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Saskatchewan Man Arrows Tremendous Bucks In Epic Back-to-Back Seasons

After continually passing younger bucks and hunting hard, Dylan Ensz bagged two giant Saskatchewan whitetails during back-to-back seasons with a bow.

Saskatchewan Man Arrows Tremendous Bucks In Epic Back-to-Back Seasons

Dylan named this velvet non-typical Evan after passing him up. Photo courtesy of Dylan Ensz

During the 2020 and 2021 hunting seasons, I was lucky enough to have the chance to hunt two wild 200-inch whitetails. I am incredibly thankful to have had that opportunity, and I view it as a gift from our Creator. I certainly haven’t done anything to deserve it!

I had bowhunted for 10 years as of the 2022 season. I got my start as a sparkly-eyed kid who would talk anything deer hunting with anyone kind or dumb enough to show any interest. I had a father who was extremely patient with my enthusiasm and took a substantial amount of time out of his busy schedule to help me. In early November of 2013, I killed my first buck. It was the first deer I was lucky enough to actually hit with one of my arrows, and my enthusiasm exploded from there.

The first several years I hunted, I didn’t use trail cameras; and I think that is a worthwhile adventure for every hunter to experience at least once. You could sit in your tree stand and imagine the biggest of whitetail bucks walking out. Every new footstep in the woods around you brought a new rush of anticipation. I still kind of miss that.

By 2019 I had built up enough of a trail cam collection to begin to follow some specific deer. At one feed site in particular, I had a few impressive finds. Three interesting bucks were using the same area. The first one was a very young and lopsided 8-point, scoring around 125 inches. The second one was a 9-pointer that I figured might top 150. The last was an impressive 10-point I thought might push 170. He was also the least regular of the three.

A few days into November, the 9-point strolled out in front of me on a snowy evening. At a mere nine yards and quartering away, he looked way too impressive. At my shot he jumped a bit and walked maybe 10 yards, expiring within sight of a very enthused young hunter. We are allowed one deer per year up here in Saskatchewan, so I was done. I was a little shocked when the tape measure told us this buck had 165 inches of antler. There was definitely some ground growth! Fortunately, the next February I was lucky enough to pick up both of the 10-point’s antlers.

The sheds stretched the tape to nearly 185 inches, and I kicked myself a little bit for not holding out for that buck. However, I was still pretty stoked to see if he would survive the winter.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

The fall of 2020 brought me back to the same area where I took the 9-point. I had no pictures or sign of the big 10-point through September and October, but the lopsided 8-point was back. He had blossomed into a beautiful and well balanced 165-class 8-point, with the start of a drop tine and some stickers on his left side. I watched him from my little perch up in a tree in the early bow season. I decided he was too young and too much like my previous buck, so I named him Evan and let him walk.

A Sunday afternoon card pull on Nov. 1, 2020, finally brought what I had been dreaming about. The 10-point had showed up in the middle of the night and he had experienced some jaw-dropping growth! I suspected from previous experience that he probably wouldn’t stick around very long, so I was antsy to get in that stand as soon as possible.

What seemed like an eternity later my family gave up on getting any good help out of me because of my desire to hunt, and early Monday afternoon I was once again in my happy place up in a tree. It was a warm, damp day with temps above freezing and a light northwest breeze eating away the early snow. The damp ground prevented me from hearing any approaching deer, and I evolved into a bit of a nervous wreck as multiple deer surprised me by slipping out of the thick undergrowth within 15 yards of my tree.




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Dylan Ensz tagged his buck-of-a-lifetime in 2020 with his bow, and he knew there was a chance he’d go the rest of his life without shooting another deer that big. However, just one season later, Dylan scored on a giant velvet non-typical. Photos courtesy of Dylan Ensz

After a short spell, things got really quiet with no deer in sight at all. Then I heard it. Massive antlers obliterated some evergreen boughs somewhere behind me. I heard scraping noises, then heavy footfalls sounded as he moved into a small opening about 60 yards to my right. He was massive, extremely rutted up, and just tearing apart every scrape he approached. I have never seen a whitetail look so utterly imposing and dominant.

