Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Deer Hunting => Topic started by: Hunterjordan21 on September 20, 2020, 01:04:08 PM

Title: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Hunterjordan21 on September 20, 2020, 01:04:08 PM
Hey guys, i have been hunting hard to try and get my first archery deer for this past season. I have been trying for 6 years but just this year and last year i have gotten pretty serious about it. Going out to the clearcut timberland i have been hunting several times before the season and placing cams. I have been hunting behind the same gate for the last 4 years and have come to learn it pretty well. I placed my cams over several areas of this cut. It is a decent sized clear cut with big timber and a little pond running down the middle and on the other side is another cut but it is fairly older. More like reprod with 5 to 10 ft christmas treeas. I find a ton of sign in the younger clear cut. (Poop, trails going everywhere, matted down areas that look like beds.) I have placed my cameras here and i get frequent pictures of deer at night. ( after shooting hours) i have still hunted on rainy days and i still dont seem to find them out in the cut just more fresh sign. What do you guys think is going on? Are the deer only using this cut to feed at night? Am i in the wrong by trying to hunt the cut and should i be trying to hunt the timber and thick brush running down the middle? Should i be focusing on the edge of the clear cut? Should i just be sitting still in the cut in the mornings and evenings and not be still hunting? (I have a tough time staying still for more then an hr lol) Feeling pretty discouraged and lost seems like every step i take in the woods im questioning if im doing the right thing! Im having a blast though just exploring the areas and riding my mtn bike around the logging roads. Any advice is appreciated. Best of luck to all!
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: chrissmith002 on September 20, 2020, 03:10:12 PM
I'm in the same boat. Trying and trying with no luck.

I actually just came across 3 deer yesterday (First time for me during season while hunting). They were on the forest road and it was early in the morning after it had rained all night long. They were at 98 yards, so out of range, and there wasn't much I could do to sneak up on them being so dry this year.

My advice is to just keep getting in the woods, watch youtube videos, and keep putting up those cameras.

Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Bullkllr on September 20, 2020, 04:18:46 PM
They're likely active at night. Happens a lot. If it ain't happening at that cut, there's probably a reason. Covering more ground behind gates seems logical and has worked for me. :twocents:
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: JasonG on September 20, 2020, 04:25:10 PM
Im just curious do you carry wind checker ? Ive been hunting black tails for three years. I got my first one last year. I would definitely look at the transition areas between the cuts and deep timber .
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: fishnfur on September 20, 2020, 06:47:51 PM
1.  Hunting archery for Blacktail is really hard. (I mean really, really hard)  If you wanted to kill a deer, starting with a rifle or muzzleloader would have been a much better option.  Bow hunting for deer on foot is about as hard as you can make it.  You have to be in the right spot, only 30 or so yards from a buck that is too stupid to be bedded during the day.  Odds are pretty (really) low.  I'm not saying this is correct, but I believe the majority of hunters that kill a BT buck by archery in the first few weeks of September are hunting from blinds or tree stands and often hunt over bait (apples) that has been faithfully carried into that spot for the last few months.  If you didn't bait them prior, your odds are really low of setting up on a given trail or cut and seeing a buck.  If you're hunting an "any deer" GMU and don't mind killing a doe, then I'd look for fresh sign on the perimeter of the cut and if possible, post up above that spot so you can see animals come and go in the twilight. 

2.  Your best odds of seeing a buck up and moving this time of the season is in the first and last 30 minutes of light.  Other than than, they are bedded where you can rarely see them or sneak up on them even if you know they are there. If you're not out there before it gets light, or staying out hunting till it is dark (dark - not getting dark), then you will likely see very few bucks in Sept - the first half of October.

3.  Your best odds of seeing a buck up moving anytime during the season are during the Modern Rifle Season.  Even if you're hunting archery, buying the tag for the last half of October and the four days in November increase your odds exponentially of seeing a buck.  Buying the archery season tag puts you into the time when the bucks are just removing velvet or are already hard horned and likely nocturnal.  In general, deer feed in cuts at night or in the low light - see recommendations for hours to hunt.  They are in the cuts all night feeding off and on this time of year. They bed during the day (though you may see doe and fawns up feeding at midday for just a few minutes.  Then they bed again.) You can't hunt at night.  What are you going to do?  The only option is to hunt the few minutes of light each day where your odds of seeing a buck coming from or going to feed are better.  The days are long enough that it is tough to stay out from first light to last light until October arrives.  You kind of have to pick one or the other and commit to being there in the dark before or after the hunt. 

