Tag Archives: Oregon Hunts – Blacktail

Bwana Bubba’s Thoughts – Oregon Coyotes in numbers

Let us not forget about the resilient Coyote that roams all of North American. Ever thought about asking a chicken or duck farmer to hunt the Coy Dogs that will lay in wait free roaming egg layers…

Having recently talked with a ODFW Bio, the news is out that the Coyotes are eating well! There is an over abundance of Rodents and Rabbits in S.E. Oregon. Time for hunters to get out reduce the Coyote numbers if they want Pronghorn and Deer fawn survival in the future!
Keeping this short with an ending comment!
“If you can’t call in a Coy  Dog, you don’t know how to call” (CF)

If you want to find the big boys you need to take out the Coy Dogs!

Bwana Bubba’s Thoughts – You just have to ask!


Just asking you might gain access…


Getting permission to hunt a parcel of land is just like being a salesperson. If you don’t ask for the sale, most customers don’t think you care…   You won’t get the Sale!

2017 is know ahead for all of us to hunt.  The 2nd Amendment is safe.  Most states have the 2017 Hunting Regulations out.  Doing your research early, before having to put your applications can lead to success.  Scouting prior to application deadline and or long before your chosen hunt unit is critical for success.   I write and talk about onXmaps HUNT all the time about being one of the great keys to un-lock hunting success.  It is all true!  To be one of the 10% that take 90% of the game, then you have to absorb the positive and proven tips that are given to to by the successful 10%…

I want you to think about this scenario, you have been driving by a ranch, vineyard, farm, tree farm or just some private harvested timber land.  There are No Trespassing Signs and No Hunting posted on fence posts and trees, with game animals abounding and you notice a number of Coyotes working the area.  The signs have no phone numbers or names.  What to do you ask yourself, there is no way I am gaining access to hunt…  

There are many ways to get it done and as great salesperson you can make it happen in many cases.  First off I would purchased  onXmaps HUNT and have it on your Smart phone,  I suggest to have a Garmin GPS (colored screen-micro SD chip slot) also.

Working the different parcels of privately own properties your interested in, you will know the land owner’s name/names and in some cases the Trustee because you have onXmaps HUNT.   Now via Whitepages, and other public knowledge websites, you can get the phone number.  Relax, take a breath and be sure you have a smile on your face when talk on the phone…

Getting out early to scout prior to the season, you can find the game, such is the case with Rocky Mtn bull that was sleeping.

So many times over the course of life, I meet people while in the field, so asking who owns the land when you see a neighbor, should be no big deal.  Even going so far asking the neighbor how can I get a hold of the landowner is not out of the question.  Many times in the remote area, there might b an old cafe or gas station.  Another great way to gather information.

This Willamette Valley Blacktail buck was on private property that I gained access to. He was harvested the following year from this picture. 3X3 w/eye guards are fairly typical in Blacktail deer.

For many years I drove by a large piece of rural land that was growing wild radishes.  I thought they were weeds. I would see a couple of B&C and many P&Y Willamette Blacktails.  Finally when I got my first sample of HUNTINGGPSMAPS (onXmaps HUNT) from the company, I was able to dial in the future vineyard owner’s name.  I did a little background on the owner to make sure I had the correct person.  I called and told the owner that I drove by his place almost everyday.  That I would love to be able to take pictures of the deer on the property.  I asked permission to be able to photograph first.  It was early May, within  couple of months noticing the Coyotes and that he had chickens and geese free ranging, I called him again, I told him I could help reduce the Coyote population.  Finally in early August I asked for permission to bow for the deer.  I was informed by Michael (owner) that he intended to raise grapes.  In the State of Oregon to have venue events, you need a vineyard…  The following year with a rifle tag and bow tag, I asked if I could hunt deer with a rifle.  That privilege was also granted.  It also help to have a common bond.  Micheal was a Combat Engineer in Nam and I was a Navy Spook attached to the Marines in Nam. Brothers…

You have to remember that not all ranchers, farmers, and landowners are in it monetary when it comes to hunting.  I would bet that if a landowner is approached in the proper mindset, permission would be granted more times than rejected. 

This Oregon Mule Deer buck worked both B.L.M. and private land.

