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Access Alberta Outfitting & Guide Service



Alberta, Canada Whitetail Deer Hunt

 

By Dennis Wehling  

This story starts several years ago with a call to Garth Cater Hunter Services.  I called Garth to see where he thought I might be able to take a trophy whitetail.  Garth thought my best chance would be in Alberta Canada and recommended guide and outfitter Michael Terry of Access Alberta.  

I have taken whitetails in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas, but I had never taken a truly large whitetail buck.  Based on the recommendation of Garth I called Michael Terry for references and information on his hunts.  All the references said the same basic thing; they enjoyed their hunt, Michael was an honest and hard working guy and they had either taken or had opportunities to take trophy whitetails. They also said it could be cold in Alberta in late November.   

I booked my first hunt for six days in mid November and began preparing for the trip.  The first goal was to locate clothing that would keep me warm and dry while on stand.  In talking with Michael he said he used ground blinds, tree stands, still hunting and drives depending on the deer and the hunters’ ability.  The only clothing that seemed to meet all the needs was wool and the best I could locate was King of the Mountain in their blow-down camouflage pattern.  Wool clothing is quiet and the camo pattern was an excellent choice for Alberta.  The rifle I would use was a McMillan Signature Sporter in 300 Winchester Magnum.  

During that first trip I saw numerous bucks and everyone around me seemed to be taking nice bucks, but as a trophy hunter I was having a hard time telling great bucks from good bucks. The bucks always seemed to be moving or were screened by brush. Michael suggested that if I saw a buck with three points up and heavy dark mass I should shoot.  The next problem when hunting in Alberta is the bucks always seem to be standing in some sort of brush that makes seeing points and mass difficult.  Hearing all of this Michael set me in a ground blind on a power line cut. Michael thought the deer would cross just behind one of the power poles.  I used my range finder and the power pole was 300 yards even.  Right at dark I looked up the power line cut and saw a buck crossing right behind the power pole just as Michael had said.  I could see good dark mass, but he kept turning his head and I was unable to count points.  He looked awful far way in my 3 X 10 scope which was set on 10 power. He seemed like a good buck and I decided to take a shot out the window of my ground blind. At the shot the buck jumped and was gone.  As I walked up the cut line I was pretty sure I had missed the buck judging by his reaction.  Upon reaching the deer trail I noted no blood and only one small patch of brown and white hair from the bottom of the chest.  I had shot under him!  I then looked back at the power pole which was now 70 yards behind me.  The shot had been at 370 yards not 300 yards and I had missed.   From the ground blind I didn’t realize that the power line cut flattened out right behind the power pole and the game trail was actual 70 yards further than it looked.  I still dream of that buck and my missed opportunity.   During that trip I made friends with another hunter Chris Aldridge from New York State.  During the trip Chris had taken a nice whitetail and a bull moose.  Chris and I had a great time and we both enjoyed Michael’s company.  After Chris filled his tags he would help Michael do drives and locate new stand sites.  It seemed like every night Chris had a story of seeing numerous bucks and finding a new stand sites.  It was a great trip, but in the end I did not fill my tag.  My memories were of a great buck standing in the snow and some new friends. 

Over the next few months I felt I had enjoyed my trip to Alberta more than any previous guided hunt.  It seemed that every time Chris, Michael and I were together that we truly enjoyed each others company and our time together.  I then talked to my wife about hunting Alberta again and she said okay, but reminded me that I had not taken a deer.  I told her that was true, but I did have numerous chances and that a true trophy hunter must pass lesser deer in order to take truly great deer.  However maybe I should book a 12 day hunt and increase my odds.  I got her blessing to book the last 12 days of November and celebrate Thanksgiving with the family upon my return.  I must say that none of my hunts would be possible with out a great wife that supports this crazy passion.  She always supports me, but that doesn’t means she understands it.  

Upon arrival at camp Chris and Michael had set up some stands and Chris had been hunting the previous week in the same area he had seem a monster.  He said he was” still” hunting through the area and saw a buck was standing with his head in a pine tree watching him.  Chris thought it must be the monster and shot.  Well it was a nice buck but not the one Chris had seen previously.  Chris said I should hunt the same area that he and Michael had placed a stand and it overlooked 25 deer trails coming together at the end of a slough.  I kept asking Chris how will I know this monster buck if I see him.  Chris would just look at me and say you will know.  The first night another hunter killed a 162 class buck.  Two nights later another hunter killed a 164 class buck.  I hunted all 12 days from light until dark and passed several nice bucks waiting for a monster which never came by.  As the days went by Michael started asking and trying to find out just how big of buck it was going to take for me to really shoot something.  I tried to explain that I found hunting enjoyment does not necessarily come because I shoot something.  I find it is the adventure and the people I meet along the away and sharing in their success is what makes a great trip. 

