THE GREAT NORTH WOODS
It was a Saturday morning, the first day of deer season and Don Dillon regaled his fellow sportsmen with gripping tales of the Great North Woods. We were sitting around the wood stove in the old farm house kitchen and Dillon was telling us about his recent trip to Anticosti Island, Canada. He makes the journey every October and brings home one or two big deer for the freezer.
"The weather up north can be brutal. In every picture I've ever seen of the place there's nothing but snow, ice and blowing wind," he said as he loaded his black briar pipe. "But as far as deer hunting is concerned, it's the ultimate. Five days hunting cost three grand, which includes everything except the $200 tip for the guide and fifty bucks for the cook. There are 33 major rivers on the island and lots of salmon. It's as cold as a bitch, but the deer are much bigger than anything you ever find around here. We're talking about deer with antler spreads of 27-29 inches, about eight to ten points. That's a big rack by Boone and Crocket standards. (Boone and Crocket is the official scoring organization for hunting trophies worldwide.) The most massive white tail rack ever measured belonged to a buck killed in Saskatchewan. I saw a picture of that sucker. It was killed about 20 years ago. The critter was lying on the back of a full-sized Chevy pick-up truck and looked like a small cow. Man, that fucker was huge! It weighed well over 300 pounds. Around these parts about all you ever get is a deer weighing maybe 100 to 110 pounds."
"Another appealing aspect of deer hunting in Saskatchewan," Dillon explained, is the opportunity for the hunter to test his marksmanship skills. "Up in Canada, they do a lot of field hunting which means hunters take a lot of long shots, you know, from 200 to 400 yards." Dillon's rifle of choice is a .257 caliber Weatherby Magnum. "It shoots a 115-grain bullet and pushes it out of the barrel at about 3400 feet per second. It's a magnificent weapon with a comfortable shooting range of 400 yards, making it ideal for Canadian field hunting."
Don's biggest kill on his home turf so far was a 155 pound buck he shot in 1988 on a farm in Maryland. "I rattled that one in, " he said. "I sat down in a ravine and rattled my antlers until that son of a bitch came charging at me. He was one pissed-off deer, I tell you." Dillon explained that the deer-hunting season coincides with the rut, or mating season, so hunters rattle antlers to simulate a pair of bucks fighting over territory and females. The sound attracts lone bucks in the vicinity to come within shooting range of the hunters.
"A lot of deer are taken by hunters rattling antlers, " he pointed out. "The buck whose territory you're in comes over to chase what he thinks are a couple of interlopers fighting over a female and BANG! That's when the shit hits the fan. The 155 pounder I shot was tearing up the ground when he came toward me. He was digging his antlers into the dirt and tossing it up in the air. I mean he was raising hell. He was ready to do battle. He came out of thicket about 120 yards away and stood on a ridge looking around for what he thought were two rutting bucks. That's when I nailed him. I put the cross hairs of the scope right on him, a little left and below his shoulder and pulled the trigger. The bullet hit him right in the heart, killing him instantly. When he was done thrashing around, I cut him open, scooped out the innards and dragged him through the woods to my pick-up for the trip to the butcher. He was mighty good eating, that one, heart, liver, cojones and all."