4.  Don't walk through clearcuts or any other type of clearing/opening.  The deer can see you even though you don't see them.  You're betting on luck rather than skill.  You have to think like a predator (stay hidden and hunt so slow that the deer don't see you even if they look at you)   Hunting the timber above or lateral to the cut within the first 100 yards or so of the cut should put you into the bedding zone, depending on the cut in question. Rattling antlers in late Sept. may drum up a small buck just curious as to what is going on.  Rattle/grind softly, like two bucks just playing by pushing each other back and forth. Finding a trail that leads into/out of the cut that the deer use to access the area are your best bets for hiding out and hoping for action. Walking the perimeter of the cut during scouting during the summer or early fall tells you what you need to know. Staying still and letting the deer pass upwind of you on the trail might give you a shot.

5.  The X-mas tree size trees or a little bigger are where deer may bed all day in the cut.  You can still hunt these spots, but you must move slooooooow.  Think slug.  (thanks Jake).  Also, the big timber left during in the cut that protect a small stream running through the middle of the cut may hold a few doe or young bucks, but older bucks more often use deep timber.  I can count on one hand how many deer I've seen using a spot like this.  Once the trees get to X-mas tree size in the cut, then the deer can be anywhere in the cut, including drainages.  Finding a buck by glassing from above and then attempting a stalk on that location is super hard, but in my mind, would be more fruitful than still hunting in reprod. 

6.  Hunting the same spot over and over again pressures the animals and makes them more nocturnal than they normally would be.  You leave your human scent around their territory frequently - they disappear.  Have multiple spots to hunt with different methods for each.  Planning for changes in wind and how you hunt any given spot during those times give you options no matter the condition.

7.  Have fun.  Expect failure.  Seeing deer is nearly as rewarding as killing one when you're just learning.  Getting frustrated in the field causes hunters to quit early.  There is no chance of killing a buck if you're already heading home while it is still light out. You need a lot of faith to actually believe there is such an animal as a BT buck. 

 :)    :twocents:  (now go kill sumthin')






Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Hunterjordan21 on September 21, 2020, 08:02:50 AM
Wow a ton of advice thank you so much guys! I have been using windchecker. I will apply all of this to hopefully get it done by end of early season! If not i always got the late season as well. Will keep you guys posted on how the rest of my season goes. Thanks again!
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Aginor on September 21, 2020, 02:10:06 PM
I have a somewhat similar question. This weekend I found several game trails and ended up stalking about a dozen does, but didnít see any bucks. I know this time of year they split up and the males go solo, but I was wondering if they use the same trails and would be in the same area. If I ran across this scenario again, should I just pack up and move on to Plan B or should I take this as a sign to stay put and wait for a buck?
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: WapitiTalk1 on September 21, 2020, 02:19:32 PM
I have a somewhat similar question. This weekend I found several game trails and ended up stalking about a dozen does, but didnít see any bucks. I know this time of year they split up and the males go solo, but I was wondering if they use the same trails and would be in the same area. If I ran across this scenario again, should I just pack up and move on to Plan B or should I take this as a sign to stay put and wait for a buck?

Yep, the bucks have not been with the does, except the little squeakers (they don't know any better), since the rut ended last year.  That said, hold tight on an area that you are seeing the does as the bucks will be cruising for chicks within a few weeks.  So yes, the bucks will be in the same area as the does soon enough but don't count on them using the exact same trails the does do.  The BT bucks will often use less traveled side trails to get here, there, and back again (bed to feed, feed to bed).  They're pretty smart critters but get a bit absent minded once the rut begins and can be had.   
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Alchase on September 21, 2020, 02:32:38 PM
If you are seeing does, the bucks are not far off. When I see does in a clearcutt, I setup 25-50 yards inside the tree line, near a well used trail. Bucks are usually more hesitant to enter clearcutts then does will.
Blacktail bucks have a small core areas. Look for small clearings within the trees that are covered with under growth, but gets some sunlight. When you find one, sit back and glass looking for ear or tail twitches. They are hard to see if any wind because the leaves moving will look like ears.
Just a couple things that might help.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: steeleywhopper on September 21, 2020, 04:28:54 PM
Walk painfully slow and when you think you are going slow enough, slow down even more. I glass after every step and have been extremely successful once I figured out how to spot them before they spot me. I killed my biggest Blacktail to date last season and shot him in his bed chewing his cud. He never knew I was there.
If you are walking on a old logging road do not walk down the middle of the road, walk to the side along the bushes and cover. Iíve had does step out with a buck in tow and if you are in the middle of the road you stand out like a turd in a punch bowl, if off to the side it will hopefully be a tad harder for them to tell what you are and may get a shot.

