21 replies [Last post]
niceshot_smitty's picture
Offline
Location: Los Alamos, NM
Joined: 06/08/2011
Posts: 452
which is harder to hunt, mule deer or blacktail deer?

i have only hunted mule deer in my life and was wondering if there was a differents in the way people hunt these to deer?  which woud be harder or are they the same? 

arrowflipper's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 01/03/2011
Posts: 579
apples to oranges

Comparing hunting mule deer to blacktail is like comparing apples to oranges.  They are close cousins and look very much alike, (other than size) but that's a far as the similarities go.  I have hunted both quite a bit and it is totally different.

The mule deer I hunt most now are in wide open country.  You can see them for hundreds and hundreds of yards away.  Much farther than you can shoot.  You can hunt them by spotting and stalking or stilling hunting through the sagebrush and coolies.  Once you see them, they are off on their strange “stotting” run but will stop out there a ways and look back.  If mule deer have one weakness, they tend to stop and look back.

On the other hand, the blacktail I have hunted are in dense forests and you can be within twenty yards and not begin to see them.  All the blacktail I've killed have been at very close range.  That doesn't mean you can't find them out in a clear-cut and see them a long ways away.  It just means their habitat is totally different from the typical mule deer.

Now with all that said, what is the difference between the two species, other than the obvious size difference?  Here in Washington, the difference is purely geographical.  On one side of the Cascade Mountains, the deer are called mule deer.  On the other, they're blacktail.  That may sound crazy, but that's the way it is.

Much like our elk.  On the East side of I-5, the elk are Rocky Mountain.  On the West side of I-5, they are Roosevelt.  With that said, they look and tend to be a different animal.

Which would I rather hunt?  I'll take the big cousin on the East side of the state any day.  Are they easier or harder to hunt than blacktail?  I guess that's up to you and how you like to hunt.

 

numbnutz's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: portland,oregon
Joined: 09/06/2007
Posts: 3058
In my opinon, blacktails are

In my opinon, blacktails are a whole heck of a lot harder to hunt due to there habitat. Its harder to spot them and stalk up to them. In Oregon they tend to hang out in the thickest nastiest stuff you can find, but that being said thats what makes them so fun to hunt as its a true challenge and anyone you shoot is a trophy because you have to work your butt off to get it.

niceshot_smitty's picture
Offline
Location: Los Alamos, NM
Joined: 06/08/2011
Posts: 452
Thanks this is helping me

Thanks this is helping me alot. Which state would you hunt and have a good chance at getting a nice buck for blacktail.

arrowflipper's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 01/03/2011
Posts: 579
Washington

I live in Washington and we have a healthy population of blacktail.  That doesn't mean you will find a big one.  Oh yes, they are out there, but finding one isn't easy.  Oregon has a good population and I think California has some as well.  In Washington, they are all on the west side of the Cascades.  The closer to the coast, the more blacktail. 

Good luck and if you get a big one, PLEASE post pictures.

niceshot_smitty's picture
Offline
Location: Los Alamos, NM
Joined: 06/08/2011
Posts: 452
Do you have to draw or is

Do you have to draw or is there over the counter tags in Washington?

numbnutz's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: portland,oregon
Joined: 09/06/2007
Posts: 3058
OTC

Oregon has avery healthy population of blacktail, they are all over the counter tags. If you Bow hunt you can get an OTC deer tag and hunt in 90% of the state ( blacktail inhabit only the west side of the cascades), also with that tag you can hunt blacktails in the rut in NOV. Its a bit easier to see a big one when they're chasing the does.

arrowflipper's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Joined: 01/03/2011
Posts: 579
over

They are over the counter tags for blacktail. 

niceshot_smitty's picture
Offline
Location: Los Alamos, NM
Joined: 06/08/2011
Posts: 452
When do the seasons start and

When do the seasons start and how long do they last in northwest?

numbnutz's picture
Offline
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: portland,oregon
Joined: 09/06/2007
Posts: 3058
In Oregon, Archery starts end

In Oregon, Archery starts end of Aug till end of Sept (aug 27 -sept 25), then again in western oregon mid Nov till mid DEC, Rifle is first Saturday of OCT till mid NOV.

