2003 Blacktail Country Video Log, July 27th
Another month has passed and opening day of California's A-zone is fast approaching. Since I updated this section last we have been fortunate enough to see and film some incredible bucks, some of which are pictured below. I am totally amazed at the number of quality bucks we have seen in the last couple months. In the last three years it seems the average size of Blacktail bucks in this part of California has grown significantly. Many of the long time locals agree, saying they have never seen so many quality bucks.
In years past I felt lucky to get video of one good buck in an evening filming. I always saw a lot of bucks, and many of them I considered respectable, but it was rare that I saw a four point of any type and when I did, they were most often under the magic 20 inch mark. Now days I find myself not even bothering to film three points because I know right around the corner there is a good chance of finding a much bigger buck.
This year it seems like bucks sporting four point racks (not including eye-guards) are the rule rather than the exception. I have no idea how many big bucks I have seen so far this year because I don't keep track, but I have seen a lot. When I say big bucks I'm talking about bucks in excess of twenty inches with at least four points on one side. Granted I travel much greater distances in search of bucks and have access to better pieces of property but none the less, the average horn size of bucks is just bigger. I don't even bother with many of my old spots. Most of the bucks pictured below were photographed on a piece of proper I recently gained access to in a B-Zone. This ranch is simply loaded with deer and located in an area well known for producing big Blacktails. I can't tell you how many big bucks I have filmed there in the last month and a half.
We have been lucky enough to video some very respectable bucks and I have included a few video captures below. There is a very heavy high horned 5X4. I filmed him accidentally about a month ago and had been looking for him ever since. I was filming another big buck and he walked by in the background, I put the camera on him but only got 4-5 seconds of video before he disappeared. It wasn't until I watched the video that I realized just how big he was. I again saw him about three weeks ago but again I wasn't able to get any video. He was bedded in four foot tall grass and let me get within about fifty feet before jumping up and making a B-line for the nearby brush. Finally three weeks ago I found him again and was able to get some decent video. We also ran in to him about a week ago but my wife was stricken by buck fever and forgot to push record. I am not making fun of her because I can't tell you how many times I have done the same thing. I have never gotten buck fever while hunting but I have lost my composure many times while filming. I don't shake and babble like people I have seen with buck fever. I just do dumb things, like forgetting to push record, or film the wrong deer. Last year I had a huge 26-27 inch wide buck run by behind a smaller 20 inch buck I was filming. He stopped only 10 feet from the smaller buck but I never noticed him. It wasn't until the smaller buck nearly ran me over that I saw the bigger one standing there staring at me. By the time I got the camera on him he too was running straight towards me. The only video I managed to get of him was a flash as he ran by 20 feet away.
While Linda and I were checking out one of the ranches we hunt in B-Zone we came across and filmed a huge buck. He's an awesome 30 inch wide 5x5, with long tines and incredible mass. The people that have seen the video all say the same thing "oh my god, is that a Blacktail". In all my years of hunting and filming I have never seen any thing like him. He is definitely going to become the new BTC poster child and will be in our soon to be released "Velvet Blacktails" Video, along with many other bucks and the ones pictured below. If anyone is skeptical that this buck is anything other than a pure California Columbian Blacktail I intentionally left his tail visible.
One of the reasons we have been seeing so many bucks is because we have been spending a lot of time patrolling for trespassers on various ranches. We haven't caught any trespasser while we were out , yet, but the trail cameras on one of the ranches have now caught two. Both believed to be members of a well known club. Most people don't realize landowners, including us, are now using trail cameras (motion sensing cameras) to get proof for prosecution. These cameras have become so cheap (as little as $80 in some catalogs) I'm sure this will become an even more common practice. One fence jumper has already been identified and prosecution has begun. It's pretty funny, both guys are totally clueless they're being photographed. Keep that in mind if your one of those hunters that doesn't pay attention to boundaries. What are you going to say when a warden shows up at your door with your picture in hand. I know a guy that was caught this way a few years ago and I couldn't have been happier. He was also a frequent trespasser on other local ranches.
