Tag Archives: deer hunting

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.

Mike’s 2013 Deer Hunt – White River Unit – Oregon

Mike is one of my neighbors that I have know for about 17 years.  He has hunted the area for many years and knows it better than anyone else that I know.   While turkey hunting near the same area this past year he had an encounter with a Cougar.   Having seen the Cougar and missing him, continuing with his turkey hunt in a dense and steep area, the Cougar stalked him up close and personal.  This time the Cougar the was the loser of the encounter.   I greatly appreciate the following story of his 2013 hunt, when most were complaining about the opener state wide being a mess with rain and high winds.   HOORAH FOR MIKE!

The Cougar who thought it could eat a man with a gun!  30-30 Winchester Model 94 did the job!
The Cougar who thought it could eat a man with a gun! 30-30 Winchester Model 94 did the job!

It was a windy and rainy day on this opening day of deer season 9/28/13 in the White River Hunt Unit just above Mosier Oregon.  I had decided to start out high this time and walk down hill, for the most part anyway.  I got myself into the woods just before day light and was sitting under a tree watching it rain and all I could think about is how last year the weather was the complete opposite, clear and hot.

This is going to be the year for a big one.  When I was able to see me way through the woods with about 50 to 75 feet of visibility I started my hunt working the Old Hood River-The Dallas road that has been over grown for years.  If you did not know the area would not even now what you were walking on.  I made my way out of the bigger timbers and into the scrub oak.

At this time now it was around 8:30 or 9:00 am and I am wet through my rain gear and starting to feel like this is going to be a long day trying to keep the wind in my face as it was changing directions what seemed like every 5 min.

A great picture of what looks to be one of Oregon's Benchleg Bucks from the Cascades!  Mike's Opening Dad Buck 2013
A great picture of what looks to be one of Oregon’s Benchleg Bucks from the Cascades! Mike’s Opening Dad Buck 2013

That is when I saw some movement in the brush about 65 yards in front of me. I crouched down to where I could just see over the brush when I spotted this beauty. He was broad side looking right at me.  What was going through my mind was I was going to hit a branch, but if I waited too long he was going to be gone so I let it go.  So when I saw him hunch up I knew I had hit him. He ran about 30 yards when I heard him crash!  I could not wait to see him up close so I started walking his way rather quickly and low and be hold he fell right on the edge of one of the so called roads that I had mowed down this last spring for hikers and bike riders to use, so I was able to drive the truck right up to him, that never happens.

God is Good, All the Time!!!

Mike Witt

Great Eyeguards on his 4 X 4!   We call this a Benchleg, then again it could be Blacktail Buck or a Mulie as the mix it along the Cascades!  Hoorah Mike!
Great Eyeguards on his 4 X 4! We call this a Benchleg, then again it could be Blacktail Buck or a Mulie as the mix it along the Cascades! Hoorah Mike!

Bucks are Rattling In!

Showing off his buck to the boys down in Springfield Cablea's!

Thought I would share this picture of a first time bowhunter and first harvest with the bow outside of Springfield, Oregon. The hunter rattled in 3 bucks one being a forkie x spike, this 3 x 4 and a monster buck that would not come into him, but did come into 54 yards to his daughter who was also hunting. She did not take the shot as her bow was only sighted in to 35 yards… It was a great hunt for daughter and father with success and a buck that only went 75 yards!

I believe that the buck was taken on the evening of November 24th, 2012!

Shot was at 30 yards through the front shoulder!