Category Archives: Successful Hunters 2014

Mick’s Silvies #2 Antelope Hunt

 One of Oregon’s Premier Pronghorn – Antelope Spots

Riley Lope 01
A very common sight around Riley, Oregon. The gateway to the Silvies and N. Wagontire Unit. Plenty of circles and the Pronghorns hang close.

Mick’s hunt did not go as planned, can happen to anyone!

Disaster! My help all bailed. I went Tuesday before the opener, camped at store. Highway noise negated sleep. It was 94 degrees and dryer than I’ve ever seen it there but road hunted on Wednesday. Quad was leaking gas so I was afraid to take it out.

Saw a small group later in the day where you had marked them by water. Several people were staking them out. Thursday much of the same! Met a farmer around 4pm, Hoot Raley! Great guy! Took me right to his farm, glassed a herd on his alfalfa field, and spotted a DANDY walking towards field. Snuck down to a spot he knew this lope would cross to, got into position, waited, guessed at about 300 yards, and took shot, missed 6″ high. Circled around to rest of herd, spotted a smaller buck and they spooked. Gave him Salmon hoping to try again on Friday, Hoot never showed.

Saturday took the Quad and followed your map markings to the “T” jumped a doe on the quad, pulled up rifle, scoped a buck on her tail, and took shot even though it was on a dead run, missed 6″ high. Spent the rest of the day on quad, help arrived at end of the day and he got drunk and didn’t show Saturday. Packed up and headed home.

Devastated, broke, dirty and tired. Your directions were spot on and much appreciated. I still wake up almost nightly wishing I could have either shot over again. Still pretty bummed but Sunday morning took a nice little buck here locally as I had to cancel my Malheur trip due to finances.

My dog became sick while Antelope hunting and had emergency surgery when I got back on his foot. Likely has cancer as his health is worse and new lumps on chest and hip have arrived.

But the conditions over there were brutal. To make matters worse the guy camped next to me took a beautiful buck in the same spot I scoped and it was at or near the spot you marked with an “X” to signal the old scruffy buck about 2 miles from the store. But the experience was good. To have shot and missed is better than most. I was surprised at the number of hunters out road hunting but I guess there was a cow bow hunt going on at the same time. I didn’t see any elk but saw several deer daily. I am confident that had I stayed or if the quad wasn’t freaking me out leaking gas, weather cooler any of these things I probably could have tagged one.

The farm incident was frustrating as hell, but a great guy. I should have gotten his number but the fact that he didn’t return told me he didn’t want to share another try. Plus, had he returned and I missed again I would truly be a wreck. The rifle is still sighted in but I know my judgment of distance is off.  The deer I figured at 225 and I shattered its back about 6″ too high.

If one ask they can get permission to hunt near the circles.  Ranchers or farmers do not like Pronghorn as they like to lay in the Alfalfa!
If one ask they can get permission to hunt near the circles. Ranchers or farmers do not like Pronghorn as they like to lay in the Alfalfa!

So I need a range finder, should have sighted in if for no other reason than to be used to the shot. I hadn’t fired it for over a year and might have been jerking the trigger in anticipation of its fury. But as usual in a like situation I didn’t feel or barely hear the shot. I am also confident of the area now but will likely not ever get the chance again. That tag took 15 years and if I get lucky I know exactly where to go.

Thanks again for your wisdom and sorry to let you down but your knowledge was spot on and appreciated. Thanks again.  Mick!

Jake’s 1st Washington Blacktail

A hunting trip into the alpine country at Mt. Adams left us empty handed!    

Jake with his first Blacktail Buck from the State of Washington, near La Center, Washington!
Jake with his first Blacktail Buck from the State of Washington, near La Center, Washington!

