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Author Topic: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice  (Read 5291 times)

Offline levihoward17

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San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« on: January 20, 2021, 06:43:36 PM »
Hello all, I am an 18 year old just trying to get into deer hunting. I have shot a few deer in Virginia where part of my family lives however I am yet to cut my teeth in Washington. I feel a little guilty about asking for help on my first post but I have to start somewhere. My family often sails over to the San Juans during the summer months and I couldn't help but notice the seemingly large population of deer.

Upon doing some basic research I see that the a large part of the challenge is finding a place to hunt. I see that there is some public access here and there including Lopez Hill and the majority of Cypress. I am have also read through some older forum posts regarding the San Juans and I see that there is possibly a WDFW program allowing hunters to gain some access. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no experience with where the deer are and how they behave outside of the months of July and August. I would love to start to process of reaching out for land access however I feel like I need to get a better understanding of where these deer are throughout the season. Living on the mainland somewhat hinders my ability to spend a lot of time scouting. I am wondering if anyone has any experience hunting these areas or would be willing to share any additional advice or information.

If there is anyone interested in letting me tag along on any of their hunts I would be thrilled. My main goal is to really just learn as much as I can. I honestly am not even interested in shooting anything this season, rather my focus is just to gain some knowledge. Unfortunately my time to hunt is constrained by school. I am a full-time student at UW so my hunting time is restricted to weekends or before the 20th of September.

Again I feel a little bit guilty asking people to share their hard earned knowledge. I am in no way asking you to send me to coordinates to your secret spot, just simply a push in the right direction. I think that part of the fun is figuring it out on your own, and I hope those of you reading this will help me along the way.

Offline overthefalls

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2021, 07:30:29 PM »
I have yet to hunt the San Juan, but will be doing so next season. Cypress has access, send me a PM and we can exchange info.

Offline RB

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2021, 07:41:32 PM »
Cypress is easy access, which equals a lot of hunters, but it has Deer on it. I have hunted it several times, but have not taken home a Deer. Found lots of sign and one little pygmy goat Deer that had baby carrots for horns sticking off it's head and that is it! IF you have time scout the island and see what is there. Best of luck it is a fun hunt!
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Offline cm2cb4

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2021, 06:38:11 AM »
Years ago you could contact the Friday Harbor Water Treatment Company and depending on if you knew someone on the island, they may issue you a limited permit (certain days and specify weapon type [no centerfire though]). It’s a good ole boys system on that island. Other option hop on the ferry and drive around for a while, you’re bound to hit eventually

Offline Special T

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2021, 07:31:25 AM »
Contact Rob Wingaurd from the WDFW he is the private lands manger and manages the land access program.
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Online jamesfromseattle

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2021, 09:18:14 AM »
Contact Rob Wingaurd from the WDFW he is the private lands manger and manages the land access program.

It sounds like WDFW has been making an effort to secure more private land access up there and has some money to spend on it.  My recollection was that it was slow going to get properties enrolled, but it looks like there are a few reservation-only properties up there now.  I hope things go well and more folks enroll their property. 

For the properties I'm familiar with, at least (which is not all of them), I think they would hold deer if you could get a reservation at the start of the season. 

I used to try to hunt up there, but eventually just decided I'd rather spend time scouting in the mountains than dealing with private land.  Seems like it should be a gimme if you have access up there, but there're a lot of ways to have an unsuccessful hunt on small parcels like they have up in the islands.

Also done Cypress a couple times without success.  It doesn't have the feed (i.e. flower beds and gardens) that the other islands have--and also no logging--so it's more of a typical western WA blacktail density area than the other islands.  It's a fun logistical hunt if you're into that sort of thing, but I think a lot of people who hunt there end up disappointed that it is actually a low odds hunt.  The access points are also limited so I think you probably need to walk a ways and bust some brush to be consistently successful.

First time I hunted there was before there was anything on the internet about it and I thought I discovered some secret and easy hunt that nobody else had thought of.  Was wrong on both accounts.

Offline Bob33

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2021, 09:37:52 AM »
There are a few hunting by permission properties in the San Juans.

https://privatelands.wdfw.wa.gov/private_lands/type/56/

Reservations can be made two weeks in advance; you are allowed to reserve up to three properties at one time. The few spots available often get reserved quickly.

