Whitetail 2012 Hunting Report
Well, what a year we had at our Deer Camp at Lac La Biche. Our snow started coming in about the third week of October and we had good coverage for the month of November. It did get pretty crunchy early in the season and was pretty noisy till mid-month when we finally got more snow to cover up that terrible loud crust a deer hunter just hates. We did ok though, we just moved hunters around less and minimized our footprint in the field. But that darn snow still hurt our success thru that first hunt. When I have nightmares, there is always crunchy snow involved!
Our first hunter was Abe Drury of Midland, Texas. Abe has been with me on many an adventure and is a first class hunter who can sure get it done. Abe had been hunting a great buck with Guide Clem Girard and his daughter Janelle Richards at their farm and the buck had either given them the slip or broken off a good part of his frame when Abe was finally able to get on the buck. Clem and Janelle had first got on this buck with trail cams back when this deer was about a year and half old and recognized it as having a different kind of rack with potential. Through much hard work, diligence and deer savvy, Clem and Janelle dogged this buck through the seasons and the years.
This was to be the year. The buck was now five and half years old, in the prime of life, his best rack ever, and all over the trail cams. Abe had booked his hunt early just in case the buck showed up and sure enough the trail cams began clicking pictures of him in late October.
Picture after picture came in and the net zero’d to where the deer was crossing to feed. Abe arrived to begin his hunt and he was reward when on the third day of his hunt, this spectacular palmated monster stepped out into a shooting lane and Abe dropped him with one clean shot. It was a testament to Clem and Janelle’s diligence, hard work, never give up ethic that resulted in Abe getting this buck.
They have literally thousands of trail cam pics of this buck, and pretty much babysat him through all those years while he grew this one of a kind rack. Thank you Janelle, thank you Clem, for making this a reality. It really is a stellar job of Guidesmanship that you displayed and I give you all the credit in tracking down this monster. Job well done.
The first full week of hunters saw some good bucks taken by both new hunters and our ever faithful long time clients. New hunter Mitch Beeson watched a 180 class buck just out of range on two consecutive days on an old power line just behind a fall rye field. Mitch was determined and on day 3 finally picked off the old veteran at close range to the stand. Good on Mitch to have the diligence and will power to wait out his great buck.
Tom Hanna didn’t have to wait long on his deer, he simply got into his stand, waited a couple of hours and killed a very impressive high 170’s monarch with one shot at very close range. Tom has been with us for many years, taken many trophies, and is a valued friend and client. Thanks for hunting with us Tommy.
Ed White hunted hard also with us and was rewarded with a buck I had been after for a couple of years at my own ranch. I had a good fall rye field and there was up to 80 deer in there some days. Bucks were coming and going all day and finally Ed saw the one he liked and made a great one shot kill at 280 yards. I love good marksmanship and Ed is at the top of my page with his kill.
My good friend and long time client, Gordon Birgbauer, who is 77 this year, returned again, always ready to hunt and give it his all, Gordon dropped a nice buck, again with one shot, and had another trophy for the wall. Gordon has been with us through thick and thin and is a valued member of our team. He is booked again for next year and I can’t wait to hunt with “C.C.” Birgbauer again. Thanks Gordie for all the hunting memories.
Michael Ferchaw, another friend and client, came and hunted with us again, and showed his sportsmanship with passing on a very solid high 150’s buck as legal hunting time had just ended. Mike had just hung up his rifle for the night when this heavy solid trophy walked out into the stubble. Mike watched him for several minutes and let him go. I admire Mike, for his restraint, and I know he will be rewarded for this on his next hunt. I run a legal operation and I appreciate hunters who don’t push the limits.
First time hunter Kurt Grates took a nice buck early in the hunt and saw better bucks in the fields while waiting for his hunting companions to tag out. Kurt has booked again and will now move up as a trophy hunter on next year’s hunt. Kurt is a great guy, a dedicated hunter, and I look forward to his return with us. I know Kurt will be with us for a long time. I appreciate his sportsmanship.
