Missouri Deer Hunt
Jim Chapman
An opportunity came up to hunt west
Missouri on the Cook family's farms.
Getting to hunt with people that know their
land and know the game ups the fun and
ups the succces.
I was talking to my hunting buddy Eric
Henderson a few weeks ago, and he told me
he was going to hunt deer in Missouri again.
He’d hunted the year before on a farm
property owned by airgunner and big bore
airgun builder Brian Cook, and having no
shame I asked if he could hook me up. A
couple of days later I got a call back saying â
€œcome on downâ€�. We scheduled to meet
at the Cook family’s property on
November 15th, the second day of the MO
rifle season and the day after Eric’s airgun
event LASSO 2009. I had business that
unfortunately kept me away from LASSO, but
could get away to meet the guys in West
Missouri, me driving from Indianapolis and
they from Dallas.
Without going into the minutiae of the trip, I
got on the road early and they got going late
which resulted in my arrival at Brian’s
parents several hours before they did. Now
mind you, I had never met Brian in person (we
missed each other on a hunt in Texas when I
had to pull out last minute) so I certainly had
never met his family. But when I arrived I was
warmly greeted by his parents Barbara and
Dwayne, his wife, and son Nathan. They had
made a room ready for me in their comfortable
home, and after getting to know these good
folks I settled in and arranged my gear. I was
talking to Eric and Brian by cell phone as they
drove, and when it looked like they were still
hours away I decided to catch up on my sleep.
I had originally planned to spend a few days,
but had a business obligation pop up that
required me to fly out of Indianapolis a couple
days later, so I’d only get one full day to
hunt. I needed to make sure of a proper nights
rest as I planned to start well before day
break. Some time before midnight I heard Eric
arrive and being greeted and walked down to
say hello. We’ve been hunting together for
several years now, but hadn’t seen each
other since a deer hunt in Michigan the year
before, so we spent a bit of time catching up.
Brian had driven to Texas for LASSO with a
friend, and had to drop him off and was a
couple hours behind, so I said goodnight and
tromped back to bed.
The next morning a little after 6:00 I met
Dwayne downstairs and after grabbing my
pack, rifle, and blind we headed off to a spot
Brian had scouted for me to hunt. In the dark
we hiked down the hill, across a small bridge
and through the woods before reaching a
bigger stream. We rock hopped across, and in
the dark I just knew I was going to hit a wet
slippery rock and take an early morning bath,
but made it across without incident. The
morning was pretty cold and a light rain was
falling, but after walking a bit further we
pushed a buck then a bit further still kicked up
another deer but couldn’t see what it was.
Finally we reached the spot where I was to set
up, and Dwayne walked out leaving me to set
up. It was starting to snow and getting colder
by the minute.
The spot they selected for me was along an
old fence line bordered by a small cliff to my
right that dropped 60-70 feet down to the
creek below, and allowed me to scan the
hillsides and creek bottom for quite some
distance. Right ahead there was an open field
sloping up to a tree covered hillside about 120
yards, with a view to a funnel leading to bean
fields to left, with a few trees dotted here and
there. I set my portable ground blind under a
tree right next to the fence which allowed me
to watch the approach from every direction
but behind me.
I was using a one man blind of the type that
has a folding camp chair with a pop up cover
that encloses the chair. There was a large zip
up shooting window in front and a couple of
mesh covered windows on the sides. The blind
was set up to face towards the open field with
the creek bottom to my left. Getting
comfortable, I spent the first hour glassing
without seeing anything though I heard turkeys
off in the distance. I thought I saw something
move down in the creek bottom and was
intently scanning the area when a branch
cracked to my left. I turned quickly (as the
blind covered my movement) and saw a
massive buck not more than 40 yards in front
and slightly to my left. I had my rifle lying on
my lap pointed to the right, and was still
holding my binoculars. Letting them slowly to
the ground I had to push the barrel through the
window to give me room to turn and cock it,
by which time the buck had moved further to
my left. Now with the gun ready to go the deer
had moved too far to my left and I could not
get any further than his gut before the window
blocked me from moving the crosshairs on
target. I unzipped the front window so I could
lean further out to try for a shot, but he had
continued to move slowly to the left. I may
sound calm and collected as I relate this story,
but my heart was pounding so hard I thought I
was going to stroke! Sitting back down I
reached into the pack resting at my feet and
pulled out my knife, slowly cutting a gash
through the mesh window on the left side so I
could slip the gun out for a shot. By the time I
was in a position to shoot, all I could see was
a haunch as the buck stepped behind a tree
and was gone! I just sat there shaking and
shaking my head, this bruiser was one of the
biggest deer I’d ever been in shooting
range of, and I didn’t have a chance to
pull the trigger.
A little dejected, a little excited, I sat there for
a few more minutes before another buck came
drifting into view. He was respectable but only
a 6 pointer, and the rules in MO this year
mandated that there had to be one side with
four or more points. I have to say that I donâ
€™t fully agree with this philosophy as it
allows an immature 8 pointer with a lot of
potential to be taken before it can add to the
gene pool, but a mature 6 point that is not
improving the herd and should be removed has
to be passed. Admittedly I am not a wildlife
biologist and defer to their expertise, but it is
not intuitive for me, however the law is the law
so I let him walk. As I pondered this
management policy, I watched a couple of
beautiful gobblers walk by.
