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.
This is one of five Cougars spotted near a town, working within the same proximity of each other. One might not find this to be a factual statement, but in reality it is becoming increasing reality. It may not be in every state in the Union, but it surely is in on the Pacific Coast, which includes Washington, Oregon and even into California. As for the other states in CONUS, I can’t give thoughts on the subject of predators taking a front row seat on the taking of Elk, Deer, Pronghorns and even Bighorn Sheep.
In Oregon the management of all wildlife and fish are managed by O.D.F.W. or better known as the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. There are 7 members that are part of the commission and they are selected by the Governor of Oregon. In my opinion for a long time, I do not feel that the Governors of Oregon since 1991 have not had much thought on the importance of hunting, fishing, shooting or any other sport related to the outdoors in Oregon.
In 1994 in the State of Oregon voters, voted on Measure 18 on the banning of dogs for the hunting of Bears and Cougars. 43,501 votes more votes lead to the ban. At the time the Governor was Barbara Roberts a Democrat. A great influence of outsiders (lobbyists – protesters) from the Great State of California came and created havoc and fear into the already changing demographics of from what Oregon use to be. Oregon use to be much like Idaho in thought and action, but Oregon has changed over the years, becoming a state that the folks from the Golden State could sell their homes and come to Oregon and buy the same home for half price and less congestion in life…
The Black Bear is not Smokey the Bear or a playful toy and the Cougar is one hungry predator that will take a deer a week. They all might look cute as cub or kitten, but once they get bigger that is not the case. Since there is no hunting with dogs any longer, these two predators go un-checked for the most part. As for Wolves, it all started in Yellowstone and has escalated too many other states. My thoughts are that Wolves hunt to kill and rarely eat the complete animal; it said the other predators will handle the remaining carcass. Oregon has about 60 Moose (Shiras) scattered throughout the N.E. part of the state. With the increase in Wolf population, just how long will it take for the reduction in Moose? One other little notes about Wolves in Oregon, many have been released by so-call do-gooders that breed or breed hybrids. Many years ago, I had a customer tell me she did… From the information I get, there are more Wolves than reported. Such is the case in the Mt. Hood National Forest with reports of sporadic with sightings from persons that do know the difference between a wolf and a dog…
Washington State does not allow the use of dogs to hunt for Cougars or Bears also. This came about in 2001 I believe. Only under conditions deemed by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife can dogs be used to harvest a Cougar or Bear that are causing problems with humans or livestock.
In the State of Oregon, through my sources with the government, hired government hunters as we call them can hunt year round to reduce Cougars or Bears in troubled areas. With the used of dogs by the public that hunt, there would be little need for government hunters. Just think about the revenue that the state would take in, plus the amount of sales at sporting goods stores, guides would be able to guide again. Oregon has quotes on the amount of Cougars that can be taken in zones and once it met, then the year round hunting stops. Going onto the ODFW back pages and looking at expected quotes on Cougars, the inside reports via contacts tell a different story.
A hunter should make contact with a Game Biologist. In the State of Oregon, these biologist are very happy to help. As one biologist that I have know for more than 30 years once told me “my job is to help and without hunters, I would not have a job”
ODFW has a major budget deficit and last year came up with idea of special tags big game tags, creating some cash flow revenue. Those that got one of the special tags through a drawing might just have a chance to hunt most anywhere and with a rifle even hunt during a bow season or extended season. Many older hunters have just given up hunting, as their old haunts just don’t have the game as it was prior to 2000. Other than the old boys in the hunting culture, I do not believe that the younger generation has caught up with the problem of predators.
Seems all great, but we have a real problem with the big game population in this state. I spend much of my time from April to August taking wildlife pictures and working areas at key times of the day looking for big game. In just 4 short years many of the great haunts are void of the great bucks that I would find. The Cougars especially have worked over the area well. I won’t waste my time to hunt these areas anymore. I have move into the rural areas closer to the city to find game… The Cougars use to follow the game coming down from the mountains during the winter months. Now with the shortage of game to eat, they are now showing up in the lower valleys in the summer months. It may seem to those reading that I am bias, but I am not. It is about what is more important, the chance for someone to see a Cougar, Wolf or even a Bear in the wild or preserving the big game that you can see anytime. Once the game is gone from the area the predators with move to new feeding grounds. It takes the depleted area a fairly long time to recover the mature bucks and bulls in the area.
