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
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
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.