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Author Topic: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question  (Read 1386 times)

Offline ljsommer

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New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« on: June 01, 2018, 09:23:55 AM »
Last year was my first year hunting, went modern for all tags. My hunting partner was just as new as I was (we met at Hunter Safety class). One issue I had observed was that we were in an area with lots of sign and lots of activity, but the Western Washington terrain is so, so thick, that I felt that we didn't have a shot anywhere we were at. Even with a tree-stand I can't see how you'd get more than 10 feet of visibility.

So my question is: In Western Washington, how do you work around the sort of tight underbrush we have that really restricts shooting lanes? How would one go about actually finding a shot on a blacktail? I still feel great about how much sign and activity there is in the Western WA region but it won't mean much if I can't find a shot!

Offline BigGoonTuna

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 09:41:12 AM »
I mostly hunt the edges of clearcuts, or swampy areas with somewhat better visibility. Most shot opportunities are going to be close, so think of it as bird hunting with a rifle.
life is too short to hunt with an ugly gun!

Offline ASienkiewich

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2018, 09:48:22 AM »
Maybe try to find ways in/out of the area that has a lot of activity and sign? Hunt edges of clearings or larger timber close by if possible. Come Halloween time or late buck, you should catch something moving


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Offline JeffRaines

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2018, 11:07:30 AM »
I am also still learning(but then again who isn't) - I've found a lot of deer in the 'big timber' surrounding a clearcut.

It seems like you'll sometimes go through the forest and for maybe 100 yards or so it'll be thick, then you'll find yourself in an area that looks like this



Still hunt an area like this, move a few steps then stop and look all around.

I've also had luck walking wooded roads that immediately surround a clearcut as well, better if its right after first light or in the evening. Seems like deer use the cut at night and before first light they'll slip into adjacent territory feeding into their bedding area.

Finally, glassing the edges of clearcuts in the evening(say last two hours of shooting light) have yielded deer for me as well. Better if the area isn't overused by people.

Offline knighttime25

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2018, 12:08:59 PM »
Still hunt an area like this, move a few steps then stop and look all around.

 :yeah:

If your seeing good sign in really thick areas be extremely patient. Hunt very slow and keep your head on a swivel. Shotgun and buckshot is my go to in these scenarios, don't be afraid to rule out that option. Seems more often than not, blacktail bucks will get curious and backtrack your trail to see what you are and where your going. There will always be more blacktail that you don't see than do see...

Offline ctwiggs1

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2018, 12:38:22 PM »
There will always be more blacktail that you don't see than do see...

So true. 

In the thicker stuff I generally look for trails and spend my days following them ever so slowly.  The traditional spot-and-stalk hunting that you see on TV has no place in these areas.  It's all still hunting.  Just like everyone else said - a few half steps, then look around.  A few half steps, then look around. 

Offline ljsommer

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2018, 02:32:37 PM »
Thanks for the replies, all, that's helpful.

Do you think it's worth finding a "well-used" trail and camping it at sunrise/sunset to see if there's any foot traffic? Or would my proximity to the trail give my scent away too easily?

Offline fishnfur

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2018, 03:04:02 PM »
You said lots of sign and lots of activity.  If you were actually seeing deer, then I'd recommend that you sit tight right there and wait it out.  A tree stand would be preferable to get your scent off the ground, or at least stay to the uphill and downwind side (if you're on the ground) if possible.  Also, a pre-season trip into your spot to clear shooting lanes is a great idea if you're confident that you will see deer there during your sit.  Don't overdo it.  All that hiding cover is what is making them feel safe there.

If it was just sign that you were finding, you've got to make sure it's pretty fresh and happening regularly, then figure out what time of day the sign is being made (morning vs evening vs night).  Odds are good that it is happening after legal hunting hours, so then you should ask yourself where the deer that makes all that sign are coming from, and then try find a spot to intercept them as they travel to or from that area during legal hunting light.  It is a big puzzle to solve, which makes the challenge that much more rewarding when it works out. 

