Category Archives: Successful Hunters 2016

Navy Family Keating Unit Deer Hunt

                       NO EASY DAY!                                                                                    

It’s Saturday, October 1st, 4:30 AM. We are drinking coffee, standing around the fire and making plans where we’re going to hunt. It is opening morning and this will be our best chance to take down a nice buck.
It’s the first time we have our two sons, Dave and Scott together for a hunt. They have both been Navy SEALs for many years so we haven’t had this kind of opportunity, and we are all excited to get out in the woods.
Bill, my husband, has been hunting in this area for almost fifty years, so he is our coordinator. (not to mention, camp boss)
The boys will go together on one quad (one they borrowed from their sister, with bright pink lettering) with a boat seat attached to the back for a passenger seat. Real SEAL TEAM equipment! I promised not to post pictures on Facebook.

Do I see a Pink lettered Quad?
Do I see a Pink lettered Quad?

Bill and I will go a different direction on our quad with the boat seat on the back for me, which I love because I sit high and can see deer better.
We left at daybreak and hunted until 10:30 when we met back at camp for a big breakfast and a new strategy.

The boys had actually found a spot that looked untouched and rather promising, so with full bellies and a renewed determination, when we headed back out for the afternoon hunt, they went back to that same spot, which they dubbed “Delmer Pass” ( inside story ) for another look,  and Bill and I went the opposite direction.
Bill and I have been riding in this terrain for twenty years on quads without incident. We have been up and down some really rough trails and enjoyed every ride. We have spotted many deer and elk on our rides. But, this ride was different! We crossed a rocky creek and headed up the mountain, when we came to a crossroads. Do we go on the narrow right, or the rocky gully on the left? We chose the gully…began our left turn and the next thing I remember was Bill asking me if I was alright. He had asked me many times, but because our quad had turned over and I was knocked out on the rocks I didn’t hear him. But as I came to I was aware of a really bad pain in my foot and my head was bleeding like crazy. I asked Bill to please get the quad off me. The poor guy was trying but he couldn’t get his legs to move for several minutes. We could smell and feel gas spilling on us so we struggled together to get free. Somehow we did it and my foot came free. Pain gone!

Bill, and old Navy man and father of the Seals, doing some Marlin Spiking (knots)!
Bill, and old Navy man and father of the Seals, doing some Marlin Spiking (knots)!

He got the first aid kit and cleaned up my bleeding head and wrapped it in gauze, and I struggled to my feet. Together we set the quad upright, and realized our rifles had flown off about ten feet away. Believe it or not, when we sighted them in later, they were still right on
Bill insisted we go into the nearest town hospital and have me checked out, which we did and four hours later we were back at camp with our two concerned sons. No breaks, no stitches……just a small concussion and cuts and bruises. Lesson learned; getting too old to ride on my boat seat and maybe cut back on some of those really rough trails! I love that boat seat, but it has to go……
We all enjoyed a big fire that night and had a wonderful time just being together.

Well we do not see any of the elusive Navy Seals in this picture...
Well we do not see any of the elusive Navy Seals in this picture…

The next morning, those two NAVY SEALs were up and out early on that pink lettered quad, determined to come back with a nice big buck…….it didn’t happen….not for any of us. And that afternoon the oldest son, Dave and I walked through the woods together for about three hours and only saw the bald headed type deer.
They told me in the SEALs they were taught to think like the enemy, so we should think like the deer.( I agreed to do that, which I’m sure they got quite a laugh over) problem being, who the heck knows how a deer thinks? Instincts, instincts!
Well, maybe it worked for them because the next morning our younger son, Scott shot a real nice 3 by 3 on a hillside to their left. They were using the “field of fire” technique. Dave being left handed would be responsible for whatever showed up on the right side, and Scott being right handed would cover the left. They both got him in their sites however because his horns were hidden among the tree branches and hard to make out and they wanted to be sure. He turned his head just right and Scott said “buck!” and sent a perfect shot right through the heart…  By the time we reached them Dave had it all gutted out and they had it tied on the quad.( always team work with them ) We headed back to camp for the pole hanging, dressing out and bagging and bragging ritual……followed by a celebratory straight shot!
They didn’t get a chance to double their score because they had to leave the next day. It was hard to see them go, because we never know when we’ll get a chance to hunt together again. (OK I admit I cried a little)  Best hunting trip of our lives, with memories to last a lifetime.

