23 September 2012This week I thought we might take a few pages from my hunting journal, going back to last year’s hunting season. It’ll soon be time again to pursue whitetail. Frankly I can hardly wait! October 26th, Oak Creek Ranch, Missouri...Whitetail bucks are seriously starting to chase does. Early this morning I watched three mature bucks chasing a doe, then ten minutes later saw two more mature bucks chase another doe. Then after moving another hundred yards to again set up where I could watch a relatively open oak tree covered slope I watched five different bucks obviously on the prowl for does. Those five bucks were slobbering and like the other mature bucks I saw their hocks were darkly stained. The day before hunting on Oak Creek II, which is a self-guided hunt I took a buck I had spotted the day before, but didn’t hunt until the following day. While doing some scouting, looking at rubs, scrapes and getting the lay of the land, I had briefly spotted a wide 10 point when he briefly stepped out of a creek bottom. Hunting on Donald Hill’s Oak Creek II is a unique experience. The property is high fenced, but has been extremely well managed for years by Donald and his crew. The way the hunt is set up, it is now a self-guided hunt. A ranch “guide” takes you onto the property, and may suggest which existing stands on food plots you might want to hunt. When I was on the ranch, it worked out so that I was the only one on the property, so I was allowed to do some roaming around (had others been on the property because of safety issues I would have then hunted from their strategically placed “stands”), which was the way I hoped I would be able to hunt. Essentially on my hunt, I was “turned loose” on the property with a radio so I could contact the ranch’s headquarters if I needed help, wanted to be picked up or had a deer down. After taking a serious look at the buck sign, food availability (tremendous acorn crop and numerous food plots), how the the “draws” traversed the property and wind direction I decided to set up on the north end of the brushy, oak tree covered hollow, taking advantage of a slight southerly breeze. First light and early sun rise passed with seeing only some small immature bucks and does and fawns. Yet each time I heard the leaves being rustled I anticipated a monstrous buck stepping out. Several of the rubs I had found were on oak and juniper trees 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Not only did I see several deer early in the morning, but also many gray and fox squirrels. About 9 am I decided to move a little deeper into the hollow. As I slipped along the upper edge of the little creek bottom I spotted movement, actually some white movement next to a sapling, then I saw the sapling shake. I stopped and listened and could hear what sounded like a buck rubbing his antlers. But I couldn’t see the entire animal which I knew had to be a buck. I sat down next to a tree, set up my BOG Gear shooting sticks, rested the Ruger .300 RCM topped with a Zeiss Conquest scope (the rifle I had used in New Zealand, Africa, Alaska and now Missouri for whitetails - the rifle which will be auctioned at the 2012 Dallas Safari Club Convention). I listened intently hoping the buck down below would move from the thick brush. Then I heard what sounded like a deer walking in the leaves to my right and slightly behind me. I slowly turned to look in that direction. No sooner had I done so that I spotted a buck walking toward me. I slowly switched my rifle so I could shoot left hand, knowing there was no way I could switch around totally to shoot right handed. The buck continued coming my way and there was no doubt he was wide, then I could see he had 10 long points. It was the buck I had seen the day before, which I had committed myself to hunting. Years ago when I had the chance to truly hunt, rather than hunting for the television camera as I do these days, I would select one buck to hunt, and then hunt him exclusively. Sometime I won, but most of the times the deer won! That’s what I had decided to do in tis instance. The buck weaved his way through the oak trees. I cranked the Zeiss scope down to 4.5X and put the crosshairs on the buck, then waited for him to come forward a bit farther. I stopped the buck and he was quartering toward me when I gently tugged the trigger sending the Hornady 165 grain GMX bullet on it’s mission. The buck bolted at the shot and disappeared into the bottom. The rest of the story you’ll have to wait to see during the 2012 airing season of “A Hunter’s Life”... I will tell you however I did take the buck, he was 25 inches wide and gross-scored 171 4/8 (there is a photo of the buck here on the site). To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. The Donald Hill Oak Creek II Ranch hunt was not only a huge success in taking a monstrous buck, but also in spending time with fabulous people once again. To learn more about hunting Donald Hill’s Oak Creek Ranch you can check out their ratings and go to their website www.OakCreekRanch.com. Look forward to being with ya’ll again next week.