My second hunt of 2020 at Diamond C is the latest I’ve ever hunted there arriving Friday November 27th. It’s a clear crisp cool evening and we patrol seeing several bucks and many does out. We time our return to the lower ranch perfectly to intercept a buck nicknamed ‘Hook’. We see him near a rock at 200 yards and I simply exit the truck. I have to sit as the grass is too tall to go prone. Clayton films from the passenger seat as I shoot at him standing broadside. The first shot is perfect but he turns and runs stopping shortly. A rushed second shot is a miss and then he starts back peddling and goes down but is right back up again moving forward when I shoot and then he’s down for good. He is an awesome old buck with such great mass. I’m thrilled to have taken another great blacktail.
Back at the Diamond C ranch for my annual bow hunt. Dylan had patterned a great buck he calls ‘Dirty Harry’. He’s big. His right G3 never really grew out so he’s more like a 4×3 with about a 1 inch third. He has a blind set up for me where hopefully in so many days I’ll get a chance at him.
I sat first Friday night and only saw a couple of smaller bucks. A tall 3×3 and another smaller buck with a few does and fawns passing by. Saturday as well no luck but on Sunday morning amazingly at 10 am I got my chance. This buck definitely got my heart rate going. I made a good shot on him that was a pass-through. The 100 gr. Rage Hypodermic Trypan once more did the job. Luckily after the shot, I could see it was good and I was able to keep him in sight the whole time as he bedded down and finally laid his head to rest. So great on a bow hunt not to have to track or even spend a sleepless night replaying the shot in your mind, wondering if there will be a buck there at the end of the trail.
After about 20 minutes Dylan arrived. My buck was just on the other side of the creek under a big oak. Glad for once my bow buck didn’t head straight for a pile of poison oak which seems too often my corporeal reminder of a successful hunt.
Fifteen years now of hunting with Dylan has been the miracle of my hunting life. At this point, I will shoot whatever buck he asks me to, management buck, over the hill monarch, or as it seems every so often something extraordinary. This one certainly fits that description.
August 1st is the start of my annual blacktail deer hunt up in Humboldt County at Diamond C Outfitters. Have been talking to Dylan for the past few weeks and we’ve identified an old buck we’ve seen over the years we call ‘Tank’. He has been pretty active in a clearing in a more thickly wooded part of the ranch and Dylan set a blind up a couple weeks before.
I get there uneventfully on a Wednesday and am fortunate it is not the usual August heat. I’m in the blind at 5 pm with a lot of daylight left. I have my comfy chair and am settled in for what I know might be a few days of waiting until I see a good deer and maybe longer to get an opportunity for a good shot.
I’m not in the blind more than thirty minutes when Tank himself appears at the edge of the clearing. I can’t believe it. I have my bow on my knees with an arrow knocked and watch as he seems to poke around but not enter the field. He’s at thirty-five yards. He never offers me a good shot and leaves as quietly as he appeared. I’m still excited to have seen him and know he’s not spooked. Am confident in time I’ll get a shot at.
Within the hour does and fawns appear, a dozen turkeys slowly work their way across the field. A big hare at one point is with the turkeys. Another doe and fawn even bed down not fifteen yards from me. As the evening comes I start to see some young bucks, two different fork horns, and a couple young 3x3s also come through.
At about 8:45 dusk has come and I have another 10 minutes of shooting time left. Then incredibly Tank appears again at the edge of the field. This time he enters the field and is browsing but facing me head on. He seems to move and then stop not presenting a shot. Then two younger bucks appear off to the left and I get ready thinking this may get him to move. I have my bow in my hand when he stops perfectly broadside and am drawing almost as he stops. I’m holding on him steady at only twenty yards, my green pin just behind his shoulder as I release. I hear the smack and the see the green lit knock glide and land on the hill behind. He bolts and traces a semicircle that has his off side right in front of the blind window and I see it round with red.
I text Dylan to tell him I made the shot and think it’s good. I give him the details and wait. Dylan and Clayton drive up about 30 minutes later. When they get to the blind they tell me they passed him lying dead in the creek maybe forty yards from the shot. Am so happy to have made a good shot on such a beautiful buck and for the immediate recovery, not having to sleep wondering if all went well. The shot was perfect, complete pass through the heart. Was my first try with Rage Trypan, they did the job and flew accurately.
So thankful for having met the Carr’s thirteen years before on a management hunt and now having such a great relationship with them and probably the best hunting opportunities in our state.
