Blacktail Deer Hunting: Public Land Blacktails on Oregon’s Pacific Coast Part 2

antler hunting, archery hunting, arrows, big game hunting, Blacktail Deer, bow and arrows, Deer Hunting, DIY hunting, hunting, meat, public land, shed hunting, The next generation, traditional archery

 

Oregon_Hunting_Access_Map_buttonPublic land is great choice for any DIY hunter, its widely available you just have to know where to look.  Surveying Google Maps on my computer I saw an interesting national forest near Oregon’s coast and wanted to check it out.  Choosing a few hunting locations in the Suislaw National Forest is a daunting task, it stretches for 991miles across the Pacific coast line of Oregon and provides ample hunting opportunity.  “If you have never hunted this particular area how do you chose a location?” Firstly I read some information on blacktails provided by Oregon Department of Fish and Game, and checked out their Interactive hunting map. Secondly, I concentrated my efforts on one particular area on a system of clear cuts, using one specific road.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 11.55.58 AMI also studied the game regulations provided by ODFG and found the particular GMU’s which I was allowed to hunt. I decided to hunt National Forest because it is the easiest way to find yourself in a legal hunting area if you are a DIY public land hunter and have a tag in your pocket.  Reading everything I possibly could online about blacktail hunting, I learned that hunters have mixed success from tree stand hunting, still hunting, and spot and stalk techniques.  Hunting the edge of clear cuts whenever possible also provides hunters with success.  These tactics aren’t to much different from the way whitetails are pursued, although the terrain, diet, and behaviors of the blacktails are slightly different.  I find that trees and forage are the key to any deer species, and having an understanding of the trees helps hone my hunting approach.  I found myself studying trees more during the hunting season than studying deer, mainly because I couldn’t find any blacktails.

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Using my iPhone maps app I drive to the selected national forest road a few miles outside a small surf town on the coast of Oregon.  One man can only cover so much terrain on one hunt, and from what I have read/heard it’s not to easy to walk up on the said “ghost of the coast”.   Drawing on previous experience from my 2013 blacktail hunt where I harvested a beautiful blacktail doe, I knew one particular tactic that would give me a great place to start.  I got to the road where I was legal to hunt and started looking, slowly driving to find animal “highways” that cross the road.  I took the first day to scout/hunt keeping my eyes open for any deer sign possible.  I had one tree stand in my tool kit to hang, thus adding to my strategy for these blacktails.  Kind of mind numbing to think that your hunting 991 square miles sitting in a tree waiting for one deer to show up though.  I like my odds…..  Finding a concealed blocked off logging road, I march a mile or so deep finding rubs and deer sign the whole way.  I hung my stand and took off to search for more sign in the area not limiting myself to only one option.

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Finding another meadow bound by a clear cut and a stream, there was an animal highway dividing the lands features.  I knew I had found my secondary hunting location.  There was a large stump over turned with a ball of dirt and tree roots in which I could sit approximately 8-10 feet off the ground perched perfectly for a 5-10 yard shot.  If I sat at either location long enough I may just have a shot at a buck.   Not seeing an animal in my new “spot” for the first few days, I was starting to get a little discouraged.

Sitting on the up-turned stump for the morning with no action, I decided to visit the tree stand.  Again to no avail, I pound out the hours in the stand answering emails, Face-booking, Instagraming, and tweeting(guilty)…. The second day hunting was once again a total bust, there were deer tracks under both of my stand locations but no deer.  It appeared as if they were coming through both of my trails at dark.   Based upon the winds direction I decided on the third day that I would sit on-top the stump for the morning hunt and hit my tree stand for the afternoon hunt.  At 10:30 am the wind changed for the worse and rendered both of my hunting locations null.  Thinking fast I walk back to the car and drove to a small clear cut I had previously book marked for a two hour hiking appointment.   Having just enough time for a short stalk and spot hunt, I followed my instinct and decided to hunt the closest possible public land bordering private land.  The game plan was to rattle and grunt with the wind in my face working my way to a forked forest road, then walk my way back to the car.  Luckily my 3G was working and gave me a pinpoint location of where I was relative to my vehicle, the private land, and the public land.  Without having to fuss with any other GPS the iPhone was a great tool for the hunt, this allowed me to distinguish exactly where the private and public land boundaries were; a beneficial tool to the 21st century hunter.

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There was as small road closed to all motor and atv vehicles, a great place to go with minimal if any foot traffic.  The terrain consisted of rolling hills lined with douglas fir, the western hemlock, and small stands of big leaf maples.  I headed up the steepest hill to find a few small rolling benches protected from the wind, the perfect location to rattle in a bedded buck.   Calling to me is like painting a picture, the first step is to set up and begin the rattling sequence after a 5-10 minute silent pause.  Light tickling of the antlers works to coax a closer buck, after 10-15 minutes the rattling will increase intensity crescendoing into a couple of bucks locked for the title of alpha buck and breeding rights.  Rubbing the antlers on trees, scraping the ground, raking tree bark, simultaneously grunting, and doe bleating these all work.  In this instance, nothing came to my beautifully painted buck fight in forest surrounded by red cedar trees amongst the tangles of a recently thinned clear cut.  I continued to paint the entire clear cut as if there was a battle royal of the biggest bucks in the area all throwing down for the hootenanny. Nothing.  Nothing came to the rattle, maybe I’m like a finger paint artist or something….

