Alberta has a new No. 1 Irregular in the rifle category!
This view reveals many of the 27 irregular points that contribute more than 124 inches to the Alberta giant's score. Note the bullet nick in the kicker on the buck's right side. Photo Courtesy of Helgie Eymundson
By Helgie Eymundson
Nov. 29, 2007, the day I shot the 35-pointer that set tongues wagging across all of North America, wasn't the first time I saw the buck. The previous year on the very same field, my wife, Gail, and I both shot at and missed it.
I can't speak for my wife, but that whitetail rattled me so badly that I had a hard time hitting the air around it.
That was last season. This year was different. I was calm, cool and collected, and when the shot presented itself, I took my time and squeezed the trigger. Ya, right! Now I know why they put that metal guard under the trigger. I pulled so fast and hard that if it hadn't been there, I would have broken it off!
I am going to give you all some advice: When you shoot something big, resist the urge to reach into your pocket to grab your cell and start calling your friends. Wait a few minutes until you calm down because as much as you think you have it all together, you don't. And the words that come out of your mouth are very loud gibberish punctuated by panting and heavy breathing. It doesn't sound good.
Here is where I'll start the story.
"I got him, I got him," I yelled into the phone at my wife.
It was barely daybreak when I called, and she was out with the kids and her brother a few miles away, also looking for a buck.
"That deer we missed last year ... I got him! Holy (cow), Gail, I just shot the biggest deer in Canada. It must score at least 250, maybe 275! Meet me at Mom and Dad's place with the kids."
I think she was able to get a couple of words in before I hung up and started calling more people. I must have sounded quite strange as each person asked me if I was okay and if I was having trouble breathing. Hell yes, I was okay.
And, yes, I was having trouble breathing. I'd just run more than 200 yards in a foot of snow and sub-freezing weather to get a shot at this buck.
It was a sight. Even at 500 yards, there was no mistaking the massive rack. In fact, the webbing is so deep that when I saw the deer broadside, most of its face was obscured by antler. It shocks you when you see that much bone in the binocs.
The area I was hunting is an abandoned hay field consisting of brome, timothy and a lot of clover. That's what attracts and holds the does in there when the snow gets deep and temperatures drop. Behind the hay field is an old pasture that gives way into big bush and swamp. There are thousands of square miles of bush, the kind that could swallow up an army - an army and at least one giant buck.
As soon as I saw the deer, I knew it was the whitetail we'd missed a year earlier. I knew I was going to have to act fast to make the shot. I had parked half a mile away at the field entrance and slowly made my way down the scrub brush to the edge, where I could get a good look at the field. And there it was, standing with 10 does not 10 feet from the rock pile I had frozen my butt off on for hours the previous night.
Photographs do little justice to the Eymundson Buck's magnificent antlers. A head-on view shows the nearly 3-foot-wide rack's mass, but the club-like kickers off the backside are hidden. Photo Courtesy of Helgie Eymundson
My chances didn't look good. A faint breeze was blowing almost directly to the deer, and a couple of the does had already moved to the edge of the hay field as if they were ready to start following the old fence line that would lead them to their bedding area.
I knew I had to get ahead of them quickly. You have no idea how hard it is to turn your back on the biggest buck you have ever seen and start walking off, making a large loop to try and intercept. I got as tight to the bush as I could, hunched over and tried to walk as quickly and quietly as I could.
I made it only a few yards before I couldn't take it anymore and looked back over my shoulder to see what the deer were doing. That calmed me down ... NOT! They were still oblivious to my presence, so I told myself to keep walking, you idiot, and stop looking!
Once I had covered about 400 yards, I decided it was time to cut across the wide open pasture to start closing the gap over to that old treed-in fence line. Lucky for me, the buck was heavy into the rut and was really chasing a hot doe. It kept him occupied and was keeping the does' attention off the hunched-over, 5-foot, 10-inch pile of snow moving across the pasture behind them.
I was starting to feel pretty good once I made it about 200 yards onto the field without being detected. That was short lived, however, as the non-hot does were getting tired of this buck chasing everything in sight and were leaving the field. Of course, they were on the opposite side of that old fence line just a little too dense with poplars to afford a shot.
I started to move faster.
The does were almost across from me now, and the buck was trailing behind them. I moved faster until we were 250 yards apart with only a few poplars between us. I plowed onward.
The lead doe was across from me. The moment she cut my wind, she snorted and bounded off to the north. They all followed her, tails waving high in the air, leaping through the snow as if it wasn't there. There was only one thing to do, and I charged ahead.
I was sprinting toward the tree line as hard as I could go. Deer were running past me. I had lost sight of the buck and hot doe. Tears were streaming out the corners of my eyes, making it harder to see. As I shed my mitts, the sinking feeling in my stomach was undeniable. But I didn't slow.
As soon as I got past a 40-year-old barbed wire fence, I spotted a doe almost 300 yards away, running wildly for the trees. And then I heard something else off to my right.
The buck was following the doe and grunting loudly. With every jump, its head bobbed low to the ground. All I could see was antler extending way out past its body.
I quickly grabbed a tree for a rest and started to swing my rifle. I didn't know whether to grunt, whistle, yell or just start shooting. No sooner had I thought "Stop," it obliged. The buck still was grunting loudly and starting to spin around toward me.
As the crosshairs moved up its body, I briefly thought about the lungs but kept on moving. I put the crosshairs on the shoulder and pulled. I wanted to plug it right there.
As the gun went up, I heard the loudest smack ever. And when the recoil came down, the buck was already on the ground. I quickly jacked out the empty and put another round in and instantly started running toward the fallen deer. I was thinking, "If you so much as think of getting up, I am going to be so close I will be able to blow you out the end of the barrel."
I had covered about 75 yards when I realized that it wasn't moving; it was down for good.
I stopped, bent over, put my hands on my knees and started gasping for air. It was then that I realized my lungs were burning, cheeks were stinging and fingers were numb. I didn't care. It was worth it.
I stood up, raised my gun over my head and tried to let out a whoop. It sounded more like a wheeze than a whoop, and I started to laugh.
"Oh my god," I was thinking. "I can't wait to show Dad."
As I approached the fallen monarch, my knees were a little shaky. When I reached down to pull its head out of the snow, I reacted almost in shock. It was totally overwhelming. I dropped the head, stepped back and sat down. What I saw was indescribable: width, mass, points, length and ... a hole in the horn?
Right smack dab through the middle of a long kicker extending out the back was a bullet hole. My bullet hole!
I sat back, put my hand on the deer and said, "You and I were meant to be."
Editor's Note: Replicas of this fabulous rack are available through Artistic Antlers. For info, log on to http://www.artisticantlers.com, or call (715) 246-5882.
Hunter: Helgie Eymundson
Official Score: 261 4/8"
Composite Score: 283 2/8"
-- Reprinted from the July 2008 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine.