By Kent Danjanovich Senior Editor
The Canadian providence's of Alberta and Saskatchewan are well known for their great hunting opportunities. Black bears are plentiful and moose and mule deer are also sought after species throughout the farmlands and forests north of our U.S. border. But, the object of most hunters’ dreams when booking a trip to this part of the world is for the opportunity to harvest a monster whitetail during the rut.
Well, when we were putting together the line-up of prizes for our Pro Membership Sweepstakes, of course one of the first things we secured was a prime-time rut hunt with one of our premier Platinum Approved Outfitters, Ranchland Outfitters, located about three hours north of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Rob Reynolds not only runs one of the best waterfowl operations in Canada, but also has access on his big game side of things to some of the best deer hunting property as well. So, the dates were set for November 6-13, 2016 for a lucky winner to accompany me on a trip of a lifetime in search of a bruiser Alberta whitetail.
Sportsman’s News Pro-Staffer, Kevin Orton took this great buck on our first visit to northern Alberta.
Mike Schafer of California was chosen as the lucky guy and soon plans came together for us to meet up in Edmonton on the afternoon of November 6th. Rob had arranged for us to meet up with three other hunters coming in from Tennessee and had an SUV waiting for us in the parking garage. After a quick stop at the local sporting goods store for a couple of items, we were off on our drive to the lodge in Elk Point.
Rob called us on the way and told us to drive directly to their restaurant in town for dinner. Italian night was waiting for us and after we all of course ate a little more than we should have, Rob filled us in on what was in store for us on our first morning and then we headed to our lodging accommodations nearby for a good nights’ sleep.
Mike and I were up before my phone alarm went off at 5am. Temperatures were forecasted in the low 50’s during the next few days, not exactly prime temps for getting the big boys in the rutting mood in early November in Alberta, but sometimes you just have to take what you are dealt. By 5:30am we were loading our gear in the truck and heading to our tower blind about 20 minutes from town.
As soon as the sky started to lighten to the east, deer started to move along the tree lines around us. First a couple of does, then a young buck following with his nose to the ground. An hour later, Mike spotted a pretty good buck about 150 yards to the east of us. Minutes later, another buck suddenly popped into the picture. Soon the first buck worked his way into the trees and the larger buck turned and also went out of sight. All was then quiet for a few minutes.
All of the sudden, only fifty yards from our blind, a buck darted across the small opening between the tree. Hot on his trail was the larger buck and this time we were able to get a little bit better look at him and some footage on the Sony as well, as I was filming Mike’s hunt for an upcoming edition of SNTV. This larger buck looked even better up close and personal as we both thought we saw a hint of a drop tine on his right side. But the encounter only lasted a few seconds and although Mike may have been able to take a quick shot, I would not have been able to get it on film because of the angle of the sun.
The rest of the day was pretty quiet, with a few does wandering through and a couple of younger bucks peeking through the trees just before dark.
Days two, three and four offered much of the same. Warmer than normal temperatures, resulting in minimal deer movement. Day five arrived with nighttime temps at least finally getting down into the mid-'20s. Right at light, a solid eight-point emerged right below us from our left. He worked his way behind our blind and again gave us an opportunity for some good footage. All of the sudden, Mike saw something move to his right and as he turned his head he froze and whispered, “The drop-tine buck is right outside my window!"
Ever so slowly, I turned my head and sure enough, there he was, not forty yards in front of us looking right at our tower stand. I quietly moved my camera into position and as I clicked it on, I looked over at Mike and he was mouthing the, “What do you think” words and my answer was a whispered, “Take Him!"
It seemed like an eternity, but in reality was only a few seconds later, our buck started to take a few more steps away from us and then again turned broadside and gave us another stare. Mike clicked off his safety and rested his cheek on his rifle. His .270 sent its payload perfectly to the intended target and the familiar high-kick of a whitetail buck resulted in a mad dash for the trees. As he entered the tree line, he lost his balance and slammed into a solid Alberta hardwood and 20 feet later, he was down for the count.
Mike Schafer of northern California poses for a great photo with his Alberta drop-tine buck.
I quickly moved my attention from the deer to my hunter and as you can imagine, he was all smiles! His first Canadian whitetail was down and it was a beauty. After four and a half days of sitting and waiting, it had happened so fast, it took both of us a few minutes to let it all set in, then we climbed down out of the stand to check out Mike’s prize.
Mike was first to his buck and as soon as he got close he uttered, “He’s a great buck and he’s got a bunch of junk along with a great drop-tine on his right side”. I couldn’t be happier”! A quick call to Rob and thirty minutes later, we were loading Mike’s trophy into the back of the truck and headed back to town.
The next evening, our last of the trip, two of our new friends from Tennessee were able to also fill their tags with two great Alberta bucks as well. In fact, one of them actually looks a lot like Mike’s buck, with a drop-tine on its right side and with even a wider overall rack as well. What a great conclusion to another exciting adventure with Ranchland Outfitters in northeastern Alberta, Canada.
Well, there you have it, another great success story of a lucky winner from our Pro Membership Sweepstakes. Mike Schafer was able to experience a true adventure of a lifetime by just taking a few minutes and signing up at www.promembershipsweepstakes.com
. And not only did he win this exciting trip, he also took advantage of one of the other perks of his membership and booked a trip for brown bear in Alaska in 2016 and saved an additional 5% on that trip, which was enough to cover the cost of his membership for the next three years! Yes, membership does have its privileges. If you’re not a member, you are really missing out on some unbelievable adventures. Who knows, maybe you will be joining us on this same adventure in 2018 as we will be adding another hunt with Ranchland Outfitters to the mix. And if you want to partake of what they have to offer in 2017, give Rob Reynolds a call today at 877-924-8440 to talk about all of the possibilities.