Working my way towards the opposing forest road, I let down my guard and begin to march toward the “pin dropped” location on my google maps app on the smart phone.  Looking at my phone I have a pretty good barring of which direction to walk, I crammed the phone in my pocket and zipped it.  Realizing the “pin dropped” location was further than anticipated, I knew I had a extra mile or so to the car and needed to get back to town for lunch plans.    Better pick up the pace, I think to myself.  I moved as swift and safe as possible through the douglas fir stand which I was currently hunting, the area was loaded with heavy blown downs mixed with a luscious green fern undergrowth.

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Continued from PART 1:

Trotting through the woods, I notice a buck springing from his bed and take two bounds pausing at 20 yards.   I immediately freeze, the buck does the same and keeps a tree between us peering with on eye around the tree focused on the direction I came from.   I was caught off guard for two reasons, I was moving quickly to get back to my vehicle and wasn’t prepared to draw my long bow as movement would surely make the buck flee.

As the first buck stopped, my eyes caught movement and gravitated toward a second blacktail buck trailing his buddy at 15 yards.  As luck would have it, I was perfectly downwind with a steady sea breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean.  We all stood for about 1-2 minutes silently, it was very fascinating to watch these animals undisturbed in their natural environment. At 20 yards I watched how much they check the wind with a simple nose lift, or how they’re ears spin almost 360 degrees detecting the slightest branch breaking or noise in the forest. They could not smell me and could not detect the ensuing danger, they went back to feeding unaware of (me) the predators existence.  Calmly the second buck started to walk away after he lost curiosity in the movement he had detected earlier.  Just as he started to move and turn his back toward me I grab my grunt and softly grunted to him, he turns and immediately starts to walk directly at me.  He paused at 12 yards facing me, positioned to walk behind thick brush and offer no shot opportunity I had to think quickly to turn him broad side.  Thinking to myself, “this dudes neck is all swolled up he must be in the rut” and “I thought blacktails were smaller than whitetails?” and “This buck is a brute forky!”.  Having a set of rattling antlers around my neck I simply lean forward and barley roll my shoulders resulting in a soft antler tickle. The buck couldn’t help himself and walked 4 yards closer to find the source of the antler rattle.  Turning broad side at 8 yards he started to walk around a fallen tree, he caught my elbows movement as I anchored at full draw and then paused for a fatal moment.  The arrow disappeared from sight in the blink of an eye and the buck took off running towards the other deer.   They vanished in a fraction of a second, I crept quickly to the location of where the deer was standing when I shot him.  Looking for signs of blood, hair, and or the arrow I found something quite peculiar.

When I first saw this buck I saw that his antler was deformed, his antler hung downward on his face but still fully intact and attached to his pedicle.  With the stick bow, you shouldn’t be a choosy hunter and the old saying stays true “don’t pass on the first day what you wouldn’t pass on the last day”.  Knowing that any antlered buck in the GMU I was hunting is legal, I decided either of the bucks were in trouble if they showed me their vitals.  When this buck turned broad side at 8 yards I had no doubt in my mind wether to come to full draw or not.   After releasing the arrow and arriving at the location of the where the deer stood, I surveyed the area to find something odd on the ground.  Upon closer examination I found that this wasn’t simply a drop of blood on the ground but that this was the actual antler of my deer.  He somehow managed to break off the remaining portion of bone connecting his antler by catching it on a tree while he was on his death run.   Shortly after I found the antler, the arrow appeared buried and covered in blood in a small brush pile.

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Waiting for an hour or so before tracking the animal, I decided it was best not to move a muscle and continue to look for a blood trail in the immediate area until I had given the animal some time to expire.   Experienced archery hunters and hunters in general will tell you the most gut wrenching exhilarating portion of the hunt doesn’t come before the shot, it comes after.   The anxiety that comes with tracking a wounded animal is intense to say the least, and that anxiety was building in my mind as I had no real blood to track.   Staying close to the area where I found my arrow and the antler, I began marking the direction the bucks had run off to with florescent flagging tape.  Taking a very slow approach in their direction, as to not spook the deer from his first bedding after the shot, I spotted one of the bucks working his way directly towards me.  The buck was following the same path he left upon an hour or so earlier.   This is a valuable and interesting part of the story as it allowed for ample learning opportunities on how to hunt blacktail deer. This buck and other bucks I have hunted in my experience will return to an area using the same trail if they are not alerted to human presence or danger.   This deer had no clue what had happened in the forest and was curious enough to come back through an hour or so later to investigate the source of commotion in his bedroom.  He meandered off after a few minutes and headed toward the direction we all came from, although he didn’t have the droopy antlered buck with him, a good sign. Noting that one deer track was much heavier I knew the direction that the deer ran, after about 60 yards I found a pool of blood on the forest floor filled with pink bubbles and a mix of crimson clots.  Not moving another inch I survey the area for more sign in any direction, the body of the deer, or simply an upturned hoof signaling the end of the hunt.