Bear season Oregon is a bit different and not all year long. The draw tag season from April 1st, to May 31st normally. The general season opens August 1st and ends December 31st on the west side of the Cascades and November 30th on the east side of the Cascades. So one has to glass and find bears, a bit tougher to do, than getting a do to tree a bear. Government hunters can do whatever to get a problem area done. Special tags are issued for timber companies to handle bears in Oregon…
I believe that anyone that is hunting in Oregon should have a Cougar tag and Bear tag on their person. Many times hunters have run into the overabundance of Cougars in a particular area and shot a Cougar, did not have a tag. You will be ticketed and in some cases it could have been life and dead encounter, you might or might not get out of the ticket if caught.
In Closing: I will give a few instances for 2016 from some of hunting buddies, plus I will put out a few key areas with onXmaps HUNT map pictures for those that want to challenger their talents to find a Cougars. Bear season is just about over, but send me and email and I can direct you to spots in the future.
2016 Owyhee Deer Hunt: MJ and BO drew the tags for the great Owyhees in Oregon. In the day as I remember the Owyhees, the bucks were big and plentiful, sort of a pick and choose hunt for big Mulies. MJ and BO have private land to hunt on breaks of the Oregon/Idaho border on the Oregon side. Having done a great deal of planning and making calls, they truly thought they had it dialed in. The land was in prime condition for Mule deer habitat. During their week hunt, only a few small bucks were seen, remembering they had made an early scouting trip in August 2016, with the same results. The local ODFW biologist told them they hit at the wrong time… Very experience hunters that in the past were used to finding big Mulies. The hunters over on the Idaho side still have the Mulies of size, as they control the Cougars still with dogs.
2011 Archery Elk/Deer Hunt: Another hunting partner from my past went to a new haunt near an old haunt. This is an area that the government hunter has taken out more Cougars than 4 times the quota of the Cascades, which are 271. ST has during bow season taken a Cougar and on the same day could have taken another one. 2016 he had two Cougars at 100 yards from him at this ground blind. His 1911 could not get the job done at 100 yards in the timber. I also feel they are braver and human scent or the fact Cougars are keen on knowing, fear little. Deer were very scarce, though the elk were in good numbers. The Heppner Unit has been known as an elk breeding area…
My son this year (2106) during a rifle deer hunt near an RV Park outside of a rural town jumped two mature Cougars. He did not have a tag and knew what would happen if he had killed them. The deer population was way down and the team only got one 2 year old deer about 2 miles from the sighting…
Another comment is from my buddy Mark D., who lives near Oregon City, Oregon on 90 acres. Five Cougars have been sighted during the month of August 2016 around this place. His place is within 15 minutes of a major city. The deer are way done on this place, as he has cameras out. Just recently he caught sight of one decent Blacktail buck. The elk have not been on his place for more than 6 months.
2016 Pronghorn hunt for one of my onXmaps HUNT hunters. I had suggested him talk to one of the ranchers in the flat lands in the Steen’s Mountains Unit. He was told by the rancher that the Pronghorn are scare, less than 5 years ago they were pest on the ranches and farming lands. The big C word (Cougars) came out. The hunters had to hunt very hard to find a good buck, not a monster. The Steen’s Mountains of Oregon once produced the #2 B & C Pronghorn… Those us that have hunted the Steen’s Mountains for big Mulies, which are gone now. No longer a pick and choose style of hunting there. The Steen’s at one time was 4X4 or better hunt…
So in reality the states that have a problem with predators are the same states (metropolitan cities) that were Blue in the recent election, giving the point that we know those that are the loudest and not using their common sense for the good of all…
“There is a place for predators, but they should not replace renewable resources in nature”
“The elected politicians of any state must take in account the outcome of a bad decision that they have made bowing down to a small load group of “Tree Huggers”, much like the Old Growth Spotted Owl farce”
A few photo from onXmaps HUNT IPAD Mobile Mapping:
It’s Saturday, October 1st, 4:30 AM. We are drinking coffee, standing around the fire and making plans where we’re going to hunt. It is opening morning and this will be our best chance to take down a nice buck.
