By Brad Roberts
Visibility was so bad during the height of the opening-day snowstorm that Clyde Albers couldn't see this exceptional rack a mere 10 feet from him. The Nebraska hunter might not have even taken the shot if he'd not possessed an either-sex tag. Photo by Brad Roberts.
By 1994, Clyde Albers had grown weary of asking others for permission to hunt on ground he didn't own. So Clyde spoke to his banker about buying some bottomland near his home in Minden, Neb. The banker told him that he would approve the loan, but, for the same price, he had even more land in Lincoln County for sale.
Clyde looked the 160-acre tract over thoroughly. It was almost two hours from his home. The land contained some swampy areas bordered by clover patches, lots of trees and plenty of cover for deer. Pleased with what he saw, Clyde bought the place.
When Clyde's son, Nick, was old enough to deer hunt, they put a camper in the middle of the parcel, using it as their "home away from home" on hunting trips. They both took a lot of deer off the property, but none could compare to the one that Clyde bagged last season.
Opening day of Nebraska's 2000 rifle season wasn't a particularly good one for deer hunting. Yet not even a blizzard could keep Clyde and his son from spending the night in the camper and venturing out at sunrise. Okay, maybe it did slow them down a bit.
"By the time we got to Nick's spot at the edge of the woods, it was 7:30," Clyde said. "And 4 inches of snow was already on the ground."
After watching Nick settle in, Clyde skirted the western edge of the trees before cutting into the woods toward his own stand. He was wearing mittens to keep his hands warm, but he thought better of it ... "just in case I saw a deer."
By the time Clyde arrived at his stand, it was snowing heavily. As he put his hand on the first tree step, he noticed something peculiar about a patch of snow 10 feet in front of him -- at about the limit of his visibility. "All I saw was the snow on its back, and it -- a deer -- was moving sideways, whereas the rest of the snow was coming straight down. It took a minute to realize that I was staring at deer!"
The combination of miserable weather and the fact that Clyde had an either-sex permit led to his decision to shoot the first deer that he saw. "I didn't know if it were a buck or a doe," he admitted. "But it must have seen my 7mm Mag. come up, because it stopped. And when it did, I shot.
"If I had been there 10 seconds sooner, I would have probably been climbing the deer stand when he walked by. Ten seconds later, and he would have walked right past me. I would never have seen him," Clyde said.
"After I took the shot, the deer ran off," he continued. "I didn't see him flinch or anything. And I lost him in the snow.
"I followed the tracks for about 80 yards before I lost them. They were filled with snow, and EVERYTHING was white. When I walked out to the road to see if he had crossed it, I couldn't see any tracks," he added.
Clyde began to doubt the shot at that point. He even wondered if his bargain of a rifle was to blame. Perhaps it was the cheap scope that he'd put on it! Without a blood trail to follow or even a decent set of tracks, he started convincing himself that he'd missed a 10-foot shot.
Dejected, Clyde walked back to Nick and persuaded him to trade stands, since the one he'd almost climbed was a better one.
Since the snowstorm was letting up, Clyde tried following the tracks that he'd cut when first trailing the deer. But even those had snowed shut.
"I started looking under every tree," he said. "I looked for 45 minutes. When I finally did see something, all I saw was part of the left antler sticking up like a branch. The rest of him was completely covered with snow."
Clyde field-dressed the buck where it laid, and then he walked past Nick, telling his son that he'd got a "little one" and needed help loading it into their Suburban. When he got to the vehicle, he drove it around and parked close to the buck.
"That's not a bad sized deer," Nick told his dad when he saw the buck's 225-pound body. But when he saw the rack, he said "Holy Cow!"
-- December 2001 RACK Magazine