By W.P. Williamson
Karl Schmideder's pump was primed on the day before he struck out in the snow to verify a friend's testimonial of bucks on the move. Under the light of the next moon, he was dragging out his own whopper - a fitting end to a long and very cold day. Photo by: W.P. Williamson
When Karl Schmideder saw the giant mule deer in the back of friend Ray Carry's 4x4 Blazer, he forgot about the bone-chilling cold and knee-deep snow. So green with envy over the handsome muley wearing nearly 200 inches of antler, the stone mason could not be deterred from seeking out a buck of his own.
That was back in 1982, Nov. 20 to be precise. Not only was the rut underway, but the extreme weather also was pushing the big mature bucks down from the mountain meadows - goat country - into the valleys forming British Columbia's Bull River drainage. Or so Karl's friend had advised him.
While Karl might have opted to stay indoors the following day, seeing Ray's buck was kindling to the fire in his gut.
Nov. 21 found Karl in his truck, glassing a herd of nearly 40 mule deer - does, fawns and young bucks. He'd pulled off the road and was looking at them through a spotting scope mounted to the 4x4's window.
Soon after he raised his scope from the herd to the skyline, his jaw dropped.
Two monstrous bucks were cresting the ridge.
"YESSSSSS!" he hissed.
One of the bucks was noticeably larger in body, its blocky shape barely tapering off into a rut-swollen neck. This animal's beams and tines were long and massive. And it was almost glued to a receptive doe.
The other buck was no slouch, but it paled by comparison.
The smaller buck eventually veered away from the other deer and headed straight down the mountain toward the other males. The big one, meanwhile, pushed its doe into a big stand of tall timber, right amongst a herd of bedded elk. As if they belonged, the buck and doe bedded down right beside the always-wary elk.
"Now what?" Karl wondered, thinking about all those sets of eyes preventing any kind of stalk.
Karl's blood pressure was almost red-lining. He put away his spotting scope and quickly drove to outfitter Wilf Boardman's nearby base camp to ask for a pony ride across the deep and extremely cold Bull River.
By a stroke of good luck, Karl ran into his own brother-in-law, Shane Hoyt, who was saddling a horse so that he could cross the river to retrieve a white-tailed buck he'd taken that morning. Karl was on the other side of the river as soon as you can say "Giddy-up."
Soon afterward, he was slogging through knee-deep snow, ascending the mountain that held his dream buck.
It was hard work reaching the backside of the steep ridge, even though he kept to the well-worn game trails. When he got close enough to see the herd of muleys he'd been glassing earlier, Karl identified the big buck's traveling companion. Further glassing revealed the monster and its lady, still bedded with the elk, at 700 meters.
Karl could get no closer. He stood inside the timber line, waiting for the deer to rise for their afternoon meal. He paced back and forth, valiantly trying to stay warm.
The sun was dropping behind "Muley Ridge" when at long last the doe got up and started feeding in Karl's direction. The huge buck soon followed, lagging behind her. When the deer had closed to 500 meters, he realized that he'd better shoot.
Karl placed his backpack on the ground and assumed the prone position. He knew his trusted rifle was more than capable of making the long shot ... if only he could manage to stop shivering.
More than once, he squeezed the trigger.
"I managed, with a few not-so-well-placed shots, to anchor it," Karl admitted.
Just as he'd thought, the buck was an absolute monster.
It was dark when Karl finished gutting, caping and boning out the buck. He labored under the incredibly heavy pack as he hauled his deer out by moonlight. While trudging down the steep grade, he could see his shadow on the glistening snow, topped by the shadow of massive antlers.
He had a ride across the freezing Bull River awaiting him, for which he was extremely grateful.
The heavy 9x10 antlers netted an awesome 238 5/8 inches (non-typical) by the B&C yardstick. The Schmideder Buck remains No. 1 in the East Kootenay Club's record book.
-- Reprinted from the August 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine