WILD HARVEST: Quest For A Three-Province Whitetail Slam Part 3

Back home

After driving back from Saskatchewan and staying overnight in Winnipeg, I flew home to Ottawa and hit up a Canadian Tire store to purchase my non-resident licence (a quick and easy, but expensive, step.) My brother and I headed out to our cottage, where we had both grown up and first learned to deer hunt together. My brother had been scouting our old spots, but got the most consistent trail camera photos of two eight-point bucks living in the dense cedar bush immediately around our cottage. I prepped a stand, confirmed my crossbow and hoped I could complete my trilogy.

After a first day of heavy rain and snow, we both came down with something and became violently ill. I rarely get sick, so this could not have come at a worse time! Frustrated, we holed up in our comfortable cottage, tending the woodstove and resting. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. By quietly quarantining ourselves, we let the deer adjust to our presence, which, so far, had been harmless. At the same time, a near-record snowfall for late December hit eastern Ontario, creating ideal late-season archery hunting conditions by concentrating the deer in the denser cedar thickets. A few days later we were back to normal, so we checked the cameras and the bucks were still hanging around. We hunted our respective stands, which looked totally different under the new blankets of snow. We even had to knock snow off weighed-down branches to re-establish our shooting lanes.

Despite the weather and our illness, the hunts were eventful and one evening it all came together. I climbed into my stand, thoroughly enjoying the winter wonderland conditions. As evening came, I noticed the flicker of several deer weaving through the cedars and coming in my direction. I could not get a good look, but the lead one flushed a grouse, which exploded in flight and spooked the deer. With darkness quickly falling, I hoped the deer would build up the courage and continue, leading them past my stand. Finally, one did just that. Completely expecting a doe, I was pleasantly greeted with one of the eight-point bucks, standing broadside some 25 yards away. He stopped right before the perfect shooting lane and, sensing my presence, began to leave. But, not before I found an opening and slipped a broadhead through the boiler room. I couldn’t believe my fortune and waited for my brother to return from his hunt to recover the buck together. Late-season deer hunting at the cottage, over Christmas break, is a tradition the two of us developed while we were both in school, and one we still cherish. My brother helped me harvest my third buck of the year and I could not have been more appreciative. Hunting your neighbouring provinces certainly has its benefits – the biggest being the special memories with friends and family.

 

Anyone can do it

As Canadians, these opportunities are here for all of us. A multi-provincial slam offers those dedicated deer hunters new opportunities to maximize their season. Regarding the provinces I hunted, non-resident whitetail licences are in no way difficult to acquire and booking through an outfitter is not required. For both Manitoba and Ontario, licences are simply purchased over-the-counter at provincial or specific retail outlets, costing $155 and a pricey $230 respectively, back in 2012. In Saskatchewan, Canadian residents must plan ahead since licences are only made available until May 31, and cost $137. Upon securing your licence, is it also important to learn how to properly affix the tag to the deer once it is successfully on the ground (hide, meat, head or antler seals) since it varies province to province.

With several overlapping, trans-provincial deer seasons and accommodating Canadian resident regulations, it can be both logistically and financially feasible to pursue whitetails across a portion of Canada. This experience can be yours for the price of an out-of-province hunting licence. Help from friends, feverish pre-season scouting and some luck will all contribute to your success!

I feel very fortunate to have had such a special 2012 whitetail season. None of my bucks were giants, but I’m proud of each of them. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a happy three-province slam and happy New Year!

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