The Oregon General Archery Season Opener proved to be a successful opening day hunt in the Willamette Valley for Blacktail Deer Bucks’. Neither of the two young men had every taken a Blacktail Buck with the bow and arrow!
The anticipation of the 2013 Oregon Archery Season Opener had been a very exciting anxiety brain thought for me.
Having myself wanting to target two (2) different bucks during the season, I was ready for the opener on August 24th, 2013. There would be two (2) other hunters hunting the small parcel (90 acres) of un-fenced land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in the Clackamas County zone outside of Oregon City, Oregon. Neither of the other two (2) young bucks (Frankie or Mark) had ever taken a buck deer with the bow and arrow. Considering the Columbia Blacktail deer is one of the toughest to hunt, the odds are lowered. One hunter was my son Frank Jr. who has been hunting since he was 12 years old and the other hunter Mark S. one of Oregon’s finest… Both are experience hunters with the rifle and have taken Mule Deer, Blacktail Deer, Elk and Pronghorn. Mark would be hunting from his treestand at the far end of the property in which he can view the vineyard that the deer were still working over during the year. Jr. would be in a ground blind in the same draw that I was in, though I would be in the treestand. This year Jr. would be hunting for the first time with a 2013 Martin Rytrea Alien XT and also for the first time the HHA Sports 5519 Optimizer Bow Sight. All of us would be using again for the second year the Slick Trick 100gr. Broadhead.
Anticipation by all was at its highest with all of us to harvest a Blacktail buck, since we had many bucks working the area. At times it would seem we would have an atmosphere of a buck pasture, as does working the area lacking! Just before shooting time, I get a silent text message from Mark, “they are all around my tree”. My thoughts were of course those of jealousy with him getting first lick on a buck. Legal shooting time was upon us and I get another text message from Mark “Elfi is down, I smoked him”. Now I had a bit of relief that he did not take the Number 1 Blacktail on vineyard and there would still be a chance in the future.
Mark text me again that he would stay in this stand for an hour to wait on the deer and give us a chance.
Now the story gets really interesting, as Mark’s last text comes in, I see a lone deer moving through the tree to my left at a good pace. Thinking back the deer was running a bit erratic. This would come into play in about an hour of this sighting! It is now about 30 minutes later and I spot from the treestand about 4-5 bucks in the Douglas Firs, just milling around across the gravel road from the draw. I see they are moving to the North and there is an opening in the blackberries. I knew at this time they deer were heading into the draw. The bucks and a couple does go out of sight as they go around the blackberries, travel 30 yards down the gravel road and turn east into the draw. Quickly sending Jr. a text that they were coming towards him and too be on the ready. The action is about to start, as deer are under my stand coming from the South and I can see the bucks with does coming from the West into the draw.
I am just mesmerized by the movement and the amount of game upon us. I have my Optimizer set at 30 yards in anticipation of the bucks coming into my open shooting zone. The deer are on top of Jr.’s ground blind and I just sit there watching the action and not wanting to standup and get ready.
The big Even 3 X 3 is at 42 yards from me, if I were to shoot at the easy shot, the arrow’s flight would have to zoom between Douglas Fir branches and then over the top of Jr.’s blind. All the deer just stop at this point which is 2 – 10 yards from the blind. They know something is up at this point, but still wanting to move down the draw to the creek bottom. All of a sudden one of the bucks looks into the only open window in the portable blind. The buck has eye contact with Jr., (should have had sunglasses on) snorts and bulks. With that movement Even 3 X 3 and all the other bucks and deer are gone in a flash. I was mistaken since I could not see one of the bucks that remained. A Forked Horn with Eyeguards (only buck that is still in velvet) stands his ground at 5 yards from Jr.’s blind. In my mind I am saying shoot, what are you waiting for Frankie! A split second later I hear the report of the arrow hitting the buck in the zone. The buck walks off directly away from him, turns and jogs about 40 yards and the rest is history!
As for myself I am still stunned that I did not take the shot, but there was something in my mind that told me not do so it. Reasoning or Mind Drift? Quickly I am out of the stand congratulating Frankie and he find his deer in minutes. You ask why Jr. didn’t take the Even 3 X 3, same question I asked him! “Dad that is your buck that you have been chasing for 2 years, I wasn’t going to ruin that moment!”
After finding Frankie’s buck from a good blood trail within a couple of minutes, taking pictures and High Fiving, Frankie now tells me that we need to help Mark find his deer. This happen to be a work day for me and want to get one deer Hawaiian Quartered and then worry about Mark’s buck secondly! We do go over to Mark who was coming back to the truck to get rid of his gear. His buck had not dropped out in the vineyard. We all went back to help him find his buck. A most difficult venture at first as there was little sign of blood to track. After about 15 minutes I told Mark we would be back, as we need to get the buck taken care of now! Mark informed me and Jr. that he had called his Dad, Dan to come and help.
As you read this you wonder about Mark’s hit on the deer. It will be another story once Mark gets it written, but from the video he had taken, it was a good hit and finding the buck would come. We get Frankie’s deer done in about 30 minutes Hawaiian style of quartering, taking only the meat out.
Get with Mark and Dan, as they found some more blood. Telling him about the deer I had seen moving through the trees just after his shot, proved to be the positive outcome of finding his buck. The deer have had the habit of escaping or when hit to travel down into a deep canyon on the farm, that I did not even know existed until January of this year. As soon as Mark and Dan hit the deer trail at the top of the canyon the blood trail was very heavy, but not without the buck expiring in the in heavy cover. The dandy Pope & Young Blacktail buck didn’t travel more than 300 yards from the stand, though he made an oval track circle to the right, then straight into the canyon.
Frankie’s buck was a really nice Velvet Forked Horn with Eyeguards, with great sylemtry. Mark’s buck was a very tall 3 X 3 with Eyeguards and would make Pope & Young. It also was the buck that I had put an arrow completely through in 2012 that did not affect the deer. Strange as there were no signs once skinned he had ever been hit, yet we have pictures the day after in 2012 of wounds on left and right side.
At this writing Even 3 X 3 is still alive waiting for the rut to find him. Since opening day he has only been seen 3 times, twice on cameras at the wee hours of the darkness in the morning and once during the general rifle season out in the open field!
It is great that the two young shooters found their marks on bucks to give them the confidence of the bow and arrow on big game.
In the State of Oregon, bowhunters have greater amount of time and opportunities to hunt for big game.