First thing this morning I received an email with the following subject line: “Arggghh.”
This time of year it could only come from one kind of person — a blacktail deer hunter.
You may recall this particular one and his exploits, err, lack thereof.
No, not Brian Lull, he who hates blacktails.
Rather my friend Eric Bell.
He’s the guy who a few falls ago sent me increasingly unbalanced emails as:
A) First he struck out in the general season
B) And then in the permit season while …
C) Blacktail buck rubs showed up at the end of his driveway then progressed almost right into his garage.
This fall Mr. Bell had a good long refreshing soak in mule deer camp and it should have tided him over till next season.
But instead of going back to work after his week in the hills, the fool switched species and headed into the blacktail woods.
Over the past week I’ve received occasional updates from him …
Went out this morning, should have been grouse hunting instead. No deer.
Vail tree farm. It’s not that far of a drive, is it?
Heading back out again this morning. I don’t know why I keep doing this. I still haven’t’ seen a deer this week. Hunted Mon, Tues, Thurs and now today. I was going to stay till dark last night, but at 3:30, I said to myself, “This is dumb.”
It’s after 11 and feels like we just passed shooting hours. Could be the area I’m in too, a dark swamp. Sitting next to a cougar lair. Old poop inside. Melissa said there is another vehicle parked at the gate. Hunting pressure!
I’m home now. Almost to the truck and 2 shots are heard from above. Only one other vehicle at the gate with no cart in the bed.
He’s back to work now and this morning, I got the “Arggghh” email.
I didn’t see a single deer last week while hunting. Coming back from dog obedience training last night, a doe and fawn bedded down beside the road. This morning, I see the same doe and fawn in the same area, feeding. And another doe not far away, on the side of the road. Then on another back road this morning, I see a very full, robust deer on the side of the road, couldn’t tell if it had antlers or not. Four deer in one morning?
I am in no way a blacktail expert, but my best guess is that these deer have some sort of internal barometer/calendar that makes them more visible the closer we get to the end of the rifle season and the lousier the weather gets (Editor’s note: It’s called the rut, genius, you might google it). The last two miserable days must’ve been ringing up as pretty safe bets for them to wander around.
At this end of the season most hunters with live tags are tucked inside watching the rain fall.
But not Bob Yerbury and Todd Kittelsmann of southern Puget Sound.
Kittelsmann tells our contributor Jason Brooks that he saw a whopping 23, including two spikes, while hunting in yesterday’s downpour.
Twenty-three! And he probably wasn’t even hunting Point Defiance Park!
Yerbury, whose name close readers of Northwest Sportsman‘s November issue will recognize, relishes hunting in the rain.
“We should be out killing blacktails,” Brooks recalls him saying one drear day during a past deer season. “Just look at the rain outside – God, I love this weather!”
That’s exactly what he was out in when he shot this forked horn on Tuesday in eastern Pierce County.
Today’s the last day till the four-day late hunt for Washington blacktail hunters, and Yerbury’s tactics will be just as applicable then. For more, see the November issue.
Also in our new issue, tips for Oregon’s wetside deer hunters.
I asked the writer who provided them for an update. Troy Rodakowski in Junction City reported:
The leaf drop is still late but the rains are causing leaves to drop.quicker. This combined with quiet walking and bucks beginning to sniff.around more things are looking better.
Took my neighbor out Sunday evening..we hunted from about 4:30 until dark. Deer started moving right at dusk. We saw 12 on our way back to town.
So yes, they are moving. More so now for certain.
Eric, cut out of work early, put your rain gear on and hit the trail — there are two and a half hours of shooting light left the blacktails are moving, and first thing tomorrow I want to see an email that reads, “Yeahhhhhh!”