Offline
Location: Colorado
Joined: 07/13/2011
Posts: 920
As someone who has still

As someone who has still hunting the timber all my life. I've found that very few do it right. They simple move too fast, spook the deer they never see, and claim still hunting doesn't work, or there's no deer in the area. They're there, they just moved off before you saw them.

I've still hunted for over 60 years in new england, California, and now Colorado. When I saw this thread I wondered if it would work in the north west. While I was thinking about it I ran across this article, and it answered my question. Have a look.

 

Hunting Mule Deer in the Timber

A dull glow filled the somber sky and filtered down through the tops of the big pine trees. I began to move. A driving rain had been falling since 4:00 a.m. and the treetops were saturated, leaving precious few places where a hunter could find dry shelter.

Slipping from tree to tree, pausing to peer ahead through the rain, I watched for a gleam of eye or antler, or the flicker of an ear. The hill leveled out in front of me and something moved under a large fir tree.

I saw their ears first and the horizontal line of mouse-gray backs above the manzanita. They had seen me too and they moved away, stiff-legged and watchful. I put the binoculars to my eyes, could make out no antlers and so watched them go, one by one, fading into the trees and the fog.

Angling off the plateau, I aimed for the shelf below and the creek canyon. There were other hunters in the woods. They would see the deer I had moved. Hopefully, I would see a deer they pushed in front of me.

I moved through a stand of jack pines, where in another year, I'd jumped a deer from its bed, and stood half-concealed by the branches to watch the shelf below me. The forest floor was carpeted with the fallen needles from the pines and the white fir that towered above. Protected from the high winds, there was little blowdown. Without much sunlight making it through the old-growth timber, the underbrush was sparse. Standing on the sidehill, I watched the line of trees to my left.

He stepped out of the timber and stopped to look for danger at the edge of a tiny meadow, he spotted me at the same time I saw him, the shine of his antlers plain at 75 yards. I snugged the gun up against my shoulder and put the stock against my cheek, letting the crosshair drift across his body to stop behind the muscle and bone of his foreleg. Slipping the safety to fire, I squeezed the trigger.

I followed his tracks for 70 yards to the place he had come to rest beside a rotten log on a bed of pine needles. The rain pounded down, soaking me to the skin, but I was oblivious.

These days, the prevailing mule deer hunting method, at least according to what you read in most magazines, is spot and stalk. Find a vantage point where you can wait. Watch the bucks bed down then put the sneak on them. Great tactics for open country. But in Oregon, most mule deer are found in forest environs where visibility is often limited to 100 yards or less. There's little use for a spotting scope in the timberlands.

Hunters that find themselves carrying Hood, White River, Metolius, Upper Deschutes and Fort Rock tags know this all too well. From the Pacific Crest Trail east to the dry country, there is a lot of good deer hunting land populated by pines, firs and oaks.

Farther east, the Silver Lake, Sprague, Keno, Warner, Desolation, Silvies, Heppner, Ukiah, Minam and Sumpter units are also heavily timbered. A hunter may find himself or herself over on the dry side of the Cascades, but the tactics put into play are reminiscent ofblacktail hunting.

When they feel the pressure, mule deer don't leave the country as many hunters suppose. Instead, they pull into their core areas and emerge to feed at last light and early in the morning. On full moon nights, they may feed while hunters sleep.

A deer needs food, water, shelter cover and escape habitat. The best areas to find a buck are where bedding cover and feed are in close proximity. A deer can go for water after dark. A good example of this kind of habitat is on a mountainside where slides or lightning-strike fires have opened the over-story to let the twiggy browse gain a toehold.

A hunter in the foothills or the flatlands doesn't have the luxury of elevation changes that open up windows in the trees. But a climbing tree stand can help you gain some altitude in good deer habitat.

Stands in the Treetops

One of the axioms I've lived by in blacktail country is that I need to get above the brush to look down into feeding and bedding areas. A hunter can do the same thing over on the dry side.

Take a scouting trip before the season to find first the water, then the feed, then the bedding ground. A deer will not make its living more than a half-mile from its water source.

