2014 Fall Newsletter


Well, the 10th of September finally arrived and it found me on my way up one of the local mountains in search of a ‘legal’ Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.  The word ‘legal’ in our area means “Mature” which is defined in the 2014 – 2016 (British Columbia) HUNTING & TRAPPING REGULATIONS SYNOPSIS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2014 TO JUNE 30, 2016, as “Mature Bighorn Ram means any bighorn ram mountain sheep whose horn tip, when viewed squarely from the side extends upwards beyond the forehead-nose bridge.” Not sure about other sheep hunters, but I have never actually been in a physical position to a ram to be able to “view squarely from the side.”  They are usually either far above or below me and if they are level, they are usually on the run and it is very difficult in a matter of nanoseconds to size up the exact extend in relation to the “forehead-nose bridge.” It used to make a ram legal if it was 8 years of age, but that was taken out several years ago.  Now we have excellent trophy rams which have broomed off their lamb-tips, which now makes them not a legal ram. I believe Alaska holds the answer to the dilemma in our area and that is if the ram is broomed on both sides, he is then a legal ram. Sometimes decisions made by office staff can be disastrous to those in the actual field pursuing trophy animals.


         I made the drive to the top of the mountain over a logging road on my Yamaha Kodiak 450, with ease. Next I had to traverse some trails which led to within a couple of hundred feet of the cliffs.  I have seen sheep on the adjacent rocks when driving in during the daylight hours, hence today’s trip was made under the cover of darkness. I know the area well and can navigate the cliff edge by maintaining a safe distance from the edge by staying in the timberline (which follows the edge, but is about 10 yards removed). I eased into the viewing position as I had so many times before.  Dawn was just beginning to break and with my 10X42 Leica Geovid 10x42 HD Binocular w/ Laser Rangefinder I was able to clearly see the rock-face which was situated about ½ mile from where I sat.  Was that a sheep’s butt-end going around a rock outcropping.  I was sure it was and it did seem large.  I stashed my extra clothes under my ATV, strapped my strapped my Vortex Viper HD with its 20 X 60 eyepiece to my heavy-duty fanny pack and set off in pursuit of the sheep I had witnessed rounding the rock. It would take me the better part of 45 minutes to get above and in front of the animal, as I had quite the climb in front of me.


         About half way through the hike, I looked down and noticed headlights in a pull-out directly below me about a ¼ mile or so.  Other hunters coming in??  I continued my stalk and after I reached the far side of the cliffs, I noticed movement in front and below me. I froze in place, but needn’t have bothered as the sheep had me pegged.  It was a ewe and her lamb.  They continued onward and it seemed they were not bothered by my presence? Well, I was sure to see many more ewes and lambs over the next while. I started to retrace my footsteps to my original spotting position.  About half way back, I spotted movement and brought my Leica’s up and was looking at two hunters.  They were glassing the same area as I had been.  Below the cliffs is what the locals call “The Burn”.  It derived its name from a huge forest fire which had consumed the entire basin located below the rim.  The sheep loved to come into the burn to feed as they had safety in the surrounding cliffs. The Burn was extremely steep and a treacherous piece of terrain.  I had climbed down into its bowels a couple of years previously and carried, what I thought to be sufficient fluids.  The climb down was not too bad, but when I decided to ascend out of the basin, I was faced with what seemed insurmountable grassy slopes.  It took me hours to make it out of there and by the time I reached my ATV, I did not have enough fluids to even spit!!  Thankfully, I had more water on board the ATV.


         I approached the two hunters from behind as I made my way through the trees.  When a few feet away from them, I whispered, “Hi There”.  They were surprised to see me and I told them where I was located and what I had been doing. They had seen my ATV parked in the tree-line during their climb up from their truck. I finally was back where I had started my morning jaunt from and sat by my ATV enjoying a nice succulent orange – seems everything with juice, tastes so much better when you are thirsty – smile. I put on my outer clothes as it is always windy when on the edge of these cliffs.  When the sun finally broke over the rocks and the air warmed up, it made me realize just how lucky I was to be not only be able to have the health to get here, but to thoroughly enjoy the warmth and fantastic view. As the sun climbed in the sky, my eyelids started to get heavy – smile.  I laid back and had a short snooze, which the earlier walk had created the need for a short rest.  This happened a few times until I really drifted off.  When I came awake, I was not sure right away where I was – as I am sure a lot of you have experienced while out hunting.


         Once I was back in reality, I lifted my binos to my eyes and slowly glassed the rocks and finally the steep ground at the base of the cliffs.  To my surprise there stood a huge ram.  I kept the binos on him awaiting the shot from the other hunters?  He started to feed away from me and I ranged him with my Leica’s at just over 700 yards. I was wondering why they were not shooting as they had to see him feeding there??  I noticed movement well below me on one of the many logging roads which wind endlessly through this mountainous country.  I raised my binos and low & behold but wasn`t it the same vehicle I had seen the two hunters get out of during my earlier stalk. Now the ram had my undivided attention – smile.  He kept looking over his shoulder, but was steadily moving away from me.  There was no chance to catch up to him for a shot.  Oh well, that`s sheep hunting – right.


         I spent the next week and a half amongst the rocks and the sheep.  There wasn’t a day that I did not see sheep, unfortunately, they were all ewes and lambs.  With the exception of one young sickle ram still traveling with the ewes and lambs. The most I saw on the rock-face was 19 ewes & lambs.