I would find where deer are entering the cut and follow the trail back into the timber 50 to 200 yards and post up before last light. Those bucks will come through the timber at the last remaining minutes of shooting light and stage before entering the cuts at dark. Last year I had a big boy just before shooting light in the above scenario, but when I raised my gun to shoot he bailed. Timber was super still and quiet and he caught that slight movement. Glad I didnít get him as I ended up with a bigger one. Do not leave until the last legal second of shooting light is over, they come out with 5-10 minutes left. You will walk out in the dark and it may bother some, but if you want to kill one you gotta get used to it.
Archery hunting taught me to hunt slow and hunt the wind. Because of those skills I have become a much better gun hunter whether muzzy or rifle and have been fortunate enough to kill a buck the last 11 years running, all but one Blacktail bucks.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Angus on September 21, 2020, 04:55:25 PM
I've only taken a couple bucks with my bow but both times, I spotted them in the morning leaving a clearcut headed into thick timber (unspooked) and I came back a couple hours before dark and set up close to where I last saw them, both bucks came out the same trail they used in the morning and with less then 15 minutes of shooting light left.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: JasonG on September 21, 2020, 05:47:10 PM
READ - " Blacktail Trophy Tactics 2" by Boyd Iverson! Hands down awesome info on Blacktail and listen to every podcast With Tom Ryle ! That man knows Blacktails , local Western Wa guy .
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Alchase on September 21, 2020, 07:08:50 PM
READ - " Blacktail Trophy Tactics 2" by Boyd Iverson! Hands down awesome info on Blacktail and listen to every podcast With Tom Ryle ! That man knows Blacktails , local Western Wa guy .

 :yeah:
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: CP on September 21, 2020, 07:38:49 PM
Anyone have any success calling them?  I've tried various calls and rattling in past seasons but so far, a big zero on that.

Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: steeleywhopper on September 21, 2020, 09:05:03 PM
Anyone have any success calling them?  I've tried various calls and rattling in past seasons but so far, a big zero on that.

I doe bleated a 3x4 to a first time hunter on San Juan Island back in 2009. That buck heard the bleat and came in grunting from 50 yards or so. Buddy killed him with his muzzleloader about 20 feet in front of us. That buck was one of the top 5 biggest bucks I have personally seen on the island to date.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: pd on September 21, 2020, 09:16:57 PM
To the OP: There is a lot of good advice for you here.  I second what Fish&Fur said--in my experience, the very best time to hunt BT bucks with a bow is actually during the rifle season (because it coincides with the rut, or close to the rut).  Put on an orange vest around Halloween, and go "hunting" with your binoculars.  I will bet you see bucks at that time!

BT are a hoot to hunt with bows.  There are a lot of guys on this forum who are miles ahead of me, but that doesn't matter much.  Every chance that I can I slip away and go look for them.  I know you have heard that BT bucks are like ghosts, but they magically appear during the rut. 
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Aginor on September 22, 2020, 12:58:30 AM
So much excellent advice on this forum and I appreciate all of it.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Natas5150 on September 22, 2020, 01:54:11 PM
Keep at it. Someone mentioned black tail trophy tactics book. I whole haeartedly agree. Awesome information. As for hunting clear cuts I would suggest hunting the edge of the clear cut. And best advice I was ever given is just when you think you may be done and decide to move on, wait 5 more minutes. Black tail deer are more curious about you than you are of them. Most deer are like that. They usually just around in an area watching your every move and you wouldn't even know it.  Think I read on here some where someone called them the grey ghost.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: wooltie on September 22, 2020, 04:17:42 PM
Hereís a question...if you hunted at or around clear cuts for only the first and last 1-2 hours of light, do you think your BT success would decrease or remain constant? As opposed to hunting all day...
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: HUNTINCOUPLE on September 22, 2020, 04:26:22 PM
Hereís a question...if you hunted at or around clear cuts for only the first and last 1-2 hours of light, do you think your BT success would decrease or remain constant? As opposed to hunting all day...

Depends on the weather.  Rainy dreary clouddy day. Stay out all day. Sunny and warm well they go mostly naucternal.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Hunterjordan21 on September 22, 2020, 05:37:31 PM
Wow! You guys are incredible i was not expecting this many tips and tactics. Also thank you to everyone else who asked questions about blacktails as well all these responses are helping a ton! I got the rest of the season off now and im super excited for the stormy weather tomorrow i plan on still hunting the edge of the cuts i have been hunting. If that doesnt work i plan to head into the timber a bit. Im super excited for the rain and wind to cover my sound! I will keep you guys posted on if i have success or not!
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: Angry Perch on September 22, 2020, 05:55:36 PM
Hereís a question...if you hunted at or around clear cuts for only the first and last 1-2 hours of light, do you think your BT success would decrease or remain constant? As opposed to hunting all day...

I've shot blacktails the last seven years. All have been in some form of clear cut, and none have been near first or last light. Mind you these are not all trophy bucks... but they were all bucks.
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: highside74 on September 22, 2020, 06:03:28 PM
Hereís a question...if you hunted at or around clear cuts for only the first and last 1-2 hours of light, do you think your BT success would decrease or remain constant? As opposed to hunting all day...

