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)
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…
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.
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.
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.
Thoughts go back to my early days of hunting elk with a rifle and bow. I would rifle hunt in the eastern part of Oregon for Rocky Mountain bulls, while bow hunting was in the western part of Oregon for Roosevelt bulls. So those early hunts to the east were about going into the timber and waiting for elk to come by within shooting range. One thing I never did was to build a fire to keep warm, but my uncles all did it. I remember on one hunt Uncle Floyd was deep into the pines up near Texas Butte. You could hear him cough, as he was a smoker, plus he had his fire going. That was something that his sons and I would never do. Low and behold a nice respectable 5X5 came by his fire and he put him down… So in the western part of the state, we would go into our favorite spot and walk pockets listening for elk movement and try to get in close enough to get shot. They never seem to do the calling like Rocky Mtn. elk would do. This process of hunting worked for us in those days.
Getting to the basis of this article about chasing elk down as I would put it came about some years later when we were bowhunting the rimrock, juniper and sagebrush of central Oregon for big mule deer bucks on the B.L.M., National Forest that was bordered and encompassed with private land. One particular deer scouting trip prior to the opening archery season, glassing at a mile into a basin we could see from our observation point while looking for the famous bucks of the Big Muddy, we spotted elk, not just one elk, but about 12 bulls, all being branch bulls.
This launched our elk hunting in this country for more than 20 years and still to this day when I have time. Spotting elk from distance does give you an advantage; this has led to least at 85% average of getting elk this way for me, partners and others within the hunting circles. I will say that in the early days, GPS and mapping (software) was nil. Most of the guys I hunted with were all past military and few of us still in the military, so venturing into the so call unknown and reading the land was pretty easy going.
I have found glassing ridges, hillsides, shaded areas and even into basins on an afternoon after the average hunter has headed back to camp and settle down for the late afternoon and evening happens to be my favorite time to glass for elk. The country is vast with B.L.M. and National Forest for miles in all directions. You have been glassing for about 30 minutes and you spot a group of elk which you feel is about 2 miles away. You can see with your binoculars there are some pretty good bulls in the herd. They are just grazing, with a few bedded down. It is said by most that we have probably harvest more elk in the afternoon after 1PM, than ever in the morning hours.
It is now to setup a plan to get onto these elk, as it is about 1400 or 2PM in the afternoon with visibility of at least a mile.
Getting this plan underway in the 21st century is so much easier with Garmin GPS’s and onXmaps HUNT mapping software and being able to dial in the lay of the land with precision accuracy, sort of like getting 10X’s on a target during a shooting tournament…
First off, I would have my Garmin GPS, with the Montana being my favorite which is loaded with my onXmaps HUNT PLAT map. Seeing that there is a peak off in the distance between the elk and myself, I can judge the precise distance to the elk with the mapping and GPS. The maps are up to date and show the private, federal lands, state lands and other.
The second thing I am going to do is install a number of waypoints, such as the peak and the proximity of elk as I see it on the map.
Now I take a look at the topo aspect of the terrain with my GPS and my eyes, working on a quick plan to cover the distance to within a ¼ mile of the elk. The elk appear to be very comfortable were they are and I feel they will settle down in the area for part of the evening.
Personally I have always felt to cover the ground quickly, whether I am running, sliding down a hill, but always slowly down coming up on a rise. Many times I personally feel that mistakes are made by taking too much time getting in the zone of the elk.
During my pursuit I am mentally thinking how I am going ambush the elk. I also assume that the elk will be close to where I had made sight of them. If rifle hunting, the thought of the ambush will be different than if I am bowhunting the elk as to how close I close the distance. I am a loner, but if I have a partner, he is going to be in my shadows normally, but under the same game plan. I am in combat mode when working this scenario during the hunt.
Along the way I have checked my GPS and even put more waypoints, which gives me a mental picture, plus I have setup estimated time to get to my final observation point, whether a vantage point above or even level eyesight.
Now if I am rifle hunting, I will be on the ready and try to have a vantage point within my comfortable shooting distance. A great deal of time that doesn’t always happen, but I have set this stalk up the way it works for me. I know my weapon or rifle of choice that I use on elk and I also know the capabilities of its shooting distance and putting the elk down.
When it comes to archery, I am more of a stalker of elk too within shooting range, a great deal depends with the elk, being in the rut or not, but I always have cow call and a bugle if I am going to work the herd and bring a try bull in.
With the technology of GPS (Garmin) and onXmaps HUNT mapping software, the hunter can pinpoint the game. As said before, my thoughts have always been to move fast and not worry about being careful about foot noise, until I am within a ¼ mile. In reality this is one of the funniest ways to hunt down an elk in my opinion! My partners and I have taken many bulls over the years by hunting this way.
Native American Tribal members have the treaty rights to hunt on all public land anytime!
Since this article has raised a great deal of eyebrows from Native Americans, let it be written that the poachers are not the majority of Native Americans. This article is also based on Oregon and not other states. Since all that is written has backup from hunters, I will leave it written as it is. One other question, how many of the Native American Hunters are 100%?
