This season is turning into a very good year for me on the whitetail front. Buck No. 3 fell this week in the Porcupine Hills of southern Alberta, Canada.
The mission was to test new product that will be out next year from Federal Premium Ammunition. It’s still in the prototype phase, so I can’t tell you exactly what I was using until after the New Year, but I can tell you it was highly effective. The 5x5 whitetail dropped in his tracks at 115 yards. On the video for "North American Hunter-TV" you can see two clouds of steam escape from the buck’s nostrils as his legs fold under him. It makes absolute truth out of the old saying, “We let the steam out of him!” This was the first animal ever taken with this new ammunition.
The hunt was with Frank Wesley’s Sundown Outfitters out of Lethbridge, Alberta. Frank specializes in big mule deer, but the same country holds some great whitetails that are unpressured. Federal's Drew Goodwin was hunting mule deer on the same trip. Check out the video of his moment of truth with a 175+ -inch muley buck below:
When we arrived the rut had not yet started, but we were there when it began and each day it progressed. And like so many others, that was my buck’s downfall. Before daylight "NAH-TV" producer Lonnie Garland and I had climbed above a series of timber and brush bowls, which we knew held whitetails. Slowly we moved along just below the skyline, stopping to glass the feeding fields at the bottom of the draw with the intent of spotting deer moving toward their bedding areas. Then we’d either get into position to intercept them, or watch them bed and stalk them there.
We’d seen some does and a couple of small bucks when we spotted a better buck working a scrape at the end of the brush line below us. We tried to determine the direction he was moving, then hot-footed it over another ridgeline to get in front of him.
Just as we approached the crest of the hill where we thought we’d be able to see them again, another small buck trotted across the bluff in front of us. He only gave us a split second to get a look. I didn’t think it was the same deer we’d just glassed, so we sat down to wait for him.
It kept nagging at me whether it was the same buck we’d glimpsed or not. When he didn’t show up in 10 minutes, I figured we’d better go back and see if he was still on the scrape line. This time we moved into position higher up on the ridge, tighter to the cover, so any deer looking up the hill would have a more difficult time seeing us.
After 10 more minutes without seeing the buck again, we were about ready to move to the next bowl when we heard crashing in the thick timber above us. It was deer moving. We slowly turned the camera behind us and captured another buck scraping, rubbing trees and herding does. From what we could see through the brush, it looked like a shooter.
For 20 minutes the deer cut circles through the patch of fir trees and scrub brush. I grunted, snort-wheezed and even lightly rattled at them. They’d move and the buck would grunt in reply, each time in full cover.
Eventually, the does had enough and eased out of the end of the cover to our left and headed downhill. The buck was trailing them. There were four windows for shooting, but I couldn’t get him to stop in any of the first three. Finally, in the last window where the hill dropped away into the brush, he stopped.
The crosshairs were on his shoulder. I took in a breath, let it half out and squeezed the trigger. The buck collapsed. That made three dead bucks so far this year, and in combination they didn’t move 3 feet from where they were hit! That’s a good start in my book.