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:
“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.
Landlocked Public Land – A Good Trade or Bad Trade?
When plans of a great hunt goes bad after doing your in depth homework on a hunting unit and finding it is too much work to make it fun and give up. The great State of Oregon, as well as other western states in CONUS has a great amount of public land, whether it is National Forest, State Lands, and Bureau of Land Management lands. Those that spend a great deal of their off time in the field hunting, fishing, hiking or whatever else takes them in to the field have found that there is a great deal landlocked public land that is very difficult to access.
In my younger days, with my hunting partners we challenged the access every year. Having worked with paper maps in my early stages of my hunting life, too figure out how to get into the public lands was very time consuming. Early on we would find the touching points and jump the line, though Wyoming was the first to make that illegal to do so. Unless the government changes the use of satellites’, I will trust the modern day GPS or mobile device and my mapping software 100% as many paper maps and some mapping software are not accurate with all the changes going on. How many still have 20+ year old National Forest maps and Rams maps? Funny I just threw way in my recycle container all of my paper maps from the last 40 years… That included the map of a certain hunt unit in Oregon that had more than 200 elk harvest from the circle of acquaintances’ over the years. The other day after posting an old article about a land trade that was in the making back some years ago, I took some heavy hits from a rancher. I understand where he was coming from and his comments were well said. My feeling still did not wavier on the subject of that particular B.L.M. and private land trade, to free up B.L.M. that was encompassed with the private lands. Reading the government/private land proposal, I personally and others that opposed it, knew that much of the public land would still only be used few and the private sector would still get the better deal. The majority felt the only road into the new setup would be control by the private sector… That would have been by a very big organization and not the ranchers.
As I am writing this article, I venture up in the hills outside of Molalla, Oregon looking for Blacktails to do a photo op. I wanted to work around some old haunts in the upper area; low and behold I find that some of the BLM has been swapped out to a private timber company. Weyerhaeuser property touches some of the property and the companies warning signs were in full view. One has to love the BLM No Shooting Signs on posted on the BLM, and no residential structures in the area. I feel it is an attempt to keep hunters from even going on the BLM, since there is private and timber company properties close by.
If the public (outdoor enthusiast) would look at computer or mobile device with mapping software such as the best being onXmaps HUNT , you’re going to be very surprise to see how much public land that is tied up and almost impossible to have access to. The ranchers, farmers, and landowners have the access and it basically like an extension to their own land. With money one can find a way in, such as being dropped in by a helicopter, parachute or even an ultralight… You have to weigh the cost and still know you’re going to have to come back out the public landlocked land, without setting foot on private.
In this paragraph I am attaching number pictures of BLM land that the private land makes it basically landlocked. There is a BLM Right-Away, yet the public can’t use it. The land has caretakers or ranch hands that besides using it for their personnel use, act as if they own it, since the owner is not living on the property. There are always two sides to the story of course, giving access to the public on the Right-Away and the public take advantage of it using the private land as well as the public land. I do know that opposite side of the river in this attached map, the Right-Away is open for about 4 miles. For the most part the public does adhere to the only using the public land.
There was a major poaching problem as far as I am concerned in 2016 prior to the opening hunt for Oregon with local Natives being able to have access year round to hunt when it necessary to do so based on treaties, even if they are trespassing. It would not have been so bad if they had not cut the heads off and only took the backstraps only on the elk and deer they took on private land. In this case the Right-Away is problem since they can drive and kill on both the public and private lands… We have to remember that the land owners are not landlocked. They can have easements with the B.L.M., in many cases they have the lease on public land.
Many years ago I had open access to a parcel of land in eastern Oregon, what a great deal it was for archery deer and elk hunting. Most of the time in the gang, there were 4 of us. In those days working in the sporting goods business, to buy a 4 way rifle which was an inexpensive way to give a gratuity to a rancher. Many years later after the rancher sold-out, I went into the back country with my Garmin GPS and onXmaps HUNT software loaded on the GPS, low and behold much of the land that we travel through his fences to get to where all Federal lands (BLM/NF). To access this land all one had to do was travel on another access point on federal lands.
If I was a private land owner; I would want all my lands in one parcel overall, as long as it has a good water source. Saying this there are the ranchers that have the summer range and the winter range and that is important to them, and rightly so. The public should never lose access to public land in any state, and we (public) should never give up or lose the river or water rights to private, unless private land is already deeded with their water source and have the land to the navigational line in the sand so to speak. The B.L.M., should never be allowed to take away land and the ranchers lose their water, a necessary commodity of life to a ranch. The trades need to be even as they can, so both the public and the private benefit from the trade.
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.
There is an old saying by Sailors’, “is you’re “Ditty Bag” complete?” A sailor would rely on the “Ditty Bag” to have his most important items in it… No “Ditty Bag” with the essentials for the hunter, outdoor adventurer, fisherman or hiker is an incomplete tool bag. Today’s “Ditty Bag” will appear as a duffle bag or backpack of sorts.
I see it everywhere, the youth and now even the older generation using mobile devices. There are so many APPS out there; a mobile device can do just about anything imagined. APPS have made it easy for everyone to navigate through a daily routine.