The hunter may be unaware of illegal activity, unless it happens in the area he or she is occupying. Those of us who have spent a great deal of time in the field hunting, fishing, hiking and camping have chronic knowledge about big game poaching. I never paid attention too, was the fact that the Native American has been subject to poaching for a long time on off-reservation public-private lands. I thought poaching was done by outlaw hunters capitalizing on the opportunity of out of season, night hunting, closed lands, horn hunters or other illegal means to get it done. There is an old saying in life “if the janitor talks about it”, usually is true, in this case law enforcement officers have talked about it, besides eye witness to the incidents.
My son during the 2015 Rocky Mountain Elk big game hunt in Oregon, in a hunt unit made up of B.L.M. land (limited road entry) and private land, he and his hunting partners, it came apparent that there is a problem with poaching of big game with Native American Tribal Members, hunting off-reservation involvement. Opening day in this limited entry by road area along the John Day River, the group were stopped by Oregon State Police Game Officers. They had just finished a hunt from hunting from the top fence line down to the river, when the OSP Game Officers confronted them. They were asked numerus times about the poaching of a large bull elk and the wasting game meat, plus severing the rack off. After three times of the direct accusations and rebuttal comments back, the OSP Officers backed off. The hunters now had open dialogue with the OPS Game Officers’ of what they had encountered.
Knowing my son and how I have mentored him to hunt and visualize the out of place objects or situation’s, noticed that things had not been right all day in the hunting area. His group was the only elk hunters that had made a camp in the area, but there were a couple of other vehicles that were in area, traveling all over the open roads and the hillsides (off-road). JR took pictures of one particular pickup that had no good written all over it. The OSP Game Officers thought it was strange that he had done this Intel, but later the tire tracks matched the tire tracks at the kill zone. Since JR., has friends that live in Madras, Oregon he is well aware of the Tribal members and their appearance.
Cutting to the chase on the “elk hunt from hell” as my son would put it; there were 6 mule bucks and 1 bull elk that had been killed on private along the boundary fence. A great deal of meat wasted, all the racks had been sawed off. The MO was the same for all the game animals that were within 100 yards of each other. The deer carcasses were stacked up on each other. Plus the fact the animals were shot prior to opening morning. A great way to have a hunt ruin with a special opening day for a selective group that the Federal Government has given special privileges too prior to the regulated Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife opening day.
There was a great discomfort with the poaching; the private lands around the B.L.M. were now being patrolled heavily, plus legal hunters being watched around the clock by the land owners that scanned the hills with spotting scopes and binoculars. With all the activity, there was not going to be any elk harvested by legal hunters. The elk had moved into non-road areas, deep into rim rock of the interior on the private land.
So have any of you ever read the Treaty of June 25, 1855 for Tribes and Bands of Middle Oregon. Treaty, you find that the Warm Springs Indians are subject to only their laws and rules when it comes to hunting? The Game Commission is the tribal council and not the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Tribal members can get their tags from Human Resources free. Then there are the ceremonial tags that they can get when a tribal member dies of 3 deer and 1 elk. My understanding, though not in writing that I can find, the numbers might be greater. In the treaty tribal members can hunt on any federal lands, basically anytime… In thought, I suppose they have to kill 3 deer to make one, since they are only taking the choice meat, (blackstrap & hindquarters) sort of like the tendency of the Wolf when it comes to consuming. You have to make note that Indian Reservations are a sovereign nation within the boundaries of the United States of America. Oregon State Police have not justifications on reservation lands.
“Cultural hunting” shall mean the exercise of traditional, ceremonial and subsistence tribal hunting rights.
I would like to make a comment, if it is about cultural hunting, then why not hunt in the cultural method of the past with bow-arrow or spear, this way at least the game has a chance. Plus in their traditional ways of the past it would have been by canoe, horse or walking, not by a red Toyota Tacoma or white T100 Tundra pickup. When you can hunt basically year-round, when the deer, elk and other big game are in the wintering grounds with little chance for escape, I truly have a major problem with a treaty that dates back to the 1900’s. Times change and market hunting has long since left this country. This is the 21st Century, no longer the 19th Century with misguided or outdated privileges. Game populations cannot withstand over hunting and with little regard to the state’s big game laws. Hunting tags are normally regulated by the ODFW in this state from census on game during the winter months and harvest counts.
Oregon State Police Game Division find it extremely difficult to control and prosecute the tribal members guilty in game & fish violations on non-reservation lands. Public law enforcement cannot enter Tribal lands to catch the guilty. I found a great comment that the federal government (enforcement) has little to do what goes on with the 326 land reservations in the United States of America. In the State of Oregon there are 9 Federally-Recognized Tribes with 100 different sub-tribes within the 9 tribes.
