As you'll know from his posts, SCC member Spaher is not only a Sako enthusiast, but is passionate about whitetail deer and manages his property to assure that his deer population has ample water and nutrition, and that their numbers match only what the habitat can sustain. He also only shoots mature bucks to ensure that every buck gets a chance to grow to its potential. Spaher was kind enough to invite me and my son to his place to hunt this last weekend where he worked diligently to get us a chance at a trophy. He sat with me in the blind while his ranch manager hunted with my son. We saw a number of excellent bucks on the first evening and next morning's hunts, but none that Spaher felt were mature enough to take. But on the second evening as the very last rays of light faded a buck stepped from the shadows of the brush into a clearing. Spaher immediately checked it through his binoculars and whispered "It's a good one, so shoot if you think you have enough light". I could see the buck at around 130 yards fine though my scope, but it was turned straight away and walking slowly away from us. A quick shot was imperative since the light would be gone in only another moment or two. Finally, the buck turned just a bit to its left to expose one shoulder and I whispered to Spaher "I can do that". At the shot I of course lost the buck in the muzzle flash and recoil, but when I regained the sight picture there it was, flat on the ground where it had last stood (whew!) In the poor light we weren't certain just how good the buck might be, just that it was a "shooter". But as we approached it, it "grew" better and better. Holy cow! What a bruiser. I don't have the "numbers" on it because this was not a competition, so let's just say that it will probably measure quite a bit closer to 200 than to 100. It's on-the-hoof weight was 219 pounds, dressed it went 187 pounds, and it was 7+ years old. Fantastic, and here is the first "hero" shot in the headlights where it fell: We took some additional photos the next morning to better show the antlers: In addition to being a great deer, it was taken with a very special rifle. I bought my early L61R .30-06 several years ago, a standard rifle with nothing special other than being in very nice condition. I had no idea until The Club obtained the Sako factory records how special it might be. It was in the very first shipment of L61R's, just 10 rifles in .30-06, which was shipped to Firearms International in June of 1961 -- one of the first in a very long line of outstanding Sako long action rifles. For those who are into that kind of thing I used a Nosler Accubond 165 grain propelled by a charge of RL-17 at 2875 fps. The shot entered just behind the near shoulder and exited though the off shoulder and the results are self-evident. In the meantime, my son had seen plenty, but no "trophy" deer. On Sunday morning the ranch manager he was hunting with identified a very old "cull" buck which was 8+ years old. The "culls" are old bucks past their prime which will never grow larger antlers. But on Spaher's place the "culls" are everyone else's trophies, and this was no exception. My son took the big old buck with his L61R Deluxe that I gave him when he was 15 and which he insists on hunting with almost exclusively. (His load: 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 3,000 fps.) Here's what you get when you shoot a "cull" on Spaher's place: Many thanks to our friend Spaher for his generosity and incredible hospitality (oh, did I mention the steaks & shrimp we were "forced" to eat for dinner?) He has shown what intensive but natural management (no "imported" breeder deer here) can do to produce outstanding deer. By the way, these weren't "tame" deer like you might find some places. They were extremely spooky and even when a couple of hundred yards away nervously checked the blind you were sitting in almost continuously. Fine hunting, fine dining, a fine host, and a memorable hunting trip with a very special couple of Sakos.