Victor’s Long Awaited Manchurian Sika Hunt!
The Patio Ranch has one of the very few pure Manchurian Sika herds in the United States. This herd originated from a documented pure herd and has been kept isolated from hybridization since the introduction onto the ranch in the late 1960’s. Of the many distinct subspecies of Sika, the Manchurian subspecies is one of the two largest varieties. The strict selective breeding program that has been in effect for over 30 years on the Patio Ranch has resulted in the development of a mainly non-typical (larger than 4×4 points) herd; the herd sires are all 5×5 bulls or larger, some developing as many as 9 points per side.
These large breeder class bulls are in high demand and Victor has been seeking a chance to hunt one for a few years. His opportunity finally arose when a decision was made to replace the current breeding bulls with a different genetic line from the ranch’s pool of potential breeding class bulls that show tremendous mass, point length, beam length, and non-typical point display. Having had his name on the list of deposited hunters for one of these special bulls for over a year, Victor was understandably excited and eager to make the hunt. After an arrival in the wee hours of the morning due to weather and other uncontrollable circumstances, Victor was still up early and eager to start the hunting day. After awaiting daylight to test fire his rifle at the target range, Victor was ready to get to the hunt.
This bull was in a tremendously rough pasture where care must be taken with all shots due to contiguous neighboring properties with homes and visitors to be considered. With this added constraint in addition to the large amount of vertical diversity in the topography and many oak mottes and juniper brakes, an easy hunt was out the window before it started. With the animals settled into a lounging mode due to the weather, the hunters were forced to get creative in regard to hunting strategy. Victor found a spot on high ground with a view of the surrounding area and prepared for a possible long shot while Ray and Michael moved through the pasture pretending to cut regrowth juniper in order to get the sika herd to move from the loafing areas but not spooking them to stampede mode. At first, the process seemed to work except that the deer were moving in and out of brush and tree canopies making it hard to get a clear shot and even more difficult to pick out the correct one specific bull that he sought. Victor and Daniel made a slight change in position to get a better view, but making a probable shot in the range of 180 yards minimum the reality.
The slow deliberate process began again with good results in that sighting and probability of a good shot opportunity seemed better. A herd of cows and some younger bulls did pass and present shot opportunities as they slowly meandered up a hillside to a clearing on the side of the next hill near the peak. If only the large non-typical old bull would do the same was their thought. As if the wish and will of the hunters was transferred to the deer, the old bull was spotted. He was near the bottom of the hill and stealthily making his way to the top using trees as cover even though there were no visible threats to him. It seemed as though he had played “cat and mouse” games before. With the probability of a good shot opportunity not available until the large bull reached a more open area near the top of the hill, Victor’s focus turned to some open spots that would probably present a more open shot, but at a distance of 200-250 yards…a challenging shot by any standard. The preparation of the hunters was rewarded in that the bull hesitated in one of the anticipated openings and Victor fired. The bull jumped, ran 20 yards and fell…not moving! The bull was approached respectfully and the picture tells the rest of the story.
Victor’s patience in waiting for this unique bull for over a year and having a great hunt topped by a tremendous shot added to the honor that was due and given this magnificent animal. Careful and patient hunters such as Victor are essential to achieving the management goals set by The Patio Ranch to improve and maintain the health of The Patio Ranch herds. Please join us in congratulating Victor on his hunt and take an opportunity to ask him about this hunt if you are ever fortunate enough to visit with him. He surely has a hunting experience that will allow him to “…tell a different hunting story!!”
Until next time, good hunting!!!