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2017 WHITETAILS NEW BRUNSWICK

BULL MOOSE

ARCHERY NON TYPICAL ELK V5 ISSUE 4 WINTER 2017 19

FAMILY HUNTS FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA

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BIG GAME

ILLUSTRATED

Publisher:

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BIG GAME BIG GAME

LLUSTRATED ILLUSTRATED

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Volume 5 Issue 3 | Winter Edition 2017

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In This Issue... 06

Mr. Mass by Ricky Bourque

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Do Not Compromise by Danielle Bergen

16

Worth the Wait by Albert Richard

22

Double Dream Season by Travis Hogg

28

Out of Nowhere by Ross Weber

32

Bull of a Lifetime by Riley Fisher

38

The Family Blind by Heath Kersten

42

A Family Mule by Renee Michaud

46

Seven Year Wait by Rodney Cutler

50

Stick it Out

54

Beginner’s Bull of a Lifetime by Tyler Gilbert

58

Conquering Frank by Mike Sarrazin

64

Nobody Said it Would be Easy by Tanner Neu

70

Casper the Ghost by Chance Saccucci

74

One Brow by Jabin Nicholas

80

Change Up by John Ward

by Josh Mattern

Contact Big Game Illustrated: Email: info@biggameillustrated.com

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FEATURES... 25

THE REAL JOURNEY by Chad Wilkinson

Today’s world bombards us with so much instant information that it is easy to forget what reality is. BGI is a reprieve from this, sharing the journey behind these ‘snapshots’

78 The Future of Hunting Dedicated to all the young hunters.


Mr. MASS By: Ricky Bourque

Ricky Bourque and his wife and family travel the six hours north from their home in Calgary, Alberta to hunt in central Alberta for the legendary Alberta whitetails every year. They always have a great time sharing stories and bringing home some meat for the year. Ricky always dreamt of tagging a monster Alberta whitetail on these trips and 2016 was his lucky year, as he put his tag on a buck with more mass than he ever dreamed possible!


I

t happens without failure, every fall I find myself thinking, “Is this the year that I am going to get my trophy of a lifetime?” Almost every year, it is not the case, but the 2016 season was the year that in finally came true for me! Every year we always take a week for whitetail hunting in November. It is always a great time to get to together with family and friends. In 2016, it was my wife and I, along with my brother and sister in law. We are all from Calgary, but we try to go up to our hunting spot a couple of times a year to check out new grounds and set up trail cams. We have been hunting in central Alberta for a long time. Although it is a long way to drive,  it is hard to think about moving somewhere else to hunt as we know that place very well now. Over the years, we have some nice white-

tail to show for our efforts, but nothing like my dream buck of 2016! This is my adventure. It all started on November 12, 2016. My wife and I, my brother and sister in law left from Calgary to make that six hour drive to our hunting grounds. When we got to our spot, we set up a little camp site, had lunch and chatted for a while then we all took off for an evening hunt. My wife and I took off one way while my brother and sister in law took off another way. We slowly made our way out to check trail cams and a few hunting spots, but the weather was not that cold so there was not much activity that evening. After the evening hunt, we met up at camp and shared our trail cam pictures by the campfire while making a plan for the next day. The next morning everybody was excited to head out. The weather was still not that cold but that did not damper our enthusiasm. My wife and I headed out to check a spot where we had a decent buck on camera. The day was uneventful with the warm weather slowing movement so much that none of us had any chances at a buck, and hardly saw any deer at all! The next morning, we all headed out again after breakfast. As the day went by, it was around 11 o’clock when my brother texted me saying that my sister in law had just got herself a doe so my wife and I decided to head over and meet with them to help. As we got there we could see she was pretty excited and we were all happy for her! We loaded the deer and headed back to the camp to hang the deer, have lunch and talk about what had happened that morning. My sister in law had plenty to say but the rest of us didn't have much to show for the hunt so far. After a while we decided to head out again to see what the evening would bring. It was still very warm, and nothing was moving so it was a slow but nice evening to be out. The next morning was November 15, 2016 and the weather was finally starting to cool off ! I could feel that things were go-


ing to pick up when my brother texted me saying that my sister in law had got herself a nice small buck! Again, we headed to meet them and as we got there it was obvious that my sister in law was very happy and we were all happy for her! We loaded up the deer and headed for camp to hang it with the doe she had shot the day before. As she told us about her adventure and all the details of the hunt we laughed and told stories. I thought to myself, “This is what the fun of hunting is all about!” The next day the weather had changed a lot and it was starting to look better as we all took off for another morning hunt. My brother and sister in law were set up in a tree stand that we had put up during the summer, while my wife and I were hunting elsewhere on foot. It was around noon that my brother texted me to ask if I had seen anything. We had only seen one doe, and he hadn't seen anything yet, but said that they were going to stay a little bit longer because he thought he had heard something 30 minutes prior. It was only a few minutes later when I heard from my brother and he had just got his buck and was pretty excited! My brother, tagging his buck, had my wife and I pretty pumped up for the rest of the week! That night by the fire my brother showed us a nice deer he had on his trail camera and said that I could use his tree stand and he would come with me the next morning to get my hunt on video. The next morning came and found my brother and I headed out to the tree stand at the break of dawn. That morning was pretty cold, and I was

thankful thinking that would increase deer movement, but sitting in the cold weather can be very tough. We had been sitting in the tree stand for about four hours when my brother looked at me and said, “I can’t take it anymore, I am freezing and have to go warm up,” so he left for the camp. As I was sitting by myself, about an hour after my brother left the stand, I noticed it was dead calm. I could hear just about anything going on for miles. As I listened to all the sounds of the forest, suddenly I heard a loud crunching sound from a distance, then it went silence as I waited for about 30 seconds until it started to move again. I was searching the forest for the source of the sound when I started to see a deer through the trees, and it was heading my way! I couldn't get a clear view of the deer through the trees, as it was over 150 yards away but I started to see antlers as it was coming closer. While in the tree stand, I had noticed an old, abandoned bush trail and I knew that was where he was heading. I was certain that I knew which trail he was going to come out on, so I got ready. Sure enough, he stepped out 100 yards broadside, giving me a perfect shot! As the shot went off, the deer jumped straight up in the air and turned and headed back on the same trail that he had come from. I could see him running through the trees and I saw him go down and not get back up! When everything was over, still sitting in the tree stand I could not believe what had just happened! I knew that I had seen the massive bases as he stepped out in the trail, and I knew it was a good size deer. As I could see him lying down from the


stand I couldn't wait to get to him so as I headed down the stand and walked to where I had made the shot, I could see him. Instantly, I knew he was a pretty good size buck. As I closed the distance the antlers kept getting nicer and nicer! When I got to him, I realized that I had finally had got the buck

Photo by Hamilton Greenwood

of my dreams! I enjoyed the moment than I sent a text to the group and everybody came down to see what I had just tagged. We all could not believe the size of the buck! To top things off the next morning my wife tagged her buck out of the same tree stand. Needless to say, it was a hunt we will never forget!


The pursuit was on. To be honest I'm not sure how we made it from point A to point B. All I was thinking in my mind was, “This could be my moment. Be wise Danielle. Do not compromise�. As we dropped into the final little hollow between the closest hill we could hide behind between the mule deer and ourselves it happened, buck fever began to heat up as my legs started shaking and my whole body began to feel like a sweat machine. It's a moment when one just has to appreciate the feeling of this beautiful sickness. We slowly snuck to the top of the hill. My Uncle reached into my backpack and pulled out my shooting sticks and then peered through his binoculars. I saw his mouth drop. Without even taking his eyes away from his binoculars he said, "Chamber a shell, you're going to want to shoot."


Do Not

COMPROMISE BY: DANIELLE BERGEN

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hat constitutes good advice? Some might argue that advice from a scholarly source such as someone with a master’s degree from a prestigious college could be a viable source for sound advice. Statistics or facts could be cited as a basis for trustworthy advice. Possibly even Google could play a role in offering advice from billions of World Wide Web searches and articles written by moms, dads, fitness models, journalists, scientists, mathematicians, physicians, detectives, and many more people whose name title ends in numerous arrangements of capital and small print fonts. Or perhaps, even someone of older age, who has, "been there and done that,” could be a solid source of good advice that could benefit a person as they tackle the crazy terrain of this roller coaster ride called life. This is where this story starts. A story that could have ended much sooner than it did. But due to advice I was given, advice that to this day I have trusted and lived by, I chose to listen to the advice and take the safe route. Though in the moment, I was questioning, I will admit, I was thinking, "Was that good advice?" I could feel my hand pulsating and slowly beginning to slide down the wooden stalk of my rifle as I tried to keep the scope focused on my unbelievable reality. This was the moment I had fallen asleep praying would happen and dreamt about, waking up hoping that today would be the day it would all

play out exactly how I had envisioned it. And now, that it was happening, I just wanted to pull the trigger and sign the "Happily ever after" to the end of my fairytale hunting story. I struggled to keep the scope on my future wall hanger and freezer filler, not daring to lower my rifle and risk the chance of sending him bounding once again into my nighttime fantasy. The seconds seemed to drag on, almost as if taunting me to just shoot. It was like that moment as a little kid waiting for the cookies to finish baking. You're sitting in front of the oven as the little mounds of sugar seem to have no problem in taking their jolly good time turning a shade of brown. Then, when they finally finish baking, you must wait for them to cool, so you sit there staring, rating each cookie based on its size and the amount of chocolate chips it has. Finally, when mom says you can have one, you already have the game plan prepped and ready for which cookie will fall victim first, to your strategically calculated maneuver. The patience is merciless but the final reward is ever so sweet. But I have digressed. Back to my story… As my front arm continues to show signs of failing under the weight of my rifle and the sheer intensity of the moment, I take one deep breath and close my eyes. “What do I do?” I am caught between what feels like a rock and a muck hole. The buck I have in my sights is approximately 150 yards away from me, standing perfectly broadside almost begging for me to shoot him. But there is


one problem, he is standing right on the top of a hill. His entire body is silhouetted by nothing but blue sky and big white puffy clouds. In that moment, I remember the advice that I received from my Dad back when I was holding my very first Daisy BB air gun. He looked at me and said, "Danielle, do not compromise! When you are going to take a shot, you need to be absolutely certain of it. You take into account everything and everyone that is around you and consider what will happen when you pull that trigger. You need to know without a doubt what your target is and what is beyond that target and be positive that your BB will go exactly where you want it and nowhere else. This is advice that I want you to remember every time you pick up a gun of any kind. So, when you grow older and we go hunting together, you will not compromise because you are certain your bullet will hit the one animal you are aiming at.” I smiled at my Dad and he smiled back, helping me pump the first BB into the chamber of that little Daisy gun. I still have that little gun. It stands proudly in my Dad’s large safe and reminds me of the first gun safety advice I ever received. As I remembered this advice, I knew I couldn’t take the shot. I had absolutely no clue what was beyond the buck. I believed I could make the shot and make a good shot. I had second thoughts, “What if I flinched? What if I pulled the trigger a bit too hard and jerked the rifle and missed? What if the buck turned just before I took the shot? What then?” I knew I was hunting in a rancher’s pasture that butted up to another pasture he had horses in. I didn't know where the horses were in that pasture and did not want to take a chance of hitting one. My Dad's words drifted back and forth across my mind and almost seemed audible as I opened my eyes and lowered my rifle, "Do not compromise...when you take a shot you be absolutely certain of it.” Startled by my motion, the buck bounded away down the backside of the hill he had been standing statue-like on. That buck would move on to greener pastures in a matter of bounds and I was now

back to the task of again searching for a mature mule deer buck, worthy enough to cancel my draw tag. Sadly, that buck would be the first and last one I would see that day. A week later, with three days left in the season, my hopes and standards for what size of a buck I was going after, began to shrink. At the beginning of the hunting season everything had seemed so promising. The zone I was drawn in had good records of holding high caliber mule deer year after year. I had started the season aiming for anything over 210 inches. I knew that was a possibility in this zone and hoped to make it a reality. But now, staring at approximately 36 daylight hours left in the season to hunt, I had downsized, hoping to get a buck that would at least break the 160 mark. It was certainly doable, but whether it was actually going to happen would be an entirely new challenge. Thankfully, my Dad and Uncle offered to join me for the day and hopefully between our six eyes we would be able to spy some antlers hidden amongst the hills and clumps of bush. At legal hunting time, we parked the truck. My Dad said a prayer asking the Lord if He would bless us with safety and success, and then we hopped out to begin our hike. As I rounded the front of the truck to come to my Dad's side, a quick flash of white caught my eye. Not 75 yards away from the front of the truck, feeding in some willow bushes, were seven mule deer does. Undeterred by our presence, they continued to feed. We carefully, one-by-one, squeezed through a barb wire fence and then decided to split up. My Dad would be heading a little way south and my Uncle a bit north, while I stayed in the middle. Then we would make a sweep west through the pasture, keeping our eyes open for any sign of mule deer bucks. Within fifteen minutes of walking, my Dad had already spotted a decent little mulie buck and guesstimated he would rough score somewhere around the high 140s and possibly the low 150s. He asked if I wanted to give the buck a stalk but I declined because I had already decided that I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a 160”.