With no blood sign detected in any other direction, I started to let my eyes do the walking and survey further out for a possible lead. It was then that I noticed the deers body laying 40 yards away.  I knock an arrow and take off my boots and pack to sneak within 20 yards for another shot if necessary.  I dropped to a knee slowly and paused at stick bow range, there was no need for cou-de-gra.   I walked up, gently pet his hide and thanked him for the bounty he would provide.  Growing up Alaskan, going to undergrad school in Pennslyvania, and filming professional for living I’ve had my fair share of rifle harvested sitka blacktails, eastern whitetails, and central mule deer.  However, this is my first Columbian blacktail buck with traditional archery equipment and any animal harvested with true stick and string in my book is a trophy.   Completely throttled from the magical experience, a large wave of adrenalin coursed throughout my veins.  I had to sit down for a moment, calm my excitement, and fully embrace the situation before the work really began.  Its these moments that are seared into my mind after a successful hunt, savoring the nostalgia of the effort placed in the adventure. “I feel special that I’m allowed to sit in national forest sandwiched by the Pacific Ocean and woods filled with douglas-fir, western hemlocks, western red cedar, sitka spruce, big-leafed maples, and red alders with a deer tag and my longbow.”  After a few moments of savoring the successful hunt a long drag back to the National Forest Road awaited me, it wasn’t long before the processing of the animal begun.

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The final process for this hunt took me firstly to a buddies house to slice, dice, grind, and vacuum seal my delectable winter table fair; honor this animal by salvaging as much edible meat possible.  Once the buck was completely processed and in the freezer, including a self european taxidermy job, I was off to the Oregon Department of Fish and Game office to submit a tooth sample and report my hunt online to validate my harvest.  The ODFG here in Oregon does a great job on the fascination deer population found through out the states many GMU’s.   Hunters do their part in conservation by purchasing game tags and hunting licenses, which in part, provides funding for biologists and conservation officers to regulate and control game diversities throughout the state.  By hunters submitting tooth samples to this agency, the biologist can gather data on age, sex, distribution ranges, etc and then compile these facts to better understand the game species overall abundance and carrying capacity for certain areas.  Without hunters and their ability to communicate game numbers and data with Departments such as ODFG, these agencies would not have the best information to pull from to set correct game limits and regulations involving certain species.  These relationships are crucial to the continued success of wild game populations in North America.  I am proud to say I’m a hunter and conservationist.

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For more information on a DIY public land Blacktail hunting hunt check out http://www.dfw.state.or.us

For more information on how to become a hunter or if you have interest in the hunting movement we highly encourage you to check out your local Department of Fish and Game and ask about The Hunters Saftey Education Course offered year round.

Here is a link to Oregon’s Hunter Education Programs

http://www.dfw.state.or.us/education/hunter/

Non-resident tag:$383.50

Non-resident hunting license: $140

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blacktail Deer: Oregon’s Ghost of the Coast Part 1

archery hunting, arrows, Deer Hunting, DIY hunting, game processing, hunting, nature, public land, The next generation, traditional archery, unguided hunting

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 10.04.35 AM Trotting through the woods, I notice a buck springing from his bed and take two bounds pausing at 20 yards.   I immediately freeze, the buck does the same and keeps a tree between us peering with on eye around the tree focused on the direction I came from.   I was caught off guard for two reasons, I was moving quickly to get back to my vehicle and wasn’t prepared to draw my long bow as movement would surely make the buck flee….. Ghosts of the coasts they have been called by many hunters who have been fortunate enough to roam the lands with these creatures.  They have this nick name for a reason, they live in the thickest forests of North America and are rarely seen. Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 6.15.13 PM The plan for the Oregon archery tag was to meet up with a hunting buddy and head to a few key areas in Mount Hood National Forest.  Hopefully one of us would score a buck for the late season effort. Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.19.10 AM My buddy takes me to a few of his hunting spots and we attempt to rattle in the infamous bench buck.  Apparently bench deer are a result of blacktail and mule deer crossing and creating a hybridized specimen.  Mule deer are said to have evolved from whitetails and blacktails breeding thousands of years ago, genetics aside deer species in Oregon are diverse.  Wether or not these animals are mule or blacktail deer or a cross of both, they are interesting and fun all the same to hunt with traditional archery equipment.  These animals live in a diverse ecosystem, the forest covers steep hills with rolling benches the perfect hiding place for a buck. Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.20.01 AM We spend many mornings chasing these elusive critters, rising at 3am and driving 3 hours to hunt first light. Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.17.25 AM Only seeing two deer crossing a highway providing no shot opportunity, the late season archery tag was going to be a tough one to notch.  Sometimes switching up tactics is your only shot at success.  I knew I needed to go to another area but choosing one hunting spot is tough especially if you don’t have land owner relationships with private land access conveniently located near town.  Fortunately Oregon has plenty of public land to cover within a 2-3 hour drive, refer to the ODFG maps for more information. Continued…..

Venison Summer Brats: Just in “Thyme” for Independence Day

Butchering, Field Producer, game processing, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, Sausage Making, The next generation, traditional archery, wild game, wildlife

Summer is here and on these warm beautiful days, I immediately think of brats on the grill. I know warmer days are coming soon and with Independence Day just around the corner, I started to make some venison sausages with ingredients that needed to be harvested from the garden.

