THE RAINS CAME AND IT RAINED, RAINED, RAINED
THE RAINS CAME AND IT RAINED, RAINED, RAINEDAugust 23, 2010 - Joel
Sounds like the opening paragraph of a book, a movie or a great story! Well this is a great story. It’s been the same wherever I have gone this year….it has rained, rained and rained! For you older folks, as I sat in my ground blind, an old Rock & Roll song by the Temptations came to mind–“I WISH IT WOULD RAIN”!!
I WISHED IT WOULD STOP RAINING WHEREVER I WENT HUNTING!!
- In April I went to Henrietta, Texas, for the Clay County Turkey Fest—-and it poured every day
- In August I went to S.E. Colorado for an Antelope Hunt, and it came tornadoes, gully washer storms…6 inches of rain in about 3 hours.
- In September, I stayed home and worked on GSO—and it rained…breaking a drought in South Texas
- Now its October, and I’m on my way to Missouri—and its pouring down rain–AGAIN!
We, (my cameraman and I), drove up to Bland, Missouri to hunt in the Ozark Mountains during the beautiful fall colors at Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch with Donald Hill. Donald and I had visited many times about hunting together and just never seemed to be able to put the dates together. The trip up to Missouri actually went quickly. It was overcast, raining, and Kris, my cameraman, slept, while I listened to the Cowboys win a game by the skin of their teeth. Hardly a good start to a hunt.
We arrived on Sunday evening. It was still raining. When we arrived in camp, my partner, Larry Weishuhn, was already there and he was smiling and stated, “Well the rain man has arrived.” We brought our gear into the lodge and after a great meal, we sorted out the gear and got ready for the coming morning of hunting.
I had been invited to join Larry at Oak Creek for a three-day hunt on Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch. Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch is home to the largest whitetails in North America. Each year for the past four years, Oak Creek has taken some of the largest typical and non-typical deer in the world. In fact, more than half of the 300 inch deer in the country came off Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch in 2009. Given its second-to-none habitat and trophy management program Oak Creek takes 20 to 30 big framed, big bodied whitetails with inside spreads of 25” to 30” in the 200-plus class every year.
As my friend Larry Weishun says, “Oak Creek is simply the finest BIG DEER hunting operation in North America…and I have hunted most of them.” So I was excited!
We were going to be hunting on the famous Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch…a 2,000-acre hunting ranch in the middle of the Missouri Ozarks. We were hunting the pre-rut and the bucks were on the prowl and the does were starting to show some interest. But overall— we were hunting funnels, food plots, and edges of fields Tht ranch has numerous fields of standing corn, soybeans, milo and red clover. Oak Creek also has sanctuary areas where no hunting of any kind is allowed.
Five a.m. has a way of just destroying your day!! But not today! We are hunting with the folks at Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch! After a couple of cups of coffee and not eating any food…as I was still stuffed from supper the night before…I walked out of the lodge…and of course—it was still raining. Temps were in the low 40’s.
My guide on this hunt was Keith Sallin. Donald Hill has a rule that every hunter has a guide. NO EXCEPTIONS!! I discovered that Keith is a bow hunter so we got along really great! We talked the same lingo and knew a lot of the same people in the hunting industry. Then the icing on the cake–Keith tells me he is a close friend of one of my best friends in the hunting industry, being David Westmoreland. We had a LARGE time telling Westmoreland stories.
We finally made our way out to the hunting area that Keith had selected to hunt and we crawled into a ground blind to try to stay dry because it was “still raining” We hunted until around 10:00 a.m. but didn’t even see a deer. We saw turkeys come through…feeding on acorns…but they were all hens. It was fun to watch them. We saw several squirrels as well but no deer movement.
After some discussion, (about 10 seconds), we decided to return to the lodge to dry out. As we were driving out of the woods, we got stuck…and I MEAN STUCK! Out of the truck and after a phone call to Donald, he was under way to pull us out. Donald, arrived with a 4-wheel-drive tractor!! AND HE NEEDED THE 4-WHEEL-DRIVE TRACTOR!! Finally, on to the lodge, we hung up our rain gear, and hunting equipment and had lunch.
That afternoon we returned to the same area we had hunted that morning. We hunted until sunset—that is if we could have seen sunset! It was still raining so we lost our video shooting light early so the camera was shut down. We sat until dark, just to see if the deer would move. We didn’t see a deer that afternoon.
That night, came a real “toad strangler”! I was afraid that it had rained so much that we would not be able to cross Oak Creek, but when we went out to our hunting area the next morning, the creek was up but it was safe to cross. The early morning light was a long time coming as is was STILL raining and low overcast! We even had some thunder and lightning. The gobblers let loose and gobbled several different times. Morning came and went and we never saw a buck!! We finally gave up and returned to the lodge to dry out our equipment, cameras and clothing. Funny thing about hunting in pouring down rain– the ultimate test is put on you and your equipment as to “How do things change in extreme weather?” During lunch we decided to move our blind and hunt a different area.