For the most part the crimes within the Reservations are handled by Tribal Police. My turn on this is in relationship to non-reservation lands: “is a crazy quilt of jurisdiction that allows the government to ignore things.” “How did things get this way in a country that’s not only on but within our borders, and what is being done to fix them?” The answer is two words that come up as often as “with impunity.” Those words are, “It’s complicated.”
I have no problem with subsistence hunting at all, but why is it in the instance that all bucks were taken? How does in the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife set the quota’s for hunting or even fishing the following years? Oregon State Police Game Division have their hands tied and spend a great deal of wasted time, trying to find the culprits of the violations that are Tribal members. This is about hunting off reservation at their leisure, a luxury that non-Tribal citizens do not have.
I have talked with un-disclosed Oregon State Police Game Officers Retired and this has been going on in their lifetimes. Within the game unit non-reservation lands, those that border Tribal lands, it extremely tough, as tribal members can enter from their roads into these hunt units and exit. From what I understand there are only few Tribal police on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, north of Madras, Oregon.
Over the years, I guess I was just blind to what I saw in the field at times or on the river banks, such as fishing net with 100 plus rotting salmon, 100 yards downstream from a hatchery… An eyewitness sees and hears that 30 undersize sturgeons are taken on the Columbia River by a Tribal Member, remembering other American citizens cannot fish for sturgeon on the Columbia River. When asked by the OSP Officer why, the comment back was “they taste better when smaller.” Another recent incident that was given to me by reliable sources, 2015 2nd season Rocky Mtn. Elk hunt in the Heppner Unit, Tribal members sell three branch bull elk to white hunters for 100 bucks each, using a pickup truck with hoist to load into the hunters trucks. 2015 1st season Rocky Mtn. Elk in the Heppner unit, hunter sees a pickup with a hoist in the back and wonders, what the heck is that for… If you want to read about game violations on the Oregon State Police Game Division section on their webpage, you’ll see that there seems to be no arrests on Tribal Members. OSP Game Officer’s seem to have there hands tied in this great astoristy of Oregon’ big game animals being dwindle by blatant poaching by a few.
There are many incidents of poaching by Tribal members that the public is un-aware of, such as the 9 Roosevelt cow elk remains, with the heads left at the sight along the upper Siletz River on the Oregon coast off-reservation National Forest lands during the late archery season. They had been taken with a rifle.
One last incident of poaching by the Tribal members hunting off-reservation with the killing of 9 mule deer does out of a ranchers hay field. This information is first hand from a rancher in the West Biggs Hunt unit when I called him last week about Tribal member poaching. The Oregon State Police Game Officers were called in. There was not much OSP could do to the Tribal members, other than criminal trespass on private land. The rancher did not want to press those charges…
Most think that the Warm Springs Indian Reservation only encompasses the parcel off of Hwy 216 and Hwy 26 in Oregon. Well this is a very large chunk of land on the east side of the John Day River that borders BLM and goes un-checked with access from tribal members. The Warm Springs Indian Reservation has more than 1 Million Sq. Miles of land, making it the largest in the State of Oregon.
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife is very lenient with tags that go to the Tribal Game Commission. In the Siletz & Grand Ronde reservation area, 25% of the allotted tags for a hunt unit within or near the reservation go to the Tribal Game Commission.
Basically all the Tribes in Oregon have the same basic Treaty from the 19th Century. The Klamath and Modoc Tribes and Yahooskin Band of Snake Indians even have a treaty. From my readings they can hunt any land that might have encompassed the original lands, which is approximately 2.2 million acres that they roam for more than 14000 years. All the years I spent hunting the B.L.M., National Forest and Sycan Marsh area for Pronghorn, I rarely saw deer in a deer rich environment. I understand that within the 21st Century these tribes just might get their heritage lands back after the Federal Government force them to be vacated with a payoff. In this case the descendants will be the winners.
I will give a defense for the Native American, it is said that the On-Reservation resident Tribal members are poor and have little. Food for thought comes from a recent set of photos of a Deschutes River Bighorn Sheep that was harvested by a Tribal member. What I saw in the pictures was a bit disturbing. I saw no meat on packs in the pictures and I did see a full-curl broomed off ram, that the head was severed at the neck joint. In point no meat (I am sure they boned out every bit of useable meat into tiny packs), but better yet, if so poor why would you have wasted a large full shoulder cape most likely worth at least a $1200.00 and a life size cape around $3000.00 to a taxidermist. So for about 45 minutes to 2 hours of capping, one could make some fast cash.
In my opinion non Native American Tribal citizens of Oregon, plus the non-resident big game hunters, need to stay attuned to what happens in the field. I don’t believe, unless Tribal member poaching on off-reservation public land is stopped while in the field there is little that can be changed.
In order to get become successful in hunting for big game you have to put your time in, learn about the conditions of what you are hunting. Finally you will become one of the 10% that harvest 90% of the game! In the future Octavian will be one of them!
