tails to Alberta, Canada with Diamond Willow Trophy Hunts. When I told them I was no longer going to Israel, they immediately got on the phone to see if there was any possibility of adding another hunter to the trip. The outfitter, Bill Machura, said he had one cancellation. This would by my first stroke of good luck. Plans were made to meet in Edmonton, Alberta on Saturday November 4.
Anticipating a good hunting experience with good friends, I was greeted in Edmonton by a blinding snow storm. I was fortunate to arrive since all later flights were cancelled. I was lucky for the second time and hoped my streak would continue. Later that evening I met up with George, Warren and two other friends: Jack Connolly and Greg Costello at the Nisku Inn. They had hunted this area before and knew the trophy potential. We exchanged a few hunting stories and turned in for the night with dreams of heavy antlered Alberta bucks.
Sunday morning arrived and we were off to our camp located near Andrew, Alberta. Here we met the final two hunters staying at out camp; David Tomazic “Doc Hollywood” and Allan Hornbek “ Crazy Al”, both from Pennsylvania. The rest of the day was spent sighting in our rifles, getting acquainted with our guides and familiarizing ourselves with the area. We were impressed with the fact that our guides were local and did their homework well in advance of our arrival. I liked my chances at harvesting a respectable trophy and could not wait for morning to arrive.We rose at 5:30 A.M. to the most incredible breakfast prepared by our cook Michelle, which combined with the cooking for the week, added at least 5 pounds to my weight! A short truck ride later and our hunt had begun.
The area we were hunting is made mostly of flat farmland with open grain and alfalfa fields in the midst of numerous clumps of heavy cover. My guide, Lorne, had been scouting several large bucks for the past month and with the fresh snow, was confident we would get an opportunity to harvest one of these “brutes”. We would be hunting using two main techniques. The first was deer drives. Through the course of the day, we saw numerous deer using this method, but did not see any bucks large enough to harvest. The second, and my favorite, was stand hunting using ground blinds. Lorne had located a partially harvested pea field surrounded by heavy bush on three sides. As mid afternoon approached, he positioned me in a blind overlooking the field. Within minutes a large doe and fawn began to feed on the edge of the field towards me. The deer came within forty yards of my position and sensed something wrong.
The doe stomped her foot several times and even blew to try to make me move. At that moment I noticed a large buck back in the bush about 200 yards away with his nose in the air trying to see or smell whatever the doe had detected. I could not be certain that this was a “shooter” so I passed. Finally, the doe circled around, winded me, and ran off with some other deer and the buck. I caught a few fleeting glimpses as he exited and wondered if I hadn’t made a mistake. Just as I was getting ready to leave, my rifle slipped and hit the ground. I thought nothing of it and we headed back to camp. At the end of the first’s days hunt, Greg had shot a nice ten point in the 140 class and George had three shots at a huge buck, but missed.After leaving camp the next day while travelling down the road, my heart stopped as I noticed my scope moving! I knew this was a big problem since we could not sight in the gun until daylight. Had my lucky streak come to an end? Making the most of a bad situation, Lorne and I agreed to scout the rest of the morning and sight the gun later.What I didn’t realize at the time was that I had only 12 shells left for my 300 Weatherby Magnum – the exact number that it took to sight the rifle. The next hunt was for bullets and 300 Weatherby Magnum shells are rarer than book bucks in this part of small town Alberta. As luck would have it, one box was found in a nearby town of 200 people. I was three times lucky.
That evening we returned to the pea field but, decided to move our blind to a scapeline a few hundred yards into the woods. I didn’t see any deer, but if I had been hunting rabbits, the camp would have had dinner fit for a king.
On Wednesday, we “pushed the bush” early and jumped a huge buck but he was 300 yards away and travelling at light speed so no shots were taken. At this point I was a little disappointed because I wasn’t prepared to shoot anything that could move so fast. That evening found us back at the edge of the pea field. Big flakes of snow were falling as we made our way to the stand. Suddenly, I noticed a large set of fresh deer tracks made minutes before. At this point I became very alert looking for any movement in front of me. We came to a deer crossing where, unbelievably, I smelled deer musk! My instincts told me to follow the track to the right but I continued to the blind location. After about forty-five minutes, I noticed a buck moving towards me from the corner of the field. His nose was in the air as he was trying to sense any danger but the wind was in my favor. As he slowly walked towards me at a hundred yards I saw his rack and thought to myself that this is the same buck I saw here 2 days earlier. As he crept slowly in my direction, I could plainly see that his antlers were large and well above his ears. Now, he was looking straight at me and sensed something was wrong. Then suddenly he turned as if to run and all I could see was mass. I fired that split second. He went down hard, but just as fast, got up and ran for the safety of the woods. I shot one more time just as I saw his white tail disappear. I knew he was hit hard but dark was closing fast. I decided to wait 20 minutes in hopes the buck would lie down. After I could not stand it any more, I walked to the edge of the field where I had seen him run in and there about 30 yards in I found him dead. I couldn’t believe the mass of the antlers.
All circumferences were between 6 and 7 inches and he had a droptine! We loaded the deer, returned to camp and celebrated. The buck had eighteen scoreable points with a 26 inch outside spread. It grossed 204 5/8 Bonne and Crockett points. The buck weighed 250 pounds, which is not huge by Alberta’s standards and the comment was that it all “went to his head”. My streak of good luck had continued and I couldn’t believe that I was four times lucky! The rest of the week was filled with photography, camaraderie and other hunts in which Doc Hollywood and Crazy Al bagged nice bucks. Thanks to Diamond Willow Trophy Hunts, my guide Lorne, and everyone involved for the hunt of a lifetime!