It’s the first time we have our two sons, Dave and Scott together for a hunt. They have both been Navy SEALs for many years so we haven’t had this kind of opportunity, and we are all excited to get out in the woods.
Bill, my husband, has been hunting in this area for almost fifty years, so he is our coordinator. (not to mention, camp boss)
The boys will go together on one quad (one they borrowed from their sister, with bright pink lettering) with a boat seat attached to the back for a passenger seat. Real SEAL TEAM equipment! I promised not to post pictures on Facebook.
Bill and I will go a different direction on our quad with the boat seat on the back for me, which I love because I sit high and can see deer better.
We left at daybreak and hunted until 10:30 when we met back at camp for a big breakfast and a new strategy.
The boys had actually found a spot that looked untouched and rather promising, so with full bellies and a renewed determination, when we headed back out for the afternoon hunt, they went back to that same spot, which they dubbed “Delmer Pass” ( inside story ) for another look, and Bill and I went the opposite direction.
Bill and I have been riding in this terrain for twenty years on quads without incident. We have been up and down some really rough trails and enjoyed every ride. We have spotted many deer and elk on our rides. But, this ride was different! We crossed a rocky creek and headed up the mountain, when we came to a crossroads. Do we go on the narrow right, or the rocky gully on the left? We chose the gully…began our left turn and the next thing I remember was Bill asking me if I was alright. He had asked me many times, but because our quad had turned over and I was knocked out on the rocks I didn’t hear him. But as I came to I was aware of a really bad pain in my foot and my head was bleeding like crazy. I asked Bill to please get the quad off me. The poor guy was trying but he couldn’t get his legs to move for several minutes. We could smell and feel gas spilling on us so we struggled together to get free. Somehow we did it and my foot came free. Pain gone!
He got the first aid kit and cleaned up my bleeding head and wrapped it in gauze, and I struggled to my feet. Together we set the quad upright, and realized our rifles had flown off about ten feet away. Believe it or not, when we sighted them in later, they were still right on
Bill insisted we go into the nearest town hospital and have me checked out, which we did and four hours later we were back at camp with our two concerned sons. No breaks, no stitches……just a small concussion and cuts and bruises. Lesson learned; getting too old to ride on my boat seat and maybe cut back on some of those really rough trails! I love that boat seat, but it has to go……
We all enjoyed a big fire that night and had a wonderful time just being together.
The next morning, those two NAVY SEALs were up and out early on that pink lettered quad, determined to come back with a nice big buck…….it didn’t happen….not for any of us. And that afternoon the oldest son, Dave and I walked through the woods together for about three hours and only saw the bald headed type deer.
They told me in the SEALs they were taught to think like the enemy, so we should think like the deer.( I agreed to do that, which I’m sure they got quite a laugh over) problem being, who the heck knows how a deer thinks? Instincts, instincts!
Well, maybe it worked for them because the next morning our younger son, Scott shot a real nice 3 by 3 on a hillside to their left. They were using the “field of fire” technique. Dave being left handed would be responsible for whatever showed up on the right side, and Scott being right handed would cover the left. They both got him in their sites however because his horns were hidden among the tree branches and hard to make out and they wanted to be sure. He turned his head just right and Scott said “buck!” and sent a perfect shot right through the heart… By the time we reached them Dave had it all gutted out and they had it tied on the quad.( always team work with them ) We headed back to camp for the pole hanging, dressing out and bagging and bragging ritual……followed by a celebratory straight shot!