2003 Blacktail Country Video Log, June 28th
It has been far to long since I updated this section of the site and since deer season is fast approaching I figured now would be a good time. We haven't really gotten serious about filming just yet, although if my last two trips are any indication it is time to start. By all accounts this looks to be another great year in our area. Even though many bucks antlers will continue to grow for another few weeks we have already seen some exceptional bucks in our short time spent in the hills. The main reason I haven't been out filming much or working on the site is because all of my free time has been going into our next two videos,"Velvet Blacktails" and "High Country Blacktails". In case you aren't familiar with our next two scheduled videos 'High Country Blacktails" will be our first hunting video and "Velvet Blacktails" will be much like "Ruttin' Blacktails" but it will made up of video of big velvet covered bucks. A few of them are pictured below.
Like I said earlier we haven't been out much but in the last few days we have been lucky enough to see a few good bucks. The biggest so far I filmed last night, right at dark. The video captures are pretty much useless, so he is not pictured below, but with the editing capabilities of our video editing system, the video should be usable and will appear on our Velvet Blacktails video.
The below video captures show some of the better bucks we have seen recently. The two buck pictured on the top row aren't really anything special, although the three point on the right has some good tine length and mass. I Believe the buck pictured in the middle is one we call "Flyer". If you have seen our "Ruttin Blacktail" videos you might recognize him. He is the buck that turns around and kicks it into high gear almost instantly. He goes from 0-60 in about two seconds, while jumping a creek bottom and a climbing a hill. It's hard to tell just how much ground he covers by watching the video but I guarantee it would take a person 10 minutes to cover the terrain he traverses in 10 seconds. I never cease to be amazed at what an incredible animal the Blacktail deer is.
We filmed the bachelor group of bucks on the bottom in a new area. The 4x4 is a real beauty, he's not real wide, probably around 20 inches, but he is very symmetrical and already has pretty good tine length. Even though he lacks eye-guards, I would suspect by the time he is done growing he will make B&C. The buck standing with him looks to be an old buck possibly regressing. It is not very noticeable in the stills but he is pretty wide, in the neighborhood of 22 inches and very heavy. It will be interesting to see how these two progress through the rest of their horn growth. That is assuming we ever see them again.
Good luck with your pre-season scouting. Hopefully with the California archery opener being only a couple weeks away we will have some new photos to post on the site in the near future.
Click on images for larger view.
2002 Blacktail Country Video Log, September 1st-8th
went hunting this morning and didn't see a single buck, which is
a pretty rare occurrence. I have only been out a few times
lately and haven't had any luck, even though I have seen plenty
of bucks. I am probably being a little to picky.
My brother missed a big 4x? yesterday. He jumped it out of a patch of whitethorns, where a big three point (19-20 wide) has been hangin. He at first assumed it was the big three point and could have killed it easily. After the buck spotted him it jumped up and took off down the canyon. When it first got up it was picking up speed and quartering away at 75 yards, a fairly easy shot . After the buck got to full speed it turned slightly and Dave could see it wasn't the 3 point, it was a very big heavy horned 4x?, he was only able to see the facing side of it's rack clearly. He then decided it was plenty big enough to shoot and fired, hitting right over it's back. The buck then dove head long into an impenetrable (by human standards anyway) pocket of sage brush.
This is getting to be a rather common scenario for Dave. Every year for the last four years he has missed an easy opportunity at a big buck because he was initially unsure of it's size and waited for a better view of its horns before he shot.
Two years ago a huge buck stood and looked at him for several minutes with its horns conveniently buried in the over hanging limbs of the oak. He could clearly see the first few inches of horn but nothing else. He immediately sat down and got a solid rest across his knees. After holding the cross hairs on the buck chest, which was only a hundred yards away, for several minutes he decided to look through his binoculars to see if they would give him a clearer view of the bucks rack. Big mistake. As soon as he got his binoculars to his eyes the buck exploded from its hiding place. By the time Dave got his crosshairs lined up on the buck it was on the dead run and again he shot high. As if that wasn't bad enough after the shot the big buck hit a shallow creek bed and turned broadside, still running full out, leaving Dave a great view of nothing but his awesome rack above the grass. Dave still has the occasional nightmare about that unfortunate incident. Its not easy being a trophy hunter.