Over the years, hunters that I have met and talked to about the subject, give me back positive feedback.  Yes sometimes  they mend fences, bring a bottle, bring Salmon, ride a fence line, give a knife, buy dinner in town, but that is from the heart to a new friend.  Myself, I have hunted more ranches and farms than I can count. Many have border public land that I primarily hunt or fish during my lifespan! I have never paid cash for access, yet at certain times of the year, they might have something on their doorstep…

Use onXmaps HUNT products to gain the knowledge to gain access to private land.  It also will be the tool to know the landowners that border public land and vice versa.



Frank Biggs aka Bwana Bubba




Manuel Big Blacktail Buck Hunter

A man with the knowledge and habits of Blacktail Deer

Hey Frank’

Manny knows what Big Blackies are and I have seen a few of his bucks!
Manny knows what Big Blackies are and I have seen a few of his bucks!

I just wanted to give you a firsthand account of the late archery deer hunt for the Rogue Unit, this was my second year I participated in this hunt, last year was a charm seen tons of good buck and a few whoppers also.  This year was way different; you see I hunt down on the south slope of the SiQ’s (Siskiyou) near Agate Flats which is surrounded by the Soda Mountain National Monument.  I grew up round there so I am quite familiar with this deer herd.

It appears the word has gotten out, that there has been some great bucks coming from this area and I can tell you first hand by all the people who showed up to hunt this area, the word is truly out about the Soda Mountain Wilderness area.  

Sad Part is; this area will not and cannot sustain that kind of hunting pressure, the bucks I seen this year barely seemed to be rutting but more like running from the pressure, the monument is only a few thousand acres and there was approximately 25 to 30 people hunting it the whole late season, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife need to take a good hard look at this areas late season and put some restrictions on it otherwise we’ll have the same problem with the Blacktails we have with the Mulies

Thanx Manny G’

Mark D’s 2013 Oregon Archery Blacktail Hunt

First off I have known Mark for about 30 years, in the days of Burns Bros., Sportsmen’s Center and Burns Bros., Travel Stops.  Mark and I hunt a number of times in the coast range for elk in those days!   Mark use to make sure that during the days of the Travel Stops we would always have the day old Hostess Pastries for a hunting trip!

Mark now lives out in the country on a dandy piece of Blacktail and Roosevelt habitat land.   It is bordered by a number of timber companies, so there is little pressure from the public!


Not the best picture, but his neighbor shot one of the 7 bulls that came in and it scored 320 Net.  Roosevelt Elk1
Not the best picture, but his neighbor shot one of the 7 bulls that came in and it scored 320 Net. Roosevelt Elk!



This has been Mark D's target buck for 2013!  He decided not to show!
This has been Mark D’s target buck for 2013! He decided not to show!
It was the most unbelievable sight ever for us!   After spending many many hours in the blind in hopes of the monster 4 x 4 Blacktail coming in (before dark) or after light in AM, the second biggest one that I’ve gotten on Trail Cam showed up with enough daylight to get a pin on him.  The waiting in tree stand has been a tough one with extreme global warming that we have here in Oregon in the temperature in the Teens!

Frontal Shot!
Frontal Shot!
My son in law was with me to watch and witness the unfolding of a one in a lifetime shot!
The buck went broadside at 30 yards and mentally I knew my next plan was going to be in milliseconds.
As I was already at full draw, I let my new Mathews Creed go, the arrow hit high and sounded like I hit a rock.  It seemed to pick that deer up off his feet and throw him down like someone body slammed him. Then he roared like a red stag!  Wow! I have killed many animals with a bow over the years but never have spine one until now.
I shifted into panic mode as he was roaring and trying to get up so, I as quick as I could loaded another arrow and with him thrashing, shot again.

Dandy 3 X 3 Columbia Blacktail buck from west Clackamas County.
Dandy 3 X 3 Columbia Blacktail buck from west Clackamas County.
Well he twisted as I released the arrow and got another spine shot, this time in top…  Crap!   Double panic! I run out of the blind and as I approach him to put one in at close range, he lunges at me!   Wow!  Do they have power!  I got as close as I could and got one through both lungs and he soon expired…  Who would ever think that I could have gotten gored by a deer?
Mark D's old time friend and his buck from Mark's Place.
Mark D’s old time friend and his buck from Mark’s Place.
I hope to never spine one again, I much prefer a double lung on the first arrow…………………….
Mark D!
Mark’s 125 grain Thunderhead Broadhead went completely through the buck and severed part of the spine.
The Thunderhead was still intact!

Bwana Bubba’s 2013 Willamette Valley Archery Blacktail Hunt

The opportunity arose, take the shot or pass?

