Listen in on mule deer conversations nowadays among the real cognoscenti and you'll hear one place being mentioned more and more - namely, Alberta. The reason's simple. This area has always had the right genetics for trophy deer, as witness the Chip Lake buck that has remained at the top of the B & C non-typical list since being shot in the 1920s. The problem has been overharvest, particularly out on the flat, open prairies where cover is at a minimum. Enter those terrific new rules and draw zones for residents a few years ago. They reduced the overall harvest and pushed trophy quality up. The good news for nonresidents is there is no draw for a permit here, though you do have to book with an outfitter. The bad news is, news of the improving mule deer situation has leaked out, and nonresident pressure is increasing dramatically these days. The plunge in mule deer numbers in the US has only added to the pressure. Still, there are some opportunities up this way well worth checking out. Here are a few I turned up at press time:
Jack Franklin of Lost Creek Outfitters and his brother, Billy Franklin of Silver Sage Outfitters, both outfit in the prime prairie mule deer country. These guys have access to miles of farm and ranch country and are able to share permits in adjoining areas. Consider their record of 22 bucks last year. The average was over 170 B & C gross on rifle hunts. Furthermore, famous bowhunter Chuck Adams connected on an archery hunt here, taking a huge buck scoring 208 gross and netting 204. That is some kind of deer. Billy Franklin has high expectations for this year's hunting season too. "This should be our best year ever," he says. "We've had two mild winters, and I've been seeing some super bucks."
As for rifle hunts, Silver Sage is already booking for 2001, so you had better get on the list quickly These rifle mule deer hunts are three days only and run $4,500 at present. That may sound like a........(continued)