What is the Oklahoma Grand Slam? Meet the hunter who killed the state's five big-game species in one season.
Brandon Adams of McLoud has done something that is believed no other hunter in Oklahoma has ever done. He has killed all of Oklahoma's five big game species.
Making it more remarkable, Adams killed the animals — black bear, elk, pronghorn antelope, mule deer and white-tailed deer — all during the same hunting season and all with a bow.
"As far as we know, he is the only one who has ever done it," said Nels Rodefeld, head of the information and education division for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Adams, who produces outdoors videos, accomplished the feat in the 2018-19 hunting season and filmed each of the hunts. The video story of his quest to take all of the animals in the same season aired on the Sportsman Channel last fall. It can be viewed now on myworldoutdoors.com, a new company launched in February by Adams and business partner John Christopher of Mississippi.
Finding a way to hunt all of Oklahoma's big game species in one season was as hard as the hunting itself, Adams said.
Black bear hunting is only allowed in October in southeastern Oklahoma and the vast majority of bears are killed by hunters on private land. The archery season for pronghorn antelope in the Panhandle is only open for two weeks in October with even fewer public hunting options than for bear.
Outside of winning an elk hunt through the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts process, all of the elk hunting in Oklahoma is on private land and that is limited, but the most opportunities are in southwest Oklahoma in counties around the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. White-tailed deer are abundant across the state, but mule deer are only found in far western Oklahoma.
"Just coordinating that thing and getting it booked and set up is an accomplishment, let alone tagging out on everything," said Wade Free, assistant director for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Adams, 31, got the idea to pursue all five animals in the same hunting season after being offered a place to hunt elk before the 2018-19 hunting season. He already had access to a hunting lease for mule deer and whitetails and then just needed permission from Oklahoma landowners who had black bear and pronghorn antelope on their properties.
He posted his goal of trying to kill all five big-game species on Instagram and that he was seeking places to hunt black bear and antelope. He quickly found two landowners — one in Latimer County and one in Cimarron County — who were willing to let him hunt on their land.
Then Adams lost his place to hunt elk. Scrambling to find a place to hunt elk, he started calling landowners in southwest Oklahoma but couldn't get permission to hunt anywhere.
"I literally got dozens of 'nos' before I finally remembered a buddy, who was kind of in the area, who connected me with somebody who connected me with someone else," Adams said.
Eventually through several connections, Adams received permission to hunt elk from a Comanche County landowner who "was enamored with what I was trying to do and was happy to help me out," he said.
On the opening day of the 2018-19 black bear season in Oklahoma, Adams killed a bear in the first 20 minutes of the season. Seven days later, he arrowed a big bull elk in southwestern Oklahoma. Three days after that, he harvested a pronghorn antelope in the Panhandle. It was his first bear, elk and antelope ever.
What he thought would be the three hardest animals to kill were all taken within 11 days. What he thought would be a cinch — bagging a white-tailed deer — proved to be the longest hunt of all.
Adams previously worked for BuckVentures and was with Major League Bowhunter until this past January. During the 2018-19 season, he was able to hunt in Beaver County on a Major League Bowhunter lease for both mule and white-tailed deer.
He killed the mule deer first, but didn't start hunting for whitetails until after the rut in late November. After taking four outstanding hunting trophies already, he was only willing to shoot a mature white-tailed buck.
"I got myself into a month of hard hunting," he said.
Finally, on Jan. 1, 2019, Adams completed his "Oklahoma Grand Slam" by bagging a white-tailed buck.
"It's a big deal," Free said of Adams' achievement. "It takes a lot of time. You got to be pretty adaptable. You've got to be a pretty serious archer and be able to travel the state. I can kind of relate to Brandon. I don't know if Brandon is a fisherman, but I hunt and fish for everything, so I can appreciate what he accomplished."
Several hunters have since contacted Adams on social media to say they were going to try to do the same thing, but he doesn't know if any have been successful.
Adams said the bear hunt required the most time and money because of all the preparation involved. The elk hunt was the most difficult to gain permission. The antelope was the hardest animal to kill, because in the wide-open spaces of the Panhandle, there was nowhere to conceal himself. He belly-crawled for 150 yards to get a long shot at a pronghorn.
Adams says he feels lucky and extremely grateful for the hunting opportunities he was given, but likely will not attempt a grand slam ever again unless he wins an elk hunt through the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts process. The deadline is May 20 to apply for the agency's 2020-21 controlled hunts.
"I learned more about Oklahoma that year than I would have imagined," he said. "The diversity of the state is absolutely remarkable."
Which one of Oklahoma's big game animals tastes best on the dinner table? Adams said he was surprised by how well he liked the bear meat, based on horror stories that he had previously heard.
"It's one of my favorite wild game meats and one of my family's favorite wild game meats now," he said.