We continued walking. Every new hill had me dreaming about the buck that I had watched bound away the other day, hoping he would magically be standing just behind the hill as I crested the top and peered over. But with each hill I climbed, it seemed to bring only more hills into view rather than bucks to sneak. As I crested the umpteenth hill, the corner of my right eye caught a flash of movement. It was my Uncle, waving his arms trying to catch my wandering gaze. He was motioning for me to come his direction. I slowly started making my way towards him when his hand motions became more deliberate and faster, so I began to pick up my pace, realizing that he was very serious about whatever it was he wanted to show me. When I made it within talking distance, he told me we had to go and go now. He pointed off into the distance towards a bush, "Way out there," he said, "I can see a buck standing on the edge of that bush. I'm not sure how big he is but we need to get there quickly to get a better look." The pursuit was on. To be honest I'm not sure how we made it from point A to point B. All I was thinking in my mind was, “This could be my moment. Be wise Danielle. Do not compromise�. As we dropped into the final little hollow between the closest hill we could hide behind between the mule deer and ourselves it happened, buck fever began to heat up as my legs started shaking and my whole body began to feel like a sweat machine. It's a moment when one just has to appreciate the feeling of this beautiful sickness. We slowly snuck to the top of the hill. My Uncle reached into my backpack and pulled out my shooting sticks and then peered through his binoculars. I saw his mouth drop. Without even taking his eyes away from his binoculars he said, "Chamber a shell, you're going to want to shoot." That was it. I couldn't

hold it back any more, my entire body began to shake violently and my breathing came out in small short gasps. I finally chambered a bullet and found the buck in my scope. I didn't think I could lose it anymore but I could. The shaking became so bad I lost track of where the buck was. I closed my eyes and began to pray. I knew without the Lord's help and strength; I wasn't going to be able to bring myself under control. I was just way to excited. As I opened my eyes, the shaking had subsided enough to relocate the deer. He was drop dead gorgeous. A non-typical with a decent sized body. "Whenever you're ready," my Uncle said. I took a deep breath in and slowly began to let it out beginning to put pressure on the trigger. "Stop!" My uncle half shouted, half whispered, "Turn your rifle to the right towards the edge of the bush. An even bigger buck is walking out." I quickly turned my rifle and readjusted. I didn't even look at the antlers on

By: Aimee Murray


his head, his body was ginormous! The buck took three steps out from the bush and I heard my Uncle say, "Drop him!" I squeezed the trigger and watched as the buck dropped to the ground. Memory loss, hyperventilation, stuttering, shaking, lightheadedness, it all flooded my body with such force I couldn't control it. My Uncle reached over and gave me a big hug trying to steady my out-of-control vibrations. It all seemed so unreal, surreal, and practically like a fairy tale. My Dad had heard the rifle shot and radioed to find out what had just taken place and where we were so he could come over and see this buck I had just shot. Walking up to the buck, I couldn't believe how he seemed to just keep getting bigger and bigger. I stopped about ten yards away and couldn't make myself go any closer. All I could do was just stand in shear awe and amazement at this beautiful deer. The Lord had answered our prayer and blessed me above and beyond! As I picked up the buck’s head and swung it around to face the

camera, my Uncle smiled and said, "Well there's your 180," as he snapped a picture with his cell phone. I knew right then that my Dad’s advice, advice from someone who had “been there and done that”, had been good and right. Because I did not compromise and attempt a shot at the buck on the hill the previous day, I had another chance to go hunting and was blessed with an even bigger deer. With this buck, the stars seemed to fall perfectly into place. I knew my target and beyond. I knew where the other deer were and I knew my shot was going to hit the mark. I looked towards my dad, and couldn't help but be thankful for the good advice he had given me as a young BB gun hunter. As I was about to thank my Dad, he smiled at me and said, "Well it's not the 160 you were willing to kill today and it's not quite the 210 incher you had hoped for at the start of the season, but he’ll be about halfway in between." I began to smile and thought to myself, my Dad’s advising me to not compromise continues to hold true.

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WORTH the WAIT

BY: ALBERT RICHARD


Rheal Richard waited 44 years to finally pull a coveted bull moose tag in his home province of New Brunswick. It was a special hunt as he was able to share it with his lifelong hunting partner and son Albert Richard. Albert called the 61 3/8” wide bull into a mere couple yards in thick cover and his Father was able to drop the beast in his tracks at extremely close range. It was a hunt and a memory the pair will cherish forever.

A

fter applying for 44 years, my father’s name was finally drawn for a moose tag in New Brunswick. When he called me the morning the results were out he didn’t appear to be overly excited, so I assumed that just like every other year since I can remember he wasn’t drawn again. He then proceeded to ask me if either my wife or I was drawn, my reply was simply, “Nope”. He then said, “That’s ok son, because my name was finally drawn!” I was super excited; in fact, it was hard to believe. I said, “Now the work begins”, and I knew it was true. We started scouting heavily when August came around, knowing the moose were starting to move more after the warm summer months. With the season starting in less than a month we knew it was time to get serious and make a game plan to see what area we were going to spend the most time scouting. The moose season in New Brunswick is only five days so we knew we had to pick a couple spots that would have the most moose activity. With the season quickly approaching, we started keeping a closer eye on our trail cams and looking for fresh bull sign. My father and I have been hunting together since I was old enough to walk and we usually are on the same page when we are in the woods together. As we talked the day before opening morning, we pinpointed where we figured had the best moose activity within the couple of days prior and we both agreed on one particular road. This old logging road was on the side of a mountain and consisted of a combination of mixed forest along with a plantation and a fresh clear cut on the other side. Our plan was if that spot didn’t produce the first day, we were going to move to another area which consisted of more swampy terrain with a big bog in the center. We were all set up and eager to go as dawn of the first morning broke. Without even finishing my first calling session we had two bulls grunting back! The first one that came out from the thick spruce was a smaller six-point bull, then five minutes later a 10-point appeared. My Father decided to

pass on these bulls, knowing it was only the first hour into the season. The action started to settle around 10:00 AM so we then travelled to a couple of different areas to scout for fresh bull sign and make a game plan and find a location where we figured our chances were best for the evening hunt. We ended up on a mountainside overlooking a fresh clear cut and a small bog. That evening we heard some answers in the distance but nothing stepped out. That evening on our way back to camp we again discussed where our best chances would be for the next morning. That’s when my father said “I have a feeling the big bull will be around the lake by the big beaver pond.” My immediate response was, “Sounds like a plan Dad.” The next morning we woke up long before the crack of dawn and had a big breakfast and focused on the morning hunt. Once we had all our gear ready, we drove to where we had planned to park the truck and we slowly made our way to where we wanted to set up to start a calling session. As legal shooting time hit we were only about 150 yards from the location we wanted to set up. As we walked, I started with soft grunts and gently raking the bushes. It wasn’t long until we could hear a cow moose bawling in the distance. As we got close, my grunts and raking intensified and it wasn’t five minutes when we heard two bulls grunting and going towards the bawling cow moose. That’s the moment I knew I had to


change it up to convince the bulls to come to me instead of the cow that was at that point bawling very loudly on the other side of the swamp. As I started my calling session the bulls started to grunt and come my way until the cow would bawl again and they would turn and go towards her again. This went on for a good half hour to forty minutes. Then I knew I had

to be more aggressive. As I imitated a dominant bull, both bulls seemed committed but would stop and go quiet, so along with some bull and cow calls of my own I had them committed after a while. As they came closer and closer we could tell one was a mature bull. He eventually pushed the smaller bull away and started coming in real fast and put all his focus on me as I challenged him by raking bushes and deep grunts. He sounded like a bulldozer coming through the thick bush. He kept in the thick cover and made his way closer and closer. He was at 7 yards and my father could still not get a clear shot, we could hear every breath the moose took. What an adrenaline rush it was as the bull finally took one more step and Dad took the head shot, as that was all he could see at extremely close range! BOOM, the rifle went off and the giant was down. My father and I couldn’t believe our eyes as we admired this old beast. It was like a dream for us to be together and harvest such a magnificent animal. That’s when Dad said, “This moment was worth the 44 year wait son”.

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It was an honor for me to call out such a big bull moose for my Father who, for the last 30 years, showed me everything I

know about hunting. Thank you for all the advice, Dad, this story is for you.


Double Dream Season BY: TRAVIS HOGG

Travis Hogg accomplished an incredible feat in 2016. He tagged a trophy class bull elk and followed that up by taking a spectacular typical Alberta whitetail! Both animals are big mature specimens, and his whitetail is nothing short of amazing with incredible mass and long tines throughout, all adding up to an unoďŹƒcial score of 186 7/8â€? gross.


