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!
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.
I truly wish everyone that reads this, A Very Merry Christmasand Happy New Year. I do hope that the Holidays are great with the gathering of family and friends. May the New Year bring prosperity to this great Nation and those that support Her!
2013 Has been a great year for B Young RV and the employees’ of our company that will start it’s 5 year in business. I have been blessed to work for B Young RV from the first couple of months of being of being open. It is great to work for a company that truly cares about their employees, for the second year in a row Bruce Young and his business partner Mark Bretz have given to every employee with profit sharing checks at a time of the year that everyone can use it. It is blessing to all that receive that never expected it!
The November 2013 Metro RV Show was an outstanding show with the selling of every Tiffin Allegro Open Road Motorhome. I would have to say it was a wild time at the show. One of my new customers came to the show while heading out of town to Montana. They just had to see and touch the new Tiffin Open Road 36LA they had heard so much about. Words as they were leaving “we will be back, we are buying that coach.” They did come back the following week and buy a Tiffin Allegro Open Road 36LA like we had at the show in Maroon Coral exterior, though they had to do a factory order. The Tiffin Allegro Bus 45LP, didn’t last long either at the show, as neighbors’ to the north of CONUS came to the show and bought it… I can only say it was a recorded show for B YOUNG RV!
If I haven’t said it before, it is true that everyone can camp year round in Oregon. RVing is a year round event in Oregon. Do you remember how the weather was in Portland Metro area of Oregon during Thanksgiving this year? Well we pulled our motorhome out of storage at Portland Luxury RV & Boat Storage in Milwaukie, Oregon on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I had told PLRB, that I would not be using it until January! “Hmm!” Dawn said to me at PLRB! Head out on Tuesday in the Heavy Fog on I-5. We took the cutoff to Drain and Reedsport with the fog trying to lift in the coastal mountains, once we hit the turn off to Loon Lake on the Umpqua Highway the blue sky emerged. From what I understand the fog never lifted in Portland during the time we were gone. The weather was great and the temperature was around 50-55 degrees on the Oregon Coast. Fish & Chips at Bedrocks on the wharf at Winchester Bay, Oregon and the cook did disclose where he had harvest the nice Roosevelt Bull that hangs in hangs in the back dining area. . . Classified!
Remember that you are family and can stop by anytime! Coffee, Cookie and RV’s Always!
Mike is one of my neighbors that I have know for about 17 years. He has hunted the area for many years and knows it better than anyone else that I know. While turkey hunting near the same area this past year he had an encounter with a Cougar. Having seen the Cougar and missing him, continuing with his turkey hunt in a dense and steep area, the Cougar stalked him up close and personal. This time the Cougar the was the loser of the encounter. I greatly appreciate the following story of his 2013 hunt, when most were complaining about the opener state wide being a mess with rain and high winds. HOORAH FOR MIKE!
It was a windy and rainy day on this opening day of deer season 9/28/13 in the White River Hunt Unit just above Mosier Oregon. I had decided to start out high this time and walk down hill, for the most part anyway. I got myself into the woods just before day light and was sitting under a tree watching it rain and all I could think about is how last year the weather was the complete opposite, clear and hot.
This is going to be the year for a big one. When I was able to see me way through the woods with about 50 to 75 feet of visibility I started my hunt working the Old Hood River-The Dallas road that has been over grown for years. If you did not know the area would not even now what you were walking on. I made my way out of the bigger timbers and into the scrub oak.
At this time now it was around 8:30 or 9:00 am and I am wet through my rain gear and starting to feel like this is going to be a long day trying to keep the wind in my face as it was changing directions what seemed like every 5 min.
That is when I saw some movement in the brush about 65 yards in front of me. I crouched down to where I could just see over the brush when I spotted this beauty. He was broad side looking right at me. What was going through my mind was I was going to hit a branch, but if I waited too long he was going to be gone so I let it go. So when I saw him hunch up I knew I had hit him. He ran about 30 yards when I heard him crash! I could not wait to see him up close so I started walking his way rather quickly and low and be hold he fell right on the edge of one of the so called roads that I had mowed down this last spring for hikers and bike riders to use, so I was able to drive the truck right up to him, that never happens.
