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SITKA Gear

Average Joe's 2020

kansasdad

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 30, 2011
Messages
4,715
Location
Wichita
How are your cameras looking this year?
I've got more great bucks running around this year in KS than ever before!

I will be after a mule deer for rifle season in the eastern zone. E scouting has commenced in earnest.

It has been a very dry summer/early fall all across south central Kansas. Water locations will probably play into your strategy when you come out.
 

sn.outdoors

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 27, 2016
Messages
447
Location
WI, WA, NM, ID
It got a little western up there. One guy nearly Winchestered. 🤣 Long day yesterday.

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I'll edit pics and get the story up soon. Early morning at the office and a long day of work today. I should probably drink more water and maybe get some salt in my body
 

sn.outdoors

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 27, 2016
Messages
447
Location
WI, WA, NM, ID
Saturday was very uneventful. We found a herd of sheep with a mature ram in it, but they weren't in a hunt-able spot. We watched them all day hoping they'd drop down off the cliffs or climb up to a spot we could reach... but they didn't.

Sunday morning started off rough when we realized my buddy's keys were locked in his truck along with his rifle, pack and boots... We made a few attempts to open the door ourselves, but just didn't have the right tools available to us. So we glassed as we waited for the locksmith to get there.

We found the herd right away and the guys were happy with what they saw. Neither of them had killed a barbary sheep before, so they weren't going to be too picky. The herd had 2 rams in it. A middle aged ram in the mid 20" range, and a young one around 20". They were on a bench we could reach, and didn't look like they were going to go anywhere anytime soon.

The locksmith arrived, popped the lock, and the guys started making their way up the cliffs while I kept an eye on the herd. We estimated it would be about a 2 hr hike.
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As luck would have it... the herd decided to get up mid day and move about a half mile and out of sight from my position. So I called the guys to let them know of the change as I moved to relocate them. Luckily they moved to an easier spot to get to, and were a few hundred feet lower in elevation.

The terrain looked like they could get close enough without any issue, other than it being extremely steep. The only unknown was whether or not the guys could actually see the sheep where they were bedded.

After about an hour, the guys were in position below the herd, and working up the cliffs to get a view. As the guys climbed, the sheep strangely walked to the edge of the cliffs and into the sun.

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The sheep were about 300yds away from the guys and literally glowing in the sun. I had 2 spotting scopes setup to watch, one fixed on the sheep, and the other fixed on the guys. I could see that the guys were in shooting positions, but had no idea why they hadn't already taken a shot. It's not too often that a ram stands in the sun, midday, in range of you. There was no way the guys couldn't see him. So I blasted them with a few expletive laden text messages encouraging them to hurry up and get it done before it was too late.

Still no shot. Maybe they couldn't see the ram? I had no clue what was happening.

To my surprise, instead of going up the cliff and back into the shade, the ram came down the rock face and stood in the open... closer to the guys. Still no shot. "Maybe they're gonna pass on him, or they still can't see him," I thought to myself.

Then I saw a bullet impact the rock above the sheep. A clean miss. The ram stood still for a moment then hopped off the rock.... and stood a the bottom of the rock. Alarmed, but not seeming to be in a hurry to leave. I couldn't believe it, normally the sheep bolt and run as fast as possible in whatever direction they can when they hear a gunshot. Well not these sheep...

Another bullet impact just above the ram. Another clean miss...

This time the sheep grouped up and moved a few yards to the right, but still within view of the guys. A few more misses, and then one tumbled down the cliff, dead as dead gets.

But the herd was still there.

"Man... That's gonna be a fun pack out if they double," I joked to myself in a not-so-funny manner.

Then I saw the smaller ram take a round to the chest and stumble a few yards before regaining his balance on the edge of a small cliff. I bumped the tripod and by the time I got it back on the spot, the sheep was gone.

A phone call moments later confirmed what I thought I watched... 2 dead sheep near the top of the cliffs. Yippee. (y) Hahahaha.

I packed up my stuff, chugged a bunch of water, ate some food and began making my way up.

After 90 minutes of solid hiking I was finally there.
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I was pumped for the guys, and knew the moment meant a lot to them. They were equally as unenthusiastic about the pack-out, but were riding high on adrenaline from the encounter.

Turns out, the guy who was up to shoot, just couldn't find the larger ram in the scope when it was standing in the sun. Excitement, adrenaline and feeling like he needed to hurry must have hindered his vision or something because the other guy could see it clearly with the naked eye. :ROFLMAO:

I couldn't believe the sheep stuck around for several follow up shots. It was quite the rodeo up there, and the guys learned a lot.
 

sn.outdoors

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 27, 2016
Messages
447
Location
WI, WA, NM, ID
I don't think I accurately portrayed just how excited I was to hunt this NM muzzleloader tag. The unit is not a "trophy unit" per se, but it's close to home and I'm familiar with it. More than that, I really like hunting in the "open" dune country. It's relatively easy to find deer here, but they can easily disappear. Despite the openness and lack of trees, it's fairly easy to get close to deer if you're careful and you can stay oriented to your surroundings. It's pretty easy to get turned around out there since everything looks the same.

