Doug Broich's 243-Inch Saskatchewan Non-Typical Whitetail Record
January 22, 2014
With a fairly recent move to the countryside and some land under my family's feet, I was looking forward to seeing which whitetail bucks were roaming our piece of southern Saskatchewan soil for the 2012 hunting season.
Earlier in the year I'd drawn both cow elk and either-sex moose tags and had been successful in filling them. I was hoping my luck would continue during deer season.
In midsummer my friend Steve and I had set up a few stands, cameras and feeding locations in spots where there was a lot of deer sign. As summer faded and a ton of practice arrows were flung, I was ready to bowhunt. But while a few deer were seen and a couple fruitlessly stalked, early season ended without success.
I live in a wildlife management zone that has no centerfire rifle season, so my next goal was to get within muzzleloader range of a good deer. Thanks to a few years of practice and experience, I was pretty comfortable shooting out to 150 yards.
On opening evening of archery season I'd seen a huge buck feeding along the brushy edge of a slough. Because he was moving slowly away from me, I climbed down from my tree to attempt to get closer.
He was near a hay bale blind I'd set up a few years prior for muzzleloading. But despite my best efforts at keeping quiet, it was noisy stalking with the long, uncut hay underneath my boots, and I ultimately spooked him.
Over the next two months, it seemed that every time I went hunting there were a lot of moving deer, grouse, muskrats or coyotes playing. Despite constant action of one kind or another, nothing caught my interest or came close enough to get me to raise the bow or muzzleloader.
The sitting, watching and waiting are what make whitetail hunting so exciting to me. All those days when that huge buck doesn't appear make that one big moment so special.
Oct. 25 rolled around, and finally the monster that had haunted my dreams showed up! It wasn't in the flesh, though — rather, I got an image of him on the trail camera. There were a few good bucks showing up by this point, but no others as impressive as him. He truly was a buck of my dreams, and I had all of my attention focused on closing the deal.
All of the photos had been taken in the middle of the night, and they were sporadic. He is way too smart, I told myself. It will be tough to even get a look at him in the daylight. As the season continued the trail camera showed the buck was becoming more active and traveling more, but I still didn't have a single photo or sighting of him in shooting light.
It definitely wasn't for lack of effort. I'd spent no shortage of time in the field, and it was wearing on me mentally and physically. But I continued on and spent every spare moment hunting, even to the discontent of my wife and kids at times.
The rut seemed to be picking up, and in the field I was beginning to see more movement, with even a few pretty good bucks chasing does past my stand. I tried rattling for the first time with some success. I brought in one really nice buck at freight train speed but held off the trigger; I still had visions of that monster in my head. While I had "shooter's remorse" afterward for not taking the shot, I'm now really glad I didn't.
After spending part of Nov. 17 with my wife, Kenzie, and our kids, Tanner and Alexa, I gave in to Kenzie's encouragement that I hunt that afternoon. But it was a strange sit; nothing was moving. The hours passed and I found myself starting to quietly pack up a bit early.
And I questioned why I was in that spot again. Am I missing something? I asked myself. Did I set up wrong? Where are the deer?
Just then, I glanced off to the side and caught movement in the brush. A quick look with the binoculars and my first instincts told me it was a doe; the body seemed fairly small. But then something caught my eye. The head rose just a bit, and I thought I could make out a rack.
I pulled out my rattling antlers, which were already down in my bag. I figured rattling was worth a try, since legal shooting light was quickly ticking away.
After I'd worked the antlers hard for a few seconds I could see that they were sparking interest; the buck didn't come in at breakneck speed as the other one had, but he definitely had changed his angle of travel. In fact, he now was heading straight at me.
I kept glassing as the buck came through an opening. He looked big and seemed to be getting bigger as he came in! Seconds turned to agonizing minutes as I watched him slowly move through the thick brush.
Finally, the deer came into the open within my shooting range. And in an instant, I was all but certain it was him! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. My heart was pounding so hard I could hear it, and my hands began to shake frantically.
I gently lifted my muzzleloader to my shoulder as the buck stood there at 120 yards. I tried to calm myself and breathe as I watched him through the scope. Meanwhile, he stood there with his head up, looking around. I tried to look only at his body and not his antlers.
Focusing hard on the buck's shoulder, I squeezed the trigger. I heard the "whack" and watched him jump, kick high in the air and spin around. But then he just stood there! I couldn't believe my eyes!
I reloaded as fast as anyone could have in that situation. My actions were on autopilot, but I was in the deepest state of deer-hunting panic I'd ever experienced.
When I looked up after reloading, I saw the deer had moved about 15 yards closer to me. I took aim again, and this time when I shot he went down instantly. My arms flew into the air, and I jumped around like a kid after hitting his first home run. I'd just shot the monster!
I reloaded again and made my way over to him for the final check. His antlers began to look more and more like pure craziness, better in person than any picture I'd seen. I just stood there in shock, trying to take it all in.
I sent a couple of messages to hunting buddies and snapped a quick photo before starting my long way back to the house to get the Rhino.
As I drove it back to the scene of one of the greatest moments on my life, I began to worry that I might break something off the rack, as there were points going in every direction. But then I realized I wouldn't be able to load the deer by myself anyway.
I called Steve and asked him to come out and lend me a hand. But he was already excitedly halfway there with his dad in tow. Steve parked, hopped onto his quad and followed my tracks to where I was.
Handshakes and shouting filled the air as we stood around the buck in awe. With careful hands we loaded him up and took the return trip to the farmyard. We winched up the deer and raised a toast to him, to good friends and to the season.
Then we caped him out and headed down the grid road to drop off my trophy with Al at Country Taxidermy.
I've thought a lot about the hunt for that deer and how everything came together at the end. I have to say thanks to Heath, Blair and Pat, who measured the buck for the Henry Kelsey Club listings, our provincial record book, as well as all of my other family and friends who supported my effort to take the new Saskatchewan non-typical record.
It definitely was a season I'll never forget — and as I write this, I can't wait to hit the bush again.