The Plains of Kansas with Tall Tine Outfitters

After a successful and exciting open country muzzleloader hunt in the Sand Hills of Nebraska in early December 2011, David Morris and I headed south to Protection Kansas to hunt giant post rut Kansas whitetails with my old friend and hunting buddy Ted Jaycox of Ocala Fl. Ted and I grew up hunting together around Ocala Fl, our home town. And I say “old friend” because Ted it was nearly 40 years ago when we were both teenagers that we haunted the local whitetail herd of Central Fl. Ted and I share some terrific memories from our “Good Old Days” afield. We would surely relive some of those adventures during the week`s hunt at Tall Tine.
Here are a few of the memories Ted and I share:

On March 12th 1977 I was hunting with Ted when I called up and took my first Osceola gobbler, a big day for me. Ted introduced me to turkey hunting. God Bless him for that. We had just graduated from high school and had begun our first year of college when Ted talked me into going out to listen to an old gobbler wake up on a crisp March morning in a local cypress river swamp. And I was with Ted when he took his first wild Osceola gobbler a bit later that same season.
Ted helped me track and recover my first archery whitetail in 1980 near Lake Kerr in the Ocala National Forest. Archery, now there is a department where Ted excels. He is an extremely talented archer and hunter, the best bowhunter I know. There are few hunters who possess like talent.

Ted and I were fishing together one entire day and half the night in May of 1980 when I caught three monster Fl Largemouth Bass that all topped 10 lbs – all three trophy bass caught on my father`s old and scarred top water broken- back Creek Chub, with a frog finish.

There was the 1978 deer season in Fl when it seemed that Ted scored on a buck just about every time we went to the deer woods in and around Marion County Fl. Ted was always in the right place at the right time.

The list goes on and on. The short story is that there was no fish or game animal that Ted and I did not pursue together during any open season around our home town. And I must say that in most cases, due to a tremendous edge in pure hunting talent, Ted was most often the successful hunter when he and I returned home with game in back of our 1978 Ford F-150 4 x 4`s. You get the picture. I could go on and on - back to the hunt.

We arrived at the Tall Tine Outfitters camp early in the afternoon of December 5th for our five day rifle hunt with Ted. After greeting and settling into Ted`s fantastic camp Ted insisted that we waste no time getting after the bruiser whitetails that he was familiar with by virtue of Reconyx trail cam pictures captured recently. Ted`s Kansas hunting property is home to many bucks that would make any trophy whitetail hunter anxious with anticipation. We checked our Sako A7 Tecomate rifles at the rifle range. The Winchester Supreme ammo and the rifles performed flawlessly. Then David Morris and I, along with Tecomate`s Blaine Burly who joined us at Ted`s Tall Tine camp, were en route to seeking out trophy whitetails on the windy and frigid plains of Southwest Kansas.

The first afternoon was cold and blustery in Comanche County Kansas. We were hunting just a day after strong cold front had passed through the area dumping nearly five inches of rain on the drought stricken plains. It was going to be a cold week, Canada-like cold. 10 F – 15 F degree early mornings and highs never above the freezing mark all day long were predicted during our hunt. Blaine, David and I were all prepared for these harsh elements and willing to endure. We all encountered plenty of deer during our initial afternoon - some good bucks, but no shooters. For me this was standard operating procedure almost the entire week. Each time I was out I saw bucks, lots of them. I saw some great mature bucks, one 11 point that would score 150 plus B&C - one big 9pt that would show up daily, same time same place. But the true Kansas giant that I dreamed of and knew were there never showed up. I chose to pass on the 150 11 pt, probably a mistake in terms of hunt success. But he just was not a buck I wanted to take.

We were all likely experiencing the effects of the post rut lull during our December Kansas hunt. The really big guys were not showing themselves. It was late in the season, and soon for me it became late in the hunt. Blaine had taken a great buck earlier in the hunt and so did David Morris. I`ll leave their stories for them to tell. But I was down to the wire on the last evening of the hunt when I made a tragic mistake - the tragic mistake of my season.

I was hunting with expert Tecomate cameraman the last afternoon, Ron Bigford, also an Ocala Fl resident. I had not given up and Ted was confident that afternoon when Ron and I left camp that we were headed for a hot spot. We would spend the last few hours of my hunt in a very promising area that was open with great visibility - and sign of lots of recent deer activity. We were hunting the same area where Ted had taken a giant 190 plus B&C monster buck with his bow early in the 2012 season. There we certainly other great trophies in the area.

Ron and I settle in at our vantage point. My Leupold Laser Rangefinder verified that there were several landmarks up to 900 yards away with scattered openings that we could glass for a last afternoon closing target. The action began with a doe or two and then the bucks began to emerge. The most notable buck, that was about as far as he could be from us and still be on our designated hunting property, was bruiser 8 point that I would have been happy to tag had he been in range. He appeared and disappeared several times as the sun began to set. With light fading and the hunt coming quickly coming to a close another heavy framed mature tall 8 point appeared, again at 800 yards plus. Ron and I decided that our only choice was to make a move and make it quickly.

We climbed down from our elevated perch, ducked behind the tree line and headed toward the open area where the bucks had exposed themselves. We moved fast but quietly into the wind. When we finally felt that we had closed the gap to reasonable shooting distance of where we last saw the two big 8`s we turned and carefully made our way to the edge of the open area where we could see 200 – 300 yards. We felt we would be in range of at least one of the big 8`s if either of them reappear just one more time. And we were - 200 yards away stood a heavy framed long beam mature 8 point, and I love big 8`s.

Ron steadied his camera on the tripod and began rolling, capturing great footage of a magnificent buck in fading light. Unfortunately I did not steady my Sako A7 Tecomate as well. This was clearly the case immediately after the shot. My last minute Kansas trophy quickly departed the premises, wounded into the brush.

It’s a sick feeling and one I despise more than any other feeling in the sport of hunting. My .270 WSM 140 grain Winchester Accubond struck the buck far too low. We realized and verified this only moments later, after Ron replayed the shot for on his camera view finder. And outside of a few small drops of blood that was the last we would see of this trophy.

I offer no excuse for my awful performance except that I am human and made a seriously ugly mistake. Ted, Blaine, and I along with the entire staff at Tall Tine combed the woods that evening in hopes of finding my buck. But this time it was not to be. Ted and I returned the next day for more searching. But as was my shot, so were our search results, poor. I had made a bad shot at a great trophy. And there was no good reason for my failure that I can fully explain. Looking back I had time, cover, and wind in my favor. The buck did not have a clue that we were there. We were within 200 yards. I had my rifle on the Bog Pod and I braced my right arm against a small but sturdy tree also. What went wrong? Not sure. I was definitely caught up in the haste of the moment. And that’s no excuse either. There is no good excuse. I failed to make the proper conscious effort that it takes for me to connect with precision on a shot in the field.

There are hunters that believe and will tell you that if you hunt long enough and take enough shots you will have a wounded and lost buck on your hands someday. It’s ugly. It’s sad, gut wrenching. However on occasion it is part of the sport we love. This was not the first time for me and certainly many other hunters have been through the same ordeal. We live with our regrets. We make efforts to improve. It was a shameful situation that I take seriously with heartfelt remorse. Could have, would have, should have replayed over and over in my mind – I am certainly capable of better. Wish I could turn back the clock. But as with most unfortunate occurrences when I have fallen out of the saddle, the only choice is to move forward. Get back on the horse!

Just a few old photos of Tecomate Pro-Staffer David Shashy. Some really great memories go along with these old hunting photos.
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Posted by David Shashy

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