Albert Richard Buck: 155-Inch New Brunswick Brute
January 06, 2015
The 2012 deer season here in New Brunswick had been over for only a week, but I already was scouting for the coming fall, looking for fresh buck sign and picking new stand setups. The urgency of my effort was due to the fact that in my home province there's only a short time frame of a few weeks between the end of whitetail season and the onset of full-blown winter.
With post-season being such an important scouting period, I try my best to put in whatever extra time I have scouting for big bucks before the snow comes and covers all evidence of the recent rut. Having 8-10 trail cameras in the woods all year then gives me a good idea of which bucks I want to hunt and what their activity patterns are.
As 2013 progressed, I knew of three good bucks I'd be more than happy to put my tag on. But over the summer their patterns changed dramatically. The closer it got to archery season, the fewer photos I acquired of them. This happens in our area every year as the rut nears.
Another big factor affecting mature buck patterns here is moose hunting. When September comes around, many people hit the woods to scout for that season, which occurs late in the month. This extra human activity seems to spook the big whitetails deeper into hiding for a couple weeks.
When our 2013 archery deer season started on Oct. 6 I was ready to go, but in all honesty I didn't have any of my three target bucks patterned. Granted, if you're not in the field you can't possibly get a chance at a buck, but I really wasn't on one. Our 3-week bow season flew by with me seeing only a couple bucks, and both were young.
Finally it was time to put away the bow and take out the rifle. However, buck movement remained sluggish. As the first three weeks of rifle season went by the buck movement seemed to intensify, but most activity still was at night and thus known only courtesy of my trail cameras.
New Brunswick's 2013 gun season fell a week later than usual, and because of that shift on the calendar, I was going to miss its last three days. My annual hunting trip to Saskatchewan would keep me from hunting all the way through at home. With only a couple days left to hunt, I felt the self-imposed pressure mounting. I wanted to shoot a nice buck in my home province, but I also needed to make sure I had everything packed and ready for my trip west.
I knew the last day I could hunt in New Brunswick would be very busy, what with getting everything ready for my trip, then heading to a doctor's appointment in the afternoon and finally getting out to hunt for the last few hours before dark. Luckily for me everything went well, and I rushed home to get in the woods for the evening hunt.
Walking out the door at 3 p.m., I knew I wouldn't be able to reach my tree stand in time for much of a hunt. So as I was walking to the woods, I decided I had nothing to lose by still-hunting along my ATV trail.
After walking slowly for about a half-hour, I noticed something to my right. I stood still, waiting, as a beautiful doe and fawn trotted along the brook's edge. Knowing the rut still was on, and thus anticipating the possibility of a big buck being behind them, I decided to wait in that spot for a good 10 minutes.
I saw no other deer and decided to move on. But just as I made my first three steps, I noticed another doe 80 yards away, standing on my ATV trail. And this one was acting differently from the first doe, making me think she might be in heat.
The doe quickly jumped off the trail, but nothing followed her. Thirty seconds later, as I was about to take a step forward, there he was — looking at me. I was caught in the wide open.
It didn't take me long to realize this buck was a serious shooter. But unless he turned his attention back to the doe, I couldn't make a move on him. Finally, after what felt like forever, he looked in her direction, put his head down and started moving that way. In a split-second I got the rifle up and shot before he disappeared into the thick timber.
As I stood there, I couldn't believe what had just happened. I knew by the buck's reaction he'd been hit, but I wasn't sure how well.
I waited for a few minutes before calling to tell my wife I'd shot a monster buck. I then waited for her to arrive home from work and get ready to help me look for a blood trail. As we walked back into the area where I'd taken the shot, we knew we didn't have much time to find where the blood began; we were going to lose daylight shortly.
We walked to where the buck had been standing when I'd fired the shot, but there was no blood — only the impressions of his running hooves in the dirt for about 50 yards. But then we finally spotted really dark blood on the leaves. I knew I'd hit the deer, but too far back. At that point, in the dwindling light I figured the best option was to pull out and resume the search the next morning.
As soon as we got back to the house, I called my father and some friends to help me look for the buck at first light. That night, all I could think about was the buck looking at me. Let's just say it was the longest night of my life. I just hoped we'd find the deer quickly.
After an hour and a half of searching that morning there still was no buck. I was really starting to worry, thinking I wouldn't be finding him after all. That's when I heard my friend Steve say, "He's right here!"
All I can remember after that was sprinting through the thick timber and finally putting my hands on this big-woods giant. I was grateful to have my wife, our unborn child, my parents and some good friends to share that wonderful celebration with me.
While somewhat run down from the rut, the massive deer still dressed out at an impressive 252 pounds. And despite a tight inside spread of only 15 2/8 inches, the 11-point rack's gross score came to 155 2/8, much of that courtesy of his exceptional mass and long brow tines. All in all, this buck is a fine example of the kind of thick bodies and antlers New Brunswick is known for.
And when I got back word on the deer's age, there was yet another impressive number to add to his story. I felt he likely was 5 1/2 years old, but the results from Matson's Lab in Montana (which cross-sections incisors to age specimens) came back as much older: 9 1/2! This deer truly was an ancient warrior from the Maritimes.
For Your Information
The 4th edition of the New Brunswick Official Big Game Record Book is now off the press. This full-color tribute to the finest whitetails, moose and bears ever taken in the province includes abundant photos and dozens of stories shared directly by the hunters themselves. From cover to cover, the book (printed in both English and French) offers information on an often-overlooked corner of the hunting world.