Help me they are dragging me up the embankment!
Help me they are dragging me up the embankment!

For the next two days Bill and I hunted hard……we still rode the quad most of the time but one day it was down to nineteen degrees at night and really cold in the morning so we took the truck. We drove out to an area to find a place to get out and hunt, but as we are driving along I yelled at Bill to stop because there was two four point bucks right off the road on my side. Our dream scenario! Except for the fact that if I get out and put a round in the chamber those bucks will be gone. So, Bill gets out and goes around the back of the truck, but the deer are in front. He never saw them before they both walked off. We lamented over our lost opportunity as we drove on down the road.
After about four turns I yelled at Bill to stop again……there they were looking right at us, on my side of the road still. I still didn’t think I could get out without scaring them off so I sat still while Bill got out and went around the front of the pickup, off the road and nailed one, while the other ran off. (never to be seen again)
If we needed a bigger hint that we are getting older we got it in spades with this big buck. His body was really large, and a handsome 4×3 rack.
He was lying down in a deep ravine and we knew we weren’t going to be able to pull him up without help so we marked our spot and drove back and got the quad. So, now we have a dead deer, the quad with the winch on it and the pickup to put the deer in. Sounds pretty simple, right?  NOT!  We had to tie the quad to the pickup to keep it from going over, and then there wasn’t enough cable to reach the deer, so we had to keep adding rope and pull, then add more and pull. It took two hours to get it to the road.
Then, Bill gutted it out and we were ready to throw it in the back of the pickup, which was a great idea only the buck was too heavy and we couldn’t get him in there. So, next obvious answer was tying him on the quad, but we couldn’t lift his body up on it. By now we are sweating and exhausted and I sat on the tailgate and came up with a scathing, brilliant idea. Get that buck tied to the front of the quad the best we can, put the ramps down and drive it up into the truck and dump him in. We agreed that was the answer, however, I didn’t plan on me being the one to drive the quad up the ramp but Bill had to hold the bucks body up off the ramp, so I couldn’t get out of it. I said “I’m scared, I’m scared” all the way up that ramp, but I did it. (it was actually kinda fun) If you’re wondering why we didn’t just quarter it out, the answer is simply that we didn’t even think about it until that evening. Oh well!
We got back to camp and thank God the hunters in the camp next to ours were there to help hang it. It took us four hours from kill to camp…… As they say in the TEAMS!  

“The only easy day was yesterday.”

Fran L. 2016

Scott’s 2016 Juniper Pronghorn Hunt

Juniper is one of the premier Oregon Pronghorn Hunts

“I am also a long time subscriber to onXmaps and use it religiously.”

First off..  Thank you Frank for the tips…  As many know the Juniper unit antelope hunt is an incredible opportunity.  I was fortunate to have unexpectedly drawn the coveted tag with only a single preference point.  The news came as a great surprise and the time to scout was severely limited with my prior commitments.  This lead me to some online research and the discovery of the Bwana Bubba Adventurers.  Upon contact with Frank, he sent me some places to look in search of antelope.  This being my 5th Oregon antelope tag, I had set my sights on killing a high caliber animal.  This is my story…..

Scott and son checking out a herd of Pronghorn in the Juniper Unit in Oregon
Scott and son checking out a herd of Pronghorn in the Juniper Unit in Oregon

On to the hunt…  Due to previous commitments with my oldest son, I was unable to make the season opener and did not arrive in the unit until Monday afternoon.  My son and I quickly setup camp, made a sandwich and headed out in search of our quarry.  We immediately headed for a spot Frank had pinpointed for us.  We weren’t 15 minutes from the trailer when I had spotted an animal apparently fleeing a waterhole that someone was driving into.  It was immediately evident the animal was a billie antelope and we fought to get into a better position to see.  We caught up with him 4-5 different times, but every time he was 750+ yards away and we just couldn’t make a good determination what caliber animal he was.  Based on the glances of occasional clarity, he appeared to be a really solid billie with good height and prong length.  This guy’s worth a second look…   The adventure continued into the sage and a few hours passed before any antelope were spotted in some nearby fields.  There were a few billies, but nothing worth watching to see if an exit from private was going to be a probability.  The evening found us trekking across what seemed to be an endless plateau of sage in search of the billie we had encountered earlier in the day.  As we hiked in search of our prey, the probability of killing an animal in 4-5’ tall sagebrush seemed a monumental task.  As darkness overcame us, the billie had gave us the slip and was securely hidden in his native territory.

Day 2 – We awoke early and headed to another location marked by Frank that allowed us to glass in a Westerly direction.  As the light slowly illuminated the desert floor, we patiently glassed a large bowl full of tall sage.  We found one good representative billie in the 13” range with decent prongs managing a small group of nannies a little over 500 yards from our position.   This was an easy pass and we moved on.  The next few hours we drove, hiked and glassed numerous locations to only find a few nannies and two very young billies.  Upon exiting the area we stopped to speak with another hunter whom was struggling to find any antelope in the area.  With this information and what we had also encountered it was determined to mark this spot off the list of places to revisit.  It was decided to head a little further South and explore during the heat of the day.  The road that separates N. Juniper and S. Juniper seemed like a good choice.  After a dusty 4 hour ride in the truck, we determined our choice was less than stellar…  Not a single antelope had been found upon the stretch of road.  We came out few miles North of the Narrows and made the decision to head further South.  After traveling another hour South we made the turn back into the unit again.  The next 10-12 miles were bumpy and dusty, but our hopes were high despite not locating any animals.  Then, all of a sudden we located several animals.  As we continued to glass, more and more of the tan and white creatures appeared scattered amongst the cattle in the area.  The next several hours were spent locating and investigating billies.  By the time the sun had set we had passed on 10-12 billies ranging in size from 8-13” all within a 3 mile radius.  The drive back to camp was long and filled with discussion around our discovery and future prospects.

Day 3 – Again an early rise took us in search of the billie we saw that first day.  Finding a decent vantage point, we set up and glassed the sea of sage in search of the elusive animal.  As the sun rose and the temperature quickly climbed we decided our search was futile.  No animals to be found….  While departing a billie was located off the side of the road seemingly careless of our presence.  Luckily for him, we again were not interested in what he had to offer and we both moved on our separate ways.  Arriving back at camp, we packed a healthy amount of supplies to ensure lunch and dinner were covered and pointed the truck South again.  Arriving at our location early afternoon we quickly located several groups of antelope.  One group had a dominant billie that was definitely coming into the rut and spent all his time head down checking the nannies.  With the heat waves in full effect, it was quite challenging to judge him at over a mile but we again passed feeling he didn’t meet our standards.  A couple miles further down the road another group was spotted over a mile away and we began closing the gap.  Once within 900 yards we took another look from atop a small rise.  It appeared there was a group of billies and one worth taking a closer look at.  We geared up back at the vehicle and prepared to sneak in for a closer look.  Due to the lack of terrain, we struggled to get within 600 yards of the group.  Finally, by crawling on our hands and knees we closed the gap to 470 yards.  This was when we were able to determine with confidence there was a billie in this group worth our precious tag.  Unable to get into a prone position I was far from comfortable taking a shot at that distance.  A small bunch of taller sage was 70 yards ahead and I felt I could get the needed elevation to setup for an ethical shot.  As we crawled toward the sage two additional billies began running in from the East and gained the attention of the target group.  This gave us the opportunity to quickly close the remaining gap and approach our target.  I quickly began setting up for the shot on the bedded billie.  Before I was able to settle in, the other two billies came into the targeted group and put them into alert.  Before I could react the group had quickly traveled away and was now acting very nervous at 800+ yards away.  A quick assessment found that we could access some tall sage and attempt to move close enough for a shot.  As we progressed thru the tall sage the group again became anxious and didn’t let us get within 600 yards before moving off to a ridgeline where they again met up with yet another group of antelope.  Our cover was good and were able to again move toward the group leveraging the tall sage.  The antelope went over the rise and we picked up the pace.  Looking up a single billie had turned back and was now staring us down at 300 yards.  A quick assessment put him at about 13” so we waited for him to move off and we proceeded toward where the group had went.  Just after cresting the ridgeline a group of antelope materialized on the opposing hillside.  I snuck up to a shooting position and quickly picked out the largest billie.  As the billie chases a few nannies It just didn’t look right to me.  At 450 yards the billie just didn’t look right…  I hesitated long enough for the billie to move out of range.  Just as I sat up to scratch my head and figure out what happened, my other billie came out from under us.  He had been over the roll of the hill and just out of site from our position.  He and the others that were traveling with him now joined the other group that now totaled about 50 animals.  The group seemed to be settling down and we backed off in attempt to parallel their position to get closer.  When we felt we were close to parallel we eased to the edge using sage for cover.  Our silhouettes didn’t even break the ridgeline before the large group began moving away again.  We sat and glassed them as they traveled over the next rise…  Quickly deliberating about our next move we noticed another single billie traveling in our direction.  A quick assessment found him to be too small and we decided to give the group one more chance.  The sun had set and light was quickly leaving as we pushed the half mile to the next vantage point.  We crested the top to see them already 800+ yards away and still moving.  We were unable to get within a ½ mile of them.  Aborting the mission we would come back Thursday and try again….  It was a couple miles back to the truck in the dark and a couple hour drive back to camp that night..  It was decided while traveling back we would move camp in the morning in attempt to be closer to our quarry.

