Tag Archives: willamette unit blacktail hunting

2013 Oregon Archery Blacktail Deer Hunt – First Time Shooters!

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.

Mark's Blacktail in the velvet!
Mark’s Blacktail in the velvet!
Frankie’s Blacktail in the velvet and how he saw him on opening day, but in the daylight!


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.

As the bucks were moving down into the draw

Mark with his P & Y Buck!  First bow kill of big game!
Mark with his P & Y Buck! First bow kill of big game!

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.

Frankie with his first bow buck kill with the bow and arrow!
Frankie with his first bow buck kill with the bow and arrow!

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.

He still lives and looks to have made it through the rifle season in Oregon.  No one is suppose to hunt this place with a rifle!
He still lives and looks to have made it through the rifle season in Oregon. No one is suppose to hunt this place with a rifle!

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!”

A great hunt that I got to see the hunt un-fold from above!
A great hunt that I got to see the hunt un-fold from above!

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.

Dad and Son teamed up to trace the buck!  4 eyes many times works better than 2!  Hoorah!
Dad and Son teamed up to trace the buck! 4 eyes many times works better than 2! Hoorah!

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.

Bwana Bubba


Mark’s 2012 Oregon 615 Tag Blacktail Hunt

Legendary “Stickers” Hits The Deck

Mark's buck prior to loading "Stickers" up to be field dressed! Great Picture Mark!

The great thing about Oregon is that you can sometimes be very lucky enough to have two (2) deer tags.   One of those special tags if you have property to hunt is the Willamette Unit 615 tag.  You can take a buck or doe during the long time frame of the hunt with rifle or bow.  So if you’re a bow hunter and a rifle hunter you can pick and chose your weapon of choice.

In this case Mark who is one of my hunting partners here in the valley had decided to bow hunt the parcel of land we have access to in the valley and harvest his first archery deer and make it a Blacktail buck. He also had enough preference points to be able to draw the 615 tag.  Mark drew his 615 Willamette tag and also purchased the archery deer tag.

Prior to the hunt in the early summer months of June, Mark and Jr. were very instrumental in getting all the tree stands up and ground blinds on the property for the archery season and Mark’s 615 Hunt.  The ground work had been set for a great 2012 season.  The big thing for those of us archery hunting for a buck was to get it done prior to September 1st, as the 615 hunt starts on the 1st with lots of action in the rural valley and it might effect the archery season.


Cannot give the identity of the butchers that help in quartering the Blacktail!

Mark during the archery season had one (1) particular Blacktail buck that he wanted to harvest along with the rest of us and that was “Stickers”.  During the first two (2) weeks of the archery season in Oregon “Stickers” never came in to the view of any of us.  In just one evening Mark had more than 9 bucks to choose from within 25 yards and past up all of them.   It is very interesting to me as there were 2 other shooters for the early part of the archery season.   Another buck that never came in during daylight hours has been the Odd 3 X 3, leaving only the Even 3 X 3 doing the daylight hours once in a while, which know all to well.


The Big 3 of the M & L Ranch - We think, but the rut has not started!

That is another story within itself and this is about Mark’s great hunt and shot. Mark did not make the opening day of the 615 Willamette hunt, but managed to get enough time to go out the same evening that Jr. was hunting from another tree stand about ½ mile away during the middle of the week.   Mark had decided to use his tree stand on the western sector of the farm, plus use his trusty 308 Browning Lever Action that is Grandpa gave him.   There was about 20 minutes of legal light left of hunting during the first evening of this great hunt for Mark!

About a week earlier there was a buck that had been hit by an arrow with only a surface wound and the buck was doing very well, which was evident on the trail cams.  Mark heard a noise of breaking dead-fall and the 3 X 3 that had taken the arrow hit appears!  Mark thought about taking him, but at 8 yards he can tell the buck is doing well and this is a special tag for the chance of getting a very good Blacktail.  There was still about 15 minutes of legal light and he decides to wait just a little longer.  He hears another twig snap along one of the access trails to the field.  Along comes “Stickers” on the trail, but with brush making it difficult to get on him, Mark just waits him out.  He is now hidden behind a tree, not giving a shot.  Light is fading and Mark is a real sticker of being legal with his hunting.

Great hunting ethics as Mark has been taught from his Grand Dad and Father.   Just then “Stickers” moves away from the tree and comes broadside at 10 yards!  The rest is history as the 150gr. Remington Core-Lok put the buck down in his tracks. Mark then gets a call from Jr., “is that you who did the shooting”? Jr. and Tamra quickly make their way over to Mark!   Mark has Jr. get his truck and they were able to get within, Ah! Maybe 15 yards of the fallen trophy Blacktail!  Get Pictures is all I text back to all of them!!!

“Stickers” is an interesting buck, definitely the one of the dominate bucks of the area.  He is a rock solid rack buck with Symmetry in shape, but is a 3 X 2 with both long eye-guards.  Looking straight on him, you would not known he was a fork on the left side.  He does have sticker off the back side of the fork. The Willamette Valley Blacktail Buck field dressed without the hide and head at  130 lbs.  That is probably the biggest Blacktail that I have seen or known about at that weight.
You have to admit that this about the biggest Willamette Valley Blacktail you have seen hanging!
Now Mark sets his future 2012 hunting with the bow for one of the other dominate bucks during the late season archery season. I would like Jr. to harvest one of the bucks, but all N.W. hunters know that Blacktails can be harder to hunt then any other species of deer in North America.
 Congratulations to Mark on his great shot and patience!

