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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

08

By Mike Handley

Baler Stewart
Baler Stewart’s 2007 buck is proof that southwestern Oklahoma is home to some powerful genes.

Every year, I’m inundated with e-mails and calls from people seeking suggestions for last-minute firearms hunts where they might encounter decent bucks. Since I’ll be on the road for the next couple of weeks, bowhunting the rut in Nebraska and Kansas, I thought I’d post my answer ahead of time.

Oklahoma

Riflemen looking for an affordable hunt should really consider Oklahoma’s Nov. 20 - Dec. 5 gun season. Not only are the nonresident licenses cheap – half what they cost in Kansas – but they’re also available over the counter. A $206 license will entitle a nonresident to shoot one buck. Buy the $256 version, and you’re allowed to take a doe as well. (Don’t forget to add the required Legacy permit.)

I’ve hunted deer in Oklahoma three times: near Woodward, west of Lawton and close to Ardmore. It’s really a fabulous place, often referred to as the dark horse or sleeper among trophy-producing states.

One of the best rifle hunts I’ve come across in this business is offered by Jay Jack of Snyder (Double J Outfitters). A five-day hunt in the boulder-strewn foothills of the low-slung Wichita Mountains – including lodging, meals and rides to and from the Oklahoma City airport – is only $2,750. His calendar is clear from the Friday after Thanksgiving through the Dec. 5 close. The same five-day package for bowhunters (for the remainder of December) is a scant $2,000.

I might add that he is discounting his usual prices by $750. Call (580) 591-1181.

I also had the pleasure of hunting with Daron Henry outside of Ardmore last year. His Rockin Creek Ranch is one of the buckiest tracts I’ve ever seen, the kind of place that keeps you pumped with adrenaline from daylight ’til dark.

While there, I spent a whole afternoon at a taxidermist’s shop near Ringling, which was really telling about the quality of the herd in those parts. I measured 17 deer that qualified for the record book, both clean and gnarly racks. Ringling is where young Baler Stewart smoked that nearly 230-inch buck in 2007 – the one with all the wire wrapped around its antlers.

You can reach Daron at (580) 657-8038.

Illinois

Another great deal can be had in Pike County, Ill., for the second four-day firearms season, which is Dec. 2-5. Rifles aren’t legal, but shotguns, muzzleloaders and some pistols are.

As of late October, 168 leftover (either-sex) firearms permits ($300.50) were available for Pike County – through a dozen vendors there. This means they cannot be purchased online or by phone (so you’d better call first and have backup stores in mind). Once you know you have the firearms permit, be sure to also buy the separate nonresident hunting license ($57.75) and a habitat stamp.

Brent Osborne’s Full Draw Hunting Club is completely booked for all of archery season and the first of the two firearms seasons. But he has a handful of openings for those four days in December.

For $2,000, you’re provided lodging and a farm of your own to hunt. You’ll cook for yourself and make or hang your own stands.

Call Brent at (217) 242-4413 or Pam Ward at (217) 242-5256.

BTR Travis Vollmar Tony Amyx Brandon Alday

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