W

ith almost all my focus towards elk hunting in the early fall of 2016, I geared up to try to harvest my first bull elk with a bow. I have been fortunate enough to harvest many bulls with a rifle over the years, but never with a bow. I was determined to make it happen. In May 2016, I purchased a new Bowtech BT-X and began practicing all summer long. As bow season was drawing near, I went out on August 31, 2016 for one last practice. I shot about 16 arrows

that evening. As I drew my bow back and lined up on my target for my next shot I heard a snap in my bow, my arrow rest dropped, and I knew that something was wrong! I let down my draw and noticed that I had a limb de-laminate! I could not believe my luck! I went into the house and called the bow shop where I had purchased the bow. They informed me that they would not be able to get new limbs in for my bow for two weeks. I was devastated! After talking to the owner for a while


he offered to let me use his spare BT-X till mine was ready. After work the next day I went to the shop and brought the bow home to practice. On September 3, my six year old daughter Hailey and I decided to go out for a quick evening hunt. We got to our spot and walked in until we found some sign in an open timber area. We set up and began to call. After about five minutes of calling we heard a bull chuckle at us. He continued to respond as he came in. He stepped out of the trees at 54 yards! I could only see five points clearly, and in our area it is 6 points or better. We let the bull come into 32 yards then noticed that he did have a 6th point but it was small, and I was not sure if it would be long enough to count as a point, so we let the bull walk off. After this encounter Hailey was hooked! Every day she would beg me to go elk hunting. On September 5th, we made it out again for an evening hunt. We went into a new area where I had seen many good bulls before. We walked in until we found an open fir timber area with multiple rubs. We could smell a bull off and on as the wind swirled a bit. We set up behind a log and pre-ranged the shooting lanes. We started to bugle, every 5-15 minutes, and sat quietly waiting for a response. As we sat waiting Hailey said to me, "Dad, when we get a bull elk, I want to have my picture taken with it". We sat there for nearly two hours with no responses when suddenly we heard a branch snap. I told Hailey to stay very still and quiet because a bull was coming in. We watched the bull walk in through the trees and we could clearly see he was a 6x6. The bull came into 56 yards and began to rub a willow bush. We just sat still and waited for him to continue towards us. After a couple of minutes the bull turned and continued walking in towards our pre-ranged shooting lane. As the bull went behind some trees I drew my bow. I held my aim on the shooting lane, and as the bull walked into my lane I held my pin on him as he was only 42 yards now. I chirped to stop the bull and let my arrow fly! It felt like a solid shot. As the bull ran away we could hear him crashing into the trees as he went down. We went over to where the bull was and found part of my arrow. With Hailey in front of me following the blood trail we came to the bull. Hailey turned with the biggest smile ever and said, “There he is!� He had only gone 30 yards. The


excitement on my daughter’s face was the most rewarding part. It was an incredible way to start such a memorable season, but little did I know it was far from over! My brother Tyler and I had been trying to make plans to hunt together for whitetail in Alberta for quite some time. We had made plans to go in later November 2016. As every year, another curve ball came and I had to have a surgery on October 27, 2016. As a result, I was unsure if I would be able to make it out once again. As the time neared closer I was feeling a bit better and decided to go anyway, even if it was just for a visit. I loaded up my family and drove 12.5 hours to my brother’s house in northern Alberta. After arriving we had a few days to wait for hunting as Tyler had to work. While sitting at the house anticipating a great hunt with Tyler, who I hadn't hunted with in over 10 years, I could only dream of harvesting a 150 class buck. Throughout all my years in British Columbia, the biggest whitetail I had to date was a 131" buck. On November 24th, I received a call from Tyler telling me that he was getting off early and to get ready to go hunting. We headed out to a spot that my brother had hunted many times before and had seen some good bucks. As it seemed most people were hunting fields, we went back into the thick brush to get away from hunting pressure. That first evening we saw four smaller bucks that we both decided to pass on. The next morning, we got up early, grabbed our coffee and breakfast and headed out to our hunting area before day break. After seeing a few solo bucks in the morning, we decided to go rattle and call in an area where we had seen a lot of sign. Around 11:45am we set up in an open timber spot. After a few minutes, we let

out some doe bleats followed by some buck grunts. After a few more minutes, we began to rattle. After about 30 seconds of rattling we sat still and watched for movement in the trees. Then we heard what sounded like a buck making a rub down to our left. With the wind blowing down slightly to our right we decided to circle around the area to get better wind. As we walked through the extremely dense bush we cut, what looked like, a mature buck track. I said to my brother, “I hope we can find the buck that made this track!” Once we were down wind I sat down at the base of a tree with my brother ten yards to my right. I began to rattle hard for another 30 seconds, then put the sheds down and got my .270 ready. After about two minutes a squirrel started chirping hard to my left. I had been in this same situation before with elk so I knew that there must be something close to it. I stared hard through the thick brush. At about 50 yards away I could see glimpses of a deer walking. Struggling to see much of the deer I caught a quick glimpse of what looked like a club where his antlers should be. I was unsure of what I thought I had seen, but knew that the deer was walking towards a shooting lane. I got ready for it to walk out, but nothing came out. I started glassing into the thick willow brush with my binoculars. Finally, I saw the eye and forehead of a deer looking in my direction and was only about 40 yards away. I tried to move my head to get a look at the top of the deer’s head. I saw part of the base and brow tine. I put down my binoculars and got my rifle ready again. The buck looked away, snorted, and looked straight at me! He repeated this about 15 times. The buck decided to walk back to where he came from. As it was walking away and almost out of sight, I let out a small


grunt with my voice to try to turn him back. The buck stopped! I could only see his hind end and still had no idea what he had for antlers. The buck turned and walked straight towards me. He would take one step and stare for a few seconds, then another step. He came into about 40 yards again and I could just see the ends of his main beams through the brush and I knew by this that he was big and heavy. With brush covering most of the buck, I waited for him to take one more step. Once he took that last step I could see his chest, I readied my aim and let a shot off. The buck turned and ran, but as he turned I saw a glimpse of that club like mass once again! I turned to my brother and said, "I think I just shot a giant". It was now about 12:30pm. We gathered up our things and went to look for blood. After finding some blood we followed it for about ten yards and then saw the buck’s body laying behind some trees. He had only gone about 20 yards. As we came around the trees we got the first good look at the massive rack on the monster buck! My heart filled with joy as I realized I had just shot the buck of my dreams on my first morning hunt in Alberta with my brother! To be able to take this impressive buck was one of the greatest feelings ever!Â


Photo by Hamilton Greenwood


THE REAL JOURNEY By

A

By: CHAD WILKINSON

s this issue goes to print, my mule deer hunt has just come to an end and sadly my ‘mulie curse’ continues with an empty tag. Over the years, as a hunter becoming much more mature in my outlook on things, I rarely spend any time thinking about what anybody else has tagged during the season, or comparing my success to anyone else’s. I know it has no effect on me and I am truly happy for anyone who has a successful season. This season’s mule deer hunt was particularly challenging for several reasons, not the least of which was my inability to find the time to get down into mulie country and hunt hard. I made it down a few times but all were rushed hunts with little preparation, so my lack of success was in no way surprising. However, what was surprising and did catch me off guard was the reaction to seeing other people’s tremendous success in the draw mule deer season. It seems as though my social media accounts, phone and email addresses were bombarded with giant mule deer from all over Saskatchewan, Alberta, and the western US. From my perspective, it seemed like ‘everyone’ had taken a big mule deer! I have been along for some tremendous mule deer hunts and have seen some monster bucks taken, and I hoped this would be my year, and that I would get that indescribable feeling of taking a once in a lifetime buck. However, it was not meant to be and in fact I did not ‘deserve’ such an animal given my lack of preparation and time commitment. As I thought about it more, I realized that much of this reaction comes back to the insane exposure to information and social media and the changing face and world of hunting. Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded with the highlights of people’s lives, and in the hunting perspective, this means seeing everyone’s success and seeing a large percentage of the biggest animals taken every year literally within minutes of hitting the ground. It is a great thing, and fits perfectly with the BGI mission statement of sharing all the great things about hunting in order to promote hunting, but it also creates a false reality in that all the highlights and absolute highs are what gets shared, but not the long, slow times, the failures, and the lessons learned. Looking back at the numerous mule deer draw tags I have held, and have not filled, I think of all the positive experiences I have had. I do not think of the failures, the long empty handed drives home, the biting cold on the hilltop in a blizzard or the slow days of barely seeing a single deer. Rather I remember the beautiful country, the close encounters with the incredible animals, sitting beside my wife or my brother on that biting hilltop and just enjoying the view mother nature has to offer. Thankfully, these memories bring me back to what re-

ality is, and it is not being able to tag your ‘dream’ animal every time, but it may just be spending your time in the ‘dream’ location or with your ‘dream’ people getting away from it all. This is what hunting is all about, and although the world continues to change, it is the one constant that never changes. The animals that we hunt still live in the same spots, the hunting strategies that we have always had success with continue to work, or not work, and the discussions after the hunt of ‘what we should have done’ always stay the same. It all comes back to something that has been discussed in the pages of BGI many times, and that is perspective. The focus of the hunt truly needs to be on the journey, not the final result or the snapshot in time. Thinking about this, I could not help but wish that social media, and other media forms had a way of attaching the long story that goes along with most of these ‘successful’ snapshots in time that we always see. Eventually, it dawned on me that there was a way to do this, and that, in fact, BGI was doing it all along! Every single story that is in BGI goes onto our social media accounts, we are very happy to share them all, and we always link the entire article to those ‘snapshots’ and provide them to everyone to read for free online. In a small way, hopefully this helps to keep things in perspective, and continue to link these successes back to all the hard work and time that went into them, because often the successful ‘snapshot’ that gets shared was actually a long journey of ups and downs that culminated in that moment. That is what makes hunting so amazing, it is that the entire journey can be captured in one picture, or in one set of antlers on the wall. It is not the kill, it is not that moment that is captured, but it is the long journey leading up to that moment that makes it so special. We at BGI continue to be motivated by this goal, and will continue to share stories on as many platforms as we can to do a small part in trying to explain this journey to as many people as possible, and there is no better way than straight from the mouth of the hunters who experienced these journeys. Thank you to everyone who has shared their stories in BGI, it is always an honor and a privilege to share your stories.

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Out of Nowhere BY: ROSS WEBER

Ross Weber arrowed a world class buck in his home county in Wisconsin. In fact, his buck ended up with a gross score of 189-5/8� and a net score of 168-1/8� which makes him the second largest typical whitetail ever taken with the bow in Washington County! Amazingly, Ross had not captured the buck on any of his trail cameras in the area, and would never have known he was there except for one brief encounter a few days before he anchored the brute.


I

was hunting the evening of October 10th, 2015. The conditions were good. It was a clear, calm, and crisp evening. About an hour into the hunt, I spotted some movement 150 yards or so from my stand. I didn’t get a very good look but I could see two deer trotting together and grunting. I remember seeing a very prominent set of horns as they came to a small clearing and thinking, “If the horns look that big from this distance, he must be a giant”! Shortly after, they both disappeared. As it was getting dark, I could hear some grunting off in the same direction I had seen the deer earlier in the night. I sat tight, hoping they would make their way toward me. Just a few minutes before closing, I heard horns clashing together. At first I thought maybe all this grunting and rattling was just another hunter, after all I had never witnessed or heard an actual deer fight before. But as it continued to increase in noise and frequency, it became clear that these were, without a doubt, live deer. At this point it was completely black and shooting hours over. I quietly un-nocked my arrow and put it into my quiver as multiple bucks continued to get closer while they fought for dominance. From what I could hear it sounded like at least five different deer were fighting or watching the fight within 20 yards or so of my tree! Knowing that one of the deer could be the big one I saw earlier, I decided to sit tight until I could sneak out without spooking them. It took a good hour before they were far enough away that I could climb down and walk out undetected. After such an exciting hunt and a cold front in the forecast knew I had to get back out in the tree soon. Three days later, I was able to get back out for another evening hunt. The conditions were very windy, overcast, and cold. After sitting for two hours without seeing a deer I saw some movement upwind, over my left shoulder around 6pm. All I could make out were legs, about 60 yards away from my tree. Based on the direction the deer was heading it looked like it would cross one of my shooting lanes.  I immediately stood up, turned 180 degrees, clipped on my release, and got in position to shoot. As the deer’s head and neck came into sight I realized immediately this was the same buck I had seen 3 days before. He was, without question, the largest wild deer I had ever seen while hunting and maybe in my life! After seeing the rack for only a few seconds I knew he was at least a 12 pointer. He was taking his time, pawing around and eating acorns as he approached the shooting lane.  I figured it to be about a 40 yard shot to where it looked like he would cross the lane.  I make judging distance easier on myself by marking a few trees in each direction at 30 yards for a point of reference.  I then can compare that to where the deer is standing, rather than having to judge from the tree during a high pressure situation. He was still upwind of my tree, slightly quartering toward me from right to left, but mainly broadside.  While I was waiting for the shot, I was doing everything I could do to calm myself down and not focus on the rack.  I remember looking at the tail and body and thinking to myself, “It’s just like shooting at the target, you’ve made this shot 100’s of times.” After roughly

