October 17, 2013
By Ben Thomas, Special to OutdoorChannel.com
GLASLYN, Saskatchewan Canada – Looking back, I am certain I was overthinking this deer hunt. It was my first trip to Canada to hunt whitetail, and I suppose like most of us, I had visions of a monster buck in my head. And with only one tag, I wanted to make sure I took the best buck I could.
Having no experience field judging or scoring deer, I had done my homework before I left. I watched an entire DVD series on how to age and score deer in the field, read articles online, and asked other hunters questions. I had a ton of information memorized on that first morning, but in the end, common sense and some good old fashion advice from my hunting buddy proved to be the most important.
At 10 a.m., a gorgeous 10-point walked out, (bigger than anything I’d ever seen in Arkansas). I was able to video him, study his rack with my binoculars and try to apply all the information I had learned. Trying to remember that due to the large body size on these Canadian deer, the horns look smaller; my best guess on this buck was in the 140 range.
But because my guide had told me there was a nice, tall 9-point on the game cam in my area, I decided to pass. I wish I could tell you I was confident I was making the right decision, but that little voice in my head was telling me I had messed up!
Things got a little slow after the last doe left around 11:30. The little voice that had told me I should have shot the 10-pointer was getting louder now.
I was texting back and forth with Patrick Fowler, my Arkansas buddy who was on the same Canada hunt. I sent him a text wondering aloud if I had messed up and let a good buck walk. His advice to me was simple; if another buck steps out and you say to yourself, “Holy crap that’s a good deer,” then take the shot.
At 2:03 p.m. the 9-point stepped out. My first thought was -- you guessed it --“Holy crap that’s a good deer!”
I didn’t have to use binoculars, and all my field scoring knowledge was quickly forgotten. I had to be patient as he stayed behind some brush for what seemed like forever (the video says it was only 4 minutes) before stepping out and presenting a clean shot.
Back at camp, my buck was scored at 160 gross. To be honest with you, I didn’t really care what the score was, I was ecstatic to have harvested this buck and I had learned something about myself.
Getting caught up in all of the numbers and its score had taken away from the whole reason I deer hunt. It had taken away some of the fun.
I like the fact that at 50 years old, my legs still shake when a nice buck steps out. That’s the real reason I hunt, not the score. From now on, my field judging has been simplified to the “Holy crap that’s a good deer” rule.
Go to 2013 Deer Camp