Bwana Bubba’s 2013 Oregon 615 Willamette Deer Hunt

Before reading this story, I have been told I should have let this buck go another year.  I thought about it strongly!  One never knows if they get to hunt private land each year.  I have been lucky to be able to hunt this land for 4 years.  Another Vietnam Veteran owns the land and I know how he feels when he is in the bush here.   The buck had bred for two years!  He had a gross rough score of 123″.   One can not harvest Boone & Crockett every time in rural America!  Frank Biggs

Hunting success is a matter of timing in movement & being somewhere at the correct time!

A picture of Even 3 X 3 on the western sector of the property!
A picture of Even 3 X 3 on the western sector of the property!

Most stories have more than one part, so naturally this story will also.

My son made a comment to me while he was raising the deer up in the tree with his truck winch.  “Dad how come you always kill something when I am not with you?”  Take time to think about that for a while!

Many of my readers have known that I have been in pursuit of one particular Columbia Blacktail buck that has been named the Even 3 X 3.  Over the last two (2) years I have tried to harvest him via my Martin Onza 3 bow.  First year 2012 I had him near my tree stand and made a terrible mistake when I setup the tree stand with the help of Mark and my son JR.!  It was setup right- handed with no thought about it, and since I am left-handed, plus the fact of staging the deer right to left it created problems in a tight area in the treestand.    Excuses? Yes! But Real!

A short video in early summer of Even 3 X 3 using the same route!

In a previous story during the 2013 regular archery season, opportunity for Even 3 X 3 on opening day was there, yet wasn’t due to a subliminal message not to setup on the Even 3 X 3 at 42 yards.   He surely would have gone down with the shot if I had taken it.   I would have been selfish to say the least, with JR. having 5 bucks at a less than 5-6 yards from his ground blind.  Thus Jr. harvested his first archery Blacktail buck deer!  One of the finest shots I must say as he had the Even 3 X 3 with a pin on his boiler room and moved to the other buck!  Why you ask?  He knew that Even 3 x 3 was my target buck.  This says a lot about my son and his relationship to me!


This was taken in the draw on 11-10-2013  at 1038.  Last time he was caught on a trail cam!
This was taken in the draw on 11-10-2013 at 1038. Last time he was caught on a trail cam!

Even 3 x 3 had not been seen by humans since August 24th of the opening morning hunt, he and the other entire local branch bucks disappeared from the area.   It should be noted that he had only come into the trail cams 3 times in a three month period.   Each time was during the wee hours of the AM time zone.  He would not hang around long near the Cam areas, with few pictures.

JR. and myself went looking for the Even 3 X 3 during the regular archery season, but only saw glimpses of a couple of spikes and one other deer a 4 X 3 with a single eyeguard.  This particular buck and his brother another 4 X 3 with two Eyeguards had shown up twice on draw trail camera from July to August.   All of sudden about two weeks into the archery season single eyeguard showed up twice, once with JR. and he was unable to get a shot on him.    The following evening hunting by myself the buck was on the exact path I had seen him the evening prior.  I was not expecting him and I felt there was something there.  I was on my ass watching another opening in the timber, not aware that he was working in on me.  I get a glance of him at about 50 yards head down.   In one fluid motion I swung around to the kneeling position and pulled up on with the 40 yard single pin on my H.H.A. Sports Optimizer and the Martin Onza 3 bow.   I release and he never knew what or who had hit him.  He went down in the spot he was standing and kicked for only moments with the heart shot.   JR. as usual was very quick to come out to the place and help Hawaiian quarter the buck.

Let’s get back to the story of taking down the Even 3 X 3 buck that I have had an obsession with for two years.

The Ford Escape was maneuvering around the frozen over potholes on the access road to the vineyard, trying not to make so much noise.  My intention before going to work was to reset the trail cams and put in new batteries.  I figured at 0830 there would be nothing moving and I could get the job done in about 10 minutes and get to work and not be the last one there.   Rifle and cameras are all in the back of the rig.

This was taken in August just before opening archery season!
This was taken in August just before opening archery season!

Just to keep things straight I had an Oregon 615 Willamette Deer tag, which is an anything; goes tag from September 1st until February 28th 2014.  This allowed me two deer in the 2013 year with an Oregon archery deer tag and the Oregon 615 deer tag.  I of course wanted to harvest another buck with the Martin Onza 3, but un-expected things happen once in a while.

