Rodger Raglin gets excited. I mean, he really gets excited when a big critter steps out of the brush. He says, things like,”Holy Cow”, and, ” Jjimminy Christmas”. His videos are full of such sayings when he gets excited.
He was muttering the “holy cow” thing behind my back as I strained to see the big whitetail buck that had serendipitously appeared about 200 yards away. I could see six tall polished tines reaching for the sky even at this range, and my binoculars showed a big bodied, fully mature whitetail with excellent mass.
We were in southern Missouri , in the early part of the 1992 season. We had met for a muzzleloading hunt and had found a number of open pastures among the rolling hills. The landowner told us he’d caught occasional glimpses of a good buck feeding in one of them come evening. We’d just barely set up the camera and sat down when the big buck appeared.
Let me introduce myself. I’m Gary White, and I was hunting with one of the advanced G-series Whitetail muzzleloaders that bears my name. I design-engineered the rifle and developed the “White shooting system” that it uses.
My system differs from the usual slow loading muzzleloading systems you might be familiar with. I developed a closely fitted bullet that slips down the bore easily. A single swoop of the ramrod is all you need. The bullets are extra long and amazingly accurate. Rather than engraving into the rifling on the trip down the bore, they take the rifling on firing. The inertia of the long heavy bullet causes it to shorten and belly out into the rifling, which results in a bullet that is form fitted to the rifling with every shot. This explains their exceptional accuracy.
I was also using my Quickcharger speed loading system. I carry them in one of Uncle Mike’s shotshell carriers on the but of mu rifle. To load, I grab a Quickcharger of the buttstock carrier, pop the cap off, pour the powder down the muzzle then fit the boat-tailed bullet into the muzzle, using the ramrod to start the bullet. Then ramming the bullet firmly down of the powder charge, It’d quick, slick and easy. It’ll get me an aimed second shot in less than 20 seconds even on slow days.
My friend Rodger Raglin is the owner, producer, editor and usually the main actor in BKS Productions. He makes hunting videos for the outdoor market and is a familiar face to many armchair hunters.
We had fallen together because of Rodger’s recent introduction to muzzleloading and the White Shooting System. He had taken to the G-series Whitetail like to a long lost buddy. He’d invited me along on this whitetail hunt, hoping to get good footage of muzzleloaded whitetail bucks. I’d come along hoping to get a good whitetail. They are mighty scarce in my home state of Utah .
Rodger’s reputation as a hunter is topnotch. He’s one of the few who can get good video footage on the same public land that everyone else hunts, rather than in tightly fenced enclosures.
I’d had a smattering of video experience before. Mostly, I’d been frustrated by the experience. I’d found it exceedingly difficult to get good footage and have a good hunt at the same time. Thus it was that I was tickled to be Rodger’s guest, figuring that I could profit by his experience and expertise.
Which brings me back to that tall tined buck that so caught our attention. I was sitting under a tree, with a screen of tall grass to my front. I could barely make out the deer as he browsed along the opposite tree line. Rodger and his cameramen were right behind me ,close enough that I could here Rodger muttering his amazement at the big buck.
The buck was unalarmed, moving slowly down the tree line in our direction. I could hear the camera whispering in the silence and by turning my head just a little to the right, I could see the buck and the camera crew with some adroit eye shifting.
Rodger was ecstatic, the excitement in his whisper obvious and contagious as he directed the cameraman. The still evening air seemed charged with electricity, and their careful movements in the tall grass as they maneuvered for position sounded like an elephant thrashing through the trees.
Rodger’s excitement was getting to me. Usually I’m the phlegmatic type and try not to get too hyped up about what I do. I could her whispers about “180 B & C “, “huge”, “heavy”, and other epithets that had my heart thumping and some sweat on the upper lip. 180 B & C points was a bigger deer than even any mule deer I’d ever killed, let alone a whitetail.
The buck was now only 150 yards away, still browsing in our direction. I became acutely aware that he was in excellent range for the 503 caliber, 430 grain SUPERSLUG that I had loaded that morning over 100 grains of P Pyrodex. Continual shooting had proven that load was capable of two inch groups at 100 yards and was on point of aim at 125 yards. All I’d have to do was aim 2-3 inches high.
I twisted around so I could see Rodger. His instructions had been succinct,”no shooting until the cameraman has all the footage he wants and gives you the high sign.” So far, no high sign. In fact I couldn’t get either of them to even look at me. That big buck had all their attention.
I made a sucking sound with my lips, the squeak a ground squirrel does when he’s curious. All I got from Rodger was a quick glance and a glare. I turned back to the buck, now 100 yards away and still coming.
Suddenly, he stepped into the trees and was gone. He disappeared like a ghost. I got my binocs up for a fast look just in time to see his rack fade even further into the trees. Then nothing. Nothing, that is, but some sort of expletive, (deleted) from Rodger. It didn’t even come close to resembling a, “holy cow.”
I twisted around to look at Rodger. I guess I looked like I’d been shot between the eyes or something. He rolled his eyes up, spread his hands a twitch and gave me little shrug of the shoulders. It was a fine rendition of, “too bad, so sad.”
As his eyes came down they suddenly widened in surprise. I saw the “holy cow” coming and got twisted back around to see the buck step back out the trees about 90 yards away. I wasn’t about to wait on Rodger or any cameraman. I slowly rose to my feet, staying well behind the oak I’d been sitting under and threw down on the buck. He had his butt to me as he reached up into the trees for a bite.
|Not the first whitetail I ever killed but by far the best. You can’t see it well but the rifle has a forward mounted scope and SuperChargers mounted on the buttstock. Mounting the scope forward like that is a great way of getting rid of powder residue on scopes.|
His white tipped antlers glistened and flashed as he moved his head. He was gorgeous. I waited until he turned broadside, sighted just behind the shoulder and touched the Whitetail off. I saw him flinch and stagger as the rifle recoiled. He jumped once and piled up.
I reloaded with a nervous hand, getting a cap on as Rodger whooped and hollered behind me. Rodger isn’t only excitable, he’s noisy, too. At least, he’s noisy when the critter is down and it’s time for congratulations.
Something wacked me in the back. It was Rodger’s hand. He was wide-eyed. Guess what he said? “Holy cow, Doc, do you see that B & C buck you just put down?” “Jimminy Christmas , let’s get up close for a better look.” And he took off for the deer, as if I didn’t have brains enough to be excited about a recordbook whitetail buck.
We spent till dusk getting photos and admiring the magnificent animal. I was humbled by his beauty and size. I thanked him for the sacrifice of his life. I promised him that his head would decorate my wall for years to come. I knew that he would become a Friend that I could admire for far longer than he would have normally lived. And I would also get to enjoy his meat at table. As it was, the video turned out to be quite good and his meat was tender and delicious.
Best of all, I enjoyed Rodger, infectious enthusiasm and all. He’s not only a great hunter and a fine videographer, but an excellent companion and worthy friend. I wish you could all have such fine blessings.