Remo Pizzagalli is another great sportsman and avid hunter with lots of worldwide experience. A nicer man would be hard to meet and Remo is always welcome around our campfire anytime. Remo passed on a deer with 7 inch bases and is entitled to do so. It wasn’t a high scoring deer and Remo has a certain deer in mind when he hunts. I sure appreciate Remo and I look forward to his next hunt with us.
I hunted with Tommy Baines this year for the first time, and I can assure you everything I have heard about Tommy is true. He hunts hard, is well equipped, is very diligent on stand and will do anything the guide of Outfitter needs him to do. Try as I might, I just couldn’t put Tommy on a big buck and I sure can’t fault Tommy in any way, the man hunts and hunts hard. Thanks for all the effort Tommy, I’d hunt again with you any day.
Week two opened up with more snow coming and it was sure welcome as a cushion on top of the corn snow we had to endure. Things quieted right down and we were able to move around much better. It helps a lot!!
They likely didn’t go far so James and I stalked down an old truck track thru the brush when James spotted the buck and doe. He carefully threaded a shot thru the trash and killed the deer, but as we walked up, we could see it wasn’t the priginal buck. It was a helluva stalk and shot, but somehow the trophy buck snookered us and gave us the slip. Not the first time a buck gets killed out of mistaken identity and not the last. James took one look, had a good laugh and said that it was probably the most drama and fun he had hunting a deer. Not quite what he come for, but it sure was memorable. James is quite the hunter in my books. Thanks James, you’re a great man to hunt with.
Jim Hutchinson is another great hunter. Quiet, steady and reliable, Jim came thru with a great shot on a very heavy horned deer with multiple “shark teeth” stickers on the browtines. Not a high scoring buck, but with 7 inch bases, it sure is a trophy. Look at all the deer you can in trophy rooms. The number one quality of any rack is mass and it is the hardest attribute to find. Jim’s buck has wonderful mass and he will be affine addition to the trophy room.
Dennis Deaver is another returning client and he sure knows how to hunt. Very diligent in the stands and a good guy in Camp. Dennis was hunting with Guide Darren Plamondon late in the hunt, the two were driving in the field to the stand when they spotted an absolutely great buck, high, wide and very heavy. The buck was tending a doe and barely escaped just before Dennis got the crosshairs on him. It was close!
Dennis ended up taking a solid five by five just at dark, but the memory of that tremendous buck will stay with both guide and hunter for a very long time. Those big ones just seem to have a lucky angel riding with them, they escape by the thinnest of margins sometimes.
Gary Guerrieri is another long time friend and client. Quiet and diligent, Gary is a student of deer behaviour and knows what he is looking at. I’ve always liked hunting with Gary, he is a master of stand hunting. Gary has high standards and knows what he is looking at when it comes to big racks. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find a deer big enough to meet those expectations and try as we might, the big bucks eluded us. And tat is whitetail hunting, the deer are masters of stealth and deception and sometimes it just isn’t meant to be in spite of the best efforts. Thanks for hunting hard Gary, I look forward to our next hunt. Trail cams will be out in force prior to your arrival.
Week 3 saw a cold snowy spell with new snow almost everyday. This sure helps to freshen up tracks and it helped bring deer out into the fields more. It also changed deer patterns and it made some previously great spots into dead ends. It was important to adapt to the changing conditions and follow the deer to where they had moved. It’s a never ending game with deer, scouting and constant situation appraisal is needed to make it all come together.
