By W.P. Williamson
Eugene Kurinka of Lethbridge, Alberta, was the last to leave camp on Nov. 14, 2005. While his buddies took to the bush before sunrise, he hung around to wash the breakfast dishes. Talk about an advertisement for Palmolive!
The 2005 season marked the 10th that Eugene Kurinka, Nick Denecky, Ed Cutler and Peter Swoboda have traveled to Alberta's Slave Lake region in November. Their friends like to tease the retirees about their "senior citizens" hunting club, though young Peter only qualifies by association.
They left their respective homes in the southern part of the province on Nov. 12, drove for a day and spent the night in a hotel before continuing on to their favorite hunting grounds. When they arrived, the group pitched their homemade, portable plywood cabin that would serve as base camp, from which they'd hunt crown (public) land.
The morning of Nov. 14 was unseasonably warm, downright tropical by northern Alberta standards. There was no snow, not even a little frost on the ground.
Nick, Ed and Peter headed out before sunrise, after a hearty breakfast. Eugene was the last to leave, remaining behind to perform a few chores like cleaning up the breakfast dishes. Dawn had broken by the time he went afield.
Eugene immediately headed for his favorite spot, a funnel he'd discovered three years earlier. The previous season, he'd shot a 140-inch whitetail there. A huge ravine runs north-south, intersected by a wide, east-west gas line. His natural blind was a big old fallen spruce beside a heavily traveled game trail skirting the ravine.
About 11:00 that morning, a cow moose and her calf sauntered down the ravine and exited on the gas line, oblivious to their audience of one. Not long after they'd disappeared, Eugene spotted movement to his right. A huge white-tailed buck - in both body and rack -stepped out of the ravine. The veteran hunter recognized immediately that it was an exceptional animal ... very easily the buck he'd always dreamt of harvesting.
Eugene wasted no time in raising his trusty .270 and taking the shot. And as many animals had done before that day, the buck fell immediately.
As Eugene approached his prize, the antlers seemed to grow even bigger. He realized that he'd seriously misjudged the rack, which he'd figured was no bigger than 180 inches (spread included). And that's the exception, not the rule for this official measurer for the province's fish and game association.
After tagging and field-dressing the enormous buck, Eugene hurried back to camp to recruit some help. There he found Nick and Peter eating lunch.
"Grab a camera and come with me," he blurted. "I just nailed a monster 7x7 buck!"
Halfway to the buck, Nick stopped Eugene and asked, "Now, let me get this clear ... You shot a 3x4?"
"No, I shot a giant with 7 points on each side," Eugene answered.
Nick's disbelief shone on his face.
When they arrived and Nick peeked over the log obscuring the deer, he began working his jaw. What eventually came out was, "That's the biggest buck I have ever seen!"
That's not hard to believe, since the buck wound up a new world record when it was entered into "Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records." Even without the benefit of its nearly 19-inch inside spread, the Kurinka Buck's 190 5⁄8 inches of antler make it the No. 1 Perfect among rifle-taken deer.
Official Score: 190 5/8"
Composite Score: 209 4/8"
-- Photos by: Peter Swoboda
-- Reprinted from the December 2006 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine