Just got back from an exotic big game hunt we went on down in Oklahoma with Headhunters Whitetail and Exotics owned by Shawn Winchester. Dad and I met BJ and Steve(Lerch) at Gene Sears Supply and from there we headed out to the ranch with Steve. BJ was to join us the next morning for the beginning of the hunt.
When we got there Shawn set us up in the cabin with our gear and then we drove out to try to class some critters before the decreasing light was gone. We went to the highest point on the property to get a good vantage point to class as much area as possible. When we got to that location, we instantly saw a very large simatar-horned oryx roughly 500 yards down in one of the food plots. As soon as we saw the bull, he saw us and was moving out. I was and still am amazed at how jumpy the critters on Shawns ranch were. The Oryx bull broke into a dead run with us over 500 yards away and did not stop until he was well over 1/2 mile away where he seemed to feel more comfortable. We were not hunting at this point so he was indeed safe.
We glassed some smaller rams and a herd of Axis does and smaller bucks. We were also able to watch a nice Blackbuck wondering around the grassy lowlands as they generally do.
We were all very excited about the hunt to come so we headed back to the cabin as dark came over us with great anticipation of the next morning to start the hunt.
Dad would be the first hunter. He was most interested in a big Oryx, Aoudad ram, Blackbuck or Axis. Basically, whichever presented the best opportunity would be the one he would take. Dad is not overly into long range big game hunting. He is more then able but his confidence level is not where it should be for him to feel comfortable taking long range shots at big game. Thats fine with me and we hunt where he is comfortable, generally 500 yards and under.
As the morning came, we headed out at first light. We decided Dad and I would sit in an elevated stand in a heavy timber lined valley where the Aoudad were often found early in the morning. As we walked in, we cut tracks that were huge!!! I had never seen tracks so large. We knew that Shawn had some very large water buffalo on his property and there was on in particular that was of exceptional interest to all of us. Not really to be hunted to to make sure that we as hunters did not become the hunted. Appearantly Shawn had been run up a tree 9 times by this huge grumpy bull who he said was pushing 2400 lbs!!! So here we are fallowing a set of fresh buffalo tracks in very low light and now thoughts of being stomped into the red Oklahoma dirt were on our minds for sure. Luckily, we did not catch up to that bull that morning and we made it to the stand.
We got settled in and Shawn, BJ and Steve headed to another area of the ranch to watch another opening for the morning. Nothing really moved that morning except several small herds of whitetail does who were all fat with their babies. It was a beautiful morning and a great way to start as the sun finally came over the timberline and warmed us up a bit as we were certainly not used to the high humidity compared to here in Montana.
After a couple hours, Shawn radioed and asked if we had seen anything which we had not seen anything we wanted to shoot so they came back to the stand. We decided to hike across the ranch to see if we could find the oryx and see if we could put a stalk on the big bull we had seen the evening before.
The sun was well up now and it was getting warm. We hiked down a brushed fenceline to conceil our movement as much as possible as we crossed the large food plots to get to the other side of the ranch. As we made our way down the fenceline Shawn picked out a white figure up on the hillside. He glassed it and sure enough it was the big Oryx feeding on some new grass on the hillside. He was looking dead away from us and the wind could not have been better to slip into position for a shot. We settled down along the fenceline where Dad could get down for a good stable shot. We ranged the bullet at just shy of 300 yards and Dad lined up his 7mm Rem Mag loaded with 140 gr Ballistic Silvertips on the shoulder of the big bull.
The bull was quartering away slightly and Dads shot landed on the onside last rib. A bit far back but easily clipping the back of both lungs. The bull rolled to the right and out of sight behind some ceder and cottonwood trees. It was clear the bull was hit hard so we just set there for a couple minutes. Steve walked over and saw the bull laying down roughly 50 yards from where he was hit, head still up. We worked our way down the fence line and Dad set up on a pile of dirt and put a second shot squarely on the bull shoulder at a bit closer to 300 yards. This shot instantly took the bull over and he was finished.
We got up to the big bull and took good care to make sure he had passed as no one wanted feel the business end of those long sharp horns. He was a beautiful animal. 450 lbs at least and snow white body with a neck color that matched the red dirt we were in. We found that both shots were certainly killing shots as both went through both lungs. Both bullets also came to rest just under the opposite side hide.
The bull had 38" long horns with bases over 6" in diameter, a great bull, easily making it into the SCI record books. A great way to start the hunt. Two great shots and one beasutiful bull. A critter this large is not terribly easy to get taken care of so it was early afternoon before we headed back out to continue the hunt.
When we got back out, we set up on the high point we had glassed from the night before. Steve and BJ were up as the hunters for the evening. I will let them tell the stories but simply put, Steve took a very nice Blackbuck and BJ took a heavy bodied Catalina goat.
When we got back to the ranch, and took care of the critters, I decided I should check the zero of my 300 Allen Xpress. We found a bright white target rock, roughly 4" square at 835 yards. My load was a very mild load for this chambering and rifle which drives a 240 gr SMK at 3160 fps.
