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This Canadian’s world record vanished, but he still took a seriously big animal

Credit: Russell Forbes. Russell Forbes and his rescinded record.

Straight shooter

Short a world record, but long on big-game wisdom

When veteran big-game hunter Russell Forbes left for Greenland last September to hunt muskox, he didn’t expect to return with a world-record caribou. But that’s exactly what happened—or so he thought. After the 65-year-old hunter from Kitchener, Ontario, harvested his muskox, he also took a caribou (below), which was officially scored at 502 inches, smashing the former Safari Club International world record of 416. Months later, however, SCI reclassified his trophy as a reindeer, rescinding the record. While disappointed, Forbes remains positive about the experience. “It’s the eighth largest reindeer ever shot,” he says, “so it’s still a really respectable animal.” Plus, he still has 45 years of other hunting memories to fall back on. Alongside his long-time buddy John Donato, Forbes has hunted antelope, black bears, caribou, elk, mountain goats, moose, muskoxen, mule deer, whitetails and, now, reindeer. With all that in mind, we asked Forbes to share some of his top big-game tips.

Firepower

Forbes is adamant that a Weatherby Mark V in .300 Weatherby Magnum is the best all-around big-game rifle. “That’s over years of owning many different rifles,” he says. “If I was starting over all over again, that would probably be the only gun I’d own.” As for ammunition, he says he’s impressed with the construction and stopping power of Barnes VOR-TX 180-grain bullets. “They always stay in one piece, and they’ve always been very effective in a good clean kill.”

Credit: Russell Forbes. Russell Forbes and his rescinded record.
Credit: Russell Forbes.
Russell Forbes and his rescinded record.

Ethics

Forbes says he’s committed to always making a quick, clean kill, so a bullet’s stopping power is especially important to him. “The part of the hunt I don’t really enjoy is the actual kill,” he says. “Ultimately, we hunt to be able to enjoy the meat from an animal, but I don’t want to think that it has suffered any more than necessary.”

Stalking

For a successful stalk, Forbes stresses the need to constantly mind the wind. “You’ve got to know which way it’s putting your scent,” he says. As well, he emphasizes the importance of concealment and cover. “If you have to move through an open basin, it’s pretty damn tough to be successful. If you can get up onto a ridge or behind a ridge or move through a bush, however, you stand a whole hell of a lot more chance of being successful—as long as the wind direction is in your favour and not against you.”

Long shots

While most of Forbes’ shots are at 150 to 200 yards, he has harvested a mountain goat at 400 yards. What’s the secret to making a successful long shot? “Practice, practice, practice,” he says. “The only reason I took that long shot was because I spent a lot of time in advance at the range.” It all goes back to his respect for his quarry and reluctance to risk wounding an animal. Says Forbes: “You have to be patient, weigh the odds, then make your decision.”

To learn more about Safari Club International records, go to www.safariclub.org.

Bob Sexton

Bob Sexton

Growing up in Gander, Newfoundland, and Peterborough, Ontario, Outdoor Canada's managing editor Bob Sexton jumped at every chance to wet a line and head afield. After spending half of the 1990s working as a tour guide in Latin America, he completed a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University in 2001 and was hired on as Outdoor Canada's assistant editor. Since joining the magazine, he has won two Outdoor Writers of Canada awards, in 2008 and 2011, and contributed to numerous National Magazine Award winning or nominated stories. Sexton is the past president of the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors.

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