Note: Deer & Deer Hunting Editor Dan Schmidt has just returned from a weeklong hunt near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. This is the third installment of a five-part blog series on his adventure. Check back each day this week for updates.
When you’re hunting a big-woods environment, this is how it happens. Hour after mind-numbing hour ticks by as you stare into a sea of nothingness. Then, out of nowhere, a deer is standing there in front of you.
That’s exactly how it happened on this trip. Thankfully, it only took two hours for me to see my first deer. And, oh my goodness, was he a giant. Not in the rack … in the body.
With my air-activated hand-warmers working overtime, I sat encased in my Heater Body Suit, fending off what was going to be a bone-chilling day in Saskatchewan. There was no place to look, really, other than straight forward. I couldn’t see but 40 yards, maybe, to the left or right of my blind. I think it was probably 9 a.m. (I was too cold to fish my cellphone out of my coat pocket) when I noticed a flicker of brown. And then … there he was.
You can’t really see it in this photo, but this buck was huge, trust me. The moment my Konus binoculars focused on the deer, I knew he was the biggest-bodied whitetail I had ever seen in the wild. His neck was swollen and his hindquarters were thick and long. His chest cavity seemed as big as an oil drum. He was "only" an 8-pointer. His rack was dark and wider than his ears, but his tines were short. It would be stretch to say that his rack gross-scored more than a 120 Boone and Crockett inches. I would have done backflips to get a chance at a buck like this at home or almost anywhere else. But here in Saskatchewan, he was a buck that needed to be passed.
The day wore on with several more similar encounters. Two more 8-pointers appeared just before I retrieved my frozen ham sandwich out of my daypack at noon. Then, at 3:30 p.m., a big-bodied 6-pointer made a visit to the alfalfa bale. When darkness finally settled across the woods, I had passed up eight different bucks. Not a bad day, I’d say.
Back at camp, we all gathered in outfitter Mo Heisler’s heated machine shop to admire the first buck brought into camp for the week. It was a dandy 10-pointer, probably 140 inches, with a body almost identical to the 8-pointer I had watched that morning. Imagine our gasps when we learned how that 10-pointer broke the meat scale after topping out at 300 pounds even (on the hoof). I guess there is a lot of truth to Bergmann’s Rule.
After hearing the happy hunter’s story told and retold, we all headed back to the camphouse for a hearty, hot dinner of roast venison, mashed potatoes, buttered rolls and homemade apple sauce.
The combination of the meal and an 11-hour sit in a cold ground blind made for a whole camp full of tired hunters.
TOMORROW: Part 4: "How Dark-to-Dark Deer Hunts Test Your Mettle"