Blacktail techniques, general rifle season

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Any experienced Blacktail hunters here willing to share tips on skill and techniques?

I'm not new to hunting but have preferred Eastern Oregon in the past thus Blacktails have eluded me the most. Ive done my scouting but one of my spots is seeing increasing pressure so I found another with deer sign and learned its game trails and how to move around in the coastal jungle, was pleasantly surprised to find 3 different sized rubs at the start of the season this year, one quite large... I put in the effort this year, felt like I came close, saw two in my new spot in the deep heavy timber.

This year I tried calling and rattling for the first time with no results, how effective are these skills for Oregon's northern coastal blacktails during rifle season? Is there a best way to set up a spot to call from, how long do you call or rattle before moving on?
 
I've not had success with rattling. One time I had a response to grunts, but then I believe I got too aggressive and he walked away.

Mature blacktails seem to appear very early and late in the day. I've treestand hunted mostly the last several years and have missed opportunities for various reasons, but those were within the first 15 minutes or last 15 minutes of legal shooting time.
Pick a good spot, and don't move a muscle! Even slight movements are easily picked up.
If I'd have been using a rifle with a scope, I'd likely taken this character. On this day legal shooting time was 7:08am. Check the time stamp on the pic. I overlook the area of this game cam from my stand.

EK000115.JPG
 

Ironbar

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Any experienced Blacktail hunters here willing to share tips on skill and techniques?
1) Drive up to the coast range and stake out your spot
2) Make several scouting trips to get the lay of the land
3) During hunting season, slog through the wet and the cold and find no deer
-OR- sit in the wet and cold and find no deer
4) Drive home to the city to find half a dozen Blacktails grazing in your back yard
 

P7M13

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+1 to @orygun 's statement. I'll nap during the day.
Don't road hunt, though while on the road, keep your eye out for game trails.
Places I've encountered herds of doe: high on ridges at the edge, or deep in creek beds, completely obscured by shrubbery.
Bucks have eluded me.
 
1) Drive up to the coast range and stake out your spot
2) Make several scouting trips to get the lay of the land
3) During hunting season, slog through the wet and the cold and find no deer
-OR- sit in the wet and cold and find no deer
4) Drive home to the city to find half a dozen Blacktails grazing in your back yard

While I don't have them in my backyard, I've had days like this, for sure!
But...
I worked the "proper" areas hunting for several years, only to get busted when moving. I'd get snorted at and hear 'em bounding off.
Then one evening a few minutes before the end of the legal shooting time I was driving past the place we own and saw a beauty of a four point in the side yard. (this isn't a place we live at, but there's a house there. east of Estacada about 10 miles) That's when I realized what I'd been doing wrong all along and set up game cameras on some of the trails on our property. I soon learned that the old orchard (late 1800's) was the draw!
Year before last I started putting my stand overlooking the orchard. I'd already learned to deal with climbing into the tree and staying allllllll daaaaayyy loooonggg.

Trails into and out of feeding areas. That's the place to be. I'm not good at locating more natural food sources, but scabby orchards can still be found near old homesteads and those draw bears as well as the deer. Obviously I quit hunting after I filled my tag, but my wife moved her blind into the area and on one day had two good opportunities after seeing NOTHING the previous part of the season.

This isn't the first post @Ironbar 's poo pooed hunting blacktails, but I understand his statement completely. I quit hunting in 91 and didn't buy a deer tag until 2000 or so because I was so frustrated in spending so much time hunting and come home empty handed, empty tank on the truck and a list of things I should have been doing that day...

Gray Ghosts. Blacktails have the reputation of being one of the hardest animals to hunt. It's true.
 
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Focus your morning hunt on the east to south east slopes.
Think places to catch the morning sun.

I always figured this was because a steep slope gives a deer an advantage at escaping a predator.
Ever notice how when you shoot one they make for the bottom of some ungodly canyon?

Do more looking and less stomping around.
Humans are a joke moving through the woods.


And Blacktails are the ones watching and laughing.
 
Last edited:
OP
Koda
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I've not had success with rattling. One time I had a response to grunts, but then I believe I got too aggressive and he walked away.

Mature blacktails seem to appear very early and late in the day. I've treestand hunted mostly the last several years and have missed opportunities for various reasons, but those were within the first 15 minutes or last 15 minutes of legal shooting time.
Pick a good spot, and don't move a muscle! Even slight movements are easily picked up.
If I'd have been using a rifle with a scope, I'd likely taken this character. On this day legal shooting time was 7:08am. Check the time stamp on the pic. I overlook the area of this game cam from my stand.

View attachment 783916
I agree with focusing on the mornings and evenings, those were the two times I actually saw deer this year. First one was maybe 10 minutes before last light... plus I was in my stand in deep timber so it felt darker, when I saw this grey apparition move in complete silence and work its way around me instead of up the game path I was poised to shoot at. I dont understand how it possibly noticed me, or if it was random it was moving on another path... I think this one was a doe, I did have one shot at its body but couldn't see the head thru the timber, then later saw an ear but no antler.

