I would love to say I have stories to go with the following pictures, but I do not have stories. Yes I gave out waypoints for the hunters and I am told the were killed with in 1 miles of on of my waypoints. My understanding that Holly T had chances for two (2) bucks over water and harvested her buck with one arrow in 2012. The other two bucks were harvested in 2013 a couple of days apart by Mark and Jim. I will have to see if I can attach a link to the video’s they made of the hunt in the Warner Unit of Oregon. John Mark does work for an bow manufacturer (Bowtech) in Oregon. He lives by the bow and is a most successful hunter.
John Mark, plus his family and friends do shoot Bowtech!
If you would like to get a hold of their video you can find it on the following site:
As you can see the Warner Unit which has not been devastated by Coyote predication on the Antelope fawns, has lead to a great herd in this unit! I do believe that if we add up the rifle hunters and bow hunters, my hunters are at 100% harvest in the Warner Unit!
Oregon needs to get in the 21st Century on Lighted Nocks & Expandable-Mechanical Broadheads
Sweet Baby James’s Oregon Blacktail Hunt of Woes!
Though this is not a long story about a successful so to speak Blacktail Buck hunt in the late season 2012 archery hunt in Oregon, it is about absurd hunting regulations on bow hunting brought upon by the minority to the majority.
When I get into the story you the reader will understand where I am coming from on my logic on hunting regulations that should be changed to improve the experience of hunting. Much like taking away anchored putters from golfers as technology changes! As I write that might not happen for pro-golfers… In their case they still got to get it in the hole!
Sweet Baby James, as his peers called him in the days of his professional boxing is a very good friend of mine. This past year I got permission for him and his brother to hunt a few days on a small place in rural Oregon in the Willamette Valley to bow hunt for Columbia Blacktail Deer on the late season archery hunt. His brother was successful in getting a deer for meat and made a great 12 yard shot on the deer. James would remain un-successful until the last week of the season.
Readers should know that the Columbia Blacktail deer is one of the hardest to hunt and I do believe they are even more nocturnal that the elusive Whitetail deer. In the Pacific Northwest low light comes earlier than some areas with the heavy brush cover and deep canyons. Oregon is a mountainous state and Blacktail deer range from 10,000 feet to sea level. I sometimes feel that the canyons can range the same in footage. Those that have never hunted in the habitat that Blacktail frequent with the creepers on the ground, blackberries, thistle and deadfall are in for an experience.
As I said before many know James as Sweet Baby James, the professional boxer from Oregon, who has fought clear to Madison Square Gardens, knowing the likes of Ali. He came from a background, whose father was a world ranked Archer, who should have been in the Olympics 1968, but because took a prize of 73 bucks, he later would be turned away at the Olympic Trials thus not allowed to shoot for the United States of America. Hmm! A great deal has changed over the years in that aspect. He was a good friend of Fred Bear and shot Fred Bear traditional bows before the compound came out. So growing up with a father that expected the best from his son, James became a great fighter, archer and hunter himself.
It is now Tuesday evening and he is in the treestand about 2 ½ hours prior to the end of shooting time. He had not been in the stand for very long when from the northern sector of the property he could see a big Blacktail Buck working its way through the maze of vine maple, blackberries and ferns, at 40 yards he could see the buck was the Odd 3 X 3 that seldom entered this area. Over the course of 6 months I would say the Odd 3 X 3 has been on camera about 20 times in this area. The buck seems to be on a mission and a direction he was heading for in hindsight would be the deep canyon leading to another property. The buck did not stop; thou he was walking down the trail to the flat, James made the decision to take the shot at 18 yards with focus and direct eye contact on the boiler room. The arrow tipped with a 100 grain Thunderhead hit the buck hard a bit back from the heart, which appeared to be in upper lung area. He could see the arrow hanging out on the opposite side of the buck. The buck in an instance dug with his hooves and vaulted into forward motion with head down and not missing a step.
James could hear the noise of the buck on the gravel road and anticipated the buck would come around his backside and he would see movement in the trees…
James waited some 30 minutes before leaving the treestand to look for the buck with about an hour of light left to find his trophy Blacktail Buck. He finds one speck of blood in the dirt, but nothing in the gravel. There are no tracks to follow as from both sides of the road there is nothing but blackberries and heavy brush. He felt the buck had entered back behind him and headed into another creek bottom to the east.
I get phone call James while I am down at the coast asking for help, “sorry James but I am long ways away” “did you check to the west of the road”. Of course it started to rain when he got out of the treestand and there is not going to be any trace of blood to follow. With no tracks or blood trail and heavy cover James still continues to look for three hours with a flashlight and no help. Without an extra set of eyes it most difficult on your own to find a downed animal while in panic mode. If it was legal in Oregon to have a lighted nock on your arrow, James might have seen the travel of the deer through the brush. More likely if the arrow had fallen out he could see the arrow from an elevated point near the area if he could have used a lighted nock in Oregon.
The next day James looks for more than four hours, but if there was any blood it would be washed away by the rain. A very distraught hunter not being able to find a big buck that should have gone a very short distance from the hit! If it had been legal in Oregon, an expandable-mechanical broadhead might have help greatly on stopping the buck or leaving a blood trail at the gravel road.
Over the course of months and going out to the farm, this included me to look for the buck’s remains, along with looking for drops we never could find the buck, but still knowing he went down on the property since he was hit hard.
Just recently after going through the winter and the deer moving through the farms or lands in the area, they have made many worn trails. So this past week in March 2013, I told my son that James’s buck headed to the west canyon a normal route for him to escape. So with our minds intent on finding the remains, we ventured out. In know less than 100 yards from the treestand Jr., finds the arrow. Noted the brush is bare foliage and the blackberries have no leaves on them. The arrow is completely intact right along the game trail. Next thing was to scan and split up with me working the lower eastern edge of the canyon and Jr. going to the flat on the western edge of the canyon. He spots something about 150 yards away, then loses sight and said it must have been a deer. I tell him to continue to the spot as it is probably what we wanted to find. Low and behold it is the Odd 3 X 3 Blacktail buck. The coyotes had taken care of the deer and closure was made for all that have hunted the place.
Recovery of the rack is illegal in Oregon, so it will stay until it skull denigrates or grows into a tree ornament as it mends into the V of a tree. Thus only pictures are taken for remembrance of the hunt.
I know myself if I had been shooting an expandable-mechanical broadhead, I might have made a fatal hit on the buck I shot with the arrow passing through the buck and not hitting a vital in front shoulders. Ok! He has survived the winter and will be bigger next year as I have vendetta to harvest him.
From my understanding OPS Game Officers have talked and feel that there would be greater recovery on big game with expandable-mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks. Over 44 other states allow lighted nocks. All but three states allow the use of expandable-mechanical broadheads. Oregon, Washington and Idaho have an issue, it is said by some that crossbow users are the problem, but in Oregon they are not allowed…
Did I mention that in Oregon you can use any arrow or broadhead for Game Birds though? It is said that light nocks and expandable-mechanical broadheads will lead to poaching! Give me a break, only the stupid would poach at night, thinking they might get away with it. Poachers are going to do what they do until they get caught. In Oregon the O.S.P. Game Officers are very talented and educated. It may take a while but they run a high successful rate on catching the big game poachers. Poachers should have a clue by now because there are so many trail cams on private and public property out there that the bucks and bulls have names.
