Night Hawk Stories... Entry 26
Secrets Of Snow Hunting In Anticosti
Because I study deer, their habits and the best way to hunt deer, I went north to learn how to hunt more effectively. Now you might wonder why anyone who lived in Alabama with its more than 1.6 million deer and where a hunter could bag 100 deer each year would want to hunt deer somewhere else. I wanted to know more about whitetails. I had many of my former beliefs disproved at Anticosti Island in the Province of Quebec, Canada.
Although some hunters had claimed to use deer tracks to determine the sex of a deer or its age, I'd always considered these outdoor skills as fictional. But when I went north to Canada, I watched my guide Norman LeBrun distinguish between buck tracks and doe tracks and correctly determine how much time would pass before we would find the deer from the tracks the animal had made.
We had hunted all morning long. Near noon, snow began to fall on Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. LeBrun suggested we go to a small shelter for lunch because he believed the weather would become severe. Just as we arrived at the hut, a whiteout hit. As we looked out the window while drinking hot coffee and eating a warm meal, I understood how a hunter could become disoriented and then lost in such a deluge of flaky white.
When the snow stopped, LeBrun told us that the fresh snow should allow us to locate a buck easily, because, "All we have to do is see a trail. Then we can snow-track the deer."
We climbed back into the truck and rode the backwoods roads deep into the interior of the 138-mile-long, 35-mile-wide island known as Anticosti. This island often hosts 2,500 to 4,000 hunters each season. However, with a whitetail population of more than 100,000 animals, everyone finds plenty of white-tailed bucks there to hunt.
As we drove down the road, LeBrun stopped the truck quickly, got out and walked to the front of the vehicle. I followed.
While LeBrun studied fresh deer tracks in the snow, he explained, "That's a buck track. Since the deer is moving slow, we should be able to catch up to him in no more than 15 minutes."
Reason and knowledge would not allow me to accept the information I heard without closer scrutiny. All my life I had believed you couldn't tell the sex of a deer by its track nor could you tell the track's age by looking at it. So before I embarked on this wild goose chase through fresh snow with a man I had met only the day before, I wanted to know more about snow-tacking whitetails.
When I asked LeBrun how he could tell the track belonged to a buck, he replied, "Notice the deer seems to drag his toes as he lifts his foot to walk. Bucks make this kind of track, and does don't. Most of the time when you see a track with back toes dragging, the deer generally will be a buck."
Even as LeBrun spoke, my mind questioned his explanation. He still hadn't convinced me that I had looked at a buck track. Next I asked LeBrun why he thought we could catch up to the deer in 15 minutes.
"Snow only stopped falling about 10 minutes ago, but since no snow was inside this track, we know the deer crossed the road after the snow. He can't be more than 15 minutes in front of us if he continues to walk at the same pace he's walking now. However, if we stand here and continue to talk, we may not catch up to that buck until next week. If you want to go kill a buck, get your gun, and let's go."
I loaded my Browning .243 rifle with ammunition and checked my Nikon 3-9X variable scope, I'd covered with Saran Wrap to insure that I could see through it. From LeBrun, I had learned that when you didn't have see-through scope covers, the snow you knocked off the tree limbs as you walked could fall into your scope. Then when you spotted a buck, you'd have to clean the snow out of the scope before you could see to shoot. Wrapping Saran Wrap around both ends of the scope and securing it to the scope with rubberbands would give me a quick, inexpensive scope covering that would prevent the snow from filling the scope and allow me to see clearly and accurately though the scope.