It is very tough for the team to stop hunting the ranch, it is an addiction!
It is about time that I share this story with my readers and friends on how the hunt really happened and where! It happen a few years back, lets say some 25 years ago, (which feels yesterday), during an opening day bow hunt in Central Oregon in the Grizzly Hunt Unit for Mule deer. The story is of humor, comedy of errors, or just plain hunting! We would be hunting the Rancho Rajneesh again or better known to the locals as “The Big Muddy” we spent a great deal of time over there, glassing, scouting and taking pictures of the deer and elk that thrived in the area. On this hunt I would be accompanied by one of my hardcore hunting partners Dave Brill who is a very accomplish bow and rifle hunter.
On this trip I actually let someone else drive their truck. This would work out greatly for me at the end of the hunt. “Dave it looks like I won the toss, so I get first shot at a Mulie buck” “Ok! Bubba, even if it is my truck and all!” “Ya! Dave, like you would let me drive your truck?” That was a great line to use, but the next day, I would have his truck while he hunted… I needed to get the deer meat into cold storage in Madras, Oregon. One of the grocery stores in town had a separate locker for game meat! Again we would be hunting one of our favorite spots in Central Oregon, which would be outside of Donnybrook, Oregon on the south side of the Rancho Rajneesh.
There was a couple of parcels we found ourselves going back too every year, as it was B.L.M., yet tied to a couple of ranches that we could pass through and sometimes hunt. Ah! You are wondering of the spot, well I will give you the spot of big bucks as near Hinkle Butte! Old man Crowley (Raymond) was a great man to know in the area! You could find him on his front porch at his home in Donnybrook along Gosner Rd. He had a number of parcels that bordered the BLM in the “Big Muddy Ranch.” This gave a save access into the BLM without being noticed. We were able to keep are secret spots to ourselves for over a 20 year time frame. This land is now owned by Young Life and a real estate broker in three separate parcels.
We had spotted a number of bucks during our trip into the area for the evening hunt. The morning hunt was a bust for both of us! I love to hunt the evening, as most everyone else has settled back down into their camps. It does not bother me to hike out in the dark when I am deep into the interior of B.L.M.; usually the evening is from about 1330 on. If I look back over the years I have probably harvest more game from 1300 until dusk! Figuring that big bulls and big bucks need to stretch a bit after their mid-day nap!
Let’s get back to the story, as I stated earlier, we had seen a number of bucks on the way in. As we were approaching the honey spot, I notice a real dandy buck up on the hill with what I figured at about a 29” outside spread and heavy racked. Hunt on, as I roll out the truck and took off with my pack, pack frame, crackers, light sweater, Leupold binoculars, camera, new Martin Onza bow, and Kershaw knives! Oh! Did I mention that I forgot water in my pack? The buck is working up the hillside and not knowing that I am behind him I figured. So quiet that I am in the stalk of this “Big Muddy” buck. He is working up in front of me through the Junipers, rocks and Sagebrush still in view at about 90 yards. I feel that I am closing the distance quickly and when I get within 40 yards I will just let him have it when I grunt at him and get him to swing broadside. As I turn the corner of the ridge I was working up he has disappeared, “what no way he is gone.” The wind was coming down the ridge into my face; I just missed seeing him turn into the draw…
Got over that little trip in the mind and decide to continue the hunt at a place we called the swamp.
