OK, I am back and thawed out! I can happily say that this trip was much better than my last outing even though it started off pretty rough!
I arrived to the town nearest our lease in KS at about 6:30pm on Wed evening. I fought terrible weather the whole way. There was a brutal north wind and then near the KS line it started dropping freezing rain at a terrible rate. Shortly after crossing the line my wiper fluid froze and my wndshield was in terrible shape. I did make it to the pizza hut to meet my buddy though.
Well after dinner we drove the short drive to the ranch only to find our power was out and it was pretty darn cold. We have a nice bunkhouse to stay in but, the heat is electric so we basically just bundled up and got through the night.
Thursday morning met us with 30-35mph winds, freezing rain and about 2" of ice on the ground and it was 18 degrees. I walked about 1/2 mile to a point that overlooked some great canyons and sat down. It is really hard to carry a 15lb rifle and a 10lbs backpack in the ice especially when you have a lot of heavy clothes on! Well I lasted about 2 hours before my backside felt like it was frozen to the ground and the deer movement was dismal at best. I saw one very small buck and a couple of does.
About the time I made it back to my truck it had warmed up a couple of degrees and here came the snow. It snowed the rest of the day and into the next morning until about noon or so. The hunting was pretty bad and we walked some canyons and saw only a few deer as they were held up pretty tight. The snow storm had dropped around 18" of snow! When it cleared off here is what we got to hunt in.
That afternoon proved to be a decent hunt and I hunted with my buddy. He ended up killing a heavy, mature 8pt with 4 kickers. We had found a hot doe and with her came several bucks. He is not what we would normally shoot in KS but, given the circumstances he was very happy. The shot was not too long but, it was exciting the way it all unfolded. He shot him with a 300 RUM at 310 yards. It only took 6 shots from him and um........1 little 300 gr projectile to put an end to this ordeal but, we won't talk about all that.
Now that he was done we had one more tag to fill. I was intending to shoot some does at long range but, the weather had shortened my trip and the deer were still moving very poorly compared to what we normally see. We basically set out to find more hot does. By this time the weather was beautiful with a very light breeze and sunny conditions. The snow was still 1.5 ft deep and deepr in some places and that made it a lot more challenging.
Saturday morning brought new hope as I sat back out on a point. The deer were moving decent but the largest deer I saw was a 120" 8pt. We continued to walk ridges and glass with no luck. That afternoon we found another hot doe about 1/2 mile from the bunkhouse. She was down in a canyon that was bordered by a lake on one side and an open hay pasture on the other. We knew we had the advantage at this point so we were excited. We worked that canyon for 4 hours seeing the deer often but, they were chasing so hard it was impossible to find the right buck and then he never stopped. The ranges were short but,the oaks were very thick. We counted 5 different buck and there was 1 definate shooter but, we were never able to seal the deal and then the light ran out.
Sunday morning was the best morning of the trip. I had planned to leave Sat morning but, we were in it for the long haul at this point and I was not leaving until I could seal the deal on a mature buck or the season ran out! We were greeted with bucks chasing does everywhere on Sun morning. It was awesome and what I expected out of this place. We glassed a ridge at 900 yards to see 5 bucks chasing a doe. There was a monster in the mix but, he would never settle down enough or in the right place to get a good lookat his head gear much less to make a shot. We determined we were going to have to get in the middle of them so we started out journey. ABout 1 hour later we were in the middle of them and I had the big deer at 150yards broadside. The safety was off and he needed to take one step to be mine. Just before he took that step he turned to look at me and it was then that I realized he only had one side of his rack! I was devastated. This was a 170 class 10pt with 4 kickers on just one side!
Disheartened I decided to go check our South canyon. There are several wheat fields I knew the deer used at night and we wanted to try and catch them coming back up in the canyon. WE parked at the top of the ridge and glassed what looked to be a large buck in the open pasture. Excited we decided to drive to the bottom of the canyon and crawl up on a point to get a 500-600 yard shot into the field. Well about 3/4 of the way down the canyon a doe ran across the road followed by a buck. We could not see the bucks horns when he crossed due to the brush but, the stopped about 70 yards from us. I had to look through the windshield and I thought he was a heavy horned buck but that is all I could tell. My buddy thought he was a dink. I told him I thought he was wrong and to please take a look in the binos because it was out his side. The second he put glass on him he started telling me to shoot him. He said he is big with trash! I bailed out of the truck only to watch them trought deeper in the canyon. Again my heart sank!
We rushed to the top of the ridge only to see nothing. My buddy told me to set up to watch the far canyon wall and he was going to walk down in the bottom to see if they would move. Well I got set up and ranged the entire ridge line. It was thick with heavy timber and cedars so I knew I was going to have to be quick if a miracle happened and he came out on the ridge. The ranges were from 250 yards to 450 yards that I could shoot to. I looked at my drop chart and dialed in 3.25MOA for a 350 yard zero. I figured I could make due with that.
About 5 minutes later deer started up the other side of the ridge. I saw a buck and doe but could not tell what the buck was. Then further down I saw another buck that was just a nice 135" deer. I quickly found the first 2 again and saw that he had a good amount of horn on him. I laid my head down on my Edge and got on the buck. I slowly dialed up the power on the NXS so that I could see if there were any obstacles before I fired. The buck was in terribly heavy cover and although I could see him the whole time I never had a real shot. I thought about shooting him in the head 3 or 4 times and then I calmed down and my senses came back to me. I stayed in the scope for about 15 minutes waiting for the right opputunity as he slowly followed the doe around the cayon rim. I could have shot her at almost any point but, somehow the buck managed to keep something in front of his vitals the entire time! Well I had picked a small 2 ft opening that they were headed towards and I thought this would be one of my last oppurtunities. Then the doe crossed it jsut like I had imagined it. The buck followed but stopped just inches short of the opening and then promptly ran across it like he knew I was there. The doe and buck ran in a circle back and forth through this window 3 times before he made the fatal mistake. He stopped short of the opening then slightly quartering towards me he stepped down the canyon and stuck his shoulder in a grapefruit sized opening. At the brake of the trigger I knew he was dead. I saw the hit through the scope and I watched him lung twice straight up the canyone before he disappeared in the snow when he went down.
I did not take any pictures of the bullet damge but it was severe. I had shot him in the shoulder while he was quartering towards me and in exited in the middle of his rib cage. It looked like I had run a softball through him!
The buck was not quite what I thought he was. His beams were short for a mature buck but, he has a lot of mass and character. He scores just over 155" and his G3 is broke on one side. He also had a common base point that was broken at the base that was substantial in circumference. I am very happy with him given the conditions and the way everything went down. It was very exciting and I am very pleased with the results. The shot was only 404yards but, in the heavy cover it might as well be 1000 yards. I do not own 1 other rifle I would have taken that shot with. KNowing that your rifle will put the bullet were you place the cross hairs in invaluable. I am confident that if I was not shooting my Edge it would not have happened. It would have been a crap shoot at best! Thanks Shawn!
Here is a shot of his double eye guard and one of the extra points. He is also very massive.