Browning X-Bolt with Nikon 4-16x42SF BDC rifle Scope in Ground Blind on opening morning. Gee this photo looks a lot like the May of 2011 wallpaper on browning.com. ;)
Our family had the opportunity to go to visit my wife's family for Thanksgiving this year. It just happens that the rifle deer season is going on the same week. What a coincidence! Dallen and I were looking forward to taking to the woods in an attempt to get him a nice whitetail buck. The property that we hunted is a couple of hundred acres of my wife's family near the Arkansas river in Eastern Oklahoma.
I was looking forward to helping Dallen get his first Whitetail buck. He had done well in getting his first Mule Deer this year and he was itching to take down a whitetail buck after passing on a spike two separate times on his first whitetail hunt back in 2008. I was also looking forward to trying out my new FujiFilm HS10 camera on it's maiden hunting voyage. I also shipped four large boxes of my hunting gear and some items from Browning. I was going to try and get some photos for Browning of Whitetail country and hopefully photos with dead critters on the ground.
For the hunt I brought my 270 WSM X-Bolt shooting 140g AccuBonds, my 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Laminate Hunter shooting 80g Tipped Triple Shocks for Dallen, and my 243 WSSM A-Bolt Stainless Laminate Varmint with Fluted Barrel with 95g Partitions. I really wanted to shoot something with the 95g Partitions since I had been working on the load the past fall and summer, however I also was going to help Browning out by taking photos so I needed a rifle that was currently in the line. So my X-Bolt Stainless Stalker was what I carried and what I would hand to Dallen when I wanted to take a few photos. My sister-in-law's husband Aaron was also hunting the property this week so I lent him my 243 WSSM A-Bolt with the 95g Nosler Partitions in hopes that he might shoot something with the rifle. Also for the hunt I purchased a set of Browning's Hells Canyon clothing in Mossy Oak TreeStand camo pattern to give it a try.
The Friday before the opener we arrived and went to work setting up our Primos Double Bull ground blind along the edge of a creek bottom. Early the next morning we made the mile walk in the dark back into the woods to setup in the ground blind. Forty minutes before shooting light we were ready in our blind waiting for it to get light.
We watched a doe and fawn at first light get behind us and down wind of us in which they in turn bolted out across the pasture. A half hour later we watched what at first we thought was a 6 point cross the creek and work it's way through the timber on our side of the creek. I was videoing the buck and may have discouraged Dallen from shooting it as I thought it was a first year six point. I knew he really wanted a 8 point and I encouraged him to not shoot. As we watched the buck more we realized it was a 3x4 and what looked to be a two year old deer for this area.
Later that morning a coyote showed up. I tried to get the camera ready to video Dallen shooting it but the coyote stopped behind a tree that I could not see around and Dallen was afraid it was going to cross the creek and drop out of site so he let the coyote have a 80g Tipped Triple Shock through the chest at around 100 yards for his first coyote. The coyote dropped right in it's tracks. We took some photos of the coyote and setup some photos of the coyote and Dallen for Browning. After the photos I packed the coyote out into the open pasture and realized the coyote was very large. One of the largest I have ever seen.
We were back out that evening but were unable to find any deer and Sunday we took a day of rest with attending church and visiting family.
Monday was hotter than Hades. I think the low on Monday morning was in the 70's and the high that day in the 80's. It was very warm and nothing was moving. Late that morning we met up with Aaron and I set him up with some gear and camo and took some photos for Browning of coyote hunting setups in Browning Wasatch Mossy Oak Duck Blind camo. That evening with the warm weather I thought it would be a good time to take my 6 year out for the evening to hunt with his Dad. We had fun together but didn't see any deer.
Tuesday morning we had permission to hunt my wife's uncle's property that is adjacent to where we were hunting. Thank you Uncle Martin! The property is further back in the woods and I wanted to hunt by a natural funnel between the creek and some small cliffs what the family calls The Bluffs. I didn't know exactly where we were going to setup and I didn't want to fumble around in the dark looking for the area so we started at daylight working our way back into the woods. Right at shooting light we watched two small bucks cross the pasture by our ground blind and head into the woods where we were going to hunt. The bucks looked like two spikes at about 200 yards from us. As we slipped our way into the woods we bumped another small buck which looked to be a small 4 point or 6 point.
