"WHEN THE ALBERTA DEER GODS SMILE"
AUTHOR: DAVID SCHRADER
PHOTOS: WENDELL MANN
These two Whitetail deer (left 196 \ right 208 NT) were taken openingmorning of a six day hunt with Bucks 'n Bears.
Trophy whitetail deer hunting can be a very frustrating game to play, and sometimes it seems the odds of success are too low to justify the effort. The harder you try, the more frustrated you become, and after a period of time the goal of a true trophy whitetail can seem to become impossible to achieve. From the day that I took my first eight point buck, over thirty years ago, I have been hunting for an exceptional deer that would fulfill a lifetime dream. On a cold, clear day in November of 1997, in Alberta, Canada, my dream came true.
The scene was set many months prior to the Alberta hunt, during telephone conversations with Wendell Mann, owner of Bucks N' Bears, Outfitting. The hunting plan that was agreed upon, called for me to hunt a series of remote coulees along the famous Battle River from daylight to dark, until I was successful, or until my hunt was over.
The Bucks N' Bears deer lodge is located in the Battle River area of eastern Alberta and their deer hunting area covers approximately 7,000 square miles. Upon arrival from Florida I met Glenn Richards, from Kalispell, Montana, one of the other four hunters in the camp. Glennhas been deer hunting for twenty five years and has taken several 150 B&C class whitetails. As Glenn and I became acquainted, I realized we both
The excitement of the impending hunt made sleep almost impossible. Everyone was excited and full of anticipation at breakfast as we prepared to go out for the first day. I can still remember the usual feeling that came over me as I found my stand and prepared to hunt. Although I had never been there, it was like I had seen this place in my mind so many times before. As the light increased with the rising sun, I saw a coulee below me and more and more details in the hills surrounding my stand with every passing minute. I had been sitting for only a few minutes, still warm from the thirty minute walk and climb in the cold morning air, when I noticed the quietness of this remote place. There was absolutely no sound. I was just beginning to realize how much I was enjoying being there, when I looked to my left and spotted movement, as the first deer of the morning came out into an opening some 300 yards away. To my amazement it was a good buck. Since it was crossing an opening and would only be visible for a few seconds, I immediately looked at it through the rifle scope. Everybody tells you not to shoot the first buck you see, so I tried to convince myself to let this buck go. With my gun resting borrowed bi-pod, I followed the deer through my Leoupold scope turned to the maximum 10 power. I could tell that it was a trophy whitetail, but in the early light and at the extream distance, I was not sure that it was the deer that I wanted. The deer only had about thirty yards of open ground before he would reach some heavy brush and would be gone forever. Just before he entered the brush I could see that he was a very large, with massive horns and numberous points. I decided to shoot. I was not aware of pulling the trigger, yet, through the scope I saw the buck drop in his tracks, even before I felt the recoil of the rifle. I continued to watch the tall grass where the buck went down, but he did not get up. To reach the fallen deer, I had to walk down a very steep coulee, over two smaller hills, and up to the top of a third hill. I was beginning to doubt myself by the time I reached the general area where the dear had fallen. When I first saw the deer laying in the tall grass, my first thought was someone else must have shot this deer! I could not believe my eyes. In contrast to my other deer hunting experiences, the longer I looked at it, this deer actually got bigger. The buck had twenty measurable points with thirteen on the right antler and seven on the left. The main beams are seven inches in circumference almost the entire length of both horns. The deer weighed an estimated 300 pounds, and has a gross B&C score of 208.
When I arrived back at the lodge I was informed that Glenn had also taken a trophy buck right at daylight. Glenn's hunt was over just as quickly as mine. He had approached a large field at daylight, several deer, including a couple of good bucks ran in different directions. One large buck and a doe ran into a small group of trees about 250 yards away. Glenn could see the high-racked buck, but in the early light the deer looked like a trophy mule deer. When Glenn realized that he was looking at a huge whitetail he made a good shot and claimed his deer. Glenn's deer has a twenty eight inch spread and twenty eight and one half inch main beams. It has 14 measurable points, including four points with broken tips, and scores 196 B&C points. This would have beena 200 plus class whitetail, if the potential ten more inches of broken tines could have been counted.
Either of these bucks would have been unbelievable, but when you consider that they were taken on the same day, within minutes of the same time, makes this story incredible. These two deer could be the best two bucks ever taken in one day. The day that we arrived at the Bucks 'N Bears deer lodge, Wendell assured everyone that we would be hunting in an area that is as good as it gets for trophy deer. He said that all you need to do is hunt hard, shoot straight, and then have the Deer Gods smile on you. It is still hard to believe that Glenn Richards and I had a conversation about the bucks that we had always hoped for, and then after a combined 55 years of hunting, the Deer Gods smiled both of us.
Later, in the following week I also harvested a great mule deer, but that is another story.
Back to Top of Page