They didn’t get a chance to double their score because they had to leave the next day. It was hard to see them go, because we never know when we’ll get a chance to hunt together again. (OK I admit I cried a little) Best hunting trip of our lives, with memories to last a lifetime.
For the next two days Bill and I hunted hard……we still rode the quad most of the time but one day it was down to nineteen degrees at night and really cold in the morning so we took the truck. We drove out to an area to find a place to get out and hunt, but as we are driving along I yelled at Bill to stop because there was two four point bucks right off the road on my side. Our dream scenario! Except for the fact that if I get out and put a round in the chamber those bucks will be gone. So, Bill gets out and goes around the back of the truck, but the deer are in front. He never saw them before they both walked off. We lamented over our lost opportunity as we drove on down the road.
After about four turns I yelled at Bill to stop again……there they were looking right at us, on my side of the road still. I still didn’t think I could get out without scaring them off so I sat still while Bill got out and went around the front of the pickup, off the road and nailed one, while the other ran off. (never to be seen again)
If we needed a bigger hint that we are getting older we got it in spades with this big buck. His body was really large, and a handsome 4×3 rack.
He was lying down in a deep ravine and we knew we weren’t going to be able to pull him up without help so we marked our spot and drove back and got the quad. So, now we have a dead deer, the quad with the winch on it and the pickup to put the deer in. Sounds pretty simple, right? NOT! We had to tie the quad to the pickup to keep it from going over, and then there wasn’t enough cable to reach the deer, so we had to keep adding rope and pull, then add more and pull. It took two hours to get it to the road.
Then, Bill gutted it out and we were ready to throw it in the back of the pickup, which was a great idea only the buck was too heavy and we couldn’t get him in there. So, next obvious answer was tying him on the quad, but we couldn’t lift his body up on it. By now we are sweating and exhausted and I sat on the tailgate and came up with a scathing, brilliant idea. Get that buck tied to the front of the quad the best we can, put the ramps down and drive it up into the truck and dump him in. We agreed that was the answer, however, I didn’t plan on me being the one to drive the quad up the ramp but Bill had to hold the bucks body up off the ramp, so I couldn’t get out of it. I said “I’m scared, I’m scared” all the way up that ramp, but I did it. (it was actually kinda fun) If you’re wondering why we didn’t just quarter it out, the answer is simply that we didn’t even think about it until that evening. Oh well!
We got back to camp and thank God the hunters in the camp next to ours were there to help hang it. It took us four hours from kill to camp…… As they say in the TEAMS!
“Public lands belong to everyone in the U.S. Often, though, your public lands are surrounded by a fortress of private property, making them inaccessible. Sometimes you have to go to extremes to hunt your public land.”
This is the first feature film ever done for onXmaps and features Randy Newberg (Renown Big Game Hunter) and Matthew Seidel (onXmaps Staff) hunting an area that Randy tends to go to every year. If you watch his show you will know the area in question.
Juniper is one of the premier Oregon Pronghorn Hunts
“I am also a long time subscriber to onXmaps and use it religiously.”
First off.. Thank you Frank for the tips… As many know the Juniper unit antelope hunt is an incredible opportunity. I was fortunate to have unexpectedly drawn the coveted tag with only a single preference point. The news came as a great surprise and the time to scout was severely limited with my prior commitments. This lead me to some online research and the discovery of the Bwana Bubba Adventurers. Upon contact with Frank, he sent me some places to look in search of antelope. This being my 5th Oregon antelope tag, I had set my sights on killing a high caliber animal. This is my story…..
On to the hunt… Due to previous commitments with my oldest son, I was unable to make the season opener and did not arrive in the unit until Monday afternoon. My son and I quickly setup camp, made a sandwich and headed out in search of our quarry. We immediately headed for a spot Frank had pinpointed for us. We weren’t 15 minutes from the trailer when I had spotted an animal apparently fleeing a waterhole that someone was driving into. It was immediately evident the animal was a billie antelope and we fought to get into a better position to see. We caught up with him 4-5 different times, but every time he was 750+ yards away and we just couldn’t make a good determination what caliber animal he was. Based on the glances of occasional clarity, he appeared to be a really solid billie with good height and prong length. This guy’s worth a second look… The adventure continued into the sage and a few hours passed before any antelope were spotted in some nearby fields. There were a few billies, but nothing worth watching to see if an exit from private was going to be a probability. The evening found us trekking across what seemed to be an endless plateau of sage in search of the billie we had encountered earlier in the day. As we hiked in search of our prey, the probability of killing an animal in 4-5’ tall sagebrush seemed a monumental task. As darkness overcame us, the billie had gave us the slip and was securely hidden in his native territory.
Day 2 – We awoke early and headed to another location marked by Frank that allowed us to glass in a Westerly direction. As the light slowly illuminated the desert floor, we patiently glassed a large bowl full of tall sage. We found one good representative billie in the 13” range with decent prongs managing a small group of nannies a little over 500 yards from our position. This was an easy pass and we moved on. The next few hours we drove, hiked and glassed numerous locations to only find a few nannies and two very young billies. Upon exiting the area we stopped to speak with another hunter whom was struggling to find any antelope in the area. With this information and what we had also encountered it was determined to mark this spot off the list of places to revisit. It was decided to head a little further South and explore during the heat of the day. The road that separates N. Juniper and S. Juniper seemed like a good choice. After a dusty 4 hour ride in the truck, we determined our choice was less than stellar… Not a single antelope had been found upon the stretch of road. We came out few miles North of the Narrows and made the decision to head further South. After traveling another hour South we made the turn back into the unit again. The next 10-12 miles were bumpy and dusty, but our hopes were high despite not locating any animals. Then, all of a sudden we located several animals. As we continued to glass, more and more of the tan and white creatures appeared scattered amongst the cattle in the area. The next several hours were spent locating and investigating billies. By the time the sun had set we had passed on 10-12 billies ranging in size from 8-13” all within a 3 mile radius. The drive back to camp was long and filled with discussion around our discovery and future prospects.
Day 3 – Again an early rise took us in search of the billie we saw that first day. Finding a decent vantage point, we set up and glassed the sea of sage in search of the elusive animal. As the sun rose and the temperature quickly climbed we decided our search was futile. No animals to be found…. While departing a billie was located off the side of the road seemingly careless of our presence. Luckily for him, we again were not interested in what he had to offer and we both moved on our separate ways. Arriving back at camp, we packed a healthy amount of supplies to ensure lunch and dinner were covered and pointed the truck South again. Arriving at our location early afternoon we quickly located several groups of antelope. One group had a dominant billie that was definitely coming into the rut and spent all his time head down checking the nannies. With the heat waves in full effect, it was quite challenging to judge him at over a mile but we again passed feeling he didn’t meet our standards. A couple miles further down the road another group was spotted over a mile away and we began closing the gap. Once within 900 yards we took another look from atop a small rise. It appeared there was a group of billies and one worth taking a closer look at. We geared up back at the vehicle and prepared to sneak in for a closer look. Due to the lack of terrain, we struggled to get within 600 yards of the group. Finally, by crawling on our hands and knees we closed the gap to 470 yards. This was when we were able to determine with confidence there was a billie in this group worth our precious tag. Unable to get into a prone position I was far from comfortable taking a shot at that distance. A small bunch of taller sage was 70 yards ahead and I felt I could get the needed elevation to setup for an ethical shot. As we crawled toward the sage two additional billies began running in from the East and gained the attention of the target group. This gave us the opportunity to quickly close the remaining gap and approach our target. I quickly began setting up for the shot on the bedded billie. Before I was able to settle in, the other two billies came into the targeted group and put them into alert. Before I could react the group had quickly traveled away and was now acting very nervous at 800+ yards away. A quick assessment found that we could access some tall