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Night Hawk Stories... Entry 26

Secrets Of Snow Hunting In Anticosti
by John E. Phillips
Page 3


click to enlargeOn Anticosti, hunters can take two deer each during their stay -- even on same day if the hunter has the opportunity. Since we had about three hours of daylight left, LeBrun wanted to hunt, and so did I. We drove to a new area. After walking for about an hour and a half in knee-deep to waist-deep snow, we discovered five sets of tracks.

Pointing to one set, LeBrun said, "The deer that made that track is a buck. Although I don't think he's as big as the buck you took earlier because the track isn't as deep, I still bet he's a good buck. We may be able to catch up to him within the next hour. These tracks are not that old, but they're not as fresh as the first buck's were when we found them."

click to enlargeLeBrun led the way, stopping and looking beneath the low-hanging branches of the evergreens for a deer's leg or a horizontal line 3 to 4 feet above the ground, possibly a deer's back. Finally when I saw LeBrun take his lightweight binoculars out of his coat pocket, I knew he had spotted a deer.

"A nice 6-point is at about 70 yards in the woods on the other side of that clearing," LeBrun observed. "We need to get closer to take a shot. But we can't move across the open ground in front of us without being spotted."

click to enlargeUsing LeBrun's Nikon 8X23 Mountaineer binoculars, I watched the buck feeding with several does on the branches of a newly blown-down tree. I didn't feel comfortable in making this difficult shot. Also, to get close to the buck, we'd have to cross 30 yards of open ground.

"Would you agree that we can't get close enough to that deer to make a shot?" I asked LeBrun.

"I don't think we can," LeBrun answered.

"Well, do you mind if I try to sneak up on that deer?" I asked.

click to enlarge"Not at all, John," LeBrun said. "Go ahead, and I'll follow. But I believe the deer will be able to spot us walking across that clearing."

"I'm not going to walk," I told him. "Follow me."

Convinced I could use crawling tactics from down home in Alabama to sneak up on this Canadian buck, I slung my rifle across my back, got down on my hands and knees, sunk into the soft powder to make my body even with the snow line and began to crawl. I pushed snow with my ski mask-covered nose as I eased across the chest-deep white powder. The Realtree snow camouflage I wore made me virtually invisible. As the wind blew loose snow across my back, I almost vanished from the sight of the feeding deer.

LeBrun followed me. When we reached the woodline on the other side of the clearing, I still could see the buck feeding on the tree limbs. I had about a 40-yard shot at the animal's neck. When the deer lifted his head to try to nip some high branches, I squeezed the trigger. The buck dropped, ending my Anticosti hunt.

click to enlargeIn one day, I had watched Norman LeBrun snow-track two bucks. He correctly had determined the sex of each deer and the size of the bucks from their tracks as well as the amount of time required for us to reach the deer.

I never had seen anyone snow-track before. Initially I didn't believe in LeBrun's ability to track deer in the snow. Even today, I'm amazed at how accurately LeBrun read the tracks in the snow. But, I know you can snow-track because I've seen a master at work.

click to enlargeThe next time I hunt with LeBrun, and he tells me he's found a buck track, and the buck's only 15 minutes in front of us, I won't stop to ask time-consuming questions. I'll just grab my rifle and go.


Night Hawk Stories