Jennifer with her big Washington 4x4.

Jennifer's 4x4

Cam Goodell helped his daughter Jennifer take this beautiful Washington Blacktail on a recent hunt. During the hunt the weather was very nasty with wind and lots of rain. When they spotted the buck he was laying in his bed a 180 yards away. One shot through the chest from Jennifers 270 was all it took to lay claim to this exceptional Blacktail. Jennifer and Cam were hunting in Lewis county, about 10 miles from Morton. This was the only deer they saw the entirel weekend. Cam scored the big 4x4 at 122 B&C. The buck also had a very large body. Hanging in their garage he tipped the scales at 175lbs.


26 5/8 wide, 6x6, California Blacktail
Nick Panagiotopoulos

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Nick with his big non-typical California Columbian Blacktail

I arrived at the ranch with my friend Dino at about 6:30am. We got ready while we waited for another friend Vance to arrive. When Vance arrived we discussed what areas each one was going to concentrate on. I gave Vance a ride and took a few minutes to explain the property since he was not familiar with it. While I was in the process of parking the truck Dino called on the radio and said that he already shot a nice 2x2 buck.

That's when I decided I would walk on top of a hill that has a panoramic view of surrounding ridges. Once on top of the hill I started to glass with my binoculars across the opposite hills and ridges. It was not long before I spotted a buck with the biggest rack that I had ever seen. Not knowing where Dino was I called him on the radio and I asked him not to move or start the ATV because I had spotted a really nice buck and I did not want him spooked.

I then used my Bushnell range finder to determine the distance. The Range finder indicated 389 yards to a manzanita bush just behind the buck. It took me what seemed like forever to get setup and take the shot. After I calmed down and relaxed I placed my 400 yard dot just on top of the buck's back. I squeezed the trigger and I didn't see the buck run or move, so I knew that he was down. The buck had 6 points on each side plus eye guards with an outside spread of 26 5/8 inches. Needles to say I took him to my taxidermist for mounting.


Five Minute Hunt
Joe Argento

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The smile on Joe's face tells it all!!

My 2004 season hadn't been going very good, after missing a smaller buck earlier on public land I wasn't too sure I was going to be getting a deer this year. But when my grandpa (who didn't buy a tag this year) got me permission to hunt on some private land near Penn Valley that his buddy owns, my thoughts suddenly changed about getting a deer.

The first morning out we saw only one doe after sitting in a downpour for over two hours. After that my grandpa dropped me off at home and told me he would take me out again soon.

I was surprised when he called the next morning and told me to get ready because he was coming to pick me up. He had seen two nice bucks while he was feeding his mules earlier that morning, in the same area we had hunted the day before. I was more than ready to go.

When we arrived we began to walk towards a clearing that we were going to sit and watch until dark, suddenly my grandpa stopped and pointed to the edge of the clearing. I looked over his shoulder just in time to see a nice buck step out and give me a perfect broadside shot with my 243, the hunt lasted a total of five minutes. The buck, a big 3x3, weighed 135 pounds and was 22 inches wide and 17 inches high.


Hunter Dan
By Elmo

We have one hunter in our group of five that has the most outstanding stories and "luck". Over the past fifteen years or so we have hunted the same area in Western Washington. It has been very productive and we now know every trail, every crossing and every nuance of our hunting range. The one thing we have all learned is always be prepared , that is, except for Hunter Dan.

The fall of 2003 started out warm and wet and with no sightings of any bucks. On the third day of the season Hunter Dan had had enough. Noon had come and gone with no deer, even a doe, sighted so Hunter Dan decided it would be a good time to cut some firewood. He puts his Model 70 into his gun case and his shells into their box and drives his four by four to where he'd seen a likely looking log fall.

He passes a known major trail on the way there, and low and behold, there stands a three by two buck with two lady friends. He drives on by then stops the truck at the next pull out. He grabs one shell from the box then carefully opens the back of the truck, removes his Winchester, chambers the single round and walks back to where the buck was standing.

Standing in the exact spot where Hunter Dan had seen him is the buck still flanked by his ladies. He raises the rifle and fires his one round aiming between the horns of the staring buck. A clean miss. Hunter Dan says a word not worthy of print and quickly walks back to his truck.

