A Big Buck – More than Luck
As told by Sheldon Orvis
Sheldon Orvis has been a devoted outdoorsman since he turned 12 and was able to begin legally hunting. His deep-rooted respect for the great outdoors would eventually lead him on a path that would have him enrolled in the Keewatin College in The Pas studying Natural Resource Management Technology. It would seem truly ironic that his great love for the outdoors, and his resulting enrolment in college, would result in him having to remain out of the deer woods for the two years that he was busy studying. Before you begin to feel sorry for Sheldon not being able to hunt, I think you had best read the rest of this story.
After Sheldon’s two-year break from the deer woods, he found himself unable to simply wait it out for the November rifle season. He decided to give bowhunting a try. While the fall would not yield any venison for Sheldon, he did come away with several close encounters. While hunting, Sheldon crossed paths with a huge non-typical deer on three separate occasions, but due to bad luck or buck fever, he would end the season with an unused tag in his pocket.
After “enduring” the archery season, Sheldon looked forward to the general firearm season. For many years a group of five to six people, mainly family members, would head to the deer woods in search of fresh venison and the camaraderie that comes with a deer hunt. After a two-year absence and having the knowledge that he had learned both in school and in his treestand, Sheldon was determined to hold out for a big buck. The area that Sheldon had been bowhunting was in an “Archery-only zone”; for his rifle hunt, Sheldon would return to an area that he had hunted for many years. After a fitful night of ‘opening morning-induced sleep”, Sheldon was eager to get to his hunting locale. His cousin Jason would accompany him.
Much like the archery season, opening morning also proved to be plagued with a number of glitches. Sheldon likes to arrive on stand early and let things settle down a bit before the sun begins to rise. The fresh snow that had fallen overnight would be a bonus in the woods, but on the highway it was a curse. Already running late, the pair was greeted with over a mile-long walk in the knee-deep snow. Forty minutes later and sweated up from the hike, the pair reached Jason’s hide. The trail they were on had a gentle curve and by sitting in this spot Jason would be able to watch both directions for any deer that may cross the opening.
Due to being off-schedule, it was now legal to hunt. After half-heartedly wishing his cousin good luck, Sheldon continued on. He had another half-mile to walk before he would reach the field that he wanted to hunt. Somewhat disgusted with the morning’s events, Sheldon had walked about 400 yards when he was startled by a shot coming from Jason’s location. Out of reflex, he turned and looked back in the direction from which he had come. Sheldon could see his cousin jumping up and down and waving his arms. “I knew he had deer down, but to be honest,” Sheldon recounts, “The way the day was going, I turned around and kept on walking, like I had never saw him. Turns out it was the right thing for me to do.”
A wise man once said, “If things can go wrong, they will.” The morning breeze had changed from the South around to the Northwest. Sheldon’s plan had been to set up on the edge of the 100 yard-wide field and watch the deer as they entered the opposite edge of the meadow. With the present wind direction, Sheldon would have no choice but to set up on the opposite side of the field and on the downwind side of the trail that he hoped the deer would use when entering the field.
Knowing that he was cutting things pretty fine regarding the wind, Sheldon decided to set out a circle of synthetic doe-in-heat scent around his blind. Having forgotten his wicks, and wondering, what could go wrong next, Sheldon resorted to tearing the lining out of his gloves and soaking the cloth in liquid.
After five minutes and soaked with sweat with a chill setting in, Sheldon was reaching for his thermos of coffee when a cracking branch startled him. Upon looking to his left, he spotted a mature doe as she entered the field at a range of 8 yards. Apparently, she had detected the smell of the lure and with head held high she walked towards the source of the scent. A few moments later, a second, smaller doe would join her. As the pair checked things out, Sheldon became aware of a third animal walking through the nearby willows.
As he peered through the screen of branches, Sheldon could see that this animal had a significantly larger body. Unsure as to what exactly he was looking at, Sheldon raised his rifle so he could look through his scope. Regardless of how the morning had been going he did not simply want to shoot a buck, he wanted a big one!! The first thing that he spotted was a heavy dark beam, then from amongst the branches a long point would appear. What to do? As he looked at the deer, Sheldon realized that he could make out the bucks front leg and by following the limb up to the chest area he could get a clear shot a the buck’s vitals. What to do?
At the sound of the shot, the buck crashed from the willows and then bolted 100 yards across the field. As Sheldon jumped to his feet he got his first good look as the buck, which he hoped he had just shot. It was tall and heavy. The deer appeared unhurt, and after walking over and examining the scene of the shot, Sheldon only found a few clipped hairs upon the snow. How could he have missed Did he hit a branch?
With low spirits, Sheldon followed the deer’s tracks, expecting to confirm that his bout of bad luck was continuing. After 20 yards, he smiled as he realized that he had connected. Not wanting to push the deer, Sheldon returned to his blind to enjoy that cup of coffee he had been planning when the doe had shown up. The end result was 230 4/8 B&C point non-typical whitetail buck that placed second in the 2003 Manitoba records. What a fitting end to a Non-Typical Kind of Day.