Well, I am back from my whitetail hunt with Richard Graves in Alberta Canada. To say it was a good time would be an extreme understatement. Finally meeting Richard face to face and spending 10 days with him hunting and BSing was as much fun as the actual hunting.
I got up to his place on the 13th and we went for a drive that evening to look for some deer but as it was Sunday we were unable to hunt. That Monday we got serious and the weather was cooperating for us as well. Monday and Tuesday we saw 20 different bucks with several in the +150 class and one in the mid 160 range which was on ground we could not hunt. Still he was fun to watch and at 500 yards would have been a chip shot for the 7mm AM.
As we were after something really special for the 7mm AM we passed on alot of deer that I considered good bucks but by Canadian standards were just young deer!!
Wednesday, Richard had to help some neighbors with cattle so he set me up in a beautiful brush covered area and left me there until early afternoon. About 30 minutes after he left I spotted a big buck working around a brushy hill about 600 yards away. I just caught a glimpse of the buck but instantly knew I better be ready if he worked his way in front of me.
I set the rifle up and got ready but nothing came around the hill. Then after about 10 minutes I heard a lound thump right beside me. By reflex I turned my head to see a HUGE whitetail just 15 yards to my right and slightly behind me. He was roughly 26" wide and a clean 6x5. His G-2s and G-3s on both sides were over 10" long and the thing I will never remember was hit eye guards that reached just as high as hit other tines, they were in the 14" range easily. His G-4s were in the 8" range as well and he looked to have 6" bases as well and heavy main beams and tines right to the tips, just a true Canadian hog of a whitetail.
Only problem is that he saw me laying there and had stomped to get me to move, that big whitetail worked me like a rookie hunter and almost instantly he was in the thick bush safe from me. To add insult to injury, all I could see as he calmly moved through the brush was his huge rack!! I watched that rack wonder though the brush for about 15 seconds at less then 50 yards and then he was gone. Truely the biggest whitetail I have every seen in the wild by a large margin.
After that the weather really warmed up and buck movement slowed down to only smaller bucks. Still we hunted hard every day and put in alot of hours and miles trying to find that one buck we were after.
Through the week, the temps continued to climb until they topped out in the 65 degree range for four days straight. I was beginning to get worried at this point as we were a full week into the hunt and rut activity during day light hours was becoming hard to find.
One afternoon we did take some time to play with the 7mm AM with Richards steel targets. We set the chicken, turkey and pig out at 500 yards and the ram at 800 yards. The power of the 7mm AM and the 200 gr ULD RBBT at 3150 fps is hard to realize until you smack the hell out of a 60 lb ram at 800 yards and watch it fly.
Another friend was also there that day and he took his try with the big 7mm at 500 yards and hit the turkey and chicken with consectutive shots. Let me tell you that little chicken flat takes off when hit by that 200 gr ULD. It was alot of fun but it was time to get back to hunting.
The day before our Thanksgiving, Richard and I crawled up to a spot where we could watch two hill sides that we had been watching two very respectable bucks for the whole week. We had named the two bucks Sandy and old Grey for the color of their coats.
Sandy was a typical 6x4 in the mid 150 range and ol grey was a very wide 5x4, probably in the 25-26" wide range and just huge bodied, a very old buck.
We had decided that with the weather it may be best to try to take one of these bucks as we had seen them using these hill sides all week running does and with no change in the weather coming soon it was more of a security plan then anything for me anyway.
We crawled up to the point we wanted and set up the gear and spotting equipment. Then on the top of a small flat where we were not expecting to see deer there was a buck bedded down keeping watch over a doe. He was laying with his rear toward us and his rack was perfectly broadside to us. He was a clean 4x4 with small 5th points which would not score. Good mass and good main beam length.
Then he finally turned and looked our direction, that was all we needed. He was several inches past both ears!!!
The range was not long, just short of 300 yards as he was alot closer to use then we were expecting to see the deer at on the two hill sides. The shot would be easy, getting the old boy to stand up prooved to be the most challanging part.
The plan was to get set up and ready and then Richard would give the buck a few challange grunt calls and when he stood up, pow, game over. Well, the old buck was so tired from the rut he would simply turn his head and look in the direction of the grunt with little reaction other then that!
Richard grunted harder and harder but still with little more result then a lazy look in our direction. At this point Richard was playing the grunt tube like a Damn trumpet trying to get the buck to stand up and finally he lowered his head as if he was going to stand.
He did but it took several seconds for him to decide he really wanted to do it. Finally he lifted his rear end first and then his front and the size of the old buck became very appearant. Instead of standing broadside though he quickly turned and I had no shot but the view of his rank hanging out over both sides of his rump really showed the true spread of this fine old buck.
