November 2013 EBJ (Issue 80) - In 2005, I was fortunate to be offered a job in Oregon with an up-and-coming archery company, Bowtech. I moved from Wisconsin and the whitetails it holds, to the Pacific Northwest and its blacktails. I couldn’t think of a bigger contrast, not only for the different terrain, but the deer as well.
What I knew about blacktail deer was miniscule. Fortunately for me, I was employed by a place where hunting was a prerequisite. Most guys I worked with were born and raised in the Northwest with a passion for elk, mule deer, bear, cougar, antelope and of course blacktail bucks – everything except my beloved whitetails.
After seeing a few colleagues pluck some monster mountain bucks from the rain forests of Oregon, my curiosity was piqued. My problem wasn’t the lack of drive to pursue these denizens of the timber, but the sheer volume of ground to cover in Oregon.
Well, I soon found out that high volume and blacktail deer aren’t phrases often spoken in the same sentence. Fickle diets, demanding terrain, a tendency to move nocturnally and in very inclement weather better describe the species.
One day at work my sales manager, John Hernandez, asked how my late deer season was going. Discouraged, I gave him the results of my hard work, which wasn’t much. He had mentioned earlier in the year that we needed to get out and hunt together. After hearing how my efforts had been paying off he graciously asked if I wanted to head out with him, and I accepted.
The morning of our hunt, I got up extra early and met him at his house. On the ride I started to pick his brain about blacktail hunting and how he did it. Over the next hour or so he filled me in on tips and tactics he had collected over the years. By the end of the day, I was infused with knowledge and a new hunting area.
The next week, I inquired as to whether or not John would be hunting that spot on Saturday. Prior obligations had him hunting closer to home that day, so he gave me the green light. I asked if I could bring someone else and he granted permission. With the pass in hand I geared up for that Saturday morning.
My other hunting partner is also named John. A lifetime Oregonian and outdoors freak, John Eastburn jumped at the opportunity to join me in a new spot. We met at my house at zero-darkthirty and headed down the icy highway.
"It’s steep – very steep. Don’t dress too warm because you’ll be shedding it quickly,” I told him.
John gave me an off look as he couldn’t help but notice the frost on the windows. We made our way up the canyon roads. Even with 280,000 miles his green Jeep powered its way through the corners until we arrived at our turnout.
For a full account of Jake's adventure, go to page 38 in the November/December 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.