posted on August 22, 2011 07:18
By Mike Handley
Pheromones and estrous doe scents might be akin to Cupid's arrow, but whatever Pat Bates pours on bushes is more like Thor's hammer.
One whiff of the concoction will turn bucks into white-eyed defoliators, or, if they're big and stupid enough to do battle with flora in front of Pat, into wall art.
The former firefighter from Alberta decided a long time ago that if he wanted to be as successful in the deer woods as his brother is, and if he wanted to put a tag on a record book buck, he'd better not rely on luck. That's why, since his retirement in 2007, he spends at least eight of every 10 days afield each season. It's why he began playing around with the potion he calls his "buckstuff."
It's also how he one-upped Mike Bates in 2010.
He went to his brother's place on Nov. 25, their father's 89th birthday. While the patriarch hunted with Mike that morning, Pat struck out on his own, hoping to connect with a huge buck that had bewitched and eluded his sibling for a couple of years.
"The directions Mike gave me were very specific," Pat said. "And while I didn't see the big fella, I saw a lot of sign. I also put some buckstuff on a tree with a huge scrape nearby, and then I went back to Mike's for lunch."
Upon his return, he saw his father's birthday present.
"Dad has always been lucky on his birthday, and that day was no exception. Shortly after daylight, he slammed a long-tined 4x4," Pat said. "After Mike and Dad described their morning, we discussed viable options for the afternoon. Because they had already burned their tags, Mike decided to accompany me.
"With a favorable wind blowing, we slipped into our hide about 3:00. It was farther away than I liked, but it allowed for an unobstructed view of both the scrape and the tree where the buckstuff was distributed," he continued. "Four o'clock came with no action, and it was starting to get a bit colder. And then, all of a sudden, this buck was just there ... It didn't walk up, didn't run up; it was just there, where seconds before there was nothing.
"One quick look through the binoculars, and I was reaching for my rifle. The range was at least 250 yards, but with a convenient tree branch for a rest, I was confident I could make the shot.
"The deer was raking the tree with authority as I slipped the 150-grain bullet behind its shoulder," he continued.
Pat's buck scores 170 2/8 inches as a Perfect in the BTR (190 6/8, if inside spread is added). The full story of his hunt, as well as a little more insight into the man who squeezed the trigger, will appear this fall in Rack magazine.