Rest in Peace Rick Poulin – Whitetail Guru

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.

Your friend,

Jeff

 

 

27 thoughts on “Rest in Peace Rick Poulin – Whitetail Guru”

  1. Well said, Jeff, and thanks for the kind words for a man that definitely deserves them.
    I first met Rick five years ago – each of us staked out on the edge of a bean field south of Ottawa; photographing whitetail deer in velvet. As we walked back to our trucks after a successful shoot, we swapped stories on bucks, wildlife, and taxidermy.
    We would meet once or twice more that year.
    I last bumped into Rick this past summer, while photographing birds at Mud Lake. His appearance had changed drastically since the last time we had crossed paths and he told me he was dealing with some health problems. That would be the last time we would share some stories in person, although we did keep in touch through Facebook – as recently as October.
    Rick’s passion for whitetail, for wildlife, and of course birds, was inspiring. He had a genuineness about him that always put a smile on your face.
    You will be missed, Rick. My condolences to your family, your many friends, and all who’s path you crossed over the years.
    Enjoy the photo opportunities high above….
    Justin Hoffman
    Field Editor – Ontario OUT OF DOORS Magazine

  2. Jeff,
    My sincerest condolences. Please extend them to Rick’s family (if you’re able). I haven’t spoken to him in quite sometime, I didn’t know he was ill.
    I did not know him nearly as well as you but anytime I ran into him (often in the oddest places) we always had a good long chat. He had done two full head mounts for me over the years. Every time I went to drop one off or pick it up, I always had to drag myself away from his “shop”. I guess at least his work will live on.
    I’ll be admiring my trophies a bit differently now I guess.
    I remember once I was there and he was explaining about re-doing old mounts and how he was always in the search for capes from larger animals, 200 pound class as I recall, I had made my mind up that if I ever harvested one near that size that was not going to be a full mount for me, that I would give him the cape. Every single fall since then, as I sit on watch, I think of that and hope I can help him with that. There have been plenty of animals, but none of the size he needed.
    He was a good guy, he’ll be missed.

  3. my deepest sympathies for his family i met rick some years ago and he scored a buck for me , i had just asked him how to score a rack and he took the time to show me , we talked and joked about all of the ones that got away i last saw him in carp i could tell he looked a little different but never new he had cancer , he will be a huge loss to the valley r.i.p

  4. Very sad to hear Jeff! If I remember correctly, Rick often posted photos of the bucks at the experimental farm.

    It certainly sounds like we lost another fellow steward of the land. Another lesson to keep those precious days when we can get away to the forests close to our hearts and live every moment.

    RIP.

  5. I met Rick over 20 years ago as a member of the Nepean Archers. Spent time with him
    setting up 3D shoots. Had a big boy come in last night, at least 8 points, would not come within 50 yards. Watched him for 5 minutes, Rick was probably watching too.

  6. Rick taught me a lot about bow hunting. I met him back when I worked at the Archer’s Cabin close to 20 years ago. He would come in and help out whenever he could. I was a kid, and I had just taken up hunting with a bow. He had a wealth of knowledge, and was not afraid to share it. He always told me to try to think like a deer when I was out in the woods. It turned out to be great advice. I remember calling him one morning after shooting a nice buck. I wasn’t confident in the shot, so I asked if he could come give me a hand tracking. He dropped whatever he was doing, and came out right away. One look at my arrow, and he said “dead deer”. As I stood at the spot where I shot the buck looking for sign with Rick’s friend Sandy, he wandered off. Two minutes later he hollered and was standing over a very dead 8 point buck. He said “I wish all the “come help” tracking jobs were this easy”. That buck, and many others, grace my wall after Rick did a shoulder mount for me. I will never look at them the same now. Rick’s attention to detail was second to none, and if I didn’t know better I’d say the animals were still alive, that’s how real they looked. I spent many hours in his “shop”, either getting racks scored, admiring his work, or helping him out with the Big Game Records of Ontario books. He had a passion for wildlife, and especially whitetail deer like no one I have ever met. He would often show me pictures of the bucks he photographed and go into great detail about them. It was like he knew every single buck he ever took a photo of.

    My sincerest condolences to his family, and his many, many friends in the outdoor world. He will be missed.

    May your arrows always fly true to their mark, and may your subjects always give you that perfect picture…

  7. Hi Jeff, Was saddened to hear of Rick’s passing. I had heard that Rick had some health issues, but I had not spoken to him in awhile. I would like to offer my condolences to the Poulin family. Your tribute to Rick was very fitting. Rick was a true sportsman, whitetail hunter and master taxidermist. Rick did a lot of mounts over the years for me, my brother and fellow hunters. I always enjoyed visiting Rick’s basement, looking at his different mounts and talking over the deer hunt. It was always interesting to see all the different mounts and racks from all over the Ottawa Valley. Rick will be missed by many hunters and I will certainly miss my visits with him.
    Hope you’ve got your eye on a big buck Rick!

