by Kevin McNeil
I have three loves in my life: 1) family, 2) waterfowl, and 3) big whitetail deer! Growing up in the province of Alberta, I have been fortunate to be around big whitetail bucks for most of my life. At an early age, I was bitten by the big whitetail bug. Of course, it’s hard not to catch the “disease” living in the Peace River area of northern Alberta, where mega-Canadian whitetails inhabit the frozen timberland.
Recently, I felt the burning desire to harvest a giant buck, and set off to do so. Over the course of a year, I looked for a worthy buck. Eventually, I discovered and named the “Hog Buck.” Big as a hog, the name for the giant whitetail came easy. I had encountered sign of the big buck’s presence the previous winter. The buck’s territory was well fortified by some four square miles of poplar and swamp spruce, and was surrounded by fields of alfalfa and wheat. Within, rubs as big as a man’s arm, as well as numerous, large-sized scrapes on several field edges made it evident that this was a buck worth hunting in the fall.
Big bucks here in the Peace River country usually die of old age. Bucks are seldom in the same place at the same time on different days, which makes it tough to pattern them. This buck had four different options for feed and five different groups of does; he would be a challenge to say the least.
I had positioned several ground blinds in late October, each would be productive depending on the wind on a given day. The hunt finally rolled around, and I took to the blinds every chance I got. After three days in the blind, I had an opportunity at five different bucks, all of which were 140+ deer, but no hog.
Day four greeted me with two inches of new snow, followed by a cold, wet sleet blowing hard from the north. There went my so-called perfect conditions for big whitetail deer hunting. With every step I took in the crusted snow, it sounded like I stepped on corn flakes on my kitchen floor; there was now little chance of sneaking in to my stand unless the deer I was hunting had forgotten to turn on his hearing aids.
I decided to sit a blind on a small hill on the edge of a large wheat field where I could glass along the edge of the lake between the connecting wheat field and the big timber. At about 8:45 AM, I saw some deer run into the big timber by some red willows a half-mile to my south. They were obviously heading back to the bush to feed, and probably to bed down.
I moved down the field to a spot where the willows went into a narrow strip in the field. I waited until I was able to pick up a deer chasing and moving around through the scrub poplar and red willows. It looked like the big buck chasing some of his ladies friends around the tress looking for some companionship on a cold November morning.
After about fifteen minutes had passed, and once I was sure the deer were committed to their direction of travel, I circled around behind them, allowing the wind to blow my scent away from the deer. Within moments, I could hear the snow giving way underneath the hooves of running whitetails—the big buck was chasing his does right towards me! Quickly, the Knight 50 caliber smoke-pole was on my shooting stick, and aimed in the general direction.
First came a couple does, a good 140-inch 5×5, and then a larger buck. Not sure who was chasing who at that time, I used my doe call to stop the gigantic buck. As soon as the buck stopped, all I heard was “thwap;” it was a solid hit. The buck took off in the direction where he had just come from. I decided to wait for fifteen minutes before I went to look for him. Later, as I stepped out of the willows, I was able to see the chocolate main beam of a high, heavy buck sticking out of the stubble. It was not the “Hog Buck,” but it was a magnificent 6×7 that gross scored 171 Boone and Crockett inches.
Another season ends with a gigantic Peace River Alberta whitetail buck.
Kevin is the owner of Blue Sky Outfitters in McLennan, Alberta, Canada. His hunting area is indisputably one of the premier waterfowl locations in North America! Throughout the waterfowl season, Kevin’s clients hunt Canada geese, Snow geese, Speckled geese, Mallard ducks, Pintails and Widgeons as they stop to fuel up for their long flight south. Kevin also guides a limited number of deer hunters. If interested, give him a call to discuss a hunt; office: 780-324-2080 or cell: 780-536-7290.