He began to slowly walk away from us and I was beginning to get nervous that he would walk over the hill and out of sight so I kept the reticle of the NF ready. Finally, the buck turned and squared broadside to us, very slightly quartering away.
The vertical stadia of the reticle was lined up perfectly with the offside leg and the big 7mm barked as the 200 gr ULD RBBT ripped across the valley to the big buck.
On impact I could see the dramatic shock of the impact ripple though the bucks huge front shoulders and he was litterally knocked several feet to the rear by the impact. Through the scope the impact was dramatic as I watched the offside shoulder give way.
Then we were greeted by the impact "thump". TO my suprise the big buck absorded the impact and retained his feet and turned and ran over the hill. As he did I remember saying, "hes dead!"
Its a great to have that kind of power in a rifle and still be able to spot your own impacts so you know exactly where the impact was on the target.
We set there for several minutes talking about the shot and impact. Richard said he had seen dozens of hits on big whitetails with vary large guns but had never seen a big buck thrown several deer like the 7mm AM had just done. I two was impressed as this was the first game I had taken with the 7 and the big 200 gr ULD RBBT.
After a few minutes we decided to walk up and see what we had just taken. We walked over the hill where the buck had been and there was no sign of him at all in the small valley behind the flat. I was not worried but suprised he had traveled more then 25 yards from the hit.
We fallowed his trail and around a small group of trees about 70 yards from the impact we walked up to this........
ITs not everyday you walk up to a whitetail and see that much horn sticking up in the air!! My previous widest whitetail was a 24" 5x5 and this thing absolutely dwarfted it in width and mass for that matter.
For reference, the barrel on my 7mm AM rifle is 31.5" long so that give a good reference to the spread on this buck!!
There was certainly no ground shrinkage on this big boy. To be honest, this was not the quality of buck that Richard wanted me to get. He had everything we wanted but number of points. Still, in my book this is a huge buck and even Richard was impressed by his spread.
When we got him home we put the tape to him and realized that he was just shy of 28" wide!!! His base measurements were 6 0/8" and 5 7/8" and his gross score was just short of 160" at 158 7/8" B&C. As you can see his left antler is significantly weaker then the right so the net score was an even 150 0/8" which for a clean scorable 4x4, ain't to damn bad!! His main beam lengths were 26 1/8" and 25 4/8", again the longest I have taken to date. Had his left antler had the same tine length as the right, he would have been a 165" B&C class 4x4. Still, score means very little to me. When Richard asked me what kind of buck I wanted, I said all I need is a Mature buck, we certainly got that and then some!!!
We figured the buck to be 8 1/2 to 9 1/2 years old as his teeth were in very bad shape with several missing and most of the ones he had left were very loose, they call these "Gummer Bucks".
When we skinned the buck there was no fat at all on this deer. He had burned what reserves he had on the rut and Richard figured he would not have made it though this winter as his teeth were not in good enough shape to regain any body weight. It was good to have taken him and I was extremely happy!!!
I was even more suprised to see how the 200 gr ULD RBBT had performed on the +300 lb buck. There was only a perfectly round 7mm hole on the entrance wound and the exit was a very controled 1.5" diameter hole. This was a suprise to me as the bullet had impacted the heavy shoulder just inches before exiting.
Considering this bullet is one of the early designes which used the light J-4 jacket, we were both totally amazed by the controlled performance of this bullet, in fact it was almost to controlled until it hit that offside shoulder. The damage to the shoulder was extreme to say it conservatively!!
The new 200 gr ULD RBBTs will use a heavier jacket and any worries we may have had using these bullets on elk size game have been totally put to rest from the field results we are getting from this season.
Besides hunting, I was also able to get a tour of the Wildcat Bullet operation and was very impressed with the process of making these bullets as well as the dedication of the man making these bullets to produce a world class product for his customers.
I need to give a special thanks to Richard and his family for making me feel like part of the family for the 10 days I was able to spend with them. They are truely great people and I am honored to be able to call them my friends.
That will not be the last hunting adventure Richard and I will spend together I promise you, that is if he will be willing to put up with me agian.
Dispite the warm weather and multipul "SKUNK MIT" beatings(inside joke), it was the best hunt I have been on and I look forward to going back and spending more time in the field with Richard. I would say his knowledge of bullet making is only surpassed by his knowledge of whitetail hunting and field experience. He may not know this but I learned alot these last 10 days about all aspects of whitetail hunting from sneaking into position to rattling bucks in which was a blast by the way.
I guess now it is time for both Richard and myself to get back to work and catch up on out bullet and rifle orders so we can get ready for next year!!
Thanks again Richard and Jo, it was a blast!!!