.October Sitka Blacktail
A Son's Promise

By James Baichtal

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Jim Baichtal with a buck he took while hunting with is fathers 30/06.

Though I primarily hunt with black powder, I made a promise to my father, during his last moments before he died, that I would take out his 30.06 and we would hunt together at least once a year.

Dad and I went hunting on October 12, 2003. I was visiting friends on Northern Prince of Wales Island. Though during October bucks disappear during the pre-rut, the promise of a great hunt with a friend and a stellar cool, clear, fall day got us out of bed early. We drove and hiked into one of our favorite places to glass and call for deer.

After no deer were spotted I turned to Glenn Keller to discuss options. Over Glenn's shoulder, in the just rising rays of the sun, I spotted a glint off of antlers near the base of a cliff some 500 yards distant. Binoculars confirmed that a buck was concealed in his bed in a hemlock thicket.

I worked my way up a skid trail through the clear cut getting within 250 yards before the buck rose and began to retreat to the timber. I ran forward, rested across a stump and found the buck in the scope. I had thought the buck was a small forked horn and was taken aback by its size. I fired as he climbed upwards through the cliffs. The 180 grain Nosler Partition found its mark. The buck reared over backwards and cart-wheeled some 100 yards into a devil's club thicket, coming to rest under logging slash.

I returned to gather my pack and boning equipment and Glenn and I climbed to the deer. I moved up the cliff and rolled the buck down the slope to where these photos were taken. As you can see, the buck is a massive, wide 3 x 3. Glenn wanted to weigh the field dressed carcass so instead of boning out the buck, I made a back pack of it and carried it back to the truck. The buck tipped the scales at 145 pounds. I bet dad was smiling. His Model 721 Remington from the 1940's still shoots center.

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