Miller will be 37 on Oct. 27. he was born in Redding, Ca. and moved to
Salem, Oregon in 1976 with his family. They were not an outdoorsy family.
Other than his oldest brother Dennis, they didn't have any hunters in
the family and Dennis was mostly a bird hunter and seldom hunted big game.
got the bug and started deer hunting by himself in 1982, with a rifle.
Looking back on his early years Dave says," I didn't have a clue
about what I was doing, and made a lot of mistakes, but my love of the
outdoors really took root around that time". He spent as much time
in the field as he could, learning a little more each season. Even though
he never killed a buck while rifle hunting, he enjoy the experience immensely.
He did shot a couple of does during the end of season either sex hunts,
but he says he "could never get it together and harvest a buck".
November 1985, Dave's best friend was killed in a hunting mistake by another
friend. The tragedy left Dave devastated. He quit hunting and gave away
his guns. Not at all because guns are bad he says, " I just couldn't
enjoy the outdoors anymore".
the winter of 1991, Dave was approached by another friend who asked him
to go with him to their local archery/proshop to pick up his new bow.
Dave didn't have anything else going on so he went. Dave of course had
to try shooting his friends new bow, even though It didn't fit him properly.
The owner of the archery shop offered to set up a bow for Dave to shoot.
He was amazed when he was able to hit the bullseye within a few minutes
and walked out of that shop with his first bow on layaway. He was hooked!
spent every one of his lunch hours shooting. He enjoyed it so much he
signed up for a league that same week. Dave said It didn't take long for
his wife, Tanya, to become upset about all the time he was spending at
the archery shop, not to mention all of the money he was investing in
new archery equipment. Dave had an idea. He took her with him on a league
night and she walked out with a new bow! Dave and Tanya joined Salem Oregon
Bowhunters and also began to get involved with other local and state clubs.
and Tanya have just celebrated their 12th wedding anniversary and according
to Dave "Tanya is the best thing in his my life besides our children".
Dave and Tanya have 3 children at home, Michael 9, Dustin 6 and Krystal
1. Besides Krystal, they all shoot competitive archery. Tanya hasn't for
a while because of baby and a bout with target panic but she recently
bought a new bow and is starting to work through it.
is a phenom with his bow. He is a natural. After figuring out he was right
handed and left eye dominant, he switched to a left handed bow and placed
2nd in state that same year. The next year 2001, he won the State indoor
Championship. He is small for his age and has to shoot against older kids
in the cubs classes, but he always places in the top of the class. Dustin
has come into his own, and this year figured out his form. He is improving
leaps and bounds and won his first trophies this year in 3Ds.
and his family fish as much as, or more than, they hunt so they are outdoors
more than most families. Dave's club affiliations included, OFBD ( Oregon
Foundation for Blacktail Deer) Committee member. His son Michael is the
youngest member to be asked to and voted onto the committee. He is in
charge of games at OFBD banquets. Dave is in charge of sponsors and fundraising
and anything else no one else has time to do.
is also a member of TNUSA (Ted Nugent United Sportsmen of America) RMEF,
NWTF, Ducks Unlimited, OBH, (Oregon Bowhunters) NFAA, (National Field
Archery Association). If that isn't enough Dave is also an Oregon Hunter
Education Instructor and Oregon Bowhunter ED Instructor and in the process
of completing his Master Hunter course.
all of these qualifications and his intense devotion to the great outdoors,
and his family, Dave was an obvious choice for BTC Oregon Field Editor.
He will be contributing blacktail hunting information and stories that
everyone will find useful. Even though Dave is an Oregon resident and
much of his input will pertain to his home state, his extensive knowledge
will be of benefit to all of us who hunt the most elusive deer of all.
Dave Miller/Oregon field
I am lucky enough to live in a state where within a 2 hour drive from
the Willamette valley you can hunt for Roosevelt Elk, Rocky mountain Elk,
Mule Deer, Blacktail Deer, Black Bear, Cougar and Turkey. Not to mention
all the myriad of other game and varmints and WORLD class fishing from
coastal Searun cutthroat trout to a 12 foot white sturgeon, who will test
both strength and tackle to their breaking point.
..Having been lucky enough to harvest several
of the above aforementioned species with bow and arrow, and Having wrestled
to the beach and boat just about every species of fish that our beautiful
state of Oregon has to offer. I feel that nothing else comes close to
the feeling of excitement you get when your sitting in your treestand
and you realize the branch you have been staring at is the right beam
and eye guard of a mature Blacktail buck. Your Heart starts to pound in
your chest like a bass drum, and your breath comes in short gasps, adrenaline
surges through your body, all of this while you are 20 feet off the ground!