Deer love edges where two different types of vegetation/trees meet.  BTs bucks by nature will stay hidden if at all possible.  They are like vampires and the sun - they don't go there much (unless there's a little lady teasing him out there).  If you stay inside the darker side of an edge where conifer timber meets alder, forest meets field, timber meets reprod (etc.) you'll quickly find there is often a trail there that parallels that edge.  Often, that is a doe trail, or a community trail used by all animals, but is only occasionally used by bucks.  If the rut is on, you can expect that a buck may follow a doe down that trail or if he's alone, use a better hidden, less obvious buck trail that allows him to scent check that major trail from the downwind side (which may be uphill if thermals are working that way).  Sitting still and staying hidden is probably the best bet for a new hunter.  Deer are tough to fool unless they are distracted by rutting or unusually bad weather.

Go out now and spend some time in the woods, glass the edges of cuts in the early AM.  Bucks should be visible into early August hanging close to the edges of the cuts they prefer.  They are still hard to find, but they are there.  Once the velvet comes off..... "poof!"  They will still be in the area throughout the hunting season, but not nearly so visible.  Time spent in the woods now will pay dividends in late-October.  Have fun!

PS.  Take all this with a couple of grains of salt.  I've been wrong many times in the past.   :chuckle:
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”  - Will Rogers

Offline Stein

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2018, 03:27:07 PM »
The only thing I can add is that blacktail hunting in western WA is probably some of the most difficult big game hunting in the US.  Don't be discouraged and keep at it.

Offline ljsommer

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2018, 03:28:37 PM »
The only thing I can add is that blacktail hunting in western WA is probably some of the most difficult big game hunting in the US.  Don't be discouraged and keep at it.

I'll do my best! Hopefully have some cool successes to share this year. If not a harvest, then at least some great trail-cam pics =)

Offline fishnfur

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2018, 04:35:35 PM »
BTW - if you haven't read Iverson's Blactail Trophy Tactics II, then by all means do so.  It is called the "blacktail bible" for a reason. 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0963040510/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=1527895640&sr=8-1
“When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”  - Will Rogers

Offline wooltie

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2018, 06:27:33 AM »
Find a place with sign, then sit and watch. Don't move.

You can wait and watch for them to move, or they can wait and watch for you to move.

The game is to pick the place and time where they move through and that's how you get them.

Trail cameras help. Imho bt hunting is a trail camera game.

Some hunters are skilled enough to creep through the woods undected...but that's not me, so I prefer to move less to increase my odds.

Offline kball4

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2018, 08:21:33 AM »
If your not looking for a monster just skirt the edges of clear cuts, you'll see deer.  Sometimes you'll kick them up by walking through clear cuts and the dumb ones will stop and stare at you for a few seconds.

Offline Eric M

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2018, 09:09:32 AM »
Thanks for the replies, all, that's helpful.

Do you think it's worth finding a "well-used" trail and camping it at sunrise/sunset to see if there's any foot traffic? Or would my proximity to the trail give my scent away too easily?
Some of what you are asking depends on the wind. If the wind is right give it a try.  The well used trails are most often used by does. It doesn't mean you won't see a buck on them, but they will use other access or less used trails more often. It might be worth putting a trail camera or 2 up before the season and see what is using the trails you are thinking of.

Offline ljsommer

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2018, 09:54:52 AM »
Quote
Some of what you are asking depends on the wind. If the wind is right give it a try.  The well used trails are most often used by does. It doesn't mean you won't see a buck on them, but they will use other access or less used trails more often. It might be worth putting a trail camera or 2 up before the season and see what is using the trails you are thinking of.

Thank you for the reply! I just retrieved 4 cams that I hung in that area (which for reference is about 40 acres ringed by road on 3 sides with housing on the 4th, with zero hunting pressure according to the landowner).

I got back one coyote, one pretty small black bear, a variety of blacktail but no visible bucks. Everything was fairly small, except one doe.

I have two shooting lanes on that property that I've identified and they're the only "clear" parts of that land. It is a very old prospecting road straight through the forest which is now thickly overgrown. I am going to rehang in those two locations on trees that could work as treestands and let all 4 cameras soak for a month and see if I can get anything bigger.

I found a large pile of cougar scat out there on my first scout, but no cats on camera. Darn.

 

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