Best in: Alberta
You can hunt whitetails in a lot of places where deer densities are higher and buck ratios are more favourable, but if a book-class deer is high on your wish list, you’d be hard pressed to find a more suitable destination than Alberta. The whitetails in this part of the world are flat out big, and mature bucks can be found wherever there’s a viable population of deer.
For my money, the best bets are along the interface between the agricultural zones and the forest. There you’ll find high-quality foods in the form of grain and hay crops, and adjacent thick bedding cover in the bush to ensure lots of security. While large whitetailed deer can be found at any time of the season in Alberta, the November rut tends to see the big boys moving around a little less cautiously than normal as they seek out receptive does.
Look for signs of activity— tracks, rubs and scrapes—or just hang out wherever you see groups of does; breeding-aged bucks are sure to be nearby. Time is the hunter’s friend here, and patience will often be rewarded. There’s no guarantee you’ll end up taking home a trophy deer, but put in your time and you’ll more than likely see the biggest buck you’ve ever laid eyes on. Fair warning, though: there’s no simple cure for buck fever.
Rattling, calling and decoying can all be effective ways to bring in deer to your location. And if you’re the patient sort, you’ll find the highest success rate sitting on stand in prime habitat. Snow brings great advantage at this time of year, and tracking deer is certainly possible for the persistent hunter.
It can be very cold, so come equipped with warm clothing that allows you plenty of flexibility to move. Rifles chambered for .25-06 up to the .300 magnums are ideal.