I first want to apologize for not writing you back for so long. I had a very stressful and busy year since the last hunting season. However, the 2013, bow hunting season reminded me of the great time you made possible for me to have in 2012. I truly enjoyed the experience and action I had hunting in the locations you gave me last year and cherish the memories. Thank you so much.
As I told you before, I have been working on passing the Bar exam and making a living. There was no way I could have been able to scout the land in order to have a good hunt.
I ended up hunting only 2 of the 3 locations you gave me in 2012 (Keating and Pilot Rock) because I had some car problems. Both of the locations were amazing. In 2013, I was able to make it out to the Pilot Rock and Starkey locations for a few days only. I was not successful during any hunts but I did have a lot of action. Below is a summary of the hunts.
2012 Hunt: Keating Deer-Elk
This place was amazing. There were times when I felt like I was at the zoo. This place was packed with animals. We even came across some wolf tracks the size of my palm. But the wolves did not scare the deer or elk away form the area. For that matter they did not scare anyone away-this place was packed with people. This made it hard to find a place to sleep and hunt.
This was the first hunting location I went to and I was not sure how to use the GPS. So it was touch and go. Furthermore, I only hunted this area one day because the transmission on my car went out the next day. Regardless, it was a lot of action for one day.
I tried to make my way to Two Color Lake. I tried to reach the GPS location from the north but it was packed with people. That’s why I decided to try to get to it from the south. So I took roads down and around making my way to Two Color Lake. But I’m not that good with the topo map. As I approached Two Color Lake on the road that leads to it, I ran into some steep, steep, steep, terrain. I made it up as far as I could with the car and then set up camp. I basically made it about three miles south of Two Color lake.
I literally had a hard time not slipping down hill. About 30 min into the “mountain climbing” I realized why I was the only person in this area as opposed to the north side.
About a hundred feet up the road, I ran into about 10 deer scattered around the area. This was an amazing deer spot. But I did not get any shots at a buck. I’m sure that if I would have stayed there all day I would have got a buck. But, I was compelled to move on toward the elk.
I made it to a split in the road. To the right was Two Color Lake, to the left was the Pass. I decided to follow the wolf tracks to the right for a little then departed from them. At this point I was at about 6,800 feet elevation. It was late in the day, around 2pm.
The open grasslands soon turned into forest. The forest soon turned dark and cool covered with lush vegetation. The ground was literally covered in elk tracks and droppings.
After calling a little and walking around this area next to Two Color Lake I was face to face with a spike elk. It was about 15 feet in front of me. It jumped and turned around, and ran about 50 yards away. All I could see was its head. I had no shot. As I sat quietly and tried to make this spike elk believe I was just a cow elk, I realized I was surrounded by elk. They soon took cover. After about 15 min of calling, the spike elk barked at me and ran off and with him the rest of the elk I did not see.
This was the second and last area I hunted. This place was also a zoo. There were a lot of elk. I hunted right underneath and towards the Private Property near the location marked “Elk Hot Spot.” This location was steep and hard to hunt. Furthermore, it was packed with people.
However, I had a lot of action. The elk in this location seem to be very aggressive and call a lot. It’s almost like they know people cannot reach them on the steep slopes.
I called in a 5×5 trophy but since I was so exhausted from walking up the hill and calling, I could not draw back in time to get a clean shot off. He saw me and ran down the steep terrain.
In total I saw about 4 bull elk in this location. But since it was so hard to hunt and because of other hunters I did not get any good shots. In fact this location is known by some very aggravating hunters. They come in on the weekends and act like the forest belongs to them.
On my last day of hunting this area I was calling a bull in and a gunshot from someone close scared him off. Furthermore, an airplane flew in close. It came down in a clear cut next to the private property fence and scared away a herd of elk which I had been following the entire day.
2013 Hunt – Pilot Rock
This year was very similar to the last but I only went out for one day here. The place is loaded with elk and hunters. I brought a large bull elk about 30 yards away but could not make sure he was a bull until it was too late. I then walked around until I couldn’t chase another bugle. Some were from real bull elk, and some from other hunters. I was able to spot a large bull on a ridge over but did not have enough energy to walk over.
Finally, I walked to the nearest bugle. As I got closer, I heard another bugle. The second was a group of 3 hunters. I didn’t know until I spotted the elk herd on the other side of them and I was within 20 feet of them. I walked into the open and let them know I’m another hunter. They seemed to be angry at me, but I was the one who just spent morning to night walking the steep terrain. Either way, I had a good time.
Here, I hunted the “Elk Park” location only because I did not have enough time to wander around. I did not see any signs of bull elk at the Elk Park. However, I did see a 4×4 bull elk about 5 miles east of the Elk Park as I was driving out on Highway 52. I did run into a lot of cow elk (about 15 in total). There were a lot of bears in the area. One crossed Highway 51 near Highway 52 and I saw a lot of bear droppings and tracks.
Sincerely, Thank you,
The knowledge and experience of these locations changed my life forever.
It was the best hunting of my life. Octavian Dogar
P.S. – My father has not been hunting for a long time since he has been working very hard in this troubled economy. This year he has drawn an elk tag and I was wondering if you could give him some advice too.