This time Hunter Dan retrieves three shells before marching back to where the buck is still standing, by this time the buck's got to be thinking that he's perfectly safe. Hunter Dan fires one more shot and the buck goes down and the season is at an end.

There are many more stories revolving around Hunter Dan that have been garnered by hunting with him for the past twenty years or so. All true and all amazing.


Anthony Maeder with his first deer. It was taken on September 19, 2004 with the help of his uncle Jeff Banke

My First Buck
Anthony Maeder

My uncle and I were hunting in Trinity County on opening weekend. Saturday we hunted long and hard and saw one doe. That night a cold front came in and we got a little rain. The next morning the deer started moving, so my uncle, Jeff Banke, and I headed out for Granite peak. On the way there we saw a group of does, that's when my uncle told me "we're going to see two bucks". When we got to Granite Peak, there they were, two bucks. A nice 4x4 and a huge forky. The bucks ran up the hill about twenty yards and stopped. The 4x4 was in front with the forky right behind him, so I had to wait for a clear shot. The first one to give me a clear shot I was going to take because they were both really nice bucks. The forky stepped out from behind the 4x4 and I placed my shoot right in the lungs of the 4x4, he lifted up his front leg and dropped. I was the happiest hunter alive! Who wouldn't be. My first buck and it was a 4x4!!.



Pete Vandehei's 2004 Archery buck

Pete with the great buck he took on his recent California Blacktail hunt.

I grew up hunting blacktails in Amador County in Northern California with a rifle and killed my share of bucks. Even though I left California 26 years ago for Alaska I still have fond memories of hunting the states Blacktail deer. August 2003 was my first time back in California to hunt since my move. My brother had invited me to come down during archery season and go hunting on the property that we grew up on. Since I was only interested in killing a nice buck I passed on a big forked horn the second day of my hunt. Then again passed on the same big fork and a nice 3X3 traveling together on the third day. On the evening of the fourth day I saw a big 4X4 with long eye guards (22 wide by 20 high) that looked really good so I took him. It sure brought back memories from the past of how great blacktails are!


One Heck of a First Buck!!

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Jeff's father had this to say about their hunt "What a great experience for our family, we're so
proud of Jr. If we don't get anything else this year who cares, he's already made our season

The eve of Jeff Ricker Jr's 14th birthday and opening day of California's zone B-6, was a memorable one for Jeff and his family. At first light they spotted a large buck, 90 yards below their vantage point. One shot from Jeff's T/C Encore SS, .243 was all it took. History was made in their family of hunters. The heavy horned 4x7 dropped in his tracks! and the hoopin' and hollerin' began. Also along on the trip was Jeff's mother, who was hunting as well. What a great family experience!, that only a hunter can understand. Jeff's buck has lots of character with lots of mass and height. A great buck by anyone's standards but even more special because it was Jeff's first buck!


Michael Broyles Kauai Island Columbian Blacktails
By Michael Broyles

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Michael's impressive collection of Kauai Island Blacktail bucks. Only the one on his far
left was harvested on private land. The rest were taken on state land.

As a passionate and avid Blacktail hunter I wanted to throw in my two cents about hunting Blacktails in Hawaii. Despite the less than 3% success rate, I have been lucky enough to take numerous nice legal bucks. Including a nice 3X3 this year with a 21 1/2" outside spread from a distance of 296 yards. These deer are hard to hunt, but not as hard as some make them out to be. I find all you need is good conditioning, an idea of the area big bucks favor, and a healthy dose of stubborn determination. The day after I shot my 2004 buck, I guided a friend of mine to a forked horn buck that he harvested. Not bad for a 3% success average!


Kauai Island Columbian Blacktail

Eugene Napolis took this Columbian Blacktail on the 19th of Oct. 2003 on the island of Kauai.
Many people don't realize Columbian Blacktails were introduced to Hawaii in 1961.

" I took this Blacktail from 15 yards with my bow . Every thing was in my favor, while laying in ambush. My partner saw him first but could not get a shot. We had to bone him, It would have been to difficult to haul out whole. He was a very nice 3 X 4 that weighed 160 lbs field dressed and was later aged at 6 years old, This buck was my first and the very first Blacktail to be taken by an archer during the 2003 season. I was so swelled head and so very proud. Practicing with 3-D targets really, really, helps. My advice: Make your mistakes during practice. I also hunt wild boars in Honolulu, where I live".

