Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Jacob’s First Buck!

Posted by todblog on October 1, 2005

Jacob’s Record Buck

October 1, 2005.

Fall is such a special time here in Oregon and one of my favorite seasons. The days shorten-up a bit and the fluctuations in the mercury begin to level off giving us crisp cool daytime temperatures. Nature responds with the leaves turning brilliant yellow, red, and orange. Fall harvest is on everyone’s mind. Getting the vegetables and fruits canned and stored keeps many households busy. Added to that, are the silver and fall chinook salmon returning to the streams of their birth, offering anglers another distraction. The dogs are barking wanting to head for the fields and water in search of upland birds and waterfowl. If that weren’t enough, it’s deer season. It opened up on Oct 1 and depending on the part of Oregon you applied and got drawn for, it may be a 12 day or a month-long hunt. How does a family plan activities during the fall with all this and then add a school and sports schedule? I’m convinced that soccer is heavily supported and/or run by an underground communist animal rights organizations. Why else would you have kids play so much during the fall and have weekend games the duration of deer season? Hmmmm…

Now football, a contact sport, is something else. Jacob’s coaches could relate to a few days off for a monster buck hunt. “Lum, it better be a big one…”

We were blessed to have drawn a 12 day eastern Oregon buck tag this year and struggled to find a way to make it happen. The decision was either to travel 500 miles to eastern Oregon for a few days (@ $2.95 a gallon) or buy a western Oregon buck tag that lasted a month long and be able to hunt locally whenever you could fit it in your schedule. We decided to talk to the teachers and get homework assignments in advance and let the coaches know about the days he’d be absent. We were going to bank on a slim 2 day hunt in eastern Oregon.

Jacob and I took off at 9pm Thursday night to get started on a 12 hour drive to our hunting destination. We only made it an hour up into the Cascades when sleep began to take over so, we pulled into a Forest Service road and jumped into the canopy in back of the truck. However, before zipping up the sleeping bags, I thought I’d try bugling for bull elk that I knew sometimes frequented the area. A bull answered only a couple hundred yards away from us in the total darkness. It was cool.

Friday, the next morning we crawled out of the bags and headed for a diner on the other side of the Cascades. It was a cozy grease joint that took good care of weary travelers on Hwy 97. Eggs, corned beef hash on browns and coffee was just what the doctor ordered and we were on our way. The drive was long but, scenic. We got to see lots of wildlife along the way like antelope, geese, ducks, quail, and of course deer. It also allowed time for Jacob to do homework. We finally pulled into camp around 5pm. There was enough day left to see deer walking around the hills and feeding. It was looking good for an opening day hunt…except for the darkening cloud cover. The weather man called for 60% chance of showers.

Saturday, the opening day, started at 4:30am and there was lots of anticipation. We started walking with faint light conditions and ended up spooking a doe. She started a commotion by blowing at us and bounded away scaring the others with her. Feeling bad, we kept still for a few more minutes and let the sunlight aid our visual search. The sunlight took longer than normal because of the heavy cloud cover and accompanying fog and drizzle. It was great hunting weather as the deer could be out all day. The deer were spooky and we had to rethink our plan. The deer were whitetails and they walked off and bedded down in a brushy draw. Our plan was to circle around and sneak up on them hoping to get a chance at the huge buck in the group. Only problem was all the open country to cover with no place to hide. So, we improvised. Jacob grabbed onto my belt and bent over as we both walked forward slumped over looking like some kind of 4 legged animal in the field. It worked. The deer watched us and were curious but not spooked. We wandered over to some trees and a fenceline. There was a small spike buck at 60 yards looking at us and I asked Jacob if he wanted to take a shot at it. He could only think of the big buck that was somewhere nearby and he opted to pass up the spike. Once we got into some heavier cover, we closed in on the buck’s last known location. Jacob walked in below and I circled around to push the buck out. Nobody was home. They gave us the slip again. Maybe they figured out the fake 4 legged animal was actually two desperate hunters. I thought they couldn’t be far and walked up to the top of the brushy draw and spotted them feeding in the open about 150 yards away. I motioned for Jacob to come up NOW!!! He was huffing it up to me and out of breath. He said he was not tired, just too excited. We hunkered down and slipped along the brush and could go no farther. I whispered to Jacob, “This is it., you can make this shot. Just relax, rest your rifle on my backpack and remember what we practiced…breathing, squeezing, you can do this.” I tried to find a patch of dry clothing to wipe his scope one last time. It was a feeble attempt to clear up his foggy scope but, he said he could see. The group of 5 whitetails were feeding and occasionally looking around for the weird 4 legged animal to reappear somewhere below them. Jacob got prone and squared up with the buck. It seemed like forever as I watched in my foggy binocs. The .260 Rem. Ruger rifle let out a sharp crack and the buck reared up on his hind legs and lurched forward. I reported to Jacob, “You got him!” He took off another 50 yards and crested the hill out of sight. We hurried over to the hill wondering how far the buck had gone. Jacob found the buck just over the hill and his eastern Oregon hunt was over. I asked him if the drive was worth it and he answered, “Oh yah!” Two hours later and in dry clothes, hot chocolate never tasted so good.

On Sunday, I went out in the morning while sleepy boy slept in and I found a nice mule deer buck and ended my season too. Now comes the work as the deer get made into steaks, roasts, pepperoni, sausage, and burger. We are truly thankful for all the wonderful opportunities to enjoy nature’s bounty during the fall harvest season.

Brent and Bitsy help bring the buck out

This was a big bruiser of a buck. We were sure happy that Brent was able to get his ATV to it. Bitsy stands back to try and make the buck look bigger!


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