five minutes of waiting, which seemed like 20 from when the deer first came into sight, he finally stepped into the shooting lane at 35 yards. I was able to draw back undetected as the wind howled through the trees. A branch fell off in the distance which got him staring straight forward. I seized the opportunity and let the arrow fly.  As soon as the arrow hit, he tore off in my direction and I could see one of his front legs dragging and no arrow sticking out of him.  I was happy to see the leg dragging because I knew I had hit him, but worried because shoulder shots do not always provide a vital shot.  His tail was also up in the air which is not typically a good sign in my experience. Shaking with adrenalin, I watched him run about 100 yards to where he disappeared out of sight into a thicket.  Since I knew he was a ways off, I climbed down from the tree right away and went to the spot where he was standing when I shot.  I found bright red blood right away, but not a whole lot.  My arrow was laying on the ground about five yards into the blood trail, broken off toward the tip with about four inches of blood up the shaft.  I called my brother Austin and told him I had hit a giant, but wasn’t sure of how well I hit him. He proceeded to ask, “With the bow? Or with the truck?” I laughed and told him with the bow.  He said he could hardly understand me, which I blame on the excitement and adrenaline. I proceeded to follow the blood trail 75 yards or so before stopping to prevent pushing the buck.  I then compared my broken arrow to a full length arrow.  It was a lot less broke off then I had initially thought, only about five inches total.  So at this point, I was very concerned. Five inches of penetration, a shoulder shot, tail in the air, and the deer ran more than 100 yards.  I knew it would haunt me forever if I didn’t find this deer.  Knowing I probably didn’t hit him well enough for a very quick kill, I decided to wait three hours before taking up the blood trail again. My friend, Ryan and I went back out around 9:30pm to continue tracking the deer.  There was steady blood, but not a lot of blood.  The one thing that made it a bit easier was that the buck ended up going into marsh grass and due to his broken shoulder he pretty much cleared a path for us to follow.  150 yards in we found where he had bedded down.  There was about a 10 inch circle of blood which didn’t seem like a whole lot.  At this point, we were thinking, “This is not looking good. Not much blood in the bed and if he had enough energy/strength to get back up after bedding down, he is probably long gone.”  But as long as we had blood, we would keep tracking him.  After going another 20-30 yards of minimal blood we saw a patch of grass that looked like it had been spray painted red. Another 10 yards further we saw the same thing.  And then, there he was, piled up just a few yards away! I gave my buddy Ryan a big hug and said, “He’s a giant!” I took a minute to look at the rack and counted 14 scoreable points. We snapped a few photos, and then began the drag out. In total, the deer ran about 300 yards from where I shot him.  It was the best and worst drag of my life, through thick marsh grass, through water, and up a steep hill.  Of course he ran in the opposite direction of where I walked in and parked the


truck, so it was a good 400 yard drag. I ended up hitting him in front of the shoulder in the brisket area. My arrow went through the deer and hit his right (back) shoulder which is what broke my arrow and broke his shoulder.  I thought the arrow only had 5 inches of penetration, but there was blood 4 inches up the shaft so it actually had about 9 inches in total. Needless to say it was not a very well placed shot, especially considering I was aiming behind the shoulder toward the lungs. Thankfully I must have caught an artery somewhere in there. I never had any photos of the buck or even knew he existed in SkullHooker Ad_Consumer.pdf 2 4:27 PM the area.  The only prior knowledge I 5/4/16 had of him was from the

Many Trophies

hunt a few days prior to the day I shot him. I guess I can’t say for certain if it was him, but if I were to bet I’d say it was. A deer his size is pretty rare in Washington County, WI. However, I did have several people contact me who had pictures of the buck, ranging from one month to several years before the day I shot him.  The pictures were taken in the same area and had the same unique 3rd beam  coming out of the skull.   So it appears to be the same deer.  He was already

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a wall hanger in the photos from several years ago, but was noticeably smaller and not as impressive. After waiting 60 days for the horns to dry, I had him officially scored as a typical by certified measurers of the Pope and Young Club. He had 14 score able points and an inside spread of 17-6/8”. The rack totaled a gross score of 189-5/8” and a net score of 168-1/8”. That makes him the second largest typical whitetail ever taken with the bow in Washington County. The buck weighed 175lbs dressed out. I never had him officially

Photo by Hamilton Greenwood

aged but I would guess the deer had to be 5 ½ or older if he was already a trophy years before I shot him.  All things considered, I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to harvest such a beautiful animal. I was in the right tree at the right time, dumb luck you could say. I never expected this deer to walk below my tree. But that’s the awesome part of hunting, you never know what could walk by next. So get out in the woods, it could be your tree that a giant is walking past next!


Riley Fisher of Biggar, Saskatchewan with his first ever elk, a massive 404” non-typical! Riley dreamt of hunting elk with his bow for many years until a draw season finally opened in his home zone and he was lucky enough to draw a tag. Riley did the near impossible, and stuck it out through many days and countless opportunities and close calls with the bull to finally use his bow to harvest the magnificent animal, even though he could have used a rifle at any time. His father was also along on the hunt and it is the experience of a lifetime that neither of them will ever forget.

Bull of G

rowing up in central Saskatchewan, I became addicted to hunting. For as long I can remember I have been going out hunting with my Dad, but it wasn’t until I was about 15 and I bought my first bow that things changed. The first time I successfully stalked a big Saskatchewan mule deer to within 20 yards, I really couldn’t control the shaking and excitement. From then on I was completely hooked on finding and stalking mulie bucks in archery season, and rifle hunting just wasn’t the same for me anymore. In my hometown of Biggar, you don't have to travel very far to get into awesome hunting country for mulies and


f a Lifetime BY: RILEY FISHER

whitetail. Elk, on the other hand were not always heard or visible when I was younger. The population has grown now substantially, and I'll never forget the first time I saw a large herd of elk coming out of the bush with the bulls in full rut screaming all around me as I stared in awe. From that day forward I knew I was going to apply for the Saskatchewan elk draw zone 99 until one day our zones would become available, and this was my lucky year! Once I got drawn for the either-sex tag I’d been waiting for, I knew I was going to hunt hard every day for the two-week period in September. I began having to travel home from work

every weekend so that I could go out spotting in late summer. It wasn’t until a week before the season that I was exploring entirely new territory I had never hunted when I spotted a very nice 340" class 6 point by himself. This got me super excited for the season. I sat there for awhile snapping pictures of him and trying out some calling to see how he reacted. When suddenly I heard another bugle answer to my cow call over my shoulder to the south. When I turned to look, I saw one of the nicest bulls I had ever seen. His massive sticker on the left and his 10” circumference mass had me setting my season sights on him. I got to watch him every morning and every night for three days


and they were the longest three days ever, waiting for the season to open. Finally, the morning opener had come, and I don't think I got much sleep at all the night before. My Dad and I headed out at 4am to get to where I had been watching him the weekend before. At 5am I snuck into the hay field he seemed to be feeding on in the morning and evenings. I was worried there was going to be other hunters that had seen him, and would surely not be archery tackle like I was, because the draw season was open to any type of weapon. When the sun finally rose, I was working a few bugles and cow calls. I knew that the big boy never seemed to react to the calling like his smaller six-point sidekick. I finally spotted him out of the hay field, heading down into a steep ravine. I thought this was going to be my perfect chance to sneak over the sharp hill and have him right below me in the ravine. While I crawled my way as quiet as I could to the edge, I barely peeked my head over, and he was standing looking me right in the eyes, at 60 yards! I stayed dead still until finally he had enough and spooked off into a large bluff. My Dad was still out by the hay field and could watch which bush he went into. Once I walked back, we met up and discussed a plan how I could sneak in on him. I gave him till the afternoon in hopes that he would bed down. Long story short, I snuck around into the bluff and he slipped away and disappeared for the day and

evening. Thinking about what all happened that day I was very scared the next morning that I may have pushed him away from his home territory. I was back the next morning at 5am in the same field and was completely relieved to see him in the hay with me. The only problem was he was at the other end of the hay field, and there was practically zero cover from me to him. The grass had a little bit of height to it, and I could tell there was a low spot close to him. I ditched my quiver off my bow so the other arrows wouldn’t be catching on the grass while I started my stomach crawl. I crawled for about an hour while slowly peaking over the grass and the slight rise in the field that was giving me just enough cover. I could peak up just enough each time to see the tips of his antlers and keep track of him. He was not moving from the edge of one bush, just feeding on the hay field in circles. I managed to get as close as I could before I would break over the hill and into the rising sun and get busted for sure, but he was still 100 yards away. I hunkered down and watched him for probably another hour while he destroyed a willow bush with his antlers. It was quite the sight to watch, and I was shaking the entire time. He finally bedded down, but he laid facing right towards me so I couldn't move. I don't know why but he only bedded for a few minutes then got up and headed into the bush on a trail he liked to travel. I knew this was my chance to get low and make up ground and wait at the other side of the bluff where his trail came out. I got into position 30 yards from the edge and could hear him walking. I waited to draw, but he must have winded me because he bolted out the trail with no shot opportunity. I watched him go north into the bigger area of bush where he seemed to spend most of his days. Watching where he traveled, I left him for that afternoon and planned to setup in a small buck bush area and call in the evening. I sat that night for hours, calling for a bit and never getting an answer from him. Finally, I saw the tips of his antlers coming straight at me through the buck brush. The sun was going down fast and


by the time he made his way passed me it was after legal light. I didn't want to spook him, so I watched him walk by at 40 yards trying not to move a muscle until he got far enough away I snuck out with him undisturbed. Each day my plan kept getting closer and closer, but I always had the thought in the back of my mind, “What if a rifle hunter comes by at the wrong time and could easily take him?” I contemplated many times just bringing out my rifle, but I wanted my first elk ever to be with a bow. So, I made a plan that night instead of going into the hay field in the morning I would stay right in the corner of the field. Along a fence there was one tiny little tree I could stand by for cover. It was foggy that morning, and I walked in about ¾ of a mile to stand by the tree. The time had passed, and the sun was getting bright through the fog. I thought to myself, “Maybe I should move, what if he's in the hay field?” Suddenly I could hear hooves! I looked through my little tree and he was coming right at me and going to walk by broadside at 20 yards. When I went to draw, he stopped at 6 yards and stared right into my eyes through what now felt like one twig in front of me. We had a stare down for what seemed like forever, and he let out the creepiest growl sound I didn’t know elk made. I thought for sure he was going to charge right through the tree and me. Now shaking so terribly, I knew I just had to concentrate on breathing to make the shot. I let him get by me and start quartering away, and I drew my bow. He must have heard me because he ran ahead for a bit. I stayed drawn back aiming on him, and he stopped at 40 yards to look back at me. I let the arrow fly! I was shaking so bad I barely remember seeing the arrow fly

but I could see blood from his ribs by the shoulders as he slowly made his way over the hill into the hay! My Dad was also out with me that day, and he was back at the truck, now a mile or so away. I called him and told him I had an arrow in the “sticker bull” we had been after. I met up with him at the truck, and we found the shot impact area and checked out the blood but gave him about an hour to hopefully bed down. Once about an hour was over I started following the blood trail, but it was very hard to follow in the short grass. I began to get very nervous trying to follow it. I had a pretty good idea which bush he was heading to so I just


started walking that way marking my last known blood trail. As soon as I turned toward the bush, there was a huge crash and trees shaking so I thought that must have been him going down for good. I got so excited, I started jogging towards the spot. When I got close, I slowly snuck to the spot, bow in hand. I peaked in the bush and could see nothing but his awesome dark, heavy antlers sticking out everywhere. It was finally over!

My plans had finally all come together with a little luck, and I still can't believe to this day that it happened. Never being up close and holding an elk before, I was blown away at the size! He was officially scored at Net 404� nontypical. It was another hunting experience with my Dad along, like so many others that I will cherish for a lifetime.