Back to the Diamond C for my second CA blacktail hunt of the year. Not really looking for anything specific just out for a fun hunt and see what we can see. Friday night we’re out looking in the evening. Not long we see a big bobcat prowling the golden hills. We leave him be and keep looking. At one point between two distant stands of oaks a buck is silhouetted broadside on the horizon. He’s too small to chase but makes a beautiful picture. As the sun begins to set I’m thinking tonight is a wrap but Dylan spots a buck in the distance. It’s an old 4×3 that we’ve been looking for he’s in a great spot for us to make a stalk. So just like that we are switched on and that time I savor and so look forward to, between spotting a buck we want and making a stalk and hopefully taking a shot is now on. We grab our packs and are off towards a rising hill that we think will give us the vantage point to maybe make a shot. We get close and get low, scoot up to the edge. Dylan’s not seeing him. We keep looking and soon Dylan spots him. I lower my bi-pod legs and scoot my rifle forward. Dylan gives me the range 355 yards. I’m on him and turn up my scope but he’s moving. I’m tracking him and he is walking when Dylan makes some whistling sounds and he stops. I start to make the shot but realize my safety is on. I slowly click it off an now he’s on the move again. Dylan tries it again and when he stops I’m on him. The sun is setting behind us and he appears in my scope in an orange glow. He’s quartering too and I have a perfect hold on his body and squeeze off the shot. I see him collapse instantly even through the scope. My customer Remington ADL in .270 does the trick with the Barnes 130 TTSX bullet. The VX6 at 18 power with a nice red dot lit at the reticle made it easy to hold and I find my shot hit perfectly. Dylan’s son Clayton and his girlfriend Elizabeth come join us on the Rhino quad to aid in the recovery. By the time they arrive the sun has set and soon the large full moon rises to light our way. This buck isn’t the biggest but this kind of spot and stalk and shot is my favorite way to rifle hunt blacktail. He is a great old buck with a lot of character. Such a great time hunting with Dylan and the Carr family.
Time for my annual Blacktail hunt with Dylan Carr. Had been practicing with the bow every night in hopes of taking a huge buck from a blind again. Well got laid off from work the day before I left so plans adjusted to management buck to be thrifty in case my job search goes longer than planned. Part of me hoping it doesn’t happen too quickly. Still Dylan had offered a try at Q-Tip a huge 5×4 so a little disappointed to let that chance go. Still hunting a management buck is often much more fun. Have been sighting in my rifles to prep for my Sheep hunt and selected the Sako 30.06 as the most reliable. It’s still set up for lead rounds which I can use in B Zone, 150gr SST Hornady Superformance.
I get to Dylan’s mid day Thursday. Alan is there and had taken the big 3×3 “Lopper” the night before. They weren’t sure of the shot and left him overnight. He was done but the coyotes got to him first ruining the cape. I end up donating mine for his mount. That night cruising we see a group with some huge bucks. Wart Head is the star along with Inline and Skyscraper a super tall 3×3. So cool to see these bucks out and about. Up by the gate we find a buck people had been telling Dylan about. He’s a 4×4 with kickers on both sides. I am sorely tempted to shoot him but keep to my plan and budget.
The next morning we are out again. It is so nice and cool for July. Wearing a light jacket even. Fog down below so we head up top. It’s not long until Dylan spots a buck feeding out on one of the golden hills in the distance. He puts the spotting scope on him and says he is a management buck and a good shooter. Almost a 3×3 but older buck. We decide to make a stalk on him. We back the truck out a ways so we can leave under cover and make our way down the hill. As we’re closing he’s eventually staring our way and we think he’s busted us. We decide we really can’t go one more ridge and set up by a dead three that gives us some cover. The range is 370 yards. I settle in and dial my turret. Set to 14 power I have a great view and am on him. He’s facing me so I wait and wait for him to turn. Finally he’s showing a lot of body and I start to squeeze holding right on him. At the shot I get the ‘who’s your daddy’ from Dylan and know he’s down at the shot. Those SSTs really drop em, kind of like the ballistic tips. We find him dead right there and the shot is perfect. Alan takes the truck to the road below and we have a fairly easy quarter mile drag at least mostly down hill.
We put him on the gambel and he weighs 130. We recover my bullet from just inside the hide and Clayton finds the separated lead core while skinning him. I’m super happy with him and glad to have tried a longer shot in prep for the sheep hunt. 370 is my farthest shot on a deer to date. Hopefully I’ll get a great new job in a few months and be back for a giant Blacktail next time.