Just watch the Outdoor Channel and you see that on every program.
Sort of funny while looking for the buck, we see the landowner and talk about who has access. She had told us she allow a couple of guys that do business with her they could come out and get some ornamental plants, but said to them “oh we have cameras all over the property”, one of them said “Hmm, I hope you didn’t catch us by a tree..” They were surprised that the land had surveillance…
Technology in archery or bow hunting has been improved, but the principal of archery and bow hunting remains the same. You have to be able to hit the target with your talents. The recovery of game should be in the balance for the hunter, thus I feel that using light nocks and expandable-mechanical broadheads with lead to greater recovery of game. I am all for a change here in Oregon, as well as everyone that are known in my circles.
Oregon, Washington and Idaho should get out of the dark ages and move forward to the betterment of the sport.
I did do a quick P & Y field measurement on the buck. To bad he was odd! He netted out at 92 after setting in the brush for 4 months. He had 15 inches of penalty with the odd rack. He has nice symmetry when viewing straight on, most interesting buck… You would need 95 to make P & Y for Columbia Blacktail!
In closing how many of us can shoot out to 40-50 yards and hit the target, yet miss an easy 20 yard shot?
Another Technical Hunter Scores in the S. Wagontire Unit
This is the third (3rd) hunter to hunt in the S. Wagontire Unit in Oregon for Antelope that has written a great story about the hunt in manner of being technical. It is put in this post as I received it and a well done piece by: Brandon. Pictures will be placed at the end of the article!
I hadn’t been applying for the South Wagontire Pronghorn tag for very long. This spring when my brother Derek and I applied as a party we averaged 4 points. We know some people who apply for the same tag and watch the numbers so we know it takes about thirteen Preference Points for a resident to get a tag. So as you can imagine, the last thing I expected was for my brother to call and rouse me out of bed for something “very important” and inform me of the luck we’d both just received. Two Pronghorn tags after only four years of applying; we could only hope for such wonderful luck when it came to killing bucks come August. How could this be? Oregon uses a percentage of the total allotted tags for a hunt to give all applicants a chance at a tag before they draw numbers for those with Preference Points. I for one am glad they do.
As you can imagine we had some work cut out for ourselves if we were going to be ready for this hunt as we didn’t expect tags for at least eight more years. We needed to figure out our options for rifles and loads, transportation, camping arrangements, transport of game, and many other smaller but no less important aspects of this exciting hunt. I read all the books I could find on the animals and spent some time looking at photo and video of Antelope bucks in order to familiarize myself with a “shooter.”
If you think you might want to shoot a Pronghorn, you are going to need to do some homework. You will want to have some hunting experience and you will need to be patient, prepared, and flexible. It helps to know some people who know some people and remember to make friends as you go. I owe a debt of gratitude to several people for their contributions to my hastily prepared, surprise Pronghorn hunt.
The first step was to start asking around. We had never even been on an Antelope hunt before. I personally had never even seen one. I work in the Sporting Goods department at a major Northwest membership store and was able to glean a lot of information from some of my more experienced customers. My brother and I both had good conversations with Craig Foster, a Wildlife Biologist in the Lakeview office. He gave us some good information in regards to herd density in specific areas of the unit as well as what class of bucks we might expect in those areas. He did let us know the overall population in the unit was a little lower than he had hoped for but not significantly so. In a later conversation he told us the major contributing factor to the low populations is due to poor fawn recruitment. If you’ve ever been to this unit this would come as no surprise as the leading predator of Pronghorn fawns, the coyote, are as thick as flies around a sorghum mill. As an aside we have plans to return with dog guns and a FoxPro to give the coyotes a dose of hell for what they’ve done to the young Pronghorns in the area. Overall Foster supplied us with a good understanding of what is going on in the unit.
Being members of an Oregon hunting forum my brother started a thread asking for some help. We got a lot of responses on the thread and after sorting through all the information we had a couple of pieces of good information. The best advice we got on the forum was to try and get ahold of Bwanabubba. Now Bwanabubba isn’t his given name and Cobra isn’t either. I contacted him via email through his site Bwana Bubba and learned he is a fine gentleman known to his friends as Frank. Frank was a big help to me and my brother. He gave us sound information to get our heads wrapped around Pronghorn hunting in South Wagontire. He even sent us GPS waypoints to good areas to look into when we scouted the area and eventually hunted it. One thing Frank did which was a great help to us, was to put us in contact with David K who had hunted the unit two years previous and killed a nice buck. You can read David’s story on the Bwanabubba site too; look for “The Average Joe.” If you have read Franks Guide to Successful Big Game Hunts you know that a successful hunter “listen[s] to people that have been successful in hunting.” That is exactly what I did. I had a real nice conversation with David on the phone and we exchanged several follow up emails. David was able to make time for us and actually came out to scout for us and show us around the unit some on opening day. David gave very generously of his time and even lent me some equipment that I don’t own. I like to think we have made a new friend in David and look forward to spending some more days in the field with him.
Pronghorn Antelope live in wide open spaces on the desert plains of Oregon so it is a good idea to leave the 45-70 at home and bring your flat shooter that chisels bullet holes one after the other. Derek opted to bring a Remington 25-06 borrowed from a friend and I brought my Remington chambered in 280 Remington. One aspect of this hunt I had been looking forward to was the chance to develop a 120 grain load that was hopefully accurate as well as fast. I knew I wanted to use a 120 grain because of the potential for speed. So I looked at the available bullets and compared them across the board from ballistic coefficients to projectile integrity once inside the game. I narrowed it down to either the Nosler Ballistic Tip hunting or the Barnes Tipped Triple Shock X bullet. Both of these bullets are known for their devastating effects on game. I want to eat as much of the meat as possible when I kill a game animal. I have known the Ballistic Tip Hunting bullet to over fragment in game and leave too much behind so I chose the Barnes. The Barnes bullets are a bit more money but if I have to wait 13 years for my next South Wagontire Antelope tag I am not going to worry about a few more cents per round this season. Bullets being chosen It was time to settle on a powder. My rifle likes IMR 4831, a lot. Shooting the 140 grain Accubonds I have gotten groups just a touch under a half inch at 100 yards. They weren’t particularly speedy compared to the Hornady Light Magnum stuff but they shot pretty well. I chose Remington cases because they have always been the most consistent brass in my collection. Barnes says their TTSX bullets like to be set .030-.070 inches off the rifling so I loaded a few groups of increasing grains of 4831 with the TTSX set .050 off the rifling. The next week Derek and I were able to get out and do a little shooting. Derek sighted in the Hornady Superformance loads first and, after a little trouble with the Bi-pod affecting his zero, was eventually able to get a satisfactory group shooting off my sand bag. The first group I shot had 58 grains of powder and was pretty respectable at barely over one minute of angle. The next group was a little tighter just under an inch with 59 grains. The third group was the winner though. At 60 grains the case was completely filled with powder and one grain under maximum. It shot like a dream ¾ of an inch including one that I knew I had pulled. I loaded up a box worth of this load in the next few days and headed off to the range with my chronograph to see just what I had exactly. The results of the range work? Three hole group in 0.323 inches with an average velocity of 3240 feet per second. If that isn’t an antelope load I don’t know what is. Happy with my load and optimistic with the info I had gotten from several fine gentleman it was time to scout the country and see what a Pronghorn looked like in person.
