THE GIFT - Bruce's Big Buck Hunting Adventure

I wouldn't describe myself as being a great hunter although I have hunted since I was about 12 years old, that gives me about 57 yrs of experience. My hunting began in earnest when we moved out of the city to a small parcel of land on the outskirts of Thunder Bay. I spent most of my time exploring the bush surrounding our property. My father taught me how to use and care for a single shot 22 calibre rifle. In no time I was supplying the home with wild game. There was a good supply of rabbits, grouse, moose and deer to be had. I didn't start hunting big game until I was much older and have since bagged more than my share.

After spending 30 yrs on the Thunder Bay Police Force I retired to that same small piece of land to enjoy life and the wonders of nature.

My wife and I now run a boarding kennel on that same piece of land that I roamed around on since I was a boy. I spend many hours walking dogs on the trails and fields around that t piece of land. Game is still fairly plentiful and there has been quite an explosion in the Whitetail deer population over the last few years. I would think this is due to a moderation in temperatures and snowfall amounts.

About three years ago I encountered a large Whitetail buck while I was walking dogs. He was a handsome brute and sported a beautiful rack. I began hunting him but could never catch sight of him when I was carrying a rifle, it was almost as though he had a sixth sense that warned him I would be trouble. Funny thing was, let me put a dog on a leash and take a hike in the back forty and sure enough there he'd be standing there in front of me and all would be armed with was a cocker spaniel.

One morning I was about to set out for a walk with an American Staffy on a leash. It was a quiet misty morning with a gentle wind coming from the south, a real nice late October morning. I thought I'd check a field just around the corner from our kennel. I entered the field and started walking upwind being as quite and careful as I could. I marvelled at the surrounding area and the beauty of my surroundings. The smell of fall was in the air and a noisy Blue Jay started squawking a warning as I continued through the field, tough break I thought. I was half way through the field when I saw a silhouette through the mist about 250 yards in front of me. I was having trouble making it out, all I knew is it didn't belong there. I thought it was too big for a deer and the wrong colour for a moose. I froze in my tracks and shortened up on Jocks leash so he would lay down. I didn't want him to spook whatever it was I was looking at. The animal I was looking at slowly lifted his head and I saw that beautiful rack I'd admired on previous occasions. I stood perfectly still and watched the big guy. To my surprise he started walking up the side of the field, he hadn't seen me. I thought, where's my rifle when I need it. I dismissed the thought and continued watching this magnificent animal, he continued until he was adjacent to the spot I was standing on, about 75 yds away.

Score Sheet
· It Grossed 210 5/8"
· Net score 199 7/8"
· Score Sheet (.pdf)

I decided to break the silence and gave a couple of soft bleats. The king of the forest stopped dead in his tracks then started walking right at me. I continued watching and though he should notice something is not as it should be, but he kept coming. He walked to within 50 feet of me and stopped looking at me, I didn't move.

We stood almost what seemed to be nose to nose, my heart was pounding with excitement and I was enjoying this encounter, it was beyond belief. All of a sudden he finally decided that I was trouble he pawed the ground and waived that rack, turned and bounded off sounding the alarm. I thought to myself "One day big fella you're gonna make a mistake and you're gonna turn around and I'll be there", it's an expression that I'd used on those occasions in my police experience and some wise guy would be giving me a hard time but hadn't quite crossed the line. At any rate I left the field and thanked the lord for this incredible experience.

Later that same day I was over at my neighbours place and was relating the tale to him over a cup of coffee. He looked at me and said look over your shoulder, I looked at him and he repeated it so I took a look, there was that big beautiful buck in his back yard not far from his back door. He chuckled and said "looks like he's following you around". After he left I raced home and got my 270 and started stalking around in the bush behind my neighbours place, no sign of the big guy. On my way out I got a small buck so the day wasn't an entire loss. There'd be another day. That was during the fall of 2006.

During the fall of 2007 I encountered many deer during my walks, most of them were does and fawns. I usually leave them alone, they are nice to look at. I have them visit usually on a daily basis. I feed the deer during the winter months and enjoy watching them during their visits.

On Dec 6 2007 I was walking from the kennel to the house, I glanced to my right and my heart nearly jumped into my throat, there he was watching me. I looked away not wanting to make eye contact and walked to the house like I hadn't seen him. I ran down the basement fumbled around for my ammunition and unlocked my rifle. I thought to myself "he's gonna be gone but I better check anyway". I stepped out my back door and couldn't believe my eyes, he was still there. I slid a round into the chamber and dropped to my knee looking through my scope. I was almost hesitant about squeezing off the shot that would end the life of this magnificent animal but I hadn't had an opportunity to bag a buck this big in all my years of hunting. I watched him through my scope and thought "I told you you'd make a mistake", and took the 110 yard shot. He lurched and jumped over a snow bank disappearing into the bush. I rushed up and saw the blood spray and knew he wouldn't be far off. I waited about 10-15 minutes and started tracking him, I found him laying in the snow. Even in death he was magnificent, I counted sixteen points on that impressive rack, gorgeous is the only word to describe it.

I will be 70 yrs old on my next birthday and should I never get another White tail I won't be disappointed because I think I was given one that most hunters only dream of.

Bruce Flett
Thunder Bay, Ontario