By: Carol Tomlin
Four years before my husband suddenly passed away at the age of 60, our whole family had taken a trip to Saskatchewan Canada so we could all bag a big buck. The trip was planned for a year. We were all so excited we could barely contain ourselves. The outfitter we hunted with was Brad Fry of Canadian Outback Outfitters. Each day Brad drove 35 miles away from the cabins we stayed in and then had to drive each of us another couple of miles on a 4 wheeler far back into the forest, the home of bears, wolves and deer. We sat alone all day until dark, 10 hours, some days 20 degrees below 0! Wow this was a challenge, but we did it.
The first day of this hunt my husband Bull, was shocked at first light by the sight of a monster buck! He was standing 150 yards away like a statue. Bull raised his binoculars to be sure of what he was looking at. The deer’s unusual color was brassy, the body was huge, the antlers were almost hard to believe, very thick, very high, and palmated with bases the size of beer cans, and he would know! He stared at this deer for so long he couldn’t get the 7mm rifle up in time to shoot him. Then he was gone. Never to be seen again. Was he real?
My husband could not believe his eyes. What he saw was a phantom. It haunted my husband for all the rest of his days. Some nights he sat up hollering, “I got him!” Then he would wake up disappointed with recognition of it being just a dream.
The rest of that infamous week of hunting in Saskatchewan turned out to be a special week for the whole family, we all had our bucks by Wednesday. Both of our sons in their 30’s at that time, killed 8 pointers. My husband and I each killed 10 pointers, 300 pounds plus.
Now, skipping forward to the winter of 2015, one which was particularly harsh for me on the farm. The snow was deep, the pipes nearly froze in the house many days and nights, and water froze solid every night for the horses, goats and donkey. Even with all of this extra work I kept being drawn to the little cabin that was built in a stand of pine trees in my husband’s memory. This cabin was built so I would have peace and time to reflect on our years together. Now, the little cabin in the woods is my art studio, one full of inspiration.
Author, Carol Tomlin, working on her farm during the winter.
This little log cabin was built in honor of the author’s late husband, Bull. It serves as a place inspiration and is now Carol’s art studio.
I really hadn’t painted in 10 years because of my state job that took me away from my farm each day, so painting had to wait. The diagnosis of MS came in 2003, effecting how I walked, my grip and my balance. All things considered, I really wasn’t sure I could paint anymore. One night in a snow storm I had an overwhelming urge to draw the big buck of my husband’s dreams. I came across the cover of Legendary Whitetails catalog and proceeded to sketch my husband Bull’s dream buck in very little time. The antlers of this cover deer were very similar to the description Bull gave to me, many times over, about the Saskatchewan buck. The more I drew the more excited I became. I thanked God and my husband for helping me create his deer.
The author sketching the Jordan Buck before she begins painting it.
I had to keep backing up and resting because it was so exhausting and exciting. I really felt that I was empowered by my husband’s spirit. My eyes kept filling up and I had to stop often. One of these moments I decided to read the story behind the deer on the cover of the Legendary Whitetails fall catalog.
Oh my gosh! It was the world record Jordan Buck! When reading about this magnificent deer and the young man who killed this buck in 1914, I became very emotional realizing how this man James, must have felt for not being recognized as the hunter who took him down while using a lightweight rifle, a Winchester .25/20. He lost the head and antlers for a long time (Jordan Buck Timeline). I could only imagine how crazy my husband would have been over that.
The author used the Legendary Whitetails catalog cover of the Jordan Buck as her inspiration.
I had a lot of feelings reactivated by the Jordan Buck story. Every day that month I drew and painted my husband’s deer. I felt as if I was being guided by his spirit. When completed I realized how similar to the Jordan Buck this painting was. I asked my friend for help, since I do not use a computer myself, I asked if she could find out from the folks at Legendary Whitetails, if they would let me paint the Jordan buck. They said yes!
Both paintings are about deer that meant so much to the men they influenced. Bull’s deer painting is entitled, The Hunters Dream and my Jordan buck painting is entitled Jordan in his Glory. I have been able to recognize important moments and preserve them in my paintings and stories to be passed down through my family and shared with friends and family members who also miss Bull dearly.
The completed painting of the Jordan buck by Carol Tomlin titled: Jordan In His Glory
Thanks to Legendary Whitetails and my friend Denise for the opportunity to do a painting of this great deer. This has given me the opportunity to gift my deceased husband for I am sure he is still looking after me. In return, he has rekindled my interest in painting. God’s spirit is here. I thank God for helping me regain my talent to paint and to lead me to my purpose of encouraging others to experience the outdoors by sharing this story and my paintings. I can now follow my dream and continue to paint. My purpose has been fulfilled.
Enjoy your family.
Visit Carol Tomlin’s Website: Buckskin Zen Den