By Dan Cole
Standing on the edge of a field of oat stubble, Tiffany Wiebe and her cousin Brandon discussed their options for the rest of the afternoon. After a long but unproductive watch over this field, the hunting partners decided to head to a different one for the remainder of the afternoon. The other field was only a few miles away, so they were in no hurry to get to their vehicle for the short drive.
The field they’d been watching was on the edge of the forest, and to the north lay hundreds of miles of solid “bush,” as tree cover is often referred to in Canada. As the two made their way toward the vehicle, they walked parallel to a strip of entangled trees, the remains and result of bulldozer work the property owner had done to expand his tillable acres.
Little did Tiffany or Brandon realize their twin decisions to leave that field and use that exit route last Nov. 12 would result in rewriting the Canadian whitetail records.
This was Tiffany’s first year as a hunter. The resident of La Crete, a community near the Peace River, had taken it upon herself to start. Nobody in her immediate family hunted. As she’d listened to hunting stories told by her friends, her interest had grown to the point that in 2017, she’d convinced a friend and her boyfriend to let her tag along while they hunted.
From that point on, Tiffany had been determined to start deer hunting in ’18. She’d then convinced Brandon to take her; she wanted a mentor, and he had some hunting experience.
Tiffany had borrowed a .25-06 Rem. rifle to use, and she and Brandon had hunted every weekend since opening day of rifle season way back in early September. But despite their hunting as often as possible, bucks had been elusive. Even so, a positive attitude and a determination to succeed had prevailed.
“All I wanted was a perfect little 5x5,” Tiffany says. “That was my dream deer.”
UNPREPARED FOR REALITY
As the hunters walked down the line of bulldozed brush and trees, they chatted softly. Both were at ease, with their rifles slung over their shoulders. Then, suddenly, a buck jumped up right in front of them. Within two or three quick bounds, he’d disappeared into the forest.
“He had been lying in that bulldozing pile, and we practically walked right up to him,” Tiffany recalls. “He was just the type of buck I was after. It all happened pretty fast, but he looked like the perfect little 5x5 I had set as a goal.”
This was the first buck the duo had seen all fall, so naturally their excitement spiked. After an enthusiastic but quiet conversation, Tiffany and Brandon decided to change their plans once again and stay right where they were. Backtracking a little way down the line of piled trees, they found a spot where they could sit together but still be concealed within the entanglement of branches and brush.
Hurriedly clearing a spot in which to sit, Tiffany found a solid rest for her rifle, and began the silent wait. Feeling the adrenaline coursing through her veins and hearing her heart pounding loudly in her chest, she kept telling herself to calm down.
“I had to compose myself, because I was really excited,” she notes. “I expected to get excited, but I never thought it would be to this level. I tried looking through my scope, but I was shaking all over the place. I tried to focus on relaxing and that did help a little, but I was still shaking pretty bad.”
About the time Tiffany started breathing normally again, a doe walked out of the trees and entered the field 50 yards in front of the hunters. Tiffany’s lack of interest in shooting the doe didn’t matter; once again the adrenaline started pumping, and her shaking began all over again. She felt it was just a matter of time until the little buck made another appearance. Hopefully the doe would bring him out sooner, rather than later.
Suddenly, Tiffany spotted antlers moving in the trees. A buck was indeed walking toward the doe. Without hesitation, he entered the field.
The hunters weren’t prepared for what they saw. One second they assumed they were watching a small buck make his way into the field — the next, a true world-class whitetail was standing 50 yards in front of them!
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Tiffany says. “I thought for sure it was that little buck coming out, and then suddenly there’s this giant buck with a monstrous set of antlers standing there. It took everything I had to keep it together!”
REGROUPING IN A HURRY
Tiffany told herself, Yeah, that’s my buck right there! But while it was obvious the buck was huge, he was still being screened by the brushpile. It took a couple minutes of patiently waiting before the giant finally stepped into the clear.