         The time was fast approaching for us to depart on our annual moose hunt in northern British Columbia.  It is a two day drive to get to the hunting area and this year, besides hunting moose, one of the fellows was fortunate enough to be drawn for a Grizzly Bear in our area. After packing the travel trailer (no one has to be uncomfortable – smile) and the low-bed trailer we were finally ready for the trip.  Up early and on the road.  The trip is a little over 1500 kms and we like to get at least 1000 kms out of the way on day #1. The first day was uneventful and we pulled into a pull-out to get some much deserved rest.  Up before dawn and on our way again.  The final day is fairly busy as we stop to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and meat and also to fill 55 gal barrels with fuel for the ATV’s.  We arrived in our camp location and found one of our hunting buddies already there. The last 40 kms are over roads put in by the Gas & Oil companies, so we rent radios, so as not to create any problems with their traffic as we navigate the road system to our camp. We got camp set-up, firewood cut and hit the sack early as sun-rise comes early.


         I usually hunt by myself, although my hunting buddies know the area I am hunting in and I never deviate from it. My ATV was fueled and I was off before anyone else was up.  One area I like to hunt is located about 32 kms from our campsite.  I had to cover about 5 kms of road which had heavy traffic from the workers in the area and then I had another road which was all mine – smile. I took my time driving to the hunt location and along the way, saw a small Black bear feeding beside the road. I didn’t see much sign that day, or for that matter the next week.  We were in the area before the rut had started, hence there was not much bull movement. Soon, we started seeing signs of moose movement and to everyone’s surprise most cows seemed to have calves with them.  The previous year the area had been plagued with lots of wolves and bears (both Blacks and Grizzlies). In next to no time we started picking up bull movement.  Our calling to date had not been productive, but things were definitely looking up.


     Home Sweet Home- looking towards the road in

1We hunt in a ‘trophy’ area, where the bulls must have either ten points or better on one side or three points or better on the brow.  Not many to choose from. We are allowed to shoot immature bulls (two points or less on one side).  I have hunted a good number of years and can honestly say I have never seen a live immature bull.  My hunting buddy did take one in this area last year though. The weather was warm and that doesn’t make for good hunting.  With the bull activity picking up, I decided to head into a beaver pond (a place I had never been to before).  It was a beautiful day and I found a comfortable spot along the dam with a bunch of willows to lean my back against.  I remained here for about two hours calling, but it seemed to no avail. I decided to move to another area, which was only several hundred meters from the beaver dam.  Set up at the junction of a couple of pipelines (the pipelines are about 40 meters wide and the only open area in the heavy bush). They also provided me with a clear view of 1000 yards down the four legs I was able to observe. Waited for things to settle down and the sun to go behind the mountains before I started calling.  I was sitting back in the bush a bit and had the shooting sticks set up in front.  I had only called for a couple of minutes, when this bull just stepped out of the bush – no noise whatsoever – about 200 yards from me.  He took me totally by surprise, as they usually rake the brush with their antlers and grunt while coming in. This time the pipeline was empty one minute and the next, there he stood.  As we are only allowed to shoot bull (male) Moose, we depend upon calling to get them within shooting range and there are two ways to call them.  Use a long drawn out moan\wail of a cow in season and wanting the company of a bull and this call carries much further than the bull grunt.  The bull grunt lets other bulls in the area know there is a bull imposing on his territory and he will come in to fight and will usually throw all caution to the wind. They usually come in on the run, thrashing the brush and grunting loudly – trying to intimidate the other bull and vice-versa.  Anyway, I couldn’t count the points he had (the light was fading and my eyes are not what they used to be – smile), so had to pass on him. He certainly was a large bodied bull.


        Several days later I was driving back to camp around noon and decided to check out a place called “The Woman’s Lookout”, as ungulates (antlered animals), will usually get up from their beds, stretch and feed a bit before they bed again for the afternoon.  The Woman’s Lookout is an elevated place on the top of a mountain, which overlooks a large willow and grass type meadow (approximately 3 kms long by 1 km deep).  I no sooner got into position (we have a rough bench for sitting on) and looked out and thought I saw a couple of moose.  I checked the area with my Leica binos and sure enough there was a bull and a cow feeding about 800 meters away from me.  I couldn’t make out the bull’s antler configuration as it was hidden by the tops of the willows on which he was feeding. I watched them bed again, so knew their approximate location and then continued on to camp.  I waited for Jimmy (my hunting buddy) & his son to arrive back at camp.  Jimmy & I went to the Woman’s Lookout.  Jimmy could hear the cow give a couple of wails (I am a bit deafer than him, so I didn’t hear anything – smile). Jimmy gave a couple of cow calls followed by several bull grunts.  He got an answer, but the bull wouldn’t leave his cow to answer the challenge (usually means he is a young one).  After a couple of hours, the cow came into the open and started feeding.  Several minutes later we saw another animal make its way into the opening and to my surprise it was the cow’s calf.  I asked Jimmy if he was sure that he heard a bull and he said he was positive.  Jimmy has been hunting that area for 30+ years, so I had to believe him.  I had seen two animals when I originally saw them, but was sure I saw antler through the willows, he was feeding on?  About a half hour later out walked a third animal and we could see the antlers on him.  Jimmy gave a couple of bull grunts and the bull just looked our way and made no attempt to come our way to fight the bull (us) who was intent on taking his cow away.  I got the spotting scope set up an on him and we were soon able to see he did not make the legal requirements. We watched the three of them feed out of the area.

