Big Buck Alert: This Canadian Giant is Likely to be a New Record Typical Whitetail

On the last afternoon of a six-day hunt in Alberta, Canada, with temperatures below zero and 18 inches of snow on the ground, Oklahoma rancher Devin Moore was ready to "settle" for a 150-class whitetail buck that his guide had just spotted 200 yards in the distance. What Moore got instead--after a well-timed grunt call and a heart-pounding struggle to get his frozen rifle to fire--was a 200-plus-inch typical that should move his name to the top of the Safari Club International record book.
Moore had been hunting from daylight to dark all week with guide Aaron Franklin (right) of North Alberta Outfitters. Using an ATV to run the logging trails connecting "cut blocks" (clear cuts of 15 to 20 acres) created by timber logging crews near Slave Lake in north-central Alberta, they'd leave the four-wheeler on the trail, hike to the edge of a cut block, and glass for bucks.
They'd been seeing bucks, but most were young deer--"growers not showers," Moore says--and he and Franklin had spotted only two bucks with does. By the last afternoon of the gun season, Nov. 30, Moore wondered if he might have to settle for something less than his goal of shooting at least a 170-class buck.
Having glassed seven bucks and a moose during the morning hunt, the two were feeling good about their prospects when they headed back out after a break for lunch. At about 1:30 p.m., Franklin spotted a buck 200 yards across a cut block walking into a stand of willows. "Aaron hit the grunt call and the buck turned around. He looked at me and said, 'It looks like he's about 155 inches and he's got real heavy mass,'" Moore says.
"I looked at him through my scope, but it was hard to see his antlers in the willows." Moore, who runs a hay operation in Washington, Okla., spends a good bit of time bowhunting back home. He's never shot a buck that he considered wall worthy. Standing at the edge of the cut block in the frigid Canadian woods, he considered his options. "I'm thinking, 'It's the last afternoon, and a 155 is still good, and it would be the biggest buck I've ever shot,'" Moore recalls. He decided to go for it.
But when he pulled the trigger, the rifle--a Remington 700 chambered in 7mm mag--didn't fire. "I heard a click, and I thought, 'Did I not put a shell in the chamber?' I checked, and there was a shell in the chamber, so I cycled it out and put in another."
Moore pulled the trigger again and the rifle failed to fire. The firing pin was frozen. He dropped to his knees and started cycling the bolt to free the frozen pin. After dry-firing the rifle a couple of times, he reloaded and again centered the buck in his crosshairs. "By that time I was shaking pretty good, from the adrenaline I guess," Moore says. His shot missed.
"The buck came running out into the open and Aaron grunted and stopped him at 175 yards, broadside. I didn't even look at his antlers, just focused on the shot. I hit him good and he went only about 20 yards before he died."
"I couldn't believe Aaron was able to stop him with a grunt after I missed," Moore says. After six days of hunting with Franklin, Moore jokes, "I was ready to throw that grunt call in the trash can. A deer would be looking at us and he'd hit that grunt. But he knew what he was doing. It worked."
After six days he also had his guide "talking like he was from Oklahoma," Moore says with a laugh. "After we got the ATV and rolled up to the deer Aaron said to me, 'You got yourself a big ol' buck!' We must have said that a hundred times. We were both giggling. Neither one of us knew how big he was until that moment. When I saw his antlers sticking out of the snow, I knew our guess of 155 was way off."
After returning to Oklahoma, Moore had the buck measured by a Safari Club International master measurer in Norman. The typical score is 207 7/8. If that number holds up, Moore's buck will be the biggest free-ranging typical taken with a rifle in SCI's northwestern whitetail category, edging out a 207 2/8-inch buck shot by Daryl Yago in Alberta on Nov. 10, 2005. (The overall No. 1 is a 220 3/8-inch buck from Alberta taken with a bow in 2001 by Wayne Zaft.) Because Moore's buck is a potential top 20, it will be subject to rescoring by a master measurer after a 60-day drying period, according to Diane Carabeo in SCI's records department.
Though the 17-point rack should make the Boone and Crockett book, Moore believes it won't fare as well under the B&C scoring system because the five nontypical points sprouting from the buck's bases and one G-2 will deduct from the final score. (SCI's scoring system does not enforce deductions for asymmetry, but B&C's does.) He plans to have it scored by Boone and Crockett after the 60-day drying period.
Troy Foster, who runs North Alberta Outfitters, says the buck will likely be the highest netting typical whitetail he's ever seen in 26 years in the outfitting business. Furthermore, he thinks it compares favorably to Milo Hanson's B&C world-record 213 5/8-inch Canadian typical, which he has seen up close. "It's just a tremendous typical," Foster says. "It could push the world record. I don't think it will beat it because of the deductions. It definitely has more bone than the Milo Hanson buck, but it probably has a few more deductions. It's a world-class deer."
"Every year there's rumors that we have a new world record," Foster says. "But that Hanson buck is a very special deer in how perfectly typical it is. This deer is the same kind of deer, but it just didn't grow that perfect set of horns like the Hanson deer. This buck has a few extra points, which will take away from it the way Boone and Crockett scores."
Moore took no chances on the return trip. Not wanting to trust his trophy rack to baggage handlers, he first tried to buy an extra seat from the airlines. When that idea didn't fly, he rented a car and drove the 2,100 miles back to Oklahoma--with the rack riding shotgun and accompanying him into hotel rooms on the 2-½ day drive. "The cool thing about the deal was making friends after hunting all week, whether I shot a deer or not," says Moore, here with Alberta hunting legend Dave Coleman, producer of the classic "Monarchs of Alberta" videos.
Moore came to North Alberta with his friend and fellow Oklahoman Mark Sitton, who'd hunted with the outfitter in the past. He's pretty sure he'll come back. "The hunting up there was the toughest conditions I've ever seen, as far as snow and cold," he says. "But I told a buddy, the thing about this hunting is you might come here and never shoot, but you never know when a world record might come out. You just never know what you might see." Maybe even a big ol' buck, eh? Keep clicking for more photos.

On the last afternoon of a six-day hunt in Alberta, Canada, with temperatures below zero and 18 inches of snow on the ground, Oklahoma rancher Devin Moore was ready to "settle" for a 150-class whitetail buck that his guide had just spotted 200 yards in the distance. What Moore got instead--after a well-timed grunt call and a heart-pounding struggle to get his frozen rifle to fire--was a 200-plus-inch typical that should move his name to the top of the Safari Club International record book.