Oregon Rifle Season – Opening Day


Being stuck in a remote Alaska moose camp because of weather grounded bush planes seem like it was a lifetime ago…when in reality it was just one week. Man, it is good to be home after one very long month on the road hunting hard.

Today was opening day of rifle season here in Oregon, which meant, it was time to go hunting with my oldest, Tanner (he is 14). When I looked at him last night, as we threw our gear together for today’s hunt, I could see the excitement on his face and the twinkle in his eyes. He was going hunting with Dad – life was good! We hit it pretty early this morning…in position well before daylight in some country I used to hunt years ago. Public land hunting for the wily blacktail…unless we worked hard to get into those tough to reach spots I love, we would surely have company.

It was brisk as the rising sun lit up our deer rich country here in western Oregon this morning. Easing to the edge of a five year old logging unit, we began glassing. After about 30 minutes I glassed up a big buck – a dark-antlered, heavy bodied, 4x4 blacktail. A classic trophy buck for this country. One for the wall indeed. He was on to us though, as was the good 3-point with him. I ranged the bucks at 252 yards…directing Tanner to them. The bucks held, hoping we hadn’t seen them. I helped Tanner get set up with a rest and the rifle pointed in the right direction, but he was having trouble finding the bucks through his scope. The country was pretty broken and with quite a bit of foliage, stumps, logs, etc., when the deer aren’t on the move they can be difficult to see. The bucks broke for the timber after the minute long stand off at which time Tanner finally saw them but it was too late. He was sick. I was sick (which I kept to myself…mostly). But, like I told him, it happens. It has happened to everyone. Gotta shake it off.

We kept glassing, finding a doe and a spike buck before making our way to another area. Easing over a ridge in some fresh country I quickly glassed up deer feeding in a hidden pocket of a unit that has always produced for me. There were a handful of does and yearlings and a buck. A decent forked horn buck. We were in business. Tanner took a rest on a big stump, lined up his sweet shooting 7mm-.08 and let her rip. Looking at me after the shot he waited for my assessment. “Did I get him?” Tanner asked excitedly. ‘Yup, you hammered him brother. He is going down,” I answered while watching the buck through my binos. Tanner made a great shot from 233 yards. I was pretty damn proud.

tanner-blacktail-success.jpg Today was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time! Reminds me of how much I truly love hunting. One thing that struck me, Tanner could care less about the missed opportunity on the big 4-point – hasn’t hardly said a word about it. He was bringing home a buck, period. For most young hunters, that is good enough, as it should be. And, beings that this was his third big game kill (buck & bear previously), I figured it was time for him to do most the gutting. Always a monumental occasion. After just one knife nick on the back of his left hand and one decent gag from a little whiff of guts…he got her done. We are now watching the Oregon vs. Cal game, have already hung, skinned, cut up the buck, cut off the antlers and Tracey is cooking up some steak to throw in fresh batch of chili. Good times. That is the update from out West.
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