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Blacktail Down

Paul Askew

This year started out with a lot of anticipation. I had done my scouting, located a few small bucks and does via trail cam, and set up apples for bait. I had deer coming to the apples daily but mostly during the early morning or after dark and never when I was sitting the stand. Catching the deer on camera was holding my interest, and I was reaping the benefit of a few tips that Larry D. Jones had advised me to try out.

Although I was feeling pretty confident in my area on public land, when my friend and taxidermist Tim Tuttle invited me to hunt a piece of private property in the Willamette unit, I was all over it. We sat a ground blind one morning and did some rattling to no avail. Later that morning, Tim wanted to show me the property, so we started walking through the oaks. He was explaining his plans for improvements to deer habitat when a spike buck came walking down a trail, stopped at a fence crossing 20 yards in front of us, and stared us down. The buck came through the opening in the fence heading straight into our laps, made it to about 15 yards before the wind shifted, then turned tail and ran. I could not get a shot, but the experience was awesome especially when we were not expecting it.

Tim told me I was welcome to hunt the property anytime, so I returned with an Ameristep Penthouse ground blind 2 days later and sat the last 3 hours of daylight with no action. I told Tim I would like to come back in 2 days and he said no problem. 2 days later, I had to BlackTail Downwork on the coast in the morning but was able to get to Tim’s by 2:30 pm, which put me in my blind by 3:00 pm.

There was a light rain coming down as I watched a trail to my left through a slit in the window of the blind. I had to stand up from my stool every couple of minutes to look directly in front of the blind, because while seated I was lower than my shooting window. I had been standing for about a minute when I caught movement directly in front of me through the scrub oaks at about 15 yards, so I nocked a Gold Tip 3555 arrow onto my Horne Take Down Brushbow. The deer was moving from my left to right when I caught a glimpse of brown antler, so I knew it was a buck. I was looking for an opening, but it was too thick, so I watched and waited for the right shot.

As the buck entered a window, I made a maaahhh sound, and he stopped perfectly quartering away at 15 yards. I drew, anchored, aimed, and dropped the string. I heard the pop sound of a rib being broken, but I thought it looked a little farther back than what I wanted. With my after-the-shot adrenaline escalating and hands shaking, I sent Tim a text message that I arrowed a spike. As I waited for Tim to show up, I thought, “This is crazy. I sit stands for hours on end on public land, travel all over the place, and then come here and sit for less than an hour and arrow a buck.”

Tim arrived a half hour after the shot. I went over the sequence with Tim, and we slowly started looking for blood. I knew the direction the buck went, so we started trailing that direction and we were not finding any blood. We trailed about 20 yards from impact when the buck stood up and moved 10 yards from us. We immediately got out of there and decided to wait until the morning. The fact the buck only went about 30 yards before laying down was a good sign and it did not sound like he went far when bumped, so we figured he was still really close.

The next morning, we arrived an hour after daylight and walked to where we last saw the buck. He went about 10 yards from where we bumped him and must have expired shortly thereafter.

I expressed my deep appreciation to Tim for allowing me to hunt his property. This was a big deal to me as I have hunted 2 seasons with traditional gear in
Oregon and spent a week in Ohio, Utah, and North Carolina trying to harvest my first traditional deer. With Tim’s help, I was able to live a dream. Not only was it my first traditional deer, but it was my favorite deer of all, the beloved Blacktail.