Since we are both working men with families we didn’t have much time to scout so we had to do it in a single day, no overnight, and two young sons in tow. Now since my boys were coming along we also couldn’t go in the truck and actually went scouting in a Dodge Neon. I know, I know, we must be crazy. That may be true but it was go in the car or don’t go at all. From the conversation I had with David I was expecting to see quite a few Antelope and a good portion of bucks. This didn’t happen for us because we couldn’t cover very much ground in the car. Going was slow and careful. The only Antelope we saw in the interior of the unit were so far off they were barely discernible. We did see some wild horses though and eventually saw an antelope buck on the way out. I hoofed it to a waterhole David had suggested and found it rather full of water but unfortunately it also had a rotting cow lying out in the middle of it. It was disappointing not to see very many Pronghorns but we weren’t discouraged. We saw plenty of tracks and got a good idea of what the country was like and most importantly we now knew just what a Speed Goat in the wild looks like.
When it came time to head east for the hunt we would be going in my brothers Ford Ranger and we would be packing light and camping wherever we found a spot in the unit. That little Ranger was stuffed to the gills. We brought a couple of Coleman extreme coolers for our victuals and to bring Antelope back in once successful. Derek devised a handy rack to hold the coolers off the bed of the truck giving us more room for camping essentials. We used a 5 gallon beverage cooler in the truck for our drinking water and occasionally refilled it with ice to keep it cool. We would get our fuel at the Chewaucan garage while we were there and the friendly folks there would allow us use of their hose to re-up our supply off drinking water. While refueling there during the scouting trip we learned of a local resident who operates a walk-in during the season and hangs your meat for a reasonable fee. That took care of the question of what to do once we had one killed.
Friday evening before the opener my wife was competing in a local pageant to “rain” as the Slug Queen of our home town. Obviously getting to our camp a day early was out of the question so we left early Saturday morning though not too early. We opted to sacrifice a few hours of the season to get a healthy amount of sleep before kicking things off. We met up with David in Paisley and fueled up before heading in country. He had been able to do some scouting for us Friday night and he had some bad news for us. There wasn’t any water anywhere that he had found so it would be difficult to pattern the Antelopes. We were determined to keep our thoughts positive though so we just started trucking in to see what we could come up with. It wasn’t long before we saw Prairie Goats in the numbers we had expected. They were all on private ranch land on that first day but seeing nearly 70 animals was definitely a boon to lift our spirits. We spent the rest of the day trying to spot Lopes while looking for water.
Sunday we decided to head east deeper into the interior checking every spot on the map that looked like a depression that may hold water. We weren’t having much luck when on the way to a potential waterhole we spotted some wild horses in what looked like a very small depression that we couldn’t believe would hold water with everything so dry. We watched the horses for a while then continued up the road suggesting checking for water where the horses were on the way back out. Once we had determined our original destination was as dry as the Sahara we headed back to the little waterhole the horses were at when I spotted Antelope on the slope right by the water hole. We glassed them and determined there was one buck in the band of ten and he looked like a shooter. As we were glassing and racking our brains on how to get close to these animals a small plane flew over very low and spooked the Antelope away. I don’t know who was in that plane but they were definitely not friends of ours. When we checked the hole we found water. Not much of it but it was apparently enough.
It was on the way out of the area that we experienced a flat. I strongly urge airing down out there. Some of the roads leave a lot to be desired; seemingly paved with large rocks and boulders. Passenger tires will not cut it. At least we got a chance to refill our water cooler as the able young gents at the Chewaucan Garage fixed the flat.
Monday morning started in makeshift hides within shooting distance of the little waterhole. Confession time, sitting and waiting for game is not for me. I found it excruciating trying to sit still and stay awake. Then when the coyotes came in I wanted nothing more than to let ‘em have it but I couldn’t risk firing my rifle and spooking any thirsty lopes within hearing distance. After four hours more sitting than we could stand we were off to see if we could find any more water. We encountered thirteen antelope the rest of the day in groups of 1-4 but no bucks.
Tuesday morning was a repeat of Monday morning. Another excruciating wait for nothing, I wondered how long we could keep doing this? For the afternoon we decided to head to a super secret spot Frank had been keeping in his back pocket. It was way further north than the area we were hunting in thus far. We also found that maps can’t be trusted in this country. They suggest roads exist where they don’t, or at least don’t any longer. Considering what passes for a road around there anyway, it sure adds a lot of frustration when it becomes clear the road you were headed for has been returned to boulders and sage. The super secret spot was just one of these places we couldn’t get to because “the road don’t go there no more.”
We weren’t half way to the secret waterhole when appearing out of nowhere two nice bucks that I’d say were 15 inchers are laying tracks in the draw just as fast as you could imagine. They were much too far out and moving too quick to even dream of getting a shot so we watched them to see what they’d do and they slowed down and started to browse about half a mile away. We thought since they stopped we ought to be able to make a stalk so we grabbed the essentials and headed up the back side of the ridge. We got up to where we last saw them and the terrain there was just perfect for one of us to sneak up to the edge and have a shot. It was going to be perfect. One problem though. Those speedy little buggers had gone further up the draw while we were slipping up the back side. I was really starting to get excited so wasn’t about to give up on the opportunity but Derek wasn’t feeling too well so he waited while I went ahead. I went further up the ridge in the direction they’d originally headed to see if they were over the next rise. They were there alright, but they had me pegged. I could only see their heads looking straight at me from about three hundred yards. A three hundred yard headshot on the top of a ridge in 97° heat and a swirling breeze isn’t exactly a slam dunk for me so I backed out a little and set up a flagging decoy I had made to see if it would coax them closer. It didn’t have the magnetic pull I had hoped for. They were only mildly curios until they became nervous enough to vacate the premises completely.
A rifle shot in the distance called me back to where my brother was resting. I made haste back and found my brother with a little story to tell. He had been feeling a little light headed and actually blacked out for a few seconds. Let this be a warning to those who attempt this country. It is hot here, hotter than it seems. My brother’s problem wasn’t dehydration as you may suspect, he had plenty of water, but rather nutrition. We found we had little appetite in the peaceful comfort of the desert. Luckily that was the only safety concern we had the whole trip because we recognized the problem and remedied it by tucking in the groceries.
