With sunlight fading on the last evening sit of my Oklahoma hunt at Chain Ranch, I still held hope for a buck to come into the massive wheat field. Buck sightings had been few and far between all week for our crew as we were giving the new Thompson-Center Arms Strike muzzleloader a tryout for deer and hogs.
This was Thompson-Center’s debut of the new muzzleloader, which has some pretty cool engineering designs. The breech plug is protected by a cap that screws to the outside of the barrel, which ensures a stronger connection. The breech plug comes in two styles; one has a concave face for loose powder and the other has a flat face for pellet powder. The designs help create better igntion from the 209 primer.
The Strike comes in a gorgeous walnut model, which I was using, as well as black or camo synthetic models. It’s well designed and has a great feel on the shoulder. Look for more details soon about the Strike.
I’d been in the stand about 90 minutes Thursday evening. The wind finally had died down and the sun was sinking. Several does and fawns were in the field when a buck sprinted into view toward them and stopped. “Nice buck,” I thought, and then it turned its head. Antlers outside the ears, a buck the Chain Ranch guides said was what we were looking for this week.
From my blind about 130 yards away, I quickly shouldered the Strike, put the crosshairs of the Vortex scope on the front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. With a 3.5-pound pull, which feels like much less in all honesty, the trigger broke and smoke from the Blackhorn 209 powder momentarily clouded my view. I could see the buck kick and start hauling butt toward the nearest woods, tail down. It leaped a fence and disappeared.
Was it a good hit? A miss? As DDH Editor-in-Chief Dan Schmidt said on an episode of DDH TV, it happens just that fast sometimes. Empty field. Wham! There’s a deer! Bang! Smoke! Then, optimism mixed with doubt.
Chain Ranch guide and Oklahoma native Shawn Schweigert arrived shortly and we began tracking. “Blood here,” he said, pointing to bright red blotches on the green wheat with his flashlight. “Here,” he said, a few steps away. We leapfrogged from blood spot to spot before the lights shined on the buck’s white belly. He’d run less than 100 yards.
This was the second buck taken with the Strike. Outdoor Life assistant editor Natalie Krebs scored Monday evening with a monster 168 (gross, green) buck that just wowed everyone. That was the first one killed with the Strike. A couple of does and hogs also died this week before I put down my 8-point, heavy-bodied buck.
“I hunted many, many years here in Oklahoma before getting a buck like that,” Schweigert said. “That a good one. Congrats. Feels pretty good to tag out, doesn’t it?”
Yep, it does. Most definitely.