Raw Determination

By Jeff Schlachter
Saskatchewan, 2009, DIY, Public Land
Raw DeterminationDec/Jan 2011 EHJ (Issue 122) - I looked back over my shoulder at my pal, Cody, with my eyes as wide as saucers, still not believing that we were 45 yards from three giant mulies. We had been absolutely beat up and battered for over two days, but now the payoff for all our hard work and raw determination lay right before us…

It was in June of 2009 when I finally booked a lifetime dream hunt for myself, one that took me smack dab into the wild of the Northwest Territories for a Dall’s sheep. This was a hunt I had dreamed of doing my whole life, so when things came together, I didn’t waste any time on getting it booked. It was shaping up to be quite the summer, planning this hunt and trying my best to get back into “sheep shape.” As always, I had put in for all the draws in my home province of Saskatchewan and just before I headed north, I found out I drew a coveted mule deer tag in the southern part of the province.

I headed to the Territories with my mind in overdrive, planning my fall out in my head. The time on my ten-day backpack hunt was a whirlwind and I was fortunate enough to head back to the prairies with a gorgeous fullcurl ram.

Now it was time to concentrate on killing a big prairie mulie. This special tag gave me the month of October to hunt with my muzzleloader and two weeks in November to hunt with a rifle. I wanted to get the job done early in the season so I would have my time in November to concentrate on whitetails. I made the call to my friend, Cody, to see if he wanted to accompany me on this muzzleloader hunt. He was ready to roll, bringing with us, for moral support and another set of eyes, Garry Donald. Garry only had the first two days to hunt with us before having to head home, but having him with us would just add to the good times I hoped this hunt would be all about.

We headed to a new zone in southern Saskatchewan that none of us had ever hunted. We were in search of a buck that would go 185 typical or 200 non-typical. When we arrived, the weather was not as planned – subsequently, let’s just say that the first two days went by so uneventfully that we started to wonder if this new zone had anything worthwhile in it.

We hunted hard for two days, covering more country than one could dream of, but we had yet to see a buck over 140. We had the misfortune of competing with a dreaded fall prairie windstorm, blowing so fiercely and cold that we started to think these old bucks were hunkered down in the shelter of any gopher hole they could find. Covering some of the nicest mule deer country I had ever laid my own eyes upon, we just couldn’t seem to find a good buck if our lives depended on it. I contemplated pulling the plug and waiting to come back for the opener of the November rifle season.

Jeff Schlachter

For a full account of Jeff's adventure, go to page 16 in the December/January 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.