301-Pound Canadian Monster

By Bernard Fiset

I have been hunting whitetails for more than 30 years, and most of that has been in Quebec, Canada. I have chased whitetails east, west, north and south across my province without any significant sightings of big deer in all the areas that I attempted to hunt. I tried reputable outfitters and leasing property to try to kill a big deer. But nothing proved to be effective in my attempt to harvest a true mature buck.

I then turned to hunting the infamous big buck provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and made the trip there for six years. Only on the rare occasion did I get a glimpse of what a mature whitetail even looked like. I decided that a change-up in strategy was necessary, and I decided to concentrate my efforts on a different game plan. After all, I wasn’t getting anywhere with the way I was doing things.

Longtime friend John Cristinziani and I leased a parcel of land of about 900 acres. I eventually bought the land when I discovered its potential. This tract of land had previously been hunted by several parties of local hunters. The pressure and overharvest that this property endured was quickly evident. The first hunting season, few bucks were seen, and the ones that were sighted were less than 2-1/2 years old. We realized that by managing hunting pressure and with selective harvest, opportunities at some large deer might be possible.

The next challenge was nutrition. There was no agriculture within a mile of the property. There was excellent cover habitat for the deer because there was plenty of forest and marshland. But there wasn’t any quality food.

Hence began the research of options for food plot seed. It would not be a big deal to hire a contractor/farmer with some tillage equipment and throw some seed to the soil, which could be purchased at the local co-op, and then let Mother Nature handle the rest. Through trial and error, I slowly learned with my own research that not only did the usual farming practices differ when providing nutrition for wildlife, but so did the type of seed required for good results. I had heard about a company in the United States specializing in deer nutrition. Being an entrepreneur and, more important, a manufacturer, I know what it means to specialize and be the best in your field based on research, development, credibility and longevity.

Whitetail Institute products were introduced to me by a local deer biologist who had tested and researched the products himself. He raved about how the deer preferred these plants to any other seed product on the market. He compared the high protein levels and palatability found in Whitetail Institute seeds to the levels found in co-op or agricultural seeds, which are produced and specialized for cattle and horse, not for whitetails. He explained how high levels of protein and minerals were vital not only in producing trophy racks, but also for building strong immune systems in deer that in turn will produce superior offspring resistant to the harsh Canadian elements. Whitetail Institute products are proven in Canada. Plus, Whitetail Institute is the only company that specializes in deer nutrition and deer nutrition alone.

I have become fanatical about deer nutrition. I believe I have found the strategy that works best for me in harvesting a mature trophy buck every year. My property now has small half-acre hunting plots up to larger 6-acre feeding plots. The products I use the most are Imperial Whitetail Clover, Chicory Plus and Winter- Greens. I also have several mineral lick stations where I regularly disperse 30-06 Mineral/Vitamin supplement directly onto the soil from spring to early fall. Some of the holes they paw into the ground are as much as two feet deep.

The story of my first trophy buck begins here. Undertaking a regular pre-rut scouting trip on the property in September three years ago, I began noticing several large rubs and scrapes in a remote area of the property. I set up two cameras on the heavily rubbed trail that led to the food plot. I immediately began getting nice trail pictures of a tall-tined deer with good mass during the fall. I estimated him to be a 150-class 5- 1/2-year-old deer. The area he was using was in a very secluded section of the property to the far west side. I decided to step out of the area and let the buck be for that season.

I set up the same two cameras in a small patch of hardwood trees the following October. This was the area where I found the rubs the previous year. It took two weeks before my smart cards revealed my first photos of him. I was so ecstatic to see that he had made it through another season. I was even more excited when I saw what he had on his head.

What a whopper he turned out to be.

Just one year later, he put on so much mass and tine length. More important, his body was huge. This was the sort of buck I had dreamed of for the past 30 years. I knew that I needed that right wind before even thinking about going in there not only to set up a stand but also to hunt him. I waited for a day of strong winds, and off I went to set up the portable tree stand. I decided to set up in a cedar grove where the trees would give me a good background to break up my silhouette. The cedars would also serve well to help conceal my scent. It was going to be a tight-quarters shot, but I felt good about the set-up and the large deer tracks in the well-used trail. I just needed a west wind.

Finally, on the third day of the muzzleloader hunting season in December, the forecast called for a west wind. It was a sleepless night to say the least. I knew that my best chance of harvesting that deer would be my first time on stand. I knew that when I walked in and out of there, despite all the scent control that I spend a small fortune on every year, my scent would surely alert such an old deer. The pressure was on.

I walked the 500 or so yards from my truck to the set as quietly as possible in the early morning. I wanted to get there making the least noise possible and used an access trail far enough away enough from the food plot so as not to disturb any of the deer that might be feeding there. The plan was to try and harvest the buck as it went from the feeding area back to its bedding area. I had still not seen a deer by 9:15 a.m.

I had not lost hope, because I knew this was an unpressured deer with no reason to be going back to bed for the day in the wee hours during the rut. I was watching hard on that well used trail when out of nowhere I saw him making his way toward me. He slowly walked toward me, stopping every so often to nibble on some green forage on the ground. He stopped at just 15 yards. When I released the arrow from my crossbow, my heart was pounding so hard I thought he could hear it. The arrow found its mark.

I heard him go down and gave him about 10 minutes before I got down. I couldn’t wait much longer than that, as that 10 minutes seemed like forever. He had only gone 60 yards when I found him. When I put my hands on his rack I could not help the emotions that I felt. I had waited so long and worked so hard for this moment. His body was huge. The deer scored 175 B&C and field dressed at 301 pounds.

I have been fortunate to harvest two giant deer the past two years. The second buck gross-scored 173 inches. I hope my streak continues.

The folks at Whitetail Institute and Canada’s distributor for Whitetail Institute products, Magnum Marketing, are always prepared and take the time to answer any questions. They have proven that they want all of their loyal customers to be successful and to enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

On my properties, all you will find is Whitetail Institute food plots and minerals. They are proven products and have made a believer out of me.

As the saying goes, “Plant it and they will come.” I like to say, “Plant it and they will grow.