The opening weekend of the general bow (archery) season in Oregon had past by two weeks.  After the opening the bucks had become scarce.  Two of the other hunters Mark S. an Oregon State Trooper Game Division and my son Frankie had taken bucks on the opening morning with great one shot kills.  The bucks for both young men were their first bow kills for bucks and also the privilege of taking Blacktail Bucks, that are very difficult to harvest in the best conditions.

This was taken on 09-07-13 on the cam in the draw.    He only came around 3 times in 6 months!
This was taken on 09-07-13 on the cam in the draw. He only came around 3 times in 6 months!

I had gone out to the vineyard a 90 acre of un-fence land in rural Oregon City – Canby, Oregon area in Clackamas County, Oregon and had sat in the tree stand numerous times in vane.   The year prior it was common to see at least 2-4 bucks during the archery season any given morning or evening.  Even the crop of spikes and does were not coming anywhere near the draw, bewildering mind set.

Frankie my son came out to the vineyard a couple of times. On Monday the 9th of September he came out with me to hunt again.  He had also been lucky enough to draw the Oregon Willamette Valley 615 Deer Tag, which allows you to hunt from September 1st, through to February 28th, the following year.  On this Monday night I would work from the tree stand with Martin Onza 3 that has proven itself well the year before, but this year the bow sight would be the H H A Sports Optimizer with the single pin on the pendulum system.   A sight that forces one to focus on the pin and the target. With the speed of the bow, I usually leave it set for 40 yards when I am going to stalk and 30 yards when I am in three stand.  If I have time for a rangefinder, I can easy move the pin up or down on yardage with my thumb quickly.

Frankie would be packing his recently bought rifle in a 308 caliber.  He would work through the timber and see if he could drive a buck my way. If a buck were bust in a different journey then he might get a chance to get his 615 tag filled.
Both us seemed to get bored without the sighting of any deer during the evening hunt.  With about 15 minutes of light left Frankie came out of the blackberries on the northern sector of the vineyard and I had setup myself working the tree line just west of the tree stand in the draw.

One should have a camera that will take a picture in low light!
One should have a camera that will take a picture in low light!

Frankie’s new rifle came with combo setup scope that would prove to be a problem! He should have taken out his Weatherby MK V with good optics!  You can have a rifle that is over the counter and inexpensive, but one should always have good optics for the conditions which includes the scope mounts!

He texts me that there is branch buck cutting through the grapes (12″ plants) and he just can’t get on him.  At that time I spot the buck, but he is 80 yards from me and just walking along.  I work in to get closer to him and when the buck was at 60 yards broadside, I decide it is to late to get a bow good shot.  Even with the greatness of the Optimizer and the Onza 3, I would have not gotten it done.
Both Frankie and I could not get on him and get a clean shot!

The positive of this, we did see a branched shooter buck, though the buck was not a resident buck to the area.  Thus ended the night of the 9th of September with the sighting of one shooter Blacktail Buck only!

On the Tuesday the 10th, I got off early from work and headed out to the vineyard. Again vineyard is a un-fenced 90 arce parcel of land that is just outside of Canby and Oregon City, Oregon. The deer come and go from many parcels of urual lands in Clackamas County.  I have seen the same bucks when scouting on lands that are about 1-2 miles line of sight feeding in the fields.
I decided to give the tree stand another go and within an hour I decided I needed to do another spot and stalk. The deer just weren’t working the draw like they were the year before.

A different perspective of the this buck!
A different perspective of the this buck!

The taking of a buck in the draw during the opener and gutting the buck near the draw might have caused a problem?  I can’t see why as the coyotes and buzzards had cleaned the bones and any other evidence of the kill within days.
There was not much shooting light left so I decided to place myself next to the treeline that lead out into the grapes plants (young 1st year plants).  As I sat there, glassing, range finding spots that I though figured a buck might emerge from, I got this feeling that I had company and not of the human form.   Everyone has had the feeling that there is something close and in many instances we don’t take advantage of the sense!   In this case I moved my head and noticed a branched buck working almost in the same area that the buck the evening before.  In this case I had a bit more light and knew if I did blow the movement I could get a shot off.

