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Formerly “teen”bowhunter’s 2019 season

Left after work Wednesday and drove the 6.5 hours out to the wilderness area with the bull. I packed in on the trailhead just past midnight and hiked a few miles to set up camp. In the open areas I hiked by moonlight, in the dark timber I went by flashlight. Too many bears and mountain lions in the area to go through timber in the dark.

Everything went smoothly and I set up camp in the dark on top of the mountain. I went to bed around 2:30 am and woke up at 5:30 for the morning hunt.

Morning 1:

I glassed over the main basin that had been full of deer and elk two weeks before and saw nothing.

I hiked over to another small basin and jumped a doe on the way. I saw nothing in the other basin. Exhausted from the night before, I laid down and napped for 6 hours.
Afternoon 1:

I hiked lower down on my ridge to a point where I could see into all of the little folds of the basin. I saw no deer.

Morning 2:

I went down halfway to the point where I could see into the folds. I located a few does in different locations and tried to constantly follow all of them in case they were with bucks.

Right about at sunrise I saw a big bodied deer come out into the open above me. After watching it for a bit it finally stepped in front of a light enough backdrop for me to be certain it was a buck. I don’t have a spotting scope but it looked like a fairly nice one.

Generally I like to stalk mule deer on their feet but I decided to see where he’d bed down because it didn’t look like he was going to be there for long. He was in mostly bare dirt and patches of manzanita so it seemed likely he’d move to bed or to eat.

He stood in that same patch and fed on manzanita for 30-40 minutes. I could’ve easily put a good stalk on him. He slowly moved up the hill towards the clump of trees I’d had a shot at a buck on day 3 of my first Oregon hunt. As he got there, a doe came in from the right.

They started to get really spooky and trotted off to the right. Four more does came out and they started slowly feeding into a fold that I couldn’t see into.

I figured they would do what I saw a group of deer do opening morning and would go up the hill then circle back down to bed. I took off up and around to try and get to the top of the hill they were climbing.

I got up to the hill and started moving up. Based on what they did on opening day, they would head up to the meadow on the far side of the hill then work back around in front of me. I figured I would get up to the large bush I’d noted weeks before then stand there until I located them. I saw the bush at 50 yards and slowly eased towards it scanning the horizon.

A deer crashed to my left and I looked just in time to see all six or seven of them take off in a cloud of dust. I’d walked silently into 30 yards of them undetected...but never looked left. Overconfident in where they would be, I’d had tunnel vision.

Frustrated, I headed back to camp and ate some food before heading out to get the elk head.

For this trip, I dehydrated blueberries, bananas, chicken stir fry and turkey chili. I had five chocolate blueberry oatmeal breakfasts, four stir fry lunches, and five chili dinners. I also had a pound of peanuts and six bananas worth of banana chips for snacking. For sugar after hard hikes I made six “butthole burritos” with Nutella, peanut butter and honey (I left out the bacon to save time).

Apparently I’ve hit my Tapatalk monthly image limit so these stories will be more boring .
Day 2 mid-day:

I packed water, food, rope, game bags and knives in case I shot a deer while retrieving the bull. I had about a mile and a few thousand feet of elevation to drop to the head.

About 200 yards into the hike I jumped a tiny forkhorn at 10 yards and quickly nocked an arrow. He ran well out of range before slowing down.

50 yards later a doe about ran me over. I moved very slowly and glassed the small basin looking for deer but didn’t see any others. As I walked to head down the ridge towards the bull, I saw lots of boot tracks high up from people bugling and possibly glassing for deer.

Hiking down and around I saw a lot of sign. I pulled up OnX constantly to make sure I had the wind in my favor approaching the carcass in case there was a bear nearby. About 200 yards from the carcass I jumped a nice bull out of his bed. Coming down on the elk, I found myself in the last patch of thick, small pines that I’d walked through during my grid search. I saw that I was only 50 yards from the bull and my heart sank. I’d walked right past him.

I’d walked through the thick patch thinking that I could also see on either side of it. He’d been tucked into a big fallen tree on the downhill side and I couldn’t see him. Had I walked a circle around the whole patch I likely would have found him. Absolutely heart breaking.

I came up on him from the front and saw his mouth gaping open and eyes hollowed out from bugs. No meat was left anywhere and each vertebrae was separated. Seeing such an incredible animal reduced to a rotting pile of flesh did not make me feel good.

