Here we are at the end of another season and it is hoped everyone enjoyed their time afield, whether successful or not.  It is our time afield from which we can calculate our success and not the number of animals harvested, but the time shared either with old friends, newly made friends or perhaps solo hunts. Well, the second half of the hunting season certainly was as exciting or successful as the first half, but the game harvested was not as plentiful - smile.  Isn't it strange to always want "More & Better."  But I guess that is just human nature and one can always dream to do better on future hunts than past ones.

            Well we only had a couple of days to hunt sheep and that proved fruitless, although at my age, the walking is definitely great for my longevity.  October is usually a slow month for our mule deer and this is recognized by our Provincial Government as the number of points on the mule deer bucks drops from four points in September to any buck for the month of October and again goes to four point in November until the end of the season (10 December).

            Hunted hard for the remainder of October and the first couple of days of November, before my old faithful truck ('93 Dodge Ram 250 diesel) finally "Gave up the Ghost." She had been so reliable over the years and I guess I expected her to carry on forever.  It was time for me to also conduct a reality check and realize I was not as young and spry as I had been years ago.  At least I wasn't or do not think I am at the stage of my life for "giving up the Ghost"  -  smile.  I love to walk the mountainsides and valley floors, although the 'spring' may have retracted from my step, I can still cover the same amount of ground, although a bit slower.  I like to think that finally in my life it is time to slow down and enjoy the living things around me, hence travel a bit slower.  That is my excuse and I am sticking to it.

            Well, I was grounded for a couple of days before we were off to Alberta to hunt both Whitetail and Mule Deer.  In the last Newsletter (October's), I had mentioned I had been fortunate enough to be drawn for the mule deer buck tag in the area we were going to be hunting. The drive over was uneventful and we took two (2) days to get to our destination.  It is marvellous how with modern technology, one can purchase all hunting & fishing licenses over the Internet in Alberta.  So when we arrived, we unloaded the truck with our personal gear, got settled and had time to drive around with our Hunter Host.  There was several inches of snow on the ground and the temperature was not hard to handle (-7C). We have a place nick-named the Hill, which is a place from where we can observe several miles in all directions.  If deer are moving from feeding areas to their bedding place, they are easily seen. That is as long as they are moving in the daylight - smile.

            It was apparent from the first couple of days glassing from this elevated roost, there was a dramatic decline in both the whitetail and mule deer populations in this particular area.  I have hunted this area for over 30 years and cannot remember being parked on top of the "Hill" and not being able to see deer moving. It was decided on the next day I would enter a large woodlot (long and not too wide) to see if I could 'push' any deer out.  My hunting buddy was perched on the "Hill" with good observation in most directions and should be able to see if any deer broke out of the timber. I no sooner entered the tree line than I heard a deer crashing in front of me.  I was still a mile from where my hunting buddy was waiting.  I found the fresh track (great thing about hunting in fresh snow) and decided to follow it.  After an hour or so on the track, it had to be a whitetail buck, as a mule deer would have stopped in the open to see what was on its trail.  Well, the long and short of it is I stayed on the track through openings (small and large ones) and could determine where he had waited inside the tree line while I crossed the open ground.  I hate it when they can always stay "one-step" in front of me - smile.  The snow got deeper and I was sure I would soon see him, when all of a sudden I saw him bust out of the woods beside me.  I caught this movement out of my peripheral vision and my brain quickly registered something was amiss.  I quickly made a move to my right and was in the process of raising my rifle when it dawned on me what was not right.  The animal breaking out of the bush was not a deer but a huge bull moose.  These gigantic animals have moved into this part of Alberta over the past several years. This guy was not wasting any time "Getting out of Dodge".  I was able to follow him as he ran for over a mile and his massive antlers caused his head to sway from side to side as he put the miles between us.  Well, any thought of sneaking up on the deer in this bush was certainly a thing of the past - smile.  The bull had been bedded on the side of the hill where the deer had entered the bush. After the long walk through the knee deep snow, back to where my buddy was still waiting, I was in need of a rest and a bit of time to dry out and I was sweating profusely through the trek after that deer. Upon arriving at the truck, my buddy informed me that nothing had come out of the bush, but he had seen a couple of mule deer bucks wandering out in the buck brush. I related my venture to him and knew he couldn't have seen that deer from where he was located and the direction the deer had taken.

            Next couple of days was much the same - sitting well elevated, glassing all the fields and brush around us with very little deer movement being seen. During the day the bush would get "pushed", but we were not seeing any good bucks and the doe count was very low also. I enjoy the walking as I had quadruple bypass surgery 11 years ago and like to keep in good shape. The one thing I was observing, which I did not like to see and that was the majority of the whitetail does still had their fawns in tow?  Usually the fawns are put out on their own as the doe comes into 'season'.  Maybe the rut was late this year and that could explain why we were not seeing many whitetail bucks?

