By Ed Huff
Ed Huff of Lake Whales, Fla., poses beside his awesome Alberta buck, winner of the 2006 Golden Laurel Citation
On the second evening of our six-day hunt in Alberta, my hunting buddy, Robert Hedges, guide Clayton Royer and I left camp on four-wheelers for the 3-mile ride to our stands. Robert and I were going to hunt heavily traveled deer trails on opposite sides of a natural water hole deep in the timber.
The stands were approximately 50 yards apart, but not visible to each other. Robert and I chose to hunt there due to their location and our desire to share the hunt.
Little did we know that it would be a hunt we would never forget.
It was warm that August afternoon. By the time we walked from the four-wheelers to the stands, I was sweating. As I climbed the 12-foot ladder and prepared for the hunt, I mopped the sweat from my face and sat down to cool off. Before I could, I heard something moving in front of me.
I thought about standing, but then dismissed the notion. It was just too early and warm for a buck to move.
One minute later, however, I saw half of a massive set of antlers bobbing along the trail behind some willows. I wished I’d stood up and got ready. This buck was obviously a shooter.
When the deer was seconds away from an opening, I stood, grabbed my bow and turned 90 degrees to prepare for the 15-yard shot.
With my eyes riveted on the buck (all the while trying to ignore those antlers), I started turning on my platform. I was relatively calm because the deer’s nose was to the ground.
As I attached my release and made my last step on the platform, the stand squeaked and my heart lurched into my throat. The buck — 15 yards away — looked straight up at me. For the first time, I noticed how big he was, since all I could see in my shooting window was antlers.
So much for remaining calm! My broadhead was doing figure 8s, like a child playing with a sparkler, because my bow hand was shaking uncontrollably. I closed my eyes to avoid further visual contact and tried to breathe normally. I also prayed for an opportunity to draw.
When I sneaked a peek, the buck was bobbing his head, trying to get me to move.
In what seemed like minutes, but was probably only seconds, the deer wheeled around and trotted back down the trail. When the animal reached the safety of the willows again, he blew once and stomped his foot. At that point, my heart sank.
A few seconds later, however, I saw the buck circling around me, heading toward a large shooting lane. He was going to enter the lane broadside, at 30 yards, so I drew and waited. I didn’t try to stop him because he was already spooked.
From that point on, it was as if God took control. I released when the buck stepped into the opening. I heard the thud, but I didn’t see where the arrow hit.
I watched as the deer bounded off in Robert’s direction. I heard the buck blow twice, which made me wonder if I’d even hit him. Replaying the scene in my head, I also realized that I’d just used my 20-yard pin at a deer standing 30 yards away.
Oh well, I thought ... If I missed the rascal, at least maybe Robert will get a shot.
Later, I heard what sounded like the deer walking, falling and then breathing his last. Was that real or was my mind playing tricks on me?
Since we still had 2 1/2 hours of shooting light and the bucks were still moving, I decided to stay in my stand in hopes that Robert would have a chance at one. As I sat there wondering if I had really heard my deer go down, my mind continued to reel.
Shortly before dark, I heard Robert coming. As soon as we met on the trail, we exchanged stories and decided the buck must be down. Before we could walk over to look for my arrow, we heard Clayton coming to pick us up and waited for him. Minutes later, Clayton found the arrow and put to rest any doubts we had by showing us the blood on it. It took Clayton only 3 minutes to follow the 40-yard blood trail to my prize.
We learned later that I’d made a perfect double-lung shot right above the heart. To God be the glory!
I want to thank our guides, Clayton and Wayne Zaft; Robert for discovering this place and booking the hunt; Robert’s son, Robbie; and my wife, Laura, for encouraging me to go.
-- Reprinted from the July 2006 issue of Buckmasters Magazine