The following information was sent in by Damian Baptiste about the Columbian Blacktails of Hawaii.
"Blacktail deer were introduced to Hawaii in 1961 from the state of Oregon. They were introduced to only one of the Hawaiian islands, Kauai. The Island of Kauai is known as the Garden Isle because of its lush vegetation, steep sea cliffs, beautiful canyons and spectacular mountains. The area is relatively dry with less than 20 inches of rain per year. The area is located less than 20 miles from the wettest spot on earth, Mount Waialeale. I've lived on Kauai for 40 of my 43 years but I live on the opposite side of the 40 square mile island from where the public hunting area is located.
The Blacktail season takes place in September and October and tags are awarded after a drawing held in August. Everyone who applies draws a permit. It's just a matter of which weekend you are assigned.
Success in each persons two-day season is between 2 & 3%. I've hunted here for over 20 years and still have not shot at a buck. You can also hunt in early September in the archery (weekends only) and muzzleloader season.
I've tried convincing the game biologists to hold the muzzleloader and archery season in November to make it possible to hunt when they are in the rut. Since that time they have added a special archery only area that can be hunted until the end of November but its not an area with lots of deer. The game biologists don't want to extend the hunting season into November because bird hunting begins in those areas in early November.
The area with deer is very thick and steep and makes it almost impossible to get a deer to move without practically stepping on them. We also have excellent hunting on several of the other Hawaiian Islands for Wild Boar, Axis Deer, Feral Sheep, Muflon Sheep, and Feral Goats. Aloha",

Mike Kano also sent in this information on Columbian Blacktails in Hawaii. " I live on the Island of Kauai and we have a small population of deer in our mountains. These animals are from stock that came to the island in the late '50's from I believe Washington or Oregon. The herd is estimated around 400-700 generally, though population counts are difficult to ascertain at best. Bucks range from 100-180+ pounds live weight, with the larger animals sporting 4x4 racks. The hunting area is canyons and ridges choked with vegetation --- from sea level to 3500 feet elevation. The annual hunter success ratio is usually 3% or lower".


Opening Day Buck
Story by Javin Elliff

Javin Elliff with his 3x4 Blacktail

I Shot this dandy on opening day this year. Got up at 4am to try to beat the crowd to the hills. Went my normal route about a half mile off the road in the dark, crossed a big meadow to get the "crunch crunch crunch" of the snow out of the way before light and sat down on the far corner to wait for it to get light enough to still hunt the timber. I had about 2 minutes of sitting left and I heard a "crunch crunch crunch" about 100 yards away. I thought it was another hunter at first, but out walks a deer. Put the scope on him and saw the four points on one side -- I was arguing with myself over whether to shoot or not. He was standing broadside so I couldn't tell how wide he was, and I didn't want to shoot the first deer I saw on opening day. But last year I passed on a 3-point and didn't see anything better. When he shifted his head and I saw the eye-guards the green-light went off in my head, couldn't have been easier. My dad and I had it back to the truck by 8:30am (all downhill with the added bonus of snow to make the drag easier). Made a few stops to show it off and still got home in time for football. I doubt I'll ever get that lucky again! With a 19" outside spread, definitely the biggest I've gotten. It's a 3x4, the fourth tine is on the side closest to the camera off the back tine. I jumped a big buck no more than 300 yards from this spot in July and this guy was headed to the same hole. Whether it's the same one or not - I guess I'll never know. Cheers and thanks for the good site.


My First Deer
Story by Eric Greiner
Prince of Whales Island, age 12

Eric with his first buck. A beautiful Sitka Blacktail from Prince of Whales Island

It was a moist morning. We pulled up in my Fatherís Boston whaler to a beach of pebbles. My dad and I were hiking up a steep mountain and we got to an average sized muskeg. My Father blew the deer call and spotted the back end of a deer, but we could barley see it as it tried to keep itself concealed. It walked back into the dark musty woods.