As I approach the swamp, I see a lone buck standing at the edge of the water with lots of cover to work into him. The buck is not very wide, but tall and extremely heavy with abnormal points. As I get ready to drill him at 35 yards (he has no clue I am behind him), out of the corner of my left eye, I see about 25 bucks starting to get up in another part of the swamp in the cattails at about 45 yards. They were now in full line of sight. I swung onto this buck that was pushing 30” who was just standing their broadside looking me, as were all the rest. Easy shot and I took the shot, only to see it hit the only branch of Sagebrush sticking up at the boiler room. The arrow of course deflected and cut the hair off the top of the buck’s back. He gave me a smile and just walked off into the direction sun and they all stood out at 70 yards on the open hill side! “A bird in the hand is worth how many birds in the bush?” I would have say that was pretty wild and not ever going to be repeated in my lifetime of so many bucks taking a bath together at one time. I found a few empty Ivory Soap wrappers at the waters’ edge…
I am now over that experience also and moving on as I had more ground to cover and see what was out there. I move alone a Juniper tree line and spot 6 good bucks, one being swamper in a small basin at about ¼ mile away. To run the game down to within 100 or so yards, then put the final stalk on was great enjoyment for me. Mule deer with enough cover are pretty easy to sneak up on. I get to Juniper and Sagebrush along a B.L.M. cross section fence line that was next to the small barren basin which is about 50 yards from the deer. You wonder about the 50 yards and all! I used my range finder the wheel type and it said 50 yards to the big buck. I took a picture of the big boy also! You’re saying how many big bucks can this guy find? Well it was un-real, but real. The big bucks were there and everywhere around the area within a 50 mile circle. Alright being skeptical of my dial a wheel range finder (just got it), I felt the buck was no more than 40 yards as I drew back and shot through the brush, I should have believed the range finder, as the buck must have been 50 yards, as I watch arrow past under his belly.
Almost! Horseshoes anyone?
Now I am really bummed out about this whole hunt and rushing into the hunt and not believing first thoughts. Well there was still some day light left and I never give up until it is illegal to shoot.
I am now up on the plateau glassing down into another basin. All of a sudden I see a single buck at about 1000 yards out. I figure he is about 25” to 26” wide and a pretty good looking buck, plus the fact it about time to get the job done. He is feeding in the middle of the basin, but I could see that he was working towards the West. In his path of travel it would lead him past a big pile of dead Juniper trees. Hunt on, as I race to cover ground and get on the buck. Getting within a quarter mile of the spot that I would ambush the buck, I drop my pack frame. With only my Martin Onza (first run production Onza) I raced to the pile of dead junipers. I was completely invisible (another words he had not clue I was standing in the open and waiting for him) from where I was standing, yet I could see his rack as he moved along the pile. I went to full draw and had the 30 yard pin on the spot I figured he would come to once he cleared the pile. It is great that he covered the distance in a short period of time as the Onza had a draw weight of #90. It was mental thing in those days of bow hunting to have the biggest and baddest bow made! In the 21st Century my new Onza 3 with a draw weight of 72 is most likely about 100 fps faster than my first Onza and it was a hottest bow in the 20th Century! (Yes, I know believed the range finder and mentally plugged in points of yardage.) As he cleared the pile and was broadside to me, yet was still feeding, I let my fingers do the work. As the XX75 2317 26 1/2” with a 125 gr. Muzzy in flight the buck look straight at me into my sunglasses (he heard the bow, but it was too late for him). That was the last time I saw his eyes looking at me, as to my amazement the arrow hit him dead center in the mouth. “You got to be kidding me”, as the buck jumped over the side of the rim that I didn’t know was even there. I thought to myself as the light was fading, what I am going to do now? I set my bow down on the rim and started to glass in to the bottom of the canyon. It took me about 2 panic minutes to spot him hunkered up in the bottom (arrow went down this throat about 12 inches). Ok! I have found him, but I don’t have my pack frame or camera. I took off on a dead run to where I left my pack frame and ran right back to the rim. It took me another 90 seconds to remember where I left my Martin Onza. Finally I get myself down to the buck, take pictures as no one is going to believe this shot. I give the buck my “Hawaiian Cut” which puts him in quarters with the removal of backstrap and tenderloins. This is the only way I field dress big game, fast (30 minutes on a deer) and there is little blood! I get as much as I can on the pack frame along with the head and cape.
