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First Came the Sheds

By Frank Argue

Hunter: Frank Argue
Shawn and his dad, Frank, show off Caesar's 2004 sheds - the pair of antlers that first alerted them to the possibility of a world-class buck living there. Photo Courtesy of Frank Argue

My son, Shawn, found a shed in March 2005 that had 10 points. We looked long and hard for the antler's mate that spring, but we didn't find it until the following November. While dogging through the same thick cedar swamp during the gun season, I stumbled across it buried in 4 inches of snow. Only two points were sticking out of the white stuff. What a piece of luck!

Together, the sheds scored well over 200 inches.

To our knowledge, nobody saw the deer in 2005. My son and I had given up hope that it survived the season. We thought it must have been hit by a car or died of other causes. If someone had shot a deer like that, we'd have heard about it.

In early October 2006, however, we found out it wasn't dead. Shawn spotted the big buck, which we'd nicknamed "Caesar," while bowhunting. Shawn saw the monarch twice more after that.

The first week of Ontario's '06 shotgun-only season, a friend of Shawn's, Jeff Thomas, was on watch while Shawn and Mike Lessard were pushing a dense area in hopes of driving out Caesar. The buck flushed, as planned, and it offered Jeff a standing shot at 90 yards (plus three other shots) as the giant sped across an open area. One of the shots might have grazed it, but there was no blood or hair to follow. I thought the buck had succumbed, but Shawn remained optimistic that it was still at large.

Hunter: Frank Argue
Frank Argue of Stittsville, Ontario, was in the right place when this 21-pointer finally appeared within range on Nov. 24, 2006. The deer is a reminder that western Canada doesn't have the monopoly on great whitetails. With a BTR score of 212 3⁄8, it's THE largest buck ever felled by shotgun in all of Canada, where centerfire rifles are the firearm of choice. Photo Courtesy of Frank Argue

In our area (Zone 64B), the season is open the second week for bows only, at which time Shaw did manage to find Caesar and confirm his beliefs, but without getting a shot. At least we knew the buck was still alive. The third week is open for shotguns. As my two sons and I had already hunted the second week in Zone 55A, hunting time for the third week was getting scarce for them.

But being retired, I still had some brownie points left.

In week three of the season, we hunted for an hour or so a few mornings without success. We were getting the feeling that another year might pass without any of us getting the big one. When Shawn suggested we meet Friday at 5:45 a.m. for a two-hour hunt before his work, I was more than ready.

He picked me up at the appointed time and then dropped me off five minutes later to walk to my stand. There was a very heavy frost with a quarter-inch of ice on the water puddles as I crashed through the pathway to my watch. Just before reaching my position, I heard a "crash/crash" and "squeak" of the fence, and then all went still.

Silence prevailed for the next one and a half hours, except when the wild turkeys left their roost at about 7:15. Then I heard a slight "crunch/crunch," and out of the poplars and underbrush came a massive rack. We'd already decided the only deer on the acceptable shooting list was Caesar. And here was his majesty!

I instantly raised my 12-gauge autoloader to my shoulder and fired. The buck disappeared in the low cover. I approached cautiously to the area where it dropped. About halfway there, out bounded a huge doe that I'm sure was the buck's morning pleasure. Without even glancing to the left, I moved slowly to where the buck had fallen. A few steps later, I saw Caesar lying there, alive but unable to move.

A second shot finished things, and I radioed Shawn.

Read More Stories From RACK MagazineIt had been a long time since a buck had gotten me as excited as the fine 11-pointer I shot back in 1966.

Shawn, having seen Caesar five times without being able to take a shot, was more excited than I was.

We discovered the next day that other hunters had seen this buck and were hunting it as well.

Hunter: Frank Argue
Official Score: 171 1/8"
Composite Score: 191 6/8"

-- Reprinted from the September 2008 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine