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Author Topic: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question  (Read 1155 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!

Online 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.

Online 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

Online 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.

Offline Eric M

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2018, 11:15:38 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.
Have you seen any rubs or found any antlers? Spend some time looking for signs that a buck or bucks live in the area. Look on the secondary trails too Maybe hang a camera on a secondary trail that has a few rubs on it. Hope that helps. Also, I wouldn't be afraid to go in every couple weeks to change camera spots. I dont worry about animals spooking unless I'm going in every day. If a deer isn't on your camera in a couple weeks, try another spot. Have fun and good luck

Offline ljsommer

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2018, 11:29:01 AM »
My first scout in there I found a shed that looked to be from over a year ago, not this past season but the one prior (just going based on color, wear, etc). I have seen zero evidence of rubs.
Tons and tons of beds, and lots of active trails, but no rubs or scrapes.

Hoping that changes! I do have other spots but this is the one I've really been investing my time into.

Offline Eric M

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2018, 12:27:40 PM »
You probably won't see scrapes. That's more a whitetail thing. Blacktail antlers arent always easy to find, but if they arent being hunted, that buck could very well still be around. Good luck and have fun.

Offline fishnfur

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2018, 09:42:30 PM »
You're getting a lot of good information and from the sounds of it, you're off and running.  A couple things you might want to consider and take action as you deem necessary:

- finding that shed tells you there is at least one buck wintering there.  That's good news.  There may be several or even many others.  It's not the end of the world if they don't live on site.  If there are does there, you're golden.

- I don't like long trail cam soaks until I'm confident in my spot.  Nothing worse than leaving the cam in the woods for a month and getting little information from it.  I'd recommend maybe two weeks in each spot till you locate either bucks, or quite a few doe using an area.  Finding buck trails will give you better knowledge of where you want to hunt in the early season and improve your understanding of how they move through the forest.  Knowing where the does are is really important when the bucks start searching/chasing etc.  The does typically breed very close to the areas they live all year long, so you can just head to that spot and expect that if the timing is right, a buck will be coming along sooner or later.  Sit on the does and wait.

- You might want to consider walking the perimeter road looking for trails that lead in and out of the parcel you're hunting.  It will give you a better understanding of how the deer are moving around. Also, odds are good that many deer use the residential area on the fourth side, at least at night.  You might want to work that edge looking for fresh sign as well.  Suburban deer seem to spend more time browsing in yards than in woods.  They may stage up along that side every evening waiting for the sun to set before they go out for dinner. 

Keep looking for rubs.  They should be there.  Smaller Alder, conifer, and maple all get hit, typically between knee and waist level.  If a buck liked that spot for his territory in the past, he or some other buck will likely use it again in the future.

 :tup:
“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 Mike450r

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2018, 06:28:50 AM »
Don't overestimate your orienteering ability.  You can get turned around and way off course in the thick stuff when you keep bumping the same deer every 20-30 ft in it's home turf.

Offline jackmaster

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2018, 06:51:18 AM »
I can tell you now if your in a spot with lots of beds, turds and trails then you already have a great spot, it's a wind and scent game and finding a good spot at a trail intersection ,placing yourself according to the wind and just hunker down and wait, what you don't want to do is go back in there scouting, stay outside that bedding area and scout the perimeter , bucks will be visable as their new growth gets tender so they get out in the open more , you gotta find a way into that bedding area where the wind is in your favor and you can slip in and out undetected!! I would ONLY hunt it the last couple days of October and then extended buck, and the pray for absolute horrid weather, the nastier the better, and if it's windy and rainy that s even better, don't get discouraged if you go a couple days without seeing a deer, cause that's just black tail huntn, good luck kid, your definetly on the right track  :tup:
my grandpa always said "if it aint broke dont fix it"

Offline Special T

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2018, 07:05:10 AM »
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
Truth.

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Offline CAMPMEAT

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2018, 08:00:31 AM »
Ask Shane Barbour, you know, the outfitter in Graham.. :dunno: :chuckle:
I could care less about what anybody says..............

Offline jackmaster

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2018, 11:06:48 AM »
Ask Shane Barbour, you know, the outfitter in Graham.. :dunno: :chuckle:
:chuckle:
my grandpa always said "if it aint broke dont fix it"

Offline JasonG

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2018, 04:19:14 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
Truth.
That book is awesome!!
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Offline Mallardmasher

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Re: New hunter: West side blacktail modern question
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2018, 05:38:53 PM »
When I am putting out cams and reviewing info. If I see a buck or two it is a bonus. I loom for areas crawling with Doe's and then do what ever I can to keep them in the area. If have a ladies spot, the Bucks will come whrn the time is right.
Also remember, if your deer numbers plummet in Sept-early October, and your are hunting suburban deer. They will leave there home turf for local apple trees, when the large quantities of app.es are gone they come home.
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