Published by Frank Biggs on 18 Mar 2013
Oregon needs to get in the 21st Century on Lighted Nocks & Expandable-Mechanical Broadheads
Sweet Baby James’s Oregon Blacktail Hunt of Woes!
Though this is not a long story about a successful so to speak Blacktail Buck hunt in the late season 2012 archery hunt in Oregon, it is about absurd hunting regulations on bow hunting brought upon by the minority to the majority.
When I get into the story you the reader will understand where I am coming from on my logic on hunting regulations that should be changed to improve the experience of hunting. Much like taking away anchored putters from golfers as technology changes! As I write that might not happen for pro-golfers… In their case they still got to get it in the hole!
Sweet Baby James, as his peers called him in the days of his professional boxing is a very good friend of mine. This past year I got permission for him and his brother to hunt a few days on a small place in rural Oregon in the Willamette Valley to bow hunt for Columbia Blacktail Deer on the late season archery hunt. His brother was successful in getting a deer for meat and made a great 12 yard shot on the deer. James would remain un-successful until the last week of the season.
Readers should know that the Columbia Blacktail deer is one of the hardest to hunt and I do believe they are even more nocturnal that the elusive Whitetail deer. In the Pacific Northwest low light comes earlier than some areas with the heavy brush cover and deep canyons. Oregon is a mountainous state and Blacktail deer range from 10,000 feet to sea level. I sometimes feel that the canyons can range the same in footage. Those that have never hunted in the habitat that Blacktail frequent with the creepers on the ground, blackberries, thistle and deadfall are in for an experience.
As I said before many know James as Sweet Baby James, the professional boxer from Oregon, who has fought clear to Madison Square Gardens, knowing the likes of Ali. He came from a background, whose father was a world ranked Archer, who should have been in the Olympics 1968, but because took a prize of 73 bucks, he later would be turned away at the Olympic Trials thus not allowed to shoot for the United States of America. Hmm! A great deal has changed over the years in that aspect. He was a good friend of Fred Bear and shot Fred Bear traditional bows before the compound came out. So growing up with a father that expected the best from his son, James became a great fighter, archer and hunter himself.
It is now Tuesday evening and he is in the treestand about 2 ½ hours prior to the end of shooting time. He had not been in the stand for very long when from the northern sector of the property he could see a big Blacktail Buck working its way through the maze of vine maple, blackberries and ferns, at 40 yards he could see the buck was the Odd 3 X 3 that seldom entered this area. Over the course of 6 months I would say the Odd 3 X 3 has been on camera about 20 times in this area. The buck seems to be on a mission and a direction he was heading for in hindsight would be the deep canyon leading to another property. The buck did not stop; thou he was walking down the trail to the flat, James made the decision to take the shot at 18 yards with focus and direct eye contact on the boiler room. The arrow tipped with a 100 grain Thunderhead hit the buck hard a bit back from the heart, which appeared to be in upper lung area. He could see the arrow hanging out on the opposite side of the buck. The buck in an instance dug with his hooves and vaulted into forward motion with head down and not missing a step.
James could hear the noise of the buck on the gravel road and anticipated the buck would come around his backside and he would see movement in the trees…
James waited some 30 minutes before leaving the treestand to look for the buck with about an hour of light left to find his trophy Blacktail Buck. He finds one speck of blood in the dirt, but nothing in the gravel. There are no tracks to follow as from both sides of the road there is nothing but blackberries and heavy brush. He felt the buck had entered back behind him and headed into another creek bottom to the east.
I get phone call James while I am down at the coast asking for help, “sorry James but I am long ways away” “did you check to the west of the road”. Of course it started to rain when he got out of the treestand and there is not going to be any trace of blood to follow. With no tracks or blood trail and heavy cover James still continues to look for three hours with a flashlight and no help. Without an extra set of eyes it most difficult on your own to find a downed animal while in panic mode. If it was legal in Oregon to have a lighted nock on your arrow, James might have seen the travel of the deer through the brush. More likely if the arrow had fallen out he could see the arrow from an elevated point near the area if he could have used a lighted nock in Oregon.
