So what type of hunter are you?
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.
A man with the knowledge and habits of Blacktail Deer
I just wanted to give you a firsthand account of the late archery deer hunt for the Rogue Unit, this was my second year I participated in this hunt, last year was a charm seen tons of good buck and a few whoppers also. This year was way different; you see I hunt down on the south slope of the SiQ’s (Siskiyou) near Agate Flats which is surrounded by the Soda Mountain National Monument. I grew up round there so I am quite familiar with this deer herd.
It appears the word has gotten out, that there has been some great bucks coming from this area and I can tell you first hand by all the people who showed up to hunt this area, the word is truly out about the Soda Mountain Wilderness area.
Sad Part is; this area will not and cannot sustain that kind of hunting pressure, the bucks I seen this year barely seemed to be rutting but more like running from the pressure, the monument is only a few thousand acres and there was approximately 25 to 30 people hunting it the whole late season, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife need to take a good hard look at this areas late season and put some restrictions on it otherwise we’ll have the same problem with the Blacktails we have with the Mulies
Thanx Manny G’
A hunting trip into the alpine country at Mt. Adams left us empty handed!
I love to be in the woods or on the water, so when my wife Crystal and daughter Grace and I moved from Juneau Alaska back to Vancouver Washington, I felt lost for the outdoors. People tell me all the time that the Northwest is full of opportunity for adventure and I smile and nod. Those people never lived in the playground that I lived in. I have heard it said that when young people experience Alaska it ruins them for the rest of their lives, and I agree. At some point we will return to the last frontier, but for now I am committed to not be complacent and enjoy the amazing beauty that the Northwest has to offer. If you haven’t been to Alaska to experience adventure, wait until you are old and grey so you don’t have a huge desire to pack your whole life and move tomorrow. This is my story of trying to find the ghost of the woods in Washington. Known by hunters all over the world as one of the most elusive large game animals, the black tail deer leaves many tags unfilled every year.
The adventure began with my friend Seve and I doing some scouting past Carson Washington up in the hills at alpine elevation. Seve and his wife Lauren moved here from Juneau Alaska as well and Seve and I worked together at the local Ford dealership in sales. The couple days we were camped out pre-season it was pouring rain and we didn’t see any animals, but lots of fresh sign. Seve drove up there one more time prior to our much anticipated hunting trip and he found an even better area with lots of sign and good places to tent camp. The stage was set all we needed to do was do the best we could to find the ghost.
We left on Sunday night after our work shifts ended. We stopped at the local gas station for some fire wood and snacks and we both vowed to remember this trip. Seve and I would talk for hours about missing Alaska and how the city was creating a feeling of being caged. Leaving to drive to the mountains left us both feeling like we were home again. We arrived at night and set up camp in the dark and built an epic fire. We both enjoyed the fire so much, and the whiskey, that we stayed up late and it was hard waking up early. We woke up and were off, but we had misjudged the time and missed our window of darkness. When we got to the meadow it was already light and we both felt like we ruined our chance of seeing movement. Through the course of the couple days of hunting it seemed like whether we were hunting the woods, meadows, or alpine clearings, we were minuets too late. The entire area was filled with fresh sign and we didn’t see a single deer. After hours of sitting in the woods on the final morning of hunting I was convinced that a tree near me was a deer. The tree branches and bushes around it made me think it was huge; needless to say it was wishful thinking. The next morning I was processing through the trip while Seve was on a plane to Juneau to hunt on a remote island near Gustavus. I wasn’t sure if I was going to have another opportunity this season as I have family obligations and a short deer season.
