In Jon Nicholson's mind, traveling more than 2,000 miles, standing in line at Canadian customs kiosks and buying the proper licenses and tags are only small hurdles in his quest to help a taxidermist make one or more truck payments.
The 40-year-old deer hunter from Georgia did it in 2019, and he returned to Saskatchewan in 2021. He struck paydirt both times, first with a multiple-beamed giant, and then with another world-class whitetail he'd actually let walk during his maiden hunt with Buck Country Outfitters.
"In 2019, I passed up a fine young 12-pointer because its antlers were thin," he told John Phillips, who's writing the story for Rack magazine. "Even without the mass, almost everyone I knew back home would've shot it."
Jon was so pumped after his first trip to Saskatchewan that he couldn't wait to go back there. He would've returned in 2020 if COVID restrictions hadn't been in place.
When he was able to cross the border for 10 days in 2021, his guide showed him a trail camera photograph of the 12-pointer he'd passed up in 2019. The already impressive deer had put on a lot more mass, along with more points.
Jon began referring to the deer as Rerun, and he bumped him to the top of his wish list. The next two days, he saw 30 bucks, many of which would've been shooters in others' eyes.
He went to a different place on Day 3, where Rerun had been photographed a few hours earlier (Jon's guide pulled the card after dropping him off at the stand). News of the bull of the woods' nighttime appearance, along with sightings of numerous lesser bucks were enough to convince Jon to devote the rest of his hunt to that setup.
"At 11:30 on Nov. 4, two does came out and fed on the bait in front of me," Jon said. "When they suddenly turned and looked back to the woods, ears forward, I looked through my binoculars and glimpsed white tines moving across a dry slough bottom.
"Once the buck crossed one of my shooting lanes at 200 yards, I spotted a split P3 tine and numbers of points coming off the other side of his rack." He added.
It was Rerun, and the does weren't thrilled.
"I could tell by the buck's posture when he reached the bank's top that he planned to bolt and chase the does that had fled," Jon said. "I had my rifle steadied on my Caldwell bipod.
"The only shot I had was head-on, so I quickly aimed right in the middle of his brisket, at a tuft of curled hair," he continued.
When the bullet struck, the animal reared like a stallion and tumbled backwards into the dry slough. Unwilling to risk losing the deer, Jon put a couple of insurance shots into it.
The buck has not been scored for Buckmasters yet, but it looks as if it might fall into the semi-irregular category. If so, it could very well become a new provincial rifle record.
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