Whitetails and Whitefish!


For those of us who love to both hunt and fish, November can be a busy time. Our lakes are just starting to freeze over and  rut season is kicking in full time.

Throughout the years my friends and I have always been in this situation. What do we do. Should we hunt? Fish? What if that big buck shows up and someone else gets him. What if the fishing’s really good though. You know we need a good haul of whitefish for the smoker?

Dave with a jumbo Alberta whitefish


This can be hard on the mind what to do where to go etc. Losing sleep thinking you should be doing the opposite of what you have planned. On top of all this, if a person didn’t do any scouting, they are going on a wing and a prayer that a big buck will cross paths with them. All of us did very little summer/early fall scouting because we were to busy in the boat when we’re on days off.

After discussion with my hunting and fishing friends we all agreed on one thing. Why can’t we do both.


The very simple solution is the trail camera. Having a bunch of these is game changing. Since big mature bucktails like to roam at night, the trail cams are invaluable. It also means while the cameras are doing their work, you can go fishing for the weekend. During the past five years every time we fish from summer to the end of November, we always have cameras out. This includes the 12 days we spent in Tobin Lake this fall.

As summer leads to late fall, we usually go through our target areas, setting cameras on game trails leading to fields. If we don’t see a big buck in that time, we move on. If your running one camera, I would spend a lot more time changing it from trail to trail 3-5 days at a time.


We concentrate on pea fields, as well as wheat, canola and alfalfa. The very best, hands down, are pea fields. If your lucky to have one near that good whitetail country, your bound to run into a good buck on camera. When you locate one, put out more trail cams to keep track of his movements. Be very cautious, however. Put these cameras out during the day when the deer are bedding down.

Bedding area

Big whitetail bucks are as smart as whips and if they feel threatened you may never see them again. If you pattern him with caution the first few days of season may surprise him.


Come late October it’s more important to have your cameras on scrape lines . Often a buck will come to see if a doe has urinated in his scrape a few times a day in light. The fact that you have already found your target buck from the summer scouting and patterned him this will make his scrape line much easier to find. These could be on a cutline, fence line, field edge or anywhere in the bush.  This is also great place to hang a camera, sit and get a legitimate chance at one of these bucks. The use of rattle horns is also a very good tactic towards the end of the pre-rut when the bucks are ready to rock and roll .


November the time of year we have all been waiting for. It is now rut season and possible safe ice! Trail cameras are very hit and miss this time of year because bucks are very unpredictable travelling large distances in search of does. But knowing where the big boy spent his summer/fall has put you way ahead of the game. The best bait this time of year is a doe in heat. No matter what field you have seen him in, the does have to be there as well.

When sitting in the fields, whether it’s on the bush edge, ground blind, or tree stand, always make sure your down wind and as motionless/quiet as can be. Although the big buck might be in full rut, the does remain at full caution. While sitting, watch does carefully, as a lot of times they will let you know the bucks coming long before you see them. Sometimes it’s them just giving it away by looking towards a direction. Sometimes it’s a flicker of the tail or the tail standing up.

The buck I have in the picture was harvested purely because of  an agitated doe. I saw her flicking her tail, occasionally looking behind her, which kept me from walking back to the truck. Almost an hour went before this big buck came out on the hill behind her. Being over 800 yards away with no cover between us I had no choice but to pray she came my way. The doe started running right across the field and brought him to me on a string, a perfect last morning of the year.


About Author

Dave Shmyr lives in Grande Prairie, Alberta fishing and guiding on many of the lakes and rivers in that part of the world. Dave is also an accomplished tournament angler, who also loves to travel to different parts of Canada to fish. You can find Dave on his facebook account under the name of his guide service Koobies Krankers Fishing Adventures.

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