Over the next few years I hunted Alaska and Africa which did not allow the time to also hunt Alberta.  Finally I called Michael again about me and a friend hunting Alberta in the fall if we did not draw any special tags.  Michael said he had only one opening and I decided to pass until I knew what I had drawn.  After the drawings I decided I did have time and called to book that last spot.  Michael told me he was already booked and suggested the next year.  I booked a trip for the following year and thought that just might work out better anyway.  I decided to spend my time playing guide for family and friends.  In early November Michael called to say Chris had to cancel and wondered if I was still interested in hunting Alberta.  The next few days where spent changing vacation days around, booking airline flights, filling out paper work and packing for a quick trip.  I managed to book an 8 day trip just prior to Thanksgiving and I was determined to shoot something on this trip.  Over the first few days the hunting was slow with only a few bucks seen.  I enjoyed seeing Michael again and he had a new assistant along on this trip.  His assistant was his dog “Bell” who according to Michael is a French Water Dog.  She looks more like a standard poodle to me. He uses Bell to track wounded game, track lost hunters and drag a sled with blinds and tree stands in it.  On the third day Michael took me to a new location.  We walked in and set up a tree stand at a preselected spot in the thick bush just off a field.  Bell brought in the stand!  As Michael left he basically said be real still and watch for deer in front of you, off the left and off to the right.  Oh there is a good runway right behind you also so watch that to.  Basically sit real still and don’t move and watch 360 degrees around the stand.  Easy if you’re an owl!  As Michael and Bell left I climbed into the stand and began getting ready.  I hooked up my safety belt, hung my rifle on a hook raised my pack and got my deer call, water bottle and coat out which I also hung on the same hook as my rifle.  When I turned around 50 yards away stood a great buck just watching me get set up.  He had good mass, but I was unable to count points but I was sure he was a shooter.  He had seen my movement, but wasn’t sure what I was.  There was no way that I could get my rifle off the hook and loaded when it was buried under all my stuff without spooking the buck.  The buck just walked off while I stood there with a stupid look on my face.  After the buck walked off I quickly got set up, turned around and set my rifle in my lap.  I kept thinking I should have known better and should have been ready for a shot has soon has I got in the tree.  A three year wait and I just let a buck of my dreams just walk away.  Then about 15 or 20 minutes later here came a good eight point buck walking in from a different direction and he walked to the same spot the first buck was standing to check a scrape.  I let him to walk away.  30 minutes later a bigger eight point buck just showed up at the scrape.  He had come from another direction and then walked over to check another scrape a few yards away.  I thought I must be in buck heaven.  I kept remembering what Michael said “three points up with heavy dark horns”.  After waiting about an hour I was glassing through the trees off to my left when I saw movement about 175 yards away.  It was the buck I had been looking for.  He was sneaking along a little ridge and had good mass with three points up.  As he continued sneaking along the ridge there was only one small opening in which to shoot.  As he neared the ridge it was now or never.  I had about a six inch opening and he was moving all the time.  Has he walked into view I shot.  Once I reacquire the sight picture again I could still see him standing there.  My thought was he must have stopped at the shot and I missed or hit a limb along the way.  I quickly shot twice more.  After the third shot the deer was still there, but had not moved.  I began looking closer at what I could see and I could see blood.  The first shot had dropped him in his tracks and a bush that was holding him upright.  All three shots had hit him. Once I climbed down from the stand I spent several minutes looking for him on that little ridge before I finally located the buck of my dreams.  He was a 10 point buck that green scored over 160.  I set up my camera and began taking some pictures.  I called Michael on the radio to tell him I had shot a buck and I would meet him and Bell back at the truck.  Back at the truck I met Michael and told him the story, but being the type of guy that does not get to excited Michael thought I must have shot a smaller buck since I wasn’t showing a lot of emotion.  Upon reaching the buck I don’t know who was more thrilled me or Michael.  He had patiently waited three years for this Colorado hunter to finally get the buck of his dreams. 

I would like to thank Michael Terry and his wife Deborah for not only a great hunting trip but the friendship which as developed.

Equipment used 

McMillan Signature Sporter 300 Winchester Mag

Federal 180 grain Barnes MTX Ammo

King of the Mountain wool camouflage clothing

Swarovski 8X30 Binoculars

Swarovski 2x10 Rifle scope

Sorrel - 100 below boots

UnderArmor cold gear

Arctic Shield over-boots

About the Author: 

Dennis Wehling lives in Larkspur, Colorado with his wife Vicki and their black lab Taz.  Dennis just retired with 31 years in the fire service in south Denver.  Vicki owns her own emergency medical billing business.  Vicki and Dennis enjoy traveling, camping and fishing.  Vicki loves to pheasant hunt with their black lab and Dennis loves all hunting.