Wednesday morning the dread of returning to the hide at the waterhole was of course mixed with the hope of returning Antelope. After three hours of trying to stay awake in the blind, the cold coffee from breakfast was wearing off and I nodded off for a while. When I opened my eyes two does were on the edge or the waterhole. I nudge Derek and whisper “They’re here.”
“They’re here?” he returns.
“They’re here.” I say.
“Who’s here?” asks Derek.
“The antelope!” I nod.
I got into firing position and waited in hopes more would come out of the sage to join these two adventurous does but none ever did. They started coming out of the waterhole. One here, one there. Eight of the ten had slipped in and down to the waterhole without alerting us, the alpha predators that we are. The old pump was really starting to bang when number six walked out sporting headgear. I was steady enough over the bi-pod I’d borrowed from David but that buck wouldn’t stand clear of his ladies. What was I to do? He went back in for another drink. Where will he come up? Will I have a shot? He came back up on the opposite side of the waterhole. Sauntered slowly broadside and took a Barnes bullet like a champ. The whole band ran a few steps at the shot and the buck circled a few yards to the near side of the waterhole and looked back where he had been standing. He apparently didn’t know he’d been shot. Then he started to falter, leaned back, and bicycled his front hooves before settling down for his last rest.
As it turned out the bullet entered between ribs and exited between ribs and left virtually no bloodshot behind. The fact that the bullet passed through so cleanly was probably what kept him from knowing he’d been shot. After a quick field dress we loaded the buck into my brother’s Ranger and made our way straight into town. We had him skinned and in the cooler little more than an hour after loading him up. The gentleman who operates the cooler has a nice electric hoist that makes skinning a breeze. He even let us use some of his tools later when we packed the Lope on ice for the trip back home. I must really stress here that the geniality Paisley showed me and my brother in our short time in their town has never been paralleled.
With my tag filled early enough in the day, we spent the afternoon trying to locate a buck for Derek. We decided it was time to check out the seeding west of Abert. We were lucky enough to run into another small band. Derek tried to make his way closer to them but the lay of the terrain in their vicinity didn’t give him much of a chance. I was able to see them make a very large circle and head down toward the lake and way off to the east.
Having seen a decent group the night before we headed to the Abert seeding again to see if we could make a go of our final day on Thursday. We eventually spotted a couple bucks as they ran away from us at a distance I estimate was in the neighborhood of a mile and a half.
We met a local guide while hunting out there and he told us this was the toughest season he had seen in forty years guiding in that country. That makes me feel good that we were able to make it happen on a nice buck this year. We will come back again when we have the points and try for a trophy. Hunting the desert of Oregon for Pronghorn was a totally new experience for us and for me was some of the most fun I’ve ever had in the field. I am going to make as many trips out there as I can to enjoy it. Coyote hunting, maybe some jackrabbits and squeaks, and I hear the fishing can be great in the local rivers. I’m hooked on desert Antelope.
John’s hunt started sometime in January of 2012, when he asked me about hunting for Mule Deer in Central Oregon. John works with me at the dealership and is from Grants Pass, Oregon. He comes from a long line of hunters and this year along the family has had to harvest 3 Black Bears and 3 Cougars that were threatening their farm. I should say I have seen in the later months of 2012 the Blacktails that his family have taken. I think I would like to retire down there to hunt Blacktails, Cougars and Bears.
John and his group decided they would put in for the Grizzly Unit Rifle Deer Tag for 2012 after John told his group that I would give him an area or two to hunt in the Grizzly Unit. They were successful as they had a few preference points between them. The hunt was now set and I would come up the with waypoints and mapping.
John bought a Garmin Oregon 300 from me with the mapping program that would show the BLM that they would have access too! I am a firm believer in the use of GPS and the correct mapping. In that area of the country where the ranchers and organizations that have property next to the BLM, have said that hunters with trespass given the opportunity from not knowing the boundaries. I wanted John if ever stopped to be able to prove with time stamped tracks and waypoints where he and his group have been! You will find fact with this later in the story!
I was giving John two different areas to hunt in the Grizzly Unit both being in the northern sector about 8 miles line of sight from each other. John had decide to camp down on the John Day River during the hunt.
Opening day he found himself in the walk-in only area that was bordered on three sides by private. I felt if he was in the couple of miles from the bottom of the creek to the interior they might be able to find a big mulie. It has always been a great sp0t in the past for opening day of rifle or even to archery hunt. In the old days before Young Life and the BLM made an agreement to keep ATV’s out of this area, it was easy to get the 3 miles in and then work the canyons and draws on foot after spotting deer, elk or antelope.
The morning proved to be a bust for the group and they decided to hunt the area a bit further south which had more land to cover and they could drive into key access and observation points to find game. John told me when he got back after the hunt, that the hunt into the opening day area was a big tough on him, since he has had two (2) hip replacements. You would think that John would have let me know about this when I explained the terrain!
During there trip into the BLM of H.H., they ran into the resident Oregon State Police Game Officer M.P., who knows that country like he knows his truck and struck up a conversation. M.P. told him when he came out of the northern sector of H.H. Area he had not seen a hunter or any deer. Now John and his group are a bit down on all of this great news from the man himself.
The Grizzly Unit has taken a toll with poaching in recent years and the fact that the Cougars in the sage brush, juniper and rimrock thrive. I have found many a good bull and buck that have been ambushed in a timbered draw in this area. The Grizzly Unit harbours some great bucks, but you really have to work for them. A number of Boone and Crockett’s bucks have come from the Grizzly Unit!
The next thing the group does is go to Madras, Oregon and have dinner and setup the next days hunt. John had given me a call while in Madras and asked what to do next. I still believed in the northern sector hunt and that they should maybe work within a mile of the access road, as there was a creek that ran next to it.
The next day which was Sunday they hunted the creek bottom and the shallow draws (brush laden) that came down into the creek. They started to see some game and had a good feeling that something was going to happen. Remember that private borders this parcel of BLM. John and his brother work the ridge next to the road as they are going to go back to John’s B Van and have lunch. As they are about to get on the access road, John spots a herd of 20 plus deer with 4 bucks in the group. Now the deer have not spotted John yet and John, pulls out his Garmin Oregon to see if the deer are on BLM or Private (there are a number of cross fences in this area). Of course the GPS has to fire up and access satellites. This must take a about minute to do so, my comment to John “What were you thinking not having the GPS on?”. John sees that the spot is BLM and as he does the deer finally spot them and start to move out. John and his brother have to move a bit with deer as they would be coming back their direction a bit to get into the draw of safety. John makes a great 250+ yard shot on buck and his brother targets another buck that broke away from the group.
John’s group of 4 hunters would run 50% on the harvest of bucks in the Grizzly Unit, so each man gets 1/2 a deer to feed the families this year. I feel that John would hunt the Grizzly Unit again though he did not shoot what he was really looking for though. John did a scouting trip about 2 weeks before the opener and did see a couple of the big bucks that the Grizzly Unit is famous for!
I have written as the story was told to me: Frank B.