Not knowing what the sex of the deer was we decided to follow after it. We were walking on a deer trail when we saw a deer scraping. The tree with its tore off bark was bright orange. We walked more, we had been walking for about four or five minutes when we came to a big dead log that we had to clime over. Right when I was climbing over and my dad was on the log he spotted a buck on a little hill about thirty yards away staring at us. So my dad got me up on the log and showed me where the deer was, my heart was pounding like a symphony drum. I put my gun up and tried to steady myself, as I looked through the scope I couldn'tít find the deer. So I put my gun on my lap and I looked for it again, I found it, then I put up my gun up and I couldn'tít spot it. Then the curious three by four got off the little hill it was on and started walking towards us. The buck stopped to the side of us about 20 yards away. ..When I saw the deer I was panting away, I slowly put my gun up and I thought to myself this is it, Iím finally going to get my first deer. As I looked through the scope I couldn'tít see a thing. The glass of my scope was all fogged up like a mirror in a steam room. So I let out a loud whisper to my dad. He took my gun and gave me his. I took a deep breath to calm myself, and shot. The deer stiffened up like a statue and keeled over on its side right where it was standing. My Father was happy as can be, I almost broke in tears (almost!) Ha Ha.


Second Chance B&C Buck
Story by Michael Broady

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This incredible Oregon buck was taken during a family hunt by Jim Murphy (right)

..My cousin Jim and I were hunting with my dad and his friend Gary in southern Oregon, near Canyonville. Gary jumped a huge buck Gary raised his rifle to fire and was horrified when he realized his scope was fogged up from the inside!!! Gary decided the best thing to do was to try and sight his eye down the barrel and hope to make a lucky shot. From where I was standing, 200 yard away, it sounded like a war. Gary emptied his gun at the monster and then sat their in agony as it slowly walked away completely unafraid.
..Forty five minutes later we all met back at the truck. Gary swore that although the buck had been shot at, he was not scared. Gary insisted that we go back in and hunt the buck again. We finally gave into his wishes and went back into the unit to hunt around the other side. Gary was using my fathers back up rifle at this point, for two reasons. First his scope was fogged up and second the stock of his rifle was broken from slamming it on the ground as his dream buck walked away!!
..My cousin Jim went to the top of the ridge as the rest of us walked through the bottom. Shortly after our hunt began, Jim spotted the buck walking up the draw in front of him. He made the shot and the buck hit the ground. The huge 4x4 Jim had taken scored 160 7/8 B&C and field dressed 205 pounds.


Brawlin' Oregon Bucks

These two great Oregon bucks were taken after being located by the sound of clashing horns.
The two bucks have B&C green score's of 141 4/8 (left) and 112 2/8.

We harvested these two beautiful Blacktail bucks on November 2, 2002 at around seven in the morning. We had just driven down a old spur road and parked our truck. It was from here we planned to start our day long hunt. Just as were about to get out, my partner, (on the left) heard the sound of two bucks fighting, their rack crashing loudly together.

He looked in the direction of the noise but could see only one buck. The other buck which he couldn't see, was on the ground, he got up and the two bucks started to fight again. We climbed out of the truck and snuck down the hill below the road for a better view. As the two bucks fought my partner waited for a shot. He was finally able to get a clear shot and fired, both the bucks went down! A second later the surviving buck got free and run straight towards us
! Thankfully I was able to make a good shot on the running deer and he also went down.

..We had them in the truck by 7:20am. What a year and getting to see two Big Oregon bucks fighting
only 75 yards away.


29 Inch Wide California Blacktail !!
By Scott Ward.

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Scott and Rob with their two exceptional California A-zone Blacktails. Rob's 4x4 (left) measured 29 inches wide and 14 1/2 inches high and Scott's 4x3 measured 22 inches wide and 16 inches high.

Two of us and one dog had just worked through a north facing slope covered with blue oak and tall grass to try and push some deer to my dad (Bill Ward) and his longtime hunting partner Barney Cobeen. We had worked the side-hill pretty hard by zig zagging up and down.

Eventually we pushed a small three point out and my dad took a shot. Being uncertain if dad had hit him , Rob (Barney's grandson) and I began to search the area and look for blood. I was downhill from Rob when I heard him say "Holy sh*t!, look at that buck!! Should I shoot it?" I would have shot if I could have, but it was above Rob and I did not have a clear and safe shot. "Shoot it" I replied. The buck had waited us out and slipped out behind us after we passed, now he was tiptoeing down and away from us, with his head down behind a patch of Manzanita and scrub oak. Rob raised his rifle and fired. The buck hunched-up and ran down hill towards the creek. I knew he was hit good. I also knew it was a good buck because I had gotten a quick glimpse of his horns, but I was completely blown away when we found him in the creek bottom.  His horns kept going and going..... The "Monster Buck" Rob had taken was a 29 inch wide, 14 1/2 inch high 4X4. He was fairly good sized for the area, about 120 pounds, and was obviously old judging by his lack of teeth.