Mark Mills has hunted with me for about 26 years now and is an extremely good friend and a great client. He has made some tremendous shots and is a very good marksman. However, on this day, it just wasn’t to be. Mark and I were together in my back hay field when we saw an absolute jumbo buck. Great everything, a no-brainer. Mark took an impromptu rest and had about five seconds to kill a once in a lifetime monster. It was about 400 yards, which is a considerable distance. Mark got his one shot, but it just didn’t connect. The monster walked away into the big brush. I can still see him, in my minds eye and I’m sure Mark can too. We were both so disappointed, but this is deer hunting. The big ones show up unexpected and you make your best effort. Sometimes we win, sometimes they win. All you can do is keep hunting. Good try Mark, you’ve made these shots before and you’ll make them again. The big one just got lucky.
Kirk Winward is a wonderful person and a good hunter. He saw some real nice bucks while hunting with us, but wasn’t successful. He saw and passed on a big heavy 4x4 with double drops (short) and later had a chance at a big ole buck at longer range. Kirk is certainly a skilled shot and carries the best equipment, but Kirk had some bad luck intervene and the 170+ buck escaped with his life having dodged a bullet at 400 yards. I know Kirk can easily make this shot but Lady Luck frowned on Kirk and we will have to try again next year. Sorry Kirk, sometimes it just rolls that way.
Scott Doxey is another good hunter who has become a friend. Kirk had been seeing a real nice buck with what looked like double drop tines. Turns out had been busted off, but a forked browtine almost made up for it. Scott dropped this buck and had a mature trophy to hang on the wall. Good shooting Scott, you are a pleasure to guide. Thanks for all the help scouting after you tagged out, that made it even more enjoyable.
Dr. Ryan Cain sure had a good hunt. He also saw the whopper Mark Mills saw and had a chance at it too. It was again at very long range and the buck got lucky again. I have named him Horseshoes and I plan to see how good his luck runs next year. I suspect it will run out next November. I hunted with Ryan and we had a very long beamed 168 walk out on us at about 20 yards. A doe had lured him out and Ryan killed him at very close range. As I said before, sometimes they win and sometimes we come out on top, and that is just how it is when you hunt hard. This deer’s luck had just give out on him and Ryan had a great trophy.
John Lazzeroni is always a welcome hunter, he certainly adds color and character to our Camp and he always has his trusted Warbird that is an incredible rifle. You can’t say enough about Lazzeroni Rifles and John certainly knows how to reach out and touch a deer with his rig. Early on, John had a very nice 170+ 4x4 hang around his stand for about an hour and John let him walk, knowing we have better bucks. A couple of days later, at about 80 yards, a very nice 175+ buck jumped out onto the right of way thru the heavy brush and chased a doe for about a hundred yards before jumping off the track and out of sight. The buck never did give a good chance at his vitals and it was once again, a big buck getting lucky. Thanks John, we enjoyed you in Camp again and I look forward to next year’s adventure with you.
Clarence Bradley is a hunter I sure enjoy seeing coming up to hunt. A super guy and an easy keeper, I hope Clarence graces our Camp for years to come. Clarence filled a last minute cancellation for us but had a limited amount of time to hunt. Clarence made the most of his time and quickly dropped a 5x5 150 class deer in no time at all. Thanks for coming Clarence, I hope you can spend more time with us on next years hunt.
Dennis Schoonover is a prince of a man, and always welcome to come and hunt with us. Dennis killed a smoker buck with us last year and was looking for another whopper buck. Dennis hunted high and low and just couldn’t seem to find the buck that fulfilled his desires. He sure hunted hard and gave it everything he had doing everything I asked him to do. It just didn’t pan out this year, next year’s hunt will be fresh opportunities and I think Dennis’s luck won’t stay bad forever.
All in all, I think we had a very good year. Of course, my goal is to get every single hunter a great buck and it sure wasn’t for a lack of trying that this didn’t happen. All of our clients will attest to our honest efforts and good properties that we hunt on. Knowledgeable guides, good lodge and cook and lots of scouting on private land sure helps out in hunting superior bucks. In addition, many thanks to all the Guides, your hard work and diligence is noted and appreciated, not just by me but by all of our hunting clientele.
Best Wishes, Bob Irvine
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