  8. Rick was my father in-law and one of the greatest men I’ve ever known. It was a pleasure to know him and it was an honour to be by his side to share in his final moments. He will be forever missed but never forgotten!

  9. Rick was well known by me and a lot of hunters and birders in this region and will be missed greatly

    My post on Ontario hunting Lodge where he was also a regular contributor like here
    ===================================================================
    Ah man that is so sad. I knew Rick fairly well. I had two birds and a deer chest mount done by him. He was also the guy that measured my moose rack that ended up in his book. Very sad news indeed.
    I remember a kind of funny story
    Rick was an expert on birds and when I was given a dead hawk I took it out to the MNR to get a permit before bringing it to Rick. They identified it as a Cooper’s Hawk and gave me the proper paperwork and off to Rick’s house I went. When Rick pulled it out of the bag he laughed and said, they don’t even know their birds. Turns out it was a Red Tailed Hawk. He called them and they forwarded him the proper documents, I’m sure red-faced.
    Great guy and very sad news
    We lost a good one.

  10. Wow, So sad to hear he was sick. I met Rick 15 years ago to mount a deer and score it for me, I was surprised how nice a man he was and helpful I,spent many times in his basement and learned more in those hours about hunting whitetails than any books and mags I,ve read. Just Great respect for the Man. Great Story Jeff. All the best for Ricks family.

    1. Yes, Rick was a special guy that’s for sure, so nice to hear how he touched people’s lives in different ways.

      Thanks so much to everyone who shared their thoughts and prayers for the family. I actually struggled greatly with posting this tribute since Rick really was a private person in many ways, so I’m hoping he isn’t up right now giving me the finger now.

      Sorry buddy, there was no other way I could say thank you!!

      Even this summer, when Rick and I chatted about his condition, he preferred I didn’t share the details with everyone and I honoured his wish. I believe perhaps it was his pride and not wanting to sound like a complainer.

      A special thanks to Rick’s son-in-law Hendrik for sharing his comments.

      Outdoorsguy

  11. Knew of his illness, but did not know him personnally, although I knew about his skills.

    Sad, that respected people have to leave this life due to cancer.

    Condoleances to his family.

  12. So sorry to hear that Rick has passed away.

    The first deer I ever shot went to Rick for an antler mount. I drooled over everything he had in his shop and could have stayed for hours. He made me feel right at home, and kept those yappy little dogs at bay.

    Since then, I’ve taken hides to be tanned, fish to be mounted, including one of my special Quebec Red Trout, antlers to be scored, and once he asked me over to see one of his big bucks.

    Although we never hunted together, he was a magnet for those who love the sport and was always enthusiastic about sharing his stories and passion.

    it’s hard to imagine anyone who met Rick not to have been impressed by his work and accomplishments.

    He will truly be missed.

    Maple

  13. Jeff and the hunting fraternity. I met Rick many many years ago while learning bow shooting out at the Nepean Archery range. From this meeting Rick and I became friends and I have many specimens mounted by Rick. I heard rumours of his illness but was told it was all nonsense. I pass on my condolences to Rick’s family and all who knew him, we have definitely lost a true sportsman and old friend.

    1. I received a very touching letter yesterday from Rick’s cousin, Bob Poulin, which I have been given permission to post.

      Thanks so much to Bob & Lucie for allowing me to include their letter here on the Blog:

      Hi Jeff,
      I just found out about my cousin Rick losing his battle with Cancer . I was sad to hear that he would not be in the deer woods any longer. I also read your article about Rick the Guru , I want to thank you for such a lovely way to say good bye to Rick.

      Your article has done him justice , every time I look at my deer mount in the basement I will think of Rick as I have in the past.
      He had a passion for deer hunting like no other that I have known. Rick and I did not get together as often as I would of liked but our lives went on a different path. I to have the deer hunting passion , living and hunting in the Ferguson Falls area gives me the luxury to pursue hunting at its best.

      If his Dad would of read your article he would be so proud , his father Don was so proud of him! I hope Rick was aware of that , every time Rick would come out with some new project his dad would be one of the first to let us know.
      May he rest in peace!

      Today is the first day for the rest of your life , enjoy the woods and water as we are only here for a short time.

      Bob Poulin

  14. I was actually just looking up his facebook page to get his phone number, to mount this year’s dear. I am in complete shock. I had no idea he was so sick.

    Over the years, Rick has mounted numerous animals for me, include 5 dear, 4 ruffed grouse, and a full sized bear. I wouldn’t trust anyone else.

    Beautiful tribute to him, Jeff. You captured his essence in a nutshell.