Many hunters have found waiting for a shot helps them settle down and regain some composure. But that didn’t happen with Tiffany. Once the buck was clear for a shot and she looked through her scope, even with a solid rest she still had a case of uncontrollable shakes.
“How bad was I shaking?” she asks. “Well, considering that I was aiming for the heart and hit him in the spine, that should tell you how bad it was.”
At the shot, the giant buck dropped in his tracks. Caught up in the moment, Tiffany jumped to her feet and was about to run to her prize. But Brandon grabbed her and made her sit back down. Being hit in the spine meant the buck wasn’t finished. So Tiffany chambered another round and took aim once again. Now shaking even worse than before, she fired a second shot, and then a third, before the great buck lay still forever.
After about a half-hour of no further movement from the deer, Brandon figured it was safe to go to him. He didn’t have to tell Tiffany twice — she was already on her way! And the closer she got to the buck, the bigger he seemed to get. The cousins looked on in amazement at the size of Tiffany’s first whitetail. Both the body and the rack were monstrous.
“My excitement gave way to shock, and then to a little bit more,” Tiffany remembers. “I was completely ecstatic at this point. I never imagined anything like this happening. The reality was setting in, but I still couldn’t believe it.”
Eventually a phone call was made to a family friend who showed up with a tractor to load and haul the big deer back to the farmhouse. Several friends came over to see the buck, and everyone agreed they’d never seen one of his size.
Many people were pretty excited for me, but I still didn’t understand what I had,” Tiffany admits. “I knew it was a big buck, but other than that, I really didn’t have any idea about its true size. My friends kept telling me how big it was, and that’s when it started to sink in that I had taken something pretty special.”
The next morning, a stranger came over to see the deer. He’d been hunting the buck for a couple years and had several trail camera photos from the past few years. According to those photos, the buck was noticeably larger in 2017 than he was when taken. The guy congratulated Tiffany and seemed genuinely happy for her success, displaying a great example of sportsmanship.
A PLACE IN WHITETAIL HISTORY
The massive rack officially has 24 measurable points on a basic 6x6 typical frame. That frame grosses an amazing 198 2/8 inches and nets 186 1/8. And that’s with a tight inside spread of only 17 1/8. Narrow spreads are common on big-woods deer, and this one certainly is an example of that trait.
That relatively narrow spread is offset by 27-inch beams and just under 43 total inches of mass. The rack also boasts 52 1/8 inches of non-typical growth. When added to the gross typical score, that brings the total gross to a stunning 250 3/8. After deductions for asymmetry on the 6x6 frame, the final net record-book score is a very respectable 238 2/8. The right antler alone has a total score of 124 4/8, while the left goes 108 6/8. Those are world-class numbers all around.
With the exception of a short drop tine, all points on the rack grow upward from the tops of the beams. And those thick, upsweeping beams add great character. The Wiebe buck is a spectacular trophy that will surely be honored for generations to come.
Although Tiffany’s whitetail is one of the biggest taken anywhere in North America last season, another fact is likely to keep him prominent for many years to come: He’s one of the world’s top free-range whitetails ever taken by a female hunter.
Alberta’s trophy listings are rather vague on that, so I contacted wildlife agents within the province for their input. After extensive research spanning all of Canada, which included talking with many veteran official measurers, record-book keepers and antler statisticians from across Canada and the U.S., I’ve been unable to find a higher-scoring Canadian non-typical that was shot by a female. Gender-specific records aren’t officially kept, but I’m almost certain Tiffany now holds the women’s record for Canada. For that matter, only a few higher-scoring bucks have been taken by female hunters in the U.S.
Female hunters are the fastest-growing demographic group in hunting, with many entering the woods for the first time every fall. Some of them haven’t grown up in hunting households but still have enough interest to find a way to get involved. Tiffany Wiebe did that, and so much more, on her unlikely Alberta hunt last fall.