            After about a week of fruitless attempts to locate shooter bucks, we were sitting in a grain field which sloped towards a large tree line.  This field also gave us a great view to see deer movement.  I caught movement out the window of the truck and low & behold a young three point whitetail buck was walking by the truck, no more than 30 yards away.  We were in plain view, but maybe he had other things on his mind?  A few days later we were again parked in this field and saw three whitetail does running through the bush.  Something had spooked them.  Shortly after  three mule deer does were observed running through this bush lot.  Finally, a lone whitetail doe came running out of the brush straight towards us.  She looked scared and had her ears pinned right back.  She ran past us into the smaller woodlot beside us.  I immediately expected to see a couple of hunters emerge from the trees, but what I saw, I certainly wasn't expecting.  All of a sudden, there were a bunch of bull elk gathered at the edge of the trees and they certainly seemed agitated.  Looked as though they had been running for quite a while as their tongues were hanging out also.  Soon they individually jumped the three strand barbed-wire fence and made their way to the adjacent field and they were moving slowly as they appeared to have run quite a distance and were really tired.  They just stood around the field, seemingly wanting to catch their breath, but kept looking towards their back-trail for whatever had spooked them.


            It was decided, rather quickly, this area would not be worthwhile to hunt, as the animals within this large tract of brush would certainly be jumpy and not easily approached. We decided to split up for the afternoon as my hunting buddy wanted to watch another field where he had seen whitetail does passing through. I decided to head back to the heavy bush to see if there was any animals moving.  The wind had come up and helped mask the crunching noise made by every step I took in the crusty snow.  I was walking along a trail as it wound its way through copses of trees and I noticed something standing against the tree-line just to my left-rear.  I brought up my Leicia binos and they brought the clear outline of a bull moose.  It was the same one I had seen earlier in the hunt. He was just standing there watching me walk away, as it seemed I was presenting no danger to him.  I was wondering why they never stood like that when I had a tag in my pocket???

            I quickly covered ground and was soon out of sight of the bull.  The wind was certainly raw in my face as I made my way to the tree-line I wanted to hunt for the afternoon.  It was getting late and I had about an hour's shooting light left. I slowly moved past a frozen dugout as the track twisted along the edge of the trees and then angled through the trees to the other side of the bush lot.  I was just starting to make my way into the bush when I caught movement to my left.  I froze and slowly brought my binos to my eye -level. I was looking at a whitetail buck and he was oblivious to my presence. We were on a parallel path, it seemed.  I wasn't sure I could get the bullet to pass through the trees for a clean kill or not.  There have been times when I have been able to see an animal and when I have taken the shot, the bullet has deflected off a branch which I didn't see.  I know the area well and the direction he was taking would ensure he crossed the track which I was moving along.  I crouched down and hurriedly made my way to where the track straightened out and also had a bit of an opening adjacent to it.  I adopted a kneeling position to allow for some sort of rest, as I am definitely not good at off-hand shots.  I was able to watch him as he made his way through the bush and soon he was crossing the track. As he entered the small opening I squeezed off the shot.  The 140 grain Nosler Accubond bullet from my Browning X-Bolt 270 WSM just leveled him to say the least.  It was a 90 yard shot and as I approached he became the best whitetail buck I had seen this year.  Not a huge deer, but he would make great eating.  By the time I had him field dressed it was dark and I still had over an hour's walk back to the farm.  I left some scent around the deer as this area was over-run with coyotes and I didn't want the meat destroyed.  I was just walking up the long drive to the farm when my buddy was driving out to go looking for me.  Needless to say it was late by the time we got out, got the buck loaded on the truck and deposited in the machine-shed.  Sorry about the graphic pic, but that was how he looked the next day.


            I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and this was the last whitetail buck I saw this year.  Usually, one can take a much larger one, but those boys didn't seem to have survived the last winter.  A long rut and most of the dominant bucks are in pretty rough shape when they enter the winter and if it is harsh, lots will not see the green grass of Spring.  Mother Nature can sometimes be rather without a doubt cruel at times.  But the bucks have completed what they had to do and that was pass on their genes during the rut for future generations.

                I hunted hard over the next week, but there just were not the deer we usually see.  My neighbour (the folks I stay with over there) said they were feeding about 9 whitetails and a dozen or more mule deer over the hard winter.  Same at his Mother’s place.  Next to last day my neighbour’s son (it is he who I hunt with) was on his way to the farm to do the day’s chores and was going to let me off where I could walk into the wind and see if I could scare up a deer.  We were almost at the place where he was going to let me off when we noticed a decent mule deer standing in a field.  We watched him make his way (not scared and that is the mule deer I am used to – to that point most had been running out of the country – smile) to a stand of trees.  We know the area well and knew there was only one other stand of bush in that field, so we figured I would head to the fence line and my friend would drive passed the tree stand where he was and see if he could push him up the fence line to me.  I hunkered down at the gate, but could see the buck staring at me from about 600 yards away.  Here I thought I had made my way to the gate undetected – smile.  My friend drove past the trees stand and then drove toward it.  The buck just laid low. as I am sure he realized where I was, it was not a good place to run to??  Well, finally my friend drove so close the buck had no choice but to break out, but instead of coming towards me, he went out the side between me and my friend and we knew that he would have to go to the next small stand of trees.  He came and picked me up and we made a wide berth of the small tree stand.  He was standing just inside it and I was able to get out and shoot him.  He only went five or so steps in the bush and fell over. He wasn’t what I was hoping for, as his front is extremely weak, but has nice tops.