    I was so looking forward to seeing him to chat about this year’s hunting experiences. I simply can’t believe it we won’t be sharing our stories anymore. We hunt in the same area, and it was always fun to compare notes.

    My condolences go out to his family and friends. He will be missed.

    Tony Morin

    1. Hey Tony, I’m sorry you had to find out this way…I think because Rick kept his illness quiet, for the most part, it will be a shock to a lot of people.

      Thanks for stopping by…I think you may look at those deer mounts a little differently now.

      Regards

      Outdoorsguy

  15. R.I.P. “Mr. WHITETAIL”

    I first met Rick, many years ago as he mounted my first Big Buck and everything in between.

    The first day I met him, I was invited into the shop. That’s when I realized how many Big Southern Ontario Bucks really existed. That is also when I realized that Rick was not JUST a taxidermist, he was an expert on whitetail deer. After showing me some of his pics and deer’s he had harvested, I was in awe. I continued to reach out to him as a resource for many questions on Whitetail Hunting. He always had the right answer.

    Last December (2013) I harvested my biggest buck to date during the muzzleloader season. I immediately called Rick and dropped it off, we spent an hour just chatting about the deer and the hunt. I came to find out that Rick had the battle of a lifetime on his hands. I was greatly saddened by the news, some how he still had optimism in his voice and strength in his heart.

    I kept in touch with Rick throughout the mounting process and his battle. I remember receiving a voice message in August 2014, Rick stating that my mount was done and ready for pick up. I called back in September and was informed that he was off to hunt deer out of Province. I was happy to hear that he had a chance to get away from the stress and the battle or at least put it aside for a moment.

    In Late October 2014, once he was back, I went to see Rick and chatted about his hunt. He had a great time hunting and was so happy that he had pushed himself to get out on this hunt, as a smirk came across his face. It seemed like he had beaten cancer for a moment in time. It was evident that cancer may have taken control of his body but it could not take his spirit and passion.

    He handed me my score sheet and mount, I thanked him. I did not think that this would be the last time I see and speak with Rick.

    Jeff, Great Article. There are legends in many areas of life and he is a legend to many in the Deer Hunting World. I have subscribed to Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Canada and have watched countless Canadian/American deer hunting shows. I can say hands down there is no one, who’s passion, knowledge and insight would match that of Rick POULIN. I had learnt more from Rick in my short visits and phone calls then that of countless hours of reading materials. Rick’s knowledge was so broad in many areas of nature and animals, but to me he will always be MR. WHITETAIL.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Rick is sitting in the highest tree stand above us all, watching down with a smile on his face.

    To his family my condolences, thank you for sharing such a wonderful person with the rest of the outdoor community, in many ways he has mentored and educated many people beyond imagination.

    Rick, thanks for your time, your perfection in bringing my experiences to life and your imparted knowledge.

    You will be greatly missed by all,

    Dom

  16. I’ve known Rick Poulin for about 25 years. We were hunting buddies and we loved to hunt whitetail deer. I’ve read all the comments about Rick here and they are so nice to hear. I wonder what I can add that hasn’t already been mentioned.
    This past September we went to Manitoba bowhunting whitetail deer, something we had done for the past 23 years. As it would happen, Rick ended up in the hospital in Ottawa a few days before we were to leave. It didn’t look like it was going to happen. I remember getting a call from Rick the day before we were to leave. He said “98% chance I won’t be able to go”. That was in the morning. That afternoon I got another call “50/50 chance of going”. He then underwent a medical procedure and the staff told him that the Manitoba trip was not possible. Rick didn’t agree.
    Rick met me at the airport at 6am the next morning and that day we were in familiar surroundings in Manitoba scouting for deer. Rick made the most of every minute of the next ten days, bowhunting and birding at every opportunity. It would be his last hunting trip.
    Rick had an appreciation of nature one could only admire. His love for his wife, Rose and his family came first and foremost and again, was an example for anyone who knew Rick.
    He was a great friend. I will miss him.

  17. I am one of the “Three Amigos, (Rick Poulin, Sandy MacPherson and Me). We hunted together for a quarter century and were the best of friends. I helped him with his business, his websites and more. I miss him greatly. But I want to reveal his major secret of success as a hunter. as he revealed to Sandy and I. He told us …”See a deer, put up a stand”.

    What a great guy, great hunter, great birder and great friend.

  18. I was friends with Rick for over 15 years, having first met him in the fall of 1999 thru my brother Sandy. I had the pleasure of hunting with him for 15 memorable years. Over that time Rick mounted 19 deer, 4 bears, and numerous other mounts for me. All in all there were around 36 in total. The quality of his work was top notch. Good friends are hard to come by and he was one. Cherish them while they’re here. He will be deeply missed.

  19. i was one off his good friend i no he will be still chasing the big BUKS were he went i will miss him ( frenchy)

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