Ready For The Grinder

Ready For The Grinder

Grind #1

Grind #1

Fresh Herbs From The Garden

Fresh Herbs From The Garden

Thyme, Hot & Spicy Oregano, Parsley

Thyme, Hot & Spicy Oregano, Parsley

The Final Blend

The Final Blend

Casing is Ready

Casing is Ready

Finished Sausage

Finished Sausage

 

Ready For The Grill

Ready For The Grill

– Jon Dykes

@realjondykes

Enjoy your venison….

“Happy Independence Day America”!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)

July 4th, 1776, the day we adopted the Declaration of Independence declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Father’s Day Fun

Field Producer, fishing, game processing, public land, salmon fishing, The next generation, Uncategorized, Videographer, wildlife

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     Father’s Day is always a good excuse to get out and do something fun as a family. So of course Mission AK’s Kalen Kolberg knew exactly what to do when he heard the Reds were running in the Klutina. He packed a couple rods, tackle, and a cooler full of ice then hit the road towards Copper Center with his family. The Klutina offers great fishing opportunities for families. Easy access from the highway and minimal crowds allow you to fish with your family and not have to worry about you or your loved ones getting a surprise piercing.

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        The Klutina is the 7th fastest flowing river in North America so its important to target slack water holes that hold fish and allow a good solid drift. Once we settled on a hole and fished for a few hours we managed to land some beautiful Copper River Sockeye and enjoy some quality family time in the great outdoors of Alaska.

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After a long successful Father’s Day it was time to head back home and nurse our sunburn and fresh Mosquito bites. The 3.5 hour drive isn’t without it’s perks either. We were lucky enough to catch this gorgeous sunset passing through Lake Louise and managed to snap a quick cell phone pic.

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  The next morning was full of itching and moaning along with the hum of the vacuum sealer. The sight of bright red fillets in the freezer was more than enough to take our minds off our bumpy itchy skin. All in all it was a great Father’s Day filled with lots of laughs, bug bites, fish and fun.

kft6Mission Success

Cubby’s Marketplace New Additions: Mission Alaska Wall

arrows, big game hunting, bow and arrows, DIY hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, meat, moose, public land, Rifles, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, unguided hunting

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For those of you heading North to Alaska, Cubby’s Market place is a must see destination.  A truly authentic Alaskan grocery store located near the intersection of the Parks Highway and the Talkeetna Spur Road, they provide goods to locals who live here year round as well as the busy summer recreationists who come to play in the surrounding Talkeetna Mountains.  This store was opened by entrepreneurial spirited family who roots were started from the Alaskan dream. Greg and Lisa Pearson (2nd generation Alaskans) started this business from the ground up with help from their children Derek, Chris, Ashlynn, and many other family members and dedicated friends.

photo 3Cubby’s is more than a grocery store, it’s an experience.  You enter through the doors into a modern-rustic Alaskan grocery store, where animal mounts and the AK lifestyle is displayed proudly.  Being one of the Pearson’s “other children”, I am proud to say I helped out during the building process of Cubby’s.  Greg has been filling his grocery store with impressive species of Alaskan game mounts since the store opened, and I am lucky enough to have several of my mounts inside.

The entire store is covered in game mounts from animals harvested around the state, if you head to the dairy section you will notice a small section dedicated to the animals harvest by team Mission Alaska.  photo 2-2Here is owners and 3rd generation Alaskan’s Derek and Chris Pearson hanging the moose on Cubby’s Wall.  This moose was from Austin Manelick’s and Vince Pokryfki’s 2013 moose hunt.  Pretty fascinating story of how this moose found his way onto the Cubby’s wall.  Team work makes the dream work, and with this moose it was no different.
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From the river to the wall….

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For any of you adventures north, make sure you stop in and see the beautiful Cubby’s Marketplace!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cubbys-Marketplace

 

Bridger Van Ness of Mission Alaska Graduates Ranger School

DIY hunting, extreme hunting, hunting, Hunting Culture, public land, Rifles, Survival, The next generation, Uncategorized, Videographer
Becoming a Airborne Ranger in the United States Army is a very difficult task, Ranger School is an intense 61-day combat leadership course geared to train some of the most elite soldiers America has to offer. Having two brothers who have completed the program (Auggie M. and Dan S.), they have told me first hand just how difficult this accomplishment was. Another one of my hunting brothers named Bridger Van Ness fell off the grid about eight months ago and resurfaced a new man. Bridger Van Ness and I go way back, back to the days of high school and Varsity soccer at Colony High School. Bridger started as a freshman and was a talented athlete to say the least. We have been longtime friends and partners working on the Mission Alaska Project since 2011.  I wanted to congratulate him on his Ranger School success and thank him and all of our troops for supporting and protecting our freedoms as United States citizens. A certifiable “bad boy” in the United States Army, Bridger completed his Ranger school recently and was featured in a story found at The Bayonet and Saber. Bridger has made headlines with this accomplishment as he has pioneered a new pilot program for entry into the prestigious Ranger School. Check out the story below to find out the scoop on Bridger and how his accomplishment has laid the foundation for an improved Ranger Program. Congratulations Bridger, I am very proud to know you and honored to call you friend, brother, and most importantly my hunting buddy. Can’t wait till our next Alaskan adventure!