Site a stand to take advantage of the view into well-used trails that lead from bedding areas to feeding areas. Or set up on the approach from bedding cover to water.

On a scouting trip you can find water that doesn't show up on other people's maps. Start with a topo map and look for the springs. Most hunters still don't use topos, so you already have an advantage. Next, walk dry creek beds and look for pools or small springs. Sometimes you can find a creek that runs above ground then goes back beneath the rocks. These places are often far from any road and are found by very few hunters.

Take care to position the stand downwind from the trail and if the wind changes direction, find a different place to hunt until conditions improve.

This is also a good time to employ cover or attractant scents. I'd lean toward a mule deer doe urine lure. Bring a deer call, rattling antlers and a good book to pass the time.

Funnel Stands

funnel stand operates under the principle that other hunters will move deer from one drainage to the next. And the most important thing to remember is you have to invest your confidence in one place and stay there. It takes patience, but it's the kind of patience that can pay off in the good hard work of packing a buck out of the woods.

Take a topo map and mark possible entry points that other hunters might use. Consider the parking spots, the camp sites and trails that provide access to your patch of timber. Then set up on a saddle or along a river trail or anywhere else that a deer might use to sneak away from the approaching orange-clad.

At first, it may seem hard to spot funnels in the forest. They are there in the form of house-size boulders, rock gardens, canyons and any other barrier that might form a pinch-point.

Another spot that seems to funnel deer into a corridor is the point where deer cross well-traveled roads. Does may cross anywhere, but bucks seem to gravitate to crossing points at curves. Look for spots where tracks lead down banks and cross ditches. Follow the trails and you're likely to find rubs where the bucks have peeled their velvet on small trees. Now you know you're in a good spot to place a ground blind.

Still-Hunt the Sticker Patch

More people blow it while they're still-hunting than with any other method. The problem is that we move too fast. It's called still-hunting because most of the time the hunter should remain still, processing every sound, every movement, every smell.

Take a step and look and listen. Wait 30 seconds, 60 seconds or five minutes before taking the next step. Don't make a sound. Remember, you're in country you scouted. You know the deer are here. The success of the hunt hinges on the confidence you've placed in this piece of real estate.

Hunt into the wind. If the wind shifts, change with it, keeping the breeze in your face. Move too fast and deer will see you before you spot them. Slow down. Slow way down. Every time you take a step, a new window opens in the habitat. Look for the horizontal line of a back, the black of a nose, the flick of a tail, the crook of a leg, or sunlight glinting from nut-brown antler. Carry binoculars on a harness around the shoulders, not on the belt or in a daypack. And use them more than your boots.

In heavy cover, crouch down to look beneath the bushes. Sometimes that affords a better view through the stalks and the trunks. Maybe you'll spot a deer standing to make sense of the sound you made when last you took a step. Sometimes you'll spot a deer looking back at you.

Of all the techniques used to bag mule deer bucks in timberlands, still-hunting may be the most exciting and the most difficult. Every step is a risk, every step a possibility.

Whatever technique you put into play, the more time you spend in the woods, the better your chances of tying a tag on a timberlands buck. Carry your lunch with you. Instead of heading back to the truck, stay in the woods. Watch a trail leading into a bedding area and let other hunters push the deer your way.

Deer hunting isn't about luck, it's about fundamentals. The principles are simple. Scout to find the best habitat. Invest your confidence there and manage your scent to keep from warning the deer of your presence. Locate the prime feeding areas and find windows in the forest where you can look down into bedding areas. Use the binoculars more than your boots. And be ready to go into action whenmule deer materialize out of the timber.

Related Forum Threads You Might Like

ThreadThread StarterRepliesLast Updated
mule deer or whitetailarrowflipper807/21/2011 13:20 pm
looking to hunt blacktail in OR or WAHunt Okanogan303/24/2011 23:17 pm
Heppner Mule DeerChaddrick201207/14/2010 21:03 pm
How to tell the difference?hostage673610/14/2010 22:12 pm
Anybody here taken a deer slam?hunter25105/09/2011 08:02 am