Never has a buck consumed as much of my time, my thoughts, my dreams as the gigantic Saskatchewan whitetail I called Hugh. I first crossed paths with this giant whitetail when I checked one of my trail cameras early in the Fall of 2011. From that day forth, I vowed to spend as much time as it took to notch my tag on this truly tremendous whitetail. I spent upwards of 40 days in 2011 in Hugh’s hideaway checking my strategically placed trail cameras, sitting in stands along game trails I knew, and sitting in ground blinds, but never once seeing this elusive monarch with my own eyes.
I began to lose hope when he vanished in late November, sure that some lucky hunter had taken him. I continued to cover the area searching for any sign of him, but had no luck. Even after hunting season was over my heart would climb further and further up into my throat each and every time my trail cameras came up empty. It was mid-December, still too stubborn to give up hope, I headed out to check my cams for what would likely be the last time until the New Year. I couldn’t believe my eyes… HUGH… He was alive and posing for the camera in all his majestic glory! The game was back on!
I continued to plague the area hoping to pick up his sheds, never once catching a glimpse of this colossal whitetail. It was the first Sunday in February 2012 when my camera captured pictures of Hugh minus his majestic crown. My eyes were peeled like a hawk and my feet never touched the ground as I tore up the woods looking for these monster antlers that were lying in some hiding spot on the forest floor. I rounded a corner on the deer trail and spotted Hugh's gigantic left antler lying before me, I could hardly believe it. It was incredible feeling as I ran my fingers over every contour this chunk of brown gold had grown. I put in over 100 hours trying to find his other side, but was never able to locate it.
I had my trail cams out earlier than ever, placing them in the woods by mid-July hopeful to see what Hugh had grown. I was excited to get the first glimpse of him, but the weeks flew by without any sign. I was like a little kid at Christmas when I finally got a trail cam photo of him! His antlers were incredible! Only one problem, he had looked right at the camera, with a petrified look in his eyes and vanished like the ghost he was.
I knew I had no other choice but to sit in my blind and hope for the best, but each evening faded into darkness and each check of my trail cam resulted in nothing but my frustration. After I had sat over 20 nights for this buck, I started to wonder if I would ever see him with my own eyes. I was down to the end of October and encountered another strike that would put most hunters over the edge. I had vowed to kill this giant with my bow, but when I took my bow out of the case, I looked down to see a broken string. This left me with no other choice but to disappointedly pull out my muzzleloader.
Two days after my 40th birthday, I was sitting yet again for an elusive buck that I’d never actually seen. I hadn’t even been hunting for an hour when I caught movement off to my right. I slowly turned to see Hugh materialize out of nowhere like an apparition, only eight yards away! He was extremely nervous, cautiously walking down the trail, pausing with every step, knowing he shouldn’t be there in the daylight. He finally gave me a quartering away shot at 14 yds. At the sound of the shot, he vanished into the cloud of smoke from my muzzleloader like he was only an illusion of smoke and mirrors.
I gave myself some time to calm down and walked out of my blind to find him laying a short distance away. I approached the colossal Saskatchewan whitetail with mixed emotions. As I knelt beside him, I was so proud of what I had accomplished, all the time it had taken me, yet sad that it was all over.
I had spent upwards of 100 days in his turf, yet never seen the magnificent whitetail until that night. It had been a roller coaster ride and I had poured everything I had into the elusive deer. I will never forget the epic journey with the legendary whitetail named Hugh.