Dave has been hunting Blacktails for years and definitely knows a good buck when he sees one and besides that he is not prone to exaggeration. I have no reason not to believe him when he comes back with the latest "you should have seen the one that got away" story.
I am sure there are many of you out there who don't agree with the whole concept of trophy hunting, after all a buck is a buck, right. Not necessarily. We are fortunate to have a few great places to hunt and taking a lesser buck is not much of a challenge. Not to mention, in my opinion, all that great for the deer herd. In the last five years between Dave, Doug (my nephew) and myself we could have theoretically taken thirty bucks. Instead we have taken eight and of those only four would probably be considered trophy class. I can't help but feel the deer population is better off with those additional 22 bucks roaming the hills.
2002 Blacktail Country Video Log, July 14th - 28th
weather has continued to be extremely hot. In the last two weeks it
has seldom dropped below 90 degrees during the day. This hot dry weather
has really slowed down deer movement. We have still regularly been
seeing bucks but not in the numbers we were a few weeks ago.
2002 Blacktail Country Video Log, July 7th - 13th
has obviously been a long while since I updated the Video Log section
of the site, the main reason being, I don't really get much into the
photography aspect of scouting until the bucks horns have developed
enough to make them worth photographing. This year I got an exceptionally
late start in my video taping/scouting trips because of family commitments
and a family reunion in Michigan.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, Oct. 12th - Nov. 2nd
rut is once again going strong. The big bucks did become scarce for
about 10 days. Most likely recuperating and waiting for the second bunch
of doe's to come into season, as well as the ones that weren't successfully
bred the first time around. With the new full moon the big bucks have
once again reappeared and begun to chase the doe's
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, Oct. 7th - Oct. 12th
What a difference a couple of weeks make. Since the rut got serious
last Sunday, we have seen nearly 60 bucks, including some real wallhangers.
There are literally deer everywhere! I have never seen anything like
it. Unbelievably, we have almost become bored filming them. The most
amazing thing is they just keep getting bigger. Six of the best bucks
are pictured below.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, Sept. 28th - Oct. 5th
rut is definitely starting to kick in, with bucks of all sizes now chasing
does. This is considerably earlier than usual. Normally it isn't until,
at least, the middle of October that we see the big bucks get serious
about the does.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, September 15 - 23rd
deer season ended last Sunday, so our local hunting is over for the
year. All and all it wasn't a great season, we only took one buck off
the ranch. We did however have numerous opportunities to take other
bucks but we chose not to.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, September 9 - 14th
After lot's of
hard hunting my brother finally found a buck big enough for him to shoot,
as for me I am still looking. Monday morning we got up well before daylight
and went looking for bucks. The fog was ever heavy, which left us with
limited visibility. Around 10:00 the fog began to lift and visibility
slowly improved. I decided to go and try a new area, while Dave and
my wife Linda headed for our favorite "honey hole". Since
we regularly see bucks in the area, Linda took the video camera and
accompanied Dave, hoping to film a successful hunt. An hour later my
cell phone rang, it was Linda, who excitedly told me the story of the
big buck Dave had gotten. I am not going to go into much detail about
the hunt right now because Dave is working on a story for the site.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, August 26 - 31st
week was a pretty uneventful one as far as buck sightings go. We only
saw a few bucks and most of them were small forks and three points.
As usual the bigger mature bucks have disappeared. Ever year about this
time this seems to happen. It could have something to do with the approaching
rut, which in our area usually begins towards the end of September.
I think the bucks may simply be laying low and building up their fat
reserves, in preparation for the upcoming breeding season.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, August 18 - 24th
last week was a pretty productive one, although we didn't take any bucks,
the opportunities were definitely there.