I was talking with coworkers about the hunting trip and my friend and sales manager Kevin Kotrous, started telling me about the multiple deer he was seeing on his property in the La Center area. He leases out acreage to a vineyard so the deer were coming in eating the grape vines. I started asking immediately to come hunt his property but was promptly denied because the deer were becoming more like pets to Kevin’s family. They were also concerned about me using a rifle and when we looked into the law it turns out that GMU 564 is a no rim fire or center fire zone. I used some salesmanship and let Kevin know I would be using my 20 gauge shotgun with deer slugs. I also had to promise not to shoot any smaller bucks, and to split the meat. I agreed to all the terms. Kevin pulled his property up on Google maps and showed me where the deer were coming from and where I should set up in the morning. I knew that I would have a great opportunity so I maximized it by purchasing some deodorizer spray from Dead Down Wind and I was set.
I was up at 3:00am and to Kevin’s property by 4:00am. I soaked myself in the spray from head to boots, and I also applied some camouflage face paint. I walked through the dark rows of vines to the spot that Kevin had showed me on the map, but I was concerned that since it was dark I may not pick the right spot. I found an indentation in some blackberry bushes and I sat down. It was lightly raining and the sun was not going to come up until 7:00am, I was in for a long wait. I would adjust positions carefully when my legs would lose all feeling. The entire time I was sitting very aware of my noise and breathing. I eventually found that sitting cress cross was more comfortable as I was haven to lean slightly forward because the blackberry bushes were very loud when they would stick to my coat and not pleasant. The other part of this equation is that I only had a small zone I could fire into because Kevin’s house was directly in front of my position across the field. I was also nervous about using my dad’s childhood 20 gauge shotgun as it only has two beads to aim with and I didn’t have an opportunity to sight it in. I was in and out of sleep when I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. I was startled to see two does within about 10 feet of where I sat. My heart was racing and the deer were just staring at me. I remembered what my friend Frank Biggs (the great Bwana Bubba) told me and I closed my eyes. It felt like minuets but it was really only a few seconds I opened them and the deer were eating grape vines no more than 15 yards in front of me. The deer had not been able to determine what I was and they deemed me no threat. I counted three more does that came by me the same way and each time I closed my eyes and put my head down and the deer just continued on eating as if I was not even there. I had been in the blackberry bush over two hours and my body hurt but I was rushing with adrenaline I had never been this close to Blacktail deer. I was startled by a loud snorting sound coming from behind me and I became very alert. I was peering through the edge of the blackberry bushes when I saw a beautiful sight, at no more than six feet from where I sat a nice sized two by two buck staring at me. This buck was more intent on me than the does and I shut my eyes and put my head down. My heart was going so fast and I felt my left hand shaking. The buck was in line with Kevin’s house so I couldn’t even put my gun up to my shoulder until the buck was in a better position; I felt it may not happen. I kept my eyes low looking at his hooves and he began to eat the leaves off the grape vines. A few minutes went by and this buck walked back toward me and away from the house. I raised my dad’s trusty shotgun and the buck froze in his tracks. The impossible had happened I had a beautiful shooter buck at less than 15 yards broadside. I aimed my two beads behind his front shoulder and I fired. I saw blood spray out as the buck turned to run into the woods, I had a clean shot.
A short after the harvest video! PRESS HERE The deer where still coming around after the hunt!
I stood up very shaky and full of adrenaline and I heard Kevin’s voice from his bedroom window, “did you get him”? I didn’t realize it but Kevin was in his room with binoculars watching all the does file through and right when he had started getting ready for work he had heard the gun shot. He walked me down a hot cup of coffee which I was extremely happy for. We followed the blood trail into the woods until I couldn’t find any more. Kevin was out ahead of me walking through the woods drinking his hot coffee like a captain surveying the battle field and then he found the buck. Kevin had me pose for the picture with my first black tail buck and it was a proud moment. Kevin then turned and said,” I am off to work, have fun”. That was when the real work began.
The moral of this story is that going after deer of any kind in the mountains is a magical experience, if you find them. I learned that by gaining access to private property I was able to see more and tag out for the year. I was still able to drop the meat by the butchers and get to work only an hour late. Frank Biggs then helped me dress out the scull. I am appreciative to my friends at work and to Kevin for letting me hunt his property.