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Since I was planning on hunting state land, I was limited to only 7 days prior to hunt to scout. My work schedule further limited my time, but I was able to get out there 3 days in a row to get an idea of what was out there. Scouting turned up a few big bucks, and plenty of deer I'd be happy to shoot. I knew exactly where I wanted to be at first light on opening morning.

---------

I began spotting deer immediately as light slowly gained over the horizon behind me. My attention and eyes were fixed on the area I'd seen a giant buck the night before. Hoping he was still somewhere in the vicinity. I spotted what looked like a decent buck through my 15's but he was pretty far away so I couldn't see exactly what he was. As I was digging my spotting scope out of my pack I noticed there was a group of bucks about 100 yards away in the opposite direction I was glassing.

I pulled my binos out of my harness and immediately recognized one of the wide bucks. He was a shooter and he was well within range. I set my optics down and crawled into position for a shot.

I ranged the buck, put my ear protection in, settled the crosshair on his shoulder, exhaled and squeezed the trigger.....

Pop...

Misfire.... I put another primer module in and repeated the process with the same result. I knew exactly what the issue was, but I ended up wasting 6 primers before doing what I should've done after the first misfire. In my haste to get the rifle cleaned and loaded again after confirming zero, I failed to clear my breech plug of cleaning oil after. Which resulted in oil soaked powder and an oil filled breech plug.

So I dissembled the rifle, dumped the powder, pushed the bullet out, cleaned the breech, re-assembled the rifle, and loaded it. All in a matter of 2-3 minutes. The herd of bucks had fed closer to me while I was fixing my rifle, and as I was putting the primer onto the bolt, a small buck finally busted me at less than 10 yards. The herd bounced off a few yards then caught my wind. They ran behind a dune and disappeared. As awesome as it would have been to kill a buck 15 minutes into the season I wasn't all that disappointed that my season wasn't over.

I returned to my 15's, spotted a glimpse of what looked like a really good buck a really long ways away, and decided I should probably get closer to take a look. Before hiking over there, I test fired my rifle to regain confidence in my equipment. I drilled the tiny prickly pear I was aiming at and reloaded the rifle.

The biggest challenge of hunting this spot is all of the does which randomly pop up in the grass.

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I weaved my way through them as ninja-like as possible, but there was really no way I could get by them all.

I spotted a few bucks along the way and was very tempted by this fork horned buck. I've have seen many fork bucks larger than him and considered attempting a stalk, but I ultimately decided to pass. He was just a little younger than I was hoping for. He'll be a fine buck if he makes it a few more years.

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So I kept making my way over to the spot I was sure the big buck was at, stopping and glassing at every dune to make sure I wasn't missing anything. Halfway to where I was sure the giant buck was, I crept between two large dunes where I had seen deer bed down in the past, so I slowly peeked over the dune and glassed ever nook and cranny... No deer today.

I took no more than 2 steps, looked to my right and boom... There they were. A herd of 8 bucks already well within range.

I stepped back and looped around to get higher on the dune to get a better vantage point. Thinking the bucks were going to feed into the tall grass at the bottom of the dune, I figured I'd be able to watch them for a while and get a bunch of pictures before maybe shooting one if there was an old enough buck in the group.

Well... As deer often do, they did the exact opposite of what I thought they were going to do, and when I crested the top of the dune the entire herd was within 60 yards of me. They still had no clue I was there.

I looked over the herd and decided the biggest bodied buck was definitely old enough. I silently joked to myself that I should've brought my bow as I slowly raised my muzzleloader and put the buck in my crosshair. I made the offhand shot at about 50 yards. The buck was dead immediately.

The rest of the herd ran past me and stood on the adjacent dune.
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My season was over in 2 hours. 🤷‍♂️ And I wasn't upset about it.
 

sn.outdoors

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 27, 2016
Messages
447
Location
WI, WA, NM, ID
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He had a lot of fat on him for a desert buck.

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The best part about my season being 2 hours long was being able to spend the rest of the weekend with the wife and kiddos before heading to Oklahoma for more muzzleloader deer hunting!

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I'm leaving in the early morning and I have 3 muzzleloader tags and 2 bow tags in my pocket. The weather is going to be garbage, so the hunting should be great! I've never been to the spot I'm going, but I think I'll figure it out.
 

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