The other buck pictured is the one I took on the trip. He is a nice 22 inch wide, 16 inch high 4X3. He was pushed out of a Pepperwood lined draw by my buddy Steve Dursteler's awesome Fox Terrier/Jack Russell cross "Chance".  Chance and I were working a hillside above the draw and as I was navigating down a steep rocky bluff, I saw Chance nose in the air, running all out to the head of the draw, through the thick cover. Brush began popping and out comes the buck with Chance on his back biting his ear.  I had to wait for the dog to fall off before I could shoot.

What a hunt, definitely one of the most memorable I have been on.


9x7 Oregon Non-typical
By Chris Stewart

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"The photo above is of my 1997 buck. I killed him on October 8th at approximately 8:15 A.M. in Douglas County Oregon, in the South Umpqua drainage near Dompier Creek. The buck gross scored 149 and some change, with a final net score of 142 5/8. He has a typical gross score of 119 0/8. Unfortunately he isn't quite big enough to make our state record books. The minimum score is 150 for the non-typical class".

I was exploring a new area on my first day out that season when I spotted him standing in a reprod unit about 250 yards away. I glassed him for a few minutes and tried to determine his size. But I could only make out the height and width of his antlers due to the heavy downpour of rain falling at the time. After determining he was a good buck. I found a rest and fired, but missed. The buck didn't flinch or even twitch at the sound of the shot. I chambered another round before taking a quick look through my glasses to make sure I wasn't seeing things, and then fired again. This time I hit the mark perfectly and the buck took off down hill and quickly disappeared out of sight. Feeling confident, I immediately gathered my things and headed down to collect my buck.

I didn't have a blood trail but the the game trail he was traveling on was easy to follow. I made my way to where I had last seen the buck and jumped up on a large stump for a better view of the surrounding area. I was very surprised to see the buck laying only ten yards away on the other side of the stump, in a small depression. He tried to get up and run but I quickly put two more rounds into his boiler room, putting him down for good. Needless to say I about fell off the stump when I saw how many points he really had. I was expecting to find a nice three or four point and was totally shocked when I found out he was actually a beautiful 9x7.

While the taxidermist was preparing the skull for mounting he found a small caliber bullet wound that had healed over. It was obvious that someone had seen this buck before and tried to poach him. Lucky for me that didn't happen.


The Ratz Harbor Buck
By James F. Baichtal

James Baichtal with a great Sitka Blacktail he took November 11, 2000, at 27 paces, using his Lenoard Day Swivel Breech, .54 cal. muzzleloader while hunting with Dennis Landwehr.

Dennis first spotted this buck from 150 yards above us on an old road. Dennis and I then laid down and let him take his time walking to us. It was incredible to sit there and watch the antlers first appear over the horizon, then the deer and finally watch him slowly stroll closer. I finally yelled at the buck to get him to stop and raise his head. I shot him in the neck, dead center in the lower white throat patch. He stayed on his feet and charged past Dennis and I at about 5 feet. He finally dropped at the base of the road's cutbank on the lower spur 40 feet away.

The roundball had penetrated his neck, then passed through his brisket, taking off the top of the heart, it then continued through a lung and finally stopping against the femur in the left rear ham. So much for lack of penetration of a round ball. The ball was basically undeformed with the weave of the patch still visible in the lead.

The buck green scored 103 1/8" netting 95", of course it will shrink some with drying. It is currently #4 in the Longhunter Record Book, but that may change with drying. The tooth wear suggested that he was 5 1/2 years old. I believe this is the oldest buck I have taken. I estimated that the buck field dressed 130 lbs. He was in excellent shape with a lot of fat (white fat) reserves. Nice way to break in a new rifle. The bucks final score after the mandatory drying period was 103 3/8" gross and 92 3/8" net.


My Second Boone and Crockett Buck
By James F. Baichtal


I was incredibly fortunate to harvest a great Sitka blacktail buck on Saturday, October 30th, 1999. Friday the 29th, it rained buckets and it blew all night. Of course this was somewhere about the 45th day of consecutive rain/wind/and gale that we had seen in Southeast Alaska. Saturday morning, October 30th, about 4:00 a.m. the winds shifted to out of the north and it began to snow up high.

