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It was the spring of 2009 and I was out putting some hard miles on my hiking boots with my golden retriever Boone. We both loved looking for shed antlers. When I was lucky enough to find one, I would quickly snap a few pictures as it was when I found it. Then later, I would post them on the Alberta Outdoorsmen Forum (outdoorsmenforum.ca) for other people to see.

Then one day, I received a message that would change my life, I just didn’t know it at the time. Her name was Danielle and we started chatting and exchanging some stories about antlers we had found and hunts we had been on. It didn’t take long to realize we both had a lot of common interests and soon became really good friends and did a few shed hunts together.

Danielle was going to school in Montana but we made some plans for some archery hunts that next fall when she had a few breaks. We had a lot of fun together chasing elk and deer around in the Calgary bow zone but it wasn’t until November when we finally had some success. Just after settling into our stands one chilly morning, I had a doe lead a beautiful mule deer buck past my stand. I sent an arrow on its way, watching it disappear behind the buck’s shoulder before he took off crashing into the trees. Danielle heard my shot and sent me a text asking what just happened. After a couple of hours, she made her way over and we slowly followed the blood trail to our first animal together.

Our lives were heading in different directions at the time so we just remained good friends for the next few years.

After school was done and a stint working in the coal mines in Fernie, BC, Danielle was back in Alberta. I had drawn my mule deer buck tag in southern Alberta and I asked her to come along. We hunted hard for four days walking and glassing coulee after coulee looking for the right buck. Danielle finally spotted the one, as he stood up from his hiding place around mid-day. After a long stalk, we suddenly busted him out of his bed and I had to make a quick shot, thankfully putting him on the ground. There was something special about Danielle – she was my lucky charm.

Dave and Danielle first met on the Alberta Outdoorsmen Forum.
The next summer, I took Danielle to my favourite place, Nootka Sound, where I had been salmon fishing since I was just a small kid. Our friendship had slowly grown into a relationship and it was there out on the water that I asked her to marry me. Best decision of my life! We had a great time, caught many fish, and started making plans for the future.

The upcoming fall, Danielle and I were living together and well, she was four-months pregnant! That wasn’t gonna’ stop this girl from getting out hunting. She was still looking for her first archery buck.

We had built her a bail blind at the edge of a field where the deer were coming in. It was just before dark and I was sitting on a hill behind her when I sent her a text that there was a buck heading her way. I watched as it made its way right in front of her blind and then it stopped, looking directly at her. Suddenly, I saw the green streak of her arrow fly out of the blind and through the buck. I watched as it took off out of sight.

I couldn’t wait to get down there to celebrate! With darkness upon us, we decided it would be best to wait until morning to recover the buck. It was a long night to say the least. Just after first light, we were on the trail and found her beautiful velvet buck only 150 yards away!

The next fall, our son Tristan was only six-months-old and Danielle was up for her mule deer. With the help of her parents, we made the trip to our good friend’s place down south and set out looking for her first mule deer. With her mom in the truck, we set off with her dad looking for a nice buck for her.

After a good hike, her dad spotted an ancient old buck bedded with a harem of does. I had the camera rolling, as she made a perfect shot on her buck, tipping him over in his bed.

Soon, baby number two was on the way and we had a beautiful baby girl we named Autumn. We decided we wanted to have our own piece of land to raise our kids on so the search was on. We ended up north of Drayton Valley, closer to her family, and found a quarter of land to call our own.

Filming has always been a hobby of mine, I’ve been carrying around a video camera since I was twelve-years-old. There was an opportunity that came up with Wild TV to be a part of one of their shows called Rawhide. So, without really knowing what I was doing, I followed my family around with a video camera fishing from Nootka Sound for salmon to southern Alberta for antelope, Wainwright for bull moose, and on our own property for a deer that we call Homeboy.

We watched this buck all summer long and into the fall. We had numerous trail cam pics of this buck and I had some close encounters with him while archery hunting. With two kids, Danielle’s hunting time had drastically dropped off. I could see that she really wanted a crack at this buck.

Dave and Danielle with Danielle’s first mule deer buck.
As rifle season began, I came home from working up north and said it was her turn to get after Homeboy. She jumped at the opportunity and started sitting and waiting to get a chance at him while trying to get it on film by herself.

On November 11, it was cold and she headed out layered up for the sit. As she neared the field edge, she spotted some does working their way across the field when Homeboy showed up on the tree line. With the camera rolling, she waited until he made his way out to the field before stopping him and touching off her 270. She made a great shot and her buck barely made it back in the trees.

All the kids were rounded up and we made the recovery on her buck. Sharing that moment with our family and making memories that will last our lifetimes.

We have come a long way over the last 10 years and I would have never thought that finding sheds with my dog would have led me to my best friend and the love of my life with two amazing children. We still go salmon fishing every year, and hunting and looking for sheds. We live for the outdoors and the next big adventure! We have also started our own business called Legends Taxidermy and Skull Cleaning from home so I can be home more with the family.

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years has in store for us! ■


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