sage and attempt to move close enough for a shot. As we progressed thru the tall sage the group again became anxious and didn’t let us get within 600 yards before moving off to a ridgeline where they again met up with yet another group of antelope. Our cover was good and were able to again move toward the group leveraging the tall sage. The antelope went over the rise and we picked up the pace. Looking up a single billie had turned back and was now staring us down at 300 yards. A quick assessment put him at about 13” so we waited for him to move off and we proceeded toward where the group had went. Just after cresting the ridgeline a group of antelope materialized on the opposing hillside. I snuck up to a shooting position and quickly picked out the largest billie. As the billie chases a few nannies It just didn’t look right to me. At 450 yards the billie just didn’t look right… I hesitated long enough for the billie to move out of range. Just as I sat up to scratch my head and figure out what happened, my other billie came out from under us. He had been over the roll of the hill and just out of site from our position. He and the others that were traveling with him now joined the other group that now totaled about 50 animals. The group seemed to be settling down and we backed off in attempt to parallel their position to get closer. When we felt we were close to parallel we eased to the edge using sage for cover. Our silhouettes didn’t even break the ridgeline before the large group began moving away again. We sat and glassed them as they traveled over the next rise… Quickly deliberating about our next move we noticed another single billie traveling in our direction. A quick assessment found him to be too small and we decided to give the group one more chance. The sun had set and light was quickly leaving as we pushed the half mile to the next vantage point. We crested the top to see them already 800+ yards away and still moving. We were unable to get within a ½ mile of them. Aborting the mission we would come back Thursday and try again…. It was a couple miles back to the truck in the dark and a couple hour drive back to camp that night.. It was decided while traveling back we would move camp in the morning in attempt to be closer to our quarry.
Day 4 – We woke early and immediately worked on breaking camp. On the road by 9:00 we headed to the Narrows. A quick check-in at the Narrows campground had us headed for our hunting grounds before lunch. We again saw a few groups of lopes on the way in and decided the billies were not what we were searching for. Pulling into the drainage we left the big billie in the night before we parked the truck, gathered our gear and went afoot. After cresting a rise just out of site of the truck we were immediately pinned by some nannies. The range was 300 yards as we squatted in the open terrain. Wouldn’t you know it, they were in curious mode and wanted to check us out. Not knowing what may be behind them we stayed put. The nannies came to 64 yards before deciding to lose interest in us. Unfortunately when they did spook, they went the same direction we were traveling. We rose up and went about 75 yards when we saw the original group of 8 billies from the day before standing 450 yards away. I saw the one billie that was noticeably larger than the other 7 and knew this was our group. I needed a better shooting position and found a mound of dirt 50 yards ahead. The nannies had now joined the group of billies and they were becoming increasingly anxious. I quickly got into a shooting position on the mound and my son began calling yardages. 350, 375, 400, 375…. The group was unsure on what direction to depart, I had to shoot quick. I identified the large billie thru the 95 degree heat shimmer and followed him until he momentarily stopped. At the report of the rifle the lope immediately dropped in his tracks. I rolled over and gave some high fives to my son as the remaining group galloped away in a dust storm. Gathering up our gear we headed over to claim our trophy. Approaching the billie, there was something wrong…. This was not the billie we had hunted the previous day. In my haste, after chasing him miles the day before and not being able to get within 800 yards of him, I had taken the wrong animal. The heat shimmer and my haste had resulted in harvesting the wrong animal. Although saddened by my actions, we were also very happy with having harvested a beautiful animal that is proving to be excellent table fare.
Thanks again Frank for your aid in making this a fantastic trip!
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.
We all have a purpose to our hunt and our style of hunting, which is not always the same as others. It’s a cliché: 10% of the hunters may get 90% of the game but in my opinion that is really based on the how we hunt. This article includes some examples too make you think about your mistakes and successes. It may give you an idea as to how you stand vis-a-vis others in terms of methods of hunting and rate of success.
Yelling Out! Many years ago after coming home from overseas, I took my father hunting with me. We were hunting in western forest lands of Oregon with vine maple, underbrush, ferns and alders. The distance between us was no more than 100 feet. During this early morning hunt, I was jumping a number of Blacktail deer bucks at close range and would yell out “there’s one,” and Dad’s comment would be “where”? On that hunt, I could have very easily killed a buck, yet we did not get one. I wanted to see my Dad get a buck. As you might suspect the deer were on alert and took evasive moves.
A buddy known as MJ once yelled at my son because he did not tell him he was shooting at a deer, as he did not get a chance to kill one of the deer. I told MJ that I have taught my son to react to the situation. My son had jumped the small group of bucks in the draw. He took the shot and got his buck! Believe it or not deer do have great hearing. If my son had yelled, “there’s a buck”, they surely would have not gotten any of them. On this same hunt, I spotted a dandy 4X4 and said to MJ “there’s a big buck”, he said “where”? He did not get the buck, yet he had time if he had been paying attention.
Over the years, while hunting with groups of hunters situations I believe we create situations in which there are too many distractions.
Sharp Eyes and Sensitive Ears. Some years ago while on a Pronghorn scouting trip in eastern Oregon with a buddy that seemed to always fall asleep even on the roughest roads, I would catch sight of coyotes in the middle of an abandoned road or dry lake. I would say “there’s a dog”, he too would say “where” as he was trying to gain eyesight after dozing off. Coyotes can hear the voices within the truck. From then on, I just kept my mouth shut. When I saw dog (coyote), I would just push on the emergency brake (holding the release lever so it would not make noise), bail out and take the shot. My partner, still dozing, had no clue and would wake up and say “what the heck you shooting at?” I took 5 dogs on the trip, with him dozing off all the time. We still talk about that maneuver of mine.
Stopping to Count Points. Some years ago, an old hunting buddy had been successful getting a nice Rocky Mountain Elk bull off of the B.L.M. near the John Day River hunting by himself. MJ was pretty good about getting it done, with a partner or solo, but usually never hunting together, but taking routes in different canyons. On this particular hunt, he had run into my Commanding Officer in the Navy. MJ knew of Rod and had met him several times. Rod was hunting with an old friend of his. MJ said he would show them bulls in a basin he had spotted bulls earlier in the hunt. MJ lived up to his offer and put both of them on eight bulls at about 150 yards out. Well, Rod and his buddy saw the bulls and counted all the bulls’ points and finally decided (after the bulls took off running) to shoot! Moral of the story, be in combat mode and react to what the eyes see instantly and not over think! Game moves a lot faster than you can get setup.
Combat Mode. So let’s start off with the type a hunter, the person who seems to be always successful. He or she will have the hunt lined out the year before. Most of the time, the hunt is totally about them and getting it done. I like to call it the Combat mode of hunting. The mind is focused on the end result of getting the game down. In many cases they are solo hunting in the sense of immediate contact with other hunters. There might be a partner or partners, but rest assured they are in the field away from others. All of their senses are tuned into the surroundings within their space. The person that most likely can make the 300 yard running shot, or have his arrow clear a 12” opening in a tree and hit the 50 yard distance target… you can be sure he or she is totally focused!
Knowing Your Area. There are the party hunters (hunters only) that love to hunt together and try to do it every year at a specific hunting area. It is about the gathering, though each and every one of them wants to be successful on the hunt. They know the area like they know their own yard. I find that they are fairly successful in getting game, as they know the routes of the game over the years. They all have their favorite stand they will be at on opening morning. In this case it reminds me of the Hurley’s that once hunted the Pilot Rock area in Oregon. They setup their camp near Foggy Knob or Four Corners up on East Birch Creek. They always had deer or elk hanging in their camp. I know they spent more than 25 years hunting the same spot.
Generations Matter. Now the following camp is an example of some of my first hunting experiences with family and friends. Again we were “party hunting,” but with the spouses that either hunted or not (mostly not), but adding the young grandkids to the mix as well. We would have three generations hunting. I remember talking with my cousin about the good old days that his dad hunted; little did I know at the time, we just lacked the experience the old boys had. We would see one of the old guys coming back with game, having sat around an isolated campfire during elk season to keep ourselves warm. We could not understand how they got it done, as most old boys would smoke. On these hunts it was all about the family and good times. You always wanted to be the one to have the bragging rights that year on getting a deer or elk of any size.