I have to climb out of the bottom and head back to the truck that would be waiting for me I hoped. It would be about 3 miles line of sight to get back and light was fading fast, real fast. There was a great deal of cheat grass and it made it possible to see for a while. I had decided to take a short cut to the road, which would be a mistake for me. It was now dark and dark, as the thunder heads over the John Day River were settling in. Thunder and Lighting now was everywhere, plus it started to rain. When the sky would light up I would move towards the direction of my pickup spot. I could see the micro wave tower light and that helped me for a while. I then lost all the grass and got into just rocks. I could no longer go forward in reaching the truck or Dave. I had lost the lighting as it would move further east towards Mitchell, Oregon. I was going to have to spend the night out in the weather with only a light sweater on. Did I mention that I had forgotten water, now I needed it for sure after eating the crackers? The crackers were pretty dry. It was a good thing that I trained in the desert on running missions with no water… The temperature had now dropped and my sweater was not enough at this point. I hate DIRT, (did I say I hate dirt?) but knew the only way I was going to make until morning, was to hunker down under a low hanging Juniper and bury myself in the dirt (dust). Though it was raining it would not last very long, as the storm had past. That is just what I did; waking up about every two hours to see if light had come finally over the John Day River. It was probably about 5:30 AM when I woke up again and could see a hint of sun coming over the hills above the John Day River. There was not a cloud in the sky now with only the sun to show up for the day!
Later in the day the temperature reaches about 98 degrees, same the first day. I was now up and getting the pack frame on with most of the buck attached. It was a good thing I did not try to venture further during the night; I surely would have found myself in the bottom of narrow rock crevice for life. There was no way that I would have seen the edge and would have fallen to the bottom. Making it out to the dirt road, out of no where, Dave and his truck appeared. Dave had driven the dirt road hitting the horn once in a while until about midnight, and then parked off the road until morning; he figured I would be ok with my military background!
I told Dave it was time for him to hunt the elk he had seen while he was coming up the road. I could get the front quarters out later in the afternoon! Dave never got on the elk again, but at the end of the season we went back to our spot and he killed a great buck! That will be another story, but I will let you see Dave’s buck from the last weekend of the archery season in 1987!
Morale of the story: Be Prepared – Have a Trusting Friend
Hunting the Rancho Rajneesh aka “The Big Muddy” Ranch #1
Before we start the story of a lifetime, there is more to the story than just the harvesting of a monster Oregon Mulie (Mule Deer) buck, but more about time period of this great hunt.
“It is 1985, a time in Oregon‘s History that will never be duplicated!”
The following story might be hard for some to fathom, but is real and unless you’ve had the opportunity to experience even a part of it, it may appear to be something from a fictional book!
This story is also on Archery Talk:
During this era of time we would be hunting on and off of the original “The Big Muddy Ranch” located in Oregon close to Madras, Donnybrook (Historical), Ashwood (Post Office), Clarno (Historical) and the Famous Town of Antelope or better know at the time as Rajnesshpuram. The Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known as Osho) came to America from India to be a teacher of his faith and culture. He would take up residence on the “Big Muddy Ranch” outside of Clarno, Oregon (Historical)! The main house would be at 3 miles line of sight to Clarno’s Grange Hall which sat along the John Day River! There would be more than 2000 disciples on the ranch!
The purchase of the ranch was made through lawyers, un-be known (as the local story goes) to the Rubin Evans as to who was actually buying the 64,000 acres of land that also encompassed a great deal of BLM and some State Lands. Rubin made a great deal of money (4.3M gross) on the sale of rimrock, sage and juniper trees that could not support any sizeable amount of cattle. The City of Antelope (97001 Zip) some 12 miles away from the main ranch was later taken over the Bhagwan and his followers, thus it was incorporated and called Rajneeshpuram.
