Share this season's hunting stories - here's mine

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Nov 6, 2005
This year I was fortuante enough to hunt private land in Eastern Oregon in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. The property is approximately 1000 acres with a few creeks running through and over on one edge is a large-ish watershed that drains probably 15-20 square miles.

We were unsuccessful the first weekend, but saw at least 10 does a day, they are here. The landowner scored himself a buck in the bottom of one of these steep canyons. The rest of us, three of four, went home empty handed.

I returned to work for my workweek and headed back out on Thursday morning such that I arrived about 1/2 hour before the sun came up. I drag my gear into the cabin, don the gear, and grab the rifle and binoculars and head out for a morning hunt. I cover much of the same ground as the previous two days and see about 10 does total. I stop at the apple tree and shake about 10-20 apples onto the ground to feed the animals and thinking it might offer me a shot on an evening hunt. I kick a few towards the open grass in the hopes of drawing them out into view should I return. The apples I shook out on the previous trip three days prior were completely gone, so I see this as a good sign. But this apple tree is on the edge of some thick woods that you couldn't even get a 30 yard shot on the game trails, so I keep working down the treeline back to where we saw the whitetails a few days ago. I keep several apples in my pocket and dump them where we put some doe scent by a watering hole. The rain has returned for the fall and the watering holes are notably more full than the previous trip.

I spook up yet another whitetail on the edge of the trees only to see its white behind briefly as it hightails into the thick brush. I know it was a deer, nothing more. I leave an apple under a pine tree thinking of the evening route and keep moving. I now end up in meadow where several game/cow trails converge so I lighten myself of all but two apples I have left and proceed back to the North end of the property. I've seen a few does, but I'm really starting to doubt I'm being stealthy enough to be effective, then things get good.

I creep down the fence line and stir up a few cows that were not in the field on the first weekend. I'm being extra mindful of the cows locations and moving along as quietly as I can. I'm just about to give up because I did not eat a big breakfast and I'm getting hungry. I think to myself, I'll do this loop, return to the cabin, get some grub and take a nap. I have some good plans laid for an evening hunt. About this time I alert two doe and fawn pairs. Two of them hop the fence and disappear into the trees, the other two head 50 yards down the fence line. I freeze and grab my binoculars and search the surrounding brush thoroughly as the does were about 50 yards away from the main group on the previous trip, I see no more deer. However, I finally realize that I am moving carefully enough because this doe actually works her way back toward me because she's not sure what I am just yet and she's curious. My confidence builds, but my stomach is beginning to growl. I work my way into a small draw full of underbrush and hope that I can quietly stir a buck out. I cannot proceed through the brush absolutely quietly, so I move really slowly with my eyes peeled and my head swivelling all directions. I see 4 more does, but no bucks. I pushed them out of this little draw as I approach another small draw with a slight clearing in between.

I navigate into the next brushy draw and see 4 deer to my left. They know something is in the trees, but they can't see me so I scope them looking for horns. Three of them are does and the last one has it's head out of view. I move over a pine tree or two, carefully, and see horns. It's a forked horn mulie and he's moving left almost into the brush. I free the safety and take the shot, offhand, about 50-75 yards. He doesn't seem to jump or hop or anything to indicate I hit him. They all hop the fence and head out of sight. My heart is racing now and I'm beginning to have my doubts yet again for I had to rush the shot before he got out of view. I kick up the thorn tree thicket thinking they may have headed for cover. No luck. I figured they went over the steep hill, and they did. I'm getting more hungry and feeling dejected for rushing the shot, jerking the trigger, missing the opportunity and all those types of doubts enter my mind. I decide that I have to go over the edge of the hill to take a good look, expecting to see nothing. Way down at the tree line ~300-400 yards below me I see a doe and fawn looking back up at me. I glass them and note they are indeed, doe and fawn. I creep along the hillside a little more and am literally a few steps from giving up and heading back to the cabin for lunch and a nap when he jumps up and heads down the hill about 30-50 yards in front of me. I raise the gun and take a quick shot and dump him like a box of rocks.

He then proceeds to slide another 100 yards or more down this hill while I say over and over to myself, stop, stop, oh man, stop sliding down this hill would ya. I get to him and he is down. My first shot hit him in the leg, and the second exited just below his eye. I'm still not entirely certain if I hit him twice or the once, but being he was bedded down half way down the hill and not caught up with the does, I'm confident I hit him twice. It's just that I can't find the entry track on the head wound and I'm wondering if my 180 grain 300WSM bullet went through and through from tail to head.

