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Last hunting season (November 2020) had been one of the most exciting yet disappointing seasons in my diary to date. Since the age of 14, I had been hunting my family’s land just east of Edmonton and shooting nice whitetail bucks each year without much difficulty. I’d learned the land over that time and could easily explain to you the routine of the general population of whitetails in my area. With basic knowledge of the land and deer habits, I found myself consistently harvesting nice whitetails in the 130-inch range. I’d always felt blessed for the opportunity to harvest so many Alberta whitetails, but after several years the results had become a little too predictable, and the hunts had even become a little mundane. I couldn’t sense that I was really improving and didn’t feel as if I was being challenged. I found myself growing increasingly discontent with simply shooting “nice bucks”. I needed to do something different.

In the fall leading up to last season, I picked up my first couple of trail cameras and set them up in good locations where I knew there to be heavy deer traffic.

My dad and I had finished fixing up the hunting stand before the season and I was ready to go at the start of November. On two different occasions that season, I was introduced to the buck my wife would infamously name “Trevor”. Trevor (who was the antagonist in one of her favourite television shows) was a fitting name as this buck was the baddest in the bush. Trevor was a tall 5x5 and very wide—an absolute trophy by my standards. On both occasions, Trevor evaded me as he stood on the wrong side of the fence (only 170 yards away) until mere moments after legal shooting had ended. Almost smugly on each occasion, Trevor would jump to my side of the fence and meander through the field.

Those two sightings tantalized me for the rest of the season. Although I didn’t see him again in person, his name grew in popularity around my home and close circle of friends. The two hazy pictures my cameras managed to capture only added to his mystique.

As November 30, 2020 came and went without me folding a tag, I felt oddly at peace. I knew that no other buck would satisfy the way that Trevor could so I was fine with waiting... waiting and praying that he would be around again in 2021. For the first time, I had a mission. I had selected a specific buck and all my efforts would go into hunting him.

As the middle of the November 2021 hunting season came and passed, Trevor still hadn’t made an appearance in person or on camera. Everything seemed to be locked down, as even the does weren’t coming out to feed until after dark. On November 21, I woke to see my hopes renewed. Trevor was alive! One of my cameras had caught him and his brilliant crown trundling by a scrape in the middle of the night. The hunt was on. But as the next few days came and went, Trevor refused to show himself.

When I left my house on November 24 for the evening hunt, frustration was beginning to set in. For a few nights in a row, the deer had refused to leave their refuge to feed until after dark. To add to the drama, several days earlier I was busted leaving my stand by a large mystery buck and was starting to doubt my effectiveness to hunt from that stand for the rest of the season. Battling those doubts, I returned to my stand. After a few moments of sitting, I pulled out my trusty Buck Roar and start to grunt. Not just regular sporadic grunts here and there, I grunted for about five minutes straight (ten seconds on and ten seconds off). If you had been in earshot of my stand, you’d probably thought it ridiculous (and definitely excessive), but I continued to grunt.

My stand sits in a field about fifty yards south of an east-west fence separating my property from the neighbour’s large bush section (where I had not received permission to hunt). Just after 3:00 pm and after five minutes of grunting, I saw a nice young 4x4 buck emerge from the large bush and enter the brushline just on the neighbour’s side of the fence. A moment later, a forkhorn came following behind. It was obvious that both were acknowledging the grunts. Then... I saw him.
It was his antlers first, as his body was hidden by a hill, but that’s all I needed. That wide, symmetrical rack that I’d seen so often in my dreams came slowly into view. Never had I seen him in broad daylight, not even on camera.

Trevor walked slowly onto the brushline with his head cocked to one side. My heart became uncontrollable, as he slowly worked his way up to the fence at about 175 yards. Just before reaching the fence (to my utter horror), he turned and began making his way away from me along the fence line.

“Was this really going to happen again?”

Trevor continued on about another twenty yards before he turned and cleared the fence. I could hardly believe it. The ideal moment. The buck I’d been dreaming of was broadside at about two hundred yards.

I squeezed the trigger... nothing happened. “Stupid safety,” I scolded myself.

Shaking it off, I set myself up again, and slowly squeezed the trigger.

The shot rang off. Trevor staggered, yet gathered himself as he was now staring directly at me. He just stood there. Studying me stoically as if to say, “Not today Mitch.” I wasn’t chancing it; I squeezed off another round... miss!

“Aagh, come on!”

I composed myself as best I could, raised my rifle, and put him down.

Mitch posing with Trevor.
Emotions were swirling as I climbed out of the stand and began my walk to where Trevor lay. I find those moments leading up difficult to explain. As my adrenaline refused to stop, the events of the last two years flashed through my mind like a slide projector until finally I arrived.

Overwhelmed with joy, I placed my hands on Trevor and thanked the Lord for that wonderful whitetail. It was a beautiful moment, a rare moment. Running my hands over the antlers, I marveled at his spread and symmetry. To have passed on him twice the year before made that outcome so much more special, and so much more rewarding.

He later unofficially measured in at 166 gross and 159 net points—at least 25 inches bigger than any buck I’d ever shot before. In the moment I had to laugh at myself, I’d finally shot the buck of my dreams and there was nobody even around to take a picture! But you know, now that I’ve had time to think about it, there really was no better way for the story to end. Him and I. Just the two of us. Trevor—a wonderfully personal whitetail that gave me two seasons I will never forget! ■

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