The province of Quebec has certainly come into its own over the past five years, with some great whitetail entries into the Buckmasters Trophy Records. We have witnessed Provincial records established in the Perfect, Typical and Irregular categories, but have yet to see a big Semi make the BTR.
All this quickly changed on Nov. 13, 2001, when a young hunter from Otter Lake, Quebec, downed a buck that instantly became the top Semi for "La Belle Province." But this deer was not just any trophy Quebec whitetail, it would soon become infamous as the "swamp buck" of Otter Lake.
Recently, southwestern Quebec has produced some top quality deer, including several entries into the record book. The whitetail habitat that exists is this region is unparalleled and includes rolling mountains, grain fields, and plenty of out of the way places to seek refuge, including swamps.
A mature southwestern Quebec whitetail will typically weigh between 200 pounds and 225 pounds and sport a nice looking 8-point or 10-point crown. On the rare occasion, however, a good buck will produce a trophy-class set of antlers, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
On the morning of Nov. 12, 2001, Rick Kluke and his hunting partner Gilles Dubeau relaxed in Kluke's home in Otter Lake, sipping coffee. "It seems like a good day for a swamp hunt, don't you think Gilles?" Kluke said reaching for his over-sized mug of coffee. "Maybe with all the frost on the truck this morning, we should just walk to the swamp."
"Sounds like a plan," Dubeau replied, and with blink of an eye, the two eager hunters had slapped on the much needed rubber boots and exited the house.
A Favorite Whitetail Haunt
By the time they approached the first in a series of interconnected softwood swamps, a myriad of old rubs and scrapes littered the ground and covered the nearby saplings. This had been a favorite haunt for whitetail bucks over the years. But much to the their dismay, there did not seem to be any deer there today.
The men continued to weave their way through the wet underbrush. They had to make their steps short, in order to prevent their boots from making a sloshing sound in the wet soil. After sneaking along a small trail at a hill's edge that would lead him to a second swamp, Kluke began to notice some fresh deer sign. Just as he stopped to investigate a freshly laid rub, a strange noise caught his attention.
"All I remember was hearing a weird ruckus off to my left," Kluke recalls. He quickly and silently stepped off the trail to gain cover, and hopefully locate the source of the racket emanating from the spruce brush.
Crouched on one knee, Kluke could now pick out the unmistakable sound of antlers tearing and thrashing the softwood branches. It was definitely a buck, and if sound was an indication of size, this one was a bruiser!
The more the sound of the thrashing buck continued, the more Kluke's heart began to race. He watched intently in the direction of the noise, when something to his right began to move. It evidently was a different deer also attracted by the noise of the first. Kluke knew instantly that the challenger was a good buck, because the only thing visible was his rack, and what a rack it was!
"When I caught a glimpse of the huge antlers moving through the brush, I almost lost my breath," Kluke said.
The Bucks Steps Out
By the time the buck reached the trail, Kluke already had shouldered his rifle. The timing could not have been more perfect, as the giant buck was so pre-occupied that he stepped out completely from the alder trees, exposing himself, and offering the hunter the opportunity of a lifetime.
The old monarch glanced in Kluke's direction as he cleared the trail, but the show already was over. Kluke had his rifle in position. "I remember looking down through my open sights, seeing his huge neck and head and just pulling the trigger," he recalled. As if in slow motion, the big buck stiffened up on impact, disappearing through the thick swamp brush. Kluke felt confident that it was a solid hit!
After reluctantly waiting an hour before pursuing the giant trophy, the two men began creeping through the center of the swamp. They followed with their noses to their ground, like a couple of bloodhounds. As the blood trail grew larger, it led the men through some of the dirtiest forest in southwestern Quebec. Finally, Kluke could see his buck lying motionless beneath a cluster of trees.
Not long after the hunting season ended in Quebec, Kluke made the decision to have his impressive buck scored for the BTR, and what a decision that would be. Buckmasters Trophy Records' scorer, Richard Poulin, tallied up the numbers to the tune of 151-3/8 inches BTR Semi-irregular. It was a new Provincial Record for the province of Quebec, a well-deserved title for such a wily old swamp buck from the Otter Lake region of Quebec.
To receive more information on deer hunting in southwestern Quebec, contact Tourism Quebec for a free brochure: 1 (877) - BONJOUR
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