Destination: North-Central Saskatchewan
Outfitter: Grant Kuypers’ Buck Paradise (Americans must by law hire a guide; Grant is the man)
Dates: October 22-28, 2007
Conditions: Warm to hot, high winds, moon waxing to full
Day 1: Last Monday, after a 15-mile boat ride across Green Lake and then a steep hike up ridges and benches, I climbed into a blind at 7:00 a.m. and climbed back out at 6:15 p.m. Long sit without seeing a deer; that’s why they call it hunting. Highlights: saw a weasel, heard wolves howl at dark.
Day 2: Same spot. One doe at 9:00 a.m.; 130-class buck at 11:30, 6-point dink (no brow tines) at 2:00.
Day 3: New ridge a mile down the lake, a spot my guide Sheldon had found with lots more rubs and scrapes. Incredible heat—upper 60s and 70s, unheard of for Sask. in late October; I hate to admit it, but Gore is probably right about global warming. No deer until 11:30, then a doe and 5 bucks (100 to 125”) over the next 2 hours. Heard a shot at 12:10; what did my pal Troy Ruiz of Primos Calls shoot? Some of the hardest midday full-moon deer movement I’ve seen in years.
After boat ride back, I give Troy a bear hug and admire his 152” 10-pointer, awesome buck.
Day 4: If there was ever a day NOT to kill a big deer this was it. Still hot, though a dry front moved thru overnight and kicked the temperature back into the 50s. Moon ginormous in the black sky, 100% full. Winds gusting to 40 and 50, damn dangerous in the woods. Poplar and birch trees crack and fall; the ones I can see appear to fall in slow-motion, the ones I can hear make booms and crashes; if a big one crushed my blind it would maim or kill me. Think about saying the hell with it and hiking down to the lakeshore—I’d rather live than shoot a buck, but I sit tight (what drives me I don’t know, but you have it too, right?).
Bucks don’t move in high wind, right? Wrong. At 2:00 big rack on the ridge! I don’t glass long or much. Muzzleloader roars; buck kicks and runs off low and hard, a good sign, a heart shot.
Find the 300-pounder 50 yards away. Another incredible Canadian giant, not wide but tall and heavy, the same genetics of the 181-incher I shot 5 miles down the lake 2 years ago. Kin? If the right side of this buck’s rack was as strong as his left side, he’d go 170; still, 160-class beauty, main-frame 10 with a couple of cool stickers. But no drop tine, lol.
Sheldon comes with the boat; we load the giant and motor off. Wind still howling. “She’s 5-foot waves, we’ll take her slow, if you went down in this water you’d maybe have 3 minutes,” he hollers as the aluminum boat pitches and slams down, icy spray pluming over the bow. I finally see the lights of the lodge, look at the buck in the bow and give a little prayer.
Day 5: It’s calmer on the lake as Sheldon and I motor back to the first spot I hunted to check his Cuddeback. The first image is my buck, snapped at 5:49 p.m. on the 3rd day; had I stayed with that blind I would have killed him 20 hours earlier (or maybe not). Heck, you never know.