Five of us, all amateur or new when it comes to hunting, went out for a multi-day whitetail hunt in the Alberta foothills. We’d seen deer regularly in the area, and as antlerless season had just opened too, confidence was high.
The first morning we hiked a couple miles from camp, before sunrise and set up in different areas. We sat, waited, watched, crept around, waited some more and... nothing. Every day we would reconvene at a Y-junction of trails at 11am.
After seeing no action that morning we’d met up a little further up a dirt road, unloaded our rifles whilst strolling back to the meet up point, discussing the morning action (or lack thereof)... Suddenly, right next to the Y-junction, 15 yards off the trail was a big whitetail buck; standing there, staring at us, in the open. He stood large, broadside, his antlers with a broken tine spreading up into the sky.... We're caught off guard. Unprepared.
The buck stood unphased as we scrambled to get our rifles off our shoulder, chamber a round and try to get into a shooting position. He turns, and begins strolling off into the brush. Not running, but more-so strolling with intent, with the attitude: "Nope, you had your chance, I'm over it. Bye". I trail him, but he continued to move off, across to a “no hunting” zone. That encounter, and near miss would continue to haunt our thoughts for the rest of the day, and through the night.
The next morning whilst moving into our positions before first light, he turned up again, on the trail, 10 minutes before legal shooting hour. Again, standing, just a stone throw away. He walks off casually into the brush not to be seen again for the rest of the day. We know he is around, but now feels like he is taunting us...
Day three rolls around... and the same thing happens again! This time right next to one of our hideout spots, 6 minutes before shooting light, before walking back off into the brush.... It was the last morning of our hunt and there was a little over an hour left until our usual morning meet-up; before hiking back to camp and packing up.
Jamie leaves this post and goes for one last look, strolling through the brush out towards a back access road. Just as he steps out of the deep timber he sees a buck... “The” buck, casually walking up the road, head down.
Jamie stops, crouches down, anchors his rifle, tries to settle his nerves, and lets the shot off…
I'm posted up not far away, so I hear the shot and venture over to see what happened. Jamie is looking around, asking if I had seen a deer run by. I hadn't... Had we missed him? Had we squandered yet another opportunity?
We soon spot a patch of blood on the ground. Bright red. As we follow it, we see more, and more, and eventually peek over some deadfall and see antlers sticking up, horizontally. He's down! Double lung. Perfect shot.
After days of missed opportunities and being buck-teased, we’d finally got him! The perfect end to a great, mentally and physically challenging hunt.
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