Some people might not think this sounds like fun, But then I'll bet they
haven't seen a old growth, Columbian blacktail buck walk within 20 feet
of them with his ears pinned back, hackles raised and walking stiff legged,
slobber dripping out of his mouth,eyes rolled back grunting every step,
looking for the bucks he heard fighting in his territory! He's pissed
and ready to open a can of blacktail whoop ass on anybody that DARES to
mess around with him!
..Hunting blacktails when they are in the
rut,and are responding to rattling is one of the most challenging and
rewarding ways to harvest these magnificent deer.
..After finding Blacktail Country.com, and
meeting so many people here who share my passion for these elusive, beautiful
deer, I decided to share a hunt story with everyone here.
..On the 18th of November 2000, it was 16
degrees as I drove through Stayton, Oregon on the way to an area that
I had hung treestands in well before the late archery season opened. Like
most of my hunting areas It's well off the beaten path and I was concerned
about getting into my stand before daylight. Everything was frozen and
frosty, and I was cautious as the road glistened white with ice. It looked
like everything had been flocked just for the season opener! I was fantasizing
about blood-trails against the snow white earth!
..As soon as I turned onto the gravel road
that turned and twisted its way up through the beautiful Cascade foothills,
I hammered down the gas pedal and did my best imitation of Al Unser Sr,
qualifying for the Pikes Peak road rally. The last 20 minutes to the trail
were a blast! Yeehaw!
..I made it to the trail head with the sky
just barely turning the faintest gray,and I stepped out of the truck into
the whitest silence. Take a deep breath and feel and smell the sweet smell
of Oregon! Woo hoo and lookout! It's huntin season! Now make sure I have
everything! Daypack, lunch, fannypack, rangefinder, water, Bow, release.
Full body safety harness is on over the 3 layers of polyprope long johns,(I
don't want to die). Last but not least, in fact probably the best hunting
tool I own, my Scent-Loc suit! (Thank you Jim@ARCHERS AFIELD!) Now I'm
..I hit the trail and It's still pitch black
in the trees. I hate to use the light so I just use it quickly to check
the trail. About halfway to my small meadow I had to laugh at myself because
I started checking my backtrail. It's always funny how your mind works
when you're alone in the woods, and the cougar population is skyrocketing!
Its pitch black and you smell like a cougar snack! Oh well! We cant dwell
on that now!
..I take frequent breaks to listen for deer
that might have spooked, and so I don't start sweating too much. The air
is frozen, and it stings your lungs as you climb. It's not too much farther
now! Ahh! There's the tree. I scan the meadow before I skirt it to the
left and come in from the back of the tree. I tie my bow to my pull rope
and ultra quietly climbed up to my platform. I get tied in and pull up
my bow. Perfect timing ! It's just 10 minutes till shooting time. And
I didn't spook anything coming into the stand. I climbed up into the stand
for a short wait for daylight. The changing color of the sky as it got
light above made the snow white Douglas firs look awesome! Little bits
of the meadow became clearer as it got brighter, I could see further up
the trails and I started picking shooting lanes here and there.
..The meadow gave me about a 35-40 yard shot
directly to my left, and then the main game trail was directly out in
front of me at 18 yards. Thick older replanted Douglas firs about 20 years
old surrounded me on all sides with lots of intersecting smaller game
trails crossing the main trail. Not only was the area hammered with buck
rubs and tracks, but it also looked like an Elk litterbox. Elk sign everywhere!
I was in heaven! This is Gods country! I had planned to hunt all day or
until I killed a buck, hopefully by rattling him in. I planned to use
my Jones grunt call (thanks Larry) every half hour or so and mix in some
light to medium rattling. It has worked well in years prior to this one
for bringing in bucks from spikes to monster 4x4's, but I still had not
been able to kill one that I had rattled in. Something always happened
and I couldn't get a clear shot (famous excuse in western Oregon) or more
often than not they smelled me, or I got up and the Sneaky suckers had
snuck in and held absolutely still while they watched me pick up my stuff!
Then they vaporize! Poof ! You gotta love that!
..The first couple of hours was uneventful
as far as deer were concerned, but I was entertained by about 60 little
chickadees that flitted around me as the sun finally started peeking over
the tips of the trees. I had to laugh as they had no clue I was there
and would land inches from me. I had one land on my boot and one hopped
across my shoulder while another flew past my face so close his wing-tip
brushed my nose, I about had heart failure. I nearly jumped out of my
treestand and apparently spooked a pine squirrel who was also using my
tree. That little bugger cussed me for 10 minutes before he finally realized
I wasn't going to leave.
..Around 9:30 a.m. I did another series of
rattles and grunts,and then hung up my rattling antlers. I reached into
my daypack and grabbed a bottle of doe in heat scent and drizzled it off
the stand. As I leaned over slowly to put the bottle back in the pack
I heard a deer coming up the main trail into the meadow, from the direction
I had come.