Photo by Lindsay Wilkinson


Heath Kersten took an amazing buck in 2016 near his home in Denmark, Wisconsin. His first stroke of luck was when an enclosed blind went on clearance, and he and his wife decided it would be a great place to take the kids along on their adventures. Heath’s first sit in the blind resulted in him tagging the buck of a lifetime! His big bruiser buck ended up with a gross score of 2016 2/8” and easily went into the record books with a net score of 196 1/8”. The webbed main beams and bladed tines give his buck a one of a kind look matched by few other deer taken in 2016.


THE FAMILY BLIND BLIN BY: HEATH KERSTEN

T

his all began late this past summer as my wife and I were walking through the hunting section at a local store. I started looking at enclosed deer blinds as I always do at a glance, telling myself, “I will probably never have one.” Then I noticed a special pricing tag on a box for an enclosed blind that was set aside. I then had to make my case to my wife as to why I needed this. My main selling feature was that, “This blind will allow me enough room to take the kids along with me hunting!” My wife, already knowing our kids like to go along bow hunting in the pop-up tent, quickly agreed. So we loaded it up and started on the next project. A short platform of about 6 feet high to mount the enclosed blind on would give me just enough high ground. My two kids were more than helpful with holding boards, getting this tool and that board as well as arguing over who was going to give me the next nail. I had to stop and laugh at times before I settled them down. My Dad even found time to see what I was constructing out in the barn. There was plenty of extra hammering going on with the young helpers and it was an adventure in itself. My brother and his kids came along the day we set it up out in the field. But nothing ever goes quite the way you want it to. The smeary clay on the hillside of a cut corn field didn’t allow me to get to my destination. That’s when my father-law-in

helped me out with his handy skid-steer to get the platform to the right spot. Assembly went quick from there. My brother even had to christen the blind in his own way, wishing me luck. With just another trip or two the weekend before gun season to put some finishing touches on it, my wife and kids sat and scouted from the blind, noticing some does travelling around the area. The night before opening day was calling for sustained 30 mph winds, gusting to 45 mph and rain changing over to snow by morning. All I could hope for was that my blind was still there. The only thing I was really looking forward to was, just spending some quality time in my blind and hoping to get a glimpse of a deer. Opening morning came and it was windy and raining. I had my gear in the car and ready to make the 20-minute drive to the area I was hunting when it really started snowing. They were big flakes that piled up fast. I got to my destination, gathered my gun and gear and headed out. I planned on sitting the whole day and just enjoy being out of the wind and under a roof for once. I got to my stand out on a distant fence line and thankfully it was still intact. The fields had just enough coating of snow to make anything stand out and easy to spot. As the season opened and it became light, the only thing flying past my stand was snowflakes. I looked out


my window to the left, just in time to see a buck slow up to a stop and look around from the middle of the field on top of hill about 120 yards away. I said to myself, “Wow! There he is and he is a nice one.” Not letting myself get too worked up, I still had to hope he would come down off that hill. There was nothing but sky in the background behind him, so not a shot I would take. Luckily, he trotted down off the hill but now he had a house behind him, so I let him safely clear the house. While he was trotting, he would suddenly slow up for 10 yards and then trot fast again for 15 yards. He did this multiple times once he started down off the hill. This made it very difficult to time a shot and he was now at a distance of 90 yards, running broadside from left to right. After he cleared the house, there was then a hunting camp that he lined up with giving me another reason to wait for the right moment. Just prior to the start of season I had reached out my window and sprayed some doe estrous on the outside of my blind. A buddy talked me into using it. I didn’t always have a lot of luck with scents, but I always had to have that option out there, because you just never know. They might come your way, or run the other way. After he then cleared the hunting camp trotting he became directly downwind of me. That is when he put both front legs forward to put the brakes on and started to swing his head to look directly at me. That was the hesitation I needed. Before he could make his move either toward me or away the bullet hit its mark! By the time I racked another shell in and found him in the scope he went about 40 yards and slowed down to a very slow walk and tipped over. I then made myself wait about 10 minutes just to make sure. It didn’t take about a minute and my brother-in-law was texting me, “Did you get him?” It took a few minutes and I replied, “Yes, I think so.” I was shocked at how difficult it was to text back to him. A sudden shaky hand made it difficult to hit the right buttons. While watching the deer through the scope, time didn’t move fast at all. With it being so windy, I was second guessing myself if he was wiggling his ear or if the wind was just blowing it back and forth. After scratching my finger long enough I got down and walked over to check him out. He just looked huge all over, his body, hooves and

obviously, his antlers. I didn’t even notice the drop tines. I just couldn’t wrap my head around what I really had there, other than just a really nice buck. Score wise, I had way under estimated him and was in major denial of this being the monster buck most hunters dream of, including myself. It wasn’t until a cousin of mine put a tape measure to the rack to really have


me open my eyes to where the deer stood. That’s when he told me to get a hold of an official scorer because he was about as shocked as I was. He made me add the numbers up again, we were just shaking our heads. After the standard 60 day drying period the fourteen pointer officially gross scored 206 2/8” and ended up netting 196 1/8” after deductions. The rack is just amazing. The tine length and mass are really neat. But what I am most fascinated with is the blade like tines and the webbing around the inside of the main beams. The buck ended up weighing 200 pounds field dressed. I must credit my and my wife’s families and friends for all the help support they have given me over the years. From helping build deer blinds to tracking wounded deer down and or just helping get deer I harvested out of the field. Their involvement is what makes for a memorable and enjoyable hunt.


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was so excited when my Dad told me I had been drawn for mule deer in Saskatchewan! This was my second time hunting mule deer and thanks to my Uncle Gilles, my Dad Leo, my brother Julien and my brother-in-law Joe Jansen, it was a great hunt. I was looking forward to this year’s hunt because I was more experienced. My last mule hunt was especially challenging because of an early heavy wet snow fall so I had to settle for a smaller buck. I didn't have quite as much time to go hunting because I live in Regina and I was drawn in zone 4. I also spend a lot of time as a competitive curler which really ramps up in November, so I was forced to do the earlier black powder season in October. Thank goodness my Uncle owns a black powder rifle. I drove home one weekend to go hunting, but we had no luck and I wasn't sure I would have another weekend to go hunting again because of curling. But, because my team qualified in the first weekend of curling, I didn't have to go to the next qualifier the next weekend. Therefore, I had a second chance to go hunting for mule deer and I could not have been happier! Around the area that we hunt, there was a lot a rain in the week leading up to my hunt and the farmers were not impressed that harvest was very delayed. There was a lot of standing crop still out in our area which changed our plans. The backroads were too muddy to travel, so we were we only able to get around on main roads, and the mules would spend their time hiding or milling around in the middle of these tall durum and chickpea crops. My Dad, Uncle, brother and brother-in-law had all been keeping an eye out for deer during the weeks before I arrived. There was not much moving all weekend. We did see a couple of decent mule deer but couldn't get close enough to get a decent shot at them. After a couple of hours of not seeing anything we flushed a herd of whitetail out of a slough and stopped to have a look at them. Then, in the corner of my Dad’s eye, he saw two mules moving a little to the southwest in a tall durum crop. We turned around to get a better look and were able to get fairly close to them

at the opposite side of the field, which luckily happened to be my brother-in-law’s field. We walked over to the fence line and spotted them about 100 yards in, tucked in and laying down in the durum field. It was hard to make out exactly how big they were, even with binoculars, because we could just see the tips of the antlers, but my Dad noticed that the one on the left seemed to have a fairly thick horn on his left side. Because we were not able to tell which way the body was laying we decided to go for the head shot and our time was starting to run low and it was time to get the job done! They were at fairly close range so I was confident in my ability to make the shot. I had my Uncle behind me, who told me exactly how far a shot it was, so I knew which crosshair to aim with, and my Dad beside me reassuring me to take my time and make sure I had a good shot.


A Family Mule BY: RENEE MICHAUD

Renee Michaud had the help of her Dad, Uncle, Brother and Brother in law and it paid off as they found a huge framed buck on one of her last hunts of 2016. The warm, wet fall of 2016 presented some tremendous challenges but Renee kept trying and eventually tagged very impressive southern Saskatchewan mule deer. Despite having no G-4’s at all, her big deer still scored an impressive 186 6/8”!


When I shot, I just clipped his ear and when he stood up shaking his head, the adrenaline rushed through my body because we realized we were on to something really good! As my Uncle and I reloaded the gun my Dad kept an eye on him as he ran back to the east end of the same field. So back we went to the same road where we first saw them and out from behind a round bale in a pasture on the east side out they came again. We watched them duck into a slough about 200 yards in the pasture and luckily we able to sneak up close. When he flushed on the other side of the slough, he hesitated and stood broadside at about 80 yards and this time I made a perfect shot! He ran off and dropped in some heavy cattails of another slough. We walked in and with a little poking around we found him, down for the count. “Wow up close he is beautiful,” was all I could think! With a little mucking around we got him on the cart and got him tagged and in the truck, and of course snapped a few pictures. My Dad and Uncle were so proud of our day, and even my brother-in-law was happy for me even if I had shot a great deer in his area! I was overwhelmed with excitement. We had him scored and even with no G4's he still scored non-typical at 186 6/8”! I can't wait till my next hunt, but I know this one will be hard to beat.


Rodney Cutler waited seven long years before finally pulling a coveted farmland bull moose tag in Saskatchewan. He did not waste the opportunity, spending all of August patterning a particularly impressive bull that he later tracked down and tagged on opening day. Rodney’s big bull is very impressive with long, sweeping tines, and a greatest spread of 50� even.


SEVEN YEAR WAIT BY: RODNEY CUTLER

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ear after year, the results on my draw bull moose tag are the same. ‘NOT DRAWN’ stares me in the face and I am disappointed, but in the back of my mind I always knew it was just a matter of time. Despite knowing this, when I read the results of the 2016 draw bull moose in my preferred zone in Saskatchewan, I was still very surprised, and overjoyed at the opportunity. It had been a long seven-year wait, but I knew it would be worth it. Zone 16 is one that I knew held some jet black, out of place, prairie giants and I hoped this was my opportunity to find one. I knew there was a good population of moose in the area, but it was never a guarantee that you could find the one you really wanted. Summer rolled by slowly, and the anticipation of the upcoming season built. Finally, in August, I began scouting the areas that I knew held decent populations of moose. In the first few days, I had already located a couple good bulls who were hanging out in a half section of flax, gorging themselves on the rich food. From then on, I scouted for these bulls four or five days a week, and one in particular really caught my eye. I would spot him about half the time I went in, so I spent a lot of time studying him through my spotting scope, trying to gauge just how old and mature he was. I managed to snap several pictures through my spotting scope, and found myself almost constantly looking through them. My scouting season continued to the day before the opener, and on that particular evening, I did not see my target bull until the very last minute of light. I was fairly certain it was him, and he was bedded in a large bluff of trees

with a dugout in it. This was just the information I needed to plan my morning hunt. Opening morning found me and my good friend Kris Cheaters set up about 400 yards away from where we thought we had last seen him. As the light began to brighten out surroundings, we noticed the heavy fog which limited our view. However, even with limited sight, we could see a good bull with a couple cows, but we just could not be sure if it was him or not. We decided to try to get his attention and Kris began to call and rake some trees, hoping the bull would come over for a closer look. Unfortunately, the bull wanted nothing to do with us, since he already had a couple cows and was quite happy to stay with them. That made our next move easy, we knew we had to try to move in on him. Once we got to about 60 yards, we realized he had already moved his cows into a small bluff. Luckily, he was responding to our grunts so we could keep tabs on exactly where he was. We slowly closed the distance to about 30 yards when a big bull stepped out straight across a clearing from us, swaying his head and grunting. This was a great bull, and even though it wasn’t the one we had been watching, he may have been a shooter if he was not such a fighter! He had busted off a bunch of his tines and was even missing a chunk of his right antler. We backed out, leaving him with his cows and continuing the search the bull we knew so well. I will admit after that I felt a bit deflated. We had such a good pattern on the bull, but now it appeared everything had


changed. Despite the setback, we knew that we just had to keep trying. There was one other spot where we had spotted the bull a couple times so we headed there to give it a try. Almost immediately, we spotted him paired up with a single cow! She was headed back to the flax to graze on the crop, and he was right on her tail. We snuck up to about 100 yards with Kris grunting occasionally to slow them down and get his attention. I settled in and let my 30.06 bark into the morning air. It was a direct shoulder hit, but it barely even phased him! Then he turned and started coming right at us so I put two more quick shots into him, dropping him right there. We gave the beautiful animal some time before walking up to him and realizing we had just downed the trophy of a lifetime. I want to say thank you to Kris Cheater for helping me out, and helping to create a day that this hunter will never forget.