That afternoon it stopped raining for a while so we went out and set up our blind in a new area. Side Note: most of you folks know that I’m a big fan and supporter of the Ghost Blind. The Ghost Blind is one of the best blinds on the market. However, I discovered that you can not sit out in inclement weather in a Ghost Blind. I finally figured out what to do for future hunts and I highly recommend this procedure. Buy one of thoe portable umbrellas that you see advertised by Eastman Outfitters and put your Ghost Blind next to a tree. Then attach your umbrella to the tree. Now you can hunt in bad weather with your Ghost Blind!
I had not yet figured that out on this trip so I was having a hard time to trying to stay dry and keeping the cameraman and camera dry.
The Eastman Monster blind we used was great as we had enough room for three people, plus all of our gear, plus we were able to hunt comfortably. With our blind brushed in, we sat back along the edge of a huge food plot that was loaded with scrapes and rubs. We wanted to see what would come through during the evening hunt. The rain had slowed down but it was still overcast with 100% humidity-miserable!
First we saw several young 8-pointers. Then a really nice buck that would most likely go in the 170’s came out, but none of them came close to the blind. By the time we were at the end of legal shooting time our camera light was long gone. One thing about hunting with a camera over your shoulder is –you loose some of the best hunting time as the last half-hour after sunset…which is still legal shooting time in a large number of states, (be sure to check your state and local laws on the end of legal shooting time), no longer works for the camera.
During this time, we were just sitting and watching what might come into the field when out of the timber, a huge 8 pointer came out. This buck had, (I am just guessing), 198-plus inches of bone! A real pig!!! We guessed his G-1’s to be over over 12 inches, his G-2’s at over 14 inches, his G-3’s at over 12 inches and his main beams to be over 26 inches long! His inside spread was at least 22 inches…with maybe 24 inches of circumferences on each main beam. This was one heck of a buck. We could only sit and watch… but, man did we watch! Until it was black dark! To say we had a downer conversation at the supper table that night would not be true. It was a great conversation about the deer they grow on Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch and the programs they have in place to grow huge bucks!
The third morning leaked in…and I do mean leaked in…as the rain water ran down the sides of our blind. It was pouring down rain! Plus, our blind was in a swampy quagmire of soupy, sloppy mud! But we sat back in our chairs and waited for the deer to come. And did they ever come!
We had a couple of two-year old bucks that were big “buddies” who pushed other deer around. They tag-teamed the other bucks! The “buddies” were feeling the rut and were walking around and peeing on their hocks. Then a three-year old buck came in and the “buddies” ran him off. Then the dominate buck of the two buddy bucks let out a snort/wheeze, which we got on film. We had all kinds of buck activity all morning. Just when we decided to leave for the morning, we had a really nice buck walk by our blind. He stopped and looked at our blind. The blind had been heavily brushed with two cedars, plus we had plenty of cedar boughs covering the blind. The buck didn’t see us. He stared at us for a couple of minutes, which felt like hours. The buck decided to walk off and as he got about 60 yards from us my guide, Keith said, “Watch this.” Using his deer call, Keith gave out a grunt and stopped the buck and then went to a Snort-Wheeze…and the buck was on his way back! The buck walked to within 30 yards of us. I put an arrow thru the boiler room. The buck ran maybe 80 yards and it was all over with. Then the back-slapping and emotions set in. The shakes, the thrill, and the “Thank God” for being successful.
It’s amazing how you can hunt your butt off and put in many hours during all kinds of weather and never see a shooter buck and then…on the last day of the hunt…a 10-pointer with 3 stickers walks right in and gives you the shot of a lifetime. The buck was really a great buck, scoring 157 inches. To say I was happy is an understatement. I truly want to thank the folks at Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch for a great hunt. The food was great!! I gained weight on this trip. Our host and his family are some of the finest folks I have ever spent time with. Oh! By the way they have huge flocks of Eastern gobblers. I can’t wait to go back in the spring to hunt gobblers and Morel mushrooms.
If you’re looking for a great Whitetail hunt, in some of God’s most beautiful country….give Donald Hill a call. I know you will have the hunt of a lifetime and have the opportunity to take a really great buck. Contact Donald Hill direct. By the way, my friend Larry Weishuhn, hammered a huge 233-3/8. Nice buck, Larry! Congratulations!
Note: Jim Miller is host of Great Southwest Outdoors TV show, which can be seen on Pursuit Channel on Wednesday nights @ 10:30 PM(EST), Friday nights @ 11:00 PM(EST) and Saturday night @ 12:00 AM(EST). It can also be seen on Wild Tv in Canada on Monday nights @ 10:00 PM(EST), Thursday Morning @ 7:00 AM(EST) and Friday Morning @ 4:00 AM(EST).
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Jim Miller @ Great Southwest Outdoors
- Bow: Mathews, Reezen 7.0
- Arrows: Eastman outfitters: Carbon Express / Lost Camo 350
- Brodhead: Rage 2 blade / 2 inch
- Camo: Lost Camo
- Optics: Binoculars: EDG 10 X 42’s 6.5 / Rangefinder: Archers Choice
- Cutlery: SOG Field Pup
- Sights: Black Gold Flash Point Red Zone
To Book a Hunt:
OAK CREEK RANCH
CONTACT: DONAL HILL
178 OAK CREEK LANE
BLAND, MO. 65014