First off I have known Mark for about 30 years, in the days of Burns Bros., Sportsmen’s Center and Burns Bros., Travel Stops. Mark and I hunt a number of times in the coast range for elk in those days! Mark use to make sure that during the days of the Travel Stops we would always have the day old Hostess Pastries for a hunting trip!
Mark now lives out in the country on a dandy piece of Blacktail and Roosevelt habitat land. It is bordered by a number of timber companies, so there is little pressure from the public!
OK! BUBBA – HERE GOES!
I JUST COULDN’T PASS UP THIS STUD BUCK!
The opportunity arose, take the shot or pass?
The opening weekend of the general bow (archery) season in Oregon had past by two weeks. After the opening the bucks had become scarce. Two of the other hunters Mark S. an Oregon State Trooper Game Division and my son Frankie had taken bucks on the opening morning with great one shot kills. The bucks for both young men were their first bow kills for bucks and also the privilege of taking Blacktail Bucks, that are very difficult to harvest in the best conditions.
I had gone out to the vineyard a 90 acre of un-fence land in rural Oregon City – Canby, Oregon area in Clackamas County, Oregon and had sat in the tree stand numerous times in vane. The year prior it was common to see at least 2-4 bucks during the archery season any given morning or evening. Even the crop of spikes and does were not coming anywhere near the draw, bewildering mind set.
Frankie my son came out to the vineyard a couple of times. On Monday the 9th of September he came out with me to hunt again. He had also been lucky enough to draw the Oregon Willamette Valley 615 Deer Tag, which allows you to hunt from September 1st, through to February 28th, the following year. On this Monday night I would work from the tree stand with Martin Onza 3 that has proven itself well the year before, but this year the bow sight would be the H H A Sports Optimizer with the single pin on the pendulum system. A sight that forces one to focus on the pin and the target. With the speed of the bow, I usually leave it set for 40 yards when I am going to stalk and 30 yards when I am in three stand. If I have time for a rangefinder, I can easy move the pin up or down on yardage with my thumb quickly.
Frankie would be packing his recently bought rifle in a 308 caliber. He would work through the timber and see if he could drive a buck my way. If a buck were bust in a different journey then he might get a chance to get his 615 tag filled.
Both us seemed to get bored without the sighting of any deer during the evening hunt. With about 15 minutes of light left Frankie came out of the blackberries on the northern sector of the vineyard and I had setup myself working the tree line just west of the tree stand in the draw.
Frankie’s new rifle came with combo setup scope that would prove to be a problem! He should have taken out his Weatherby MK V with good optics! You can have a rifle that is over the counter and inexpensive, but one should always have good optics for the conditions which includes the scope mounts!
He texts me that there is branch buck cutting through the grapes (12″ plants) and he just can’t get on him. At that time I spot the buck, but he is 80 yards from me and just walking along. I work in to get closer to him and when the buck was at 60 yards broadside, I decide it is to late to get a bow good shot. Even with the greatness of the Optimizer and the Onza 3, I would have not gotten it done.
Both Frankie and I could not get on him and get a clean shot!
The positive of this, we did see a branched shooter buck, though the buck was not a resident buck to the area. Thus ended the night of the 9th of September with the sighting of one shooter Blacktail Buck only!
On the Tuesday the 10th, I got off early from work and headed out to the vineyard. Again vineyard is a un-fenced 90 arce parcel of land that is just outside of Canby and Oregon City, Oregon. The deer come and go from many parcels of urual lands in Clackamas County. I have seen the same bucks when scouting on lands that are about 1-2 miles line of sight feeding in the fields.
I decided to give the tree stand another go and within an hour I decided I needed to do another spot and stalk. The deer just weren’t working the draw like they were the year before.
The taking of a buck in the draw during the opener and gutting the buck near the draw might have caused a problem? I can’t see why as the coyotes and buzzards had cleaned the bones and any other evidence of the kill within days.
