Vintage Sakos and Deer of a Lifetime

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by stonecreek, Nov 8, 2021.

  1. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    As you'll know from his posts, SCC member Spaher is not only a Sako enthusiast, but is passionate about whitetail deer and manages his property to assure that his deer population has ample water and nutrition, and that their numbers match only what the habitat can sustain. He also only shoots mature bucks to ensure that every buck gets a chance to grow to its potential.

    Spaher was kind enough to invite me and my son to his place to hunt this last weekend where he worked diligently to get us a chance at a trophy. He sat with me in the blind while his ranch manager hunted with my son.

    We saw a number of excellent bucks on the first evening and next morning's hunts, but none that Spaher felt were mature enough to take. But on the second evening as the very last rays of light faded a buck stepped from the shadows of the brush into a clearing. Spaher immediately checked it through his binoculars and whispered "It's a good one, so shoot if you think you have enough light". I could see the buck at around 130 yards fine though my scope, but it was turned straight away and walking slowly away from us. A quick shot was imperative since the light would be gone in only another moment or two. Finally, the buck turned just a bit to its left to expose one shoulder and I whispered to Spaher "I can do that". At the shot I of course lost the buck in the muzzle flash and recoil, but when I regained the sight picture there it was, flat on the ground where it had last stood (whew!)

    In the poor light we weren't certain just how good the buck might be, just that it was a "shooter". But as we approached it, it "grew" better and better. Holy cow! What a bruiser. I don't have the "numbers" on it because this was not a competition, so let's just say that it will probably measure quite a bit closer to 200 than to 100. It's on-the-hoof weight was 219 pounds, dressed it went 187 pounds, and it was 7+ years old. Fantastic, and here is the first "hero" shot in the headlights where it fell:

    [​IMG]

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    We took some additional photos the next morning to better show the antlers:

    [​IMG]
    In addition to being a great deer, it was taken with a very special rifle. I bought my early L61R .30-06 several years ago, a standard rifle with nothing special other than being in very nice condition. I had no idea until The Club obtained the Sako factory records how special it might be. It was in the very first shipment of L61R's, just 10 rifles in .30-06, which was shipped to Firearms International in June of 1961 -- one of the first in a very long line of outstanding Sako long action rifles. For those who are into that kind of thing I used a Nosler Accubond 165 grain propelled by a charge of RL-17 at 2875 fps. The shot entered just behind the near shoulder and exited though the off shoulder and the results are self-evident.

    In the meantime, my son had seen plenty, but no "trophy" deer. On Sunday morning the ranch manager he was hunting with identified a very old "cull" buck which was 8+ years old. The "culls" are old bucks past their prime which will never grow larger antlers. But on Spaher's place the "culls" are everyone else's trophies, and this was no exception. My son took the big old buck with his L61R Deluxe that I gave him when he was 15 and which he insists on hunting with almost exclusively. (His load: 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 3,000 fps.)

    Here's what you get when you shoot a "cull" on Spaher's place:

    [​IMG]
    Many thanks to our friend Spaher for his generosity and incredible hospitality (oh, did I mention the steaks & shrimp we were "forced" to eat for dinner?) He has shown what intensive but natural management (no "imported" breeder deer here) can do to produce outstanding deer. By the way, these weren't "tame" deer like you might find some places. They were extremely spooky and even when a couple of hundred yards away nervously checked the blind you were sitting in almost continuously.


    Fine hunting, fine dining, a fine host, and a memorable hunting trip with a very special couple of Sakos.
     

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  2. paulsonconstruction

    paulsonconstruction Sako-addicted

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    That's what you call a "Big Bruiser"!!!
     
  3. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Well, Spaher just sent me the score sheet and I'm blown away. This is no brag on my part because all I did was pull the trigger. But here it is:

    E8B0ADAE-ACAD-4F6D-AE01-6CD9A7A949F2 (768x1024).jpg
    I had hoped for 175 GROSS. I never dreamed it would go 175 NET. Fantastic, and thanks again, Spaher.
     
  4. Bernie’s Dad

    Bernie’s Dad Well-Known Member

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    Congratulations!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  5. bigcountry4me

    bigcountry4me Well-Known Member

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    New friendship or an old one? Either way, this is awesome and is what life should be about. Extremely cool…
     
  6. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    How lucky can one man be! Congrats!
    Spahers Whitetail management and conservation efforts were immediately obvious to me as I looked upon the many photos of mature, superior genetic specimens walking proud on his property. Simply amazing quality and health standards. The work that goes into it has to be difficult to say the least.

    It amazes me that the body size and weights of Texas Whitetail is so .. small! Deer here in WV are noticeably larger in stature, yet smaller racks are more common. I suppose mostly because of the lower age over all and possible higher winter mortality rates. Some that I have harvested here in my life are 200 + dressed!
    Stone..you’re blessed to have a friend like Spaher to give you and your son such great privilege! Maybe a deer of a life time , but I truly hope it’s not the last!

