October 31, 2023
Every serious whitetail hunter dreams of hunting the massive bucks of Canada. Matt Beard of southern Missouri is no exception, and he has made the trek north more than once in search of trophy-class deer. “I’d been in contact with my friends Zach Kalinski and Jessie MacEachern in Alberta who own and operate Iron River Outfitters located just outside Bonnyville,” Matt says.
This region of Alberta is where agriculture ends and the daunting boreal forest begins.
“I was in Alberta hunting in November 2022, pursuing a buck that was in the 180-190 range as a typical,” Matt says. After seven hard days of hunting, it was not meant to be. The buck seemed to be a ghost during peak times of the season, with only one sighting on camera the whole month of November.
Through the summer months, Matt kept in touch with his friends at Iron River Outfitters about the deer they had been seeing and getting pictures of. “I was in Kansas in early September working on food plots with my son when I got a text from Zach,” Matt recalls. “The buck I had been after was back and even bigger. I immediately called Michelle and told her to book a flight. With an early September gun season, I was going to stay in Alberta as long as I could to try and tag this buck.”
Arriving in Alberta on Sept. 19, Matt didn’t start hunting until the following day. The buck had been frequenting a particular area in the cutline of the big timber. With numerous trail camera photos and video of the buck, the group had a good idea where they might intercept him. During the first three days of the hunt, Matt sat on the cutline hoping to intercept the buck. Unfortunately, he never showed.
During the summer of 2023, Alberta experienced severe drought conditions. So, with a pond nearby, it seemed likely that the buck would be watering there; trail camera photos confirmed this theory.
“Each morning I’d get up around 4:00 a.m. to get dropped off for the day to hunt the cutline,” Matt says. “On day three, after getting pictures of the buck at the pond, we decided to mix it up. I hunted the cutline that morning, and I got down during midday to still-hunt to the pond for an evening sit.”
While still-hunting to the pond on the third day, Matt came across a big, fresh pile of deer droppings. He reasoned that this was from the buck he was hunting.
On day seven, after finally getting the south wind he needed, Matt was back at the spot where he’d found the fresh deer sign. Matt had constructed a ground blind four days earlier, and he planned to lean against some poplar trees while standing in it. “I had to stand most of the time, because the dead falls and brush are so thick that I had to stand to see an additional 15 yards further than I could when I was sitting.”
Situated near what he figured was the buck’s bedding area, Matt waited in the dark for the forest to come alive, anticipating the deer to be returning from the pond and going back to bed. Around 8:00 a.m., Matt heard something walking not far away, and he found its source immediately. After recognizing a white patch on the deer’s back, he knew it was the buck he’d come to Alberta for. The buck walked to a mere 18 yards away when Matt’s gun rang true, dropping the monarch in its tracks!
“I was in complete shock,” Matt says. “I couldn’t believe he was down. I instantly facetimed Michelle. It was an emotional experience!”
After six 14-hour-long days of hunting, Matt Beard was rightly rewarded with a 6x6 typical Alberta giant. A green score of 202 gross and 195 net typical suggests the buck will likely place in the top five all-time for typicals in Alberta, according to Boone and Crockett’s record book.