Rajneeshpram (Antelope) and the Rancho Rajneesh now had its own Peace Force that carried Uzi’s and M-16’s. Traveling into the ranch on the county road (Cold Camp Rd) and once past the boundary of the Smith Ranch (cattle guard) were Security Huts with active machine gun toting Peace Force clear down to the numerous buildings and hotel! I can remember when Burns Bros., Travel Stops sold FM handheld radios to the Ranch. They were used to monitor people driving through the ranch on the county road. How much time it would take to travel in and out of the ranch. There were back doors into the BLM via Gosner and Muddy Creek Roads to the southeast, but you still would get stopped in remote areas. Questioned of course what your intent was, which we would say was traveling to Mitchell, Oregon. Once out of sight, you would get yourself deep into the BLM, such as Horse Heaven. It is hard for most to understand what this place became and how things were done. I would have to think it was one of the largest Commune’s of its type that has ever been established in the United States. There was even a Crematorium and Machine Gun Range on the ranch. If one ventured deep enough into the interior of the ranch, you found many un-expected buildings and sights! A great deal of land use laws were broken by the leaders of Rajneeshpuram and Rancho Rajneesh!
The people of Rancho Rajneesh even damned up Current Creek (dam is still there) and made a dandy lake with a floating lodge on the lake for the followers to sunbath. As said before they broke many land use laws and even made a paved road that was built in the center of the ranch and put in an airport. The paved road was built so the Bhagwan could exit without notice to Madras, Oregon in one of his many Rolls Royce’s. The road came out on Gosner Rd. on the south side of the ranch.
The Bhagwan did some improvements to the land with the planting of wheat, alfalfa and putting in small stick dams in the creeks plus the electric fence that surrounded more than 100 square miles of BLM and Private Land. It create a atmosphere for deer, elk and antelope to multiple, live longer and move into neighboring ranches in the area up to 10 – 15 miles away line of sight.
It was not an easy tasking for anyone to hunt the public land, as the Bhagwan thought the BLM also belong to HIM, his (followers-disciples) would do everything to keep hunters out of the public land that intertwined the ranch. I probably forgot tell you that there were hundreds of No Trespassing Signs put on the parameter of the ranch, which included the posting of all the BLM, even if it was not on Rancho Rajneesh. We use to joke that if we were ever caught, that are destiny would be left at the Crematorium!
The challenge was on for myself and a few other fellows, such as “Stick”, “Baily”, “DB”, “MJ”, “Bennie” and “Bone” just to mention a few that I knew that would hunted for the monster Mule Deer bucks that harbored on the ranch! I did leave out the fact that in 1984 we discover Elk on the ranch while glassing for bucks in a basin below the tower via the county rd. I will leave that up to your imagination whether we hunt for elk, but then that is another story…
If one thought they would get away with trespassing on the private part of the ranch, they had something to look forward too, like 50 – 100 young people some with weapons in lines working down the ridges or draws where you might have been spotted from the “Tower” that had windows & maps with a 360 degrees layout! The “Tower” was put on the highest spot of the ranch that would allow the viewing of draws such as Gallagher Canyon, Fir Tree, Lyon Ridge and Vanderhoof Canyon. It was not only the Rajneesh patrollers (disciples) that could number in numbers, but the local law enforcement… I will never understand the alliance that was between the cult and government’s police forces’.
Oh! It would have been great to have my BLM mapping program and a modern day Garmin GPS, which would leave no doubt to being legal! Then again BLM had great maps and I could read and visualize the land marks!
It was once told to “MJ” by an old Oregon State Police Game Officer of the time,“Go in on BLM and Come out on BLM”.
The cult would take the State of Oregon and other people to the cleaners over the years with Debt, above the law and trying to rid Wasco County of a good people.
In 1987 the Rajneeshpuram came to an end and not without controversy, such as Ma Anand Sheela setting up a Bio-Terrorism attempt in The Dallas with Salmonella Poisoning. She would later be deported back to the United States from Germany to stand trial. The Bhagwan would be deported (allowed to leave) back to India! He died in 1991 of Aids, so you might be able figure out what else went on in the ranch besides the spiritual teachings!
