Manchurian Sika…Seizing Unforeseen Opportunities!
Patrick had returned to hunt The Patio Ranch again for a great axis trophy buck. His last trip had ended without a good trophy buck being taken; a few great bulls were seen, but all of them were skittish and did not allow for a good shot. In an attempt to help ranch staff locate axis deer before this week’s scheduled hunt, a number of really large bucks had been found using surveillance cameras at different locations. One showed promise for this hunt as a very large buck had been patterned at the same site morning and evening for three days. However, recent observations do not always translate into automatic success as axis are basically unpredictable; especially in a 500 acre pasture with a great variety of fresh green growth from recent rains. A pop-up blind had been set up at the site of the most promising area of axis buck sightings.
After some good rains a few days before the hunt, this day had started hot and dry. Pat and his grandson, Hunter arrived ready to start the hunt after setting-up in the guest house. The first stop was the rifle range to check Pat’s .338 for accuracy. With that brief but important matter satisfactorily confirmed, the hunters headed for the spot that Mitchell felt would give Pat the best chance for a great axis buck-the new blind. Last week had seen some good rains on the ranch, but this week and today had been extremely hot and dry; the dust was everywhere. As if prompted by the anticipation of success, storm clouds immediately seemed to form in the sky as the hunters made their way to the blind. By the time Patrick, Hunter and Mitchell arrived at the blind, a light rain had commenced. From that time until dark, the rain did not stop, but intensified throughout the afternoon. Not a single axis deer was seen, although the roars of rutting bucks seemed to surround the hunting area for the three hour hunting session.
The next morning, another attempt was made on the axis deer hunt. Again, not a single buck presented a shot to the hunters in the blind. Late in the morning, Mitchell decided to take a drive through the pasture to attempt a “spot and stalk” hunt if a good buck could be located. A couple of axis were spotted, but neither buck was in place long enough for Pat to get into a shooting position. With half of the day passed, the hunters decided to take an early lunch and look at other options in the afternoon. Patrick had expressed an interest in two other species on the Patio Ranch: the Barasingha deer and the Manchurian Sika. With no opportunities given by the axis bucks, Pat decided to try another pasture to view the large Barasingha and Sika trophies after a well-deserved lunch.
The weather was a factor again in the search that afternoon. A few barasingha bulls were seen, but they were not the larger bulls. The rainy weather had them deep in the juniper brakes or deep draws. Moving into other parts of the pasture, a few of the Manchurian Sika bucks were spotted. They were at a long distance, but their quality was evident. There were some young bulls with great potential, older bulls with typical 4×4 antlers and some others that seemed to have non-typical points. As the hunters moved from buck to buck to evaluate the visible ones, one buck caught Pat’s attention: it was a non-typical 5×5 Sika buck. It was symmetrical, very large and in a place that could be approached for a shot if all worked as planned. The decision was made to try for a shot on this beautiful Sika. With the focus on this buck, the hunters finally reached an acceptable location to take a clear shot. Pat was focused and moving with cautious haste to get a shot away before the bucks were alerted. With all ready, Pat fired. The buck fell quickly. Pat and Hunter approached and viewed the tremendous buck with appreciation and thankfulness for the opportunity.
Please join us in congratulating Pat on his patience and willingness to be flexible on his target species; to make lemonade out of lemons today, Pat made a good decision to hunt one of the other trophy species on his wish list. This tremendous Sika was not a compromise, but a demonstration that there is wisdom in taking advantage of a situation. This unexpected turn of events will surely give Pat ,and his grandson Hunter, a great opportunity to “…tell a different hunting story!!”
Hoping that all of you are blessed with moderate and rejuvenating rainfall!!