Do not Sleep on Canadian Whitetails

The far more I believed about it, the weirder it seemed. In my 15 years as assistant editor of this magazine, I’d in no way hunted whitetails in Canada. I’d bowhunted north of the border for black bears, caribou and moose, but never for whitetails.

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So, when I got an invite from Mossy Oak Director of Marketing and advertising Dustin “Shed” Whitacre to hunt deer in Saskatchewan with him in October 2015, how could I possibly say no? We would be hunting with Brandon Schreiber’s Buck Country Outfitters, one particular of Saskatchewan’s premier operations located in the tiny town of Goodsoil. This hunt would be filmed for Bowhunter Tv, so joining me was my good buddy and cameraman Bob Theim.

To get to Brandon’s location, you can fly into either Edmonton and then drive 4½ hours northeast to Goodsoil, or into Saskatoon and then drive 4½ hours northwest to camp. We ended up going the Edmonton route.

Shed and I had hunted with each other in the past, so I was not only seeking forward to my initial Canadian deer hunt but also obtaining the opportunity to share camp with a guy who is a real hoot to be around. The hunt was scheduled for October 18–25 — a time of year when the weather can be fickle.

Seasonal temps usually variety from lows in the 30s to highs in the 50s, but it is not uncommon for a sudden cold snap to plummet temperatures to close to zero. So I was advised to bring adequate clothes to cover the gamut, specifically because I would be sitting in a ground blind from dark to dark each and every day.

At initial I wasn’t really certain why I’d be sitting all day, every day, given the time of year. Then it occurred to me that baiting deer is legal in Saskatchewan, and it is the preferred strategy of hunting for most if not all of the province’s outfitters, such as Brandon’s operation. And, while deer could show up at the bait at any time of the day, peak activity at the bait web sites was generally amongst ten a.m. and 2 p.m., which is why all-day sits have been required.

This would be my 1st expertise with hunting deer over bait — alfalfa to be exact. I know a lot of hunters don’t agree with the practice, and I myself have always sort of been on the fence about it. But I’m also not 1 to argue with any approach of hunting, so lengthy as it is legal.

The number-one particular reason for Brandon’s use of bait is the vast Canadian bush his customers are hunting. How vast? Effectively, according to Brandon, he has access to around a half-million acres of Crown Land. By employing bait, Brandon and his guides are capable to draw deer in to specific areas and preserve them coming back, thus increasing his clients’ probabilities for a close, ethical shot chance at a mature buck.

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Buck Country’s lodge alone is worth the trip.

Arriving in camp on October 18, I was right away blown away by the accommodations. The lodge is absolutely nothing quick of spectacular, and it speedily became apparent that Brandon and his great crew of guides and cooks (do not get me began on the culinary abilities displayed by Brandon’s new bride, Amanda, and his partner Dean Kuypers’ wife, Janda, during my stay there) operate collectively like a effectively-oiled machine to make confident everybody in camp has a excellent hunt, and a memorable encounter all the way about.

Following a great night’s sleep, we awoke Monday morning and had been treated to a amazing breakfast and a packed lunch that integrated a Thermos of homemade soup. My guide the 1st day was a young man by the name of Dub. He was a great-natured, huge-time hockey fan, and we hit it off appropriate away.

Access to bait internet sites was by means of ATV, every of which pulled a small cart. I have to say, the way Dub handled the cart-towing quad on the narrow and winding trail in the dark was quite darn impressive. On the ride in, I asked him what he knew about the bucks going to this particular bait. He told me there have been numerous very good bucks there that would meet Buck Country’s 140-inch minimum.

Then he stated, “Oh, yeah, a single more issue. There’s a 5×5 in here that, whilst he exceeds our minimum, we ask that you do not shoot him because he’s only 3½, and he’s got the possible to be one thing truly spectacular in another year or two.”

“Fair enough,” I mentioned. “Does he have any recognizable characteristics that will assist me identify him?”

“Yep…one of his brow tines is extremely brief,” Dub stated. “So if a massive 5×5 comes in, please make certain you get a appear at him from the front or rear just before you determine to let the air out of him.”

As soon as settled into the blind, we sat there in the dark for a good hour, eagerly waiting for it to get light. It had been a whilst given that I’d hunted in Northern Saskatchewan, and it is a diverse kind of quiet there — downright eerie to be completely truthful with you.

Shortly soon after sunrise, numerous does and young bucks came in to munch on the alfalfa. As this was my initial expertise with Canadian deer, I couldn’t believe just how huge-bodied they have been, and I’ve hunted deer several times in the Midwest! In reality, several of the does I saw each day produced the bucks back in my house state of Pennsylvania look modest!

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Bruce Levy’s buck is one particular of the most significant-bodied whitetails I’ve ever seen in particular person.

Modest bucks and does came in and out of the bait all through the morning and into the early afternoon, maintaining Bob and I entertained and alert. Then, for what ever purpose, the action came to a comprehensive stop for about two hours. Just as I was beginning to doze off, Bob whispered that he saw movement off to our left. There had been two bucks, and a single of them had me immediately reaching for my bow.

As both bucks slowly made their way to the alfalfa, I could see great mass and four extended tines on every single side of the bigger 1. Now I just necessary to make certain it wasn’t the mid-140s 5×5 Dub had asked me not to shoot. Just before getting into the clearing where the alfalfa had been placed, the massive buck turned his head and looked right at our blind. Drat! It was the “off-limits” buck!