I love to be in the woods or on the water, so when my wife Crystal and daughter Grace and I moved from Juneau Alaska back to Vancouver Washington, I felt lost for the outdoors.  People tell me all the time that the Northwest is full of opportunity for adventure and I smile and nod.  Those people never lived in the playground that I lived in.   I have heard it said that when young people experience Alaska it ruins them for the rest of their lives, and I agree.  At some point we will return to the last frontier, but for now I am committed to not be complacent and enjoy the amazing beauty that the Northwest has to offer.   If you haven’t been to Alaska to experience adventure, wait until you are old and grey so you don’t have a huge desire to pack your whole life and move tomorrow.   This is my story of trying to find the ghost of the woods in Washington.  Known by hunters all over the world as one of the most elusive large game animals, the black tail deer leaves many tags unfilled every year.

The adventure began with my friend Seve and I doing some scouting past Carson Washington up in the hills at alpine elevation.   Seve and his wife Lauren moved here from Juneau Alaska as well and Seve and I worked together at the local Ford dealership in sales.   The couple days we were camped out pre-season it was pouring rain and we didn’t see any animals, but lots of fresh sign.   Seve drove up there one more time prior to our much anticipated hunting trip and he found an even better area with lots of sign and good places to tent camp.  The stage was set all we needed to do was do the best we could to find the ghost.

We left on Sunday night after our work shifts ended.   We stopped at the local gas station for some fire wood and snacks and we both vowed to remember this trip.  Seve and I would talk for hours about missing Alaska and how the city was creating a feeling of being caged.  Leaving to drive to the mountains left us both feeling like we were home again.  We arrived at night and set up camp in the dark and built an epic fire.  We both enjoyed the fire so much, and the whiskey, that we stayed up late and it was hard waking up early.  We woke up and were off, but we had misjudged the time and missed our window of darkness.  When we got to the meadow it was already light and we both felt like we ruined our chance of seeing movement.   Through the course of the couple days of hunting it seemed like whether we were hunting the woods, meadows, or alpine clearings, we were minuets too late.  The entire area was filled with fresh sign and we didn’t see a single deer.   After hours of sitting in the woods on the final morning of hunting I was convinced that a tree near me was a deer. The tree branches and bushes around it made me think it was huge; needless to say it was wishful thinking.  The next morning I was processing through the trip while Seve was on a plane to Juneau to hunt on a remote island near Gustavus.   I wasn’t sure if I was going to have another opportunity this season as I have family obligations and a short deer season.

I was talking with coworkers about the hunting trip and my friend and sales manager Kevin Kotrous, started telling me about the multiple deer he was seeing on his property in the La Center area.  He leases out acreage to a vineyard so the deer were coming in eating the grape vines.  I started asking immediately to come hunt his property but was promptly denied because the deer were becoming more like pets to Kevin’s family.  They were also concerned about me using a rifle and when we looked into the law it turns out that GMU 564 is a no rim fire or center fire zone.  I used some salesmanship and let Kevin know I would be using my 20 gauge shotgun with deer slugs.  I also had to promise not to shoot any smaller bucks, and to split the meat.  I agreed to all the terms. Kevin pulled his property up on Google maps and showed me where the deer were coming from and where I should set up in the morning.   I knew that I would have a great opportunity so I maximized it by purchasing some deodorizer spray from Dead Down Wind and I was set.

