Fall 2016 was another great year of hunting for us at Mike's Outfitting Ltd! But it certainly had its challenges, mainly continuous wet weather! We had never seen anything like it. In our country, rain means mud and sometimes we felt like we were trapped in an endless sea of it. The animals don't like being out in the muddy fields where we do a lot of our hunting and the roads were a rutted up mess, wrecking trucks and quads as fast as we could fix them. We tried to take it all in stride and do our best to give good hunts and we did take some great animals. Hopefully our hunters felt that we also gave 100% effort. I know everyone at least enjoyed the delicious meals created by our cook, Ana Terhorst!
As for our overall success on the different species here is a rundown on it. For moose we hosted 22 rifle hunters who took 20 bulls. Some came easy, some came hard and some we just couldn't get, which is rare for us on moose. Sorry to the 2 unsuccessful guys. Two of the biggest bulls a 47 and a 44 incher were taken by Dale Van Ert and Marvin Kittleson from Wisconsin on a rut hunt with guide Sam Hampton. Gerard Van Den Boogard guided Glen Boeckerman and Jim Herdering from MN to a November opening day double header with two 40 inchers. A happy and very relieved Ed Shallenberger finally got his moose with us too, a 44 incher. He had been on 2 previous unsuccessful hunts with other outfits. Carl Jorgensen came on his 8th hunt with Mike's Outfitting taking another great bull, same with his buddy, repeat hunter Craig Modahl. Both of them drove up from Oregon. Carl Power, another repeat hunter, got his moose along with his friend Russell Smith. We also got 4 archery moose in the early bow season.
On the rifle elk hunts we had 7 hunters who shot at 7 bulls killing 5 of them, the 2 non-kills were on big 6 pointers missed at under 50 yards! That's what a screaming mad, rutted up bull elk can do to even the best hunter!! The biggest bull award goes to Joel Calverly guided by me. It was one of the most thrilling calling sessions I've ever had in 30 years of guiding. Joel placed the 40 yd shot perfectly dropping the big 6 point in his tracks. We took another 2 archery bulls on the bowhunts with guide Josh Harb.
We are well known for our great mule deer hunting and it just wasn't that great this year. We saw lots of deer, upwards of 50+ a day but we struggled to find many big 170 and 180+ class bucks. The winters have been mild for the last two years so winterkill has not been an issue, I think the main problem was the muddy fields and an abundance of good browse from spring and summer rains, all of it keeping the deer in the trees. This should translate into better bucks for next year though. Alex Case, Jerry Krier, Tom Skidmore and Jim Bowe from Cranbrook BC all took mature, heavy 4 pointers scoring around 170. Randy Justice from Ohio, with guide Kyle Mudge, killed an awesome 185 inch buck the last week of the season. 4 other muleys were taken in bow season. We've lowered our mule deer price a bit too.
The whitetail deer rifle hunts started out optimistically with lots of trail camera pictures of big deer. Some hunters saw as many as 20-30 deer and 5-10 bucks on their hunts but the mature ones eluded them. Last year we were 100% kill success, 6 kills for 6 hunters, this year unfortunately we only killed one small buck. I think the increase in the farmland cow elk tags are pushing the smart whitetails into night time movement and back into the unpressured big woods. Late in the season I did scout out some new areas, miles from the farm fields and caught big deer on trail cameras in daylight. I will be focusing my future efforts on these places. We have some huge whitetails and I am determined to kill some of them. We are keeping our whitetail hunts at a low price and I am willing to make a deal with any avid whitetail hunters to help us get a few of these Alberta monsters!