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Hunting the rut for any species is always a special time, whether it’s the thundering bugle of a bull elk or a heavy neck rut-crazed buck, the anticipation of these boys making a mistake is always exciting.

A few years back, I was having the season one could only dream of. I had harvested my first ever mule deer with a bow, killed a bull elk the day after opener, spot-and-stalked a black bear and arrowed a moose all before the snow flew. All that was left was to hang my tag on an old dark-horned Alberta whitetail.

A few weeks into November, I was starting to get worried. I had taken some nice whitetails prior to this but no real monster and I wanted to complete this year with a whitetail that would fit the part, so numerous nice deer were passed on.

My cousin and good friend would accompany me on this cold dark November morning, as we decided to try a field that was Crown land and typically held elk and whitetail. As we left the truck well before first light, we started walking up a snow-covered hill making sure to stick to the tree line, so we wouldn’t be seen. As we crested the hill, we stopped to talk about what our game plan would be. Two would go left down and around the dip, and one would go right to continue the climb.

We waited for the sun to rise at our backs and then proceeded to hunt; the sun couldn’t come soon enough, as this day would be the coldest day that November.

As I crested the hill, I instantly saw a doe running to the left of me straight towards the other two so I hunkered down hoping a buck would be chasing her. As it turned out, there was a buck chasing her but coming up the tree line trying to cut her off where I couldn’t see. My cousin caught the movement but couldn’t shoot the buck, as it was on my side of the tree line coming right towards me so he hollered, “BIG BUCK!”

Mario's super Alberta Whitetail.
The doe got scared of my cousin’s holler and pulled a hard 180 degrees and was heading straight for the bush, which would bring them both in front of me no further than 150 yards away. So, as the age-old story goes, the doe runs by me with the buck following her. As I steadied my cross hairs on the deer that would complete an incredible year, I let out the infamous “BAHHH” sound and as I had hoped, the buck hit the brakes, turned, and looked at me broadside. It took a moment for me to find the mark, as I was extremely nervous because I had never had such a deer in my cross hairs before. The sun was shining on the buck and as he let the steam come from his nostrils one last time, the bullet traveled the short 150 yards and laid the big buck to rest forever, completing my year of hunting.

Not often that the antlers will grow as you walk closer to the buck, but these sure did and I was extremely happy with him. It ended a great year with great company. ■

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