It is with heavy heart that I bid farewell to my old pal Richard Poulin, who yesterday lost his battle with cancer…
Rick was a very special guy indeed.
He was as avid a deer hunter as he was passionate about nature and conservation. A bird watcher, writer, accomplished taxidermist and friend.
The ‘Whitetail Guru’ as I dubbed him many years ago, was one of the first people I met when my now wife, and I, moved to Ottawa back in January, 1997. I had taken a beautiful 13-point trophy buck the fall before and, as I regular contributor of Rack: Adventures in Trophy Hunting magazine, I was told by my Editor that ‘Mr’ Poulin was the record book chairman for the P&Y, B&C and the BTR, so I promptly made arrangements to have my buck scored at Rick’s house in Barrhaven.
Upon being ushered by his wife Rose, into Rick’s basement (his shop as he called it) I realized instantly that this guy was a true-to-life Whitetail Guru. With several meticulously mounted deer heads on the wall and plenty of great stories to share, we instantly had something in common!
Rick and I hit it off right away, and that first scoring session translated into many more visits to his shop over the years.
The Whitetail Guru helped me research dozens of trophy bucks I could write stories about. Often the hunters met us at Rick’s house for a photo opp and other times Rick and I would scour through his record’s database for trophy animals. As the Ontario Chairman for FROW (Friends for the Recognition of Ontario Wildlife) Rick was THE hub of white-tailed deer activity for Ontario and, in my opinion, the province’s foremost authority on the subject.
Over the years, I featured the man in probably more than 100 magazine and newspaper articles. I had always secretly hoped that the exposure would help promote his taxidermy business.
But really and truly his work spoke for itself. Simply put, Canada Goose Taxidermy was magnificent.
I witnessed copious incredible works of art over the years: Deer, moose, small mammals, birds of prey and even family pets Rick had restored to such a natural looking state, you had to look twice to see if the creatures were actually alive.
The Whitetail Guru was always gracious with me, an up-and-coming young outdoor writer keen to feature as many great trophy animals in print as I could. I was conscious not to take-up too much of Rick’s time, since he always had a handful of taxidermy jobs ahead of him at any given time. It was what paid the bills, as he said, and he loved paying the bills this way.
As the year’s progressed and my spare-time grew shorter, I wasn’t able to make it to Rick’s house as often but we always kept in touch. I regularly chatted with him by email or here on my Blog, and he was a continuous source of valuable information and inspiration. The most knowledgeable wildlife man I ever knew and a former Museum curator to boot, not many people knew that.
This summer, with failing health, Rick chatted frankly about his cancer and told me he didn’t have a lot of time left. It made me sad to think how such an active and passionate guy had been reduced to pondering the few remaining days he had left.
“I hope to get at least one more hunting season-in” he told me, matter of factly, and I prayed that would happen. Then in November I followed up with Rick again crossing my fingers that his plan had come to fruition.
I never heard back from him..and sensed the worst.
To me, the caliber of knowledge and depth of character Richard Poulin displayed was something to strive for in my outdoor career. A kindred spirit to be sure with an incredible sense of humor, and an eye for beauty. He was salt of the earth and will be deeply missed by family and friends.
To my old pal, may you pursue that magnificent, elusive and majestic white-tailed buck far into the fields and mountains of the great beyond…
Rest in peace Whitetail Guru and thanks for all you did for me over the years…I will never forget you.