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.
Dylan Carr and the scene of my 355 yard shot to my blacktail buck
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.
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.
Back to Twin Buttes Recreation again to hunt mule deer. I’m hunting with Scott Robertson. Had lots of great stalks on some huge bucks. On the fourth day we came on some deer just within the tree line. There was a good 4×4 in the bunch so we decided to try a stalk. We got to about 67 yards but there was a young buck in front of the 4×4. Eventually the separated and I moved up to see him broadside looking at me at 53 yards. I drew back and shot and saw my lighted knock leaving with him. We found my arrow with about five inches broken off and ten inches of good blood on it. After a couple hours we tracked him about 75 yards passing an old lion kill. A good 4×4 with just the skull left and horns eaten down by rodents. Then when we find my buck he’s actually a 5×4 with a branch on his right main beam. He’s also got fresh lion claw marks on his hind quarters and his tail has been bitten off.
What a great hunt. We saw some huge bucks and had many exciting stalks before this one came through for me. So happy to have made a perfect shot at 53 yards. The Robertson’s are a wonderful family and the food, hospitality, and hunting are the best. Will definitely be back possibly trying the rifle. It’s hard to stop bow hunting though when you are two for two on archery mule deer. Still waiting to see if any of my friends connected after I left. Hoping one of them nailed the big non-typical we had been seeing.
My big blacktail from August we called The Lightning Four is starting to get officially recognized by several of the record keeping organizations. He is officially the new number 2 typical Columbia Blacktail taken by bow for Safari Club International. They scored him at 154 3/8 ranking him 23rd overall.
Here is the display from the SCI site showing his new ranking.
The Boone & Crockett Club has also officially recognized Lightning Four as scoring 156″ which will crack their top 100 list in their all time record book. Should he still be in the top five at the end of this three year scoring period I’ll need to submit him for a panel judging. That would be exciting and he could receive an award for his species in that scoring period.
And lastly, Pope & Young, the bowhunting organization has asked that I ship the horns for their panel judging in Arizona preceding their Convention in April. Unfortunately I can’t attend the convention however he may end up in their Top Ten all time list for Columbia Blacktail Deer. It will be interesting to see what the panel scores him as there was a big difference between SCI and B&C. So exciting to have taken such a great buck with my bow and to receive the distinction such a great animal deserves.
Incredible time this year on my annual August bow hunt up in Humboldt County, CA. Hunting for my tenth year with Dylan Carr of Diamond C Outfitters. We had lots of trail cam pics with lots of great bucks on the watch list this year. I was focused on a very old buck nicknamed ‘brisket’ for his prominent one. The week before I arrived he shedded his velvet and then was not to be seen on the trailcam. We decided to focus on another area where a huge 4×4 was a regular. He is ‘Lightning Four’ as a 4×4 first spotted in another area of the ranch called the lightning rough.
My hunt began Sunday night August 17. Only a few does showed up that evening. The next day improved with some small bucks also making appearances, doing some mock fighting, and just grazing around in the clearing next to the blind. Tuesday morning does begin to appear with the usual small bucks and then out of my left there he is. I can’t even believe it. My heart starts pounding. I wait for him to get to about 30 yards broadside and I draw back. Just as I do a fawn walks right next to him covering his vitals. I wait and wait and then have to let down. Somehow that doesn’t spook them. Waiting and finally the doe clears. I draw again, aim, squeeze, the arrow flies. Right under him. I can’t believe it! I miss him at only 30 yards. He starts a little at the sound but doesn’t really spook. I watch him walk away slowly with my binos. Looking at his right side, no sign of contact. I can only pray I’ve not blown my chance. Wednesday I see the usual suspects. Also some other great deer that are too young to be on the hit list but look like great future prospects. Thursday morning, more of the same. Thursday night I’m seeing more deer. Sun set is at 8:09 with legal shooting to 8:39. At about 8:50 he comes in with two other great bucks. Way too dark to shoot but can see him clearly in my binos. He is HUGE. Soo much bigger than the other great bucks. I’m glad to see him back but hopefully he’s not gone nocturnal. Friday morning is slow. A couple does in and out. I decide to stay longer just in case. At about 10am two does come into view from the left of the blind. Then I see a bunch of deer are following them. Small bucks and there he is right in the middle of them! He moves to almost the same spot as the first time and I’m ready. Heart pounding again and pretty shaky as I draw back. He’s at 25 yards and I hold with my 20 high in his vitals. I release and connect dropping him instantly. I hit high and have spined him! I quickly put two more arrows into his vitals and he dies 25 yards from the blind. I was so excited I wasn’t thinking straight and held way too high for my current bow. I think I reverted to my first bow training when my arrow would probably fall into the vitals at 25 yards. My bad shooting aside, I am so excited to have taken this buck. He is a giant blacktail anywhere! Easily a Boone & Crocket buck.
Dylan had a picture of the buck from the year before. He also collects many of the sheds each year and gave me Lightning’s sheds from last year. When I hold them I can hardly believe we didn’t shoot him last year. Dylan has done a great job of managing the deer on his ranch and only taking mature bucks and letting the young ones reach their potential. In our ten years hunting together I’ve seen the quality of the deer improve incredibly. I’ve taken a lot of great bucks but this is the first time I’ve held out for five days to take a true trophy such as this!
Here he is bedded down last year:
As if my luck couldn’t get any better, on our last morning we went out with his son Clayton in a yamaha viking to see if we could find another super old buck called ‘Whitey’ that was on the list. Incredibly as we approached his usual haunts there he is. Dylan and I were able to ease up to 100 yards. I set up with my Remington custom ADL and made a perfect shot on the shoulder. My second CA tag filled with another great buck. He’s a 4×4 with a sticker on his right that may get scored. He’s a great buck as well, not in the same leagues as the lightning but one of my best.
The long awaited Diamond C Outfitters promo video is finally done! Set to ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC, it is pretty fast paced encapsulation of what looks like ten years of hunting seasons. Several of my deer shots are recorded including my 2007 3×4 shot prone in the upper ranch. Also both my 2009 bucks, Twin Towers that drops like a rock and my late season 5×4 buck that kicks out at the shot. Both the pig hunting bow shots are mine, my first pig kill with a bow the same day I shot Twin Towers. Also a 60 yard ( lucky ) shot on a grey boar that was heading up the rear on the group of pigs when I shot the black sow. One thing you notice is just how many women hunters the Carr’s take each year. Lots of capable women hunting out there. So many great bucks and great memories!