It happens to even the best of us. We asked 10 prominent Canadian hunters to share the story of their most memorable missed shot—and what they learned from it
Peterborough, Ontario’s Keith Beasley is the co-host of TV’s popular Canada in the Rough show, along with his brothers, Kevin and Paul.
“One cold November day, I was hunting whitetails in a textbook-perfect location in northeastern Alberta with huge timber, seismic lines and poplar ridges separating thick, heavy swamps. At 2 p.m., a fawn and forkhorn crossed the open line I was watching. A few minutes passed, then I caught sight of an ear flicker. With my binos, I confirmed it was another doe, but then I noticed a giant tine in the timber behind her.
I adjusted my binos and my jaw hit the ground as a massive 12- to 13-inch-long G2 emerged, then a 10- to 11-inch G3 and a nine- to 10-inch G4. I’d seen enough and was immediately on the gun, ready for the buck to step onto the trail. Wanting to make my rifle as steady and secure as possible for the 165-yard shot, I lay the barrel on the 2×4 ledge of my blind, then pushed the stock into the ledge with my shoulder and pulled down on my sling. It was absolutely rock solid.
As the giant buck emerged onto the trail, I knew in an instant he was even bigger than I’d thought. He had a massive 5×6 typical frame with towering tines, huge main beams and a great spread. He was a true monster, clearly a 180- to 190-class buck. I breathed, stopped the buck broadside with a whistle, and slowly squeezed the trigger. At the shot, the buck’s back end dropped, then he swung and wobbled out of sight over the hill. I was ecstatic, and turned to the camera and said I’d just taken the buck of many lifetimes. I watched the footage on the camera’s small view screen and knew I’d hit him good.
Arriving at the spot where the buck had stood, however, I found no blood, even after circling out to 250 metres. Others joined in the search, but there was still no blood. Back at the lodge, everyone who watched the footage said that buck was surely dead and I would get him in the morning. Still, I was shaken and could not understand what had happened. I’d been calm during the shot, and the buck should have been down within 100 yards.
After watching the footage about 10 times, I finally slowed it down so we could see the bullet’s vapour trail. We were able to follow it all the way until it passed the buck beside his alert, right ear, literally 18 to 24 inches above where I’d aimed. My stomach sank. I’d missed—a mistake of epic proportions on the deer of a lifetime. The lesson I should have known, but learned the hard way, is now ingrained in my mind: Never rest on the barrel, as it needs to whip freely. When rested, the barrel jumps off a surface, spraying the bullet. What a miss!”