In one fluid motion I move from my sitting position and swung around into the kneeling position.   (The buck had his head down the whole time he was moving through the plants.)   He never made notice to my movement and with ease I pull back my Martin Onza 3 at 72#, the HHA Optimizer single pin sight was set at 40 yards and the pin focused just below the spine.   The buck did not jump at release, as the Onza 3 very quiet!  His reaction when the arrow hit was that of a rock.  He just went down instantly and quivered for just a few moments.   The arrow had gone through his heart!   In my lifespan of hunting I have had this only happen twice before on bucks and both of them had been Blacktails also!  The Blacktail buck most likely didn’t even know he was dead at impact!  It doesn’t happen like this very often, but I will take it anytime I can.   One never likes to have to track game in the dense cover of Western Oregon during the evening into darkness.   A deer can go a little ways and disappear in the Blackberries, which make for difficult recovery on evening hunts.  I have to say when there is a spark of adrenalin, old bones can move without pain!

A descendant of Sticker from the past!
A descendant of Sticker from the past!

Archery Buck 2013  Int

Though the buck was only a 3 x 4 with the single eyeguard and most likely three (3) year, I would do it again.   After opening day it had been tough and one should never have two legal tags.  It makes it tough when your trying for the local stud buck.   The rack is a very tight rack with the main beams almost touching.    His brother the other 4 X 3 with two (2) eyeguards still roams the property.   It appears that he will take up residency on this parcel and surrounding properties.  He is a bit bigger and will make a good buck in 2014!

Since this writing I was a fortunate to harvest the Even 3 X 3 in November of this year!

Even 3 X 3 Blacktail - November 2013
Even 3 X 3 Blacktail – November 2013

Bwana Bubba aka Cobra

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

Average Joe’s Oregon Blacktail Muzzleloader Hunt

This is a great story written by David aka “Average Joe”!  It is about the love of hunting, success and making new friends!   Bwana Bubba

Average Joe tries a Smoke Pole

After last year’s Antelope trip to Wyoming I decided to keep it close to home this year and try to take a nice Blacktail.  This is not as easy as it sounds – these deer are not known as timber ghosts for nothing.  I’ve taken a couple of forkhorns in the past, but nothing bigger than that.   Any buck that made it past his first rifle season is a cagey customer, sticking to the thick stuff and mostly nocturnal – except during the rut.

Bubba hunts as an archer and a fair part of his season is during the rut, but us rifle hunters are out of the woods well before that.  Except… turning to the Oregon Tag Guide, there are a couple of black powder rut hunts in southern Oregon that do not take a dump-load of points to draw.  Also, a couple years ago Bubba introduced me to a Mike, who lives down in that area and might be willing to help me get my bearings.

First step was to get a proper rifle for this hunt.  I settled on a Knight Bighorn, the version that is OR and WA legal meaning it has exposed ignition, no shotgun primers, no pellets, and iron sights.  This was a pretty easy choice as it is stainless / synthetic so it will handle wet weather and has a crisp light trigger with no creep, but the double safety is a bit… different.  I had it CeraKoted to make it extra waterproof.  The notch and blade sights proved problematic as I’m almost 50 and my eyes are not what they were.  This problem was solved with a Williams peep sight.  Time to hit the range!

This rifle did not like round balls.  Past 50 yards the accuracy went off the rails.  I’m told this is because a 1/26 twist is meant for slug and not ball.  Fortunately Thompson maxi hunters shot well in it.  I got it sighted for 75 yards and put a fair bit of time into practicing from field positions to the point where I knew what I could hit and and from what positions out to 100 yards, which was about my limit without a scope.

I talked to the area USFS biologist and he was kind enough to send me a map with some of his suggested areas circled.  Common theme –  South facing slopes with benches.  This being a late November hunt, chances were that many deer would already be concentrating on their winter range.

Mike knew some great places to hunt in this unit and not only offered to scout it with me but was willing to go along on the hunt if his work schedule allowed for it.  Mike is a fine gentleman who not only knows the area extremely well but he is also experienced at hunting thick brushy country and is a world class marksman.  He and his wife Cristine even offered to let me stay at their place during scouting and hunting trips.  They are wonderful people and I can’t thank them enough.

In early October we hit the road to scout and over two days covered over 200 miles of gravel roads and trails.  We saw few deer, but the biologist had told me not to expect them to be in the lower elevations until mid-November.  We marked 6 places that looked encouraging on the GPS.  Mike explained to me his method for rattling in Blacktails.  I had heard about this but never seen it done.  Would this really work?  I sensed Mike might be a bit skeptical about black powder gear (big slow bullets, iron sights and over a minute to reload).  I have seen Mikes skill as a hunter firsthand and could see he was confident – I just hoped I could hold up my end when the time came.