I gut him out and find no devestating internal damage to the heart, lungs or what have you. The heart and liver are untouched so I extract them from the guts. I then realize, I'm sapped of energy, I did not eat enough before I started the morning hunt and, I now have about a half mile to drag this guy back to the cabin. Half of that distance up a 45 degree incline. I had two apples left in my pocket and was very glad I did. I wiped my hands best I could and proceeded to eat these two badly bruised apples for some sugar and what little hydration they offered. I could only get three tugs up the hill at a time, then I had to stop and rest and listen to my heart pound, hoping it would not explode on me. I stripped my undergarments at put the camo suit back on for I was overheating something fierce. It helped, a little. I then went back and forth taking my gear up, setting it down, then returning to the deer and dragging him up. What a workout. I realized what poor shape I'm really in in regards to cardio fitness. I'm plenty strong, but that strength quickly faded and many rests ensued. Once I got the deer up to a less than 45 degree incline I'd had enough. I put my blaze orange vest on his antlers, got him close to an easy to find tree and grabbed my gear and headed back to the cabin to get some dragging rope and drink about 3 quarts of Gatorade and water.

I returned to my deer hoping not to find a coyote or bear taking advantage of the free meal laying on the ground for I did not return with my rifle. I lashed his front legs up with rope, wrapped his head up so it would lift it off the ground and proceeded to drag him back to the cabin. I'd started hunting at daybreak and got him back to the cabin, hoisted him up, and drank some more gatorade, then opened a celebratory IPA and grabbed the skinning knife. It was about 1pm now. I skinned him and put the game bag over the carcass. It was plenty cool and I was in no shape to head straight home being so tired. I ate half of a giant sub sandwich, drank another beer, cleaned up, made a good fire and took a nap. Success at last, I did it, I can actually be a successful hunter. He's hanging in the garage now and will be getting carved up in another day or so. Time to buy a dedicated freezer.

Sorry no pics at this time, haven't downloaded them off the camera just yet. I'll post them a bit later.

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The deer I harvested

Nice job :D I know what you mean about proving you can be a successful hunter. I don't get out there very often, and its not about having the meat as much as it is about being able to get it.

Did you figure out where your shot went in at? Judging by the pic, if he was facing downhill from you it migh have gone in his ear :eek:
Good job, Jeep! Looks like "in the ear" to me, too. My hunt yesterday started with a Jeep that wouldn't idle . . . eventually cleared after it warmed a bit; no codes stored, so assume the IAC hiccupped. And here's a bear that didn't get harvested . . . too photogenic . . .
Way to go Jeep, some days are better than others huh?

Wasn't hunting but did spend the last couple of days in Oregon and Washington. Saw a dozen or so big horned sheep including two nice rams. Several bunches of antelope, plenty of deer and one large herd of elk a minimum of 100 maybe to 200. They were in a cut grain field, near the timber, we figured they had found a safe haven from hunting pressure in the wide open. Them elks ain't so dumb sometimes. We were in a hurry and didn't stop to count the exact amount but it was one of the larger herds I have seen in person not on winter feeding grounds.

We had to have just been lucky and been in the right places at the right moments as it was far more game observed than normal.
My wife and I just spent the past 5 hours or so cutting this guy up and wrapping him. I wanted to hang him for another day or two and take him to my local game processor, but the temp was rising up to 60 in the garage and I feared he might begin to spoil so we took it on ourselves.

After butchering the entire deer, I did not find a full body through and through and suspect it was indeed through the ear. I did feel around the head a bit, but found no entry wound. I quickly lopped the head off while butchering to get all the hair out of the way and haven't gotten back to it. I will address the head to get the horns later this week when things slow down a bit and I'm back on my weekend.

Nice bear image. I probably would have shot it since I don't have a bear rug yet and I see a bear maybe once every couple years, if that. However, I think of my bear and cougar tags as additional revenue for ODFW and haven't actually gone on dedicated hunts for them as of yet. I think of them as more of opportunity tags should I happen to come across one while hunting coyotes, deer or elk. Being only $11.50 each, I don't want to pass one up for lack of a tag.

On that note, a colleague here at work had a buddy take a 350 lb black bear last weekend. I'm not very keen on bear sizes, but that seems pretty darn big for a black bear in the coast range to me. The fellow shot it on his property somewhere around Carlton, Oregon.

I've not seen any big horn sheep in Oregon yet. I have seen plenty of Antelope this year and a few elk this spring when the wife and I were on vacation travelling through the Blue Mountains. Nothing like a 200 head herd though, I don't think I've ever seen that many together at one time. I did see 21 bulls congregating at the refuge area near Reedsport Oregon a few years back during the heat of the summer. It was so hot they were walking into the creek up to their necks and just lounging in the water. It was quite a sight. There was not a spike in the bunch, they were all branch bulls, some of them with nice Ivory tipped antlers.

I enjoy hunting for the outdoor activity, but this year has been a real boon for myself getting outdoors. I've been quite fortunate this year as I snowboarded quite a bit, hunted coyotes a few times, spent over two weeks in Eastern Oregon on vacation camping and camped quite a few weekends this summer. And I've also spent 3 days out hunting so far too this deer season. One of the best years in a long while. I'm also getting a lot done around the house this year with the baby coming. I feel quite fortunate things have worked out the way they have this year and I look forward to finishing all my home improvement tasks in the next year or two so I can dedicate my life to rearing my boy such that he will have rich and diverse childhood with the outdoors being a very big part of his life.

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