The next day James looks for more than four hours, but if there was any blood it would be washed away by the rain. A very distraught hunter not being able to find a big buck that should have gone a very short distance from the hit! If it had been legal in Oregon, an expandable-mechanical broadhead might have help greatly on stopping the buck or leaving a blood trail at the gravel road.
Over the course of months and going out to the farm, this included me to look for the buck’s remains, along with looking for drops we never could find the buck, but still knowing he went down on the property since he was hit hard.
Just recently after going through the winter and the deer moving through the farms or lands in the area, they have made many worn trails. So this past week in March 2013, I told my son that James’s buck headed to the west canyon a normal route for him to escape. So with our minds intent on finding the remains, we ventured out. In know less than 100 yards from the treestand Jr., finds the arrow. Noted the brush is bare foliage and the blackberries have no leaves on them. The arrow is completely intact right along the game trail. Next thing was to scan and split up with me working the lower eastern edge of the canyon and Jr. going to the flat on the western edge of the canyon. He spots something about 150 yards away, then loses sight and said it must have been a deer. I tell him to continue to the spot as it is probably what we wanted to find. Low and behold it is the Odd 3 X 3 Blacktail buck. The coyotes had taken care of the deer and closure was made for all that have hunted the place.
Recovery of the rack is illegal in Oregon, so it will stay until it skull denigrates or grows into a tree ornament as it mends into the V of a tree. Thus only pictures are taken for remembrance of the hunt.
I know myself if I had been shooting an expandable-mechanical broadhead, I might have made a fatal hit on the buck I shot with the arrow passing through the buck and not hitting a vital in front shoulders. Ok! He has survived the winter and will be bigger next year as I have vendetta to harvest him.
From my understanding OPS Game Officers have talked and feel that there would be greater recovery on big game with expandable-mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks. Over 44 other states allow lighted nocks. All but three states allow the use of expandable-mechanical broadheads. Oregon, Washington and Idaho have an issue, it is said by some that crossbow users are the problem, but in Oregon they are not allowed…
Did I mention that in Oregon you can use any arrow or broadhead for Game Birds though? It is said that light nocks and expandable-mechanical broadheads will lead to poaching! Give me a break, only the stupid would poach at night, thinking they might get away with it. Poachers are going to do what they do until they get caught. In Oregon the O.S.P. Game Officers are very talented and educated. It may take a while but they run a high successful rate on catching the big game poachers. Poachers should have a clue by now because there are so many trail cams on private and public property out there that the bucks and bulls have names.
Just watch the Outdoor Channel and you see that on every program.
Sort of funny while looking for the buck, we see the landowner and talk about who has access. She had told us she allow a couple of guys that do business with her they could come out and get some ornamental plants, but said to them “oh we have cameras all over the property”, one of them said “Hmm, I hope you didn’t catch us by a tree..” They were surprised that the land had surveillance…
Technology in archery or bow hunting has been improved, but the principal of archery and bow hunting remains the same. You have to be able to hit the target with your talents. The recovery of game should be in the balance for the hunter, thus I feel that using light nocks and expandable-mechanical broadheads with lead to greater recovery of game. I am all for a change here in Oregon, as well as everyone that are known in my circles.
Oregon, Washington and Idaho should get out of the dark ages and move forward to the betterment of the sport.
I did do a quick P & Y field measurement on the buck. To bad he was odd! He netted out at 92 after setting in the brush for 4 months. He had 15 inches of penalty with the odd rack. He has nice symmetry when viewing straight on, most interesting buck… You would need 95 to make P & Y for Columbia Blacktail!
In closing how many of us can shoot out to 40-50 yards and hit the target, yet miss an easy 20 yard shot?
Bwana Bubba aka Cobra