Day 4 – We woke early and immediately worked on breaking camp.  On the road by 9:00 we headed to the Narrows.  A quick check-in at the Narrows campground had us headed for our hunting grounds before lunch.  We again saw a few groups of lopes on the way in and decided the billies were not what we were searching for.  Pulling into the drainage we left the big billie in the night before we parked the truck, gathered our gear and went afoot.  After cresting a rise just out of site of the truck we were immediately pinned by some nannies.   The range was 300 yards as we squatted in the open terrain.  Wouldn’t you know it, they were in curious mode and wanted to check us out.  Not knowing what may be behind them we stayed put.  The nannies came to 64 yards before deciding to lose interest in us.  Unfortunately when they did spook, they went the same direction we were traveling.  We rose up and went about 75 yards when we saw the original group of 8 billies from the day before standing 450 yards away.  I saw the one billie that was noticeably larger than the other 7 and knew this was our group.  I needed a better shooting position and found a mound of dirt 50 yards ahead.  The nannies had now joined the group of billies and they were becoming increasingly anxious.  I quickly got into a shooting position on the mound and my son began calling yardages.  350, 375, 400, 375….  The group was unsure on what direction to depart, I had to shoot quick.  I identified the large billie thru the 95 degree heat shimmer and followed him until he momentarily stopped.  At the report of the rifle the lope immediately dropped in his tracks.  I rolled over and gave some high fives to my son as the remaining group galloped away in a dust storm.  Gathering up our gear we headed over to claim our trophy.  Approaching the billie, there was something wrong….  This was not the billie we had hunted the previous day.  In my haste, after chasing him miles the day before and not being able to get within 800 yards of him, I had taken the wrong animal.  The heat shimmer and my haste had resulted in harvesting the wrong animal.  Although saddened by my actions, we were also very happy with having harvested a beautiful animal that is proving to be excellent table fare.  

Success after a long hunt of checking out many on the run. Great looking Oregon Lope
Success after a long hunt of checking out many on the run. Great looking Oregon Lope

Thanks again Frank for your aid in making this a fantastic trip!

Pronghorn from a previous hunt in Oregon

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Derek’s Antelope Hunt Steens 2016

A new predator in the hood has taken a liking to

Pronghorns the Steens Mountains

Derek's hard earned Pronghorn from the Steens Mountains in Oregon
Derek’s hard earned Pronghorn from the Steens Mountains in Oregon

The most frustrating hunt I have ever had!   Left early Friday morning and after shredding a drive belt on the truck in Madras, Oregon made it to The Narrows south of Burns by 11:00 to start scouting.  The plan was to ask landowners to hunt the pivots in Princeton.   After talking to 3 owners I was informed that they had seen very few antelope this year, in the past there where 100’s and were considered pest.

They rack up the missing antelope to cougar problems.  So that said went to 2nd spot Dry Lake just south.  The lake was half full and had multiple camps around it.   Talk to a few campers/hunters and said they too had seen only a few antelope in the area.  My son and I only saw 1 herd of Lopes that were staying around the Round Barn in Diamond on private land with only a very small buck in the herd.

The week before I had talk to O.D.F.W. & B.L.M., Burns, Oregon and all had said the same thing, very good water year and the antelope were spread out everywhere making them difficult to find.