Photo by Rob Hanes


S�I�K IT �UT BY: JOSH MATTERN

Josh Mattern of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, toughed out very difficult conditions and was questioning his decision to stay and hunt through a rain storm all day until the buck of his dreams stepped out in front of him! He wasted no time arrowing the 191 6/8” gross monster whitetail.


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hroughout the summer of 2017, I spent hours and hours scouring the fields, looking for a mature whitetail buck. I spotted a big and very unique buck with split browtines on both sides. He was one of the biggest deer I had laid eyes on and I managed to get a pretty good pattern on him late into the summer. It was the third day of September and the third day of sitting for this particular buck. I was sitting in my blind overlooking an alfalfa field where I had seen Splits feeding a couple weeks before opening day. The first two days of the archery season had passed quickly, and while I was pretty much living out of a blind, I had not had much luck yet. Day one and two of the season were somewhat disappointing, with all my time in the blind resulting in only one sighting of a single spiker buck and even he was out of bow range. On September third, I woke up to pouring rain which lasted most of the day going into the early evening. All day I debated on if I should try and wait the rain out for an evening hunt or just make tracks and head home. Thank goodness I decided to wait it out! At around 5:30 pm the sky cleared up and it stopped raining, the rain had helped cool the temperatures for that evenings hunt and my hopes were high that the rain had the deer hunkered down and now they would move a lot. I was also hoping that the deer would be moving a little earlier because of the temperature drop. Sure enough at, about 8:15 pm something caught my eye and I immediately knew it was a big deer. As I peered to my right, I saw Splits walk out from the bush line approximately 80 yards from me! I just hoped that he would come my way and I absolutely could not believe my eyes as he started making his way towards me. Very slowly, one step at a time, time slowed down to a crawl. It felt like it was taking forever for the deer of a life time to come within range, as he would take

a few steps and stop to feed for what seemed like hours at a time. As I admired him coming closer, I had time to calm down and gather my focus on making a good shot. I took a few deep breaths and did my best to calm my nerves. Splits was now under thirty yards but quartering towards me. Just as I hoped he would do, he shifted his route and turned broadside. I pulled back my bow to full draw and put my pin right behind his shoulder and released the arrow. I heard the WHACK of the arrow connecting with his body, and he only went thirty yards and then tipped over right in the field in front of me. It was a sight that will be forever etched in my mind and a feeling that I will never forget. I was in shock, looking back now it seems like a blur. It happened


so quickly, I could not believe he was down, and on only my third hunt for him ever! I was so thankful that I had put in the time before the season and managed to arrow him before he changed his pattern. You can bet that there will never be

another tough decision on whether to head home or to stick it out and hunt in below average hunting conditions. Based on this experience of a lifetime, you can bet that I’ll be hunting!


Tyler Gilbert of Unity, Saskatchewan, began his moose hunting career in a way most people can only dream of. He took the largest bull in Saskatchewan for 2016, a beast scoring 194 7/8� on his first time out while hunting with a group of friends! They called in the big bull and watched as the monster made his way across the open landscape from over a mile to within 200 yards of the group when Tyler put him down with one shot!


Beginners Bull of a

Lifetime BY: TYLER GILBERT

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was ecstatic to learn that I had pulled a draw tag for the 2016 bull moose season in my home zone. A farmland moose hunt had been a dream of mine for many years since we first started seeing these monstrosities roaming the wide open prairies a few years ago. I had put in with a good friend, Blair Wagner and we were both drawn so the countdown to the season began until finally it was time. Blair and I left our home in Unity, Saskatchewan on opening morning with our good friends Cory and Jen Hoffman. Our plan was for Cory and Jen to be the callers while Blair and I posted up on a good vantage point where we could hopefully watch a big lovestruck bull come in. After almost an hour, we arrived at the spot we wanted to setup. We found a great vantage point where we could see for a couple miles with potholes scattered throughout the area that we hoped would hold a big bull moose. As the sun came up, conditions were perfect and we could hear the calls echoing in the distance. “If any bulls are within five miles of us, they will come in� I remember thinking. Unfortunately, there was no sign of any moose, so after an hour or so we met up to make a game plan on where to go next. As we were discussing our options, out of nowhere a bull appeared on the horizon! He was well over a mile away, but we could see horns without binoculars so we immediately knew that is was a great bull, and one that we wanted to get a closer look at! With the wide-open country and perfect calling conditions we decided to find cover and keep on calling, hoping he would make his way over for a closer look. We kept calling on


and off for another 30 minutes. It was clear now that he heard the calls and was interested, but it was nerve racking every time he disappeared behind some of the rolling hills. I let out a breath of relief every time he reappeared, still coming closer and closer! He finally came to about 400 yards away, but hung up there, hiding behind some trees for what seemed like hours. We waited in silence and then decided to try calling again, but this time very quietly. Instantly, we could hear crashing and he came running full speed, closing the distance in an instant. He plowed through the brush and made his way to an opening only 200 from us! I had a perfect shot, and was confident that I could make it count, so I took the shot! I was sure I saw my bullet hit hard but he took off, making it only about 10 steps before falling right there in plain sight! As we walked up to him, the only thing more impressive than the immense antlers was the huge body. We realized that we had a whole lot of work in front of us to get him dressed and home, but every second was worth it! This moose hunt was a great experience, and to be able to take such a tremendous animal as my first ever moose was something I will never forget. I am also thankful that I was able to share such an experience with my good friends and must give many thanks to Jen Hoffman for calling in this incredible animal!


Mike Sarazzin had years of history with the buck he nicknamed Frank. In addition, he also had an extremely close encounter in archery season which ended in disappointment. Mike did not give up and continued to work hard to get a chance to tag Frank. Finally, in muzzleloader season, he was able to tag the giant buck! His big Saskatchewan deer scores 193 6/8� and easily goes into the record books with a net score of 175 1/8�. Photos by Heather Sarrazin.


Conquering

FRANK BY: MIKE SARRAZIN

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his deer and I have quite a history. To be able to finally achieve this dream has been a highlight to say the least. Watching this deer for years, and the history we made this fall will be something I will never forget. If he taught me anything, he taught me respect. Respect the process, respect the virtue of patience, most of all respect the animal. Taking this animal was a dream come true. Thank you for reading our story. 2017’s hunting season preparation was fast approaching. In June I found myself running behind to put out salt, minerals, and cameras at a few of my favourite areas. I was anxious to see if a few of my “next year deer” had survived the past hunting season and winter. While checking my cards I noticed that antler growth in the particular area seemed to be behind. However, there were two bucks in particular that I had a good idea of who they were from previous years. One possibly being a large framed typical 5x5 that I had 4 years of history on. I had named this buck Puss pocket three years prior as he had a large inflammation lump on his brisket, most likely due to an injury. When I pulled my SD cards at the beginning of August it was easy to see that both of these bucks were on my “next year deer” list and to my surprise the big typical Puss pocket had grown a G5 and a new kicker on his left side. Both deer had put on a ton of antler from the last time I had checked the cards at the end of June. At this point I knew that I would be hunting this buck come opening day in September. After showing my uncle a picture of Puss pocket, he told me I really couldn’t use

The moment I held his antlers in my hand, I saw the beauty of this animal. Fate had finally brought us together. Just when I needed it most, Frank lifted my spirits and I could finally feel the dedication to my passion paying off. The hours away from my family, the hours spent making everything at my stand just perfect, hours spent practicing for the perfect shot, all of this was paid in full the moment I knelt on the ground with this deer. I was captivated by Frank, I deserved Frank, and I respected Frank.”

a name like that, he deserved a better name. So, from that point on I named him Frank, as in Frank the Tank. I checked my camera again the end of August and Frank had grown even more from a few weeks previous. Antler growth was definitely behind but had caught up in the month of August. At this point I set out my cellular trail camera to keep better track of when Frank was showing up without having to walk in and leave me scent behind. At this point I was getting a lot of pictures of Frank and September 15th (open season) could not come quick enough. The days went by and Frank was coming in every day, typically during dark but the odd day right at last light. Finally September 15th had arrived and I made sure to be in my stand early. It was an overcast evening with only a few does and fawns coming in. With about 10 minutes left of legal shooting time left, I heard something walking to my left. I noticed the does in front of me were staring in that direction. I slowly looked over my shoulder and spotted the tip of a beam around 30 yards away. I asked myself, “Could it be Frank?” The buck took a couple more steps in my directions and instantly I knew it was Frank. He was slowly walking towards me so I felt it was a good time to gently reach up for my bow. With my bow in hand and Frank under 30 yards, the nerves were raging and my heart felt like it was going to blow out of my chest. I slowly came to full draw and waited for Frank to take a couple more steps to be in the perfect broadside angle. I put the pin on his chest and let the arrow fly. I lost vision of the arrow but heard


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a loud whack. I felt I had pulled a bit high just before the arrow released off of my string. “Did I miss? Was the whack my arrow hitting a tree behind him? Is it possible I missed a close shot like that?”, were the doubts racing through my mind. I felt horrible and uncertain but knew the best thing to do was stay in my stand for a while. After about 15 minutes I couldn’t handle the suspense any longer so I decided to get down and take a look, hoping to find my arrow. I found my arrow stabbed in the ground, directly behind where Frank had been standing. I pulled the arrow out and took a good look at it. I found a bit of hair, some fat residue and a few small pieces of meat. I knew at that point I had more than likely hit him high. I walked about 20 yards in the direction he had ran and came up with no blood. I stopped and remembered one of my favorite hunting phrases, “When in doubt, back out” and so I did. That night was a long and with not a lot of sleep, but eventually daylight came. First thing that morning, I picked up my Uncle and together we’d try to track the monster deer I feared I had missed. We arrived to my stand and within about 10 minutes I found the first sign of blood. There was some but not a lot. We tracked the blood for 500-600 yards before it came to an end. I asked my Uncle, “Now what?” He said, “Unfortunately the only thing you can do from here is keep coming to that area every morning or evening and listen for birds.” I felt sick to my stomach not knowing if Frank was dead or alive. Three days went by and I had still not heard or seen any signs of Frank. This was a major disappointment for me. I felt I had the clean clear shot, and knowing I had wounded this deer was weighing on me heavily. I never take a shot unless I’m comfortable, and respect for the animal is always on the top of my priorities. All I could do from there is hope he was still alive and that maybe, just maybe he would show up on my camera again. On September 19th at 8:44 pm I heard a message come through to my phone. I looked and saw it was a picture sent from my cellular trail camera. I opened the picture and to my surprise it was a picture of Frank! I couldn’t have been more excited, he was alive and looked healthy. I could see in later pictures the arrow exit was high lung area but must have went through without doing any vital damage. Frank continued to come in regularly. The majority of the time was always in the dark, until the beginning of October. He started to come in the odd time late afternoon and right at last light as he had done before. This is when I knew it was time to start hunting him again. I sat a couple nights with my bow in hand but came up empty. On October 9th, I decided I couldn’t take any more chances and I took my muzzleloader out of the far back of my Photo hunter, I gunHamilton safe. BeingGreenwood a preferred archery had not used it for years, so I confirmed it was

sighted in, and I sat that day, only to see a few does and fawns. I wasn’t able to hunt the next night as I was helping my family with the last bit of harvest, but I planned to hunt Frank the following evening. As long as the conditions were right, and right they were. I got settled in early and was seeing a lot of deer movement but still no sign of Frank. That is until the last few minutes of the evening when all the deer in front of me lifted their heads and were looking directly away from me. “Could it be him, again?” I thought? Yes, it was! It was Frank and he was close. I waited for the right opportunity to lift my muzzleloader and put it on my tri-pod. I locked my crosshairs behind his shoulder and gently pulled the trigger!! Frank took off quickly and I didn’t hear him slow down, but I was confident in the shot. I couldn’t believe it! Redemption! After a few minutes I headed to the direction of where Frank was standing, I found blood but not a lot of it. I felt sick again. “What happened? Did I make a non-vital shot under the pressure?” Again, I felt a bit of doubt and so I chose to back out. I walked to my truck with my head down and made a call to my wife letting her know that I shot Frank, and that I was going to give him some time before I went back to the blood trail. Later, I grabbed my head lamp and went back hoping to find more blood, and I found it! Within steps of where I had chosen to back out, I found a large amount of blood. I took a picture of the blood and sent it to my wife. She replied with, “Oh, he’s done like dinner.” I tracked the blood trail for around 100 yards and still no sign of Frank. I was confident that he had to be dead with the amount of blood he had lost. A few minutes later


