Howdy, howdy from sunny Oklahoma. My dad and I just completed a successful whitetail hunt for our 2015 rifle season, where we each shot nice eight-point bucks. We'd each taken nice bucks during our October muzzleloader season, but this hunt was a tad more memorable.
We hunt on the small farm where my dad grew up in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma and have access to several adjoining farms giving us access to roughly 750 acres where we're often the only hunters. I typically spend every-other weekend there doing basic maintenance on the house, mowing the grass, arranging the cutting and sale of hay, and recording wildlife/scouting deer. You can imagine my enthusiasm when I was privileged to take these photographs the weekend of 11-7 and 11-8 when these bucks were in full rut on the south edge of our property.
Our gun season is sixteen days and it began the morning of November 21 with extremely WINDY conditions, the sustained winds being between 20 and 30 MPH and gusts up to 45 MPH. The deer and other animals stayed hunkered down almost all day until the wind laid down and dissipated around 5:00 in the evening. We began seeing lots of immature bucks (small eight-pointers, six pointers, forkhorns, and spikes) and does, but none of the big boys like I'd been seeing outside of our season. We stayed after it, heading out at 6:30 in the morning, taking a short break at noon for a bite to eat, and staying out until after 6:00 in the evening, but neither of us saw anything we felt comfortable shooting. I had arranged to take vacation for the first full week of the season and my dad is retired, which allowed us to focus only on hunting.
I headed out a little later than usual the morning of 11-24 and as I was walking to a favorite spot for deer traffic, I saw a deer loping across a hay meadow towards the timber and mountain to the east. The light was still dim (it was about 6:50 A.M. and official sunrise was 7:05), but I could see through binoculars that it was a decently mature buck. I was a little unsure of attempting a shot under those conditions in the field, so I hesitated. The deer loped on and the distance grew a little more. The buck then stopped at the edge of the timber and was broadside to me. I leaned up against a post oak tree and looked through the crosshairs and regained my confidence. I held just aft of his right shoulder and squeezed off a shot from my 7mm-08. I saw a big puff of hair fly off the buck who lurched and disappeared from view. I knew it was a solid hit. I quickly chambered another round and started across the meadow towards where I'd seen him last and found him piled up about three feet from where he'd been hit. It was a clean, fatal hit.
I dressed him out, drove my pickup to where he lay, loaded him in the bed, and hung him from the ceiling of our walk-in basement. I split his chest open and removed the heart and lungs where I found penetrations of both lungs by the bullet.
The distance turned out to be an honest 255 yards, which was further than I'd shot an animal in quite some time.
My rifle used is a custom MRC 1999 built for me by Mark Penrod of North Manchester, Indiana. It has a 24-inch Krieger #2 Sporter barrel, McMillan Classic stock (dig the gray color), and Leupold VX-III 2.5x8 in Leupold STD mounts. My 7mm-08 load was a 140-grain Sierra BTSP over 41.2 grains of VV N140 in Remington brass with a Remington 9-1/2 primer; this was good for 2763 feet/second and 2371 lbf-feet energy at the muzzle.
One deer down.
My dad continued on for the rest of the day without seeing anything he wanted. I headed back out to near where I'd shot my buck around 5:00 that evening and looked to the south to the place from which I usually hunt and could see a large buck walking east at a casual pace towards the timber cover. I told my dad and he headed to that spot the next morning. He left the house at 6:19 A.M. and at 6:40 I heard a shot. He called me a few minutes later and told me he had a nice buck down and could I bring a pickup near him. I threw on some clothes, headed out the door, and drove within about 100 yards of him (the ground was quite soft). I dragged his deer to the pickup and we both loaded it into the bed.
He said he no more got into the spot where I'd sent him than this deer was there -- the shot was only about 40 yards.
He used a Winchester Model 70 Featherweight in 7x57mm with a load consisting of a 150-grain Nosler Partition over 49.0 grains of RL-19 in Remington brass with a WLR primer. (I loaded these for him, though he hasn't chronographed the load.)
I always have a good time hunting with my dad, but this seemed like an especially well-timed hunt -- heavy rains rolled in right after he got his deer and are predicted to continue through the remainder of this weekend and possibly into the first part of next week.