Good luck.
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Offline hunterednate

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2021, 09:38:39 AM »
Contact Rob Wingaurd from the WDFW he is the private lands manger and manages the land access program.

This is good advice. I've been hunting the islands for deer for the last 3 years and enjoyed it. If you get the chance this summer, knocking on doors of island farms is not a bad tactic. You may get told "no" 19 times out of 20....but you might get on some good property, too. Don't neglect the small parcels, either. You don't need a huge expanse of land to kill a deer on the islands.

Offline Special T

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2021, 11:28:17 AM »
I put the sucess of the programs Fred with Rob. He is funny has broad shoulders and makes folks laugh. He credits his successful attitude  from his time being a bouncer in a mobile home converted to a bar in Montana.  I have seen him taken more b.s. from folks and he takes in stride. The WDFW would do well to hire more like him.
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Offline luvmystang67

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2021, 12:18:45 PM »
I'm from up there and access is tough, even for me.  Keep in mind that its firearm restricted, and that many people up there aren't too fond of hunters.  You might have some luck wandering around pre-season and asking for archery permission, like was mentioned here, you never know.

The good ol boys club does have it pretty much on lockdown, so it is likely difficult to find a place.

Even being from there, I enjoy hunting blacktail on DNR and forest company property more than the island.  The animals are larger, the hunt is more challenging and you don't need to walk around asking for permission.

If you really want to eat deer, just drive around the island and pick one off the side of the road!


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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2021, 11:53:37 PM »
Hard to imagine that these islands that are overrun with deer can provide such poor hunting, but yet we hear that over and over again.  You might want to consider an archery tag and hunting the first week of September when the deer are still in Summer mode and at least a few of the bucks will still be in velvet and less invisible. 
“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 Special T

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2021, 09:21:37 AM »
I heard the rumor they were considering allowing  a 3rd deer option on the islands to try and increase harvest. Add to that some orgs that arn't so friendly to hunters are willing to let deer hunting happen on their property because the overgrazing has effected the butterfly population.
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Offline h2ofowlr

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2021, 10:46:35 AM »
Cypress is easy access, which equals a lot of hunters, but it has Deer on it. I have hunted it several times, but have not taken home a Deer. Found lots of sign and one little pygmy goat Deer that had baby carrots for horns sticking off it's head and that is it! IF you have time scout the island and see what is there. Best of luck it is a fun hunt!

I hunted Cypress 4 times and never notched a tag.  Lots of walking and just didn't see the deer.  Think the deer were hanging more around the homes on the island vs. the north end.
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Offline fishnfur

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2021, 08:16:43 PM »
Probably should have tried hiding and sitting still.   ;)
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Offline ducks4days

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2021, 04:20:52 PM »
The islands are full of hippies/yuppies who dont like the idea of hunting and dont want people to know that they let somebody hunt on their land; theyre also full of people who had to take a ferry to Anacortes to get body work done on their car after hitting deer. No joke, look for republican campaign signs the year before the hunt and come back in the summer to ask for permission. They will still tell you no, but the odds are better.

The deer are really small, even the ones who somehow manage to live to 3-4 before getting hit by a car.

Cypress is hard hunting. Most of the island is one of 2 hills, and you're only allowed to camp on the north end. Deer density is low and the areas they hang out are super dense, you need to spend time patterning them because there is little chance of sneaking up on one.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2021, 08:12:17 PM »
Cypress is not technically part of the San Juans, FYI.  ;)

What method are you planning on using? Archery is probably your best bet for getting access. Also the best bet for patterning the deer. Come October they start to get off of the apple trees. Baiting is your friend if you get access to private land.

I'm not sure of my schedule this Fall as I will be hunting here and Wisconsin, but drop me a note later in the year. Archery I could get you on land on Decatur.

Ed

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2021, 06:18:18 AM »
Interesting read, didnt know we had that here.
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Offline RB

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2021, 05:28:51 PM »
Just got home from a camping trip to Orcas island and Moran State Park, sweet Jesus there are a TON of Deer on that island! All locked in on private and park land. The EHD is awful, wish there was a way to match hunters with landowners to help with the thinning of the herds.  :twocents:
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Offline lokidog

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2021, 06:25:35 PM »
I heard the rumor they were considering allowing  a 3rd deer option on the islands to try and increase harvest. Add to that some orgs that arn't so friendly to hunters are willing to let deer hunting happen on their property because the overgrazing has effected the butterfly population.

