Our hunting adventure actually began at the 2012 SCI Convention Wednesday evening dinner/auction in Las Vegas when Al and Joyce Morhart of Hartland Elite Saskatchewan Trophies offered great a hunt for two whitetail trophies. After meeting with Al on the convention floor the next day and having dinner with him that night, our plans were put in motion. After buying the auction item, my wife Nancy and I decided I would take our older son Scott on this hunt. Scott, an avid bow shooter, decided he wanted to use his bow on the hunt while I would hunt with my rifle.
On October 3, 2012, we flew to Regina from Las Vegas on Air Canada, having to connect through Vancouver. Taking a rifle and bow through Vancouver, even after having all the required Canadian paperwork in order, turned out to be somewhat cumbersome and time consuming. The airport personnel were polite, but confused on the procedures, sending us to the wrong places. We eventually wound up back on the outside of the terminal to start the check-in procedure all over again, emphasizing that it’s always best to book sufficient time between Vancouver flights!
Al was waiting for us at the Regina airport and we enjoyed the hour-long drive to his lodge in Briercrest. His new lodge, built in 2011, is extremely comfortable and he and his wife Joyce are gracious hosts. Al worked very hard over the past years building and improving his entire hunting facility. The modern lodge built on a hill located directly adjacent to his hunting area overlooks the vast hunting area itself, which consists of grassy plains, low foothills and valleys offering great deer habitat.
Scott and I were the only hunters at the lodge for the week, and Al himself was our guide. Obviously he knew his territory very well; as they say, “like the back of his hand.” The first evening we spotted several deer, including the one I evidentially took. But on this day it was moving over a distant hill offering no opportunity for a shot. It was a truly unique non-typical deer, and I told Al that if given the opportunity, it would be a deer I would love to take. Any unique non-typical animal is high on my list of desirable trophies.
Day two found us in an elevated blind patiently looking for a trophy that Scott could take with his bow. Three big beautiful elk and a great caribou came by; close enough for a bow shot, but no deer. Al said he had consistently seen good deer in this area but not today.
In the early morning of day three, as we were heading back toward the bow hunting blind, Al spotted the deer we had seen on the first day. He was actually lying down in a bedding area and totally unaware of our presence. After glassing the deer, I again determined that he was indeed a quality trophy. One shot and the deer never left the bed. After checking the deer and seeing firsthand just how beautiful he was, we decided to continue to the hunting blind and return later for my deer. The three of us sat in the blind again that morning and afternoon without seeing any deer.
Al had recently seen deer in an area that was fairly close to the lodge itself, so we decided to set up a ground blind nearby from which he and Scott would hunt that evening. As Scott prepared to leave, I gave him my rifle to use, just in case. From the lodge’s elevated deck I could actually see the blind and surrounding area. Later in the evening, a giant buck came out and was working his way toward the blind. He was actually about 30 yards from the blind but on the side without windows, so although Scott and Al could see him, Scott had no opportunity for a shot. Just before he moved into their line of sight, three does came out behind him and he turned and moved their way, then the four disappeared over a hill.
Just before dark the great buck seen earlier, along with the does, opportunistically sky lighted themselves on a hill about 225 yards in front of the blind. Even though it was starting to get dark, Scott thought he could make the shot with the rifle. Knowing he wasn’t going to use his bow; he realized this was an opportunity of a lifetime. One shot, echoing all the way to the lodge, and our son Scott had “Buckzilla.” To say he was elated would be the understatement of a lifetime. His non-typical deer green scored at 242 inches with double main beams on one side and a beautiful drop tine.
The next morning, Scott prepared the heart for breakfast. He used the caul fat to wrap the heart and stuffed it with apples and cinnamon. The deer provided us with a wonderful entree for our breakfast and proved that the harvested meat was definitely worth bringing home to Las Vegas.
The hunt offered at the auction called for one deer up to 210 inches and one up to 170 but both deer taken were far over the limits established for the hunt. Most deer taken at The Hartland exceed expectations as Al thinks it important that every hunter leaves satisfied by having experienced that special hunt.
Although I would highly recommend The Hartland for any hunter wanting a trophy whitetail, especially a non-typical deer, I’m not sure that at the time I write this, it would be the place to get one using a bow [See editor’s note below]. We understood at the time we bought the hunt it was a rifle hunt, yet Al agreed to accommodate Scott with his bow. Al understands the limitations of bow hunting, and hasn’t overly pursued bow hunters in the past. However, that being said; some bow hunters have previously taken extraordinary deer, elk and caribou at The Hartland. Knowing Al and the hard work he does as he continues to upgrade all facets of his operation including building more blinds, I’m sure his bow hunting opportunities will continue to increase.
The ride home on West Jet Airlines, direct from Regina to Las Vegas, went without a hitch, including bringing home the meat. All airline and customs officials in Regina were professional and extremely helpful. Al’s contact in Regina processed and froze the meat for the trip home. We had the antlers and hides shipped direct to our taxidermist in the states. I strongly suggest that all future hunters should clearly understand all the options available, including costs regarding trophy/hide shipping verses the potential taxidermy work being done in the Regina area. Financial surprises can dampen any great trip.
A great hunt and a great reason to attend the SCI Convention auction events!– Bill Scoble
Editors Note: Since SCI Member Scoble’s hunt, Hartland Elite Saskatchewan Trophies reports that with the help of hunting clients, they have developed new bow hunting opportunities and are fully prepared to provide both gun and bow hunters excellent hunting.