Introduction on this story written by David K, aka DAK is the second on Antelope – Pronghorn, one being in 2010 on hunting in Oregon! David is CFO for a major Oregon company! CFO’s are like engineers and they are of course very analytical about everything, such as equipment and how they go about life. My years of observation with buyers of RV’s or Sporting Goods has lead me to Dogma ! They have to do the Research! So enjoy a real story from the “AVERAGE JOE” Cobra
Back in 2010 my brother and I (with lots of advice from Frank) hunted antelope in Oregon’s South Wagontire unit. It was a fantastic hunt and a great experience and we decided we just had to hunt antelope again soon. The only problem was the 10+ years it takes to draw a tag in Oregon. We started planning a trip to Wyoming.
My family has always hunted close to home. As a kid, my father rarely hunted more than a few miles from the farm he grew up on. Out-Of-State hunts were things that Eastman and Capstick and O’Connor wrote about in magazines. My family’s hunting trips, if told honestly, sounded more like they were written by Patrick McManus, or Jeff Foxworthy. But, that never discouraged us before and it was not about to this time. We had a great time and learned a lot that will help us plan future trips. In the hope that some of our experience might be helpful to other ambitious antelope hunters (and because Frank again gave me some advice that turned out to be golden) I’m passing this story on to him to pass on to all of you…
Note: I got a fantastic buck in 2010 and had decided any mature buck would be what I was after. My brother Brian had never hunted lopes but had studied them as a biologist. Brian is a bit of an artist at heart and for him the experience of the hunt is a kind of art. For him a B & C buck shot from the roadside would not be as meaningful as a small buck skillfully stalked in beautiful country.
Step #1 – Getting the tags. This is surprisingly confusing! Wyoming antelope tags are either “Any Antelope” or “Doe” tags. Both of these have early and late season tags (4 possibilities). These have “Special” draws (the tag costs more) and a “Regular” draw (8 options). Each of these 8 options will have varying draw difficulties depending on the unit. Once we figured all this out (not easy) we were able to put in for a “Special, Late, Buck” tag in a unit with good public land access and high draw odds.
Additional administrivia – In Wyoming if you were born before 1964, you have to have a hunter safety certificate. You also have to have a “Resource License” in addition to your tag. According to the local game warden these are things out-of-state hunters often miss.
Step #2 – Get good maps. Frank advised me to get the Wyoming Plat Map for my Garmin GPS. This shows the ownership blocks in addition to all the usual Topo Data and will jack into the computer so it can be viewed on a big screen.
Step #3 – Use the maps to figure out where in the unit to hunt. Most Lope country in Wyoming is checkerboard private and BLM land. You can only access the BLM land where public roads touch it and much of it is “landlocked” The Topo maps showed some good big blocks of contiguous BLM land in parts of this unit. The local game warden told me to sign up for the HMA’s. These are Hunter Management Areas where the private landowners grant hunter access for those who sign up and agree to follow the ranch rules. These HMA’s can be a few small blocks or 80 square miles, but you have to sign up for them online ahead of time.
So, we had tags, maps, a game plan, and 9 days to get it done (5 hunting days with 2 days travel each way).
Step #4 – Life gets in the way, deal with it… A few days before the hunt Brian (my brother) finds out that his girlfriend’s mom’s boyfriend has passed away and the funeral is Saturday. His girlfriend also has an appointment in Portland the Monday after the hunt and he will need to driver her there on Sunday. Two days gone and the window is narrowing but we still have time for a good hunt.
Saturday evening after the service we get the camper shell mounted on Brian’s truck and find out the lights don’t work (mechanical difficulties have always figured prominently in our mis-adventures so this is no surprise). After a few trips to the hardware store we have it fixed and are on the road. Brian tells me his girlfriend’s Uncle Joe who came to the service had a nasty cold and he’s hoping he doesn’t come down with it. We head east and, of course, he is coughing and sneezing before we hit Spokane.
We got as far as the Montana border before we had to pull over and sleep Saturday night. We drove all day the next day (Brian coughed, sneezed, dripped and went through two boxes of Kleenex and a multitude of cold meds but he is tough and takes his hunting seriously) and by 10:00 Sunday night had reached the northern edge of our hunt unit.
Lesson #1 – Allow a full two days for the drive or you will miss some beautiful country and start your hunt already tired.
Got up Monday morning and headed into one of the big blocks of BLM land. Once you get off the highway the two-tracks that go through this BLM land are pretty rutted out and can turn to soup when it rains. Everything was dry, but we didn’t want to push the truck too hard with a camper shell on top.
The BLM blocks had lots of Lopes. We must have counted 50 in just 5 hours of hiking. Three looked like decent bucks but all these animals were hyper alert and very skittish. We saw a couple hunter’s camps in the distance and all the two-tracks had seen ATV traffic.
Lesson #2 – For the best hunting, find places the ATV’s can’t go or are not allowed too go. The biologist had told me the same thing – get away from the ATV’s.
The wind in Wyoming is fierce. During our whole trip it blew almost all the time at anywhere from 20 to 40MPH. I had expected wind, but this was unreal. Blowing dust, OK. Blowing sand, still OK. But blowing gravel was something I had never experienced. This wind has all kinds of implications for how you hunt and the kind of gear you bring.
Lesson #3 – Plan for high winds, they affect EVERYTHING.
We headed to the southern end of the unit to hunt one of the HMA’s where no ATV’s are allowed.
On the way we probably saw another 100 or so antelope from the county road. I turned on the Garmin GPS with the Plat Map. Most of these animals were on private blocks, but some were on public land that had enough cover for a stalk but they were mostly younger bucks and we had just started to hunt. A GPS with the Plat Map that tells you EXACTLY what is and is not public land opens up huge areas that can’t otherwise be hunted without the risk of a trespass issue. These checkerboard lands often hold less pressured animals because ATV’s don’t go there (a one square mile block is not enough space to make deploying the 4 wheelers worthwhile). Thanks for the advice on the maps Frank.
On the way to the HMA boundary we noticed a lone doe on the other side of the fence that paralleled the road. She was running in circles about 200 yards ahead of us and acting nuts. Then we saw her fawn, also about 200 yards ahead, and on our side (the wrong side) of the fence. We had just driven past the gap in the fence and the two of them were separated. We backed up 500 yards, but neither of them would come back to the fence gap. We figured the only option was to get up some speed and blow past them and the fawn could work his way back then. As we approached the fawn, he crossed the road in front of us and started to run parallel about 50 yards off the road and ahead of us. Brian pushed the gas till the meter read 45 MPH and the potholes just about shook the truck apart and that fawn kept pace with us for the next mile till we hit another fence line and he circled back to join mom. This fawn was all of 5 months old.
Once in the HMA we saw two big groups of 20+ animals which looked to hold a couple mature bucks. They were a mile or so off when we spotted them and if we had not had just a couple hours of daylight left we would have tried a stalk. We decided to come back the following morning and see if we could locate one of these bands again.