When it comes to hunting and phases (cowboy-mid life) that we all go through in our lifetime of hunting is sometimes very interesting. I have always had wonderment about horses, having worked on getting my Merit Badge in the Boy Scouts at Camp Baldwin up near Dufer, Oregon when I was a kid. On that outing of two (2) weeks, it was all about having the horses jump over logs and riding a Palomino. The idea was to lay back on the trail so the wranglers wouldn’t see us doing so! By the way, the Palominos’ weren’t the best horses on the trail. It only took me some 20 years later to get worked up on horses again!
I would like to say that Czar was the wonder horse of all! He was in the aspect of his hunting skills, which included the ability to climb and never wanting to stop. I would have to turn him downhill so he would take a rest! Lower the ramp on the horse trailer and he would come running and load up! He was not a fast horse by any means, but he did get there always! Czar had the ability not to be distracted by the blood of game, or anything else that might be on the trail as a distraction. When I first had Czar I took him up to Pilot Rock on an elk hunt up Little Pearson Creek. We came upon a fresh Cougar kill of a deer on Government 80, the snow was about a foot and half deep, Czar walked up to the kill and smelled it, then moved on!
Czar came into my life after renting horses to hunt the Steens Mtns., in Southeast Oregon in the mid eighties for deer. It was a real mess on that hunt with the rented valley horses, with there inability to work the east slope with mountain trails, or load up on the trailer. The horses would want to work you up against the fences with one mounted on them. It had to be the worst time on a hunting trip in my life. The hunt, which should have been a great harvesting hunt, turned into nightmares. This included having to chase a loose horse around in the sage brush at Hampton Station at 1AM! The man that rented the horses had told me they were hunting horses of the best quality as was the horse trailer made out of an old Rambler axle. It was all crap, but than there would have been nothing to talk about if it had all gone well! I had to go back the following weekend and hunt McCoy and take a buck using the old truck!
Talking about that hunt with my Uncle Dave and that I needed to get my own horse for hunting, Uncle Dave said he would sell me Czar, as he now had a younger horse called Brandy for his hunting. I knew that Czar had hunted Texas Butte and Madison Butte in the Heppner Unit in Oregon for elk. He had packed out many elk from Texas and Madison Butte. A deal was made and I would pull Czar from Uncle Dave’s place in Oregon City and take him to Madras.
I quickly went out and got a two (2) horse trailer, trade a rifle (Colt AR-15) for all the tack that I would need. It was great to be running a sporting goods store and having all the right vendors to work with. Including having a special scabbard made for my left-handed Weatherby Custom 340. I still have that scabbard today some 25 years later. I made arraignment with a rancher in Madras, Oregon to leave Czar. I was told in those days that you got to take the horse out of the valley and turn them into a mountain horse. The great thing about Madras place was there were always rimrock, water and feed for horses.
I did most of hunting for deer and elk in the Pearson Creek area outside of Pilot Rock a great deal, but had drawn my first Snake River Elk. I would be hunting on the South End of the unit and would hunt north of 32 Point and go into Summit Creek. I was fortunate to have a customer that wanted to hunt the Steens and traded information on the Snake with me! The first year I was un-successful in harvesting a bull, but the following year I harvested a good bull that won the pool pot (280 bucks). I had made a very long shot (won’t give you the distance as you won’t believe me) on the bull and he was on a steep hillside in Summit Creek. It took me more than an hour to get to the bull some three ridges over. I had to finish him off in his bed (long range round had hit him in the neck) on the steep hillside with blow down. I tied the rack up so the bull would not slide and get stuck in the blow down, so I could quarter him out. After doing so I ran, yes ran up the hill to the ridge road (marathon runner) to get Czar. I got Czar down close to the elk, I had ground tied Czar which was a great mistake, and he slipped and went down with both front legs over trees that were down. Quickly pull the lead rope knot and got him back up to shack off the experience. I had to move Czar to a flat spot on the trail about 100 yards away. Like I’ve told you all he was a great horse with character! I had gotten new bags for Czar and loaded up the quarters, still having a head & rack with the backstrap and tenderloins to get loaded up. My buddy Ben Olsen came along with my other horse, one that was given to me by an old boss. Ben was always a hunting partner that knew what was going on and could read my mind. It was the first time for mare to be used for hunting and she did pretty good getting down into Summit Creek with Ben leading her down to Czar. The rest of this story in the Snake was not so nice, with the mare balking over a tree limb and flipping over backwards and rolling down the hill. Ben was on her fast and un-cinched the saddle. She got back up on all fours, but in the end I let Czar go and he led the mare out of the canyon with the loads. When Ben and I finally to too the top, Czar and the mare were standing at the trail-head. Many times while hunting in the Snake, I had left Czar on the Ridge Road in the timber and hunted the canyons below. He would always be easy to find, as he seem to know when I would get close and I could hear him neigh.