I was up at 3:00am and to Kevin’s property by 4:00am.  I soaked myself in the spray from head to boots, and I also applied some camouflage face paint.  I walked through the dark rows of vines to the spot that Kevin had showed me on the map, but I was concerned that since it was dark I may not pick the right spot.  I found an indentation in some blackberry bushes and I sat down. It was lightly raining and the sun was not going to come up until 7:00am, I was in for a long wait.  I would adjust positions carefully when my legs would lose all feeling.  The entire time I was sitting very aware of my noise and breathing.  I eventually found that sitting cress cross was more comfortable as I was haven to lean slightly forward because the blackberry bushes were very loud when they would stick to my coat and not pleasant.   The other part of this equation is that I only had a small zone I could fire into because Kevin’s house was directly in front of my position across the field. I was also nervous about using my dad’s childhood 20 gauge shotgun as it only has two beads to aim with and I didn’t have an opportunity to sight it in.  I was in and out of sleep when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye.  I was startled to see two does within about 10 feet of where I sat.  My heart was racing and the deer were just staring at me.  I remembered what my friend Frank Biggs (the great Bwana Bubba) told me and I closed my eyes.  It felt like minuets but it was really only a few seconds I opened them and the deer were eating grape vines no more than 15 yards in front of me.  The deer had not been able to determine what I was and they deemed me no threat.   I counted three more does that came by me the same way and each time I closed my eyes and put my head down and the deer just continued on eating as if I was not even there.  I had been in the blackberry bush over two hours and my body hurt but I was rushing with adrenaline I had never been this close to Blacktail deer.   I was startled by a loud snorting sound coming from behind me and I became very alert.  I was peering through the edge of the blackberry bushes when I saw a beautiful sight, at no more than six feet from where I sat a nice sized two by two buck staring at me.   This buck was more intent on me than the does and I shut my eyes and put my head down.  My heart was going so fast and I felt my left hand shaking.  The buck was in line with Kevin’s house so I couldn’t even put my gun up to my shoulder until the buck was in a better position; I felt it may not happen.  I kept my eyes low looking at his hooves and he began to eat the leaves off the grape vines.  A few minutes went by and this buck walked back toward me and away from the house.  I raised my dad’s trusty shotgun and the buck froze in his tracks.  The impossible had happened I had a beautiful shooter buck at less than 15 yards broadside.  I aimed my two beads behind his front shoulder and I fired.  I saw blood spray out as the buck turned to run into the woods, I had a clean shot.

A short after the harvest video!   PRESS HERE The deer where still coming around after the hunt!

I stood up very shaky and full of adrenaline and I heard Kevin’s voice from his bedroom window, “did you get him”?   I didn’t realize it but Kevin was in his room with binoculars watching all the does file through and right when he had started getting ready for work he had heard the gun shot.   He walked me down a hot cup of coffee which I was extremely happy for.  We followed the blood trail into the woods until I couldn’t find any more.  Kevin was out ahead of me walking through the woods drinking his hot coffee like a captain surveying the battle field and then he found the buck.   Kevin had me pose for the picture with my first black tail buck and it was a proud moment.   Kevin then turned and said,” I am off to work, have fun”.   That was when the real work began.

The moral of this story is that going after deer of any kind in the mountains is a magical experience, if you find them.  I learned that by gaining access to private property I was able to see more and tag out for the year.  I was still able to drop the meat by the butchers and get to work only an hour late.   Frank Biggs then helped me dress out the scull.  I am appreciative to my friends at work and to Kevin for letting me hunt his property.

Jeff’s 2014 Antelope Hunt Maupin-W. Biggs Hunt Units

This is another great story from a Pronghorn Hunter who waited the years to get a great tag!
Frank, here is my story and pics, the buck was taken on private land in the Maupin unit!

This year I was one of the lucky ones to draw an antelope tag for a unit close to my home. Since living in the area my entire life I knew the better antelope areas would be on private ground and would require gaining access to those areas, so the homework began. Having friends that own ranches in both units made access fairly easy, but finding a descent buck to take was not such an easy task.

What great Mass this Pronghorn!  It is all about the Mass!
What great Mass this Pronghorn! It is all about the Mass!

Since I had to work opening weekend I could only dream of chasing big ole lope bucks, and this was not easy. Monday and Tuesday I focused on a few agricultural areas that always held a few antelope, and while I saw a few descent bucks I knew the area held some bigger bucks and continued to hold out for that special buck I had waited 12 years for. Wednesday I changed gears and hunted close to home, with a tip from a rancher about a dandy buck he had seen a week earlier. Excited and ready to seal the deal I got an early start and headed out to the area that the rancher had seen the buck previously. The weather was fairly cool in the morning with a strong breeze blowing from the South, and rain clouds threatening to pour some much needed moisture on the dry ground, wow I thought to myself this feels like deer season. As I proceed through the gate I see 12 doe and fawn antelope running down the road in the direction I’m heading, I was thinking to myself that this is already looking good. Feeling motivated and ready to see a good buck antelope I park the pickup and head in the direction of some newly planted fields that the big buck was spotted last. I stopped at a fence-line that overlooked the fields, and glassed down the draw towards the fields and saw a few antelope milling around. Being close to 1000 yards away I made my way down the draw for a closer inspection. As I got closer I could tell there was an exceptional buck antelope lying down among the others, and knew this is the one I had waited 12 years for. As I made a plan to crawl and hide my way closer to the buck I wished I would of brought my knee pads, but had so much adrenaline pumping through my body I really didn’t feel a thing.