Following a county road back to town, just at dusk, we spotted another small band that had a buck in it. They were following a fence line toward a waterhole to the south and would cross the road ahead of us if they continued. The Garmin GPS showed them to be on public land. In the low light I couldn’t get a good idea of the buck’s horns, but he had a dark cheek patch, heavy bases I was sure about, and was a big bodied animal. Brian stopped the truck and I decided to have a go at him.
I bailed out and worked into a position where they would pass by at about 250 yards which was a distance I had practiced at. I got seated, put the rifle on the bog-pod and let them get a little closer. Based on the estimated wind speed and direction I figured about a foot of hold off. Just as the shot broke, a sudden gust pushed me off by a good 2 feet (fortunately forward of him and a clean miss). Even sitting from a bi-pod the gusts were nasty enough to affect aim severely, see Lesson #3.
I figured they would blow out of there like scaled cats. Their reaction was exactly nothing. They stared in my direction and in the dim light I don’t think they knew exactly what I was. My dad taught us when you fire a shot you have to assume a hit and you are committed to finish what you started. At the next shot the buck hunched up and staggered showing he was hit hard and then he lay down with his head still up. The does were still staring but did not run even now. My third shot rolled him over. I had no clue why they had not run at the first shot, but my tag was filled.
Antelope are beautiful animals and I’ve always thought their horns were elegant and graceful. As Brian and I approach this animal I discovered he was possibly the ugliest antelope I’d ever seen. This was an old buck with stained and worn teeth who was more than a few years past his prime. He was big in the body, with a broad, scarred nose from fighting over does. His horns were heavy and gnarly at the bases, but the tips were chipped and splintered and the prongs were broken and abraded back almost to the main beams. This old boy was too old to win his fights and not smart enough to know it. I think this was a cool trophy in a different way and I was pretty happy about it.
We got him dressed out and in game bags. We stowed these on top of the camper for the night to let the wind cool them. Field dressing an animal in a 30 mile wind is a huge hassle, see Lesson #3. By the time we finished it was late and we decided to camp right there and make a plan in the morning. Brian coughed and sneezed all night in spite of the cold meds.
In the morning we decided to hunt back through the HMA and head back to town and see if we could get some dry ice to keep the meat cool. We spotted two bucks, one of them nice, on a block of public land off the county road. Brian bailed out and I drove on about a half mile to where the truck was out of sight, grabbed my spotting scope, and got to the top of a small rise to watch the action.
The Lopes were about 700 yards from where Brian bailed out and there were some deep gullies leading in their direction. Brian used the gullies to get within 300 yards and crawled through the sage to work closer. He got within 200 yards, took a bead on the larger of the two, and decided he wanted to get closer. At 190 yards they busted him and blew out. 200 yards is a make-able shot for Brian. I suspected this stalk just wasn’t the sort of hunt, the sort of memorable experience, that he had in mind and later he admitted as much.
For my father, hunting was about putting meat in the freezer and I often find myself thinking that way. Over the years I’ve come a good ways towards seeing it the way Brian does.
Moving into the HMA, we spotted one the bands from the day before. They were bedded on a bench on the other side of GW creek from the road about a mile away. Just seeing the truck stop to glass made them nervous and they started to work away from us toward some knobs on the low ridge above them to the north. There was at least one mature buck in the group. I thought our odds of catching up with them were pretty slim, but this was the hunt Brian was looking for and he thought we could do it.
We drove 2 miles further up the road and parked. Brian’s plan was to head north, cross GW creek and climb the ridge on the other side, then work our way west toward the knobs they had been headed for. He thought that if they hadn’t totally blown out, they might be feeding and bedding behind the knobs out of the worst of the wind.
In the creek bottom we discovered an old mining claim. I don’t know what they were mining for but the tailing’s had lots of red, orange, and pink Jasper. We pocketed some of the prettiest pieces for our nieces. We also discovered this country has lots of prickly pear cactus in spots. This stuff grows low to the ground, is well camouflaged, and has needles 1-1/2 inches long. It can make a stalk very painful in country where there is no good cover and you have to crawl to get closer.
The wind really started to howl as we crested the ridge and worked our way west. Brian’s nose would drip and the wind would pick it up and blow it back onto his glasses so he had to wipe them off regularly. The guys who write articles for hunting magazines never mention this kind of stuff.
Coming up around the shoulder at the base of the first knob I saw the backs and ears of lopes feeding just over the crest of a shallow rise on the other side of a very shallow wash. I grabbed Brian (who saw them just about then) and we hit the dirt.
Brian stripped off his day pack and crawled on hands and knees down into the wash and up the rise on the other side while I fished out my camera (with good zoom) and took pictures. As he neared the top of the rise he went down on his belly and scooted forward on toes and elbows, 4 inches at a time, till he could see the lopes. He stripped off his binos so they wouldn’t scrape on the ground as he crawled forward. His hat kept trying to blow off his head and go sailing across the prairie toward Sheridan (which would probably have spooked the antelope). He belly crawled the last 50 yards.
There were a dozen does and 2 young bucks, one of which looked respectable, but no sign of the larger buck yet. But, every little wrinkle of terrain in county like this can hide animals. Brian took a bead on the bigger of the young bucks but just then noticed the back of an animal with his head down feeding down the next wash off to his left. Might this be the larger buck? Just then the young buck put his head up and stared hard at Brian. On his belly, he would not have looked like a person or a predator, but he did look like a strange lump on the ridgeline that was not there before and might possibly have moved. The smaller buck and a doe stared at him also and he figured he’d better take the shot now. Just then the larger buck fed out into the clear. Brian took him with one perfect shot at about 100 yards. From where I was laying about 150 yard away the sound of the shot from Brian’s 30-06 was little more than a muffled pop. The wind just whipped the sound away. Another mystery solved. The buck I took didn’t react at the sound of the first shot because he barely heard it over the 35 MPH wind. Brian’s buck was a beautiful animal with long hooks and graceful curving prongs and the stalk and the country were classic.
We got his buck dressed and caped and packed it three miles back to the truck. In addition to the GPS Plat Map, another piece of gear that was really golden was the “Just One” pack. It is one of those wing style packs that folds down to a low riding day pack but when the main compartment is expanded will let you add 4 quarters, backstraps’, and a cape and head very comfortably.
Brian sneezed and coughed and went through 2 boxes of Kleenex on the way home and somewhere near Billings the grill over the camper’s refrigerator service port was torn off by the wind and went sailing away. These things happen to Average Joes so we don’t start thinking we are Eastman or Capstick or O’Connor. But, even those guys would have approved of how Brian got his antelope. DAK aka David
Thought I would share this picture of a first time bowhunter and first harvest with the bow outside of Springfield, Oregon. The hunter rattled in 3 bucks one being a forkie x spike, this 3 x 4 and a monster buck that would not come into him, but did come into 54 yards to his daughter who was also hunting. She did not take the shot as her bow was only sighted in to 35 yards… It was a great hunt for daughter and father with success and a buck that only went 75 yards!
I believe that the buck was taken on the evening of November 24th, 2012!