 

Bridgers harvest 2013 MOOSE

Bridger On Assingment for Team Mission Alaska

Pilot program produces 1st Ranger grad

When Spc. Bridger Van Ness asked his mother to pin his Ranger tab during his graduation ceremony Friday, it signified the beginning of a new career and possibilities for future Infantry Soldiers to enter Ranger School through a new training initiative.

Van Ness, of Wasilla, Alaska, was the first Soldier to go from one station unit training to Ranger School, a feat he said was a challenging and rewarding experience.

“It feels surreal,” he said. “I wanted to do this because of the training and to do missions that every Soldier wants to accomplish.”

“Our brigade combat teams are only manned at 20 percent of all the Ranger requirements and the greatest shortage on Ranger requirements is at the sergeant level and below,” he said. “That has been an issue since the war started in 2001 and something we’ve been trying to address to mitigate the requirement and the need.”

The program will allow Van Ness and future Soldiers to select the duty stations of their choice throughout the Army wherever there is a brigade combat team, Butler said.

“He set a very high bar, so hopefully he will be able to motivate some of his peers when he shows up and tells them the only formal training he had was one station unit training,” he said. It’s challenging, but it is something that anyone can do if they put their mind to it.”

Van Ness, 23, graduated from Norwich University in Northfield, Vt., in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He joined the Army on Oct. 1 and completed one station unit training in January. During his training, Van Ness was approached to be a test subject for the pilot program.

“As he went through OSUT, his chain of command identified stellar performers’ abilities to accomplish the task based on physical fitness and their intellectual capability and maturity,” Butler said. “He was a star performer and exceeded all of the course standards.”

Van Ness said he was sent to pre-Ranger School after completing basic training, which helped him to make it through the Ranger School on the first try.

“I thought that I would possibly have to do another phase over but I made it straight through with the help of great peers and training,” he said. “I hope it’s a big step for the Army in getting this program approved.”

Butler said the 198th Infantry Brigade will continue to identify individuals who exceed course standards and show maturity and the physical and intellectual capacities to complete Ranger School. Using Van Ness’ experience will also help to identify potential challenges Soldiers may face.

“Not everyone is going to be able to come right off the street, join the Army, finish OSUT and go right into the Ranger course, so you have to select the right individuals to succeed,” Butler said. “If we can identify five guys per company that’s great and even better if we have more. We want to get Rangers out to the brigade combat teams so they can adhere to standards and set a great example for their peers. We want to set as many people up for success as possible.”

Preparing for his next duty station in Italy, Van Ness said he hopes to advance his education and use his knowledge from Ranger School to train future Soldiers and help improve the program.

“If a young Soldier has the right mindset, he could definitely accomplish this,” Van Ness said. “I think the Army has the potential to make this program a big hit … it could be a huge success.”

Traditional Archery Hunting Oregon 2013

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, antler, antler hunting, archery hunting, arrows, bears, coyote attack, DIY hunting, Field Producer, grizzly bear, Hunting Culture, meat, public land, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery

Tag soup is not my favorite meal, but as a hunter I will tell you I have had my fair share of it. Striking out as a hunter and coming home with no animal to show after a long arduous hunt can be very discouraging and hard on a sportsmen’s morale. I always dream of harvesting big game animals in different locations across the country, hunting in new locations is always fun and there is plenty of DIY opportunities through out most of the United States. I have had many aspirations to perfecting my traditional archery game on the beautiful animals that roam North America and beyond.

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This year I decided to take an old commercial fishing buddy up on his offer to chase elk in Oregon with bows in hand. Kalen told me about Oregon’s over the counter tags for elk and deer, I said “I’ll bring my take down long bow and a quiver full of zwickeys headed arrows.”
We discuss plans over a fishermens dinner in port of Naknek Alaska, dreaming of big bull elk and possibly a mule deer in the mountains of Oregon.

20131219-130908.jpgFast forward to August, the early archery elk season has begun and Kalen and I take to the woods. We meet up in Portland and begin the long road trip east, before long we had made it to a small sporting goods shop and picked up our elk and deer archery tags.   Kalen had the drop on a few good locations from past experiences while hunting with family and friends, so we had a few places to start.  (Thanks Mike and Jacob!)

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Hitting up a new piece of national forest is always a little daunting at first, new territory keeps you on your feet and you must be aware of your surroundings or risk getting lost/in an emergency situation.   I like hunting new areas because I have to be acutely aware of all of my new surroundings as I am at a severe disadvantage with my shooting distance, the animal sense of smell can detect me over 200 yards as they have evolved to survive.  All of my shots must be under 25 yards or I risk missing or wounding a game animal.  I am stepping completely out of my element of hunting the back country of Alaska, applying my skills to a new hunting area…….SOOOO EXCITING.  This hunt is going to be awesome, about a week to get it done before I head off back to Alaska in search of bull moose and grizzly bears.

