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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Blacktail Winter Range

I have not yet had the opportunity to get out for the late bow hunt. At what elevation do blacktail spend the winter ? This past November we already had snow below 3000', which ruled out a lot of country to hunt. The low snow did pass eventaully. Do blacktail wait it out or move below the snowline?

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Blacktail Winter Range

Solo, I will explain the State of Washington to you in a few paragraphs, please bear with me. Washington State is basically two states in one. These sides are separated by the Cascade Range. The crest of this range is called the Pacific Crest. This is our dividing line between the two sides of the state (as well as the dividing line between republicans and democrats, except for a few holdouts like me, a republican living on the west side, but that is for another thread.....) Anyway, back to our story...

Western Washington would be classified as rainforest. This side of our state is typified by dense forest of Fir, Hemlock, Cedar, and Deciduous trees of Alder and Maple. Blacktailed deer inhabit this side of our state. Blacktailed deer (for the most part) do not "migrate" and my compadre's and I considered them "resident" or "local" deer. In my experience, blacktailed deer do not move very far in a given years time. Western Washington is wet, and food is abundant at all elevations. Snow generally stays well above 2000 feet, except for the occasional cold snap which drives these deer down a bit, to find food. Blacktail hunting is "close in" hunting. Most hunters get shots under a hundred yards. You will find shots of longer ranges infrequent because of the steep, dense foilage the deer inhabit. Underbrush such as blackberry, salal and devils club will be encountered, bring your pruners.

Eastern Washington is a horse of another color. This side of the state is typified by pine forest. You will encounter everything from dense forests of pine or oak, to open expanses of buckbrush, steppe sage, tumble weed, cactus, and eolian drift. (look it up) Eastern Washington is far more arid than the West side. This side of the state is inhabited with Mule Deer and Whitetailed Deer. These migratory deer are forced from the high country as the snows build. Typically, these deer move anywhere from 6000+ feet to 700 feet in elevation. More hardy species, Muleys and Whitetailed deer are larger than their cousin the Blacktailed deer. Hunters on the east side of the state rely (or should rely...) on optics to help locate deer to hunt. Optics on this side of the state can help you to locate deer at extreme distances, due to the reduced amount of underbrush compared to the west side hunters. Bring your optics.

Your results may vary.

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Location: Washington's Back Country
Joined: 06/25/2005
Posts: 316
Blacktail Winter Range

Iceman is very right when it comes down to Eastern Wa, Our deer here move down but only when snow becomes WAY too deep...I snomobile in one area I hunt Mulies here in Washington and have seen Deer at over 6000 ft where the snow is in ecess of 2 ft deep...White-tails tend to stay low and mulies high..but once and awhile you will come across a wandering deer of either species in both the valleys an the mountians

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Joined: 02/25/2007
Posts: 53
Blacktail Winter Range

Thanks for the info guys. I know much about pursuing blacktail in their summer range, spceifically in Oregon's wilderness. I guess my question is what elevation's should I focus on for the late November to early December bowhunt.

As for blacktails not being migratory, I beg to differ. The blacktails I hunt at 6000' are definitely moving substantial distances when the snow comes. In some of this country the valleys and drainages bottom out at at least 4500 with many feet of snow through the winter, way too much snow to scratch out a living. These deer, in some instances, must migrate at least 20 miles. Even blacktails in the Siskiyous ,which are resident or local so to speak, move up and down in elevation as food sources change.

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Location: Olympia, WA
Joined: 04/09/2005
Posts: 140
Blacktail Winter Range

I thought you were asking about Western Washington. Sounds like you know what blacktails do in Oregon.

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