Big Coulees and Prairie Mulies
Feb/Mar 2011 EHJ (Issue 123)
- Have you ever stood out in the middle of nowhere, by yourself, and screamed at the top of your lungs in utter joy and excitement? The sense of accomplishment in fulfilling a dream put me in that exact situation this past hunting season. There I was, alone, as the darkness took over the Canadian sky and I was on Cloud Nine!
Rewind to the month of May 2009. My good buddy, Eric Hatzell, and I had decided to go on a hunting adventure, something out of the norm. Being residents of Montana, we have ample opportunities to hunt, but the giant mule deer that roamed the prairies of Alberta could no longer be ignored - a bowhunt for the gray ghost was in our future. After a lot of research, we decided on hunting with Darryl Giesbrecht of Great Plains Outfitters out of Medicine Hat.
Chasing mule deer in the prairie and coulee country of southeast Alberta consumed our minds all summer and finally it was time. Driving north across the border and through the prairie, our hopes ran high for what the next ten days had in store. Darryl had been seeing a lot of bucks through the summer and was sending regular reports of bachelor groups that would make any mulie fanatic drool.
Opening morning was a cold and windy day. With a long drive through the morning darkness, we were dropped off and given the plan. There were three big coulees that we were going to be hunting. We would start at the top and work our way down to the bottom, three miles away. The plan was to bring enough gear, food and water to be out for the day and to ultimately meet Darryl at the bottom at an old homestead.
Eric and I wished each other luck and then split up. Anticipation was high, with a stiff wind in my face and the morning darkness giving way to daylight. It was a beautiful day and a great hunt. I saw a lot of deer and was just taking it all in. The seemingly endless prairie, coulees that went on forever, and the thought of a big mule deer buck just over the rise.
As darkness approached, I was heading toward the old farmhouse and could see that Eric was already there. As I approached, his grin told me something was up.
“What did you do?” I said as I saw a single red arrow among the four white ones in his quiver.
“I messed up,” he said. Well come to find out he didn’t really mess up, he just experienced something that he will NEVER forget. Not even a mile into his hunt, he peered over the top of one of the many folds to see a deep-forked rack bobbing in and out of the brush. With an arrow nocked, Eric slid around a bush and eventually released a perfect arrow.
For a full account of Kyle's adventure, go to page 32 in the February/March 2011 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.