            We were scheduled to leave the next morning, so while my hunting buddy was getting the truck packed (he likes doing that himself) I went out for a tour with my neighbour’s son (same one I always hunt with).  We saw some does and then went to a place where there are usually deer (a large bush lot) and I had kicked a large buck up there several days before, but didn’t even get my rifle up before he was gone. So, we are sitting in his truck on the side of a hill (a little story here  -  we were at the same place a few days before and a young three point whitetail buck walked right past us in the open – about 30 yards from us – go figure – not a great representative for the gene pool – smile).  We were glassing and all of a sudden this really nice mule deer buck came out of the brush about 100 yards in front of us.  He just walked into the buck brush before we could get a good look at him.  So, off we went driving through the buck brush looking for him.  I spotted him about a mile from where we first saw him and a couple of hundred yards from where we were located then.  We drove close to his location, but he was behind some bush and we couldn’t get a good look at his rack.  He certainly didn’t seem nervous and we figured he was being held in that tree stand by a doe.  After about ten minutes or so we got a good look at him and he was definitely a shooter (at least in my books – smile).  He had a super front end with great forks, but his tops were a bit weak, so my friend decided to pass on him. 

            We arrived home after a long ardious drive which included icy roads, heavy fog and blowing snow and not all at once, thankfully. I had to conduct some paperwork to close the deal on my replacement truck.  By the time I was road-worthy, I only had five days left of hunting in British Columbia and that is not a lot of time hunting mulke deer in the mountainous terrain I call home. So, I was able to get the ATV on the truck and head out into the mountains to hunt – finally. 

            I off-loaded the ATV in the dark and made the 45 minute drive to the area I like to hunt. well before dawn.  I was able to see there had been a new skiff of snow the night before and there were several new sets of tracks.  I do not have the luxury of having the “Hill” out here – smile. I hiked the mountains, but didn’t see any deer – the snow was crisp, so walking made a lot of noise.  I climbed the mountain back to where my ATV was parked and decided to check out another area – about 3 kms by ATV, but only 600 – 700 meters, as the crow flies.  I arrived at a junction in the trail and was going to head straight on the road to get me a bit farther away from the area where I had just finished moving all the deer. By that I mean the noise of the crunchy snow and not me stumbling all over the place – smile.  Instead I decided to take the right fork and slowly drive up the mountainside.  It was cold (-16), so the slower I went the less bite of the wind on my bare face – smile. I had seen deer on this trail before, but mostly does.  I had gone about 700 – 800 meters up the road and was seeing quite a bit of new sign.            I was about 500 meters from a bend in the road and from there I would be able to see a fair bit of the country.  About half way to that point I had to pass a small opening in the bush (about 50’ X 70’).  I was just chugging by and glanced over my shoulder into the opening and there stood a big four-by-four mule deer buck (we are only allowed to shoot four point from 01 November until the end of the season). I squeezed the brakes on the ATV so hard I almost went over the handlebars – smile.  I grabbed my rifle and got off the ATV just as he bounced into a stand of reforested evergreens (about 9’ in height).  Well, I knew he couldn’t get out of that stand without me seeing him.  I slowly walked a few feet down the trail and suddenly was staring at a doe, who was staring right back at me.  Next I detect movement and all of a sudden I see these large antlers over the does back.  I put the binos on him and knew I would probably hit the doe if I tried to shoot him in the head. 


                                I guess the doe got tired of staring at me and she started to move in the brush.  I watched her cross a small opening in the trees and I figured the buck would not be far behind.  I was right and I had the crosshairs on his shoulder and when I depressed the trigger all I heard was a click. I couldn’t believe it and I hurriedly ejected that round and when I tried to feed another round into the chamber I ended up with a double feed???  Well all of a sudden a doe walked right out into the open field and continued across it. She was followed by another doe and they were not spooked at all.  I knew the buck would be with them, so I took a couple of steps up the road and sure enough he came into the field and just stood there.  I held the crosshairs on his shoulder and fired – that was the last I saw of him – smile.  I went to where he was standing and didn’t see any sign of a hit and I even went so far as to track him for a couple a hundred yards.  He went straight up the mountain and there was no blood at all.  Oh well, just a normal day for me in the hunting field and shooting off-hand – smile.  That was the last buck I saw this year.



                               A little side-note  -  I butchered the deer we took in Alberta and threw the mule deer hide out in my backyard.  The next day I was going out to get something out of my truck and a neighbour’s cat took off from eating on the hide.  It stopped a short distance away and sat and looked at me.  Well, it wasn’t a cat, but a bobcat.  I have enclosed some pics of it and they were taken from ten feet and the last one was almost at my feet.  My trophyroom is well insulated and I gather it didn’t hear me coming with the camera.  It fed for about ½ hour. 



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