I looked to my right and saw the massive body of my whitetail, lying only five yards away. After all of the highs and lows, I was finally going to put my hands on a deer that I had four years of history with. He was the buck I committed myself to. I knew he was a great buck from the hundreds of trail camera pictures I had of him. I guessed him between 175”-180” but did not realize the actual size of Frank until I put my hands on him. He grossed 192 6/8” and netted 172 2/8”. The moment I held his antlers in my hand, I saw the beauty of this animal. Fate had finally brought us together. Just when I needed it most, Frank lifted my spirits and I could finally feel the dedication to my passion paying off. The hours away from my family, the hours spent making everything at my stand just perfect, hours spent practising for the perfect shot, all of this was paid in full the moment I knelt on the ground with this deer. I want to give thanks to my father for checking the trail camera and keeping me updated when I could not get out. I was captivated by Frank, I deserved Frank, and I respected Frank.


Photo by Hamilton Greenwood


Tanner Neu from Swift Current, Saskatchewan hunted the draw mule deer season as kid growing up, but as time went by he wanted to spend more time hunting rather than waiting for the luck of the draw, so he took up archery hunting during the regular Saskatchewan archery mule deer season. Connecting on a big old mulie buck with archery tackle proved very difficult and Tanner spent a lot of time learning some hard lessons before finally connecting on a monster buck! His big deer has a net score of 200 3/8”, and is a spectacular way to kick off his archery career.


NOBODY SAID IT WOULD

BE EASY BY: TANNER NEU

Tom Miranda once said, “Bow hunting is the conscious decision to make the hunt harder than it needs to be.” I started hunting when I was 12 years old after tagging along with my Dad for years. I had no desire to bow hunt and shot a whitetail my very first year hunting with a rifle. At 13 years old, I shot my first mule deer with a rifle as well. A great old buck that gross scored 179”. Years went by, and I continued to only hunt with a muzzleloader and rifle. In 2008, I was drawn for mule deer again in my home province of Saskatchewan. My Dad and I spent time scouting in muzzleloader season and found a great buck two days before rifle season opened. On opening day after school, we walked the coulees we had seen him in a couple days before with no trace of him. The next day, we parked on the same hill we had spotted him from originally. As we were glassing the hills, I noticed a couple bucks come out in the pasture just next to us. Sure enough, it was the same buck! I ran to the fence post and touched off the shot. It wasn’t a great hit but the buck laid down not far away. After one more shot, I had successfully harvested my first monster Saskatchewan Mule Deer. The deer ended up gross scoring 198 2/8” and netting 187 6/8” typical. At the time, I didn’t really understand what an accomplishment this was. Six years later when I hadn’t been drawn for mule deer again, I had finally had enough and decided to take up bow hunting. I had watched Cody Robbins for the last few years on Live2Hunt and seeing him take giant mule deer with his bow only encouraged me more. It was something I never thought I would ever do, but I was up for the challenge. My first year bow hunting mule deer was a total learning experience. I had no idea what I was doing and everyday out

taught me a new lesson. A couple weeks before the season started, I was sitting on a hill with my Dad watching some smaller bucks feeding. Right as we were about to leave my Dad pointed out that there was a bigger buck coming out of the draw to feed in the alfalfa field. It was a great looking typ-


ical with a couple sticker points on each side. The deer easily had 190 inches of antler on his head and was clearly head and shoulders bigger than the others feeding with him. The season rolled around and I was out every day at the break of dawn. The buck was always in the same area, so he was fairly easy to find each day out feeding. Getting him in a good location to make a stalk was a much different story. He’d always bed down with a few other bucks, or in a spot where the wind wasn’t right. A couple failed stalks later and I was starting to doubt myself and wonder why I even decided to take up archery, but I was determined to make it work. One stalk involved wading through hip deep water, but running out of light in the evening and the other involved spooking him out of his bed because I didn’t have a clear idea where he was bedded. One windy morning we spotted the buck feeding his way up a draw I had checked numerous times. I got the wind in my face and snuck over the edge of the draw with my bow in hand. As I crested the edge, I saw the buck lying under a tree. Problem is that he saw me right away and stood up to figure out what I was. I quickly ranged him at 54 yards, drew my bow and let my arrow fly. Smack! My arrow dropped right under his belly and drilled a rock. The buck ran over the hill and off into posted land, never to be seen again during archery season. A couple months later, while out coyote hunting, I did spot him, giving me hope for next season. The next spring rolled around and I was out looking for his sheds with no luck. However, spotting for deer started through

the summer and into mid-August I came across the same buck along with an even bigger non-typical. Now there was a decision to make. Go after the bigger non-typical, or the buck I missed and had history with. I continued to watch these deer for weeks and managed to get some good video and pictures of them up until season started. The season started and I passed up the buck I had missed a couple times in hopes that the non-typical would show himself. On the third morning of the season, the big non-typical emerged, feeding out in an alfalfa field. I watched for an hour, waiting for him to bed down, which he eventually did in some thick brush. There wasn’t much wind for a stalk but I was pretty sure I knew exactly where he was bedded. I snuck in to the bush he was bedded in, but couldn’t see anything. Waiting for hours is tough for any deer; it’s even tougher when you don’t know exactly where the deer is, or which way he will move when he decides to get up! Three hours into the wait, the wind swirled and my heart dropped as I heard him rustle in the brush and then take off over the hill. This was yet another learning experience, which would turn out to help me a lot the very next day. My Dad had the next day off, so we set up on the exact same hill as I did the previous morning looking for the non-typical. He was nowhere to be seen but the buck I missed the year before was feeding his way up into the draw I missed him in the previous year. The wind was brisk so I figured I better try a


stalk because he was still a great buck. I worked my way around the draw so that the wind was in my face and made my approach as my Dad watched from a distance. Belly crawling my way up to the crest of the draw, I left my boots and binoculars behind me. As I crested the draw, I heard crashing in the brush below. A small buck burst out of

the trees on the far side of the draw and stared at me for what seemed like an eternity before turning and disappearing over the hill. I thought for sure I had blown yet another chance, but no other deer followed him so I continued my approach. A young deer was watching me in between feeding, but obviously couldn’t tell what I was and continued feeding.


to get up and had a very tough time. Once he got up, he walked 15 more yards into a slough and expired. My first archery buck was officially down! I high fived with my Dad and we went to finally get our hands on my buck. It was so fulfilling to make my second chance on this buck count, in the exact spot my first chance failed. My buck ended up gross scoring 203 3/8” and netted 200 2/8” non-typical. My passion for hunting has grown exponentially since this experience and I now love bow hunting more than anything, something I never thought would happen ten years ago. Sure it might be harder than rifle hunting, but that challenge and passion is what I live for! I want to thank my family for supporting me in everything I do, and God for the ability and opportunity to enjoy his creations. I also want to thank Ken Duncalfe with All Season’s Wildlife Studio for the awesome mounts, and Tammy McLeod for the great photos. Editors note - Stories like Tanner’s are more and more common with many people enjoying the archery hunt, which is available to everyone. Join your local Bowhunters Association and get involved with your local conservation organizations to help protect this hunting opportunity.

I finally spotted the big buck right below me feeding near a tree. I could barely see his antlers, but managed to see just enough of his sticker points to identify him. His antlers were behind the tree but his body was showing just enough. The rangefinder told me 43 yards. It was now or never. I drew my bow back and put my pin right on him. I touched off the arrow and heard a smack! The buck took off to the bottom of the draw and wheeled around to stand and face me. At that moment, I knew I hadn’t made the best shot. The arrow had hit the deer forward in the shoulder and hadn’t passed through. My heart sank again as I saw this deer trot out of the draw and over the hill, but he wasn’t walking very well. I took off through the draw and over the hill hoping to spot the deer and get another shot. The other deer in the draw were out far in the field after the commotion but the buck I hit wasn’t with them. At that point, I saw him hobbling down a trail into a big coulee. Then, he bedded right on the side of the wide-open hill. I decided to wait him out and see what he did since there was no way to get in close enough for a follow up shot where he was. My Dad joined up with me and we continued to watch him as he dropped his head, and picked it back up a few times. He then tried


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M BY: CHANCE SACCUCCI

y story begins by going back to the 2015 hunting season. Just like every year, the second week in August is when my Dad and I take one day and head out to put the trail cams out for the first time. We have established spots we use every year that the deer use regularly. From that point on until hunting season opens in September, every week is just like Christmas for us to see what new bucks are coming in. Even more exciting is to see the bucks you had on camera the year before, hoping they would have survived and grown year after year. Almost immediately, we had some good bucks coming in as we scoured through the pictures, trying to pick our target bucks to hunt for the season. It seems there is always one deer we both want to hunt, but one has to settle for another. Hunting season started and we began to hunt our target bucks for the season. It was about the middle of October when we had a new buck show up to another spot that we were not hunting at all. He was a big, old five point with a split G2, heavy dark horns and he was just a nice deer overall. We did not see him in previous years, so we decided to give him a pass for the year and gave him the name Casper because he was a ghost. The 2015 season ended and our target bucks fooled us again like so often is the case. The countdown was on, waiting for the 2016 season. Like every year, August came and Dad and I once again set the cams in all the usual spots and again our mid-August cam check revealed some great buck. The best buck to show up again was Casper! However, this year he grew a lot bigger big five-point frame, even more heavy mass and matching flyers on both sides!  I was so excited to have Casper back on cam, and best of all he was now my new target buck for the season. The very next weekend my wife and I spent a good couple hours setting up the blind and clearing shooting lanes for the archery season, which was only a week away. Archery season finally came and we just had to wait for the right wind to go in and hunt.  The days and weeks rolled by, and throughout the archery season not only did I not see Casper once, but I didn’t even get a single picture of him after I placed my blind and cut shooting lanes. I was worried I had educated him enough to leave the area completely and wouldn’t see him again for the season.


Chance Saccucci calls Warman, Saskatchewan home but still hunts near the farm where he grew up. He and his family are hardcore hunters and spend countless hours scouting, running trail cameras and hunting throughout the summer and fall. It all paid o in 2016 when Chance anchored a tremendous whitetail buck that stretched the tape out to 193 2/8 total inches!