The gun I had selected for the hunt was the
Shinsung Big Bore 909s, a 45 caliber pcp air
rifle that had been tuned by Long Island Bob
to generate about 325 fpe. I have taken a
couple bucks and a few does with the double
air reservoir version of this gun over the last
few years, but this was my first big game hunt
with the single reservoir version. I like the
handling, looks, and performance of this gun a
lot better; these production Korean guns are a
very good value for money, and there are
more tuners out there working on them for
shooters desiring to hotrod their guns. I had a
Hawke 3-9 x40mm scope mounted on top,
and had opted to use Hornaday roundball
ammunition as this was the same combo that
would be used in muzzle loading season (with
appropriate modification to convert the rifle).
At the range the week before the hunt I’d
sighted in the gun so that it was consistently
printing clover leafs at 40 yards.
I’d been in the blind for about a half hour when a
doe came marching down the hillside and stopped
about 35 yards to browse. A second deer walked in
behind and I saw a flash of antler, but he was behind
the doe and I could get a good look. Then the doe
drifted away and I brought the gun to shoulder and
lined up the scope …… crap, only three points to a
side! The doe had moved out to my left and was
reaching up to nibble from a small tree at about 60
yards, and I sat with the gun poking through the
recently vented mesh window and the crosshairs
resting right where I imagined the heart. I was having
a mental debate whether to take the shot or not, then
reasoned I wanted something for the freezer. I
squeezed off the shot and the doe flinched, walked
10 yards and dropped down dead.
Since I had two hours of shooting light left, I sat the
blind rather than walking up on the downed deer.
Sitting out the rest of the day I saw more bucks (no
shooters) and a couple more does. One doe actually
almost stepped over her fallen sister, they walked by
and I could have taken the shot Got up early to see
but decided since there was one for the freezer
already I’d hold out for a last chance for a buck.
But it didn’t come. Not to worry though, I was
more than happy with the results and couldn’t
have wanted or expected more out of a one day
hunt! I dragged the doe to the road and tagged her,
then hiked back to the house where I met up with
Eric, Brian, and Dwayne. We went back and
collected the doe; field dressed and hung her, then
went in for a great dinner of goulash that Barbara
had laid out for us.
The next morning I got up early to see Brian and Eric
off as they got a pre daylight start to their blind,
loaded up my deer, and said goodbye to Barbara
and Dwayne. Driving home I called in my deer, you
can check a deer over the phone in MO which was
very convenient.  It took me about 9 hours to drive
home, I dropped off my deer, returned my rented
SUV, and visited my family for a couple hours. The
next morning I was at the airport well before
daybreak, leaving for a conference being held in
South Carolina. I’d driven 18 hours to hunt one
day, but getting to see Eric again, finally meeting
Brian in person, and the unexpected pleasure of
meeting this really nice family made it all worthwhile.
And oh yea; seeing all those deer, having a monster
buck walking right by me, and getting in a perfect
shot with a rifle /bullet combination wasn’t bad
either.
Eric, Jim, and Brian saying goodbye, Eric and Brian
hitting the woodsw and I'm hitting the road. Acouple
hours later I got a text message Eric got a nice buck.
Had a morning of snow and ice that seemed to
get the deer moving. There waqs a lot of activity.
This was an effective shot, got both lungs and
clipped the heart. The deer went down fast.
After an hour of waiting a doe walked up from the
creek bed and started feeding 50 yards in front of
me, then another …… and then another. One of
them stood broadside offering a shot at 45 yards,
and I took it. Nothing! The deer jumped then settled
right back in to feeding mode. I lined up again and
shot …. again nothing! I sat there for ten minutes
until they wandered away, just shaking my head. I
packed up and hiked back to the house for some
lunch and a quick range session with my gun.
Shooting off a rest the gun was still printing clover
leafs, but a foot and a half to the right. The gun must
have taken a hard hit somewhere along the way,
shame on me for using a soft case and shame for not
checking my gun on arrival. So I quickly re-zeroed
the gun and went to refill before going back to the
blind, only to have the probe leak when the pressure
reached 1000 psi. Checked the o rings on the probe,
the filling port for dirt or damage, tried another
probe, but each time it leaked. As this was my last
chance to hunt before departing the following
morning I decided to borrow a gun from Eric, who
true to form had a selection of guns with him. I took
his tuned 909 with some 200 grain cast lead bullets
made by Seth�blackhogdown�, that Eric said
were dead accurate with this gun. He’d sighted
in so that it was dead on at 25 and 50 yards. Packed
up and ready to go, I hiked back out to my little
patch of whitetail heaven.
The Missouri laws allow the use of
airguns for deer hunting. Guns must be
at least .40 caliber and must be filled
from an external airsource. Ken Cox
lead the effort to change the laws, and
those in the MO books are the best!
I about had a stroke as the big buck
strode past me. But it's better I didn't
have a shot, with my gun so far out of
alignment it could have been messy.
Big Bore 909 Accuracy
I had my gun tuned by Bob Marino, a tuner based in
Brentwood New York, to deliver a 200 grain bullet at
approximately 300 fpe. Filling the gun to 3000 psi, the
first shot tends to be a little high and to the right, but
acchieves a sweet spot for the next three, On all
groups I've shot using the BHD bullets at 55 yards, the
heart of a deer would have been hit. Four shots at 300
fpe going exactly where I aim makes this a great
hunting set up IMO!