... that regularly put big bucks in the record books. Sandwiched between northern Texas and southern Kansas lies the Oklahoma Panhandle. This narrow strip of land is only about 40 miles north to south, but it is prime whitetail hunting!
I recently hunted with Rick Rhoads and Back Rhoads Outfitters (www.backrhoads.com) , and hit the rut just right. Rick had been seeing a lot of activity in the days before I arrived, and he had some great looking deer in the 150-170 class that he and his camp manager Phillip had named. Opening day was forecast to be really warm, but the temps were supposed to drop every day afterwards, and I felt like the hunting would get better by the day.
As soon as I got to camp, I checked the zero on my .300 ICON at 100 yards. My first two shots cut each other about 2.5” high, so I figured I was in pretty good shape.
The first morning we awoke to one of the heaviest fogs I have ever seen. Once in our treestand in a river bottom, cameraman Rob Snider, and I couldn’t see 30 yards. The fog didn’t subside until 9:30 AM, and though we did see a few small bucks, I felt like we missed the majority of deer movement due to no visibility.
Midday found us checking trail cams on another property, and when we discussed the afternoon options, I asked Rick if he had a food source that I could hunt. My feeling was that during the peak of rut, if I could be near a food source where a lot of does would congregate, I would have pretty good odds of a mature buck following one out, or coming out to check the does feeding.
Rick told me he had a setup ready on a triticale field (a hybrid of rye and wheat) that a lot of deer had been using. I climbed into the ladder stand about 3PM, and within minutes, does began filtering into the field. Most were coming out 200 yards to my left and 150 yards to my right. By 5PM, I had about 20 deer in the field, including two small bucks.
Just then, we spied 3 deer coming our way from about 400 yards down the field to my right after they emerged from a dip in the field. It was immediately evident that one was a buck, and a BIG buck. I just had to hope that he would come into good shooting and camera range.
There were a dozen does at 192 ranged yards, and the buck began walking straight to them with a sure purpose. I hoped he would make it to them and maybe run them a little toward me. He did make it to them, checked them, and when he found that none were in estrous, he began to feed. I saw that 200 yards was going to be my shot, so I got ready. I got locked in and when the big mainframe 10 pointer turned broadside, I touched the trigger of my ICON and hammered him straight through the shoulder. He chest ploughed about 20 yards expired.
I couldn’t believe the first night of the hunt I had taken a giant Oklahoma whitetail. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth though, and I knew without a doubt, I had done the right thing by shooting early in the hunt.
I stayed around for a couple more days and we collected more footage and scouted for some of the other hunters in camp. Every time I went out, I saw shooter, mature bucks. I was really blown away by both the deer numbers and quality of far western Oklahoma, but I guess I shouldn’t have been. We were 17 miles from and area of Texas I have hunted a good bit and only about 15 miles from the big buck producing area of southern Kansas. It only make sense that the Sooner State would hold quality deer as well. I’ll be back for sure.
(On this hunt I used my faithful TC ICON in .300 Win Mag with 180 grain E-tip bullets. This is my go to rifle/load combination for virtually everything North American.)