I shook in my tree as the buck destroyed that scrape 60 yards away, then he turned and treaded straight towards me, soon becoming obscured in some small evergreen scrub. Suddenly he reappeared, now a mere four yards away and sniffing a scrape under a tree directly beside mine. I had no shot, nor did I have my bow drawn.

After working over the scrape he quartered away and moved in the direction of the feed. I started to ease my bow back, painfully aware of the lack of cover noise. Suddenly the buck’s head snapped to attention, and he took two giant leaps directly away from me. I froze at half-draw and struggled to hold as he looked carefully around, trying to figure out what had triggered his senses.

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After a bit he seemed to relax and started to walk again, circling back towards me as I finally reached full draw. As he came back within 10 yards, I knew I couldn’t hold much longer, so I picked a spot, buried the pin and released. A stressful two hours later, my buddy Keegan started hollering as his flashlight beam fell on a sweet sight barely 100 yards away in the thick cover. What a feeling!

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Dylan Ensz arrowed his two incredible whitetails in Saskatchewan, Canada, where whitetail bucks commonly develop heavy bodies and big racks. Photo courtesy of Dylan Ensz

OUT OF NOWHERE

The 2021 season really looked like a potential let down year. The buck I called Evan had disappeared early the previous gun season and was presumed dead. I had got my buck of a lifetime the season before, and that was bittersweet knowing I could easily hunt 40 years and never see something like it again. As summer neared its end, our scouting efforts had turned up a couple nice bucks but nothing crazy big.

Then a midsummer cattle move found our herd in a spot close to some of our better hunting areas on August 15th. The very next day I checked a camera beside that piece, and the cattle must have chased him over the fence, because there he was! Evan was back after all, and he had done some growing! His drop tine had morphed into a webbed triple drop tine, and his already massive brow tines had attained epic proportions. We wouldn’t piece together until much later where he had disappeared to, but it turned out he had provided some other hunters a lot of entertainment the previous season. One hunter even missed Evan during the 2020 rifle season.

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After no recent intel on the buck, Dylan assumed that Evan had been killed somehow. However, while he was moving cattle during the summer of 2021, Dylan checked a nearby camera and was surprised to see Evan on it. Photo courtesy of Dylan Ensz

We quickly turned to game planning as subsequent card pulls revealed him showing up at two locations. He was on camera during daylight, so I knew we had a chance if we could get him before he abandoned his summer routine. Opening day (Sept. 1) found me snuggled in a tree well before daylight. Anticipation was high, but a 4-hour sit provided nearly no deer traffic. In the afternoon I relinquished that tree stand to my older brother, and my younger brother and I went to the other place where Evan had shown up.

The evening produced a steady procession of deer activity, and we were on the edge of our expanded metal seat. Each deer we heard approaching brought a new rush of anticipation. About an hour and a half into our sit, a mature 8-point we called Skippy crunched his way through the fallen leaves into the clearing. He quickly made his way into the feed, but he was extremely nervous and jumpy. I had barely finished whispering to my brother that I thought another deer was coming when I saw it. Evan was already inside 40 yards and following in the steps of Skippy!

He was relaxed and definitely the boss! Even though both bucks were still in full velvet, Skippy dodged out of Evan’s way and looked back. Just as I came to full draw, I caught a glimpse of Skippy twisting his head up to lock in on us in the tree. Busted! I knew I was out of time. Skippy was about a half-second from blowing and alerting Evan to my presence, so I settled the pin faster than I think I ever have and sunk the arrow before Skippy had even moved. I was grateful in that moment for hours of practice and a close familiarity with my weapon.

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Ultimately, Dylan arrowed the non-typical during an early season hunt with his brother just a year later. Photo courtesy of Dylan Ensz

ENDING THE JOURNEY

The woods were empty now as two shaky hunters carefully descended their ladder. Half an hour later we followed a short trail into a steep ravine and saw him lying at the bottom. It is an incredibly bittersweet thing to walk up on a buck of that caliber. I would almost rather still have him running around the woods to see another day but not quite!

Before I end this, I would like to thank my parents for their training and their legacy. I thank my mom for her patience and my dad for the multitude of lessons he taught me by example. Unfortunately he passed away after a short battle with cancer in 2018, but his memories and effect on our lives are still very present. I treasure the time he took for us boys and his unselfishness in providing us the very best of childhoods.

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