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Hunting Alaska is no doubt one of the most physically, mentally, I repeat physically difficult hunt in the entire world especially if you are a DIY hunter who packs his own meat out.  Exlporing, hunting, and harvesting all over the counter game animals across much of Alaska, I thought this Oregon elk and deer hunt would relatively be a piece of cake.  Thinking nothing can be more difficult than a DIY moose or a grizzly bear hunt, I figured, “I’ll just slip in this (over the counter tag area) new territory in Oregon, put on the old slipideeedoooooo daaaa on an unsuspecting elk  and harvest a beautiful bull”.   “Then while I’m packing my elk out to my vehicle, I will see a mule deer buck right next to the car and tag out.”  aha lol.   All joking aside, I figured Kalen had a compound bow and an equal or better chance at harvesting an elk or a deer, so at least we would be successful.  Even harvesting one animal out of all four of our tags, I would have counted the hunt as a complete overwhelming success.20131219-130550.jpg20131219-130532.jpg

We begin to hike the rugged mountains of eastern Oregon, we break through tree line and I feel at home again.  Wind in our face dirt under our feet we marched to a prominent ridge with the plan to bivy out  on our perch high in the mountains and in the morning we would catch the elk sneaking back into their beds in the thick timber below. Potentially we could run into an unsuspecting deer as we hunt for elk.  Well our technique worked, better during the evening hunts than the morning, but we had encounters by staying high and hunting the elk herd above treeline.

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We also saw many deer, one day as I began to do the old slipideedooo da and creeping whisper quite towards the creek ravine where we saw elk I was startled by an explosion from four yards away.  Sneaking to stealthily for my own good, I managed to sneak unknowingly within 4 yards of a giant bedded mule deer buck. Kalen said “all I heard was thuda thuda thud thuda, booooomb” He could hear the deers hooves beat the earth before he could see his majestic framed bone white antlers take off towards Montana.  We both watched the buck from different locations on the mountain, galloping across the wicked terrain with mind blowing ease and grace.  Even though a shot opportunity never presented itself, seeing that deer bound across the mountain was a cool encounter one I will never forget.

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We decided they were not coming to our calling set ups as the breeding season or “rut” had not kicked off yet and the bulls were seemingly un-interested.  Thats not to say that we couldn’t call in an unsuspecting  bull before the rest of the hunting community started throwing hoochey mama calls at them.  We tried every trick in the book, we even went all “Cam Hanes” on those elk commencing “beast mode” on a least several occasions while hammering after elk.   We ended up scaring the wapiti(elk) off in the next county with our aggressive tactics. We decided to completely switch up our game, we would set up mini natural ground blinds and wait for the elk to cross a pinch point.  Pin pointing the elk herds movement to cross a saddle every evening on their way to a wallow, we knew exactly where to sit and await the ambush.   20131218-181553.jpgSeveral days later after we had patterned the elk movements, Kalen and I split up, he would stay  high upon the mountain top and I would go slide into the timber line and wait on the saddle.   Like clock work the elk came over the saddle, and I was ready.  I had also chosen the wrong game trail as the elk ended up crossing the saddle 80 yards away from me closer towards Kalen’s position.   Kalen had the majority of the herd walking directly towards the rock outcropping where he was hiding.   The spike and the branch bull we had spotted from our binoculars several days before was no where to be seen.  There were two groups of elk feeding directly towards Kalen and away from me, a spike crested the the rocky outcropping just outside Kalen’s effective range.   They ended being slightly curious of Kalens cow call, however they fed directly past his location with the spike elk not presenting anything but an extremely far shot.  Walking out of danger an into greener pastures, that spike would live to see another day.  Our tag team ambush tactic worked as we had a close encounter, although we were not able to seal the deal on an elk, I felt as if I had earned my moneys worth of the 500+ dollar over the counter tag.  The exhilarating expeience of having several close encounters in a new DIY hunting destination was priceless and in retrospect the cost of the license was worth the hunt alone.20131218-181751.jpg

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Elk combo deer season was a blast in eastern Oregon, we closed the distance on a few elk and one branch bull however we couldn’t get closer than 80 yards of legal bull. We had encounters nearly every day and saw great numbers of cow elk and doe mule deer failing to find the antlered monarchs until we switched up our game.  Finding what formula worked best for us on our early season archery hunt was difficult to say the least, but challenging in a very rewarding way.  Not only did we find several new locations to chase elk and deer next year, but we will carry our new found confidence and early season tactics into the next elk season.  Driving back to Portland was a very sobering moment, we hunted elk and deer as hard as possible for a week straight leaving with a better understanding of the public land bulls that make remote Oregon mountains their home.   I didn’t have much time to dwell as I was heading north back home to Alaska in search of rutting bull moose and one of the largest land predators in the world (grizzly bear).  Knowing very well that elk season and deer season were not completely over, and that eastern and western Oregon had open hunting GMU’s (game management units); there was a good chance that heading back to Oregon for one or two more shots at the venison or wapiti would be in in my near future.

