Our situation in the Alberta Bowzone is one of a kind. Aside from the world class deer, the people make this place hard to leave. Justin Ewanchuk and his family are some of the most genuine good hearted humans I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. Even though we have to be guided to legally hunt here, the operation feels more like best friends figuring out how the team can notch a tag on a giant buck. It’s completely changed my previously removed perspective on outfitters and guided hunts.
First off, people often mistakenly assume that guided hunts are easy or guaranteed opportunities at the biggest oldest bucks in the world. That couldn’t be further from the truth. These deer are 100% wild free range and the 5-8 year old bucks, while they are plentiful compared to the deer density, are as smart if not smarter than you’d expect from a mature deer. Especially during the first week of September when they are shedding velvet. Everyone knows that deer have a huge change in patterns 3-7 days before, during and after the velvet comes off. Which can put a huge kink in the plan when you only have a week to get it done.
Secondly, even with all of the prep work done by Justin before we arrive for our hunt the weather can completely determine deer movement and encounters. This year compared to last we’ve had very inconsistent winds doing a 180 degree turn just before prime time every night and morning. As you can imagine that makes sneaking into places undetected extremely challenging, and it makes a little bit of big buck luck that much more important to have on your side. That mixed with some heavy wildfire smoke, and more food for the deer to choose from than ever before can make nailing down buck movement amongst the dozens of miles of field edge extremely difficult.
Lastly, it is true that on an outfitted hunt you are paying for a hunting experience that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. What is even more true than that is having the absolute pleasure to be a part of the Ewanchuks’ family and lifestyle for the duration of the visit. I don’t want that statement to be taken lightly, because it has been one of the biggest joys of my career to witness and be a part of their lifestyle and beautiful family. They are people with their priorities in the right place, who live close to the land, and closer with their family. It inspires me to be a better husband, friend, family member, and worker when the benefits of that lifestyle are so easily observed after spending some time with them. Traveling, especially traveling to hunt, is as much about the people you get to spend time with as it is the deer you encounter.
I can’t wait until our next trip to Alberta, not for another chance to tag a 185+ inch whitetail, but another opportunity to spend quality time with the best people. Henry and I can’t thank the Ewanchuks enough for being our friends!
Keep a look out on the channel for an amazing Edmonton Bowzone story. One of the most beautiful and wildlife rich places you can ever visit!