Southern Saskatchewan Deer

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Saskatchewan deer
The prairie hill country in southern Saskatchewan is vastly different from the woodlands in the north.

Talk about a way to get you fired up for the next day’s deer hunt. This deer hunter was chomping at the bit to get out in the field. Unfortunately, his luggage didn’t arrive in Saskatchewan on the same plane as him. And although Air Canada’s people assured him his bags would probably show up in Regina by the end of the day, Nov. 9, they didn’t. So the deer hunter stayed in the hotel the next morning begging the airline’s lost-baggage people to find his hunting gear.

When the word came in around noon that his hunting gear still was nowhere to be found, the hunting outfitter encouraged everyone in camp to come to his aid. Wearing all borrowed hunting clothes and carrying a borrowed rifle, he finally headed out of camp around 1 p.m. and jumped in the hunting guides' truck.

After a short drive on a dirt road that separated a series of huge farm fields, the hunting guide delivered him to a plywood shooting shack. A door provided entry through the rear of the house, and hinged, Plexiglas windows were mounted on the other three walls. The shack’s only content was a metal chair that rested on a carpeted floor.

The ground blind was situated in a clearing in the middle of a large island of bush, surrounded by pea fields. It just felt deery. About two hours after he was situated, the procession of deer began.

Six bucks and nine or 10 does made their way past the deer hunter's position that afternoon. Two of the bucks he judged to be mid-130-class nine-pointers. Nice bucks for sure, but not ones you pull the trigger on the first day on stand in southern Saskatchewan.

When the trophy buck came out of the bush on the tail of a doe after dark, he knew I’d made the right decision to not shoot any of the bucks he’d seen earlier. The deer hunter couldn’t get a real good look at the bruiser’s rack, but he felt pretty sure it was the largest whitetail he had ever seen while deer hunting. The sight of that buck had him squirming in his seat all the next morning, when he saw only one doe while deer hunting in a different location.

He had to skip the afternoon hunt Nov. 11 to head two hours west to the airport in Regina to finally retrieve his hunting gear. Air Canada couldn’t deliver it to him because, as his luck on this adventure would have it, Canadian Customs had lost his baggage declaration form. Customs agents wouldn’t clear his bags for delivery, so he had to go pick them up in person.

By the third day of his deer hunt, he was finally equipped with his own hunting gear. It was nice of the other deer hunters in camp to loan him stuff, but you never feel totally comfortable unless you’re in your own hunting clothes, carrying your own rifle. That day, he passed on a nice eight-pointer on stand in the morning, and he couldn’t get a shot off at a huge 10-pointer that burst past him while another huning guide put on a drive in the middle of the day. A few small bucks meandered past me in the evening.

The deer hunter's plan for Day Four was to sit all day — sunup to sunset — in the shack that he occupied on my first outing, in hopes of crossing paths with that giant buck again. He saw two average eight-pointers and two does in the morning and then saw them again in the evening before darkness fell. Once again, the monster appeared only after it was too dark to shoot.

On his last morning, he insisted on returning to that same shack. He just couldn’t get that trophy buck out of his mind. It was still dark when he took up his position in the shooting house. After getting settled, he peered out to the main deer trail with his binoculars. The deer hunter about fell off his chair when he saw that same monster buck standing out there tending a doe.

He said about a thousand prayers to try to convince that tophy buck to hang around until it was light enough to shoot, but he walked off at 7:13 a.m. By his calculation, he could have shot him at 7:20. All he needed was seven minutes.

The deer hunter was wallowing in his bad luck around 9 a.m., when the hunting guide came barreling through the clearing in front of him in his truck.

“Come on,” he said in a harried voice. “We got a monster down.”

Knowing he was eager to get a few photos of a trophy buck, the hunting guide drove him about 20 minutes away to the spot where one of the other deer hunters had shot a huge, 180-inch, 14-point buck, as it was chasing a hot doe. Weighing 350 pounds and sporting that massive rack, it’s the largest deer this deer hunter ever photographed. They took about an hour to shoot pictures and then headed back to camp for a quick bite to eat.

By 1 p.m. he was back out in a shooting shack in a new location. Snow started to fall and he wondered if his bad luck would send him home empty-handed. The deer hunter was daydreaming around 2:30 p.m., when he looked out the front window of his ground blind and spotted a large-bodied 10-pointer standing 70 yards away. He never saw the deer approach.

Instantly, his heart kicked into high gear and his breathing became erratic. He opened the window, rested his 7mm Remington on the sill and trained the cross-hairs on the big deer’s chest. He took a deep breath, exhaled and then slowly squeezed the trigger.

At the shot, the buck jumped in the air, kicked out its hind legs and barreled off into the bush. He felt good about his shot placement and called the hunting guide on the radio to tell him the good news. When the hunting guide arrived, they tracked the buck from the spot it was standing when he shot it.

They found the nearly-300-pound deer piled up in about the last place the deer hunter saw it from his shack. It wasn’t the biggest buck he’d seen during the week, but it was a good one for a Pennsylvania boy on his last day in southern Saskatchewan while fighting a serious case of bad-luckitis.

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