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Hey guys,
I'm 20 years old and I've lived in Oregon my whole life. I've always enjoyed the outdoor activities the state has to offer like camping, fishing, hiking, etc. But I want to get into big game hunting now as well. I am new to big game hunting and I'm getting ready for the upcoming deer season. I've done a fair bit of research and acquired most all the gear I need.
I have come here seeking any advice or pointers from a more experienced hunter. I have scouted some areas within the Tillamook state forest but have yet to have any luck finding signs of deer. From what I've heard the northwestern units in the state sound like promising areas to hunt and that clear cuts are good areas to scout for deer. I understand nobody wants to give their spot away but any advice or pointers on where to go would be appreciated greatly.
Thank you.


Find the most remote area away from roads and start walking.

Blacktail hunting has a couple of different methods.
Spot and stalk, glassing cuts, and plain old luck.

Spot and stalk days can be measured in hours per hundreds of yards covered. Usually in the dense woods. Follow a game trail, moving super slow. Watching and listening. Using binoculars to pick the woods apart.
Glassing cuts can be productive. You need to find why they are in the cut. Blacktail tend to be edge feeders and hang out at the edges with an easy escape route nearby. If they are transversing a cut it is for a reason, either going to food or bedding areas.
The PNW has become very difficult to hunt in.
deer are the ghost of the woods,
They are usually out only at night like most game animals so your best option is be out where you want to hunt before light, and hunt until dark. Mid day is for napping.
Like other’s have said your best chance is to hike FAR from roads, noise, people.
so be in good shape.
and always think of safety. There’s a reason people disappear in the woods every year.

always tell people where you plan on going. Go to any hardware store and buy some flagger’s tape.
you can mark your trail. It can help you find your way back or help searchers locate you.


Engineers tape is a great suggestion. One that I continually overlook.
I always have a roll of electrical tape in my pack for all sorts of stuff.
One thing I would add, is be nice to the guys you bump into. They might save your bubblegum, put you onto an animal, or even help haul out a kill if necessary.
Unfortunately public lands are decreasing and the amount of hunters squeezed into a chunk of land sucks some days. That's no excuse to be a dick to the next guy.
Learn to ID mushrooms. Sometimes that's the only thing you're going to see aaalllllll day.

Have fun.
Be willing to walk down closed roads or through the forest open to hunting. Most hunting pressure decreases within a 1/8 of the closest open road. Look for open hunting ground close to private land. There is also a lot of private forest land open to hunters. Much of it will have closed gates. Usually the big owners/managers will have info on the net. Also check out areas in the synopsis listed in the back as cooperative management areas.

I live near private forest land open to hunting. There is tons of blacktail there. The occasional lazy hunter will never see most the deer there if any. The bucks are extremely hard to find but they are there. Like was said, you have to stalk to find them in the thick brush or get lucky when they show. Heavy rain and wind will push them to the tree line edges of clear cuts. Glass those areas hard in bad weather. They generally won’t move if they spot you. That makes it hard to find them.
There are some great threads on the subject on this forum. Read through the wisdom in those threads. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of forest that's closed at the moment. The best advice is to get out in the woods, and often. It takes time to find where the deer are. Some places are void of deer. This time of year, the bucks are nocturnal or just about, so you're looking for does. Bucks will find the does, so focus on finding deer. With the weather the way it is, look at high elevations for deer, with water sources. It doesn't have to be a lake, but a spring, seep, crick, or puddle.

For Blacktail, what others have said is true, hunting in the rain is effective and productive. It's not fun, but it generally is productive.
I have scouted some areas within the Tillamook state forest but have yet to have any luck finding signs of deer. From what I've heard the northwestern units in the state sound like promising areas to hunt and that clear cuts are good areas to scout for deer.
  • Scout the edges of clear cuts. You will likely find evidence of animal clusters. Track from there. Looking at droppings in the middle of a clear cut doesn't tell you much.
  • Learn to identify droppings and their approximate age. Ones to note in the Tillamook are bear, elk, deer and coyote.
  • Learn to identify game trails. (hint: they look nothing like hiking or OHV trails).
  • Learn to move quietly. This is way harder than you might think.
  • Do not road hunt. The one thing I have found useful in road hunting is spotting animal tracks in road cuts. See some fresh ones, get out of your car and hike into the woods.
  • One great way to cover a lot of ground and learn to recognize habitat is to take a mountain bike into the area. Park your car, get on the bike, and go check out everything you can. You see and hear more.
  • When you find evidence of deer or elk stands, make note of the plants around -- what were they eating.
Nothing we can tell you will beat time in the woods.
x 10
But, as @No_Regerts suggested, read books on deer behavior. Same for elk.

When you get off the road and into the woods beyond the initial tree barriers, you will find all sorts of habitat areas. There you will see beds and stand clusters where they were chewing cud and pooping.


Become as proficient with your hunting guns as you can.

Take into account that once you’ve killed a deer, you have a lot of work ahead of you to get the meat home.

Let someknow where you’re going, and when you’ll be back. If something happens to you out in the woods, you’ll be glad someone knows where to come looking for you.

Study the apex predators (lions, bears, wolves) in the areas you plan to hunt, and be prepared to deal with them.

If you can befriend a group of hunters who will take you under their wing, do that.

Don’t trespass. If you want to hunt on somebody’s place, go ask them if you can. Speaking as a landowner - I absolutely hate it when people trespass on my place.

Study your prey. Shot placement counts for a lot, and can determine the success or failure of your hunt.



While you are out scouting make note of the time that you see animals.
Black tail are odd creatures. They can habitually use an area or they won't be back for 7-10 days.
It's also difficult to nail down a water source for them. They will drink from the smallest weep in a hill side. Much of their food is packed with water.
Find food sources and bedding areas.
Later in the season, find the does, the bucks will be around somewhere.
Find a huge clear cut that's behind a locked logging gate (where you have permission to hunt) that can't be driven to. If you have to hoof it a couple miles so be it. The farther you can get from Bubba the road hunter the better off because he and his truck full of Hamms drinking, Copenhagen eating buddies will drive right up to you and stop and want to shoot the $#it or just blow by and potentially scare something off. Find a nice highpoint with some cover. Sit down in the dark. I recommend sitting on something that's going to keep your tail dry. Maybe consider some tick repellant. Wait quietly till you get enough light and start glassing. You will find doe's easy if you put in the work. If you don't have a doe tag it's still good practice with the binos and scopes. The blacktail bucks are a lot tougher to find. I rarely find them standing. It's usually antlers poking up in the brush while they are bedded down and they are really easy to skip over with glass or the naked eye. Do like a grid search. Have a plan and a scan pattern. Since you are a first timer I would avoid the whole (stumbling around the forest) spot n stock scenarios. Sit down where you can be quiet then there's less of a chance that you'll be busted by game. Not to mention you'll be rested and not all out of breath and blowing your scent all over creation. Last but not least always pack a good lunch, and a sharp knife. Good luck out there!
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