Giving Others the Shot. One of the best hunts is the father or mother that shows their children how to hunt and give them the chance to harvest an animal. This could also go for a mentor that shares all their knowledge with youth or another hunter. In this case, it would be the time we had spotted a monster bull on the B.L.M., I asked my buddy who was also glassing and spotted the bull, if he wanted to go after him. Knowing how to get to the area that was about a mile off, with my son and his non-hunting buddy following along we got into the spot that was close to the last appearances of the bull. I had checked up wind and the area was clear, coming back to the boys, I said he has to be close. I let my son quietly lead into the juniper and sagebrush. JR, jumped the bedded bull at 50 feet and made the shot. The bull was bedded under a Juniper tree. What was great he reacted without hesitation and took his first bull with a gross score of 340. If there had been any hesitation that bull would have made it out of there. JR got to have the bragging rights of the biggest bull taken on a very successful hunt for all.
Just recently on a bow hunt, being in a tree stand I could see the bucks coming into the draw, JR was in a ground blind in the draw. I sat there in a daze watching all un-folding, I had the shot, but something told me it was JR’s hunt and not mine. He could have taken the big buck at 15 yards, but in his mind he knew I was after this buck. He made movement in the blind and the all the deer, but one scattered in the opposite direction. The one buck that caused the others to react, just stood his ground. JR took the 8 yard shot on that buck. Each person on this hunt was thinking about the other person and did not react to the situation. I told him he should have arrowed the big buck! “Dad, he was yours to take”
Pay to Play. So many times we see these days with the social media great pictures of truly great animals taken by hunters. When digging a bit, they are hunting on private enclosed hunting lands. In many cases large sums of money have changed hands to make the success of the hunt happen. This is about how much money one has to be successful. There is little more to be said on this style of hunter. Some years back I got a picture sent to me of a 430” Rocky Mountain bull taken in Idaho. What a great bull that was taken at 100 yards while in his bed. It took a while to get to the bottom of the story, but the bull was harvested on an enclosed 8-foot fenced ranch that sells the bulls by the inch.
Guides Help. There are many that want to only hunt on private lands (non-enclosure) with guides. In conclusion many times the hunter makes great shots on the game and I would say their success rate is around 50% to 100%. Again money is involved in the hunt and the success of the hunter. Most hunters would love to be able to have one or more of these hunts. To have a chance to hunt on a ranch that has big game and is managed for hunting would be quite exciting, I believe sometimes. On these ranches the only fences are the 5 strand barbwire cattle fencing…
Just Ask! Lastly, though the good old boys (ranchers) are slowing riding into the sunset, there still are some ranches and farms a hunter can just ask to hunt and be surprised that they might just get a Yes! They are normally working ranches or farms, with livestock, crops, orchards, vineyards or all of the above. Over the years I have just done the asking and got permission to hunt. In time I found that I wanted to return the favor and would give gestures of my thanks for getting to hunt these places. There is never the guarantee of harvesting game.
A funny and very true ending to the last paragraph was about 10 years ago. I knew a rancher in the Steen’s Mountains of Oregon that would allow hunters to hunt Pronghorns. So I helped out one of my vendors and lined up the permission. I knew that the rancher drank soda pop and I told my vendor to get a couple of cases of pop and a new folding knife for the rancher. “Ryan asked me, “why the knife” and I told him you’ll know when the timing is correct. So Ryan gets to the ranch, met and talk with the rancher, the rancher was very busy and told him to go down the road a couple of miles and look for a cattle guard. Ryan was a bit lost, and then he remembered what I said. Quickly producing the knife to the rancher, he was then escorted to the place to hunt with ideas of how to hunt the area. Ryan was successful in getting a trophy Pronghorn. Ranchers and Farmers are not managing wildlife, yet they have a great influence on the survival of wildlife.