I would have to say it was like those that drank the Kool-Aid at thePeoples Temple Agricultural Project of Jonestown. People gave their wealth away to follow the Bhagwan’s radical teachings! I understand their standings in the cult were based on the money!
Now let’s get one with the story!
The Oregon Archery Season was coming to a close in three days. I’s passed up many smaller bucks during the early season, trying to find a P & Y Mule Deer.
Now it was performance time!
I made a quick call to Dave Brill because I knew I could count on him to go on a mission with me at the drop of a hat. I told him we could make a Saturday afternoon hunt over on the breaks of the John Day Rive rin Central Oregon.
The final weekend of the season also happened to be my drill weekend with the U.S. Naval Reserve. Luckily, I only had to spend half of Saturday and Captain’s Call was out at 1130. I made it to Dave’s place just past noon in east Clackamas County. There was an hour drive to the BLM, leaving us about 6 hours maximum for hunting.
On the way to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, we spotted a small herd of mule deer, with five bucks located on Earl’s Smith’s property. All looked pretty nice, and I decided to take a few photos. They were in the 23 to 25 inch class with one respectable four point at about 28 inches. I did not have permission to hunt Earl’s Ranch, which would come later!
At 3:00 p.m., we reached the B.L.M. land on the west side of theJohn DayRiver. There a mutual friend, MJ, met us. He wanted to show us where he had seen some big bucks. In the middle of the basin were four “swamper” Mulie bucks, two around 28” and two in the 30” neighborhood. I know, at this point you probably think I’m really pulling your leg. I did take a few pictures of these bucks also, as they were not hunt-able at this location also.
Then, it was time to put down the camera and get down to the business at hand. We split up and MJ headed over to his a ranch he would be hunting located along the John Day River to locate a Mulie he felt would easily go 36”. By the way M.J. took this buck during the rifle season and he was 36”. M.J. was a rifle hunter that we put up with as he was great with the game location logistics!
With only about three hours of hunting time left in the day, finding a big Mulie was going to be even tougher. Just before dark, I located a buck that would be about 28” to 29”, but he wouldn’t cooperate as I just couldn’t get on him in the open terrain pushing to fast before fading light.
We departed the area as Mother Nature began to drown the junipers and sagebrush. The most difficult part of the trip was yet to come. As I told you earlier, this was supposed to be a Saturday afternoon hunt-only. Now, Dave and I would have to make phone calls to our respective wives. Both ended being most understanding, which meant they knew we would be calling. So we would have one more chance to get our big bucks before the rifle hunters came out of the woodwork in about 1 week. You wonder how they were most understanding, well we did stretch the truth and told them we had a buck down and tried locate it in the dark, but would have resume in the morning!
The next morning we awoke to 39 degrees, patchy fog and overcast skies in Madras, Oregon. We were working against the clock now, so crispy bacon and eggs at the Madras Truck Stop were out so a Coke Cola and Hershey Chocolate Bar were in order. Ok! Had a large jar of Jerky!
There is one smell in Oregon that really turns me on and that is the smell of wet sage at daybreak. You have to know the feeling you get from the smell, as this is an optimum time in space to kill a buck!
It was already light when we arrived at the main access road. Strangely, we saw nothing along the road going in. When turning down into the main access road the Muddy Rd., there were fresh tire tracks in the road as it was very muddy, that was the answer to not seeing any game! The roads in the area turn to slick clay like surfaces and deep ruts. In about two miles we caught up to a Black Bronco II in front of us and the driver climbed out with bow in hand. We pulled up for a brief conversation, and soon he couldn’t hold himself back. He said he’d already had taken shots at 2 big bucks and that he saw a 30” buck feeding. In the back of the rig was a respectable three-point his partner had taken with a 50-yard heart shot. We also told him that he was now on ranch property and he better not be here hunting! Oh! Don’t get out of the truck with your bow if stopped by the patrollers! He might get a chance to visit the Crematorium…
This 30” talk was something that should be investigated, I figured since it was located on BLM by the way he described the spot. David and I headed back, hustled out of my truck and I climbed up the draw where the hunter said he’d seen the buck! The draw would lead into a small basin with volunteer wheat. It was in the BLM near Currant Creek, one the great spots to hunt. There, at 45 yards, was a massive buck, feeding and completely unaware of my presence. He was a long tined four-point, with extremely long eyeguards. I felt he would be real close to 200 Pope and Young and real Oregon Record contender. (You can tell I already had him on the wall!) I did not have my bow with me, just my camera (I didn’t even take a picture).
