Growing up on a Saskatchewan farm, I never found the time to go hunting. My dad was not a hunter, for one thing, and any spare time was spent feeding cows or doing other odd jobs.
When I was just about out of high school, my close neighbor, Don Klippenstein, who has always been an avid hunter, asked me to go hunting with him and another neighbor, Perry Prescesky.
When I showed up at Don’s the next morning with my dad’s old .30-30, he was surprised to see me. We three sat at the table, formulating the morning’s game plan. Perry decided that Don and I would stand on each side of a huge ravine while he ran down the center and chased out what he could. The ravine was easily a mile long and a quarter-mile deep.
Perry pushed out a few deer, but neither Don nor I shot. Nevertheless, I'll never forget the way I felt having two people spend so much effort and time trying to give me an opportunity to shoot my first deer, which I did the following year with Don.
That’s when I became hooked on the sport.
Over the years, I have watched Don and his own son, Kyle, share a love of hunting. Now I get to do the same with my 7-year-old son, Brodie.
Early in the fall of 2010, I saw a buck in my bale yard one evening. As soon as I pulled in, it stood in front of me, and then scrambled to find a way out of the yard. I got a good look at it.
Brodie was home from school on Nov. 17. I was on my way to Don's for a morning hunt and asked Brodie if he wanted to go for a ride, which was about like asking a starving man if he wanted a cheeseburger.
Brodie hopped in with me, and we were just leaving the yard when my cell phone rang. It was Kyle, telling me to head north and stand along the bluff as there was a huge buck in the ravine.
Kyle started through the bush with Don and Lisa on the eastern side of the long bluff and Brodie and me on the western side.
I heard the occasional movement in the bush, thinking it was just Kyle snapping branches. The air was calm that morning. After 10 minutes of patiently waiting, Brodie yelled out, “Dad ... Dad ... the buck!”
I ran over and caught a glimpse of the deer’s body, but I could not see the huge rack.
As Kyle neared the end of the bush, the buck darted out and I couldn't believe my eyes. It was HUGE!
My first shot missed altogether. When the deer stopped for a second, I took another. Shaking like a leaf, I ran as fast as I could to try to get off another round. As I crossed some buck brush, I saw the deer again, running full tilt away at about 350 yards.
I took a deep breath and fired a third time, and that one connected.
Afterward, I went to the bush where I thought it must be lying and waited for everyone else to arrive. Kyle joined me and Brodie while Don went in to drive the buck out of the section if it still had any gas. It did, and the plan worked, allowing me to put the final bullet in the deer.
As I walked up to it, I was surprised the antlers didn’t shrink. There were other times over the years when racks that looked big, when I shot, turned out to be not as impressive as I’d thought. But not this time!
Hunter: Jason Gray
Official: 191 2/8
– Photo courtesy of Jason Gray
This article was published in the August 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.