We moved south to New Moon Rd.  Check out the waypoints I was given from Bwana Bubba based on using onXmaps HUNT and my Garmin GPS and did stop at all overlooks and canyons to spot.  Saw nothing, 3 hours later we were at the end of the road at Fish Lake.  Went to the top of Kiger Gorge and talked with a few camps that we set up on the road leaving the view point.  Again no one had seen Antelope.  Frustrated we headed back down and to the HHH road, above Fish Lake to get away from the main road.    Had a very hard time finding a place to set a tent, thought we might have to set it on the edge of the road at one point.   Found a meadow on a spring head right above Fish Lake on edge of private ground.      With the lots of batches of Aspen trees were surprise at the lack of any animal signs.  The Steens seems to be a dead zone with very little wildlife left…

Started opening morning glassing the open basins to no a fail, only a lonely doe across the Blitzen Canyon.  Decide to break camp around 10:30, and headed back to main road.  Came around the last corner and 20ft in front of the truck are 2 doe Lopes and seconds later 40 more crest the ridge in front of use.   I jump out of the truck and go to the back of the truck and the Lopes all cross in front of use at 50ft away; there was 1 very nice buck in the middle of the herd.  They see a fence in front of them and panic and turn around and pass us again, yet the buck is buried in the middle of the group.  As they crest over the ridge he almost gives me a parting shot, but gone.   We run up the road only to see they are circling the ridge above us heading back towards Fish Lake.  We run up the road and rush to the ridge line were I get an open shot at 150yds, but cannot take it as I knew they were on the wrong side of the  fence on private land.   We watch the herds for over 10 minutes, traveling miles to the top of Kiger Gorge where they were fired on by the hunters camping on top.

Frustrated we went for gas in Frenchglen.  Talking to other hunters, all had the same story can’t find Lopes.  Decided to skip going back to New Moon Rd and opted to head to the South Loop Rd south of Frenchglen.  Drove and glassed for a couple hours.  Lots of water holes and all were still wet.  Saw A few other hunters driving and glassing.  After only seeing herds of horses and cattle heading back towards highway 207, our goal was to find small spur round to get off on our own.  At a junction I saw a rancher unloading his quad and hay bales.  Stop and talked to him and was informed he had seen a small group of Lopes every day for the past week right above us working the area.  He suggested a hunt strategy and told us about water holes up the old road he was using.   We did the hunt the spot, saw no Lopes only horses so decided to make camp in the area.  The area was more deer country with juniper trees and draws with open plains in between.

Next morning were up glassing before daylight on the plains above camp looking out towards Hart Mtn.   Saw nothing, around 7:30 I get a buzz from my son who has locate the group in a draw find a mile above camp.   20 mins later I’m in the same area hugger under a Juniper tree watching the group in the draw.  Saw 2 does and 4 yearlings mixed through the Juniper trees at 400yds, after 5 min I see a buck moving in the trees.   My son decided he would move down the draw cross it and get to the other side.  I was afraid they would see him and move up the draw out of range.  The buck was now at 375yds. I decided I better make the shot as I probably will not see him again.   I was getting ready to make the shot when I saw the does; they were closing their distance, walking right towards me up the old road.  Told my son to stay put and turned the radios off.  The does and yearlings passed to my right just 40yds away the buck was trailing, so ended up taking the shot at 60yds, dropping him in his tracks.   There was 10 minutes of per thrill as he closed the distance to me on the road, thought for sure something would go wrong or the does would see me.   Took care of the Lope and broke camp, was on the road by 11:00AM with the Lope in the rear seat of the truck and A/C on high.

Derek D.

Kenneth’s 2016 Owyhee Pronghorn Hunt

Scouting more than 200 miles for Pronghorn

The bluff above my Pronghorn
The bluff above my Pronghorn

Hi Frank
Thanks a lot for directions that you sent me.  I scouted from Wednesday to Friday and cover more than 200+ miles.  Majority of the scouting was in my Ford truck in 4wd low range.  I found a dandy buck on Tuesday morning on the south side of the Mahogany’s running off three other bucks from his 6 doe harem, between water and the bedding area.  This I know, because I had spotted him and the doe’s the day before just as they entered the brush at 10AM.  I camped in my Ford FX4 truck high above them that night and would hunt down in the morning.

My great camp site with my trusty Ford
My great camp site with my trusty Ford

The next morning I worked myself out on the bluff I figured I could find him.   I found him, ranged him in at 350 yards with my Bushnell rangefinder and made the 1 shot kill with my Browning A-Bolt in a 7mm Remington Mag, topped with a Leupold V-3 4.5×14 50MM Gold Ring scope.  Other items in my bag to make the hunt successful were my Garmin GPS with onXmaps HUNT Oregon chip and GIS hunt map.

The bedding area!
The bedding area!

 

My Oregon Pronghorn
My Oregon Pronghorn

Thanks Bubba

Kenneth D