André van Hilten's
Willow Creek Outfitters
2014 Hunting Season
Francois St. Louis
Willow Creek Outfitter's
2014 Hunt Report
Now with the 2014 hunting season behind us I have had a little time to reflect on the exciting events that took place.
Purchasing a bighorn sheep area in Alberta's northern Rockies was the highlight of the season, finally getting tags in an area where I have wanted to be for quite some time. Adding this new area to our already existing hunts made for a full schedule starting from our spring bear hunts to our fall deer hunts.
Starting this year we hunted black bears from May 10-31 and took 8 hunters. We were able to take 4 bears, all which were black in color with amazing thick coats. Unfortunately three other hunters had shots at four different bears including a couple nice cinnamon phased bears, but were unable to seal the deal. So in the end 7 of the 8 hunters had shot opportunities and the one that didn't, did not see a bear that bettered the big 19"+ bear he already had. Read our latest black bear article "Priceless" published in Safari magazine, Nov/Dec 2014.
As we rolled into summer I met up with the outfitter that I purchased the sheep tags from and did a summer pack trip into the new area to do some exploring. It is vast untouched wilderness which is hard to access but this part is a small inconvenience compared to the experience of hunting in true wilderness that has little hunting pressure and has not been touched by man looking to exploit it for its natural resources. For this season we just ran one sheep hunt ourselves with the other hunts still being run by the other outfitter. With the four sheep hunts combined, one ram was harvested. If success is measured in the taking of an animal these numbers could be better. Considering that one hunter saw 5 legal rams and missed one, another saw a couple legal rams but was unable to get to them and another did not want to leave base camp and climb up the mountain to look for sheep, I say it was a pretty successful season. In any fair chase hunt an outfitter can only provide opportunity, it is up to the client to be physically and mentally prepared for the hunt. The weather and terrain on these mountain hunts are unforgiving as any experienced mountain hunter knows.
Due to the type of country in this new sheep area, we will get to the sheep mountains by horseback and then from there hunt the sheep backpacking style. For the 2015 & 2016 seasons we will be taking 2 sheep hunters per season and then starting in 2017 we will take four sheep hunters and two elk hunters each year.
One of our most exciting hunts of the year I think is our archery mule deer hunt. Like last year we harvested 8 bucks for 12 hunters and the average score of the deer harvested was 165"! For more information on our 2014 season please check out our 2014 BOW HUNT REPORT.
Opener for the rifle deer season here is Oct. 25. Joining us this week would be return clients Francois St. Louis (QC) and Milo Ravndalen (MN) who brought his friend Chad Turner on his first western spot and stalk hunt. All three guys harvested real old bucks with Francois' being a 188" monster! Next hunters that arrived were Tim (MT) and brother Jim Lee (WA) and John Murray (NY). During this hunt we experienced some severe winter weather. Snow and cold wind kept both deer and us hunters looking for a place to hide from it! We persevered and by the end of the week we had three dandy bucks taken. David Duffy (AU) endured the long trip overseas to hunt mule deer with us. We hunted for a big buck for the first four days of the hunt and then on day five David took a nice representative as he wanted to just get one as this would be his one and only mule deer hunt. During the same week Bill Walters (MI) had a tag for both whitetail and mule deer and was successful in taking both by the end of the hunt. To wrap up the season Darius Varner (MI) and his good friend Brian Mead (MI) came to hunt both whitetail and mule deer. By the end of the week we came close to getting a 150" whitetail, hit and did not recover a mule deer that would be in the 180" class but fortunately Brian was able to connect on an old 175" mule deer. Read our latest deer hunting article, North America's Serengeti.
I would like to thank all the clients that joined us this season or at some point in the past. Also it would not be possible if I did not have the great help from guides; Kelly Wiebe, Darcy and Wyatt Barrett, Jason Wilson and my brother Hans van Hilten and the great meals provided by Ian and Julie Sutor! Thanks so much!
The years seem to be flying by and we are now entering into our 15th year of offering fair chase hunts in Alberta! We still have openings for the 2015 & 2016 seasons so give me a call and come join us for one of the exciting, fair chase hunts that we offer!
Until next time, good luck!
Andre van Hilten
Sign Up For Our NewsletterRegister
Read more about each hunting season, the excellent time our hunters had on our hunts and the animals harvested in previous years.
past hunting seasons
The season was filled with many new hunters as well as a number of repeat clients. We harvested some really nice animals and made some good memories for all. We also acquired some more whitetail and black bear tags in our area early this fall and both are spot and stalk hunts, the whitetail in the rut in November and the black bear in the spring during the month of May.
We just finished another fantastic bow season for mule deer and again it was an exciting one with many repeat clients and some great bucks harvested. Overall 12 bowhunters took 8 bucks with an average score of 171"! The average shot range was 43 yards and everyone had a shot opportunity at a trophy class muley. The 2013 bowhunting season an unforgettable one!
Another hunting season is in the books, they seem to come and go faster every year! We had another exceptional year, a full slate of good clients and some great trophy animals that we could pursue. Conditions for the animals in this part of the province has been nothing short of amazing. The animals had no shortage of feed and once again we saw great antler growth on the bucks.
We just wrapped up another very successful archery season here at Willow Creek Outfitters! We specialize in trophy mule deer hunts and had 14 bowhunters join us in 2012 on this exciting hunt. We invest endless hours every year scouting and patterning the mule deer before our clients arrive. This pays off huge once the season starts as we can spend less time locating the deer and more time stalking them.
Another season has come to an end here at Willow Creek Outfitters. Eleven years now that we have been outfitting here in southwestern Alberta and it was the best year I have seen for antler growth on our deer and beautiful color phased bears. Our hunters took 5 mule deer bucks that scored over 180" and 7 that were in the 170's!
We just finished our archery mule deer hunts, and what a season it was! This was by far our best bow season yet, as far as clients harvesting bucks. With good moisture in the spring and early summer this area had quality antler growth! Of the 10 bucks our bowhunters took we have live video footage of 9 of them.