         I decided to return in the morning to call.  I started around 7:30 AM and all was quiet.  Sometimes it takes them quite a while to cover the ground.  Bull Moose have tremendous hearing, as they have large ears and that coupled with the palms of their antlers allows for them to hear from a long distance and pinpoint exactly where sound originates. It was a beautiful day and I had committed to remain there for the whole day. Around 9:30 I was able to distinguish the grunt of a bull. He had made it into the valley\meadow at the far end about a mile away. I answered his grunts and I could tell he was heading my way.  I moved a short distance from where I had been sitting and gave some more grunts. I saw him break into an opening and stare in my direction and he started to rake the willows with his antlers.  That is a great sign that I had his undivided attention – smile. He kept coming in my direction and soon was crossing some grassy meadows.  This gave me time to look at his antlers through the spotting scope. It took him ½ hour to get in to my area.  He fortunately had three on the brow.  He was at 521 yards, but with the steep drop (I was well above him) it was a 417 yard shot.  I had a good rest and my Browning X-Bolt in 338 Win Mag topped with a Leupold 3.5 X 10 power scope, certainly swung the advantage in my favour. I fired the 250 grain Nosler Partition and the bull didn’t move a muscle.  Wow, could I have missed??  Had I misjudged the distance (my Leica’s were spot on for range, but did not have the means to provide the horizontal distance, which affects the bullet’s drop). As he didn’t move, I quickly decided that I must be shooting under him.  He was facing me, so I moved the crosshairs a little further down his back.  At the sound of the second shot his front legs buckled and he was down and not moving. The 250 grain Nosler Partition had broken his back, thus immobilizing him.

         It took me over 1 ½ hours to climb down to him and he was still alive, so I finished him and waited for Jimmy & his son to come to the scheduled meeting time at the place where I shot from.  To say I was not a bit nervous waiting their arrival would be a huge understatement, as he was vocal until the end and in my mind that was just ringing the dinner bell for any Grizzlies in the area and there were plenty of them in this area. I strongly believed a Grizzly would prefer moose meat to the dried up berries, which remained on the bushes at this time of the year. Moose are high on the food list of a mature Grizzly bear and for that reason alone, I wasn’t going to start the field dressing process until I had more “eyes on the ground.”

When they didn’t show up at the appointed time, I waited an hour and then attempted to climb back out of the valley.  It was almost vertical and I hate heights – smile.  I was about half way up when they arrived.  I climbed for another half hour and then because of the time, they decided to bring the ATV’s around and start cutting a trail into the animal.  I climbed back down to where he was and then guided them in.  Took about three hours to get the ATV’s into the area. All in all 12 hours after his first grunt, we had him back in Camp. 

Jimmy & Bruce getting ready to quarter the bull


A couple of days later Bruce (Jimmy’s son) shot a nice Grizzly. 

It was a slow year, but we now have some meat in the freezers. Great hunt, great friends and great success.

After the long drive home and a couple of days to get the equipment cleaned and put away it was time to get up in the mountains to chase some sheep for the last few days of the season.  Well, things hadn’t changed much from before the departure for Moose Camp.  I was seeing lots of ewes and lambs, but no rams, that is until the second to last day of the season. I rode the ATV up to a spot which would put me near the large rock outcrop where the ewes and lambs hung out, only to find a truck already parked at the end of the road. Not wanting to interfere with another hunter(s) hunt, I left the area and went to the place where I usually spot from. No sooner had I parked the ATV and made my way to my spot and first glassing, provided an image of a ram feeding almost in the same spot as the one on opening day.  I surveyed the edge of the cliffs in search of the other hunters, but did not see anyone.  I wasn’t going to be left out this time and I hurriedly, peeled down and strapped my spotting scope on my fanny-pack and started heading over in the direction I saw him.  It was starting to get late and I tried to hurry in order to have sufficient light to not only spot the ram, but hopefully be able to tell if he was legal or not.  My legs are not what they used to be and it took me a while to get over top of where I had previously seen him feeding. I conducted a detailed search (binos) of the area, but could not locate him.  I spent about 15 minutes straining my eyes in the hopes of locating him.  I soon realized that I would be pushing the envelope to make it back along the cliff edge to my ATV before darkness. I certainly did not want to be caught on the edge after dark, even though I had a headlamp and a good flashlight. I just made it back in time and on my way I noticed the truck had departed and I had not seen the hunters?  If I had been able to get up to the edge from the road on which they had parked, I probably would have been in range, had he been deemed legal.  Oh well, that is hunting.  I returned the next day (Monday and all the weekend hunters were gone), but to my dismay, all I saw was one ewe and her lamb.  I thought the sheep season had been a huge success, as I had the opportunity almost every day to observe sheep in their territory and sometimes at extremely close range. Now it was time to look for a good mule deer buck.

I like getting up in my quarry’s environment well before first light, as this provides time for other animals in the vicinity to settle down and allow things to return to normal. The weather was okay with several “damp” days.  I prefer this type of weather to the “blue-bird” days, as it seems the animals will bed a bit later.  I was hampered by low cloud cover which did not lend to being able to spot well. Even during the sheep season I was seeing does until around 10:00 AM daily and they did not seem too spooky.  I usually hunt another area for mule deer – more open forest and gentler hills – smile.  With the sighting of so many does, I figured it would be worthwhile spending some time working the mountains closer to home. I would ride my ATV up to the top of the mountains and then walk the high ridges in search of a mulie buck.  I was seeing lots of doe sign, but very little sign of bucks.  After several days, I was rewarded with about ½” of nice fluffy snow and then was able to see where the deer were traveling. 

