John's Journal...

Manitoba's Extreme Whitetails with Whitetail Outfitters

What a Whitetail Outfitters' Hunt Is Like

Click to enlargeEditor's Note: What's the draw that causes a man to leave the warmth of his fireplace, the conveniences of civilization, and his family's love to go into the wilderness to hunt deer in extreme wilderness conditions? Hunters go to adventurous places like this for many reasons. For me, I enjoy the solitude, the stillness and the opportunity to be at peace with my soul. I also look forward to the chance to reconnect with friends I've made on other hunts and remember adventures we've shared together. I've hunted with Doug Grantham and John Nixon of Whitetail Outfitters, headquartered in Stonewall, Manitoba, Canada several different times. Each time I've enjoyed being with them and having some of the most-exciting adventures of my life, while visiting their outpost camps, hearing the hunters' stories and seeing the deer that the hunters have taken. Life doesn't get any better than hunting virgin bucks that never have seen or smelled a hunter during the rut. To make the hunt even more tantalizing, many of these bucks will be in the 150+ class range and never have heard a grunt call or rattling antlers. This week and next I'll take you with me to meet the hunters and hear the stories of some of the greatest wilderness hunts ever.  Click to enlarge

Question: Today we're talking with Doug Grantham. Doug, tell us about the area you hunt. Grantham: We hunt the Interlake section between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. This wilderness region geographically isolates itself. Lake Manitoba is about 100-miles long, and Lake Winnipeg is almost that long. There's hardly any place where the deer can cross these two lakes. The size of the animals (often 300-pounds-plus) and the mass of their antlers, often 150 points Boone and Crockett or better, are due to genetics and the abundance of food in the region. The areas we hunt are very productive because we're the only outfitters licensed to take hunters and set up camp in this wilderness. Our camps are generally 7- to 25-miles away from the last dirt road. We usually have to traverse a series of beaver ponds with ATVs, which often takes from 1 to 2 hours to finally reach our camp from a dirt road. We ask our hunters to wear chest waders. Then if they have to get off the ATVs when we go through the beaver ponds, they're prepared.

Question: Who owns this land? Grantham: The Province of Manitoba owns the Click to enlargeland. The wilderness Whitetail Outfitters hunt is 50-miles wide x 150-miles long. Each camp, with three to five hunters, has approximately 36-square-miles per camp to hunt. We hunt the one week of blackpowder season and the first two weeks of rifle season each year. Every year, we close the camps we've hunted in that year, let those camps rest for 1 year and hunt some of our other camps. We have seven or eight camps, but we never hunt more than three camps each year. This way, we know we're not pressuring our deer, and we'll always have big bucks for our hunters to take.

Question: How do you hunt these deer? Grantham: Our guides go in and find the scrapes and the rubs. We set up our tree stands usually within 30 to 50 yards of the scrape. Because we're hunting during the rut, hunters who use deer calls and rattling bags or horns can be very effective. We see a lot of bucks that score from 140 to 180 points on Boone & Crockett, and we take numbers of these monster-sized whitetails. Wilderness hunting is a different type of hunting for most hunters. You'll never see another hunter around your stand or hear a telephone, a radio, a television, a train whistle or the sound of a plane or a car. You may spot animals you've never seen before, like timber wolves, brush wolves, lynx and hopefully, the biggest deer you've ever seen in your life. You'll have the opportunity to hunt deer that never have been hunted before and don't recognize hunters or deer-call sounds. We only take 25 hunters per year to our camps, and there are no other outfitters within 15 to 20 miles of us. If you like to hunt rutting bucks, and you're looking for a chance to call in a buck of a lifetime, you'll really enjoy hunting with us.

Question: Getting to camp out here in the wilderness can be an exciting advenClick to enlargeture too. Tell us about how you travel and move the hunters and their equipment to your wilderness camps. Grantham: We use ATVs, primarily the 6x6 Polaris ATVs. This ATV has a cargo box on its back that we can adapt to make a seat for two hunters to sit on to ride into this wilderness. We also use specially-designed trailers with big tires to carry the hunters' equipment in and the deer out of the wilderness.

Because the beavers are always flooding new territory, each spring we have to go in and repair old trails and cut new trails to get into our camps. We also cut new trails to open up new areas to hunt. We usually will have 10 guys for a 3-day weekend to cut new trails. Generally in a 3-day period, we can cut a new 3/4-mile-long ATV trail. The government of the Province of Manitoba won't allow us to use heavy equipment in this Interlake area. All the trails have to be cut by hand.

Question: Doug, how are your camps constructed? Grantham: We use 2x4s and plywood to create a floor and walls with insulation in-between the exterior walls and the interior walls. Then we put on an insulated tarp for a roof because our camps have to be taken dismantled every year after deer season. Our camps hold a maximum of four hunters each, and each camp has two buildings - one for the hunters and one for the guides. The guides' building also serves as our kitchen and dining hall. We have two guides in each camp with the four hunters at all times.

Question: Why do you only hunt for 3 weeks? Grantham: We have one week of blackpowder (muzzleloader) hunting and two weeks of rifle hunting. We run our camps this way because those are the three weeks of the rut in this section of Canada, and we're primarily hunting the rut. Therefore we'll always have bucks up moving, chasing does and working scrapes.

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

Tomorrow: He Hunts Monster Whitetails

Check back each day this week for more about "Manitoba's Extreme Whitetails with Whitetail Outfitters"

Day 1: What a Whitetail Outfitters' Hunt Is Like
Day 2: He Hunts Monster Whitetails
Day 3: Christopher Muise's Rite of Passage
Day 4: Through the Eyes of a Dad
Day 5: The Dad Takes a Fine Buck Too


Entry 433, Day 1