The second deer was in another heavy timber spot on the other side of the hill at first light, I was moving though.... slow as a snail, trying to get into my spots position. Barely any light but saw it move to my right, I stopped, it didnt appear spooked or to have ran but it walked behind a few trees. I never say it again, no idea if it was one of the bucks responsible for the rubs nearby.

The delimma with the morning stand at first light is getting into position. I timed it right so I was getting in there at legal shooting time but I think now I need to get in there by headlamp at least an hour or two to sit motionless and let myself blend into the silence. Next years strategy I think anyways...

What I need to know from more experienced, is if thats a better plan and just how much do I need to camo out or hide my outline?

I usually find a spot with sign all around that has good shooting "lanes" (what I call them when hunting heavy timber, usually 50yd maybe 75yd shots) but find it difficult to set that up with perfect hiding. I have a UL tripod stool I sit on, I try to find a stump or tree to set beside to blend in but also not a bunch of branches to dodge when aiming if I see one.
 
OP
Koda
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Focus your morning hunt on the east to south east slopes.
Think places to catch the morning sun.

I always figured this was because a steep slope gives a deer an advantage at escaping a predator.
Ever notice how when you shoot one they make for the bottom of some ungodly canyon?

Do more looking and less stomping around.
Humans are a joke moving through the woods.


And Blacktails are the ones watching and laughing.
Morning sun slopes is a good tip, thank you... will add to my plan next year.

Ive been moving less and sitting more, probably not enough though. Ive been glassing everything, even in heavy timber its really amazing how much more you can see 'thru' the trees even closer ranges.
 
I try to be in my stand an hour before legal shooting time. There have been times with thick cloud cover or no moon that I literally couldn't see my hand in front of my face.
I've been told that using a red light to see on the way in lessens one's "signature", but I'm not so sure about that.
 

MechaNik

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My experience with blacktail seems to come down to luck. Right place, right time. Not much, if any success otherwise unfortunately. Heck, I saw a big buck chasing 2 Doe in broad daylight around 9:30 yesterday. Stopped and looked right at me as if to say he knows it's out of season and there's nothing I can do about it
 
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Koda
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My experience with blacktail seems to come down to luck. Right place, right time. Not much, if any success otherwise unfortunately.
This seems to be my observation too, everytime I learn of someone lucky enough to get a large blacktail their story was more a matter of chance, I have never heard of one that explained any techniques they used and have only once read a professional article of a sponsored hunter getting a trophy, and the guy wrote it took him several years to tag the buck he watched elude him on his trail cams.
This reminds me of something interesting to note I've observed, professional hunting shows or big name hunters... Ive never heard of one story of them trophy hunting Columbian Blacktail. Sitka Blacktail is the closest I watched on Meateater and that's the only one. I suspect Sitka Blacktail is an easier challenge due to less hunting pressure up there... not the same game as Columbian Blacktail, IMO.
 
OP
Koda
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I try to be in my stand an hour before legal shooting time. There have been times with thick cloud cover or no moon that I literally couldn't see my hand in front of my face.
I've been told that using a red light to see on the way in lessens one's "signature", but I'm not so sure about that.
Im gonna try this next year.
I think the red light works for humans, no idea about wildlife but my guess is it doesnt matter. A low watt headlamp should suffice, though some of these coastal woods in bad weather are freaky dark places at night.
 
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Koda
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If your able to look the work, not the man, A good read with useful info and insight might be "Wilderness Hunting and wildcraft" by Colonel Townsend Whelen
Bookmarked this in my Amazon account, Ive actually been looking for a good instruction on hunting but want to hold out for a bit for something specific to Columbian Blacktail... though, I dont think anyone has written specific on them.
 

thorborg

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Bookmarked this in my Amazon account, Ive actually been looking for a good instruction on hunting but want to hold out for a bit for something specific to Columbian Blacktail... though, I dont think anyone has written specific on them.
Here is a partial list of the books contents. Chapters 5 and 4 cover some good insight to the black tail clan, and juxtaposed to their cousins.
IMGP0030.JPG
 

chukar

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USMC1911

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I usually find a spot with sign all around that has good shooting "lanes" (what I call them when hunting heavy timber, usually 50yd maybe 75yd shots) but find it difficult to set that up with perfect hiding. I have a UL tripod stool I sit on, I try to find a stump or tree to set beside to blend in but also not a bunch of branches to dodge when aiming if I see one.
Don't sit next to the stump sit in front of it as it hides your movement better. Deer are really good a picking out movement. Get to your spot at least an hour before shooting light. I see more movement at daylight when no moon is present that night as deer feed at night. Here in Western Oregon the bucks get closer to the rut at the end of the season so make note of where you have seen does and hunt those spots.
 
Here's the book I mentioned previously. Note the comment on the back by Jim Shockey. I'll also be looking for Whelen's book, as well as the other. After many years of unfilled tags, I took the first legal deer I saw, which is the wrong thing to do when gunning for a trophy. However, a trophy Blacktail is my Holy Grail in the hunting world and good info is hard to find.

Blacktail book front.jpg Blacktail book back.jpg
 

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