         I drove to a place the locals call “Brass Ridge”, it derives its name from the fact it oversees a long expansive hillside, unfortunately it is approximately 600 yards to it and many hunter expends several rounds of ammunition trying to hit deer on it and leave lots of ‘brass’ on the ground – smile. I had been chasing a mule deer buck around this area for the past couple of years, but to no avail.  Surprisingly enough, I picked up his track meandering the trail which leads up to and past “Brass Ridge”.  This was not the first time I had run across his sign.  Over the past couple of years he had made his presence known through his large distinctive tracks. From where he walked, it was obvious he only moved at night and I had never witnessed doe tracks with his??  I returned the next day and it had snowed slightly over night.  I saw his track once again, but he was just crossing the trail and heading into some rugged, remote country, which was beyond my physical capabilities (66 years of age) and worst, no way I could ever retrieve him if I was lucky enough to find and shoot him.

         I had some pressing business to take care of and that precluded me from hunting for the next couple of days.  I had to travel to the city with my hunting buddy on Halloween and we did not return home until around 2:00 PM.  I told him I was going to head up to Brass Ridge for a quick hunt.  He said I didn’t have enough time? I quickly dressed and my hunting gear is always in the truck as is my ATV always in the bed.  I had 3 ½ hours of hunting light left by the time I left the truck and it was about a 45 minute drive on the ATV to get to Brass Ridge.  I decided to drive a bit slower than normal, just in case I caught a buck in the openings which dotted the hillsides on my way in.  Being the 31st of October, this was the last day for ‘any’ buck. In our hunting area it is four point (one side) mule deer in September, then any buck in October and then it reverts back to four point for November until the end of the season on 10 December.

         I was a bit dismayed when I reached the top of the mountain to find the cloud cover extremely low and the visibility exceedingly poor.  I decided to continue on, as I knew that the clouds could lift at any time and at any point of my journey.  I finally broke out of the cloud cover and had a great view.  I concentrated my observation to the area of Brass Ridge, which I could see from my current location and it was completely engulfed in cloud.  Oh well, maybe by the time I got there (about another 20 minutes) the clouds would dissipate?  I ‘truddled’ (I like that word as it describes the slow speed at which I was moving) along the trail and just before crossing a cliff-face, I noticed a mule deer doe standing on the mountainside above me, staring down at me.  As soon as I stopped the ATV she turned and bounced up the mountainside into the cover of the evergreens. It was nice to see the deer, even if it was a doe, were out and about an hour or so before sundown.

         I soon reached the trail which branched off the main trail and climbed steeply up to Brass Ridge.  This trail dead-ends after passing Brass Ridge and continuing for a mile or so. It is a vertical climb for about 800 yards and I usually shift into 4 wheel drive and low range for this climb, as the recent snow had melted and the mud did not provide a very stable platform for the ATV.  I was soon at the top of the climb and started cruising down the trail.  To my surprise there was still a skiff of snow covering the trail at this altitude. As I made my way along this trail and the land on each side had been logged back approximately 40 yards on each side, I was a bit disheartened as I did not see any tracks whatsoever for the mile the trail ran until it ended. This was somewhat unusual as I had always seen where deer had followed this trail or at least crossed it. I decided to sit for a while, even if my vision was somewhat hampered by the clouds moving in & out.  After a while, I decided that I just might be wasting my time here and should head back on the hour drive to the location of my truck.  I started the ATV and truddled along the top of the ridge.  When I came to the start of the almost vertical descent down to the main trail, I once again put the ATV in low range and four-wheel drive.

         It amazed me that the top speed the ATV would reach during this descent was 4 kph!! The clouds were coming in and going out as the wind had picked up slightly. I reached level ground and shifted out of both low range and 4 wheel drive and started the trip back to the truck.  I hadn’t gone more than several feet when I was sure I saw a deer standing along the far treeline.  The clouds came in again and I could not see the treeline, let alone what I thought was a deer. I shut the ATV off and retrieved my rifle and moved to the edge of the trail. Well the cloud cover lifted somewhat and sure enough there was a large bodied deer standing right at the edge of the trees and it was staring right at me.  I used my Leica binos and could make out the rather thick antlers on its head, so decided to take him. I raised my Browning X-Bolt in 270 WSM and looked through my Leupold Ultralight 3X – 9X scope and could see nothing but fog!!! The clouds had blown in again and hidden his form.  The clouds dissipated a bit once more and I could just make out his outline with the naked eye, but it was dicey. Once again, I raised my rifle and at the same time in rolled the cloud cover again.  I was wondering just how long he was going to stand there, as he knew I was not part of his environment. The clouds lifted enough for me to make out the white throat patch. I slowly raised the rifle once more and with both eyes open, I was able to center the crosshairs on the white patch. I then moved the crosshairs down about a foot in a 7 o’clock direction, which should put the crosshairs on or near his shoulder. I slowly squeezed the trigger and soon the Nosler 140 grain Accubond projectile was on its way. The hit of the bullet resulted in that sound all hunters like to head – means we hit the target – smile. Next thing I saw was this large animal cartwheeling down the steep hillside and finally came to a rest in a small depression. I was elated and made my way, as quickly as possible to where he lay.  He was still alive and a quick second shot easily dispatched this regal animal.


He was an old warrior with a huge body.