There was not much shooting light left so I decided to place myself next to the treeline that lead out into the grapes plants (young 1st year plants). As I sat there, glassing, range finding spots that I though figured a buck might emerge from, I got this feeling that I had company and not of the human form. Everyone has had the feeling that there is something close and in many instances we don’t take advantage of the sense! In this case I moved my head and noticed a branched buck working almost in the same area that the buck the evening before. In this case I had a bit more light and knew if I did blow the movement I could get a shot off.
In one fluid motion I move from my sitting position and swung around into the kneeling position. (The buck had his head down the whole time he was moving through the plants.) He never made notice to my movement and with ease I pull back my Martin Onza 3 at 72#, the HHA Optimizer single pin sight was set at 40 yards and the pin focused just below the spine. The buck did not jump at release, as the Onza 3 very quiet! His reaction when the arrow hit was that of a rock. He just went down instantly and quivered for just a few moments. The arrow had gone through his heart! In my lifespan of hunting I have had this only happen twice before on bucks and both of them had been Blacktails also! The Blacktail buck most likely didn’t even know he was dead at impact! It doesn’t happen like this very often, but I will take it anytime I can. One never likes to have to track game in the dense cover of Western Oregon during the evening into darkness. A deer can go a little ways and disappear in the Blackberries, which make for difficult recovery on evening hunts. I have to say when there is a spark of adrenalin, old bones can move without pain!
Though the buck was only a 3 x 4 with the single eyeguard and most likely three (3) year, I would do it again. After opening day it had been tough and one should never have two legal tags. It makes it tough when your trying for the local stud buck. The rack is a very tight rack with the main beams almost touching. His brother the other 4 X 3 with two (2) eyeguards still roams the property. It appears that he will take up residency on this parcel and surrounding properties. He is a bit bigger and will make a good buck in 2014!
Since this writing I was a fortunate to harvest the Even 3 X 3 in November of this year!
Before reading this story, I have been told I should have let this buck go another year. I thought about it strongly! One never knows if they get to hunt private land each year. I have been lucky to be able to hunt this land for 4 years. Another Vietnam Veteran owns the land and I know how he feels when he is in the bush here. The buck had bred for two years! He had a gross rough score of 123″. One can not harvest Boone & Crockett every time in rural America! Frank Biggs
Hunting success is a matter of timing in movement & being somewhere at the correct time!
Most stories have more than one part, so naturally this story will also.
My son made a comment to me while he was raising the deer up in the tree with his truck winch. “Dad how come you always kill something when I am not with you?” Take time to think about that for a while!
Many of my readers have known that I have been in pursuit of one particular Columbia Blacktail buck that has been named the Even 3 X 3. Over the last two (2) years I have tried to harvest him via my Martin Onza 3 bow. First year 2012 I had him near my tree stand and made a terrible mistake when I setup the tree stand with the help of Mark and my son JR.! It was setup right- handed with no thought about it, and since I am left-handed, plus the fact of staging the deer right to left it created problems in a tight area in the treestand. Excuses? Yes! But Real!
In a previous story during the 2013 regular archery season, opportunity for Even 3 X 3 on opening day was there, yet wasn’t due to a subliminal message not to setup on the Even 3 X 3 at 42 yards. He surely would have gone down with the shot if I had taken it. I would have been selfish to say the least, with JR. having 5 bucks at a less than 5-6 yards from his ground blind. Thus Jr. harvested his first archery Blacktail buck deer! One of the finest shots I must say as he had the Even 3 X 3 with a pin on his boiler room and moved to the other buck! Why you ask? He knew that Even 3 x 3 was my target buck. This says a lot about my son and his relationship to me!
Even 3 x 3 had not been seen by humans since August 24th of the opening morning hunt, he and the other entire local branch bucks disappeared from the area. It should be noted that he had only come into the trail cams 3 times in a three month period. Each time was during the wee hours of the AM time zone. He would not hang around long near the Cam areas, with few pictures.