As we worked our way to the spot I wanted to hunt to my surprise my wife's uncle had a double seater ladder treestand in the exact spot I wanted to hunt from. We quickly took to the tree. It was Dallen's first time ever hunting from or being up in a treestand before and the stand was was very comfortable and safe for both of us to sit in. After about a half hour Dallen informed me of a deer coming in. Sure enough a buck was working it's way around the creek bottom in our direction. The buck was obviously missing some hardware on one side of it's antlers but I felt it was best that Dallen take the buck. The buck stopped at about 40 yards out and Dallen sent a 80g Tipped Triple Shock through him dead center right on the back edge of the buck's shoulder. The buck whirled and took off at mach 12 as Dallen worked the action and had another 80g TTSX ready to send his way as he ran by.
The buck ran around the bend and out of sight. I felt the shot was good but I wanted to make sure and I also wanted to get some good photos of Dallen hunting from up in the treestand. I spent the next twenty minutes taking pictures before we took up the blood trail. Just around the bend not 40 yards from where he shot the deer I spotted the buck lying dead just 10 feet in front of us. Dallen hadn't spotted it and was looking right past it. I turned on my new FujiFilm HS10 camera in HD video mode and had him follow the blood trail. It was funny to see his reaction we he spotted the deer right in front of him.
I took a few photos... well maybe a few more than a few photos. I took a lot of different photos of Dallen in the background with the antler of the buck in focus in the foreground and the like. Trying to get some cool in the field photos with a real deer prop in the photos. I'm pretty critical of ads that use photos that are less than perfect with ad agencies trying to fake hunting scenarios. I think Browning does a real good job of getting realistic hunting photos and I try to do my part as the Webmaster in getting photos that we can use at Browning showing the real hunting deal.
Gutting the deer was a different experience for me, I always bone my animals out on the mountain and haul them out on my back... I prefer not to mess with the guts. Interestingly enough the bullet didn't penetrate all the way through the deer. The bullet entered right behind the shoulder and apparently the deer was not entirely broadside as the bullet angled rearward and into the stomach. Somewhere in the mess of acorns the bullet stopped. I dug and dug around in the nasty stomach contents trying to find the bullet. After a good ten minutes of searching, I gave up. It is interesting that this bullet has passed through a bull elk's shoulders at 205 yards and through the shoulder blades of a cow elk at 272 yards, yet at 40 yards it only made it around halfway through a tiny Whitetail deer. I think the muzzle velocity of 3360 fps gave this bullet some serious expansion at this close of range and I also think the pile of acorns put the breaks on the penetration.
After gutting the deer we took it up to Thomas Meat Processing in Keefeton about 10 miles up the road from my in-laws property and just south of Muskogee. Kris at Thomas Meat Processing was very kind in working with me and my requests with us being from out of state. Thank you Kris!
Tuesday evening I was headed back out into the woods. This time I was accompanied by my 4 year old son Kaden or as we call him KB. He was a hoot. Watch the attached video to see him in hunting action. We didn't see any deer that evening but I sure had a fun time with KB.
Wednesday before light I was up in the same tree Dallen shot his buck from. I was in for a surprise this morning. As it was getting light two does came in and the one was almost entirely white. What a neat deer to watch. Lighting wasn't the greatest as there were heavy clouds with off and on sprinkles. I did my best to try and take some photos of the white doe. I had to put the camera in manual mode and adjust the shutter speed and ISO to be able to get any kind of photos. I was able to get a couple half decent photos and a little video with my HS10 camera as the does fed around a feeder and passed though headed to a thick bedding area. I also watched a spike travel past the stand heading around the edge of a creek.
Wednesday evening I watched a small four point and a small doe. I was getting better with using the camera to get video and was able to get some pretty good video of the small four point. The HS10 camera does a pretty decent job with HD video considering it's a point and shoot camera. The trick is keeping the camera steady at high zoom levels while holding the camera by hand.
Thanksgiving morning I was back in the stand before light. Right at shooting light it started to rain and rain it did for the next three hours as I sat in the tree. I watched yet another spike come through the creek bottom but that was all I saw in the rain. With the forecast for rain I was wearing XPO bibs and a XPO parka. They kept me warm and dry as I sat there in the rain that by the time I left had started freezing to the trees.
I ate a little pumpkin pie and turkey and was excited to get back out in the woods for the evening hunt. The rain had stopped and the temperatures were in the thirties so I figured the deer would be out feeding and moving around that evening.