The great thing about Oregon is that you can sometimes be very lucky enough to have two (2) deer tags. One of those special tags if you have property to hunt is the Willamette Unit 615 tag. You can take a buck or doe during the long time frame of the hunt with rifle or bow. So if you’re a bow hunter and a rifle hunter you can pick and chose your weapon of choice.
In this case Mark who is one of my hunting partners here in the valley had decided to bow hunt the parcel of land we have access to in the valley and harvest his first archery deer and make it a Blacktail buck. He also had enough preference points to be able to draw the 615 tag. Mark drew his 615 Willamette tag and also purchased the archery deer tag.
Prior to the hunt in the early summer months of June, Mark and Jr. were very instrumental in getting all the tree stands up and ground blinds on the property for the archery season and Mark’s 615 Hunt. The ground work had been set for a great 2012 season. The big thing for those of us archery hunting for a buck was to get it done prior to September 1st, as the 615 hunt starts on the 1st with lots of action in the rural valley and it might effect the archery season.
Mark during the archery season had one (1) particular Blacktail buck that he wanted to harvest along with the rest of us and that was “Stickers”. During the first two (2) weeks of the archery season in Oregon “Stickers” never came in to the view of any of us. In just one evening Mark had more than 9 bucks to choose from within 25 yards and past up all of them. It is very interesting to me as there were 2 other shooters for the early part of the archery season. Another buck that never came in during daylight hours has been the Odd 3 X 3, leaving only the Even 3 X 3 doing the daylight hours once in a while, which know all to well.
That is another story within itself and this is about Mark’s great hunt and shot. Mark did not make the opening day of the 615 Willamette hunt, but managed to get enough time to go out the same evening that Jr. was hunting from another tree stand about ½ mile away during the middle of the week. Mark had decided to use his tree stand on the western sector of the farm, plus use his trusty 308 Browning Lever Action that is Grandpa gave him. There was about 20 minutes of legal light left of hunting during the first evening of this great hunt for Mark!
About a week earlier there was a buck that had been hit by an arrow with only a surface wound and the buck was doing very well, which was evident on the trail cams. Mark heard a noise of breaking dead-fall and the 3 X 3 that had taken the arrow hit appears! Mark thought about taking him, but at 8 yards he can tell the buck is doing well and this is a special tag for the chance of getting a very good Blacktail. There was still about 15 minutes of legal light and he decides to wait just a little longer. He hears another twig snap along one of the access trails to the field. Along comes “Stickers” on the trail, but with brush making it difficult to get on him, Mark just waits him out. He is now hidden behind a tree, not giving a shot. Light is fading and Mark is a real sticker of being legal with his hunting.
Great hunting ethics as Mark has been taught from his Grand Dad and Father. Just then “Stickers” moves away from the tree and comes broadside at 10 yards! The rest is history as the 150gr. Remington Core-Lok put the buck down in his tracks. Mark then gets a call from Jr., “is that you who did the shooting”? Jr. and Tamra quickly make their way over to Mark! Mark has Jr. get his truck and they were able to get within, Ah! Maybe 15 yards of the fallen trophy Blacktail! Get Pictures is all I text back to all of them!!!
“Stickers” is an interesting buck, definitely the one of the dominate bucks of the area. He is a rock solid rack buck with Symmetry in shape, but is a 3 X 2 with both long eye-guards. Looking straight on him, you would not known he was a fork on the left side. He does have sticker off the back side of the fork. The Willamette Valley Blacktail Buck field dressed without the hide and head at 130 lbs. That is probably the biggest Blacktail that I have seen or known about at that weight.
Now Mark sets his future 2012 hunting with the bow for one of the other dominate bucks during the late season archery season. I would like Jr. to harvest one of the bucks, but all N.W. hunters know that Blacktails can be harder to hunt then any other species of deer in North America.
Congratulations to Mark on his great shot and patience!
Though this story will end up with harvesting of a small Blacktail Buck from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, it is more about the principles and aspects of aging in the hunting scenario.
Over the years, especially when I was younger I lived to hunt and fish. I was very selfish and would spend most of my time either at work or doing the great outdoors. It was a total escapement from reality after serving in the U.S. Navy and being In Country. I found great excitement with chasing and harvesting game. My fishing was about how many fish I could catch, later finding it was more fun to catch and release.
Now later in life I find I do not have as much time to hunt and fish with the reality of still working into my 60’s. Weekends are a thing of the past since I have been in the RV selling business. Hunts have now turned to hunting in the valley close to home for the elusive Blacktail Deer.
What started with getting permission to take pictures of Blacktail Bucks on a parcel of land outside of Oregon City & Canby, Oregon has turned into the place to have the opportunity to harvest a Blacktail. The landowner himself is a Vietnam Vet and I know he finds great peace to be able to walk his timbered land and in some places be able to escape the daily grind!
This year was different from the past years on the M & L Ranch as I call it. It is the first time other than a Blackberry thicket blind, that I have setup a real tree stand and fixed ground blind. My thoughts have always been to glass, spot and pursue the game, with an occasional wait at a nearby waterhole for Pronghorn.
The 2012 Archery Season in Oregon was of great expectations in harvesting one of the Big Three Blacktail bucks that we all had captured on Trail Cams. With Odd 3 X 3 leading the pack, “Sticker” second and finally the P & Y buck Even 3 X 3. You do notice that I have never mentioned a 4 x 4! I have yet to see a 4 point buck western count in 2012. In the past I have seen a number of them and have put them on film!
I truly hate to say it, but many of the big bucks I have seen have been poached. I have heard rifle shots in the familiar sound of hunting situation before the archery season and during the season. Poaching has become a major issue in Oregon! It can’t be about the meat, but about the rack.
So with the missed opportunity on the Even 3 X 3 in the first couple of days really took me back mentally. The easiest shots, can most often not work! I am sure most know that deal in hunting. Having hit the tree stand rail not once but twice on the 25 yard shot was embarrassing for sure. Small note: WHEN PUTTING UP A TREE STAND AND SETTING UP THE LINE OF THE ANIMAL TO BE POSITION, MAKE SURE YOU PUT UP YOUR STAND IN RELATIONSHIP TO BEING LEFT HANDED OR RIGHT HANDED. In this case for me being Left Handed I should have put it across the path to the opposite tree. It is definitely a Right Handed tree stand. Guess I will have to get another one and put it on the opposite tree 25 yards across the path! My partner’s JR (Frankie) and Mark are right-handed! They had decided what tree to put the stand up before I can to help! Pretty smart guys!
As most of you know that are in the circle, with two weeks into the archery season had a second chance with a 20 yard shot on a nice heavy 3 x 3 at 20 yards (No Hesitation Either).
I shot through the Camo mesh of the ground blind, leading to a close Kill shot (3”) to a glancing arrow hitting the shoulder and ricocheting upward and out. I have had someone call me unethical for not making this one buck the one find and harvest. In this case give me a break with a Blacktail and the odds, especially with a bow! Mark and myself spent 3 hours looking for blood on the buck, which ended with one final drop about 300 yards away in the dark at 2200. The following morning I spent another 3 hours and found no more blood on the ferns and what appeared to be a buck with normal walk back into the forest (no broken limbs or down branches).
