Rack Magazine

Canada’s King of the Hill

Canada’s King of the Hill

By Gerald Almy

Many years have passed since an Alberta teenager channeled his inner reptile and set a record that hasn’t been toppled.

When Neil Morin was a teenager in 1991, there was precious little time for anything outside of school and helping out around the family farm near Whitemud Creek, Alberta.

The 17-year-old could go deer hunting, but chores always came first, even on opening day of the western province’s rifle season. Which is why he got off to a late start that year.

While Neil admits that farm work is hard and time-consuming, he says there are definitely fringe benefits.

In the sparsely populated province, whitetails are pretty much unafraid of agricultural machinery. Thus, while driving a tractor, Neil got to see a lot of big deer up close and personal.

“Often, they would just stand and stare from a few yards away as I drove by on the tractor,” before grudgingly moseying out of the way, he said. So seeing deer — many of them big ones — was fairly routine.

One deer he saw in ’91 was so impressive that it took his breath away. He was combining a canola field in the late summer when the giant whitetail stood just a few yards from the harvester.

The buck’s towering antlers were adorned with an unbelievable array of points, among them massive multi-pointed brow tines. The deer slowly shuffled out of the way of the tractor as Neil continued to work.

The teenager knew he would need some luck to harvest that buck, though. He didn’t bowhunt then, so he would have to hope no other hunter bagged the monster. Several people in the area knew about it and pursued it during the archery season.

Neil’s luck held, though, and the deer survived the sticks and strings. He saw it in his headlights several nights while coming home after a hard day of school and farm work, and occasionally during the day while doing chores.

“It was using two of our big fields to chow down,” he said. “It apparently lived in the middle of those fields and also used a nearby 10-acre patch of cover.”

Neil thought he knew the awesome buck’s habits well and would finally have his chance when rifle season opened. But, alas, his father’s to-do list required him to go into town that morning.

It was still daylight when Neil returned home, and the buck was standing in the middle of a wheat field when he pulled in the driveway. The boy wasted no time in getting his .300 Win Mag and easing up to the edge of the field. From there, he  began belly-crawling through the wheat.

The deer didn’t run, so he knew he hadn’t spooked it. But when he looked up at one point, he could no longer see the animal. Assuming it had bedded down, he crawled a little closer. The next time he checked, he could see the tall mass of tines jutting above the wheat. 

Canada’s King of the Hill“Every now and then, I would raise myself up a little bit and peek to see if I could see his antlers sticking up.

Sure enough, they were there,” he said.

Heart racing wildly, the teenager slowly, cautiously edged even closer.

“When I was about 150 yards from him, he suddenly stood up and stared at me. If he’d started to walk away or run then, I would have tried a shot. But I didn’t want to. In the open field, without a rest, seeing that tremendous rack, I was just too shaky,” he said.

Neil’s luck held, however.

“I crouched low, and he bedded back down. When he did that, I knew I could get closer,” he said.

Just how close Neil was able to stalk to this old buck that had made it through numerous hunting seasons is truly amazing.

“I sneaked up to within 25 or 30 yards. I knew I was close enough,” he said. “Then I just stood up and waited.”

In seconds, the giant buck burst out of the cover in a blur of gray hide and massive antlers. Neil snapped off a couple of quick shots, and the enormous whitetail collapsed.

Shaking wildly, Neil walked up and realized only then just how remarkable the deer was and how blessed he was.

Hunter: Neil Morin
BTR Score: 265 6/8”
Centerfire Rifle

– Photo Courtesy Neil Morin

This article was published in the October 2014 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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