         I now realized that I was by myself and was faced with the daunting task of recovering this huge animal and getting him back to and aboard my truck – a mere 30 kms away.  Fortunately, I was able to navigate the ATV to within 50’ of him and then I used the Warne Winch, which has never let me down and I have been in some precarious situations alone back in the bush. I had enough cable to loop around his antlers and now became the chore of moving between the ATV (winch control) and the animal, as his antlers tended to snag on every downed log and even dig into the earth. Once I had him back to the ATV, I unhooked him and moved the ATV to the road.  I had located a place where the bank was sufficiently high and would enable me to winch him onto the ATV.  Once again, I hooked him up and began the slow process of moving back & forth until he was at the edge of the bank.  Here I did a quick field cleaning and took some time to arrange my personal belongings, so as not to leave anything behind.  Darkness was starting to fall and also it was snowing.  I carry a “dry-box” on the back of my ATV, which holds all of the survival gear I would require for several days in the bush.  I removed this box from my ATV and placed it directly behind the rear wheels.  Next I found a couple of logs which I piled on top of the box.  Soon he was aboard the ATV.

         Anyone who has loaded an animal by themselves, certainly know the difficulty of securing a lifeless animal to the vehicle. I have loaded numerous animals and all were with great difficulty – smile.  This fellow was different, in that I secured his antlers to the racks on the ATV and then was able to push\lift his hind end onto the rack.  As we all know this is only part of the job at hand??  Once on the ATV lifeless animals tend to “roll” around a bit and sometimes get near the wheels and either a cape or meat is ruined.  My hunting buddy had given me a set (4) long ratchet-type tie-downs, which were extremely long in length.  Well, the stretchy ones tended to allow for excess movement of the animal during transport, so I decided to use one of these ‘presents’.  Well, I am here to tell you they work like a hot-damm.  I looped one end around the hind legs and then secured that end to the rack.  Next I took the ‘free’ end and brought it up under the rack (near the seat) and over the center of his body, back under the rack then around the antlers and back along his back where I attached it to the rack with its hook.  Once I had ratcheted the tie-down really snug, he never moved for the hour-long trip out of the mountains, which was great.

         Well, it was time to pack the “cold” weather clothing and head over to Alberta to visit with friends for a couple of weeks and enjoy some fast-pace deer hunting.  This has become an annual event and one I look forward each and every year.  Not only does it allow me to visit and spend time with close friends, but also provides me the opportunity to seek out the elusive Whitetail.

         The long 1200kms drive was uneventful and the roads were dry the complete trip.  The weather was quite reasonable and there was no snow on the ground as yet.  Snow is a definite ally and besides assisting these old eyes in detecting movement, allows for the ease of tracking.  We have an area we call “The Hill” which provides an excellent viewing point from which we can detect deer movement for several miles.

         Alberta has a great system for non-resident hunters, where they can purchase their hunting license online and then can proceed to any outlet who provides the necessary tags for the animals one wants to hunt.  We required a Hunter Host in Order to hunt in Alberta and the day we arrived our Hunter Host took some time from his busy schedule of farming to accompany us to the nearest outlet to purchase our Whitetail tags.  Once this administrative function was completed, we were off in pursuit of our quarry. Unfortunately, Alberta has suffered through a couple of devastating winters which, in the are we hunt, had decimated the deer herds, the whitetails were the hardest hit, but an appreciable decline in mule deer numbers were also very evident. The first day was spent looking for and trying to pattern the whitetails.  The view from the Hill allowed for one to observe the fields where the deer were feeding and the routes they followed back to their bedding areas. As dawn broke and the visibility gradually improved, our hearts sank.  We had an unobstructed view of two ¼ section barley fields, but there wasn’t a single deer feeding??  We were rewarded by seeing a couple of 4X4 mule deer bucks chasing does or should I say, meekly following – smile. It began to snow, lightly at first, but soon large fluffy flakes were cascading down all around us and visibility soon became restricted to a mile or so.  We were back at the house shortly after dark and the evening was spent visiting friends and enjoying a couple of movies.

         Up well before dawn and this would be our routine for the remainder of the hunt, we headed out just as dawn was breaking, but today we had several inches of nice fluffy snow with to contend. I had brought a load of firewood out for my Hunter Host and we decided to leave it on the truck in order to assist with traction. We spent the day glassing fields and walking through the bush trying to find out the routes the deer were using. Day two ended without seeing any Whitetail, but we did come upon a huge 3 X 5 mule deer tending a doe. We saw numerous mule deer and some were nice bucks.

         It snowed most of the night and dawn broke clear and crisp at –20 C with a brisk breeze.  Not great weather to be perched on the top of a bald hill – smile.  The snow started near the end of the day, but ceased sometime during the night.  When we started out the next morning, we were met by cool temperatures and the sharp wind was still with us.  The advantage of the snow stopping was the deer had begun to move, as there were tracks everywhere.  I like to rattle for the bucks and I set up in a small bush lot which was surrounded by buckbrush.  I rattled for about 30 minutes and knew if anything was going to come in, they had to cross a bit of open ground in order to get down wind of me.  I decided to leave and to wade through the snow to another small field to see if there  was any sign there. I left my stand area and made my way towards the tree line through the buck brush.  I had just about reached the tree line when a huge 4X4 mule deer buck broke the brush beside me.  I guess he had been coming in to investigate the combatants?  I have had great luck rattling in mule deer bucks of all sizes over the years.  This day ended with us spotting six whitetail does feeding in a wheat field.

