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All I Want for Christmas

SharpBy Randy Sharp

-- My oldest daughter, Lyndsay, and I were watching television late one night in 1999. An outdoor show was on featuring a whitetail hunt in Canada. "I'd love to do that someday," I told her.

"Just do it, Dad," was her reply. Simple for her to say, I thought. Having two daughters and a son along with three stepdaughters, I was looking at six kids in college, five or six cars on the road, proms, weddings and all the other financial things a father frets about.

Jump ahead seven years. Three weddings down, four college degrees (soon to be five) awarded, all the kids are pretty much on their own and the house is an empty nest. One day, The Outdoor Channel was on, and it was featuring a remote whitetail hunt with Dahl Creek Outfitters in Saskatoon, Canada.

"If I ever go to Canada, that's just the kind of hunt I'd want," I told my wife. At the time, I recalled saying the same thing to my daughter many years before.

The outdoors has always been my haven for where to think, reflect, and appreciate life. My thoughts often return to another of my daughters named Lyn. We lost her in a car accident in 2000. Losing a child is a tough thing to bear, but it also brought me closer to the ones I have. I always feel that Lyn is with me.

Then during Christmas 2006, I noticed there were not many presents under the tree with my name on them. However, I saw an envelope. Opening it got me all choked up - to my surprise there was a down payment on a 2007 whitetail hunt with Dahl Creek Outfitters. It was a gift from Mom and the kids. What more could a father ask for?

Forward to November 2007. I caught a flight to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, then a ride to Hudson Bay. My hunt of a lifetime began on a Sunday morning at a breakfast meeting with Arnold Holmes of Dahl Creek Outfitters. After a couple of hours of driving, four-wheeling, and ATV riding, we got to Arnold's remote camp. I do mean remote. It has two bunk houses and a main lodge for meals. Accommodations are clean, warm and comfortable. You won't go hungry as Helen cooks and works all day in the kitchen. Her dinner rolls are awesome as was anything she prepared. The 5-day hunt included three hunters from Michigan, one from Georgia and me.

Arnold Holmes is a true Canadian guide. He grew up in these woods. His knowledge of the area is evident as his stands are all located in perfect locations. During the third day of the hunt, I was in one of Dahl Creek's custom blinds. The weather had cooled and deer started moving. A small spike came in at daylight, spent some time in the area and moved off. By 10 a.m. I was ready to eat the lunch Helen packed, but I spotted another deer. It was a small 4 pointer acting nervous. Just as I thought, the bull of the woods - one of those giant Canadian whitetails you hear about - appeared.

The small buck ran for its life as the bruiser came in. This was going to be my buck. After scaring away the little buck, the brute offered a 90-yard broadside shot. One shot from the .30-06 brought him down. None of the many Michigan bucks I have taken compare to this buck. His body was massive, weighing in at 270 pounds. His rack was a perfectly symmetrical 12 points, which greenscored 158. I was humbled looking at this monster.

This was a hunt I'd never have taken had it not been for the support of my family. Funny how being a good husband and dad pays off sometimes.

Randy Sharp
Colon, Michigan

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