As you can see there is little Public Land (BLM).  It is best to get yourself lined up with a rancher.  This mapping would help to find someone!
As you can see there is little Public Land (BLM). It is best to get yourself lined up with a rancher. This mapping would help to find someone! The MAUPIN unit for sure lacks, the West BIGGS unit has some huntable Antelope BLM.

As I was working my way closer to the buck I realized he had gotten up and was chasing the other bucks around and feeding in between sparring matches. I was running out of cover and came to a slight rise in the terrain that allowed me to get a perfect rest and range the buck at 305 yards. I decided that this was as close as I was going to get, and set up for the shot. I placed the cross hairs on the buck’s front shoulder and squeezed the trigger. As the recoil of my 257 Weatherby came back the old buck dropped in this tracks. I took a moment and thanked GOD for such a fantastic opportunity, and taking such a great buck. As I walked up to the buck I couldn’t believe the mass of his horns and that this beautiful animal was mine. I spent a quiet moment with the great antelope buck just admiring him and taking in the moment.

The hunter with his great trophy.  Doing the research, brings rewards!
The hunter with his great trophy. Doing the research, brings rewards!

The bucks horns measured 14 1/2″ Long, with 6″ Prongs, and a little over 7″ Bases. The buck holds his mass all the way to his 3rd quarter and has lots of character. I couldn’t have asked for a better antelope hunt and realize how lucky I was to experience this rare opportunity to hunt pronghorn in Oregon.   This buck is very close to being able to make Boone & Crockett!  Depends on the 90 day drying period! Jeff H.

Ken’s 2014 Warner Unit Antelope Hunt – Oregon

The following story is one of the best that I have read on an Oregon Pronghorn Hunt.  As you can see Ken is a man of detail and the results show!  Thanks Ken!

“Hey Frank,

I would like to share my hunt experience with you since that’s the condition you gave me when you helped me with advice, locations and mapping.”

Kens Antelope 2014 Int 01
A great Dinosaur of the Warner Hunt Unit! An awesome hunt with action and lots of Antelope-Pronghorn to few!

The first phase of my hunt was preparation.  I had 12 points and decided it was time to quit doing point savers and get into the hunt.  I prepared an antelope worksheet, which I have attached.  My criteria were significant public land, a projected draw range around 12 points, and a high harvest percentage.  The Warner Unit second season looked like a good possibility.  Next I searched the internet for hours looking for any information on Warner.  I didn’t find much, but nothing negative and the general consensus was a good number of bucks, although maybe not the next B&C record.  Then I found the Bwana Bubba website and made contact.  You sent GPS waypoints and I managed to get them into my Magellan GPS and Topo! software.  Also at your recommendation I bought the Oregon Hunting Maps premier subscription from onXmaps HUNT for my iPad.  No cell service but I had pre-cached the maps and the iPad GPS worked like a charm.  Excellent suggestion and worth the price.  I also called and spoke with your friend Craig, the ODFW Bio for the area.  He was very helpful and I had enough information to decide to put in for the tag, which I drew.  After drawing I drove down and visited Craig in Lakeview.  We went through the maps I’d printed and we strategized the four main areas to hunt in order of preference.  The #1 area based on water and animal count this year was from about Luce Lake north to just above Colvin Lake.  There were also some springs still running in Coyote Hills that made that #1A.  The northernmost section of the unit was so dry this year the antelope had moved down to the area I hoped to hunt.  I spent the rest of that day driving around the unit to get the lay of the land and headed home.