Not likely since they only recently reduced the second deer tags substantially. They really should have landowner tags out there.

Offline predatorG

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2021, 12:02:37 PM »
Might as well try hunting Vashon. You'll have just as much trouble finding a spot to hunt but at least the deer are bigger if you ever get permission. Couple people on the site have pulled some bruisers out of there.

Vashon and San Juans are pretty similar: If you manage somehow to get permission you'll probably get a deer...and then get your tires slashed in the ferry line trying to get off the island.
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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2021, 08:27:43 AM »
Was just up there.  No deer anywhere and all the woods smell like death.  They have a brain hemorrhaging disease right now, which has a 95% mortality rate for infected deer.  There are dead deer everywhere in the woods.  Most that I've spoken to haven't seen a deer in weeks and I've heard rough assumptions of a 50% population decline, at least on San Juan.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2021, 08:46:31 AM »
Was just up there.  No deer anywhere and all the woods smell like death.  They have a brain hemorrhaging disease right now, which has a 95% mortality rate for infected deer.  There are dead deer everywhere in the woods.  Most that I've spoken to haven't seen a deer in weeks and I've heard rough assumptions of a 50% population decline, at least on San Juan.

As much as I dont like to say it because I have pulled a 2nd deer from Orcas 4x in the last 7 years and am currently holding another 2nd deer tag for the island, this might be good.

The herd has been in a bad way on Orcas for a long time. There isnt enough food and space there for the sheer volume of deer, there are a few large property sections on the west side where they congregate to feed on grass, but mostly they are on front lawns and in garden beds, or else they are moving around trying to find browse under tall canopies that havent been forested in 8- years. there are no predators to remove weak genes from the population, the deer that survive do so because they are small enough to be narrowly avoided by cars.

I have been saying for years that it is only a matter of time before disease breaks out and wipes them all out. The absolute best thing that could have happened was that bear that swam over a few years back but of course they traq-ed it and moved it off island.  It is a long shot, but I seriously hope that WDFW does outreach to educate the residents on what lead to it and encourage more access agreements to give opportunity to hunters, assuming there are any deer left in the end.

Offline luvmystang67

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2021, 10:29:49 AM »
Was just up there.  No deer anywhere and all the woods smell like death.  They have a brain hemorrhaging disease right now, which has a 95% mortality rate for infected deer.  There are dead deer everywhere in the woods.  Most that I've spoken to haven't seen a deer in weeks and I've heard rough assumptions of a 50% population decline, at least on San Juan.

As much as I dont like to say it because I have pulled a 2nd deer from Orcas 4x in the last 7 years and am currently holding another 2nd deer tag for the island, this might be good.

The herd has been in a bad way on Orcas for a long time. There isnt enough food and space there for the sheer volume of deer, there are a few large property sections on the west side where they congregate to feed on grass, but mostly they are on front lawns and in garden beds, or else they are moving around trying to find browse under tall canopies that havent been forested in 8- years. there are no predators to remove weak genes from the population, the deer that survive do so because they are small enough to be narrowly avoided by cars.

I have been saying for years that it is only a matter of time before disease breaks out and wipes them all out. The absolute best thing that could have happened was that bear that swam over a few years back but of course they traq-ed it and moved it off island.  It is a long shot, but I seriously hope that WDFW does outreach to educate the residents on what lead to it and encourage more access agreements to give opportunity to hunters, assuming there are any deer left in the end.

Agreed.  Here's the article.  https://wdfw.wa.gov/news/wdfw-confirms-ahd-san-juan-islands-deer

Offline Limhangerslayer

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2021, 11:36:51 AM »
Was just up there.  No deer anywhere and all the woods smell like death.  They have a brain hemorrhaging disease right now, which has a 95% mortality rate for infected deer.  There are dead deer everywhere in the woods.  Most that I've spoken to haven't seen a deer in weeks and I've heard rough assumptions of a 50% population decline, at least on San Juan.
:yeah: I was there for the fourth at Roche Harbor.  We drove from there to Friday Harbor one morning and only saw 2 deer.  Normally we would see 20-30 easily in years past.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #25 on: July 24, 2021, 07:51:05 AM »
Was just up there.  No deer anywhere and all the woods smell like death.  They have a brain hemorrhaging disease right now, which has a 95% mortality rate for infected deer.  There are dead deer everywhere in the woods.  Most that I've spoken to haven't seen a deer in weeks and I've heard rough assumptions of a 50% population decline, at least on San Juan.

