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August 2020 -Blacktail Archery hunt with Diamond C Outfitters

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.

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My 2020 Archery Blacktail buck from Diamond C Outfitters

Blacktail Rifle Hunt -October 2017

Sunset after the shot

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

 

Blacktail Buck with Diamond C Outfitters

2017 Blacktail Hunt

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.

 

 

 

My August 2016 California Blacktail Hunt

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.

 

Large non-typical Blacktail buck

Large non-typical Blacktail buck

 

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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.

2016 bow 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!

The view of the shot for my 2016 blacktail rifle buck

The view of the shot for my 2016 blacktail rifle buck

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2016 Rifle Buck

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Scarface Junior

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Back to Diamond C Outfitters for my second California tag. Lots of great bucks taken this year. I’m hoping for a big 3×3 but am ready for anything. I almost shoot a 4×3 with my bow the first night when an opportunity presents itself at 35 yards. I decide to pass on the young buck. Saturday morning comes and we find a great buck ‘Scarface Junior’ bedded on a grassy hill with a doe. Named for his dad, this buck has no scars and looks like an absolute monarch. He’s very close to where I shot my August buck. Dylan and I sneak up to a ranged 328 yards until he starts to appear a little concerned. I’m using the Browning .300 WSM again which I have complete faith in. Clayton manages to capture the shot from back in the truck. He is a great buck, the biggest body buck I have ever taken. 167 pounds field dressed. Beautiful cape and just a great old buck.

Blacktail buck called ‘The Freak’

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One of the many bucks on the hit list was one with a deformed left front and three tines in back that was dubbed ‘The Freak’ I had him on my mind along with a big 3 called ‘Stickers’ Lots of great bucks on the ranch as always. The weather called for high nineties so was not looking forward to the heat and with all the fires the area was thick with smoke. We didn’t have a lot of luck Friday evening. Saturday we thought we had The Freak pinned down in a draw but after a couple hours realized he had slipped away.  Sunday morning the smoke was almost as thick as fog and Dylan suggested we tour around and try and ‘get lucky’. Well as usual we do, he spots a big rack just above the tall grass on a hill top near some grazing does. We make a stalk down the hills, we crawl up to a crest and he spots him at 271 yards. I can clearly see his ears and believe I can kill him right there. I’m using Dylan’s Browning A-Bolt custom gun which he has completely dialed in with a CDS turret. I hold just enough below his head to get a neck or body shot and at the shot his head just falls.

One for the books

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.

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Here is the display from the SCI site showing his new ranking.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

The Lightning Four

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.

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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:

Lightning Four in 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

2014 rifle buck

2014 rifle buck

Diamond C Outfitters

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!

 

August Bow Hunt

August and I’m back to the Diamond C Ranch for a blacktail bow hunt. I’m after several bucks, some we’ve seen previous years. Moose, a big non-typical, Johnny a nice 4×3, Stubby a thick based 4×3, and AP a super wide symmetrical 4×4. Moose is the primary target. Friday I’m in a blind looking for him to come in. At dusk a super tall buck appears. I’m thinking of taking him but further scrutiny shows he’s aptly named ‘Off-Limits’ a big 4×3 that’s too young. Saturday night while heading to the Herf  blind we spot a big buck walking in the woods below us to our right. It’s ‘Johnny’. Dylan and I are after him, walking above him parallel to his path searching for a good shooting lane. Finally one develops. Dylan ranges him at 38 yards. I hold my 40 pin on his body, he’s quartering away, I release. I hear my arrow impact a branch on the way. It deflects my shot but we hear it impact. He’s off and we decide to cross the creek bed and see if we can head him off. While on the opposite side I can hear him walking through the woods. We cross back and at the creek bed we can see him bed down above us on the side I shot from. We recover him there. My arrow went through both back legs and hit an artery. He’s a great buck! Nice 4×3 with his velvet intact. My best bow buck by far.

My August 2013 blacktail bow buck 'Stubby'

My August blacktail bow buck “Johnny”

 

With so many great bucks on the ranch I decide to sit the Herf blind Sunday night in hopes of seeing AP. While I’m getting into the blind a tall 4×3 stands up from under an oak tree and slowly walks off. I thought it was Off-Limits again but Dylan texts me that it was Stubby and I can take him if I want. He looked pretty good but I’m thinking of holding out for AP the huge 4×4. Around 6:30 a doe walks in. She’s pretty spooky, starting at the slightest noise from the blind and staring in. She leaves eventually. Later another doe comes in and same thing, slightest noise has her full alert. Sunset is 8:18 and at 8:20 a young fork horn walks in. Around 8:30 Stubby is back as well. I give him a good look with the binos. He looks pretty good. Taller than Johnny but not wide. Super thick bases. Finally at 8:40 he stands broadside at 23 yards looking my direction. I decide to take him. I draw and can make out his back line. Lower the green 20 pin below and slowly release. I hear the arrow impact and the black silhouette of a buck walking out and away to the left. I grab the binos but not in time to identify which. I think I see movement in the grass. I call Dylan and tell him I shot Stubby. I think the shot is good. Possibly he’s ‘dead right there’. We give him 30 minutes and then the truck pulls up. I’m out of the blind. Stow my gear in the truck and then go look for my arrow. There is Stubby lying dead where he was standing.  Too good to be true. He’s a super buck with 6″ plus bases and patches of white velvet. A great double for the weekend and my two best bow bucks by far.

 

My August 2013 blacktail bow buck 'Stubby'

My August 2013 blacktail bow buck ‘Stubby’