I watched a few does that evening and a two point on one side and a busted antler on the other, first year looking buck. I also had the white deer come back in but her companion camouflaged doe busted me moving so I was unable to get any photos this time around.
Friday found a heavy frost on the ground and trees. While in the tree in the dark a single deer came in straight to me and stopped around 15 yards to the right of me. It was too dark to make out more than a dark figure that it was a deer. It appeared that the deer was coming in to investigate the noise of me coming into the woods then it turn straight around and went right back in the direction it came from. An hour or so later at near 100 yards a buck appeared slipping around the creek bank. He looked like he might drop out of sight down into the creek. I took a quick assessment that he looked to be a 8 point, better than anything that I had seen so far and being the last day I could really hunt before returning home, I sent a 140g Nosler Accubond at 3300 fps to meet him. He took off and ran 40 or so yards and crashed. After the buck was on the ground I found that he was missing his G1 brow tines so he was just a two year old six point.
The bullet really messed him up. Including a near 3 inch hole in the opposite side rib cage that knocked all the hair off in about a two inch circle and left about a one inch whole through the hide. I was able to locate and recover the bullet in the dirt where it have traveled a good foot and a half through the dirt before stopping. The recovered 140g Nosler AccuBond bullet weighs 93 grains.
2010 Oklahoma Whitetail Buck with X-Bolt and 270 WSM 140g Nosler Accubond Handload
2010 Oklahoma whitetail buck exit wound from X-Bolt 270 WSM, 140g Nosler AccuBond handload.
I found the bullet on the ground where it has traveled through the dirt before stopping. The recovered 140g AccuBond bullet weighs 93 grains.
I made a cell call to Aaron to see if he could help with getting some pictures. I was able to get some pretty cool photos if I might say so myself of the deer and Aaron in various compositions. Thank you Aaron! While taking photos to our surprise we watched a small spike come to within 20 yards of us before it turned around after seeing us. I was able to get some shaky hand held video of him coming in.
Interestingly my buck had been hit with a broadhead across both front legs in the weeks before I took him. Dallen's buck had been shot in the neck just above the spine probably on the opening Saturday. I think there might be a little hunting pressure in the woods around my in-laws. I did see around 10 different small bucks this week if they can just live a couple more years to grow some better antlers.
I really like Hell's Canyon clothing. It is very comfortable, tough and breathable hunting outerwear. If I could change anything I think the TreeStand camo reproduced a little darker on the Hell's Canyon Fleece than I like and the jacket needs to be longer in the torso. I do wish it was lighter colored more like my lightweight Wasatch clothing. I also think that the TreeStand camo pattern is not as good of a pattern on the ground in Oklahoma as it is in Utah. I really liked Mossy Oak Duck Blind pattern for being on the ground in Oklahoma. You can read more of my thought on camo patterns in my Camo Pattern Comparisons article.
To ship the racks back home we cut the skulls in half then set them out in the sun to dry up the remaining flesh on the last day we were in Oklahoma. By cutting the skulls in half we could remove the brains and most of the flesh quickly so that we could ship them back home. Then we finished cleaning up the skulls using my DIY European Skull Mounting Process then mounted them together on a singe plaque.
This was my first real test of my new FujiFilm FinePix HS10 camera. The camera was everything I wanted in a camera. It took great photos with amazing flexibility of the super zoom lens. It would be nice if it could shoot a little faster. Taking both JPG and RAW photos at the same time took a good 8 seconds of time to process. Also when taking video there is a motor sound clicking at times... only thing I can figure is the auto-focus but I'm not really sure.
While on the trip I tried a couple of different flashlights from Browning. It was the first time that I tried a flashlight with different colored beams. I used the green light and loved it. With the green light my eyes did not become paralyzed for lack of a better word. With the green light my eyes were able to maintain my night vision to where I could still see in the low light while using the flashlight. With a traditional white bulb my eyes can't adjust and are blinded except to view the lighted area of the beam.
Our family had a really fun trip. My wife was able to spend a bunch of time with her family and my kids really enjoyed playing with all their cousins. Dallen and I really enjoyed the time we got to spend together in the woods. I need to thank my in-laws for making it possible for us to fly in for the visit. Thank You!
Dallen is now upset that we have to wait a year to hunt deer again and wants to make a road trip to Oklahoma next year to hunt. We'll just have to see. That's a full two day drive Dallen. We'll see.
Here are a few of the many photos I took with the HS10 during the trip.