Czar never let me down in the 10 years that I had him! Czar made a number other hunts with me up at Wild Bill’s place up on East Birch Creek. Wild Bill was an old time horseman and rancher, so horses was the way to go. Of course it was required to pack a six shooter side arm also. I once loaned Czar to old Chuck Megeske to use on an elk hunt out of Heppner. He and his party had 8 cow tags. They hunted in the snow and Czar drug all the elk out from what Chuck informed me with pictures! I think he was feeding his Care Home folks with all the elk meat though!
When I started to hunt the Grizzly Unit in Oregon, Czar was not longer needed and I sold him, the Mare and all my tack, including the trailer to an old hunting buddy MJ. He used Czar for guiding for about 4 more years and finally retired Czar to a mutual rancher outside of Ashwood, OR. His daughter needed a 4-H horse during her High School years in Madras, Oregon.
The modes of operations for hunting the Grizzly Unit was either walk in or use a Quad to get from point A and B. Spot the game and go after them in the sage, juniper and rimrock on foot!
Hunting the Snake River Canyon in N.E. Oregon is for those than can shoot!
Years ago I loved to hunt for elk in the Snake River Canyon. I had a couple of horses that were for great riding and as pack horses. It was nothing to see bulls at long range during the season and try to find a way to get to them or shot long range shots.
The picture in this post, was one of those long range shots. I wish that I had more pictures, but can’t find them. I had hunted the year before and missed a big bull as I hastily taken the shot without getting setup properly.
I had trade hunting spots with a fellow named Randy Krupe. He wanted a place to hunt in the Steens Mountains and I wanted I wanted one of his elk the hot-spots. So I got the hot-spot near Tee-Pee Springs in the lower part of the Snake River.
I had found a great observation spot to glass for elk. This spot I had found the year before and I knew I would have to hustle to get this shooting rock and got there about an hour before first light.
As usual when dawn is breaking and your sitting there waiting, you have tendency to fall asleep as the temperature drops. Kinda weird how this happens! I had spotted a couple elk prior to this, but they were cows on the move. I told myself as I slapped myself that I could not fall asleep and not get the first lick in. Well this did payoff, but barely.
About a 1000 yards off, or three ridges off in the distance, I see the flash of horn. I quickly use the spotting scope and could see a branched bull. He is broadside in a down timber patch. I said to myself what the heck, I can’t kill him if you don’t take the shot. After the first shot, the bull turns and heads uphill and stops standing straight away from me. I figure at this time I need to aim between the horns and hold about 48 high or so. There was no wind and I had a great rest. I also know that my 340 Weatherby with the 210gr. Nosler would get there. I love this caliber for long range shots on elk. The Snake River Canyon is known for having to shoot cross canyon! At the sound of the shot, the bull was no longer standing. As the distance was great and I did lose sight of the bull. I felt that I had hit him and I would need to work my way over there. It took about 40 minutes to hit a game trail that would allow me to get into the patch. As I approached the area and was about 150 yards away I could see the bull bedded on the steep hillside in the down timber.
The bull’s head was up, but he could clearly see me, but wasn’t getting up. I was able to get a clear shot and put him down the rest of the way. Under inspection, I found my original bull hole in the neck. It had touched the just about everything in the neck.
Getting the bull out is another story about working my old horse Czar and almost losing my other horse on the pack-out.
P.S. There were 13 of us in an Elk Pool, with 20 bucks a head! It was based on points and not B & C Scoring. It was my lucky day!
There was has been a time period when I did rifle hunt for elk, as most of my partners were into the rifle hunting of elk. This particular story is about a great rifle hunt for Rocky Mountain Elk in Oregon. The hunt involved my brother Steve and one of my running partners Frank Phillips.
Frank Phillips and I had drawn Grizzly Hunt Unit -Oregon second season elk tags and poor Steve had not drawn the Grizzly tag and ended up with a general season tag and would have to hunt the Biggs Unit that lay across the rural Highway 218 that split the two units.
In those days those us that hunted the B.L.M., State Lands and some private that were encompassed within or near the “BIG MUDDY“ or to my group named the “Rajneeshpuram“, kept hunting the area as quiet as we could. Not wanting it be known about how many elk lived in the rimrock, Junipers and sagebrush land that was overgrazed by cattle in and around Donnybrook, Ashwood, and Antelope closely guard for many years. The “Bhagwan-Shree-Rajneesh“ and his followers were to thank as they kept more than 60,000 acres closed to hunting, managed the creeks, built lakes and planted crops. I believe we first sighted Elk in about 1983 while bow hunting for the monster Mulies of the area, while glassing back at the at observation towers of the “Rajneeshpuram“ (tower had 365 degree viewing, plus sleeping area for the guards).
On with the story that started with Steve and myself meeting Frank in Madras, with him being dropped off by his wife as she was heading to Black Butte Ranch outside of Sisters, Oregon. Keeping a low profile we got a couple of rooms in Madras at Huffy’s Motel easy to come and good to where we were hunting (45 minutes).
