John's Journal...

More Deer Hunting with Manitoba's Whitetail Outfitters

What the Guide Says

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Lenny Huff, one of the guides at Whitetail Outfitters of Manitoba, has hunted the Manitoba wilderness for over 40 years.

This Interlake area of Manitoba is mostly a spruce forest with some pine and a lot of willows in the beaver swamp. To find the whitetails, we locate deer trails and walk the trails until we find cross trails and then we start walking the trails that seem to be the most frequently used. Once I find the good trail, I walk it out until I begin to see rubs and scrapes. Most of our deer movement is along the spruce ridges. The deer will generally bed down close to beaver swamps, especially when we have a large number of timber wolves in the area. Then the deer will move along the ridges.

Click to enlargeOnce I start seeing rubs, then I start looking for scrapes. I examine each scrape I find to see how big the buck is that’s making it. I usually can determine the size of the buck by the size of the tree he’s scraping, the width of his brow tines that gouge into thetree and the size of the tracks in the scrape. If I can find a scrape on a 4- to 6-inch-round poplar or spruce, I feel like it’s a big buck. I also want to see how high up the branches on that tree are broken off, which tells me the height of the buck and/or the height of his rack. I usually can guess the size of the buck from his scrape within one point of his antlers. For instance, I generally can look at a scrape and determine if that scrape has been made by a buck that has 8 points or less or a buck with 10 points or more. If the scrape says there’s a buck that’s 10 points or more working that scrape and my hunter takes an 8 point or less, then I know my hunter hasn’t taken the biggest buck he can have taken.

I’m often asked how I find my way in and out of the brush once I locate a stand site. Although I carry a GPS, batteries can go dead in this cold weather. So, I rely heavily on my compass. Once I’ve bClick to enlargeeen to a stand site, I put up flagging tape because up here, we don’t have to worry about another hunter going to a stand site we’ve found. Also, I try and clear some brush away. Then when my hunter goes into the stand, he won’t make noise or leave scent. I’ve learned that a big buck will usually frequent a scrape at least once in 5 days, and idea that’s really tough for our hunters to understand. In other words, if a buck has just freshened his scrape on Sunday, and the hunter comes in on Monday, you may not see that buck until Friday or Saturday. Other bucks may come by that same scrape, but the trophy buck the hunter really wants to take may require his sitting in the stand until the last day of the hunt before seeing the buck. But if the buck has freshened his scrape 4 days before you hunt that stand, you may be able to take him on the first day of your hunt.

Click to enlargeA deer hunter who isn’t patient shouldn’t hunt this big cover. These big deer we have up here haven’t gotten big by being stupid. The last week of muzzleloading season and the first two weeks of rifle season offer our hunters the very-best chances for taking trophy bucks because that’s when the rut really gets going. Most of our shots are 25 to 30 yards, but a good percentage of our hunters take shots at 10 to 15 yards from their stand. Our deer up here are different from deer in the States. They’re steady-moving and they rarely, if ever, look up into a tree to see a hunter. The only hunting pressure these deer receive all year is from timber wolves. We only hunt a camp once every 2 years. This way, we’re constantly hunting big bucks and not putting any hunting pressure on our deer. Oftentimes, we can take as many as three mature bucks off one stand site. If one of my hunters takes a buck, and the buck the hunter takes isn’t as big a buck as I’ve thought, I’ll put another hunter in that same stand to try and take a big buck. Because we don’t hunt our deer very much (once every 2 years), we’re hunting remote areas where no other hunters hunt, and these regions produce big deer, most of our hunters have chances to take their best bucks ever. What more can you ask for from a trophy deer hunt?

For more information about hunting with Manitoba's Whitetail Outfitters, write Box 70, Stonewall, Manitoba, R0C 2Z0, call (888) 398-3459, visit, or email

Check back each day this week for more about "More Deer Hunting with Manitoba's Whitetail Outfitters"

Day 1: Trophy of a Lifetime
Day 2: The Hunt for Monster Bucks
Day 3: Making It Happen
Day 4: A Hunter’s First Remote Hunt
Day 5: What the Guide Says


Entry 433, Day 5