JR. and myself went looking for the Even 3 X 3 during the regular archery season, but only saw glimpses of a couple of spikes and one other deer a 4 X 3 with a single eyeguard. This particular buck and his brother another 4 X 3 with two Eyeguards had shown up twice on draw trail camera from July to August. All of sudden about two weeks into the archery season single eyeguard showed up twice, once with JR. and he was unable to get a shot on him. The following evening hunting by myself the buck was on the exact path I had seen him the evening prior. I was not expecting him and I felt there was something there. I was on my ass watching another opening in the timber, not aware that he was working in on me. I get a glance of him at about 50 yards head down. In one fluid motion I swung around to the kneeling position and pulled up on with the 40 yard single pin on my H.H.A. Sports Optimizer and the Martin Onza 3 bow. I release and he never knew what or who had hit him. He went down in the spot he was standing and kicked for only moments with the heart shot. JR. as usual was very quick to come out to the place and help Hawaiian quarter the buck.
Let’s get back to the story of taking down the Even 3 X 3 buck that I have had an obsession with for two years.
The Ford Escape was maneuvering around the frozen over potholes on the access road to the vineyard, trying not to make so much noise. My intention before going to work was to reset the trail cams and put in new batteries. I figured at 0830 there would be nothing moving and I could get the job done in about 10 minutes and get to work and not be the last one there. Rifle and cameras are all in the back of the rig.
Just to keep things straight I had an Oregon 615 Willamette Deer tag, which is an anything; goes tag from September 1st until February 28th 2014. This allowed me two deer in the 2013 year with an Oregon archery deer tag and the Oregon 615 deer tag. I of course wanted to harvest another buck with the Martin Onza 3, but un-expected things happen once in a while.
As I was avoiding the frozen potholes in the gravel road, I see to my right at approximately 150 yards a big buck trotting across the open grass area that lies between the vineyard and the forest. I wasn’t going fast, so I came to a stop, put the gear lever in park, open the door and leaving it open moved without losing concentration on getting to the back of the Escape and opening the rear hatch. Hatch open, I un-zipped the case, slipped out the Weatherby 257 mag., jacked a round into the camber, jumped into the ditch and then atop the blackberry berm. Trying to find the buck in the timber, I could see movement, but when I first pulled up on the movement, I could not see well enough as I had my sunglasses on. Quickly they were pushed up on my head and I could see that buck moving from behind a large Douglas Fir tree finally, then he stopped by another Douglas Fir tree in the mist of blackberries! In one quick movement I pulled down on him with the crosshairs solidly coming to rest on the boiler room, I pulled the trigger (I had been on the ready). To my surprise the buck dropped in his tracks with no movement. I was using a 120 grain Barnes X bullet hand load! “Crap I’ve gone and done it!” The distance to the buck was at about 275 yards + or minus 10 yards. Not a bad offhand shot freestyle, reminds me of the days of shooting competition in high school. The buck was the Even 3 X 3 and I knew that mentally when I saw him at 150 yards in first sight, the only buck on the place with a light color rack.
What is really IRONIC about a new mystery is I put that single 120gr. Barnes X (Vintage of the year 2000) into the chamber, with 100 gr. Hornady Weatherby factory loads in the magazine (Jr. buys factory). I have yet to find any of the remaining Barnes hand loads! I switched to Barnes Bullet in 1998 and the first time out, I shot a Mulie at around 650 yards and he dropped in his tracks! In the same year I shot a Bull elk at 1000 yards and it dropped in it’s tracks. A believer!
Note: I am a firm believer in not shooting off-hand unless I have too. I have a bi-pod on all my rifles when I take them in the field, which these days is not often. Tree limbs work great when the opportunity arises or going to the sitting position.