Coming back to Oregon for one last shot at an elk combo deer hunt before the archery season closed, I searched out new areas to look for potential honey holes almost using these last few days to scout for elk and deer more than hunt.   Late season public land hunting entails pursuing animals that have already seen a lot of pressure, I turned to the game regulations in an attempt to find areas with minimal hunting activity or something close to it.   I found a few interesting areas in the Oregon game regulations that are traditional archery hunting only my co-driver, hunting partner, best friend, and fiancé Jordan P (who by the way is a dead eye with traditional archery equipment) Said “lets go there”.   A traditional area makes sense as the majority of the hunters would probably be unsuccessful leaving scores of antlered beasts to chase.  We did not find any elk so to speak, but we were treated to some of the finest deer hunting in the world.  I saw 25-50 deer per day for the last couple days of the season, even having a few encounters with some Pope and Young giants, but no shot opportunities under 60 yards.  The highlights of the trip was spending time with Jordan and our two dogs, they all were such awesome hunting buddies.   Jordan would drop me off at the top of a National forest road and I would meet her at 1/2 mile increments every hour at the road, doing my best to still-hunt as much area as possible.  Once again, we left the hunting grounds empty handed as no shot opportunities under 60 yards presented themselves.   Again though, the cost of the archery tag for deer season had been well worth it, the over the counter tag provided me with a few animal encounters and an awesome date/mini vacation for my gal and I.
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After contacting ODFG and confirming that my archery tag was indeed good for the western deer hunting season, I decided to give deer hunting one more shot.   Only hunting in western Oregon is a completely different ball game.  The area of western and eastern Oregon are completely different in regards to terrain and vegetation, and a hunter has the unique opporuntity to harvest a Columbia blacktailed deer what is said to be one of the most difficult species to hunt in North America.
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The vertical line that divides the mountain ranges that separate eastern and western Oregon provides a unique habitat where blacktail, whitetail, and mule deer can coexist and potentially hybridize.   That thought of all three species living in the same vicinity of each other blew my mind and is another awesome reason to purchase this hunting tag.  For the particular GMU I targeted to hunt, the western season opened up November 16th and on the opening day I was gonna head out with stick bow in hand.   I chose some national forest hunting land a couple hours outside of Portland, with a game plan to hunt an open area with access to “all” hunters.  Being the very late archery season, post gun season, I knew that this hunt would probably be the most difficult hunt out of all of my Oregon archery tags.   But I was not discouraged as I knew this GMU was an any deer unit, and hopefully with a little luck I could fill my freezer with a little blacktail venison back strap.   Weather in the late season was a factor that came into play for my advantage, finally  things are going perfectly right.

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Hunting the opening morning of the western deer season provided provided me with several advantages, one was the fact that other hunters would be in the woods moving deer.  Two the season opener had perfect blacktail deer hunting conditions  misty, snowy, cold, and nasty.   Oh baby, I started to feel really confident as the fresh snow gave me the chance to track deer in the Cascades Mountains.   I drove a two wheel drive car deep into the national forest as far as the car could go, I almost got stuck going up a steep hill.  The best decision was to turn around to avoid getting stuck and missing the season opener.  I hung my head out the window until I found fresh deer tracks and decided to pull over. 20131218-181436.jpg  I parked the car, strung up my take town stick bow, and charged after the deer tracks.   After about an hour of doing the old “slipperybob, slippideee kiiii yeaaaaa, not to be confused with the slippaaaruski, aka cat walking, #stealthy, #stillhunt, #spotandstalk, etc”  Basically I was tracking what appeared to be a buck as silently as I possibly could, using the fresh snow and wind direction to my advantage.   I noticed the animal tracks we extremely fresh, finding warm scat and recent wet (not frozen) scrapes.   Excitement and anticipation began to build enormously, I slowed my already cat like approach to snail speed.   After 20 more minutes of feathering my way through thick brush, tracking this buck through rabbit like undergrowth the tracks began to bound more than 10 ft apart.  This only meant one thing,  the buck had saw me before I saw him and he made a great vanishing act these houdini deer have been known for.

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Switching direction towards other fresh tracks in the area, I put my nose to the ground and knew this tactic was going to work.   “I could feel it in my bones” that a deer was very close to me and if I didn’t spook them that I could possibly get a shot.   I followed the new tracks for a few hours, sitting down during mid day around 11am to take in some beef jerky and water upon a downed tamarack tree.   Staying in the field on the hot new deer trail proved to be the final ingredient in having a shot opportunity under 25 yards.

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The tracks surprisingly had circled back towards the national forest logging road I was parked on, and headed directly towards the first set of tracks I had followed.   Commencing to snail speed I knocked an arrow and eased more slowly than ever towards a group of coniferous trees where the tracks had led.   Using these trees to my advantage I slowly crept around the snowy branches being careful not to brush the limbs revealing the location of the heavy footed predator trailing the prey.  Rounding the edge of the tree and stepping into another thick snow covered fern patch I noticed the arc of a deer back just 30 yards away.  Not moving a muscle I stood frozen, the deer stood up keeping a tree stump halfway between me and it and began walking towards my location.

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The stump keeping the animals vitals hidden I could only see a glimpse of what appeared to be a large, healthy, and unaccompanied blacktail doe with no head gear.   Slightly curious the deer began doing the head bob back and forth, the “did I just see a shadow” “some kind of movement” ” what was that”  “maybe I see another deer?” curiosity head bob.  The creatures patience began to wear thin, she turned to walk away and took three steps up hill quartering away at 30 yards I could not take a shot as she was just out of my effective range.   As the doe moved up hill, I fumbled in my pocket and pulled out a “Primos Doe esterous can call” and hit the call once as I  simultaneously crept 2.5 steps closer to the stump separating me from the back straps.