Early season 1st hours last hours. Late in October and Nov late season should be all day. Especially with rain/drizzle
Title: Re: Blacktail sign in clearcuts
Post by: fishnfur on September 22, 2020, 09:39:32 PM
Hereís a question...if you hunted at or around clear cuts for only the first and last 1-2 hours of light, do you think your BT success would decrease or remain constant? As opposed to hunting all day...

Early season 1st hours last hours. Late in October and Nov late season should be all day. Especially with rain/drizzle

Nice responses guys.  All good answers.

BT in cuts - if the trees are Christmas tree size or bigger, the deer will often stay in the cut all day and just bed where they are hidden.  Even in the summer, they may stay in the cut all day.  When it is hot and sunny, they bed in the shade.  As the sun moves and the shade changes, they get up and move to a new spot in the shade - that is your chance during the first few days of Modern firearm or Muzzleoader (earlier) to pop off a shot at a deer you caught up and moving to a new shade position.  You've got to be glassing to catch them.  If you're only using your eyes, you'll miss most of the action.  As the weather cools, the deer seek out the sun when it is near freezing temperatures.  They move to S and SW facing slopes that warm more that other areas.  These are often the same areas where the most rutting action occurs and where deer winter over while waiting for spring. 

If the clearcut has no or only small trees, the deer generally come in and feed just as twilight comes,, though doe will come and go once or twice more during the day.  They leave these wide open cuts just as it starts to get light out.  This is when paying attention to the trails they exit and enter from can give you a start at a plan for catching them coming or going in the future (though they will often change their feeding areas and trails used based on wind direction)  and why you need to be out in your spot before it gets light and  hunt till last light in the evenings.    In late October, the bucks will be out looking for hot does all night long and then bed in the morning.  Somewhere around 10:00 AM they may get back up and start looking again (cruising), which is why many of the best bucks are shot between 10:00 and 3:00 PM during the end of the general season.

RE: Buck trails - correct answers given in previous posts.  Typically, when the rut is close, you should guess that the buck is traveling trails downwind of the trails and bedding areas doe use so they can scent check for a hot doe as they travel.  On a hillside, the thermals are typically uphill from 9:00 AM or so until a half hour to an hour or so before sundown.  A wind indicator spray bottle or similar will tell you when the thermals reverse.  In the morning before 9:00 AM (or so) and again in the evening, (when thermals are again going downhill), you would expect that bucks would use trails below the main doe trails/bedding areas on the side of a hill.  On less sloped grounds, prevailing winds give you a good idea where the bucks will cruise if you know where the major doe trails are.  Typically, buck trails are much less visible (not obvious) .  You're eyes can pick up where an animal has traveled recently but you'll often wonder if your correct because the trail is so indistinct.  (This  info. is mostly from the books.  How often it is actually true, I cannot not say.  Perhaps someone else has better information)

Also - every deer is an individual.  We generalize habits, habitat, food sources, rutting behavior amongst other things.  You may happen across a deer that is not doing anything remotely near what we suggest.  The moment your mind strays from hunting and you're thinking of things other than hunting, that is the moment that the buck magically appears, spooks, and disappears in just moments and leaves you feeling like an idiot.  Stay in the game.  When you're tired, sit and give yourself a rest as you watch what's going on around you, then hit it again once you're focused on the hunt.

Lastly - if you spook a deer, do not assume it saw you.  They respond to unknown motion nearby and react by fleeing.  They often slow or stop at 50 - 75 yards and assess the situation - often in the first cover they get to. That may be your next best chance to get off a shot if you spooked it when you were unaware of its presence (and if you can still see it once it stops.)    All is not lost in a situation like this, even if you can't see the deer.  Decide whether to wait a few minutes in your current position or pursue (quietly) immediately.  Watch your wind and try to guess where the animal will be or go.  This is a perfect time to tip a doe bleat can so the animal you scared will believe it freaked from a doe, not a hunter.  If, on the other hand, you think the animal winded you, then assume it is gone.  Move on.

Really lastly - if you're in the woods and you hear Townsend Squirrels suddenly barking endlessly at some animal outside your immediate area, assume it is a deer traveling through the forest that has freaked out those crazy squirrels.  Pursue or prepare for the chance that a buck might appear.  These squirrels are one of the best clues that you have some kind of animal in the area, and they are telling you what direction to travel.  In late October, rattling, bleating, or grunting might bring the unknown animal towards you.   Interpret all other noises you hear as you hunt and try to determine the source.  BT deer stomp, bleat, blow, rattle, grunt, and jump, all which create sounds that you should listen for as you hunt.

Have fun.  Enjoy Autumn and your time in the field.  It will be over all too soon.