Note: This 257 Weatherby MK 5 rifle (Left-Handed) that has not been shot at game for over 10 years. It had always been a tack drive of a rifle since 1983 when I got it from Gene Ramsey, who bought it from me while I had the Burns Bros., Sportsmen’s Center on Grand Ave., in Portland, OR. A great time to be a Weatherby dealer in the days of Harry Bane and Roy Weatherby himself!
Again JR. would come to help with the quartering of the deer! This time he wanted to do old school and gut and take in whole! Jr. said to me “Dad that is more than 300 yards”, Frankie we will keep it at 275 yards.
This leads to me to the first comment that JR. made in the story! Many times when the mentor is hunting with the underscore we are not there for personal gain. Our thoughts are on helping others get it done. We react differently when by ourselves while hunting or any other activity. We react to the situation without thought when alone. Most season veterans have already gone through the process of saying “I saw four 6 X 6 bulls moving on the hillside”, without taking a shot. This comes with only experience in the field in any hobby! I like to think I am in combat mode! “Timing and Time are Limited!”
One has to react to the situation in the moment with knowing it is right! React with no hesitation! Never take too long to setup a shot, as WILD Game waits for no one! Most deer don’t wait for one to setup the sticks!
Meat was dropped off at: Sausage Kitchen – McLoughlin Blvd
The Oregon General Archery Season Opener proved to be a successful opening day hunt in the Willamette Valley for Blacktail Deer Bucks’. Neither of the two young men had every taken a Blacktail Buck with the bow and arrow!
The anticipation of the 2013 Oregon Archery Season Opener had been a very exciting anxiety brain thought for me.
Having myself wanting to target two (2) different bucks during the season, I was ready for the opener on August 24th, 2013. There would be two (2) other hunters hunting the small parcel (90 acres) of un-fenced land in the Willamette Valley of Oregon in the Clackamas County zone outside of Oregon City, Oregon. Neither of the other two (2) young bucks (Frankie or Mark) had ever taken a buck deer with the bow and arrow. Considering the Columbia Blacktail deer is one of the toughest to hunt, the odds are lowered. One hunter was my son Frank Jr. who has been hunting since he was 12 years old and the other hunter Mark S. one of Oregon’s finest… Both are experience hunters with the rifle and have taken Mule Deer, Blacktail Deer, Elk and Pronghorn. Mark would be hunting from his treestand at the far end of the property in which he can view the vineyard that the deer were still working over during the year. Jr. would be in a ground blind in the same draw that I was in, though I would be in the treestand. This year Jr. would be hunting for the first time with a 2013 Martin Rytrea Alien XT and also for the first time the HHA Sports 5519 Optimizer Bow Sight. All of us would be using again for the second year the Slick Trick 100gr. Broadhead.
Anticipation by all was at its highest with all of us to harvest a Blacktail buck, since we had many bucks working the area. At times it would seem we would have an atmosphere of a buck pasture, as does working the area lacking! Just before shooting time, I get a silent text message from Mark, “they are all around my tree”. My thoughts were of course those of jealousy with him getting first lick on a buck. Legal shooting time was upon us and I get another text message from Mark “Elfi is down, I smoked him”. Now I had a bit of relief that he did not take the Number 1 Blacktail on vineyard and there would still be a chance in the future.
Mark text me again that he would stay in this stand for an hour to wait on the deer and give us a chance.
Now the story gets really interesting, as Mark’s last text comes in, I see a lone deer moving through the tree to my left at a good pace. Thinking back the deer was running a bit erratic. This would come into play in about an hour of this sighting! It is now about 30 minutes later and I spot from the treestand about 4-5 bucks in the Douglas Firs, just milling around across the gravel road from the draw. I see they are moving to the North and there is an opening in the blackberries. I knew at this time they deer were heading into the draw. The bucks and a couple does go out of sight as they go around the blackberries, travel 30 yards down the gravel road and turn east into the draw. Quickly sending Jr. a text that they were coming towards him and too be on the ready. The action is about to start, as deer are under my stand coming from the South and I can see the bucks with does coming from the West into the draw.
