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Big CA Blacktail

OntarioHunter

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That was the little one? Wow. Enough to convince me to move back to California. Nah.
 
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Salmonchaser

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I remain surprised by the deer some guys are finding in California. Our youngest guide lives down in southern California, sent a pic of his opening day buck. Not as big but these guys are making it look easy.
 

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sureshotshane

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Dec 20, 2017
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CA
I remain surprised by the deer some guys are finding in California. Our youngest guide lives down in southern California, sent a pic of his opening day buck. Not as big but these guys are making it look easy.
I’m my opinion that’s a very good southern CA buck. I don’t claim to have ever dabbled in deer hunting in Southern CA. I try to stay as far away from that place as possible, always.

I know people that hunt them down that way and for a new guy coming in it’s probably some of the toughest hunting anywhere. Same guys every year killing bucks in their honey holes. Which isn’t all that different than a lot of places but with some added external difficulties I imagine.
 

sureshotshane

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Dec 20, 2017
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CA
Great blacktail. Pretty amazing how that rugged country produces them.
That country is exactly what I most often find the bucks in. That particular spot isn’t to far from the trailhead (about 2 miles) but it’s so far down in elevation the backside of the mountain it keeps the pressure lower. It was about a 1,400-1,600 foot gain in elevation out. It does get nastier and steeper to be certain, I’ve seen bucks on real cliffs with seemingly no ingress or egress.
 

FI460

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Sep 22, 2018
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Ashland, OR
That country is exactly what I most often find the bucks in. That particular spot isn’t to far from the trailhead (about 2 miles) but it’s so far down in elevation the backside of the mountain it keeps the pressure lower. It was about a 1,400-1,600 foot gain in elevation out. It does get nastier and steeper to be certain, I’ve seen bucks on real cliffs with seemingly no ingress or egress.

They don't get big by hanging around places that are hunted easily.
 

WBouldin

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Oct 27, 2010
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567
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California
Great buck! Stupid question: aren’t you not allowed to hunt with the dog? Understand you’re not using the dog to hunt, but thought they cannot accompany you period. Am I wrong on that?
 

sureshotshane

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Dec 20, 2017
Messages
48
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CA
Great buck! Stupid question: aren’t you not allowed to hunt with the dog? Understand you’re not using the dog to hunt, but thought they cannot accompany you period. Am I wrong on that?

You can hunt with a single dog in CA for deer. There is some nuance to the rule, like it can’t be during archery season, so check your regs for more details. With that said, this dog didn’t play any part in the hunt, even though it would have been perfectly legal to do so. I just brought him along for the exposure and to get some exercise. I had him tied up for the stalk and brought him in after the shot was made to do a blood trailing scenario even though I knew exactly where the buck fell. After that he hung around to eat his fair share of scrap fat and organ meat.
 

NvMuley09

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Nov 7, 2022
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This is the story of a blacktail buck I recently killed here in the North Coast of California.

Really the story starts with this thread.

Between taking other hunters out, children, dogs, and life I was able to find one weekend where I could do what I like to do best. Chase big blacktail deer. This was a solo trip besides bringing along my 10 month old Drahthaar puppy. Using a dog for deer is legal in California in certain circumstances, but this dog is not a deer dog. I only brought him along for exposure, such as being quiet while a stalk is made.

I had two days, so the plan was to do an overnighter in the wilderness. I'm thankful to live in the center of good deer country with all sorts of options, I chose a trailhead I'd been wanting to explore but never have actually been out of. I've been very close to the area, perhaps even hunted the same deer but I came in from a different trailhead.

I woke up early Saturday morning and wanted to be walking at the trailhead by shoot light. Well other plans emerged. I ran into some mountain quail on the way so I let the dog out and hunted singles for about an hour. Bagged a couple quail. Flat tire, put on spare. Clean quail and put on ice. Alright, so now it's well past shoot light I arrive at the trailhead.

The hike in was easy, couple hundred feet of elevation climb up on a trail, and drop down the backside of a ridge over a 1000 feet in elevation. Hike out would be the fun part. I could see that the area had received quite a bit of pressure based on the foot prints and evidence of camps. I spent the first evening glassing some great country but seeing no bucks.

I camped on a finger ridge and for my morning sit I glassed the same opposing ridges as the previous evening. I spotted two small bucks down the canyon further. Not what I really wanted but I thought one might be worth a closer look. I very slowly made my way over and arrived where the 2 bucks from the morning were bedded. They were not what I hoped for so I continued up the mountain they were on. The top of the ridge would be a perfect place to glass for my last evening.

Now what I should have done is head home by now because I had to be home by 7 am the next day, preferably with a night of sleep somewhere. But I didn't. I took an afternoon siesta and woke up to amazing glassing. I spotted a giant bear across the canyon, I didn't want to waste time glassing bears since I was after bucks. Just as I was about to avert my attention from the bear, he started to run. He wasn't running away from something though, he was in pursuit. A glance further down the hill and two bucks were running away in full sprint. I could tell from 1/2 mile away and in a run that these were the bucks I wanted. They eventually settled down, and since it was starting to be the time they'd wake up anyways they started to feed.

Where they settled was a good spot. For me that is. They were nestled about 2/3 the way up the ridge between rock outcrops. I could slip in on the neighboring finger ridge and shoot across to them. I figured that would put me right at 300 yards. The bucks held steady. I got to exactly the point I wanted and spotted the smaller of the two bucks, he was a bit more spindly but taller. The other being much more massive and wider. Both 4x4s. The bigger buck was there, but you could just barely see his head and antlers.

When the smaller of the bucks presented a perfect shot at 284 yards - I had to take it. It dropped like a rock, falling over 1000 feet, breaking its jaw on the way down and scratching its antlers up. The other buck came out into the exact opening the other buck was in and stood there for 25 minutes. I had a second tag and considered shooting it too but decided I didn't want to spoil my deer season by ending it so soon.

As it was I didn't get back to the truck until 1 am and was home by 2:30 am.
Congrats on a great deer and a great hunt
 

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