         The next day we decided to hunt a different piece of ground, one which could become inaccessible if we were on the receiving end of more snow and that was in the forecast. I decided to get dropped off at the end of a long field (1 ½ kms) and rattle some and then near the end of the day I would “push” a couple of the bush lots to see if I could move any deer towards my hunting partner who would be located on a good vantage point at the end of this long field which was bordered by a tree line, one where I knew deer liked to bed.  I headed down a fence line and soon came upon the fresh tracks of what appeared to be a large buck.  He had headed across an open field, so I assumed it was a mule deer as the whitetail preferred to use the bush edges.  I moved further along the fence line and came upon several fresh tracks moving along the edge of the field within the tree line.  Just might be whitetail.  I decided to follow them for a ways to see where they were heading.  I have been on the track for a short time when I saw a truck approaching the tree line where I was located.  I immediately stepped out of the trees to make myself visible to the occupants.  They came directly towards me and soon I recognized the passenger as an old friend with whom I had played ball with many years before when I had lived in this country.  We had a great visit and recounted the “good old days” when we were much younger and the deer population had been much larger.  After a short while they departed as they were looking for bull moose. I moved farther down the fence line and came to a junction where two fence lines intersected.  I waited for several minutes before starting to rattle. Almost immediately I had a mule deer buck coming in on the run – wow.  I have hunted for more years than I really care to admit and the one thing I had never witnessed in the field before was a ‘drop-tine’ buck.  That has now been added to my vast memory bank.  This was an average 4X4 buck with an 6” drop tine off his right main beam.  Well, I think I have alluded to the fact that I am a bit “modern-technology” challenged.  I wanted to record this beauty in a picture.  I reached for my cell phone and as soon as it was in my hand, I realized I had turned it off when departing the truck.  It takes a couple of minutes for it to fully turn on.  During this time the buck stood in front of me at only 15 yards and just couldn’t quite make out what I was, as I remained motionless as possible.  He seemed to have had enough of me and sauntered off into the nearby trees, before my cell phone allowed me to record his rack.  I think I muttered some nasty things to myself as I fumbled to return the cell phone well inside my layered clothing.  I finally got it secured within a pocket and when I looked up, I was staring at a 3X4 mule deer buck.  He detected the movement of my hand coming out of my clothing and made his way to parts unknown.  I made my way back towards the where the truck would be parked, with my hunting partner observing a vast bush studded field.  I started the two kilometer hike and planned on entering the bush line when I was a kilometer or so away from the truck.

         I had not covered 500 meters when I spotted a vehicle parked on another hill.  I recognized it as belonging to a couple of other hunters who were successful in the bull elk draw for that area.  As I watched through my Leicia binos, they backed up and turned around to leave their observation position.  They disappeared and I was not sure if they were going to come my way or not?  Shortly thereafter I heard the resounding report of a shot.  Maybe they had been lucky and shot an elk.  I decided to make my way to the area where I had originally spotted them.  I di cross the fresh track of a bull elk, so my spirits were elevated as I trudged my way through the knee-deep snow.  I arrived at the location, but could not see the vehicle.  I decided to follow the track in the snow and figured it would lead me to them.  After a short hike I could see for quite a distance and the track was leading away from my rendezvous point, so I decided to abandon the track and make my way towards the point where the truck should be. Since I could not identify either who had taken that shot or where they currently were, I decided to remain in plain sight and made my way over hill and dale towards the truck. I did not want to be inside the tree line when darkness started to fall with someone else hunting in the area. I always lean toward the side of safety, especially when hunting.

         It was a long hike with many hills to climb and I was soaked when I arrived at the truck.  No animals had been sighted from this position and I soon learned the elk hunters had departed the area well before I heard the rifle shot? I guess I made the right decision to stay clear of dense cover while making my way back. I told my hunting buddy of my rattling results and since we had no seen any whitetail, we decided to hunt another area the next day.

         We awoke to an invigorating -43 C, which immediately caught our attention.  Any walking today would be really slow and methodical to ensure one did not break a sweat. I love the spot & stalk method of hunting and prefer to be on foot moving, stopping to glass, and moving again.  Today, I decided to remain in the vehicle on top of the Hill to see if we could spot any animals.  We detected only mule deer bucks and does moving below us. We decided to tour a couple of the barley and wheat fields to see if we could get lucky and spot some whitetails.  As we passed a field on our way home, we saw six figures slowly making their way from the trees into a field.  We stopped and with the use of our binos determined they were whitetail does coming to the field to feed.  Well, where there are does during the rut, there are bound to be bucks?  This sighting elevated our moods, which were just a slight bit down due to not sighting any whitetail movement.

         The next day I decided to head out on foot once again.  I walked through the bush and located myself in an isolated patch of brush.  I patiently waited around 15 minutes before I started gently manipulating the rattling bag which emitted a gently sound of clashing horns, representing two bucks vying for dominance in the area.  Over the next several minutes I increased the pressure on the rattling bag and amplified the noise level. After being in place for about 30 minutes and not having an enraged buck come to me, I decided to head over to the main tree line and make my way along a trail through it to another field.  I tried to remain in the buck-brush and as I neared the trail I had to cross a bit of open ground. I had no sooner emerged from the cover when a huge 4X4 mule deer buck came crashing out of the trees and ran along the edge before re-entering.  He was certainly making lots of noise during his getaway, which led me to the deduction he had been more startled than I as a result of our encounter. I only spotted a couple of mule deer does the rest of the day.