As much as I dont like to say it because I have pulled a 2nd deer from Orcas 4x in the last 7 years and am currently holding another 2nd deer tag for the island, this might be good.

The herd has been in a bad way on Orcas for a long time. There isnt enough food and space there for the sheer volume of deer, there are a few large property sections on the west side where they congregate to feed on grass, but mostly they are on front lawns and in garden beds, or else they are moving around trying to find browse under tall canopies that havent been forested in 8- years. there are no predators to remove weak genes from the population, the deer that survive do so because they are small enough to be narrowly avoided by cars.

I have been saying for years that it is only a matter of time before disease breaks out and wipes them all out. The absolute best thing that could have happened was that bear that swam over a few years back but of course they traq-ed it and moved it off island.  It is a long shot, but I seriously hope that WDFW does outreach to educate the residents on what lead to it and encourage more access agreements to give opportunity to hunters, assuming there are any deer left in the end.

The bear actually swam back to the mainland after visiting several islands, including Decatur. Then it was tranqed and moved.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2021, 01:16:51 PM »
I was hoping the effects of AHD were being exaugurated, but just got back from Orcas and it was pretty grim.  Only saw two living deer in a long weekend, which is way fewer than I've ever seen.  Typically see dozens every day.  Also saw four carcasses in the bedding area near where I hunt.  Not super recent, but appear to have died within the last couple months.


I've also got a second deer tag for up there.  Usually can fill the tag in any given evening, but I'm not sure if it would even be possible on the land I have access to this year.

For somebody who knows more about wildlife management than me, what is the ethical thing to do with the deer up there at the moment?  Leave them alone and let them recover or take one more off the landscape?  Not sure how long AHD takes to run its course in the herd.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2021, 02:05:56 PM »
I would say politically, thinning the herd is a non-starter so I would guess it will run it's course.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2021, 07:04:05 AM »
I would say politically, thinning the herd is a non-starter so I would guess it will run it's course.

I believe James was asking the question for his own tags, "Has AHD already effed the population so bad that I should consider not hunting to help recovery, or will it not matter if I fill my two tags"

Obviously with our wonderfully incompetent DFW thinning the herds will never be an option, even in situations that require it.
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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #29 on: August 04, 2021, 08:43:11 PM »
My daughter has a 2nd tag for Lopez.  Has it been noticed on there to

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2021, 12:06:51 AM »
I drew 2nd deer for Lopez. Curious if it’s been showing up there. Very limited hunting opportunities on the island that aren’t private. Not many locals willing to let folks hunt.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2021, 12:47:15 AM »
I looked at my onx maps and would suggest you do the same!  :tup:
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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #32 on: October 19, 2021, 12:47:36 PM »
Anybody have any new information on how the deer population is doing on Lopez?  Curious as to how much the AHD has affected the numbers.

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #33 on: October 19, 2021, 02:08:10 PM »
When they are not rutting use a fawn distress call and does come charging in looking to save the world.  It WILL NOT work when they are ditching their fawns to hook up for a date.  I usually use the fawn distress early, during archery season.  It may work after they are through the rut.  Give it a try.  We have a few different ones, the one I have is a Knight & Hale and I don't think they make it any longer.  Friends have others and they all seem to work. 

Offline luvmystang67

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2021, 02:50:56 PM »
I know the population on SJI has been completely devastated, nobody sees deer anywhere anymore.

Online jamesfromseattle

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Re: San Juan Islands Blacktail -- New hunter looking for advice
« Reply #35 on: Today at 03:05:34 PM »
I know the population on SJI has been completely devastated, nobody sees deer anywhere anymore.

All my anecdotal observations (during a couple visits to Orcas) and conversations with friends who live up there continue to be consistent with this. Didn't even have the opportunity to fill a tag if I wanted to.

Have there been any updated reports/studies or estimates on the effect of AHD? All I've been able to find are older news articles from earlier this summer that announced AHD was confirmed in the herd.

 


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