“Ditty Bag” A major essential for the complete outdoor person would be an IPad or IPhone or Android Device and last not lest a Garmin GPS (Color Screen – Micro SD Slot). My mobile device is Apple IPad that seems to go everywhere with me and has the onXmaps APP. It is the great research tool that I have in my “Ditty Bag”, it’s like a talking encyclopedia, only it is visual and easy to understand. As simple as turning on the device, opening the onXmaps HUNT APP and then letting my fingers do the work.
There are three (3) ways to think of the essentials when it comes to mapping in my mind. The mobile device is for scouting and in the field use. The laptop (most common computer) is for scouting and the GPS is all about in the field and scouting secondary.
I have 18 layers of information that overlay the 12 available basemaps, also with 5 western states PLATS loaded on my IPad. The operator gets to decide which overlay or overlays, basemap or basemaps they want to use in their research or the use in the field. Many outdoor people use their phone such as an Android or one of the many Apple IPhones for everything. The onXmaps HUNT APP makes it quite easy to use in the course again of daily routine.
I would like to mention the number of layers that are available and what some of the key ones are, just to mention a few of them at this time.
USFS Recreational Sites
USFS Motor Vehicle Roads, Trail (MVUM)
Current Cloud Coverage
Current Nexrad Radar
Current Wind Conditions
App Plat Coverage Learn about private parcel coverage NATION:
Points of Interest
Forest Visitor Maps
Prairie Dogs (For Real) Where to find in the West
Current Wildfires STATE: My Active
OR-WA-ID-WY-MT Private Lands
OR-WA-ID-WY-MT Government Lands
OR-WA-ID-WY-MT Possible Access
OR-WA-ID-WY-MT (WMU’s) Wildlife Management Units
OR-WA-ID-WY-MT (OR) Access and Habitat Program
Then there is the BASEMAPS that you assign and many can be used offline.
The list is long, but each and every layer & basemap is a valuable tool to those that want to gain knowledge! One has to study the land and learn the habits of the game to be successful.
Many times I get emails, especially on Pronghorn for both Oregon and a number of the other known Pronghorn states in the West. The hunter’s statement and questions normally come in as such: “I have 15 preference points, what hunt unit can I harvest a recorded class Antelope?” It has been told to me by and old friend who happens to be an O.D.F.W. (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) Biologist, “Every hunt unit in Oregon has at least one Boone & Crockett Pronghorn, and you just don’t want to shoot the first village idiot!” This statement means that most that wait a longtime for a tag sometimes shoot to fast without studying the animals. I have suggested too many hunters to go by a sporting goods store and study heads and look at pictures of big bucks. An example in the Portland Metro area in Oregon, Sportsmen’s Warehouse has two (2) Boone & Crockett Pronghorns on the wall. One is only 14 ½” in length and the other is 16 5/8” in length with the smaller scoring bigger… A hunter may not be able to harvest a Booner, but surely can find a good buck. This will lead into the next paragraph on the B & C (Boone & Crockett) layer.
So with the Boone & Crockett layer, W.M.U. layer, PLAT map and the Government layer the hunter can find where all the entries come from to help make the right decision when applying for the long awaited tag. So if you’re serious about becoming the 10% of the hunters that harvest 90% of the game, then don’t wait any longer to get the tools you need to be successful. What I have found out from my own experiences early on that, I had a mentor to guide me in my youth to become successful in harvesting good animals and some outstanding animals. The onXmaps HUNT APP has become a major mentor of technical knowledge.
One last layer (State Plat) I am going to talk about is the Private Lands. A scenario that comes all the time to hunters that have had a bleak day of hunting, you pull into the local service station or small store you get into a conversation with the attendant or the cashier about your day or they ask you about your day. I have had a number of hunters tell me that the attendant has given them a name of rancher that wants some game reduction done on his place. You can hit the magnifier on the screen and type in the name and guess what, the landowner’s place shows up majority of the time. Now if one is real smart about gathering INTEL, they will have the Whitepages booked mark on the mobile device. The name normally equals phone number in many cases. I will check out new Blacktail deer spots in the valley during the evenings, find the game and look up the landowner to get permission to hunt. The onXmaps Hunt mapping makes that possible.
Another thought is that we meet a lot of people in the field and most like to talk about their hunts or adventurers; I have found many to give road numbers, landmarks and whatever else embellishes the adventurer. End result is that I am going to absorb the information and it is loaded to my IPad, GPS and laptop.
As you note in my “Ditty Bag”, I also have my Garmin Montana GPS, this is also a must when in the field. Sometimes, in a deep dark canyon, you might not have mobile device reception and I rely on my Garmin to be accurate in tight areas…
The savvy hunter or outdoor persons will purchase the whole meal deal, everything for the mobile device and for the Garmin GPS (colored monitor-micro-chip slot) and or download to the computer to up-load to the GPS, then back to the computer. I back-up my waypoints and adventurers to my laptop.
I have only touched surface of what this great mapping tool can do for you, it is time for you to buy and check it.
My “Ditty Bag” has the following items in it, Garmin Montana GPS/onXmaps Hunt software, IPad/onXmaps Hunt APP, Benchmade Knives (2), 12×50 Bausch & Lomb Binoculars, Nikon SLR Camera, Oregon Hunt/Fish License/Tags, rubber gloves, matches, Leatherman, toilet paper and money! Everything else, I pack in my hands or on my body…
My lasting thought to all that read this is, with this technology, inertly trespassing is a thing of the past. In many states, it is the requirement of the trespasser to know where they are and law enforcement and landowner does not have to prove you were trespassing…