Roy Morris and I had decided to hunt the change in the weather. Actually, based on the forecast of improving weather we had planned to hunt that morning and the forecast was right! We hunted the glacial scoured valleys close to Thorne Bay. The valley walls rise steeply from the rivers that meander across the valley floor. Forested wetlands, low forested ridges, muskegs, beaver pond complexes and the riparian areas of the creeks occupy the low areas. The valley walls are forested except where timber harvest have created openings. We hiked closed logging roads hunting clearcuts, muskegs, and the forests, hoping that the weather change would jump-start the rut. After a few morning snow flurries the sun came out and stayed out for most of the afternoon. We had found several does out feeding with the weather change but no bucks.

The second place we hunted required a one and a half-mile hike down a road completely grown closed with alder. In past years I had seen a lot of great buck sign in the area but never any bucks. That morning, the area showed a lot of promise with a number of fresh rubs and a lot of deer sign. These were in fact the first rubs either of us had seen so far that fall. We came across a freshly rubbed alder with saliva still dripping from a broken limb on the tree. I told Roy to be on the alert! That buck had to be close. At about 12:30 p.m., after covering some 400 yards from the fresh rub, we crept onto a landing above a great bedding spot now in the sun. I crawled down the logging slash below the landing, since you could not see beyond a cliff below the slash and landing. First I glassed then I blew on the deer call. Nothing.

About the fifth time I called on the deer call a buck rose from his bed and stretched. The buck was partially hidden in a patch of hemlock second-growth. I found the animal in my binoculars and nearly dropped them upon recognition of his size. At that time the buck was about 130 yards down below me. I was in awe at the animal's size and forced the emotions down. "Don't look at his rack", I screamed inside my head. I had practiced at such distances but that's a long shot and the angle complicated the shot (Frankly the buck complicated the shot!). I took a few brief moments to calculate the shot. I rested across a stump, thought about my load, trajectory, and drop and/or rise, held my breath, and fired. Nothing! There was no indication that I hit him. The buck walked 20 yards. I blew on the deer call and he stopped. I asked for Roy to lend me his muzzleloader, actually I yelled at him! In coming down the slash he slipped but managed to pass me his rifle. The buck was still standing there, broadside, looking up so I took careful aim and fired again. He jumped and ran about 10 more yards, I called and he stopped never giving indication that he was hit.

Roy had gotten to my side in time to see the buck trot away and we both watched as the huge, massive buck moved to the edge of the timber. He gave no indication of being hit. I stood there with the two empty muzzleloaders, helpless. He stopped and glanced once more over his shoulder at us as if to say, "You have seen me and that is enough!" We both believed that I had missed both shots and that he was going to shortly disappear into the timber. Then the miracle happened, his front legs wobbled, he collapsed, kicked once or twice, and was down for good.

The first shot had been good, through the lungs up high exiting below the left front shoulder. Later I found out that the second shot had hit him in the right shoulder but not fatally. It took me 20 minutes to get to him and took us 4 hours to bone, cape him, and pack him out. He was huge, both in mass and antlers. It was all I could do to move the buck as Roy returned for the packs. He is a symmetrical 4 X 4 with eye guards, nearly 18 inches wide and very tall. The buck's rack gross scored 112 7/8" with only 3 2/8 " deductions for a final score of 109 5/8" under the Boone and Crockett scoring system. He should be the number two Sitka blacktail in the Longhunter Record book after my Dall Island buck that I took last year (See North American Hunter Magazine, October 1999, Grueling Hunt Nets World Record Sitka, pp. 86-87). He should also score as #2 in the Sitka Blacktail/Muzzleloader records for SCI scoring 116 2/8", besides securely finding a home in the Boone and Crocket Records.

Even a blind sow finds an acorn once in a while, but God sure must have had a hand in guiding that round ball. I do not brag about shooting game at such distances, I believe that muzzleloaders are 100 yard or less firearms. My shot was based on a lot of practice and familiarity with my load, rifle, and personal ability. The rifle I used was a custom .54 caliber H.E. Leman Trade Rifle by John Donaldson, made from Track-of-the-Wolf parts. This was the first deer that it has shot at...what a way to break a rifle in. The rifle was loaded with a .530 cal. round ball and .015 pillow ticking atop 100 grains of FFg. Roy's rifle was a kit built CVA .45 caliber Kentucky Rifle loaded with a .440 cal. patched round ball on top of 70 grains of FFg. Maybe I should hang the Leman Trade Rifle on the wall and not shoot it again...not.


