By Mike Handley
With four tines exceeding the foot-long mark and circumferences totaling more than 36 inches, you'd think this eye-popping buck would be a contender for the provincial record. Yet among rifle kills from Alberta, it falls in the No. 13 slot. Alberta owns five of the top 10 bucks in this category. Photo Courtesy of Dave Mewis
The bounds of brotherly love might have been tested last November if Johnathan Mewis had remained in Alberta one more day.
After a week of sharing a blind with his older brother, Dave, Johnathan was eager to get an early start for the long drive back to British Columbia.
Determined to cross the Rockies before nightfall, he pulled out of Edmonton at 8:30 a.m.
While Johnathan was peering at the white landscape from behind a windshield, Dave was staring at it through a slit in the new deer blind he'd bought, just one of the purchases he'd made in preparation for his brother's annual visit. He'd also upgraded his doe decoy from a two- to a three-dimensional model that wouldn't sway in the stiff breeze.
A propane-powered heater completed the shopping list.
Dave arrived at the cutline a little later than usual that Sunday, after seeing off his brother. But he wasn't worried about missing anything, because all the deer activity that week had been between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. - thanks to the moon and the rut.
"Before and after that midday period, it was as if someone pulled the plug,"
Dave said. "With the full moon, they must've been chasing all night."
Rather than climb inside the blind immediately, he decided to move it and the decoy about 600 yards closer to where he and Johnathan had seen numerous bucks cross.
Johnathan had passed up several opportunities that week, including a crack at a 160-inch 8-pointer. He might've shot it if he hadn't taken a 143-inch 4x4 the previous season. He was holding out for something special.
There was a bigger one to be had, and it was plenty "special." They'd seen it twice, both times at 600 yards. The second time, the buck had crossed the cut at dusk on Saturday - too far and too quickly. Even so, Dave knew he was looking at an enormous specimen. If it came back, he was going to be in a position to shoot.
Dave is no stranger to big whitetails. But it wasn't until he retired from the outfitting business six years ago, ending a 15-year career, that he saw one while his own rifle was in reach. He left the profession because it left him with little or no time to hunt for himself. He said he missed five seasons altogether.
Johnathan drove up from Vancouver on Nov. 19. The duo spent the next six days sitting in lawn chairs, huddled around the propane heater inside the blind, which was set up so they could watch the swath through the timber.
"Johnathan kind of hogged the heater, but I didn't mind," laughs Dave. "Living in BC, he's not used to our kind of cold."
They passed up several 8-pointers in the 145- to 160-inch range, though the largest of those was tempting.
"You have to battle that itchy trigger finger if you want a good one," Dave said.
Photo Courtesy of Dave Mewis
On the very first day, a buck chased a doe across the cutline and stopped before the timber swallowed it. The deer stopped long enough to stare at the decoy, but the lure of a doe in hand was too strong to turn it. Even without the aid of binoculars, Dave could tell that the animal was exceptional.
At last light on Saturday, they saw it again. And then Johnathan's hunt was finished.
It was a tough week to be outside, and Sunday was the worst. Dave was actually glad that he had the little heater all to himself. It might've been 15 degrees (C) when his hunt began at 10:00, but the temperature quickly plunged below zero. To make matters and visibility worse, a 20-plus-mph breeze was whipping snow around like confetti in a wind tunnel.
"It was a miserable day," said Dave.
During all the other dusk-'til-dawn sittings, he and his brother had seen an average of 10 deer a day, most of them bucks, most far beyond reasonable range. There was a single exception.
"One of the bucks made love to the decoy for 45 minutes," Dave laughed. "He even ran a coyote away from it."
On Sunday, however, nothing stirred until 1:15, when the only deer Dave saw that day stepped into the cut 200 yards distant. A second later, he'd shot the biggest deer he'd seen in 28 years of hunting them. (Incidentally, that was the second time Dave has scored on the day AFTER his brother left for home.)
Dave knew that tract was home to some outstanding whitetails. He's found numerous impressive sheds there.
The antlers of most of his deer wind up in a pile. But this mount will join three others in his home.
Johnathan called about midnight Sunday. The driving had been slow because of snow and ice. When Dave told him about the deer, they realized that he'd pulled off the feat before Johnathan had even cleared the Alberta border.
Hunter: Dave Mewis
Official Score: 179 3/8"
Composite Score: 201 3/8"
-- Reprinted from the October 2008 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine