Insider Tips for Mastering Columbia Blacktail Deer Hunting

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Insider Tips for Mastering Columbia Blacktail Deer Hunting

COLUMBIAN BLACK-TAILED DEER ( Odocoileus hemionus columbianus ) WA. ST.

Is a mature Columbia Blacktail Deer the toughest trophy to take?

Killing trophy animals of any species is no small task due to the differences in habits and terrain.

Blacktail deer are commonly believed to be among the most difficult animals to hunt.

While they offer some of the same challenges as mule deer and whitetail, there is one added problem, and it’s a big one: a mature blacktail buck rarely shows himself in the light of day.

Want some first-hand knowledge on how to hunt the Blacktail Deer?

Walk with our editor, Travis Moncrief, and discover his tricks for hunting Columbia Blacktails.

Explore the Range and Habitat of Columbia Blacktail Deer

Blacktails are true homebodies and live within a small home range. They spend their entire lives inside 600 acres, more likely an area half that size.

The Columbia blacktail deer’s range is long and narrow, starting north in British Columbia and stretching as far south as central California.

Their range extends from the shores of the Pacific Ocean eastward to the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains in the north and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the south.

Columbia Blacktail Deers thrive in alpine-like conditions in the Cascades and the lush agricultural land characteristic of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Trail Cameras: Your Nighttime Allies in Blacktail Deer Hunting

During the season, trail cameras play a significant role in finding deer. Most of a buck’s activity takes place at night.

A trail camera is a great way to find where a trophy buck calls home. Finding well-used trail systems or rubs will help direct you to proper camera placement.

Again, to kill big Blacktail bucks, you must hunt where they live; the only way to know where they live is to scout them out.

Scouting Techniques for Successful Blacktail Hunting

Scouting plays an important role and is often overlooked before the season. It’s easy to put off scouting with the busy lives we lead, but it’s a key component in helping you kill a mature buck in the fall.

The summer is a perfect time to scout in the field. This is when Blacktail bucks are often together and out in the open. While in velvet, their antlers are soft and growing, so they avoid the thick heavy cover.

The Importance of Food Sources in Blacktail Deer Territories

Another important element often overlooked in the blacktail world is available food sources. Blacktail deer have various food sources, but the primary diet is browse — the growing tips of trees and shrubs.

Travis prefers areas with wild berries, such as blackberries, thimbleberries, serviceberries, and wild huckleberries. Find these food sources in a clear-cut, and there’s a good chance you’ll find good numbers of deer.

Pursuing Mature Blacktail Bucks in Re-prod Areas

Travis’ favorite ground to hunt is a cut with several years of growth, often called re-prod. After an area is logged, it is replanted, and the growing cycle starts over. While logging serves its obvious purpose, it is also crucial to the blacktail deer.

An area that has recently been logged provides an excellent food source with cover close by.

The best Blacktail Deer habitat includes clear-cuts surrounded by timber and older cuts where deer can vanish once disturbed. As with most mature Blacktail bucks, that’s before daylight.

If Travis is glassing an area at first light and not seeing deer, it tells him that they fed all night and are either bedded down or are already in the timber.

If it’s the latter, there is little you can do about that.

Still-Hunting: The Art of Slow and Stealthy Approach

Still-hunting, for Travis, is glassing in slow motion without binoculars. If you think you’re hunting or moving too slowly, you need to slow down some more.

Remind yourself that you’re in a buck’s element. Remember that a blacktail has a small home range, so wherever you’re stepping, he has been there. Catching a big mature blacktail off guard in his living room will be tough, but it always happens.

Still-hunting is not Travis’ go-to method because it’s hard for him to have the patience to be successful. However, if the weather is lousy and visibility is poor, he’ll spend a lot of time still hunting.

Navigating the Thrills of Blacktail Deer Rut

With all that’s ever been said about hunting Blacktail Deer, hunting during a Blacktail Deer rut is always the one common theme when killing a mature buck.

Travis can’t think of one nice buck he killed that wasn’t a rutted-out mess. He is convinced that if it weren’t for doe’s coming into heat, every mature blacktail buck would die of old age.

The Blacktail Deer rut usually takes place the last week of most rifle deer seasons, late October through early November.

The rut is the one thing that trips up a blacktail, and for a very short period, it makes him forget about everything that’s kept him alive all these years. They become vulnerable, and they make mistakes. That’s when you need to be on constant watch. I’ve seen some crazy things happen during the rut.

Discover More Tricks for Hunting Columbia Blacktails With Western Journal Hunting Today

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