One Plus Two Sika
By Steve Mahurin

This is the story of the first ever Sika Slam for Records of Exotics. The Sika Slam is accomplished by the taking of one each of the three major subspecies of Sika. These are the Japanese, (cervus nippon) Formoson, (cntaiouanus) and the largest of the subspecies, the Manchurian (can mantchuricus).

As it turned out I was not only the person who proposed the idea of a Sika slam, which was approved by Records of Exotics headman, Thompson Temple, but also the first one to complete the slam.

The first Sika was the Japanese variety. I was able to hunt this animal close to my home near Galveston, Texas. A newspaper add in the Houston Chronicle put me in touch with Dee Tomberlin of the Cooter- Dee Ranch, outside Manville, Texas, only 45 minutes from my front door.

Dee had two mature Sika bucks about 4-5 years old that with the impending breeding season, he figured would fight and fight until nor killed the other. He figured he could let someone hunt one of them and at least make some money on the deal.

We went out to try for him on a hot sultry October day. The first we saw the two bucks, one of them was in the process of whipping an Axis buck and pushing him all over a couple of acres of ground. My taxidermist had come along to help me evaluate the two bucks and figure out which was the best trophy. As it turned out they were almost identical. I decided that one had a little more mass and would score a little higher for the record book. Since we had them in our binoculars, I decided to go ahead and try for one if I could get him separated from the others. It took awhile but I was finally able to put him down.

My weapon of choice for this hunt was my trusty old Remington, model 700, 30/06 loaded with a Remington ,180 grain soft nose bullet and topped with a Weaver 3 - 9 scope. This gun, which I'd been hunting with for over 20 years, would be the one that would eventually take all three of the Sika of the slam.

It would be quite awhile before I'd have a chance for the second leg of my quest. I'd hunted the Japanese variety on 10/29/89. It was now August 31st of 1993 and I had booked for the Manchurian, or as it is sometimes called, Dybowski, with longtime friend, Thompson Temple of Texotic Wildlife.

This was my wife Shirley's and my first time to hunt with Thompson's Organization. We were to hunt with head guide L.R. Castleberry, a soon to be good friend as well. We were scheduled to hunt the famous Priour Ranch. This place was well known for yielding some of the biggest Sika bucks in the record book. We were picked up at our nearby motel by L.R. just before daylight for the 30-40 minute ride to our destination. As we drove thru the gate and drove the mile to ranch headquarters we were treated to the sight of American Bison, Waterbuck and various other exotics. We checked in with the ranch foreman before proceeding on our hunt.

The ranch consists of 14,000 acres of rocky, Mesquite covered typical Texas hill country. As we crossed a cattle guard we were greeted by a large and pushy Llama who I'm told would spit in your eye if given the chance. We didn't roll our truck windows down just in case. The Priour is also a working sheep and goat ranch. Strange as it sounds Llamas are kept with many sheep operations because they somehow keep the coyotes from endangering the flocks.

We hunted real hard the whole day and saw many exotics including Elk, Fallow, Axis, many species of sheep and some of the prettiest Red sheep you ever saw. We saw many Sika but nothing we wanted to put up on the trophy room wall.

On our second day it was pretty much the same. We even saw a couple of non typical bucks that were very tempting. There was also a couple of typicals that made my trigger finger itch, but I held off hoping for that set of antlers that just jump out and say,"Im the one you came for." So we had spent another day of rump bruising, bouncing across the ranch, but had seen a number of bucks that would warrant coming back for if "The One" didn't put in an appearance.

During the hot, middle part of the day we had been looking hard and Shirley said, "theres a buck bedded down in the brush over there." L.R. nor I either one could see it. Finally L.R. got out of the truck to walk to the area to prove her wrong. Would you believe not one but two stood up as he got closer. Nothing to stir the blood though. Our guide told Shirley, 'okay I was wrong and from now on I'll pay attention when you say you see something.

I could have told him she had eyes like an eagle. She can read a sign on the highway before I can see the sign. Now it was back to the motel for a hot shower and a well earned rest. Tomorrow was our final day of hunting before heading back to the grind of daily life.

We were back out at the ranch the next day and hard at it. The first half of the day was spent in the same area as the preceding two and some of those bucks were getting to be familiar we'd seen them so many times. The Priour is broken down into different pastures of hundreds and sometimes thousands of acres. Each of these pastures is named for the animal that is predominant in it. We had of course been hunting in the Sika pasture. Finally L.R. said, lets try a different pasture. He decided to take us into the one over from the one we had been in, the Fallow pasture.

Wouldn't you know it, we hadn't been looking but 30 minutes and there he was " THE BIG ONE". we were able to get a shot and he was down for good with the first shot at about 70 yards. After congratulations and pictures we made our way back to town and to the taxidermist.

The next morning we were back at the Texotic office to pay for our hunt. I asked Thompson if he knew where I could find a pure Formoson Sika to finish my slam. He said yes, it so happens I have about ten young bulls on the Hi-Hatch Ranch. You can go out and guide yourself, take a look at them and then decide if you want one Needles to say our travel plans changed. We decided on a price and Shirley and I hit the road for the trip to the Hi-Hatch.

We drove the place for nearly two hours before spotting the herd on a very rocky brush patch near the back boundary. We glassed and glassed and hashed over them. Seems almost every one of them was nearly identical in size. Some a hair longer, some a little heavier.

I decided to try a stalk and after a combination of hunched over, hands and knees and belly crawling, I got within 50 yards of them. Some of them had bedded down in the tall grass and some behind and in a small grove of trees. I just couldn't see all of them to evaluate and pick out the best one. By this time they were getting nervous and had gotten up and were starting to move away. So I went back to the truck and we tried to get close again. All we ended up doing was trailing them nearly all over the ranch.

We decided to give them a rest and come back the next day. As we drove back to our motel I told Shirley that it was maddening trying to pick out one from the rest as they were so similar, and I'd decided that tomorrow the first buck that stepped out in the clear was mine.

The next morning, bright and early we were out looking. As luck would have it we found the herd in about 15 minutes and true to my vow, one stepped out away from the herd, I shot, he dropped in his tracks and the quest for the first Sika Slam was done. The total points for the slam was 337 points. As of 3/98 my slam was the #2 all time.

Written by Steve Mahurin on March 14, 1998.

Sika 1
Sika 2
Sika 3

Steve Mahurin
25 North Heights
La Marque, Texas 77568

Email: samahurin@comcast.net

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