         Next morning we were headed out to the Hill once more and as we entered the first field, which we had to traverse, we spotted two deer feeding in the Buck-brush.  We stopped and shut the truck off and waited for better light, as one looked like a nice buck – we did know they were mule deer though.  Once there was enough light to clearly see the buck through the Leicia binos, I was astonished by the size of his antlers.  He was a typical 4X4, but he was really wide, but that factor was dwarfed by the height of the antlers. Where was this monster last year when I had the draw?  After a bit of thought, he could have been the one I had seen on the last day of the previous year’s hunting season, but he had certainly added quite a bit of mass to his antlers over the ensuing year.  He was nervous, but did not want to leave his doe.  Finally, he moved off to the side hill and stood broadside at under 200 yards.  After watching us for a couple of more minutes, he decided to vacate the premises, doe or not.

         I decided to go on foot again today and got out of the truck at the next gate.  My hunting buddy would head for the Hill and see if he could spot any whitetails in the fields.  I told him I would walk in after the morning’s hunt. I spotted him on the Hill after I had located myself in a tree line.  I saw nothing moving and after 45 minutes or so, I watched as the truck departed the Hill and made its way down the backside.  I knew that he would be following a trail just on the other side of the tree line I was watching.  I didn’t hear him drive past, but suddenly I detected movement.  I slowly brought my Leicia binos up to my eyes and was able to make out the form of a young mulie buck making his way from the opposite tree line towards the one I was stationed in. I am a strong believer in good optics, no matter what your quarry may be.  I was able to determine what he was, while he was still in the thick cover.  I think a lot of hunters always think that deer will just walk across bare ground and if one believes that, then they will miss a lot of deer movement.  This was a young spike buck, probably with little experience, but his mother had enforce the fact that using the undulating terrain (using the low ground)  and sticking just inside the bush, just might see him living to a ripe old age.

         Just as soon as he entered the bush where I was located, I once again caught movement.  I figured it was probably his partner following as I had seen several pairs of mule deer bucks travelling together. I didn’t really pay much attention to this one, as I just took it for granted that it was another mule deer.  Again, the Leicia binos played an important part of the hunt.  I was just able to make out the body of this deer and something told me it just was not a mule deer.  The hide was not the slate grey of the mule deer, but a reddish-brown colour. It disappeared from view and it was a while before it once again re-appeared. I have my binos to my eyes in a slow motion movement and was surprised to have my field of view filled with the body of a whitetail buck.  Wow, it was certainly tippy-toing along the same path as the mule deer did several minutes previously.  Once I was able to ascertain it was a buck, my heart sunk a bit as he was a young two point.  Both these bucks had been ‘pushed’ out of the far trees when the truck had driven past.  Later back at the house, I asked my hunting partner if he had seen those two bucks and the answer was a definitive “No”.

         I returned to the same area for the late afternoon hunt and was rewarded by a complete shutout as far as deer were concerned.  I made my way back to the rendezvous point and was just breaking out of the tree on a trail I was following when I caught movement to my left.  A whitetail doe was prancing up the trail running along the trees and soon her tail (flag) was erect and waving in the breeze as she made for little time vacating the area. Well, we were certainly seeing whitetail does, so it was only going to be a matter of time before the bucks would show up??

         The next day was a bit dismal with very few sightings. I was scheduled to meet my friends in a town about 40 kms away as I always take them out for dinner each year we hunt there. It was a standing joke, that I was usually late for these dinner engagements, as it seemed I always killed a good buck that afternoon and by the time I loaded the deer up, made my way back to the house, got cleaned up a bit, it was well past the meeting time for dinner.  My friend’s wife is a very understanding person and I called her my good luck charm.

         We were just about back to the house when we spotted a large bodied deer off in the distance.  We left the confines of the truck and made our way to its location. I was able to get within 75 yards and it was a nice whitetail buck.  For some reason he just stood there broadside looking at me.  I guess his thinking must have been affected by the rut?  I was able to utilize a solid rest and although the light was starting to fade somewhat, my Leupold Ultralight 3 X 9 scope picked him up immediately.  I rested the cross-hairs on his front shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger on my 270 WSM Browning X-Bolt. At the shot, I was sure the Nosler 140 grain Accubond travelled true. He flinched and turned an made his way over the top of the hill on which he had been standing.  I had no reason to make my way to where I knew he was laying, as I knew he would be dead just over the hill.  I instead made my way back to the truck and we then drove to the area where he had been standing.  It was now nearly dark and even with the fresh snow, there were plenty of deer tracks.  We parked the truck in a small coulee and made our way to where he had been standing.  I was awestruck when we reached the area.  Not only was there no blood, but there was not a hair on the white snow.  I looked at my hunting partner and said, “I just could not have missed at that range.” His reply was, “You have before.” And he was relating to a large mule deer buck I had missed the year before, but I reminded him, last year’s shot was freehand and this one was off a solid rest.

         We traversed the area and could not find any sign whatsoever that the buck had been hit.  I told him that I had to get going and we could look for it when I got home.  We never like to leave deer out overnight, as this area has an extremely large population of coyotes and they could clean up a deer before the next morning. Well, I made it to the meeting place for dinner, but still a bit late.  I had an enjoyable dinner, but the deer did play on my mind during it.  After dinner I was scheduled to meet with some friends with whom I had served with during my military career.  It was great seeing good friends and reminiscing the good old days, but if you are as serious a deer hunter as I am, a lot of what was said was not entering my hearing system, as I was still focused on the deer I had shot at much earlier.