I set to work with my knife, cursing myself for not bringing gloves. The hide was rock hard leather at this point and I had to stab through into the rotting neck meat. Over an hour I cut every little bit of flesh off the skull and separated it from the neck. Thankfully maggots had already eaten up all of the brain matter so I didn’t have to deal with that.

I tied it onto my pack and it stuck out about a foot and a half on either side. Any small clumps of trees forced me to hike around he was sticking out so far.

After half a mile I came to a series of beautiful flat benches filled with wallows and rubs (really wish I wasn’t at my picture limit). As I came to the end of a last one before the steep climb back up to the trail, a huge buck jumped up at 30 yards. I nocked an arrow and grabbed my rangefinder. 64 yards and he stopped to look back. I went to dial my sight, clipped my release, and he wandered off.

I dropped the pack and took off after him. I never saw him again.

I hiked back to camp and had multiple other deer in range but they were all does.
Bittersweet moment I'd bet. My biggest whitetail went basically the same way, not quite the same feelings you get when you walk up on them hours after releasing the arrow for sure. I couldn't even imagine on an animal so big such as a bull. Congratulations though on finishing up the hunt on him and doing him justice.
Thanks, definitely a very different feeling.
Likes: Big_Holla
Afternoon 2:

I glassed a bit in the main basin and. Didn’t see anything so headed back to the small basin to see if anything would walk out. Didn’t see anything but had a hunter start bugling his head off in the basin. It’s amazing how much effort someone can put into hiking into an area but won’t learn how to call semi-believably.

Morning 3:

I hiked down to a lower knob below camp to glass for deer. After 15 minutes of scanning with no deer seen, I looped down to an even lower knob where I could really see up into each little fold of the basin.

I found one doe and her fawn eventually but was not seeing much. I thought I’d probably blown my last chance at a deer in Oregon.

A bugle ripped out way above me on the rim of the basin, obviously a hunter trying to locate a bull.

A few minutes later I hear crashing above me on the hill. I see three deer flying downhill in my direction. I could see the deer in front was tall, heavy and wide. A huge dust cloud flew up around them as they bounced through the ash.

I tore off my puffy gloves, nocked an arrow and grabbed my dads range finder. They were heading towards the creek in front of me and were going to pass well out of range.

The lead buck turned and side-hilled to come right beneath me. The thermals were sucking my scent straight down towards where they were headed. They slowed to an alert walk and stopped. I ranged the big buck, 81 yards. I dialed my sight to 79 yards because my rangefinder is two yards off from my dads.

He slowly walked forward and stopped. I ranged again, 81 yards. I tried to draw back but his head snapped in my direction at the rustle of my raincoat. My scent was blowing straight at them.

They looked back in the direction they came from. I drew back but realized there was a branch hanging down above him that the arc of my arrow would likely impact. I rested my lower cam on my thigh at full draw.

He was standing at the red dot.

They stood there for 10-20 seconds then the big buck walked a few steps to the blue dot and stopped with his head behind a tree.

I was standing up on the rocky point, the view from their location.

I settled my pin on his elbow and let it fly. I heard nothing and the big deer and the smallest one took off at full sprint.

His reaction and the lack of sound told me the arrow had probably buried into dirt beneath him. He didn’t kick or look hurt at all.

A smaller three point, I believe the one I’d hit in the back two weeks before, stood frozen. Despite my confidence that I missed, there was no way I was taking a second shot. If I missed, I knew my bow had likely gotten nocked off site. And if I’d hit, I wasn’t about to wound a second deer.

I hiked down and never found blood or an arrow. I hiked all over the bottom and ran into the three point again. I followed out every trail and looped everywhere I could.

With a swhacker I know I would’ve heard the hit with how quiet it was.

Disappointed and frustrated, with no field points or target to check my bow with, I packed up my stuff and packed out the bull’s skull.

I had Monday off work and this was Saturday, so it was probably better that I leave and get up to my dads to boil the skull anyways. There’s nowhere I could’ve kept it in Portland and I couldn’t pay someone 300+ to do a euro mount.

The odds of me locating another buck in those next two days were very low. Most had moved out of the high country. The only reason those ones came running by is because they got spooked by the elk hunters down in the next basin I believe.