Oregon Blacktail Hunt – First Deer

It is not about size, but being able to harvesting a buck during the regular season and filling my freezer!

Jeff gets his first deer ever with borrowed 270 in the Willamette Valley of Oregon!

Frankie decide he would help out his cousin Zach’s buddy Jeff get a buck off of a small section of land he had access to in the Willamette Valley close to Oregon City, Oregon. It was the second weekend of the of the general Blacktail rifle hunt for western Oregon.

Picture of Jeff's Buck taken during the Oregon archery season in August 2011

The two young men traipse all over the 100+ acres of land through the blackberry forest, vine maple tangs and thick reprod. Not a deer was spotted during this hunt. As we all know Blacktails aren’t just going to let you walk up them unusually. So both of the boys were a little upset with what daylight was left quickly going to leave them for the walk back to the truck parked on the opposite side of the property.

There is a section where the grapes are trying to make a start on the farm that you can work along and possibly catch a deer along the tree lines. Now there was only one (1) hunter with Frankie working hard to find Jeff a deer, so Jeff and Zach could have some winter meat and plus his first kill!

By now they were walking along the tree line and working their way to the access road out. Frankie, hey he got out his bino’s and scanned the distant tree line along the grass field. “There is a buck just coming out into the grassy area.” There just happen to be a stump and Jeff had the rifle resting on the stump. The distance was about 250 yards, light failing at this point, the buck turns broadside! There was the report from the rifle and Frankie with is glass still on the buck sees it drop in the same tracks it was standing in! “Whoa, outstanding shot Jeff.”

The boys quickly made their way to the buck via the tree line and catching the gravel access road. They were not allowed to shortcut through the grapes. The deer had already taken out a number of them, so having excited hunters running through the grapes was not a good idea. A few pictures with a camera phone were taken. One of these days I will get Frankie to carry a decent camera in the backpack!

When Jeff got back to his house, Zack and his family were home. They gave him a bad time for shooting a small forked horn buck. The question back from Jeff Brodie was “what did you guys get in Heppner?” Zip! Hmm!

Borrowed rifle, Borrowed Ammo, Borrowed Knife, Buddies Truck! Moral of the story, Jeff filled his freeze with nice tasting valley venison!

As told to Bwana Bubba via Jeff and Frankie

Oregon Willamette Valley Buck Hunt

“Dad, we need help!” “Holly has a buck down!” Sure she has a buck down, you have to stop kidding! “No she really has one down and we need your help, you still at work?”
This hunt would have to be related to a while back on this particular piece of private property in the Willamette Unit.
I have been watching the property for more than 6 years I guess. Since 2004, while driving to Valley RV Center in McMinnville, I would make that the route in the morning so I could get pictures of Blacktail bucks before the archery season, knowing that I would never get a chance to hunt the property. Finally this year I had the nerve to call and ask the landowner if it would be ok to archery hunt their property. During the course of meeting the landowner while in the field, permission was granted for Frankie’s wife Holly to hunt with a rifle during the general western buck tag. Frankie and I went through the archery season with zero kills on the land. We probably skipped a couple of key times in the field after running into what we felt was an armed pot grower with silent running dogs. Left un-easy feeling and it took about 2 weeks to make it back into the field.
In the Velvet with the group!
Buck is down with heart shot!
Holly and here 2010 Blacktail Buck

Finally the General Rifle season for bucks opened two Saturday’s ago. Holly with Frankie guiding her in the field made it the opening morning, encountering only one buck, but unable to get a shot off. The Sunday of the opener I went out with the kids and I had them stay on stand while I did the driving. NO BUCKS!

I got a call just after 4:30PM that they were going to go hunting and were into the field by 5:00PM.

The plan was to glass the plowed field from about and the entrance points that deer would enter the field to feed on WEEDS from about 600 yards. They spotted a buck and a couple of other deer in the field. The landowner had made comment that he didn’t want any shooting over into the field, because of the neighbors. The two of them decide to head to the entrance road to the property and park outside of the perimeter.

The deer had moved back into the timber and Blackberries and the last movement was in the direction of the draw that was mid-way up the access road.

Holly worked her way on the road using the grass edges as cover and sound proofing of the stalk. Little did she know that the buck would be just off the gravel road?

As she spotted the buck, which looks really big to her, she keeps her cool and pulls up on the buck that was broadside at 20 yards. Using a Remington Rifle 770 loaded with 130 grain, Remington Core-Lock Ultra Bonded she squeezed on the trigger only to have the rifle still on safety. Without hesitation Holly push the safety off and made the heart shot as the buck turn to run.

The 3X3 buck with symmetrical horns dropped in his tracks. Now Frankie and Holly shared High Fives on a great hunt… Now the work would start!

Ironically as you can see in the story I had taken pictures of this buck in Velvet.

With Frankie’s training on the movement of the deer in the area, he was able to calculate how he was going to hunt the property.

Holly\’s Blacktail Buck-During Archery

Holly and her trusted Remington 270 plus Blacktail Buck