Species Deer

The hunt: Harry Houdini’s escape acts were rank amateur compared with those of the huge-bodied, hat-racked giants found in the agricultural region of southern Manitoba. How such large animals can hide in this vast, open prairie landscape is a mystery, especially for visiting hunters like me who are accustomed to spending most of our time hiding in the woods perched in treestands.

The region’s overabundance of record-book bucks is the product of genetic blending. This is where the big-bodied, northern woodland whitetails mix with the ridiculously racked Dakota deer, resulting in Incredible Hulks sporting absurdly large headgear. And it doesn’t hurt that these bucks have access to all the wheat, barley, peas and alfalfa they could possibly eat.

Big bucks aside, another reason I enjoy hunting here is the friendly and accommodating nature of the farm owners. Indeed, you’ll get the best bang for your buck by staying at one of the many rural, farm-based bed-and-breakfasts. Not only will your host probably own a huge ranch, he or she will also likely be friends with the neighbours, so getting permission to hunt—and a chance to fulfill your whitetail fantasy—is easily within reach. —Gord Pyzer

When to go: The rifle season coincides with the snowy, cold, mid-November rut. Muzzleloader and archery hunters can get much earlier and warmer starts on the season.

Gun and load: A fast .270 pushing a 130-grain bullet is ideal for the generally wide-open terrain and medium shooting distances. A good light-gathering scope is also essential, because the biggest bucks appear at first and last light.

More info: Manitoba Conservation & Water Stewardship, 1-800-214-6497 • Travel Manitoba, 1-800-665-0040