..I thought at first he might have seen me
move but as he drew nearer I could hear him grunting, and breathing in
deeply. I knew he was very close. I couldn't see him so I waited a few
moments and then quietly grunted at him. He didn't respond. I slowly lifted
my binoculars and scanned the trail. After a few seconds I spotted him
only 20 feet away. Standing perfectly still. He was looking for the deer
he thought he heard from the meadow. I had no shot as he was shielded
by the trees and facing me.
..I could see that he had a wide and heavy
rack. Well into the 20 plus inch class, with long tines and deep forks
and that Rootbeer brown color I love so much! He was definitely a keeper!
He didn't grow this big by being stupid! Because he couldn't see the deer
that kept fighting in the meadow, he refused to budge! After a ten minute
standoff, he quietly turned and walked behind my stand and disappeared.
..I was pumped! Those are the kind of shows
that keeps you in your stand all day! I sat quietly for about an hour
just watching and listening for anything, but all I heard was the frost
melting off the trees as the sun rose over the ridge to the East. I watched
the line of white move lower down the limbs as the sunlight bathed more
of my meadow. When the light finally hit my face, I couldn't believe what
an amazing contrast it made to the bitter cold of the morning! What a
difference a few degrees made! I closed my eyes and reveled in the joy
of the Great Northwest!! I was feeling warm and satisfied, relieved and
feeling great about seeing a nice buck. This is why I hunt!
..I relaxed for a few minutes, and decided
to try another series of grunting rattling. This time though, I really
got into it. I tried to sound like 2 bucks trying to kill each other!
When I finished, I sat back to watch and listen. I closed my eyes and
tried to tune in. The sound of the frost melting had increased as the
sun rose above me and I had to listen hard to hear anything moving with
all the racket of the melting frost on the vegetation. It sounded like
rain on a tin roof! I leaned my head back against my tree and focused.
..The sound was MOVING I was already reaching
for my bow as I opened my eyes to the sight of a large bodied deer sneaking
through the underbrush and vine maple directly in front of me. I looked
away just long enough to get a good grip on my bow. When I looked back
up I saw his rack for the first time and saw it was wide and tall and
that's all I needed . I looked down and made sure I didn't panic as I
hooked my barner release to the string of my PSE mach6 . When I looked
back up he was just turning into the meadow on a trail directly to my
left. As he passed behind some thick brush I came to full draw and focused
on the next opening in the brush. As he passed through the hole I almost
took the shot but he moved through too quickly, I swung with him as he
passed behind the next cover. He then stepped out into the wide open.
With my pin centered on the boiler room, I released, WHACK!
..I watched him react to the shot and as he
bucked and kicked out of the clearing. I could see just the tip of my
green nock sticking out of his armpit but angling severely back. I watched
him run as far as I could and listened for a crash but the sound stopped
as soon as I couldn't see him anymore. That's when the adrenaline hit.
Okay. Time to calm down and get down before I FALL down! Rethink the shot
and focus on where he went. Why didn't I get a pass through? It must of
hit something solid to stop my arrow. I knew it was a good hit with all
of my arrow inside him.
..I had to try to stay calm and get down safely.
I lowered all my gear to the ground except for my rattling antlers which
were tossed to the ground without a thought. I use one synthetic and one
natural antler and they made quite a clatter when they hit the ground.
It made me appreciate how high I was. I was extra careful climbing down.
I grabbed my pack and bow and slowly and ultra quietly tiptoed to the
spot where he had stepped out. The ground was still white with frost,
I wished my sons were with me as I found the fresh earth that he had kicked
up. He really burned rubber out of there. From there I looked in the direction
he had ran for blood and didn't see any. I felt panic for a second as
I walked toward the trail I thought he'd used and still no sign. I focused
on my stand and realized he had ran slightly away from me. I took just
a couple of steps and on a patch of frozen grass was a huge splash of
blood, YESSS. Okay, look beyond and another drip, drip.
..There is Nothing finer than the first drops
of a good trail! I know the rule of waiting a half an hour on a shot but
with the exception of one turkey,( which I did recover with a second arrow)
all of the animals I have shot have been dead within seconds of a well
..Drip, drip Splash! I took a couple of steps
into the salal and heard brush thrashing around to my right and ahead
about 30 yards. I froze and looked toward the sound and didn't see anything.
I held still and listened for a about 5 minutes then knelt and looked
with my binoculars until I was sure nothing was moving. I slowly stood
and took a couple more steps and started flagging the blood trail. I had
to force myself to continue on the trail rather than go to where I heard
the deer thrashing. I flagged ahead about 20 yards and looked behind me
at the flagging tape, then looked ahead on the same line and I saw him,
about 35 yards ahead and down for the count! Yeee haww!
