My outside layer is the fanatic bibs and jacket. I’ll post a complete gear list when I get back.
Great write up. Five stars.For those that have been following, here is the info about the hunt; sorry for the long read
Hunting Canada has always been one of my dream hunts. Originally, I was going to go to Saskatchewan but after doing some research, I decided on Alberta. Mainly just due to personal preference as I didn't want to hunt over a pile of alfalfa. That's just the way it's done in Saskatchewan and I'm not necessarily against that, it's just not the way I wanted to hunt. I researched a lot of Alberta guides and finally decided on Alberta Wilderness Guide Service (AWGS) which is owned and operated by Dean Bromberger. Big woods Alberta deer are hard to hunt. I found out that a lot of outfitters spend a lot of time ridding clients around in a truck looking for deer. I did not want to do that. I wanted to spend my time in the stand trying to kill a mature buck. That is what AWGS is all about. We arrived in Edmonton on Saturday night. Dean had us a room booked at a local hotel. We spent the night and he picked us up Sunday morning and drove us to the lodge just north of Edson Alberta. About a 2.5 hr drive. Once at the lodge, we settled into our rooms and shot our guns to make sure everything was good. There were a total of 6 hunters an 3 guides in our camp. He assigned us our guides and stands for the week and had an orientation of sort on how to judge these big bodied Canadian deer. (Very informative). Dean has a system for killing these mature deer that makes since for the area. The woods, or bush as they call it, is very thick. According to Dean, there are numerous trail systems that weave through this massive area of wilderness and the best way to consistently kill these big Canada deer is to hunt the pipelines or "cuts" at the locations these trails cross. Their hunting tactic is pretty simple, set a stand or blind on the cut and wait for the right deer to cross. Dean's theory is this, he puts you at a good location that you hunt all week. Eventually, that shooter buck will cross your cut. Of course it's not 100% that will happen and I new that going in. When these deer cross the cuts, most never break stride so you must get them to stop. We were instructed to yell loudly at a deer as soon as we saw them crossing the cut. I was a little skeptical of this at first but it proved to be the best way to stop these deer. One quick loud yell, and the deer would stop for a few seconds, look around and continue on. I never had the first deer spook from yelling at them. Monday morning finally came and it was time to get into the woods. Each guide would drive his 2 hunters to a drop off point. On the first morning, the guide would walk to the stand with each hunter carrying all of his gear. Most stands were 3/4 to over a mile walk. To keep from getting sweaty, you would walk in wearing the minimum amount of clothing as possible and get dressed at the stand. You would hunt till dark, remove your heavy hunting clothes and boots and place them in a large garbage bag and leave them under your stand. You would then walk out to the pick up spot to meet your guide. For the remainder of the week, the hunter will walk in and out to the stand by himself and put on his heavy gear and boots that was left there the night before. There is cell service in the area which is how we communicated with our guide if needed. Hunters were either placed in a Texas style tripod stand or a ground blind which had a heater. A couple of the locations actually had both so a hunter could change depending on the weather. My location had a blind about 150 yards up the cut but I chose to stay in the stand all week. If I had moved to the blind, I would have lost sight of about 250 yards of the cut. Days are a little shorter up there. Legal shooting hours were the same as here, 30 min before sunrise until 30 min after sunset. Which was somewhere around 8:00 am till a few min after 5:00 pm. Once in the stand/blind, to be successful, a hunter must be constantly turning and looking both directions up and down the cut line. If you don't do this, deer will cross the cut and never be seen. The cut I was on was about 25 yards wide. I could see 400 yards to the north and 250 yards to the south. I could also see a far hillside to the south that was a little over 800 yards. Overall deer numbers are low in the area. We were told to expect to see 0-3 deer per day. I saw deer every day but one. Total deer I saw for the week was 9 bucks and 15 does. The only for sure shooter I saw was on the 800 yard hillside. I don't know for sure how big he was but I could easily tell that his frame and mass was plenty big to be a shooter. I did see one other deer at 400 yards that may have been a shooter. But when he stopped, his head was behind a bush at the edge of the cut and I just couldn't tell for sure. As said above, most hunters had a pretty good walk in and out to their stands. My buddy and I lucked out on that because the road that is usually taken to get to our location was snowed in. There was a trail system going in the back way from the lodge and our guide actually rode us to our stands and picked us back up on a 4 wheeler which was nice. The ride was about 25 min each way. There were 2 mornings that due to snow, we were not able to get up a steep hill and I would have to walk the rest of the way. However, my guide walked in with me and carried my gear, even though I told him it wasn't necessary.
The lodge that we stayed in was owned by a retired couple and was located on a couple hundred acres of private land in the middle of this huge area. This whole property was off grid, with only solar power. The couple that owned the property did all of the cooking and I have to say the food was amazing. When we would return to the lodge at night, they had snacks and finger foods out for us to eat. Followed by a 5 course homemade meal with homemade deserts every night. Every morning there was cereal, toast and fresh homemade muffins out for breakfast and a lunch with your name on it. Including coffee and homemade soup if you wanted some to take to the stand. All the other guys in camp were also great to be around. There were 2 bucks killed in camp this week. Although we hunted hard and followed our guides instructions my buddy and I didn't connect. He did have an opportunity at a big mature 10 pt Saturday morning at 350 yards. He stopped the buck and shot right under his belly. He was sick to say the least. All in all it was a great trip and I new going in that I could come home empty handed. The lodging and guides were just great. They went out of their way to make sure everything was right. I enjoyed it so much, I would book it again for next year if I had the money. Unfortunately I just don't at this time.
The only real issue we had was trying to get home. Dean drove us back to the hotel in Edmonton on Saturday night. We were at the airport at 3:30 Sunday morning for our 6:30 flight to Vancouver. After arriving in Vancouver, they had misplaced our bags and would not allow us to go to customs until they found them. This caused us to miss our flight to Denver. They finally located our bags and we got the run around trying to get another flight out. I really thought we were gonna be spending the night in Vancouver. Finally, we were able to get a flight to Seattle with a connecting flight to Nashville. We made those flights and landed in Nashville just before midnight. When we went to collect our bags, our rifles came off the plane but they had lost our other check bags again. The airline couldn't locate them so we filed the claim and headed home, getting home around 3 am. The airline found our bags the following day and said they would be delivered by 10pm that night. I was relieved because each of our bags contained several thousand dollars of clothing and hunting gear. As I sat that night waiting for the bags to get delivered, I got a call from the courier who stated he had been pulled over and was going to jail. His vehicle and our bags were fixing to be towed to impound. I spoke with the officer who said he could not release the bags with out approval from a supervisor. I will not name the town they were in here, but I had a personal connection so I hung up and made that call. Within a few min, the bags had been removed and taken to the police department and I was on the road driving 45 min to pick them up.
So I guess that's pretty much it. Other than the fiasco with our bags and getting home, it was a great trip. A few of you ask about a gear list. I will post that shortly and get in to the layering system that I used. If anyone is interested in going on an Alberta whitetail hunt, with a good professional outfitter, I highly recommend AWGS. You can find them on Facebook or their website at https://www.ihuntalberta.com/
Here are a few mor pics taken by me and my buddy as well as a pic of all the deer that were killed at AWGS this season