Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Canada

My First Velvet Deer

I have been focusing a lot on some how-to and gear related posts lately and while scrolling through photos on my phone, I began reminiscing over the previous seasons hunts. So, I hope you all don’t mind me sharing my 2018 whitetail harvest story. 

Once again, August 31st (the eve of archery season in the Alberta prairies) came upon us and with it, my brother J and I found ourselves back out at my buddies parents’ place sitting in my trailer planning our strategy for the opening week of archery season. This yearly tradition of spending a solid week together chasing mule deer in the badlands is something that we really enjoy. This past season there was still a significant amount of standing canola in the fields along the coulees we hunt. Bucks generally group up in these areas because of the safety the standing crops can provide.

Because of this, we focused our efforts on identifying their entry and exit routes from the canola in the mornings and evenings and set ourselves up on a couple of these routes depending on the wind direction. Mid-day we would locate bedded deer and attempt to stalk in when the situation allowed. 

This area is primarily a mule deer area, so our focus each year is mule deer. I had a great early stalk, slinking along the tire tracks through the canola. I had seen successful attempts at this with John Dudley and South Cox by gearing down to just socks and a lightweight base layer. This made the process very quiet, but with rains early in the season very wet! I found myself at 12 yards away from a little fork mule buck. He was still in full velvet and was feeding in a low spot where no canola grew, completely unaware of my presence. I was pumped! I had spotted this buck and took my time slowly moving closer and had closed from 400 yards to 12!

There was only one problem, due to the height of the canola and the terrain, I could not see the buck’s vitals. I would have to wait for him to feed further into the low spot so I could see past the canola. I knelt and waited, but this is when I realized that being too close may be a real thing! After 20 minutes I must have made a noise, maybe I took a heavier breath or repositioned my foot… at 30 yards these may have gone unnoticed, but at 12 the gig was up and the little fork bounded away, not sure of what was there, but knew something was up.

A few days later I had another great opportunity to stalk in on some velvet mulies. We had moved to a different coulee due to wind and spotted this group of 3 bucks feed up a draw and then bed just below the crest. We had good wind but the bucks were bedded facing us. J and I moved off the coulee into the cut field to cover the first few hundred yards out of sight. Once the terrain dictated that the field approach was no longer a smart option we used the trees and brush of smaller draws to shield our movement. With 300 yards left to go the amount of cover was quickly diminishing. It was time to crawl. I slithered and crawled my way to the last bit of cover the terrain would provide. I was now at 50 yards from these three bucks. Standing up to get a shot would have alerted the lead buck, a smaller framed 3 point and I had my eye on the largest of the three- a wider, heavier 3×3 that had real dark velvet. I got my shot opportunity on him but I missed just in front of him. Unsure of what had happened I checked my arrow and it was a clean miss. Would have been about a foot right of where I was aiming. 

Upon getting back to the trailer, I pulled out my target and sure enough at 50 yards with the fixed blade heads I was using I shot a foot to the right. At 40 yards I was an inch off center. A shot with a mechanical shot true out to 80 yards. It wasn’t until after the season and checking my arrows that I realized the arrows were no longer spinning true with the fixed blade heads and that the outsert system I was using had begun to bend. I loaded up the quiver with the Rage Hypodermics that I tested out to 80.

With only 1 full day remaining in our week trip before I had to fly out for work, I again sat the edge of the canola in a slough between two hedge rows. About a half-hour before last light I heard rustling over my right shoulder. Slowly turning around, I spotted a small 6 point whitetail buck. This was cool in its own right as I have never seen a whitetail buck on the hoof in this area. I had a few pictures on trail cameras of some whitetail does, and had picked up the odd whitetail shed over the years but had never seen one. 

He was feeding from my now left to right, my wind was going to alert him and soon, as it was blowing perpendicular to his travel. I was kneeling and was able to knock an arrow and get a solid range, 55 yards. Having just shot my bow that afternoon and shooting true out to 80 with the hypodermics, I was confident in this opportunity to harvest a velvet whitetail.

I waited for the buck to lower his head to feed and let the arrow go, the sound was great but in the fading light it was tough to see the impact as the buck bounded back into the canola. Watching him move in the canola he was clearly wounded, walking very uneasy and then he bedded down. From reading and watching lots of bowhunting films, I knew it would be best to wait as I knew where he had bedded and I had to let time work. Plus, I was in a great spot and I still had a mule deer tag. Once the legal shooting time passed I pulled out my headlamp and moved over to the entrance to the canola the whitetail buck had used. There was blood all over, moving into the canola it was clear that the shot passed through lungs and that the deer was indeed bleeding through both sides. 

That buck was laying in his bed just 10 yards inside the canola and the entry was a quartering away shot that entered behind the last rib and then passed just an inch before the opposite front shoulder. It was such a cool feeling, I had not harvested a velvet animal and I was elated. To top it off, I was able to share the pack out with both my brothers. I have introduced J plenty of times on this blog and the majority of our hunting is done together. This night was different, I had never shared a hunt with my youngest brother, B. I was already full into the quartering when they showed up, while I wish I would have waited to get some better photos, the care of the meat is the most important to me. 

First Velvet Harvest!!!!

A late night pack out back to the truck, and then sharing a cold beer with family at our “hunt camp” closed off the first week of the 2018 archery season for me and it is one I won’t soon forget. 

Thanks for letting me share my adventures and I hope to continue to share as I grow!

My 2018 Velvet Whitetail Mount


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