I watched him for a few more minutes from behind a juniper grove, and then slowly backed away. I hurried back to the rig, told Dave what happened, and quickly returned to the spot with my bow. He was gone! The shot was there if I had taken my bow instead of the camera.
I returned to my truck, more than a bit upset with myself, but Dave quickly lifted my spirits.
“Frank,” he said, “I’ve located some more dandy bucks!”
As we stood there making our game plan up, there was a group with some twenty bucks in the distance, but immediately are plans to hunt ended quickly. It was incredibly exciting to watch them through the binoculars as they departed out of the tight draw in single file. The smallest buck of the group was no less than 24 inches wide. Seeing that group of bucks only made me a firm believer in “buck pastures”. I have to tell that over the years hunting here, it was always like that. Very few does were ever seen in the area during the archery season. It should be noted that the big buck in the back was at about 38” on the roll jabbing the other bucks to move along. He was a buck that one would never forget it if seen again.
Within a few moments we on a small out cropping of rocks, Dave and I located a good buck, bedded and chewing his cud. I put the spotting scope on him-not real wide, but great long tines with super eyeguards. I felt that he would score very well, a 180-plus. The hunt was on! I dropped into the canyon, using junipers for cover. The terrain wasn’t too rough and I was able to circle around the rim quickly without making noise. In these days I was running no less than 50 miles a week! The wind was coming straight at me, and a light mist of fog hung in the area. What more could I ask for? I slipped into the junipers between the buck and myself.
At 40 yards approximately I decided it was time and drew my bow back without thought, set the 40 yard pin on the lungs just in case I miss-judged the distance of the bedded buck. The 125 grain 3 blade broadhead was delivered to him right into the lungs behind the shoulder. He was up in a hurry, but soon collapsed down the draw.
Thanks to Dave’s help, we were able to drag him to the truck fairly easily. I couldn’t wait to put the tape to him. With a quick measuring, he went 27” wide, not counting the “cheater points” on each side of the main beam of the same length. I also did a quick P & Y score for a solid 198 green score. My net score on this tremendous buck was 190 P&Y. (After some 15 years I had him officially measured at Sportsmen’s Show and he would be set at 188 2/8, to bad I waited to long to put him in the Oregon Record Book). Just think he wasn’t even one of the real monster Mulies and my taxidermist felt the buck was only about 5 years old!
While leaving the area, Dave and I saw at least six more good bucks. I went back during the general rifle season to camera guide and saw two taken that went 32” and 38” wide.
As the readers might find it hard to believe the amount of deer, I will close with this one comment.
In the mid 80’s and until about 2001, it was not uncommon to see as many as 100 plus bucks in a morning or evening drive!
The 38” buck that was mention earlier on my bow hunt was the same that one that Greg A. would take in the rifle season in 1985. The buck was 38” on the roll and would have a net score of 201 B & C. The buck was killed within a 2 miles of where he was spotted him during the archery season. He was taken on a piece of private land that bordered Rancho Rajneesh to the S.W.
You are probably wondering why I have not put down having any encounters with the disciples of Rancho Rajneesh, when you know the enemies’ habits you learn when to come and go! We did have some encounters, but then it also help to have a local rancher with you once in a while.
Whether it was to get dropped off at the BLM corner or BLM Section by someone, bike ride or run the 12 miles back to Antelope to get the pickup vehicle, it was always a rush and an outstanding Clandestine Operation in Hunting.
Camo was worn to conceal from the enemy, not the game!