Muzzleloader season was approaching and still there was no sign of Casper. It wasn't until the last week of the muzzle loader season when Casper finally re-appeared out of nowhere on camera. My Dad and I checked the camera at 1:30 in the afternoon and only two hours after we left the ghost himself showed up! Unfortunately, we did not find out he was around until the next week when we checked the cam again. However, it was too late because now the muzzleloader season was closed, and we had another long wait until rifle season opened in a month! I was excited to see the big, old brute back on cam but not so excited about the month long wait. During that long month, every week I would check the cams and was very excited to see that he was coming in quite regularly, and even once in awhile in daylight! However, a few days before the season would open I found out that my best friend also had him coming in and was also his target buck for the season.  I went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows because I finally put everything together on a gameplan for Casper only to find out he was now playing  both sides of the fence! The night before opening day my Dad asked me what

my plan was for the morning because he was going to take my 12 year old nephew out on his very first big game hunt. I replied that I was going to go for a quick morning scout with my cousin and sit for Casper for the rest of the day, even though I hadn’t had a picture of him since November 2. My Dad’s reply was, “You’re going to waste your whole season waiting for that ghost!” I quickly replied, “I will never see him if I don't sit.” The conversation was quickly dropped. Finally opening day arrived and I didn’t sleep all night in anticipation of the best time of year. I headed to the farm where I grew up, which is where I met up with my cousin for a quick morning scout. Shooting light finally came and the morning was really slow for deer action but other hunting traffic was at an all-time high! Finally, we were discouraged enough that we agreed to head in to our blinds for the rest of the day. It was 9 in the morning when I dropped my cousin off and we went our separate ways. I made my way over to my spot started my walk into my blind. I was about four hundred yards away from my blind when I had a brainwave to open my bottle of Tinks doe in rut buck lure that I had in my pack. I put it every ten yards as I walked to my blind. By the time I arrived at my spot, the bottle was empty and I decided to pull the memory card before going into the blind. I don’t usually do this because of my scent being too close to the trails the deer come in on. After quickly switching the cards, I finally got in the blind. It was now 9:30 when I turned the camera on to look at the pictures. I looked up to see there was already a small four point standing in front of me! He was there for over a half hour just circling and trying to cut the hot doe scent trail that I had left. Finally, he left, heading to the north and leaving me undetected.  While I had


the chance I quickly looked at the pictures on the card. There was no sign of Casper, so I poured myself a coffee to enjoy the sit. About an hour later something caught my eye in the direction where the small buck had left. I saw it was a buck, so I pulled my gun up and was looking through the scope to make out what I saw. While doing so, out of nowhere another deer was walking out so I slowly moved the scope a little and could not believe what I was seeing! It was one of the matching flyers from Casper! As soon as I had a shot, I pulled the trig-

ger and the ghost only went 30 yards and piled up. I couldn't believe it, everything finally came together. I wasted no time, sprinting over to put my hands on the giant buck. Casper the ghost ended up with a gross score of 193 2/8” and the net score of 183 6/8”. He is easily my personal best buck. I would like to thank my wife for being so supportive of my passion for the outdoors, my Dad, my cousin and my nephew for all the help that was given that special day, and especially a big thanks to the land owner for letting me hunt year after year.


ONE BROW BY: JABIN NICOLAS

Jabin Nicholas spent two years chasing a big whitetail he called ‘One Brow’ before finally tagging the 176” buck. The whole experience was extra special as he was able to share much of it with his family. From checking trail cameras, to scouting and even sitting in the stand, family is always an important part of the hunt. His wife, Joni, was able to share the hunt with him on the evening when he tagged the big deer, in fact she was the one who first spotted the buck as he snuck into bow range!


I

really enjoy sight fishing big northerns and chasing giant Pike on the ice, but when the leaves start changing color and the mornings start getting cool and crisp, it is a sign that it is the time of year I live for! It's not a surprise that my wife and three kids share the same love of the outdoors as much as me. They spend their spare time right there beside me, whether its setting up blinds, checking cams, scouting, or sitting in the stand, they are there enjoying it and making the best memories anyone could ask for. So, it is only fitting that my story begins with family being there with me right from the beginning. It all started out with a scouting trip with my father-in-law and brother-in-law in late summer of 2015. I had been looking at different areas to hunt on Google Earth all summer and I couldn't wait to go set foot on this public land to see if it looked as good as I thought. Turns out it looked good in person, so I found a good area to set up a trail cam and waited to see what kind of bucks were using this amazing property as a hideout. The first few card pulls were uneventful with does and young bucks showing up regularly. It was already getting close to October when I got the first pic of him and I knew right away that he would be my target buck for the year. I needed a name for my buck and decided on "One Brow", due to the fact of him having a single G1. So I got my blind set up and brushed in and waited for the right wind direction. I was able to hunt him about 6 or 7 times in 2015 and only once was I lucky enough to lay eyes on him, right at last light, but One Brow just didn't present a shot. However, he was showing up in daylight the odd day, so that kept my spirits high and hopeful. At seasons end, my tag was hung up on the Christmas tree, but I knew for a fact that One Brow had made it through the 2015 season! Whew, I was so relieved. August couldn't come soon enough in 2016. The anticipation was high, knowing I could potentially be hunting a true Saskatchewan Giant! I moved my setup further north and it proved to be the right call. I was getting One Brow in velvet on my cam almost daily. I had to be close to his core area. I bumped him one day from his bed in the CRP and he looked amazing, but I was worried he might


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vacate the area as a result. Finally the day I had waited for arrived, September 15th, season opener for me and I was in my popup well before primetime. One Brow was a no show that evening but some young up and comers and a few does with fawns showed up. The next time I was able to sit for him was Sunday, September 18th and it was a windy, rainy, miserable day. At least the wind direction was good, blowing out of the northwest. My wife, Joni, was able to come hunt with me that afternoon. I had a good feeling as she is my good luck charm and an avid hunter herself. I didn't really expect much movement that evening due to the rain and strong winds, however a doe did come in not long after we got settled in the blind. After she wandered off we didn't have any movement for a couple hours. The sun started to dip below the horizon, the wind laid right down and the rain stopped. It was suddenly so silent. Joni noticed him first, standing just inside the bush line at about 60 yards. I couldn't see him yet because he was west of the clearing following the trail that the doe had come in on earlier. When I was finally able to see him I was flooded with so many emotions, I was looking at a buck I had put so much hard work and time into since last year. What an amazing sight he was. Instantly, I had a huge rush of adrenaline and began shaking. As whitetail hunters, these are the moments we live for, and I can honestly say when I first saw One Brow standing there, that was the highlight of the hunt for me. I could tell he knew something wasn't right, but as he skirted the clearing I knew he was going to commit and give me the shot I had been waiting for my entire life. He circled to the northeast and the wind was perfect, he didn't wind us, he was now 35 yards and he just needed to take a few more steps so I would have a good shot at his vitals. Slowly he emerged from the buck brush and stood slightly quartering towards me at 27 yards. My Rage mechanical did exactly what it's designed to do and he took his last breath about 30 yards from the blind, not making it 50 yards from where I arrowed him!


Now, thanks to the awesome work of Elite Taxidermy, I am able to look at my big whitetail on the wall for years to come and remember the journey and emotions I experienced from the time I first set eyes on him to the moment I released that

arrow. He was my first bow kill, grossing 176 inches. And the best part of that whole evening was that my wife was right there beside me to experience that moment in my life that we will remember forever.


The

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Decker Passey

Ryan Carstairs

Stephanie Drewes Dillon Toews


Decker Passey Haley Smith

Ryan Carstairs Decker Passey

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CHANGE UP BY: JOHN WARD

John Ward from Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan changed things up in 2016 and setup trail cameras in a couple new spots to see what he could find. His decision quickly paid o as he located a beautiful double droptine whitetail! However, the work had just begun and John had to move his setup again to find the buck in daylight, and then sit countless times in the biting cold waiting for his chance. When it came, he did not waste it and anchored the buck of a lifetime.


A

fter tagging out on a 134 and 148 point bucks last season, my friend Cory and I decided that this year we would try taking a different approach to getting a buck this year.   This September I picked up two Moultrie trail cams and set them up at two separate locations in northern Saskatchewan. They were about a 30-minute drive apart from each other, but I figured it would be good to see what kind of action would be in each area.  After having the cams set up for a couple weeks, I finally got a blurry picture of what looked to be a nice buck.  From the picture, it appeared to have a drop tine hanging down off his left horn, but it was hard to tell!  I waited and waited and I finally got a better picture of the buck coming in, and to my surprise, found out he had a matching drop tine on the other side!  I decided to grab the camera from my other location and put all my effort into getting this monster.   I talked to my friend Terry who has shot his fair share of bucks in the area and he figured he knew exactly where he was walking and what bush he would be in during the day.  Sure enough, after having our new spot set up he showed up after a couple of days.   The new spot where I set up was on top of a hill, on the west side of a dugout about 100 yards away from where I had my camera.   Every morning and evening I would sit on that hill freezing, waiting for anything to come in.  It was disheartening because they were mostly just does with the odd spiker, and the closest the deer ever came to me was about 400 yards away and would have been a really tough shot.  Still I waited day in and day out in hope of getting my one chance at seeing him.  On the morning of November 16th, I went out and sat on top of the hill as per usual without seeing anything come in. I went and met up with Terry after the hunt and we went for a drive.  During that drive, we saw one of the bucks that I had seen on cam that was the nicest 4x4 that I have ever seen! We got within 100 yards of a broadside shot and I couldn't pull the trigger on him knowing that the monster I was after was still alive out there.   After going home for the afternoon and relaxing I got ready to go back out for the evening hunt.  It was just below freezing and I set up again on top of the hill.   As I sat there watching and trying to move as little as possible, I was almost ready to call it a day, but I had a doe come in from behind me to the dugout.   I thought, “I better not leave and risk spooking her, as it was the closest a deer has come to me so far.”   All of a sudden it was followed by another doe and another.  Altogether, there were six does behind me on my left, and then when I looked over my right shoulder I finally saw the drop tine buck in person for the first time! As soon as I seen the rack on him I knew it was the monster I had been waiting for! I tried my best not to move and to try and collect myself.   I slowly took off my mitts and tilted my toque back in order to make sure I was comfortable and ready.   After I took my mitts off, I held up my hand to see how bad I was shaking! I tried to calm

myself but at this point it was too late! I sat there, trying not to move and keep my head facing forward to not scare him off. Every 30 seconds or so I would glance over my left shoulder to see where he was at.  I kept waiting until he was about 70 yards away and I had to make a 45 degree turn to make my shot.   As I lifted my Remington 700 in the .300 win mag I set up on my bipods and slowly took aim.  I kept telling myself in my head to be calm and take my time because I only was going to get one shot at him.   It seemed like I had him in my scope forever when I finally squeezed


the trigger! With the crack of the shot it was followed by a quick thud and every deer that was there took off running.   My buck ran off behind the other dirt pile across from the dugout and I lost sight of him.  I knew that the shot I took was good

and I tried not to worry or fill my head with doubt. After I gathered myself with what just happened I finally got up to walk and see if I could see where he ran off to. I didn't walk 50 yards from where I shot him and there he was!  I walked up and admired the old buck as he laid there still!  Finally knowing that all my hard work and time into this buck payed off, I decided to call up my friend Terry to let him know that I got my deer and that I was going to need some help loading him up.    It was truly the best hunt I have ever had so far and I am grateful that I could tag out on what may very well be one of the nicest bucks I will ever see in my life time!   I want to give a big thanks to my friends Terry and Rob for helping me with this buck, and to my good friend Ben Schneider at BJS Taxidermy to doing an amazing job with the shoulder mount. 


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