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The doe stopped in her tracks, turned and was curious as to what made the deer noise.   She took three steps toward the stump once again and stopped at about 24-25 yards facing me directly.   This was the closest I had been to any deer yet this season, as a traditional archer and longbow huntsmen I decided I was going to shoot if the deer was under 25 yards.  The gig was up and she had had enough, turning her head to walk away was all of the distraction I needed.  Instinctually guestimating the yardage to 25ish yards, coming to full draw, I picked a tuft of hair directly behind her shoulder releasing the arrow with impeccable form just as practiced thousands of times before.

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This is where the witchery of archery comes into play with the traditional archer…  “As I watched the arrow in what felt like super slow motion, I could see the archers paradox flexing the Zwickey shafted arrow bending and correcting itself to fly true.”   The arrow’s trajectory sent the arcing projectile high above the animals back, silhouetting itself perfectly against the white blanketed back drop.  The arrows flight was simply beautiful, in my mind I saw the arrow flying over the animal’s back, but in the last mili-nano second of slow motion the arrow lost forward momentum and began to fall as if guided by a higher power.  The white and red fletched arrow flies silently as the wind and does not interrupt natures perfect harmony.  Slicing through snow, fog, and mist connecting with flesh, blood and bone.. 20131218-182026.jpg

The arrow finds its mark, the doe trots off slowly and lays down for one final nap.   Watching the animal lay down, I knew the deer had been delivered a fatal blow and it was only a matter of seconds before she passed.   I slowly tracked the blood trail towards the location I saw her lay down.  Still practicing the art of the hunt, I tracked the beautifully painted blood trail across the vibrant white snow.

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Finding both halves of my arrow, I was ecstatic.  The blood trail started to be on both sides of the animal, which means the arrow went completely through the animal or part of the arrow (hence the broken shaft).   After about 80 yards of tracking this blood trail to the location where I saw the animal lay down, I could see the deer belly up another 15-20 yards down the mountain.  She died on her feet completely unaware of what happened and slid about 20 yards down hill to the base of hemlock tree.   There lay one of the hardest earn trophies of my hunting career, a beautiful public land blacktail doe taken with true stick and string.

-Austin Manelick

Thanks to everyone who was part of the hunt this year, shout out to Jake and Mike M, Kalen K, and Jordan P I had a blast hunting with you guys this year and thanks for all your assistance.

Moose Hunting Report 2013

alaska, alaska hunting expedition, antler, antler hunting, archery hunting, arrows, big game hunting, bow and arrows, Camera, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, Go-Pro, hunting, Hunting Culture, meat, moose, pack rafting, public land, Rifles, shed hunting, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, Uncategorized, unguided hunting, wildlife

Year of the moose… It seems like this year bull moose were abundant in many parts of the state.  Sorry it has taken so long to make a new post, however team Mission Alaska has been out making new content for our readers to enjoy.   The Mission Alaska adventure was, again, one for the ages.   Here are a few pictures to tide you over until the stories accompanying these pictures are tapped out and made whole.

Feeling mooseeee.

Bridgers harvest 2013 MOOSE Bridgers moose 2 and the BOSS TANK 20130925-173558.jpg20130925-173410.jpg 20130925-173350.jpgHere are a few of the brutes that fell to the Mission Alaska team this year.   Be prepared for a few of the stories, lots of work indeed.

Cheers to the beautiful bull moose who roam these lands year round.  We as hunters thank you.

Ribfest and Regions Archery Tournament

archery hunting, arrows, big game hunting, bow and arrows, Camera, DIY hunting, Field Producer, hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, moose, Pennsylvania hunting, public land, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, Ultimate Survival Alaska, Whitetail hunting, wildlife

Here is a few pictures from my adventures over the weekend competing in the Regions Archery tour in Warren Pennsylvania. I had a complete and total blast shooting arrows all day and throwing back BBQ ribs all night. I want to thank everyone in Warren county for their hospitality and generosity and for showing me a great time. I also want to give a few special shout outs to the staff and organizations running the archery tour, they all showed extreme professionalism setting up the best “world class archery tournament” I have personally seen. I also want to thank John Papalia and his family for hosting me, sponsoring me, and showing me an immense amount of kindness.

-Austin

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Nunivak Island Pictures

alaska hunting expedition, antler hunting, archery hunting, arrows, Bering Sea, bow and arrows, Camera, DIY hunting, extreme hunting, hunting, Hunting Culture, Hunting with Camera, meat, moose, National Geographic, nature, public land, small game, Small game hunting, Survival, The next generation, traditional archery, Ultimate Survival Alaska, unguided hunting, wildlife

Here are some pictures from the latest USA episode.  Enjoy!

My new friend on the Bering Sea

My new friend on the Bering Sea

Director of Photography Brent Meske "The Man"

Director of Photography Brent Meske “The Man”

Who took my hat and arrows?

Who took my hat and arrows?

"Tarping on the Bering Sea"

“Tarping on the Bering Sea”