Blacktail's In the Snow
By Arlie Grunseth



"Ok boys, this is what I want you to do. When we get there, there will be no more talking once we leave the truck. I'll hand signal you from that point. We will climb to the top of the ridge on a cat road. Then we'll quietly make our way along in old growth timber to a point where I found trails crossing below a good place to take a stand. Adam, when I motion to stop, I'm going to point out a big tree about 30 yds ahead, that is where I want you to take a stand. Get situated so you don't have to move much if you get a shot. You can put an arrow on the string once you are on your stand. Get comfortable and try to sit still. Sam, I want you to sit at my feet and watch the other side for me in case a buck sneaks in from that direction. If one does, just bump me with your elbow, otherwise don't move."

I had waited years for this morning. My oldest son Adam was experiencing his first hunt for blacktails during the late season. We didn't even bother to hunt the early season because of the quality of hunting the late season offered.

Sam was 3 years younger and couldn't carry a bow yet but I couldn't disappoint him when he begged to come along. Everything went like clock work. When we finally reached the stand site I was pleased to see fresh tracks on the trails that side hilled through the old growth Douglas fir. I stopped at the base of one of these giant trees and pointed another tree out to Adam. After he was settled on his stand we waited and listened.

I wondered about their thoughts, silently waiting, watching, taking in the sounds and smells of snow covered old growth in the high Cascades. It is a magical time to hunt, the huge bucks forced down by snows from the even higher elevations, mostly wilderness. Hardly hunted during earlier seasons, these bucks respond to the urges of the rut freely. Since the migration takes place during the rut, challenges for dominance of a particular parcel are frequent. During the end of the breeding, battles occur on the run, neither buck wanting to lose position while following a hot doe. This is the scenario I hope to mimic with rattling.

After about a 15 to 20 minute wait, I make a quiet grunt on my call. I feel Sam shift at my feet. I can imagine that the wait was a lifetime to the boys. After another 5 minutes I take my horns out from my belt. To mimic the mad dash type fighting that bucks would make, while on the run, I vigorously smash and rattle the horns for a short burst of about 2 seconds. I wait for about 5 seconds and do it again, but this time I turn my back and rattle so it sounds like it came from a different location.

Now we wait. I can imagine the boys are keyed up, the silence broken so harshly followed by utter silence as the woods seem to be listening too.

I notice Adam move. He's raising his bow and drawing it. I can't see anything and then I see him let down. I wonder what posessed him to do that, is he cold and thinks to warm himself with the effort. There! He's doing it again and again lets down, what is he doing? He looks over at me and I shake my head "No!" at him so he will sit still. I can't believe he would do this after all the things I taught him about sitting still.

He turned from me and, unbelievably, drew back a third time and then let down. It was then that I saw the huge 4x4 lazily walk up hill about 20yds from Adam. I tried to call and rattle but it was too late, old bucks don't fool easily.

Afterwards, I motioned Adam over and asked, "What happened" He said, "He just appeared out of nowhere! When he was in that opening I pulled back but he saw me and stopped right there looking at me. In hunter safety, they said you shouldn't shoot when they are looking at you, so I let down. Then he turned away so I drew again and he looked again. So I let down, that is when I looked at you and you shook your head "no". Well then he turned again so I drew back again but he looked at me, so I had to let down again." I could see that Adam felt real bad, so I told him."I don't know about you but I had a blast here this morning. You did just what you were taught to do, and I'm proud of you.

The thing is that we just did something special and we can do this many times over the years. One of these times it will work out and you'll get your buck. If you had shot and wounded that buck, how would you feel? Don't feel bad, I don't!" Rattling and grunting don't always work out this well and the snows don't always cooperate. Bucks aren't always within ear shot or are bedded down. Sometimes the rut doesn't seem to be on or a fresh snow has everything laying tight. But sometimes things do go right.

I wonder if Adam would have been better off had he gotten that buck or is it better that he dreams of that ghost that roams through mountains covered with massive trees. He is still there, or his brother, and we will meet again.


Hunting Stories Page 2
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