Western Hunting Journal, Premiere Issue whj001_premiere - Page 71

Columbia blacktail deer are considered one of the most difficult species of deer to hunt. Right, WHJ Editor Travis Moncrief with a mature rutted buck from Oregon. PURSUING THE TOUGHEST TROPHY To consistently harvest mature blacktail bucks, learn their behavior, know where they live, and find one in the light of day. By Travis Moncrief, WHJ EDITOR I FLOPPED THE TAILGATE DOWN on my truck and slid out beneath the heavy pack as the rain contin- ued its torrid downpour. It didn’t matter that I was soaked and couldn’t get any wetter. I sat there in the dark of night with the wind howling, my head down not able to tell if the water dripping off my nose was sweat or rainwater. It was now just a brackish mess. I shivered as my core began to cool. I could feel my legs starting to cramp from the sudden inactivity but all of this with a huge grin on my face. You know you’re happy when you can feel yourself smiling. Because lying in the back of the truck was mature Columbia blacktail. Under complete darkness I spent the last four hours packing over 10 miles in the worst weather the Pa- cific Northwest could offer up. Everything loaded up, I checked the tag one more time to make sure it was good and secure. With that I put the truck in gear and headed towards home. I checked my cell phone for reception and stopped when I had a signal. I dialed up my dad. “I own him,” I said. Not a lot more needed to be said. He knew what that meant and with a slight chuckle and a congratulation he told me to be careful and we’d catch up in the morning. I’d been at it for several days and that particular day like all the others started at 4:30 in the morning and didn’t end until the late evening. The buck laying in the bed of my pickup wasn’t the biggest blacktail I’ve taken but it was a heavy mature buck, respectable by every measure. One thing was for sure, I earned every inch of horn. There’s a feeling that comes over a person when you work your tail off for something and achieve it and at that moment, well… you would have had to skin the smile off my face. Hunting blacktails is a lot like steelhead fishing. It gets into your blood and it never leaves. I have spent most of my life hunting blacktail deer, and every year I look forward to the season with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morning. In so many ways, it is what defines me as a hunter. It requires a willi vW72FwwrvW7FW&VFvW&6Уc