Finally have a few bucks on the trailcam. The first is the same wide buck from May who now is starting to look like an 8-Point Whitetail deer. I’m calling him ‘Whitey’
My old Trailcam finally gave up the ghost so have a new one and my first few pics for 2017 are coming in. Usual does and fawns but one nice buck starting to grow and the same old coyote.
Captured some of the regulars my own trailcam. My property has a great little deer sanctuary on an undeveloped half acre. A deer trail rises from the creek to a little flat clearing with a nice willow tree with a great horizontal branch for rubs or does to bed under.
This month I captured a big non typical that has a nice tall 3 on his right and an abnormal mass for a left along with great eye guards. A crab front 3×2 with super tall G2 on his left and a nice 3×2 that likes to rub the willow branch. Also a nice stare down between a doe and coyote.
Here is the big non-typical back in July still in velvet and now in end of September.
August finally arrived for my annual hunt at the Diamond C Ranch in Humboldt, California. Arrived Friday August 12th and sat a blind the first night hoping for a bow shot at a big 4×4 seen on trail cams and dubbed ‘Q-Tip’. The sit was fairly uneventful with only some does and a small buck seen at the periphery of the woods adjoining the field that the trial feeds into.
Second night I moved to a new blind that had been more active hoping for a shot at a large non-typical that was called ‘Kong’. This time around 7:30 in full daylight Kong and a younger 3×3 emerged from the woods and came down the trail towards the blind without a care in the world. For the longest time Kong was behind the younger buck but eventually he presented a broadside at just under 20 yards. This whole time my heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe this had even happened. I drew my bow, was a little shaky, tried to settle my top pin on him, released, MISS! Not just a close one but by a mile like a yard high left. They run off. I can’t believe it. I must have been just white knuckling my bow.
I continued to sit the blind and then with about 5 minutes left of legal shooting light a 3×3 came in. Dylan had mentioned a 3×3 with one eye guard that was on the list. I decided he would be good bow buck, drew on him, relaxed, focused on my pin, released, and heard a good hit with my Nockturnal passing through him landing in the grass behind. I didn’t think he would go very far. We waiting about 45 minutes. Dylan arrived, we checked my arrow and it looked great. It wasn’t hard to find him, he went not 30 yards. Unfortunately he was not the buck we wanted to kill but a younger 3×3! Not a great day for me, missing a giant and then shooting a young buck.
The next day we drove around looking for a buck dubbed ‘The Whitetail’ with a rack on one side similar to one. We never did see him and a hunter would take him with a rifle shortly after I left. The next night we decided I would sit for Kong again. Not much going on this time, a doe and fawns, a spike. Kong is probably not going to take the trail for a while, so disappointed with my showing this year.
Monday I need to get back home but we decide to drive to a different area on the ranch. Early in the morning we spotted a wide 3×3 on a hill top. We decide he’s a good buck and as he disappears over the top we plan a stalk around the side. We get to a point where we can see his rack just above the tall grass. I quickly get prone with my new Browning A-Bolt Medallion, on the bi-pod, I can just make out his neck below the grass. I squeeze off a shot and he turns and moves off, not fast and I’m surprised I didn’t drop him. I work the bolt and put another in him from behind. We wait about 30 minutes and start to explore the area. Not finding any blood but I am positive he’s killed. We look a long time and finally find him, he was in a depression in the grass and hidden from view. I’m pleased with this buck, he’s fully 20″ wide. I’ll be thinking about Kong all year and if he survives I’ll hope I get the gift of another shot at him and can pull myself together and get it done!
I attended the Boone & Crockett Big Game Awards in Springfield, Missouri this past weekend. What a great time. Much smaller than SCI but all of the invited trophies were on display at the BassPro Shop. Was incredible to see. This is a huge BassPro that also features an NRA Firearms Museum and the Archery Hall of Fame museum. I was able to spend much of Saturday taking in all the trophies and touring the exhibits.
Craig Boddington served as the host of the awards ceremony and read a short summary of each hunt as the award was presented. This was a really nice touch. While my buck ‘Lightning Four’ was not the top scoring Blacktail when submitted, after the panel scoring I ended up taking First Award. What a great honor for my buck. So grateful for this experience.
I was able to meet some wonderful people and hear great stories of their incredible hunts. I also met several of the measurers and wonderful people that are the Boone & Crockett organization.
I took pictures of most all the trophy submissions and have them in a Flickr Album here