..He went about 75 yards total and was laying
with his 4 point side up. I thanked God for giving his gift of the wild
things, and I thanked the deer for giving himself to feed my family. Again
I wished my kids were with me to share the feeling of the triumph of recovering
such a trophy! He's not a monster nor will he make book, but he's my personal
best. And I my book any Blacktail is a trophy!
PS Thanks to my wife
for putting up with the stinky camo and nonstop hunting and fishing! and
the taxidermist bills! I love you ! Thanks to my kids for thinking your
dads cool for taking you hunting and fishing. It makes me feel good! I
love you guys too! I forgot my antlers in the woods. I'd like to see Mr.
pine squirrel when he take his first bite! Ha!
Day Luck Buck
Dave Miller/Oregon field editor
spending most of the 1999 general archery season hunting elk, I had narrowed
down where I wanted to hunt during the late blacktail season. After several
weeks of intense scouting the Santiam unit, I chose to hang my treestands
where I found the majority of freshest rubs. I picked out numerous stand
locations and with my good friend Jim Valencourt, we narrowed down my
pick of stand sites to four. With his help it only took an afternoon to
get all the stands into position. We spent the remainder of the day attaching
safety belts and clearing shooting lanes. When we finished, I felt that
I had a great chance at harvesting a nice buck.
.. I spent the next several weekends shooting
regularly, with most of the shooting sessions from an elevated platform,simulating
some of the shot angles I might encounter hunting from the trees. I highly
recommend this if you choose to treestand hunt, as your impact point will
be different than shooting from level ground. It also helps to practice
shooting from a sitting position, since blacktail bucks tend to be of
the sneaky sort. You may not have a chance to stand up to shoot if you
get an aggressive buck to respond to your rattling and grunting. More
often than not, when these deer are in the rut, if they are going to respond,
they usually come in fast! You can get caught with your rattling horns
still in your hand. Let me tell you, I've spooked several bucks trying
to get rid of the horns and grab my bow!
..I didn't get much sleep the night before
my hunt,and decided to get up a half an hour before the alarm, as I wanted
to be sure I had plenty of time to get into my stand before daylight.
I threw a lunch together and had a quick breakfast on the way out the
door. I grabbed my gear and headed outside into a torrential downpour!
I had to smile though! This is why we love Oregon! No problem, the sound
of the rain would help cover the noise of me hiking into my treestand.
I arrived at the gate with plenty of time to spare, and realized I had
forgot my sweatshirt and heavy jacket at home! Oh well, I still had my
scent-loc jacket and that should do for the morning hunt. I figured I'd
hunt till around nine and I could run home afterward and dry off. I grabbed
my bow and pack, then I grabbed my decoy I had brought along to try out.
I headed off into the inky blackness. I made my way to my stand, and after
placing my decoy out front about 30 yards; I climbed into my tree,strapped
on my safety harness, and pulled up my bow.
..By the time it was light enough to shoot,
the rain had soaked me to the bone. I was freezing cold and I kept smacking
my fingers with the rattling antlers. I decided that's it! I SURRENDER!
I grabbed my bow and climbed down with my tail tucked between my legs.
I was beaten by stupidity and mother nature! I grabbed my pack and decoy
and started sloshing my way back to the truck .Every hundred yards or
so I'd stop and hitch up my soaked drawers, and switch arms with the decoy.
The third time I stopped to rest, I saw movement off the left side of
the trail. I looked over and spotted a doe feeding about 40 yards away.
She spotted me and lifted her head to look, and right behind her was a
beautiful 3x3 buck. I was behind some blackberry bushes, so I quickly
knocked an arrow and came to full draw. I took one more step to get a
clear shot. As I did the doe spooked and ran. The buck watched her disappear
into the the cover. That gave me just enough time to pick a spot just
behind his shoulder. At the sound of my release he turned to look. Just
a second too late. Whack! My arrow passed through him a split second before
he could react. I couldn't believe my change of luck! Just when I thought
I was beat, I scored on one of my nicest late season bucks! Soaked to
the bone and on opening day no less!I'm glad I forgot my jacket that day,but
now I have a checklist and I keep raingear in my daypack!
..If you choose to match wits with a blacktail
this season, with a rifle or a bow during the late season, enter the National
Blacktail Hunt! The 14th annual banquet will be held January 12th 2002
at the Doubletree hotel in Springfield and it's fun for the entire family!
Contact Larry D. Jones or his wife Miriam at Wilderness Sound Productions
in Springfield @ 1-800-437-0006 and they will send you hunt information
and let you know how to sign up. .Take the
2002 Oregon Archery Season Begins / Dave