Bearpaw's 1998 Whitetail season was pretty much what we expected good solid deer numbers and a return to seasonal weather. Some pleasant surprises, the great antler growth due to the warm dry 1997-98 winter and the warm, mild summer. Most three year old bucks increased their antler growth by 30-50 points over the previous year thus there were lots of 140+ bucks available to our clients.
Our first hunt started out slow with warm weather slowing the upcoming rut. Good bucks were being seen on a regular basis with opportunities at 3 book class deer on our first hunt. 7 out of 10 clients harvested bucks. Three time repeat hunter Wayne Nevar took the best buck, a 24" wide, 160 point, 6X6 with Bob Voth on the 9th day of his hunt.
Our second hunt started strong with a 30" mule deer out of Bowen Dolhan's camp as well as Rick Moebes harvesting a great 176 B&C, 5X5 with rookie guide Chris Gilbert. Dave Morris took a tremendous 4X4 with an extra point off of G2 with a gross score of 188 B&C. This deer was an eye popper; extreme mass, great tine length and a 20" inside spread put this deer into my top 10 category. Four more bucks grossed 160 or better making these hunts B&C average an incredible 162 B&C gross.
The end of November is generally cold and snowy in northern Alberta. In 1998 the weather stayed mild with lows around 18 F and highs close to freezing. The bucks however stayed hot. Lots of morning and midday movement kept the action steady. Many great bucks were spotted and as usual most of them made it through. However, some of them found their way into our hunters cross hairs. Tom Baine took a great 7X6 typical with veteran guide Ben Kunstleben. 178 points gross, unfortunately he broke an eye guard giving him a net score of 166 B&C.
Bill Bray took one of my favorite bucks with Shane Elliot scoring a whopping 84 B&C on his right antler. This buck was a real contender. An injury in '97 however caused him to grow 68 points on his left for a gross of 168 even though he had broken his eye guard off.
Two nice mule deer were taken. 170, 5X5 harvested by 10 time repeat hunter Dave Foster as well as a 193, 28' massive buck taken by Sam Finch with Bowen Dolhan.
Our last hunt went 11 for 12 with 5 bucks grossing 160 or better and rounded out a great season.
One again I want to thank our excellent staff, Ben Kunstleben, Guy Bruneau, Bear Brandow, Mike Gowler, Chris Gilbert, Dan Dolynchuk, Dave Nadeau, Mike White, Tom Morgan, Shane Elliot, Bob Voth, Bowen Dolhan, and Brandi Kunstleben.
Outlook for 1999
At the time of writing things look great, very little post rut stress and mild conditions are setting up another great season for 1999. We are about 85% booked for '99 thanks to our high percentage of repeat clientele.
A few changes ahead for 1999; we are going to continue to enclose tower as well as ground blinds. We had 8 in '98 and I hope to have 15 - 20 in 1999.
We need to reiterate that this hunt is primarily a whitetail hunt. Mule deer and wolves are coincidental unless otherwise specified.