Mule Deer, Elk and Western Big Game Hunting -

"Early Season Success"
Written by Eric Smith

Eric's Canadian Archery Trophy
Eric's buck is a 5x6 with a 31 1/2 inch spread, grosses 183 1/8 and nets 168 3/8 P&Y.
We, here in Alberta, are fortunate to have some zones set aside entirely for bowhunting. The Calgary bow zone is one of those. It is a diverse landscape consisting of coulees running off the hills down to the river bottoms, scattered hay and wheat fields, and woodlots of poplar trees.

I had begun my scouting in mid-June for the season opener of September 5, 2001. I believe scouting is an important ingredient if one is to be successful. Early in July, I was lucky enough to take pictures of two different mule deer bucks. Both were great bucks and I definitely planned to concentrate on them during my hunt.

By the time opening day arrived I had patterned both bucks and felt confident with my chances. It was extremely dry in southern Alberta, so I built a waterhole from a seepage in the ground, then hung one of my treestands nearby.
I hung the other treestand just off a main travel lane, along the edge of their feeding area. It was about 100 yards east of their main bedding area. Because of the south and west winds, I figured both stands would be best during the morning hunt.

Eric's Canadian Archery Trophy
The prevailing winds around Calgary are from the west, and that's what we had for the first eight days of the hunt. Because of the wind direction, I didn't dare sit in either of my stands, as I was afraid the bucks would catch wind of me. Instead, I spent those first few days spotting and stalking.
I was close on several occasions, but things never seemed to work out. On the evening of September 13th, I watched the weather report for the next day. They predicted that the winds would change and begin blowing from the east.
I arrived early the next morning and setup about 1/2 mile south of the stands. As the sun came up, I started to see deer on the ridge to the east.

Watching through a spotting scope I could see sixteen mulies. Some were feeding and others were bedded across the face of the ridge. After watching for about an hour, one of the two bucks finally showed up. He stepped out of a willow patch where he had been bedded. Even at 600 yards, he looked awful good!

Eric's Canadian Archery Trophy
Though there wasn't a breath of wind, I took a chance, and headed to my east stand. It was 7:55 a.m. when I got there. The winds were beginning to pick up again, from the east! Less than a minute later deer began feeding toward my stand. At one time I had thirteen deer in front of me feeding.

The big buck took me by surprise by coming in from the opposite side. I had to adjust my footing and shift my body completely around to my left, lucky he didn't catch my movement. When he turned and offered me a 47-yard, quartering away shot, I took it. The arrow hit the mark and passed completely through the buck. He ran about 20 feet, then walked another 20 yards before falling over. What an adrenaline rush! I damn near fell out of the stand!

My buck is a 5x6 with a 31-1/2 inch spread. After the 60 day drying period, he scores 183 1/8 gross and nets 168 3/8 Pope and Young, as a typical.

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

Click-a-Pic ... Details & Bigger Photos

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