Each bucks fed for far more than 20 minutes, during which time the big buck gave me lots of wonderful shot opportunities. But I’d provided my word not to shoot him, so all I could do was sit and watch him. He really came back twice a lot more that evening, as daring me to break my word.

Bob and I returned to the identical blind the subsequent day, and just like the very first day we had action all day long. And, the massive 5×5 with the quick brow tine came to the bait 4 times over the course of the day, also. But, we had yet to see any of the other mature bucks Dub had photos of on his trail camera.

To give us a change of scenery, Dub took us to a various bait website on the third day. Just before we hopped on the ATV for the extended ride by means of the bush to the bait, Dub gave us the skinny on the region.

“For starters, you are in tight to the bait — like 17 yards tight — and you will not get considerably footage of deer prior to them becoming at the bait simply because it is truly thick in there, so you actually want to be stealthy with your movements,” he said. “There are a couple of great bucks in right here, and there’s also a buck in right here that, like the other bait, we ask you not to shoot because he is only 3½. You are truly going to want to shoot him also, since he has a four to 5-inch droptine off his appropriate beam…”

Shortly right after daybreak, a couple of does and fawns showed up to feed. All of a sudden the does picked their heads up, looked to my appropriate, and then bolted out of there. My initial believed was coyotes, but then Bob whispered that he could see a buck approaching via the thick brush to our proper, and it appeared to be a good buck.

Gradually, I picked up my bow and clipped onto my D-loop. When the dark-horned buck reached the bait, he turned and looked at us and, you guessed it, it was the droptine buck. This was only the third droptine buck I’d noticed in particular person in virtually 30 years of bowhunting, and it took all I had to restrain myself from shooting him as a outcome. At some point he left, and the rest of the day turned out to be slow, with only a few does and fawns observed.

Day 4 identified us at a new bait, and with a new guide — Josh Belyea — who took more than for Dub because he had to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Calgary. The bait was located in an location that Brandon said had not been hunted in a couple of years. It was a stunning spot, with excellent visibility in every direction. My only concern was that when I ranged the bait, I got a reading of 35 yards. Although that’s a shot I can make, I would have a lot preferred something in the 20 to 30-yard variety.

The only guests that day had been a handful of does and fawns, and one particular spike buck, which produced for a rather long, and at instances boring sit. Still, the area looked promising, so I asked Josh if we could go back there the subsequent day. He believed that was a very good idea, and the wind would be right for it, too. He also said he would move component of the alfalfa pile closer to the blind.

The next morning began out precisely like the earlier day, with does and fawns and the very same spike buck on the bait shortly following sunrise. As the morning progressed, a lot more does and little bucks arrived. Bob and I hoped this was a sign of very good things to come — and it was.

About 9 a.m., the deer that were feeding on the alfalfa kept searching down more than the hill behind the bait. “There’s got to be much more deer coming,” I whispered to Bob. “And judging by the way the tiny bucks are acting, I bet it’s a larger buck.”

My intuition was correct, as all of a sudden I spotted a very good set of dark-chocolate antlers moving from left to proper on the edge of the hill behind the bait. When the buck crested the hill, the rest of the deer, save one modest buck, scattered.

Reaching for my bow, I had already created the decision that I was going to shoot this buck if offered the opportunity. Ahead of feeding, the heavy-horned buck started rubbing his forehead on an overhanging limb, and then he feverishly worked a scrape below the limb.

It speedily became apparent that the buck wasn’t going to come to the closer pile of alfalfa. I ranged him at 37 yards, and as he turned broadside, I came to full draw and bracketed his chest between my 30 and 40-yard pins.

Gradually exhaling and then holding my breath, I touched off the shot and watched my Lumenok-equipped arrow streak toward his vitals. My arrow struck the buck in the shoulder, but I knew I got adequate penetration to be fatal. His mule-kick reaction confirmed this, and as he disappeared over the hill, I knew he wouldn’t go far.

When my shaking subsided, I tried to get Josh on the handheld radio he’d provided me. No response. I kept trying over the subsequent several hours to reach Josh, but to no avail. With no deer at the bait, Bob and I took it upon ourselves to recover the buck and shoot some support footage for Tv. Apparently my radio wasn’t working appropriately, as it was almost eight hours before we got a response from Josh.

With my buck loaded in Josh’s truck, we went to choose up campmate Bruce Levy, who had also shot a buck late that afternoon. When we recovered Bruce’s buck, I couldn’t stop shaking my head over the sheer size of his buck’s physique, and it took 4 of us to load the deer into the bed of Josh’s truck.

However, Shed didn’t fill his tag that week, but he saw a number of very good bucks that I most likely would have killed. He was just a tiny pickier than me. I cannot thank him enough for providing me my initial taste of whitetail hunting in Canada, and for introducing to me to Brandon and his crew, all of whom I now think about good pals.

In May 2016, I returned to Goodsoil for a spring bear hunt. But you’ll have to wait for a future issue of Bowhunter to get the complete story. Till then…

Author’s Notes: My equipment on this hunt incorporated a Hoyt Carbon Spyder, Easton FMJ arrows with Bohning Blazer Vanes and Wraps, Rage Hypodermic broadheads, Lumenoks, Spot-Hogg sight, Scott Mongoose XT release, Dead Down Wind scent-elimination items and Tink’s scents, and an Ozonics HR200. My rangefinder and binoculars were from Nikon. I wore Kenetrek boots and Cabela’s clothing in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country. To book a excellent whitetail or bear hunt with Buck Nation Outfitters, contact Brandon Schreiber at (780) 870-6510 or Brandon_schreiber@hotmail.com

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