Child's Play

By Jack Alton
Alberta, Guided, Public Land

Child's Play - Jack AltonMarch/April 2014 EBJ (Issue 82) - As a young boy who grew up in northwest Montana I always looked forward to the fall because that meant I would be going hunting with my Grandpa Jack. Typically, he would wake me up early and we would drive for an hour or two in the dark to find that perfect spot for our morning walk together. On our way there he would talk to be about the importance of hunting into the wind and to be as quiet as possible. This was a special time for me and it fostered a true love for hunting that still makes me feel like that same young boy every autumn.

When I was 12 years old I saved up enough money to buy my first bow, a 35-pound Browning compound. I remember shooting every spare minute I had and eventually taking my first doe from a treestand at the age of 13. I particularly loved archery hunting because it allowed you to get into the field a couple months early and required patience and skill far beyond that of a rifle hunter. I was fortunate enough to take several other deer with my bow in high school and college and then I moved to Austin, Texas where I began my career. The hunting was much different in Texas but I still found myself in a treestand or ground blind each fall pursuing those close encounters.

About six years ago, my family and I moved back to Montana to live on the family farm and I vowed to get serious about the pursuit of large mule deer. While we had decent mule deer hunting in Montana, I realized that the real giants were in Mexico and Canada. Canada was just 60 miles to the north, so I planned my first hunt in Alberta. I was fortunate to connect on a pretty decent 5x5 the first year and fell in love with the challenge of spot-and-stalk hunting in the badlands region. Large coulees and crevasses in the land gave the deer plenty of cover and made it nearly impossible to locate them. I am convinced that many of the bucks up there die of old age.

As the 2013 season approached, I really cranked up the practice time. I have found that practicing hunting scenarios can make the difference between bagging a big buck and watching him run away.

The day finally arrived, I loaded my truck and drove several hours north to meet my guide. You can’t hunt on Sundays in Canada so we used the time to shoot a bit more and glass for deer that evening. Little did I know that in less than 24 hours I would be living a hunter’s dream that would exceed any of my wildest hunting expectations.

The first morning, we spotted a pretty nice 4x4 in the mid 180’s that I passed, as my goal was to try to get something over 195. We ended the morning hunt and headed back to camp for some lunch and to gear up for the afternoon hunt.

Child's Play - Jack Alton

For a full account of Jack's adventure, go to page 50 in the March/April 2014 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.