We have been seeing quite a few bucks. I have only been out four
mornings for about 2 1/2 hours each time but have seen 21 bucks so far
(some of them undoubtedly the same bucks).
other morning we took some great close-up video of a bachelor group
of six bucks (five were legal). The biggest was tempting, he was a 20-21
inch wide three point, not very high or heavy with eye-guards. Three
of the other bucks were nice big high pacific forks (big mature forked
horns) 16-18 inches wide. I was planning on adding some stills of the
group to the Scouting Log, but unfortunately I accidentally recorded
Blacktail Country Video Log, August 11 - 17th
Sorry again for the long delay in the
video log update, there hasn't been much to write about. Most of the
bucks have shed there velvet, so as usual they have become much harder
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, July 17 - 19th
We are once again out looking for bucks. Unfortunately we were not
able to do any filming in the last couple of weeks. This is even more
unfortunate because it is one of the times we get some of our best
video. The bucks antlers are pretty much full grown, but they can
still be found in bachelor groups out in the open. We did manage to
get out a couple of times towards the end of the week. We saw quite
a few bucks and some were pretty nice.
weather cooled down this week and we even had a few days of rain.
We were only able to get out filming a couple of times. As we suspected
bucks were everywhere. In little more than three hours of filming
we saw 18 bucks and several were exceptional. The biggest being a
4x4 about 22 inches wide with a cheater point sticking off one side.
Although we did get some video of him, he was running and the quality
wasn't good enough to let us take stills off the video and add them
to the site.
temperature climbed back into the 100's this week and as a result
the bucks have become a little more difficult to find, although we
have been pretty successful even with the heat. Earlier in the week
we were seeing five to seven bucks each time we went out. By the end
of the week when the temperature shot up we were not seeing much of
anything. In the last two evenings all we managed to film was one
good fork, and we didn't see him until it was nearly dark.
weather has remained fairly cool all week with highs in the 70's.
As a result the bucks have been fairly active, especially in the evenings.
We have been seeing 6-8 bucks on our evening videoing trips. The bucks
horns are finally big enough to make the trips worth while.
For more photos of these and other bucks look on the photography page.
expected the weather has cooled down considerably, with daytime highs
only reaching the mid 80's. The nights have remained cool with temperatures
in the 40's. Cool nights are common in our area even during the heat
of summer. In the valleys temperatures often vary as much as 50 or 60
degrees between daytime highs and nighttime lows. The ridge top temperatures
remain much more constant, usually varying only 15 to 20 degrees. Since
the cool down, deer have become much more active. We only went out looking
for bucks for a couple of hours this week and still managed to see quite
On Tuesday we saw four small bucks in about an hour. Last night was
a little better as we saw six bucks in only 45 minutes. One of them
was a beautiful four point with long eyeguards standing not 50 yards
away posing for the camera. Unfortunately we didn't get any video because
our camera is in the shop, but I am sure we will see him again. Another
group of three bucks took off on a run as soon as we saw them. They
all appeared to have good-sized racks, but because they were running
we were unable to determine just how good.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, May 31st
For the last week the days have
been extremely hot. Yesterday the temperature soared to 105 degrees,
with several other days this week being over 100. When it gets that
hot it is hard to find bucks, let alone photograph them. The biggest
problem as far as filming is that the deer don't become active until
just before dark.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, May 17th
We went out looking for bucks this evening and
had some success. We saw quite a few deer, mostly does and fawns.
We did however, see five bucks including
two pretty nice ones. One with antlers 15 to 16 inches high and close
to 20 inches wide. The other was low and wide, with newly developed
forks on each side. He was also close to 20 inches wide.
2001 Blacktail Country Video Log, May 8th
decided to take a quick drive and see how the local local deer population
was doing. We saw our first bachelor herd of bucks today. They all
appeared to have good sized horns for this early in the year. All
three Bucks had velvet covered antlers nearly out to their ear tips.
Two of them had eye guards. All were obviously going to be at least
forked horns. Judging by their body size two appeared to be older
bucks in prime condition and the third a younger buck, also in excellent