The next phase of my hunt was learning about Antelope hunting first hand.  I borrowed my friend’s Rhino and trailered it into my chosen hunt area late the night before season.  I slept in my rig and was up early for opening day.  It took a couple hours to find the goats but as I got within a few miles of water they started appearing.  The main area I hunted was around Colvin Lake and north and east to Cement Springs in the Coyote Hills.  As I was driving down a road (road means you drive on the same big rocks as everywhere else but the grass is shorter) I came across a hunter packing out a beautiful antelope – the consensus of guys who later saw it was 82-83 – and gave him a ride several miles back to his camp past Colvin.  I tried to put the sneak on a group I saw heading into water at Colvin but hunters were already set up there so the shooting began before I got there.  I headed out to other areas and saw bucks other guys had taken and chatted with the State Troopers cruising through the unit.  Late that afternoon I travelled back in towards where the guy with the big goat had been and sneaked into a lake about half a mile long north and east of Colvin (see google earth picture attached).  Throughout the day I had seen just one buck on the hoof but I spent time practicing sneaking in on the does to see what worked and practice my skills.  Now down at the water I watched as one, two, three and then four herds came to water.  I noted the time they showed up and the locations, as well as their behavior.  This was my first antelope hunt and I needed all the intel I could get.  I checked out a fair number of antelope through binos but observed no bucks.  After some time the herd furthest away (about half mile) showed some activity and in the binos I saw some chasing going on.  Interesting.  Then I noticed one of the lopes had a prominent black cheek patch.  “Hey – that’s a buck!  And I can see horns at half a mile!”

The final phase of my hunt was the stalk.  Because there were some junipers and pines along my side of the lake I eased back to their outer edge and started heading down towards where the buck and does were.  Covering distance on that terrain is not quick and I needed to be careful so as not to be spotted.  By the time I got down to the opposite end of the lake all I could find were big-eyed cows staring up at me.  I couldn’t find the herd but as I looked into the distance across the sage there was a nice buck.  I hit the ground and kept watching in the binos as he was a quarter mile out, alternatively grabbing a bite of sage and trotting away.  He was nervous but could not see me as I had the setting sun to my back.  I watched him over the horizon and consoled myself with the thought he’d be back tomorrow at the same time so I’ll come an hour earlier.  I headed back to put glass on the other herds, by now moving away from the water.  It was at that point I thought I should at least walk the country the buck had gone into so I was familiar with it in case I needed to go in there the next day.  As I walked out across the sage, I saw him coming back towards the lake.  Again I hit the ground.  He cut the distance between us, moving from my right to my left heading towards the lake.

Kens Antelope 2014 Int 02
A closer look at Ken’s mature herd buck!

The sun was now quite low and every time he went behind any sort of bush or tall scrub I bent as low as I could and cut whatever distance I could.  I kept my shadow pointing at him as he moved so the sun was always in his eyes.  He just ambled obliviously towards the lake.  I figured in all the excitement he forgot to get a drink of water and was heading back.  When he went behind some scrub trees near the lake I moved as far forward as possible and figured I was at 150 yards from having ranged things earlier.  Then I saw why he went back – there were three does heading toward him from the lake.  Now I was in trouble, though, because there were a lot more eyes and they had a better angle on me.  As I reached forward to flip out the bipod on my rifle in preparation for a potential shot, all three does busted me.  They took off running from my left to my right across the sage.  The buck took off running behind them in the same direction.  I knew there were no people the direction I was shooting and had no time to do anything but take an off-hand shot at a running antelope.  So I pulled up standing and located a small juniper tree ahead of the does, putting my cross-hairs on its right side.  As soon as the does ran behind it and came out the other side I counted running antelope through the scope, “One, two, three…” and timed the movement of my rifle so I was already swinging to the right just as the buck came into the crosshairs.  I squeezed off one shot and watched as the antelope hunched, staggered several steps, and fell to the ground.  The shot felt good, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was surprised.  The 180 grain .300 Win Mag went through both lungs, and I couldn’t be more excited.   I had just enough sunlight to get some pictures before the work began.

The bottom line is this: Thank you for the great help – the hunt would not have been the success it was without it!

Ken Dixon – Professionals Pursuing the Perfect Project

Ken’s Check List:     Antelope Worksheet 2014