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Sold on Alberta

By Joella Bates

Hunter: Alan Friend
Alan's '04 buck pushes Milo Hanson's 197-incher into the No. 6 spot among Typicals felled by rifle. Although the Hanson Buck is still the B& C world record, largely due to its 27-plus-inch inside spread, in the BTR, Alan's deer has more scoreable inches of antler. Photo by Big Rack Adventures

-- BTR's No. 5 Typical by Rifle

"I made a mistake and shot a 120-class buck," Alan Friend told his guide, Jeff Trout.

"Oh, yeah, is that right?" the outfitter replied.

It took all the resolve Alan could muster - and he'd had several giddy hours to summon it - to keep a straight face. The hunter from Maryland had waited a lifetime to claim a world-class whitetail. And now that he had, he was going to have some fun with it, which is why he intentionally misrepresented the buck's rack by nearly 100 inches.

Alan has long been obsessed by big bucks, which is what lured him to Canada. When he finally decided to cross the border in search of his dream deer, he perused magazines, watched videos and television shows, and surfed the Internet to come up with a list of 15 outfitters. He then called them all, settling on Blair and Kathy Trout of Big Rack Adventures in Alberta.

In the years that followed, Alan scored with bucks ranging from 145 to 170 inches, but never "the monster" he wanted so desperately to bag.

Blair called Alan in the spring of 2004 and told him that his son, Jeff, had found the 2-year-old sheds from a 190-inch buck - exactly the kind of whitetail the Yank wanted to see in his sights.

Alan's '04 hunt began on Nov. 22. He passed up several 150- to 160-class bucks that day, deer that once would've sent his heart into orbit. His ticker did get a boost later on that week when he observed a big-bodied deer chasing some does nearly a mile distant. With a lasting impression etched in his mind, he and Jeff planned to return early the next day.

Sold on Alberta
Maryland hunter Alan Friend poses with his own Canadian collection. The buck on the left was taken in Saskatchewan. The rest came from Alberta. Photo Courtesy of Alan Friend

On their way into the woods, they spotted a bedded 150ish buck. They looked it over, but decided to continue on to where Alan had seen the beefy buck the previous day. They would rattle to see if an intruder in the area could spark a defensive reaction.

The only taker was a 145-inch buck that charged in and stayed several minutes, looking for the fight. The guys believed the big buck was probably holding somewhere close to the does, more interested in breeding than in fighting.

On Nov. 24, Alan hunted another stand where, again, he saw only small bucks. That evening, another hunter talked of having shot at a buck that was "in a class of its own." Alan felt a surge of adrenaline, believing it had to be the buck from the sheds. The other hunter continued to sit in the same stand each day until he had to return home.

"On the night of the 26th, Jeff asked me if I wanted to hunt that guy's stand," Alan said. That was a no-brainer!

"Jeff dropped me off before daylight, and I walked the distance to the stand," Alan said. "Before he left, he said, 'It is going to be really cold today, so I will come back periodically and check on you. If you want to come out, meet me back here. Otherwise, I will assume that you are hunting.'"

Alan nodded in agreement. It would take something drastically wrong to remove him from the stand and the chance at the monster.

"At daylight, the activity started," Alan recalls. "I saw several does cross the cut-line. And then, at 9:30, I saw a small buck and 10 does cross the same opening. At 1:30 p.m., I decided to stand and walk outside the blind to stretch a little. My knees and legs were really hurting from sitting long days in the cold. My Raven Wear clothing had kept me warm, dry and comfortable, allowing me to sit on stand almost every day - from before daylight until dark - for five days.

"I had hung my rifle over my shoulder before I stepped out of the blind and walked to the back side. I spotted a big-bodied buck standing broadside in the cut-line 125 yards away. It was standing in the heavily shadowed timber, looking my way.

"I strained to pick out details, but my binoculars revealed that it was a shooter. In one fluid motion, I lowered my binoculars, shouldered my rifle and centered the crosshairs on its shoulder. At 2:24 p.m., I pulled the trigger.

"The recoil from my 7mm Ultra Mag caused me to lose sight of the deer after the shot. I automatically chambered another round and started walking in that direction. I did not know whether I had hit the buck or not.

"As I walked the 125 yards down the cut-line, I kept looking for the deer or any sign of a hit. Suddenly, I saw the buck on the ground.

"When I saw the size of its antlers, I knew it was the beast from the sheds. Everything went in slow motion as I walked within 20 yards of the buck. It was like I was in a dream with old memories and previous hunts running through my mind. I felt warm tears rolling down my cold cheeks. I sat down by my buck and soaked in the moment. It was 3:00, and Jeff wasn't returning until dark.

"I tried to drag the buck. But after 300 yards, I decided to just wait. Blair doesn't like to field-dress animals until after the photos are taken. I had dragged the buck near the woods line, so I sat and waited for Jeff. I decided that I would joke around with him and just pretend to have mistakenly shot a small buck. When I heard Jeff's truck coming, I walked back to the drop-off spot to tell him the made-up story."

Jeff rolled to a stop. "Well?" he asked.

Alan hung his head and began the joke, "I made a mistake and shot a 120-class buck."

Jeff said, "Oh, yeah, is that right?"

"I just couldn't hold in my secret any longer," Alan laughs. "I told him, 'You know that buck that you found the sheds from in the spring?'"

"Yeah."

"Well, I shot that buck."

"No you didn't," Jeff said, and repeated, "No you didn't."

"We jumped on the four-wheeler and headed to the buck. Before the ATV rolled to a stop, Jeff bailed off, ran to the deer and grabbed the antlers," Alan recalled.

"He sure has grown a lot since the sheds," Jeff affirmed before turning to shake Alan's hand.

Read More Stories From RACK Magazine"We loaded the buck on the four-wheeler, I grabbed my gun and we headed back to the truck," Alan continued. "When we arrived at camp, I ran to the window and yelled to Kathy that I had killed the buck from Jeff's sheds. I spread my arms wide to reference how big it was.

"Everyone in camp came running. Before she went outside, Kathy called my wife, Bonnie, and told her that I had killed a big buck. Kathy then handed me the telephone, and I recounted the story to Bonnie as Blair pulled into the driveway.

"I answered a few questions, and then Blair told us to go eat while the food was hot. Afterward, we took photos and field-dressed the buck. We took more photos the next morning, and then Blair and Jeff caped out the deer," he added.

Editor's Note: To book your hunt with Big Rack Adventures, log onto www.bigrackadventures.com or www.rackulator.com. If you want replicas from Alan's buck, write him at P.O. Box 38, McHenry, MD 21541-0038.

Hunter: Alan Friend
Official Score: 198 6/8"
Composite Score: 219 3/8"
Centerfire Rifle
Typical

-- Reprinted from the November 2007 issue of Buckmasters RACK Magazine

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