Since Brother Steve was going to have to drive down to the lower part near Clarno, Oregon and head into the BLM or maybe even Sorefoot, he would be dropping us off for our hike into the interior. We started out at about 4:30AM by being dropped off at the Microwave Complex on the road and we would check out the main basin near the “Baily Ranch”. The first part of the hike in would be about 4 miles of downhill with lots of rocks to maneuver through.
In that country when it rains the going get rough as the soil is more like clay and most difficult with caking up with as much as 4’ on the soles of your boots. Now both Frank and I were in great shape running as much as 30 races a year and putting in about 150 miles a month running. If it were today and kicking our legs out to get rid of the mud, probably have to have knee surgery. It was tough and one wonders what the heck we were doing and why not wait for the ground to dry out. We had the land to ourselves and during the whole hunt never saw another hunter. A well-kept secret, plus most want to hunt first season to get first lick on the big bulls. Little do they know that the big bulls get pushed out of the National Forest to the south of this area? So easy for them to find refuge in this open country where they can lay and watch there backside.
We reached the basin that is near the big pine, the only big pine in the area, pretty close to the head waters of Current Creek. We did have access to a number of ranches in those days. Funny all of the land owners are now gone or dead, thus today much of this is not hunt able except with hard cash in the form of 10K or more. The B.L.M. holds elk still, but not in the numbers it once did with the predation from the Cougars, plus all the fires on private land has changed the landscape and habitat.
As for numbers, let me tell you about the 250 plus elk that were spotted by Rick Baily once near the lake. After 2 hours of working into the grazing herd, Rick and his buddies were able to take 9 bulls. This area is B.L.M. and one can sit above this place near Horse Heaven and glass for hours and never get bored!
So we are in the basin and I am starting to glass, as I know the area well and would find the bulls. It is the same spot about 3 years prior that my partners got there a few days early and decided to scout, though my advice was to scout and leave it for the opener. I believe that M.J. made comments on that opener day that they jumped 16 big bulls at the black rock. Oh! Yes! At times one would not believe the bulls that we would find!
My binoculars are Bausch & Lomb Elite 12 X 50. I love big glass with light gathering capacities as that is what I need in the early and late afternoon while glassing canyons and draws. It wasn’t long before I spotted a real nice bull, I would put him at about 320″. Since Frank was my guest, I gave him first opportunity to take bull out. I figured the distance to be about 375 yards and since he has taken deer at great distance in the Eagle Cap of Oregon, it should be no problem. Funny he asked me a question on “how are we getting this bull out of here if I kill him?” Not a problem with the quad for me! Now Frank is sorting out if he wants the bull and I was looking for bigger bulls as this was going to be the last time to hunt with a rifle for me for Elk.
He did not take the shot on the bull and I am sure he was worried about get the bull out of the basin. Some years earlier M.J. killed a bull in the same basin and ended up rolling his quad and having it and the bull on top of him. So the bull survived and with hindsight, I should have just shot the bull and got it over with early.
So now I am wanting to go cross country and head towards Earl’s place near Hwy 218 and that was about 6-8 miles line of sight. We did go cross country and it took a great deal of time, as we were getting tired of stopping every 300 yards and kicking the mud off of our boots. It really sucked and we were not seeing any elk on the way, only big bucks which did help take the mind off of the mud. Lucky for use Earl had a few pieces of land that connected, as we did not have permission to hunt David D. or Lowell F. Ranches.
Now we have gotten across the DMZ and were working up into in Cold Camp Creek on our way to Maupin Butte or Hasting Butte. There was a section prior to Maupin Butte that held a lot of Elk and Mule deer. There was always running water from a spring, plus the good grass that grew in there. We were now getting the chance to use the river bed to move and no more mud. The rain had stopped some hours before and the ground was getting firmer for us.
As we reach the first draw, we were quick to spot three bulls moving quickly through the trees, with one being a rage horn and the other two being spikes. Then came along a couple of decent Mulie bucks and finally a brave coyote taking up the back of the group! At this time I figured there was someone else coming from the Cold Camp Road to the West?
We let things settle for a while and then started to work down the draw and get up on the plateau and glass again. All of a sudden I spot a big and I mean big bull with about 15 or so cows. As I am getting down to take aim on this bull that was at some 600 yards plus I hear Frank say “now if you miss I kill him with my 270”. I wanted dearly to take the shot, but with those thoughts in my mind and the conditions not in my favor, I decide to let the bull drop over the plateau. He was not going anywhere and I could find him easy.
Now I was shooting a Weatherby Mark V Left Handed Custom in 340 Caliber, 26″ Magnaport barrel, Leupold VariX II 2.5 X 10 50MM and cranking out a 210gr Nosler Partition at about 3300 at the muzzle. Not a problem for long range shots. That rifle is still around and is one elk slaying rifle and I can tell you elk have fallen at distances I can see with the naked eye.