BJ spotted for me over my shoulder. As the trigger broke, the white rock simply turned into white gravel from a dead center hit. Looked like she was ready for the next morning hunt. We had a day before we would be driving to Texas to hunt Axis deer and Shawn had a very large Corsican Ram and a very nice Texas Dall on the ranch I wanted to try to take at long range. We set up on the high point again and waited.
After a couple hours a small herd of rams came out of the creek bottom out into one of the food plots. Glassing the herd showed that the big Corsican was in the herd along with the larger Dall.
I decided I would try to take the corsican first and then if an opportunity arose, I would try for the dall. The group fed behind some large cottonwood trees and out of sight. I set the rifle up and took some initial range measurements. After around 30 minutes the sheep feed out into the open. I ranged the rams at 847 yards. Set the rifle up and settled in waiting for that broadside shot opportunity. With sheep, that can be a challange to say the least.
It took another 15 minutes or so for the big corsican to clear the other four sheep for a safe shot opportunity. As the trigger broke and the big sierra screamed down range i realized that I had not ranged the sheep just before the shot and that they had moved toward my position but the question was how much??? The bullet landed and it was clear, they had moved more then enough to effect the shot. The bullet landed just over the shoulder of the big ram and the small herd ducked down into the creek bottom and out of sight for any second shot opportunity.
We decided to let them settle down. It was early in the evening and they may come back out as the "Painkiller" APS brake does a dramatic job of nearly eliminating down range muzzle blast and often target animals have no idea a rifle was fired other then hearing the supersonic crack and possibly the bullet impacting near them which was the case in this instant. For one thing, they have no idea where the shot came from so they have no idea what they should be hiding from.
To say I was disappointed with my mistake not taking a range measurement just prior to the shot would be an understatement. Just a simple fact I was paying more attention being ready for the shot opportunity that I forgot to prepare for the actual pre shot set up.
We played back the video and it was clear the sheep had moved roughly 30-35 yards closer to our position, clear reason why I missed the shot.
After a bit over an hour, the sheep started back out to another food plot farther down the creek bottom but they were behind a row of ceder and cotton wood trees. You could see them from time to time but only between the taller tree tops. We decided to set up for the shot and see if one presented itself. After a very long wait, it happened, the big ram butted one of the smaller dall sheep in the rear and caused the Dall to run out of the way of the big corsican who turned broadside and having an accuracy rangemeasurement of 655 yards. As soon as the ram squared up broadside, the big matchking screamed down range. A cloud of hair lifted as the bullet landed at the back 1/3 of the rib cage and the big ram whirled around and was out of sight behind a large cotton wood tree.
Shawn reported the ram went down so I tried to get onto the larger Dall sheep but he and the rest of the sheep ducked back behind the tall trees before a shot was presented.
Happy with the shot but still very unimpressed by my miss as I could have had both sheep down. Now the sun was setting and I only had one of the sheep down that should have been two rams. Still I was happy.
We reviewed the video on the hit and the bullet drifted a few inches farther to the right they I was expecting it to from a slightly stronger wind they I had doped for but still the ram only ran 25 yards or so before piling up.
As the sun was dropping low, Shawn said he would drive down and park at the end of the food plot that was roughly 1/2 mile long to see if the sheep would move off to the right as they would move into a more open area.
Shawn slowly moved into position and it worked. The rams moved off slowly, not over pressured by Shawns position but just enough that they did not want to be there with him at the other end of the field nearly 400 yards away. It took a while but the sheep worked out into the open but then started moving faster and toward a corner where if they made it to would allow them to get into a stand of dense brush and there would be no chance for a shot.
I set up for the shot in hopes that the sheep stopped before the timberline. Just before they got to that point, the sheep stopped. THey were all in a line, all quartering away from my position and with around a foot of air between each ram. I quickly took a range, 820 yards. Found the hold and placed the reference hold point center on the rams chest with the verticle stadia splitting the front legs of the ram. The 240 gr bullet caught the ram on the last rib and exited forward of the offside shoulder, the big ram buckled but still ran 30 yards before piling up.
I will freely admit, this was perhaps the best field shot I have made to date. Unfortunately, as I realized the ram was down, I heard Dad say some experlatives and I instantly knew what was wrong. He then said he had forgot to hit the record button prior to the shot......
He was not very impressed with himself but these things happen and to be honest, it all happened so fast, and I did not tell Dad I was about to shoot so it was not all his fault at all but it is to bad we missed the shot on film.
Shawn radioed up and said he never heard any muzzle blast of any kind from the shot, only the super sonic crack at what seemed to be around 500 yards down range from our position and then the smack of the bullet landing on the ram. He was a full 1/2 mile away from the ram and could not see the hit but he had no doubt the ram was solidly hit.
He came back up and we packed up our gear and drove down to see what the rams looked like.
You can see the left horn as a bit broken off but still he is a pretty good ram.
The Texas Dall was not quite as long or as heavy but still a good ram and I was very happy with the shot on this nice ram.
end of part I