The week before I was headed down to hunt, Mike and Cristine put out some trail cams in an area we had marked as promising.  They saw lots of does while putting out the cams and one nice three point was on camera when they picked them up a few days later.

On of the bucks in the area!
On of the bucks in the area!


Saturday morning had us headed down off a USFS road, down into some oak draws leading to an open meadow in a creek bottom.  We set up back into the oaks and got comfortable and Mike went to work.  He checked the wind with his bottled smoke – very squirrely wind, changing direction frequently.  Then he got out some big shed antlers and started crashing and banging them together, digging up the ground with them, and thrashing the foliage.  Then he would give a few grunts on a grunt call and do some more banging and thrashing and then give it a 15 minute rest before doing it again.


After the second set, Mike spotted a deer headed down the hill toward us.  A little spike wondering why there was a party and he was not invited.  He hung up about 30 yards out trying to figure out what we were.  I had already decided not to settle for anything less than a 3 point, so we watched him circle around us through the brush and finally head out after we assume he winded us.  I’ve never seen a deer come running TO noise in the woods before.  Mike was making a believer out of me real fast.

FYI, these deer are hard to spot in late November as everything in these oak savanna’s is more or less deer colored that time of year.  Mike spots them right  away but it takes some getting used to if you are used to different county.

After another 20 minutes at that spot we moved a few draws north and set up again.  Again with the thrashing and grunting.  After about 30 minutes Mike whispers to me “Deer coming in behind me”.  Sure enough, a buck has been heading down the hill toward us.  He hung up at about 45 yards, behind a little rise, a fat 3 point staring right at us but not sure what we are yet.  I shifted sideways and back through the brush trying to get a clear shot past the grass / brush obscuring his lower chest and the Madrone branches in front of me.  He is facing directly at us, which doesn’t allow much of a target and an offhand shot is the only one the terrain allows.

I got steady on him and pulled the trigger and CLICK!  I had forgotten to take off the second safety.  I re-cocked the rifle, got steady again, and this time got the satisfying BOOM and cloud of white smoke.  Through the cloud of smoke, the buck dropped without taking another step.

Mike A. with David's Blacktail Buck on the ground!
Mike A. with David’s Blacktail Buck on the ground!












We took a minute (and then some) to reload before approaching to examine the buck.  He was very pretty and symmetrical and the nicest Blacktail I’ve had the good fortune to take.  Mike has totally sold me on this method of hunting.

We got the buck dressed out and the meat and head loaded in the packs for the climb back up to the road.

It's me with David and my Blacktail!  Oh! I have my smoke pole with me also.
It’s me with David and my Blacktail! Oh! I have my smoke pole with me also.













The bullet had entered high in the front of the chest and there was no exit wound so after we had dressed out the buck Mike went hunting for the bullet.  Following the wound channel, he found it had gone lengthwise through one lung, raked along the bottom of the spine, and came to rest behind one of the rear hip joints.  After going through 36 inches of deer, the slug retained 270 out of 275 grains and had expanded to almost an inch.

My recovered Bullet.
My recovered Bullet.












This was one of the most fun hunts I’ve been on.  It was a great combination of beautiful country, magnificent animals, learning new techniques, and spending time with good friends.  I’m planning to save my deer points for a couple years and do this hunt again.  Mike seemed to enjoy this late black powder hunt and hopefully Mike and Cristine will put in for the same tag and we will all hunt together next time.  David K.

2013 Oregon Archery Blacktail Deer Hunt – First Time Shooters!

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.

Mark's Blacktail in the velvet!
Mark’s Blacktail in the velvet!
Frankie’s Blacktail in the velvet and how he saw him on opening day, but in the daylight!


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.

As the bucks were moving down into the draw

Mark with his P & Y Buck!  First bow kill of big game!
Mark with his P & Y Buck! First bow kill of big game!

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.

Frankie with his first bow buck kill with the bow and arrow!
Frankie with his first bow buck kill with the bow and arrow!

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.

He still lives and looks to have made it through the rifle season in Oregon.  No one is suppose to hunt this place with a rifle!
He still lives and looks to have made it through the rifle season in Oregon. No one is suppose to hunt this place with a rifle!

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!”

A great hunt that I got to see the hunt un-fold from above!
A great hunt that I got to see the hunt un-fold from above!

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.

Dad and Son teamed up to trace the buck!  4 eyes many times works better than 2!  Hoorah!
Dad and Son teamed up to trace the buck! 4 eyes many times works better than 2! Hoorah!

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.

Bwana Bubba