So now we are on the move and have gotten on the other side of the plateau and figured the bull was just over the edge. Ah! No bull or any elk around! We made it a couple of steps more and I spot an elk up in a draw off of Maupin Butte at about 1200 yards I figured. The hunt is now on and I asked or more like told Frank to head to left and I was heading to the right and straight forward once I got some cover. It was long as I was running so Frank would not get to the spot before me, he gave up his chance and it was my opportunity to tag the bull. I made it to what I thought would be the best place to have cover and equal height to the bull, but it would be a cross canyon shot. When I get there it is about 5PM or close to it, low light and what I see is a side profile of a big bull. All I see is antler mass and I am on the ground without looking at this point tri-pod down and taking instant aim at the bull that is at around 625 yards. I put the crosshairs on his back and let it rip (the 340 is sighted in at my standards at 500 yards)! I hit the bull in the boiler room, but he didn’t move! The cows made quick escape of the ridge! As they say if it isn’t on the deck, keep shooting. I take another shot quickly and hit the bull in the left front leg above the knee; he now of course falls over as he is on a side hill. Now one has to remember I only saw the side profile and figured it was my big bull I had seen earlier. Frank P. and I reach the bull at the same time! “Damn, it’s the wrong bull! Great mass but the bull had a bad pedestal and the left horn was all distorted and rolled back in! I pulled my tag out and tagged the bull!
The first season, my old time hunting buddy Ben Olson had taken a bull about 10 miles to the southeast at Horse Heaven that had the same issues, his had the right horn with a bad pedestal and the left horn was a massive six point. We did need to get the gene pool out of the area.
Now while we were quartering the elk and capping him, old brother (younger brother) was hunting in the Biggs Unit. He had run into old Mary M., who had a ranch on both sides of Hwy 218, who told him a monster bull that was in her place crippled up. I can’t believe that he did not ask permission to kill the thing. All I know is he worked the line below here fence line looking for the bull. She had told him that he appeared to be heading to the river (John Day). He never found the bull!
It is now coming on darkness as we would have to meet Steve at the gravel pit (which one you ask?) at exactly 6:30 for pickup. With my Hawaiian style of quartering an elk we had the elk capped, skinned and bagged in 45 minutes. With a quick hustle off the mountain, being able to hit Earl’s access road to the Maupin and Hasting Butte we came to the gravel pit at 6:30PM and Steve was there on time for pickup.
We were tired and needed to head back to Madras, get showered up, eat a steak and relax for a while. Frank P.; say “we can get the bull out in the morning”. I said no we get the bull out tonight or I will. I remember Frank P. looking at me a strange way!
We got back and get a hot shower; head over to the restaurant at Huffy’s and have a real dinner. All pain is gone, the temperature is dropping (31degrees) and full moon is now out with the sky opening up to stars and the moon. I got Steve on board and Frank P. is now in favor of getting the bull out at night and being able to hunt for his BIG bull in the morning. There is still was that monster bull in the area for him to take.
We reach the gravel pit at around 10:30Pm, un-load the quad, Steve left the area to go sightseeing and try to talk with Mary M. and try to get permission to hunt her place in the Biggs Unit.
Frank P. and I take the road up between Maupin and Hasting and hit the fence line which we now follow-up as far as we can. Thank goodness the moon was out as we weren’t running with lights, needed to keep the secret of the hot spot. Earl hated quads anyway and only let them be used once in a while… We make it to the spot and quickly load the quarters and head onto the quad. Frank says he will walk back down and I tell him “nobody walks, get on and hold on”. The whole roundtrip took some 45 minutes and Steve was back for the pickup on time.
Steve did not get permission to find the bull on Mary’s place! We get back to Huffy’s in about an hour. Take the bull and put it the shower of one of the rooms. We did not want anyone knowing we had taken a bull. Plus I did not want to haul the elk around with us for the next day’s hunt.
Sunday was going to Frank P.’s day and I would get him in on the big bull for sure. We got dropped off at the gravel pit on Hwy 218 again by Steve and head back to the kill area. Funny where my bull died, walk about 50 feet you could see Hwy 218…
We venture down past Maupin Butte, past the swamp and into the next basin above the Bhagwan’s place. You could see the old school buses and I could see a massive amount of elk bedded down! Surely the big bull was amongst the cows bedded in junipers somewhere. For more than 30 minutes I glassed and never found him. I then said to Frank “remember those large tracks we crossed about 500 yards back in the draw” “yep” “well those have to be the bull’s tracks and he probably knew we were on him and pulled himself out of the herd”. We can get him Frank, let’s haul ass and get him in the next basin, he is going to want to re-group with the herd sometime.
This is where I was blown away on the opening weekend by my running partner. “Bubba, I got a luncheon date with my wife at Black Butte Ranch at 12:30”
Thus ended the hunt of a lifetime, which I know Frank P. would have killed the biggest bull ever.
The following year Frank hunted the Grizzly Unit with his boys and they got a spike out by Horse Heaven…