It was the first day of the 2007 rifle season in beautiful Manitoba, Canada. I was out hunting all archery season and was unable to successfully fill my tag with any sort of deer, buck or doe. So naturally I was raring to go when rifle season hit.
Normally on the first day, my two brothers, Shaun and David and I usually stay around the property where we grew up, and normally we are able to get something decent in size, but will take a doe or two as well for meat. But the last couple of years, we started hunting with a group of guys, consisting of my brother in law Ryan, his dad Bob, as well as Bob's cousin Jim and his buddy Fred.
The terrain that we frequent on these hunting trips is quite different from the normal terrain where we grew up, which mostly consists of poplar forests with mixed swamps, and virtually no hills to be found, which is pretty amazing considering our new hunting territory is only a 20 minute drive from our usual hunting spot. Boggy creek runs smack through the middle of our newest hunting territory, with steep hills surrounding the property. There are 5 groups of super thick, hilly clumps of bush with most of them being surrounding by open clearings. Our usual plan of attack is to start in one bush and push it towards a couple of hunters sitting on post on the other side, eventually pushing the deer in one big circle and back into the last bush in the centre of the property.
Being the first day I was in no hurry to sit post as the rut hadn't quite started, and I wasn't expecting anything too big to come out anyways. It wasn't until the last push of the day that I was willing to sit post, as this push usually produces more than any of the other bushes pushed because eventually, all the bushes are pushed towards this last bush. I was posted on the south east corner of the bush, hiding behind a pile of logging waste, which was no higher than about 3' tall. Kneeling on the ground, with no shooting rest, I was uneasy of my post and was unsure as to even getting a shot off if by chance I did see something.
It was about 6 or 7 minutes into the push when I heard a stick snap in the bush just in front of me and a bit to my left, I could see a doe streaking towards me, to which I said to myself, relax it's only a baldy, no way are you shooting her on opening day. She materialized out of the woods not 30 yards to the west of my position, running directly past my post, perfect for a shot, had she been a nice sized buck. While thinking this all of a sudden there was another snap and some rustling leaves…. what's this…. another doe? Nope, a nice 5 x 4 blazing right towards me! It was all I could do to shoulder my rifle, acquire the target, and squeeze the trigger!
It was instant... his hindquarters dropped to the ground, I could tell by the impact that he wouldn't make it too far. The shot having mangled a rib going in, just a little farther back than what I would call a perfect shot. Having shot him while he was on the run across an opening of no more than 50 yards, it was the only chance that I had! I quickly chambered another shell, in that instant he heard the cartridge jingle as I smoothly, but calmly reloaded. He turned his head, in all his magnificence, staring straight at me as if to say "You are definitely not the better man, and I am not giving up." And with this managed to find his back legs again, got up and stumbled about 15 yards, fell over and expired.
YES!!! WOOOHOOO!!! The following silence after my shouts of triumph seemed to last forever, I could not wait to show my newest trophy to the rest of my hunting party, as this was my biggest whitetail I had ever taken. I started the task of field dressing and gutting my prize as the rest of the crew made their way through the thick forest towards the location of my rifle's blast. It was surely a great start to an awesome whitetail rifle season. By the end of the season, most of us managed to get a nice sized buck, those who didn't were happy to fill their tags by taking a doe to fill the freezer.
I had him scored at our local deer head contest, with a score of 119 and 4/8 typical, it was surely my largest to date, but definitely won't be my last, I look forward to beating my record this fall!
Location: Carberry Manitoba, Canada, General Rifle Season 2007.