I am just mesmerized by the movement and the amount of game upon us. I have my Optimizer set at 30 yards in anticipation of the bucks coming into my open shooting zone. The deer are on top of Jr.’s ground blind and I just sit there watching the action and not wanting to standup and get ready.
The big Even 3 X 3 is at 42 yards from me, if I were to shoot at the easy shot, the arrow’s flight would have to zoom between Douglas Fir branches and then over the top of Jr.’s blind. All the deer just stop at this point which is 2 – 10 yards from the blind. They know something is up at this point, but still wanting to move down the draw to the creek bottom. All of a sudden one of the bucks looks into the only open window in the portable blind. The buck has eye contact with Jr., (should have had sunglasses on) snorts and bulks. With that movement Even 3 X 3 and all the other bucks and deer are gone in a flash. I was mistaken since I could not see one of the bucks that remained. A Forked Horn with Eyeguards (only buck that is still in velvet) stands his ground at 5 yards from Jr.’s blind. In my mind I am saying shoot, what are you waiting for Frankie! A split second later I hear the report of the arrow hitting the buck in the zone. The buck walks off directly away from him, turns and jogs about 40 yards and the rest is history!
As for myself I am still stunned that I did not take the shot, but there was something in my mind that told me not do so it. Reasoning or Mind Drift? Quickly I am out of the stand congratulating Frankie and he find his deer in minutes. You ask why Jr. didn’t take the Even 3 X 3, same question I asked him! “Dad that is your buck that you have been chasing for 2 years, I wasn’t going to ruin that moment!”
After finding Frankie’s buck from a good blood trail within a couple of minutes, taking pictures and High Fiving, Frankie now tells me that we need to help Mark find his deer. This happen to be a work day for me and want to get one deer Hawaiian Quartered and then worry about Mark’s buck secondly! We do go over to Mark who was coming back to the truck to get rid of his gear. His buck had not dropped out in the vineyard. We all went back to help him find his buck. A most difficult venture at first as there was little sign of blood to track. After about 15 minutes I told Mark we would be back, as we need to get the buck taken care of now! Mark informed me and Jr. that he had called his Dad, Dan to come and help.
As you read this you wonder about Mark’s hit on the deer. It will be another story once Mark gets it written, but from the video he had taken, it was a good hit and finding the buck would come. We get Frankie’s deer done in about 30 minutes Hawaiian style of quartering, taking only the meat out.
Get with Mark and Dan, as they found some more blood. Telling him about the deer I had seen moving through the trees just after his shot, proved to be the positive outcome of finding his buck. The deer have had the habit of escaping or when hit to travel down into a deep canyon on the farm, that I did not even know existed until January of this year. As soon as Mark and Dan hit the deer trail at the top of the canyon the blood trail was very heavy, but not without the buck expiring in the in heavy cover. The dandy Pope & Young Blacktail buck didn’t travel more than 300 yards from the stand, though he made an oval track circle to the right, then straight into the canyon.
Frankie’s buck was a really nice Velvet Forked Horn with Eyeguards, with great sylemtry. Mark’s buck was a very tall 3 X 3 with Eyeguards and would make Pope & Young. It also was the buck that I had put an arrow completely through in 2012 that did not affect the deer. Strange as there were no signs once skinned he had ever been hit, yet we have pictures the day after in 2012 of wounds on left and right side.
At this writing Even 3 X 3 is still alive waiting for the rut to find him. Since opening day he has only been seen 3 times, twice on cameras at the wee hours of the darkness in the morning and once during the general rifle season out in the open field!
It is great that the two young shooters found their marks on bucks to give them the confidence of the bow and arrow on big game.
In the State of Oregon, bowhunters have greater amount of time and opportunities to hunt for big game.