I shot my bow at my dads house. I was five inches low and three inches right at 50 yards. So at 80 I would’ve been 10+ inches below his elbow and well behind his front legs. Hopefully I’ll run into him next year. With a new bow, a new site, a new rangefinder and new boots if I can find some money...
Next hunt, the last of early archery season, was two days of elk hunting in steep nasty country to try and help my buddy Mitchell fill his tag. We headed to the unit with the highest elk population and the highest hunter population because his friend and been on a bunch of bugling bulls in there. This was a truck camping adventure pitching tents on the side of the road. We got in around midnight and tossed up our tents for a few hours of sleep. We were close to the creek bottom with the 1000 ft “mountain” above us.

Day 1:

We headed up the mountain before first light to try and get up higher to hear bugles. His buddy had been having a lot of action near the top.

We followed the red line up past the pond on our left. Just as we turned left on the next trail some elk busted out in front of us at the first blue spot.

I ran back 30 yards doing my best to walk like an elk and let out some cow calls. My buddy stayed ahead and let out some cow calls as well. A bull about 50 yards through the trees let out some soft chuckles and worked off.
We got downhill of him to keep thermals in our favor and sidehilled to try and get around him. Mitchell wanted to try and get closer to his cows than he was. We followed the yellow line and stayed just downhill of the top of the ridge.

Mitchell did a locate bugle. Two bulls/hunters bugled back way down in the bottom of the canyon. About 10 seconds later the bull challenge bugled off the ridge top about 100-150 yards from us and let out a few guttural chuckles. We pushed up to try and get in close. We didn’t end up seeing him or getting another response.

We followed the green line along an old saw trail through thick reprod. We found rubs and fresh poop everywhere we went. We circled back towards the top of the ridge (green line) to see if we could find him again. Just as we got towards the top of the ridge I heard a bugle from about the same spot he had last bugled. We rushed 100 yards in that direction and stopped on the edge of a long clearing to listen. We heard the same bull from earlier bugle way down the hill, somewhere near the third blue dot. Mitchell forgot all about the bugle that I’d heard and started angling down the hill to try and cut the bull off. The wind plus thermals were blowing out of the northeast, so this seemed like a pretty dumb idea to me. It was his tag and he has a lot more experience than me so I didn’t question it.

We stopped once and heard him bugle again downhill and SW of us so we continued down to the end of the red line. We never heard from him again that morning, I am fairly confident he winded us.
We headed back around and down to some benches you could see on the topi map to do some still hunting. There was fresh poop and rubs everywhere.

In the red dot we found a huge bull bed with rubs all around it. Starting there, we started still hunting our way down along the bench moving as slow and quietly as possible. It had frosted heavily the night before and rained all week so the ground was dead quiet.

We got to the end of the bench without seeing any animals. We found fresh sign everywhere. Mitchell let out a bugle but nothing responded. We sat down and ate for about 20 minutes.

Mitchell decided to let out a chuckle before we headed down to the creek, before he got out the last chuckle a bull screamed at 100 yards. We hopped backwards to set up. I cow called a few times. We didn’t hear anything for a minute so Mitchell bugled. The bull chuckled twice at about 50 yards but hidden by thick reprod. The wind suddenly blew heavily at the back of our necks and we never heard from him again.

We circled way down and around to the north to try and get back on him but never relocated him.
We went down to the creek for water, hiked to another bench on the far side and bugled, hiked back up to the same bench as before and busted a bull from his bed.

We hiked back up to the top of the mountain and out to some meadows with some impressive sign along the way.

Never saw anything during shooting light. About a half mile from camp in the dark we busted a herd of cows and the same bull from the morning let out his nasty bugle.

We busted them at the yellow spot and I listened to him bugling in the blue area while I fell asleep. Mitchell woke up around two am and heard him bugling in the green area. When we woke up, we figured he’d be somewhere near the red at first light so we got up above him to listen for bugles.

Mitchell bugled about 200 yards from the red and didn’t get a response so we continued up the mountain. A few hundred yards uphill, we bugled again and he responded from the red, right where we thought he would be.
Late archery season started two weekends ago for blacktail.

Weekend one I picked a spot on a map in a wilderness area in the cascades and hiked in. What I didn’t realize was the area was way steeper than I thought and had fallen trees everywhere from an old burn. The soil was so loose and rocky that I kept falling and sliding down the mountain. There was no way I could pack a deer out safely. It took me over 3 hours to hike a mile back to the truck because I kept getting stuck on steep slopes.
I ran into one young buck in the morning but had no way to make a move on him. There was plenty of deer sign but the wind was wrong for all of the areas I wanted to rattle in. I decided to call it quits after a full day hunt and regroup for the next weekend.