    Bloo
     
  7. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Look up "Bergmann's Rule". Due to the loss/retention of body heat, animals of the same species tend to get larger as you move to cooler climates (I think Bergmann puts it on a world scale as "moving further from the equator"). Of course, nutrition has a lot to do with it locally, but the Bergman rule becomes pretty apparent when you see whitetails in Maine and Nova Scotia which sometimes top the scales at over 400 pounds.

    If you'll stop and think about it all of the very small sub-species of whitetails come from warm, southern places like the Key Deer (Florida), Coues Deer (Arizona), and Carmen Mountain Whitetail (Southwest Texas). All things considered, it is pretty amazing to grow a deer over 200 pounds in such a warm place as South Texas, which lies at about the same latitude as Miami.

    By the same token, South Texas probably produces the whitetails with the greatest antler-to-body ratio. Those big hogs from Maine usually have very modest antlers, so much so that hunters up there judge their trophies not by antler size but by body weight.
     
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  8. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    One more thought on the size of whitetails. I very much doubt that I'll ever take one with a larger rack than this, but I do have a new lifetime goal: To take a buck that weighs more than I do! I'm going to cheat by going on a diet, so maybe the buck and I can meet "somewhere in the middle", so to speak:D.
     
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  9. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    You don’t appear to be obese by any means..I mean hell..as pictured..your smile probably weighs 25lbs!

    If you want..head north to West by God.. with our terrain and 70 degrees temps…we’ll have you toned up in no time!

    Good stuff!

    Bloo
     
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  10. waterwolf

    waterwolf Well-Known Member

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  11. Bernie’s Dad

    Bernie’s Dad Well-Known Member

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    What a monster!


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  12. Old Hippie

    Old Hippie Formerly known as bloorooster

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    Wow!
    No need to look up any rules now! Waterwolf just provided a seriously clear picture of Bergmann’s studies! What a beast!!
    Wolfie’ .. how much did this one dress at?
    Bloo
     
  13. misako50

    misako50 Sako-addicted

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    Stonecreek.....you may have to visit Kansas or Nebraska if you don't wish to get "scrawny". I really wish I still had the health to hunt and a few of my old places to go. I could fix you up with a 300 LB-er in no time.
     
  14. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Just got a copy of this from someone's else camera. This is by far my most favorite photo from the hunt. Posed the next morning, of course, but it still captures the camaraderie of father and son (but we look more like brothers, right?:rolleyes:)

    P1000050 (912x501).jpg
     
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  15. Foxhunter223

    Foxhunter223 Well-Known Member

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    And that is the older brother on the left ?

    Pete :)
     
  16. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Hi Stonecreek & son!
    Beautiful pics. & memories captured for you & son to cherish. Wish you both all the best. It would be great if we had those whitetail genitics here on our little farm, however locals are not inclined to let deer get that mature. Texas with its large land holdings can do what is necessary to get the results as seen. It still takes dedication to the program and wildlife management is a long term effort from men like Spaher. I took a 255 lb. 10 point in south Texas years ago. You have to let them grow, or go where they live! B/T
     
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  17. Bucktote

    Bucktote Well-Known Member

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    Mr. Waterwolf,
    do you still have the saddle????

    B/T
     
  18. marlin92

    marlin92 Well-Known Member

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    Stone congrats on beautiful deer and memories that won'the be forgotten. Curious as to the size of the ranch involved?
     
  19. Spaher

    Spaher Well-Known Member

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    Marlin: Way too big when it's dry and way too small when it is wet. Fortunately it has about 7.5 miles of the Nueces River running through the property with 99% alluvial and sandy loam soils with no rock. The lack of rock or gravel minimizes teeth wear (& difficulty aging based on teeth wear) that allows the animals to maintain prime body condition for more years and into post-maturity with rare harsh winters a non-factor.
    The state allows the property owner to set the harvest criteria and numbers so we consistently hammer the various age classes with does and bucks to try to maintain a 1:1 - 1.3:1 buck to doe ratio. The less deer, the healthier they should be with less stress, the higher fawn survival rate and the cycle means more deer have to be removed, i.e., 100% estimated fawn crop means harvesting 110-120% of that number of older deer to maintain a low population for heavier body phenotype hoping it relates to bigger antler expression which is helped by selective removal of any animal with less desirable traits, i.e., short beams, short tines, and/or number of tines, etc. This season we estimate harvesting 200 bucks and 200 does (our flight census and ground observations have us at 100% fawn survival). Under our management plan there is no limit on how many animals a single hunter can harvest, meaning it is work, with the ranch manager and a cowboy hunting every day should hopefully remove about 280-300 deer and all predators they see.
    BTW: we expect no errors meaning average 1% mistakes and all rifles sighted in every 10 days or so and cleaned regularly as all tools must be maintained to perform. Maybe a bit too much info but meant to give an understanding of the plan we have had for the last 25 seasons with minor "tweaking" and harvest criteria adjusted based on range conditions with the assumption to err on the side of an upcoming drought year. Shoot straight!
     
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  20. marlin92

    marlin92 Well-Known Member

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    Spaher. Thank you for the information. You are one lucky man to have enough land to be able to control the growth and harvesting of the deer within your purview. It is fantastic that you leave little to chance, with as you call it the tools used for harvesting the animals because that is as it should be.
     
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