My family hunt camp is located in the heart of the fabled Laurentian Mountains, two hours north of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It has been a hunting and fishing camp in the Morrison family for 100+ years and the old saying, “knowing the woods like the back of your hand” is an apt expression for our hunt gang. It is the one big edge we have over other hunters in the area.
Even though our deer woods is situated on public land and host to many other deer hunters each fall, we remain successful in our deer hunting endeavours most years. Heavy competition on public land in this mountainous region has never gotten us down. Our strategy of finding “quiet corners” to pursue whitetails has paid off, as we have been rewarded with some nice bucks over the years.
It is a fact that most mature trophy bucks harvested in the province of Quebec are found on private land, with landowners getting first dibs. This is why the story of one special whitetail buck, which materialized (Monday) morning, November 4, 1996, is even more surprising!
The camp alarm clock shattered the silence at 4 a.m. on that fateful morning. Since I was assigned the job as catalyst for the gang, I dragged myself from my bunk and began preparing the “last breakfast” for the boys, while pondering our morning destination. It being my last morning to hunt in the 1996 season and last chance at a buck, I was eager to get to the deer woods. I thought perhaps a small chase close to camp would be wise. The particular chase I had in mind formed a natural funnel between two lakes, flanked by a stream on the east side. We had taken deer on this chase in the past, but had not hunted there as much recently due to the number of hunters frequenting the area. It was usually quieter in the woods after the weekend, so we gave it a shot!
As the chase began, I made my way along the creek bottom and back up on the ridge, slowly ‘zig-zagging’ my approach through the funnel. As I neared the halfway point of the chase; with a lake on either side of me, shots rang-out across water, to my left.
Crack! Crack! Crack! Three well-spaced shots, echoed across the lake, followed by two more shortly after.
“Sounds like the old man’s 30-06!” I thought to myself.
Something told me to run to the lake’s edge, in case any deer were trying to escape out of the chase. Making my way to the lakeshore I ran full out, clearing spruce and balsam branches from my face. That last shot seemed closer for some reason, just as I broke into the open lake edge. Wondering if my father had taken a deer, I could not believe my eyes when I arrived in the clearing.
I watched in near disbelief as the largest-racked whitetail buck I had ever seen swam across the end of the lake, near the beaver dam! I gazed for a moment in awe and bewilderment, but returned to reality as another shot hit the water 20 feet behind the deer!
“I better nail him quickly or he will be up on the other side and gone!” I thought.
I steadied my aim and squeezed one well-placed shot to the back of his neck and the big buck went down. With my heart racing, I sprinted around the end of the lake and across an old beaver dam, like a mink jumping from log to log. The buck was lying in a few inches of water when I yanked him up on the bank, just as my father arrived. Neither of us could believe the size and beauty of this buck’s antlers. He was a heavy 13-pointer, with long beautiful tines and sweeping main beams. As we hugged and shook hands all we could say was, “I can’t believe it!” over and over again.
The rest of the gang made their way to where we were with the buck. None of them could fathom a buck of this size existing here. After we field dressed my trophy, I examined him more closely. Being educated in fish & wildlife biology, I was interested in determining the big fellow’s age. To my great surprise, I discovered this old warrior had no front teeth at all, and his molars and pre-molars were extremely worn. I estimated the old buck with his sunken face to be between 7.5 – 8.5 years old, based on dental condition. We measured his main beams at just shy of 26 inches apiece, the outside spread of 23.5 inches and both G2’s measured between 11-12″.
I subsequently had the head caped-out and mounted, but it was not until I scored it myself that I knew it could be a new provincial record for the Buckmasters Trophy Records (BTR). Under the BTR system, the inside spread measurement is not included as it is deemed to be a measure of air not antler. The late Rick Poulin of Nepean, Ontario, scored the buck officially at 141 4/8 inches BTR in the typical category and discovered that it was the new Typical Provincial Record whitetail for the province of Quebec.
As we later discovered, my father was mere inches away from harvesting this great buck himself. One of his shots hit the deer squarely in the back of the main beam, where it had embedded completely without breaking the antler off.
The chuck of lead from Dad’s shot remains lodged as a reminder of that special day, in 1996, none of us will not soon forget!
If you enjoy hunting white-tailed deer, please read my feature on whitetail hunting in Michigan!