         It seemed like forever before I arrived back at the house.  I borrowed a strong flashlight and my hunting buddy and I went out to try to find the buck.  We spent around an hour and he was sure the buck had crossed the road and entered one of the many bush-lots there.  I thought he just might have tried to cross the large open field to one of the farther tree lines. The flashlight started losing its power, so I called off the search and decided to check the bush-lots across the road in the daylight, whe I would be able to see much better.  He could head out to the Hill in search of deer. Needless to say, it was a bit of a sleepless night.  I am an experienced hunter and I hope both the thrill and the anxious moments never leave, as that is a great part of our sport.

         I was able to visit with my friend a little longer the next morning, as I waited for the first inkling of dawn to start breaking.  I made my way down to where the buck had been standing and picked up a fresh set of tracks.  The one thing which wasn’t making sense this morning and it didn’t the night before and that was the fact the road had been plowed the previous morning around 11 o’clock and there were no tracks in the plowed snow which had been thrown from the road and into the ditch?  I have tracked a lot of wounded deer and they all have one thing in common – head for the thickest cover possible. The snow was knee-deep and that made for tough going.  Couple that with the fact that the temperature was hovering around -30 C with the wind, I was not going to have an enjoyable morning.  But I did owe the buck the respect of eliminating all possible places he may have gone. Once over the barb-wire fence, I was faced with several bush lots on each side of the coulee.  The coulee ran for a couple of miles, so I had my work cut out.  It was tedious work, climbing each side of the coulee and conducting a thorough search of each piece of bush.  I have seen whitetails, with their last breath, jump off the trail they were on into extremely thick cover to expire.  After a couple of hours of mind-numbing searching, I at last had looked into every piece of cover and finally was staring at wide open spaces.  If he had made it this far, then maybe I had missed him.  With a heavy heart I retraced my steps and before reaching the point I had entered the coulee, I made my way to another group of trees, one which was a favourite for whitetails making their way to the fields to feed and return to their bedding area..

         To say not only was my mental stamina starting to wane, my physical level was also going downhill, as the deep snow had started to take its toll.  I reached the trees and the only sign of an animal I saw was that of a porcupine who had recently made its way through the brush.  As I left the trees, I spotted my hunting buddy coming to the fence line.  We met and headed back to where the truck was parked.  I must admit it was “a bit nippy”. And getting into the cab of the truck and out of the wind was somewhat a relief. I had one more bush line to check and if he was not there, I would most likely have to admit that I had missed him.  My main concern was that I did everything possible to retrieve an animal I had shot at.  Well, the last place where he could have gone also proved fruitless.

         As we were heading back to the house, I said to my hunting partner, “I cannot believe I missed that deer? I am going to set up a target where he was standing, then make my way back to the point where I shot from, and make sure the rifle is on.” The only thing in the truck for a target was an empty Cheerio’s box (my hunting partner likes eating them right out of the box). So, I set the box out in the snow, carefully assumed the shooting position and squeezed off a shot.  Well, what happened next caused both my hunting partner and myself to stare in awe at each other. At the sound of the shot a host of magpies and ravens lifted off about 200 yards from where we were standing.  Bingo, we had found the buck.


Truly a Majestic Buck

         We jumped into the truck and made our way to where he lay, not fully understanding why we had not seen him before?  My truck tracks passed not more than 50 yards from where he lay. Well, to say I was one happy boy, would be a monumental understatement – the word ecstatic would better describe the emotion coursing its way through my mind. We tried to lift him on the back of the truck, but to no avail.  Fortunately, a friend came past and offered assistance – farm folks are the friendliest folks in the world. Once on the truck, we drove over to another farm and utilizing the loader on a tractor, we were able to field dress him.

One Happy Hunter

         With only three days left in the season, we concentrated on getting my hunting buddy his whitetail.  The next two days proved unproductive, as all we were seeing was mule deer.  On the last day of the season, we were once again situated on the Hill and were only seeing mule deer.  Suddenly, my hunting partner nudges me and says, “There is a whitetail buck crossing the opening right over there.” Sure enough, he was coming right into the bush lot where we were parked.  There was not sufficient time to get a shot off before he entered the trees.  I said I would push him out of the trees and drove off the far side of the Hill.  I made my way along the fence line and stopped beside a small group of trees and told my hunting partner to stand there and pointed out where the buck would most likely come out.  I knew the area well and thought the buck would make his way through the trees he was currently in, towards another large group of trees, but only if he was forced to do so.

         I drove for about two miles to ensure the truck would not scare him.  I was able to pick up his track and although the snow was deep, I was able to follow them with the truck. Once his tracks enter the trees, I parked the truck and made my way into the trees dogging his trail.  I am a bit on the deaf side (well maybe more than a bit – smile), but when I neared the edge of the trees, I decided to return and fetch the truck.  I was able to make my way to where my hunting buddy was still standing and I queried, “Didn’t he come out?” His answer was, “Oh yeah, he is laying right over there.”  He may not have been a huge deer, but we had taken the two best whitetail bucks we had seen in two weeks and we had worked exceedingly hard to put them on the ground.

Last Day Buck


         It was a successful hunting season; hopefully you have enjoyed a great hunting season this year.  It is the love of the outdoors, which keeps us coming back each year and the dreams of taking that trophy-of-a-lifetime keeps us forever young.

         Whether you want to hunt Spring Black\Grizzly Bear (Spot & Stalk or over Bait), other big game during the Fall, or maybe an International hunt will tickle your fancy;  Blue Collar Adventures can assist in organizing, arranging and booking a future hunt for you, please do not hesitate in contacting me at

         We also have some great combination hunting\fishing adventure, as well as photo Safaris, Hiking and Rafting Adventures.

         Give us a call and we will try our best to provide you with an Adventure of a Lifetime.