So in the following weeks the buck has been on trail cams in good health. In fact when Mark was in his tree stand with his rifle (Willamette 615 anything tag) the buck came to within 12 yards of him in good health. As this is another story of Mark’s buck that he took at that time, all I can say is the buck might have been a vendetta for me to get him, but I was not worried about his health any longer. Just a bad hit!
It is now Sunday September 9th in the morning about 0430 and my wife wakes me up and says “aren’t you going hunting this morning!” Na! I got to work and need my sleep! I am now awake and say to myself, I am gone. In minutes without combing my hair I headed out the door and into the darkness. Looking at my cell found I see JR.; my son left me text messages (10) about the morning hunting. I text back are you awake as I am already heading to my secure parking spot! No return text, guess I got the place to myself today! It would have been great to have him with me!
It does not take me long to get ready once there and I head off to the stand about ¼ from the parking spot. Quickly get up in the stand with the anticipation of a good hunt, as it cooler this Sunday. I figured I might get the spike and of course plus the one doe with twin fawns in first, with maybe a big boy coming in before 0700. I patiently wait, which is a major problem for me as it super quite in the draw. The only noises are the wind rusting the trees and occasional Scrub Jay squawking in the distance. I should add the lone owl hooting in the canyon!
It is now approaching 0700 with no movement at all on the forest ground, I am extremely bored and need to get on feet and make a ground hunt. I lower my bow and day pack to the ground, check the trail cam and see that only 6 pictures from the 12 hour period. I thought about heading back to the house and catch a few winks before work, but I would not get any sleep. I dropped the pack and headed over to Mark’s stand near the edge of the western sector of the farm. No movement in the heavy grasses and I surely did not jump anything, as Mark’s stand borders the field and heavy timber. Hmm!
I pick up my day pack and talked to myself and ask the question to drive around to the eastern sector and hunt from there and see if I can jump a Blacktail Buck. I tell myself to go back to the stand and head up the trail that leads to the dry creek bed and the eastern sector of the farm (most of us old war dogs talk to ourselves a lot). I decide that I wanted to go light on this expedition with only my bino’s, range finder and bow! I am wearing a Camo long sleeve shirt and I have my booties on as it is very noisy place to walk and think you are quiet when making a good stalk.
Here I am only about 200 to 300 yards from my stand on the trail and spot a doe that had just come up out of the draw that leads down to the creek bed and the other side of the farm. It is a warn trail now and used by the game since Frankie (JR) and his cousin had taken a D-6 Cat through the property, it has given a game when not disturb a bit easier route to feeding areas. There are places near the creek bottom that are so thick; I would have to eat the deer there!
Ok! I spot the doe and she is a ways out there, I would put her at about 50 yards line of sight. Not sure if she has caught me as slither back into the Scott Broom. I decide to range her in and use my left hand, my release hand. Shaking a bit, I target to the left of her to a small bush and it says 48 yards. I got the area pretty well dialed in and will wait to see what come out of the draw. Finally a very smart move on Cobra’s part! Her fawns that no longer have spots doodle along and up. I can not see the doe at all during this time and I assume she did not see me! Then I see a deer coming up, it stops and see it has a rack, I can not tell the size it all seems to blend into the background of brown grasses and the fir trees. Knowing what my Martin Onza 3 can do for me, I am at instinct mode and without though of size or distance my eyes as they are looking through the peep side have the orange 40 yard pin set about 1-2 inches above the back bone. The release is very smooth and no hesitation on my part. I see the arrow in flight as the Norway Zeon Fusion (pink) vanes are evident in flight.
The buck has moved forward during the short time of flight of the arrow. “Damn” is all I could say when I see the arrow hit the hind quarter forward. What surprised me was to see the deer drop like a sack of bricks and then he shook! Wow! Then to my further surprise the buck go back up and struggled into the Scott Broom. Out in the distance at about 100 yards there is a monster buck facing directly at me when I stepped out to lay the bow down! I quickly move up to the spot and find blood. I marked the spot with my bow and head back to the day pack to get what I needed. I call my JR and to my surprise he answers his phone! Hoorah! He is on his way with his truck that he can get back there and not be upset with the blackberries scrapping the side of his truck. I do check at my launching point and range find to the spot the buck was initially standing at and it hits 63 yards.
I have to tell you that during the flight of the arrow, there seem to be little arch (trajectory) in the flight. What a strange feeling of watching the flight which was under a second, like out of a movie! The Martin Onza 3 is most likely pushing 330fps with my setup! Outstanding performance for me! Martin bows have never failed me on a hunt!
I have pulled my rig near the stand, hoof back to the area with cameras and my Gerber’s. I did not have to go very far from the hit spot, the blood trail was extensive and the buck was stretched out about 80-100 yards from the impact area. I could see the buck is one that I had seen on camera and past up an evening before when I went to the stand and had him at 40 yards. He was a young 3 X 3 or better 3 X 2 with no eye guards.
I was in combat mode during this time period of spot and shoot. I truly love to spot, stalk and then kill! I have found that the times in the field with difficult shots and I go to combat instinct mode the job usually gets done. I do not think about anything, but the mind has allowed me to react! One can read a book call “Blink” and understand what I am saying. Thinking about a situation to much, I feel that you can make a dumb mistake! Let me tell you I have made mistakes and failed number of times. Being on the ready at all times makes for success.
The arrow did hit his hind quarter on the right side, failed to pass through. During the Hawaiian Field Dressing operation I could see what had happen and I am most surprised, as I have never seen this before. I failed to mention that JR had given me a package of new broadheads to try and just that morning I did put one on my arrow. The broadhead does not look like it could be as effective or un-effective as the Thunderheads I had on the rest of the arrows. The name of this broadhead is Slick Trick 100 gr. Magnum.
So during the Hawaiian field dressing using one of my gifted Gerber Gator knives I find that if the arrow had passed through there would have been pumping out even great flow of blood, but what happen once the arrow hit the flesh it angled back and somewhat down hitting the knuckle in the hip joint pulverizing the ball joint. I have never seen this done to an animal with a Broadhead in all my years of bow hunting. I have seen ribs cracked or cut, but for the arrow to go through that much tissue and still do that at the range of 60 yards is simply amazing. As you know at this time I will be changing in the future to Slick Trick Broadhead. Another thing that arrow flew as straight as if I had shot at 10 yard target. My Onza 3 highly tuned, as all my Martin bows have been. Reminds when I tried Barnes X bullets 225 grain in my Weatherby 340 on an elk hunt and took out the bull at 1000 yards approx (testimonial proof) and he dropped in his tracks. I have never looked back on using the product. Knowing that the product will do the job, if there is a mistake it is usually the hunter! It can be equipment also if you don’t check and make sure it ready to shoot! So my deer hunting for 2012 has come to an end and I now can if time permits to focus on elk or help JR get his archery buck in the State of Oregon!
This story has been posted in Archery Talk, which is a big deal for me to get a story posted!