Nov 05 2018
Massive Manitoba Whitetail
by Clay Newcomb
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It was the final day of my hunt in one of the most iconic regions of North America’s whitetail country. It was November 3rd 2018. Time wasn’t just fading metaphorically; I had 14 minutes of legal shooting light remaining. Manitoba is known for massive, knarly whitetails, and I’d been after them for six-and-a-half days. While bowhunting earlier in the week a mature buck with impressive antlers bedded down at 75 yards, but never offered a shot. This had been my only encounter with a target animal. The deer weren’t doing what they’d done the year before so I laid down the Mathews bow on day three and picked up the muzzleloader. They’d been patternable and visible last year, but they weren’t now. On some hunts, my goal is take an animal with a certain weapon. On other hunts the goal is take a certain type of animal. This hunt was the latter.
I was hunting in the Southwestern third of Manitoba, known as the Parkland Region, with Tom Ainsworth of Grandview Outfitters. Hunting with Tom and Debbie is like going to a good friend’s farm for a week. Home-cooked meals were served at Tom and Deb's everyday. If professionalism, hospitality and personal connection in an outfitted hunt could be graded, it would be hard to find a metric to describe these people. They are old-fashioned rural Manitoba ranchers, farmers and hunters. Hard work, honesty, and clear communication are just how they operate. They had a strong conservation and land-stewardship ethic before it was cool. Tom is a character of characters, an articulate orator, a student of wildlife and the history of the region. To a Southerner, he’s just fun to listen to talk. And he’s passionate about big Canadian whitetails.
Southwestern Manitoba is big agricultural country that borders massive amounts of public land. Tom Ainsworth of Grandview Outfitting hunts over 3,000 acres of private farm ground for giant Canadian whitetails.
He’s got access to over 3,000 acres of private agricultural land, and he knows it all like the back of his hand. After 40 years of hunting these properties, his knowledge of deer behavior and movement is notable. Every drive to the stand was like a whitetail-classroom as Tom described patterns he’d seen over decades. He hasn’t been educated by the trends, and sometimes hype-filled whitetail media. His knowledge comes from the personal experience of four decades of observation. Some of his strategies and philosophy may not work in other places, but they work here. That’s all what matters.
The year prior I’d taken a spectacular buck on the second day of the hunt with my bow. Could lightning strike twice? I was beginning to think it wouldn’t. The rut is compact in the far North. By November 1st, in much of the whitetail’s range, the bucks are cruising for does and rut-induced hunter opportunity is high. Here the bucks are still on a feeding pattern and even traveling together. It had happened relatively easy for my hunting buddies, James Lawrence and Steve Schultz. They had tagged out by day two, but I couldn’t seem to catch up with a buck.
James Lawrence of Arkansas harvested this 250-pound Manitoba buck on day two of his hunt with Tom Ainsworth of Grandview Outfitting.
Steve Schultz took this fine 9-point buck on the first morning of the hunt in Manitoba.
On the morning of day six I saw two bucks 600 yards away on the back edge of a soybean field. I knew I had to get aggressive. I slipped out of the blind to stalk the bucks simultaneously with a coyote spooking them off the field. However, this gave me the opportunity to move into position if they returned. I cut the distance in half and made a brush blind on the edge of the field. It was now 9 a.m. I texted Tom and told him I’d be sitting all day. The high temperature for the day was 28 degrees, but I was wearing my First Lite Chamberlin Puffy jacket and Sanctuary bib overalls. I stayed warm. Miraculously, a rare southeast wind blew consistently all day, sending my scent into the large cut bean field. I waited.
After seeing the giant Manitoba buck at daylight, he left the blind and closed the distance by 300 yards. He ended staying there for over 9 hours waiting for the buck to return. It was the last day of the hunt so he just had to do what it took!
After seeing several coyotes and just a few deer the whole day, nine-and-a-half hours later the buck appeared a mere fourteen minutes before the end of legal shooting light. Using a spruce limb as a gun rest, I made a 248-yard shot using Steve’s long-range muzzleloader. The buck dropped in the field.
An iconic image of the giant Manitoba whitetail on the back edge of a cut soybean field just seconds before the shot. After appearing briefly at daylight, the buck didn't return until 9 hours later near dark.
The buck had character for days, bladed tines, and the kind of mass any whitetail hunter would drive across the country to find. And the bean-fed meat? Lord knows my family and I will partake of it with incalculable reverence in a sacred dinner-table celebration of the hunt and our ancient, honorable and relevant way of life. Hunters are the good guys who care about wildlife and want to see them thrive. Long live the hunt, and long live the beast!
Call Tom and Debbie Ainsworth for an affordable Manitoba whitetail hunt at 1-(204)-546-2751 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Clay with the giant Manitoba whitetail taken in the fading moments of the hunt.
The buck had lots of mass, just what you're looking for in a Canadian whitetail. The buck weighed 248 pounds.
The buck was 18.5 inches wide with 5-inch bases and 10.5 inch G2s. Certainly an older-age-class buck! Just what Clay was after.
The buck had incredible mass. The G2 on the left side was bladed and nearly two inches wide and ten inches long.
Look for the hashtag #huntfishmb for more great content and opportunities to hunt in Manitoba Canada.
Visit www.huntfishmanitoba.com for more information on hunting whitetail deer in Manitoba.