As I was avoiding the frozen potholes in the gravel road, I see to my right at approximately 150 yards a big buck trotting across the open grass area that lies between the vineyard and the forest.   I wasn’t going fast, so I came to a stop, put the gear lever in park, open the door and leaving it open moved without  losing concentration on getting to the back of the Escape and opening the rear hatch.   Hatch open, I un-zipped the case, slipped out the Weatherby 257 mag., jacked a round into the camber, jumped into the ditch and then atop the blackberry berm.   Trying to find the buck in the timber, I could see movement, but when I first pulled up on the movement, I could not see well enough as I had my sunglasses on.  Quickly they were pushed up on my head and I could see that buck moving from behind a large Douglas Fir tree finally, then he stopped by another Douglas Fir tree in the mist of blackberries!  In one quick movement I pulled down on him with the crosshairs solidly coming to rest on the boiler room, I pulled the trigger (I had been on the ready).  To my surprise the buck dropped in his tracks with no movement. I was using a 120 grain Barnes X bullet hand load!   “Crap I’ve gone and done it!”  The distance to the buck was at about 275 yards + or minus 10 yards.   Not a bad offhand shot freestyle, reminds me of the days of shooting competition in high school.    The buck was the Even 3 X 3 and I knew that mentally when I saw him at 150 yards in first sight, the only buck on the place with a light color rack.

What is really IRONIC about a new mystery is I put that single 120gr. Barnes X (Vintage of the year 2000) into the chamber, with 100 gr. Hornady Weatherby factory loads in the magazine (Jr. buys factory).   I have yet to find any of the remaining Barnes hand loads!  I switched to Barnes Bullet in 1998 and the first time out, I shot a Mulie at around 650 yards and he dropped in his tracks!  In the same year I shot a Bull elk at 1000 yards and it dropped in it’s tracks.  A believer!

Minutes after putting him down.  I did move him out of the blackberries to take the  picture.
Minutes after putting him down. I did move him out of the blackberries to take the picture.

Note:  I am a firm believer in not shooting off-hand unless I have too.   I have a bi-pod on all my rifles when I take them in the field, which these days is not often.    Tree limbs work great when the opportunity arises or going to the sitting position.

Note: This 257 Weatherby MK 5 rifle (Left-Handed) that has not been shot at game for over 10 years.  It had always been a tack drive of a rifle since 1983 when I got it from Gene Ramsey, who bought it from me while I had the Burns Bros., Sportsmen’s Center on Grand Ave., in Portland, OR.   A great time to be a Weatherby dealer in the days of Harry Bane and Roy Weatherby himself!

Again JR. would come to help with the quartering of the deer!  This time he wanted to do old school and gut and take in whole!  Jr. said to me “Dad that is more than 300 yards”, Frankie we will keep it at 275 yards.

This leads to me to the first comment that JR. made in the story!   Many times when the mentor is hunting with the underscore we are not there for personal gain.   Our thoughts are on helping others get it done.  We react differently when by ourselves while hunting or any other activity.   We react to the situation without thought when alone.   Most season veterans have already gone through the process of saying “I saw four 6 X 6 bulls moving on the hillside”, without taking a shot.   This comes with only experience in the field in any hobby! I like to think I am in combat mode!   “Timing and Time are Limited!”

What is great about my Weatherbys' that I have, whenever I have used one, they have always performed.  If I miss, it is me and not the rifle or bow!
What is great about my Weatherbys’ that I have, whenever I have used one, they have always performed. If I miss, it is me and not the rifle or bow!

One has to react to the situation in the moment with knowing it is right!  React with no hesitation!  Never take too long to setup a shot, as WILD Game waits for no one!  Most deer don’t wait for one to setup the sticks!

Meat was dropped off at:  Sausage Kitchen – McLoughlin Blvd

On never knows the full movement of game!
On never knows the full movement of game!

Bwana Bubba

4 thoughts on “Bwana Bubba’s 2013 Oregon 615 Willamette Deer Hunt”

  1. Bwana,

    Great story and I have to agree with you on the Boone & Crockett thing. I know that you have harvested a fair number of Booner’s and Pope & Young animals over the years.

    It is funny the buck as usual looks a lot bigger with the velvet on.

    I would have shot the Blacktail for sure myself and you know how picky I am about taking big game.

    A Valley Blacktail is not usually the same as a Blacktail from the Roseburg, North California or even from the Cascades!

    Great Job! Bell

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