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  1. Default Hello From the Beaver State

    Lifetime OR resident. Just getting back into hunting after a period of bad health, largely due to watching Fresh Tracks. The show inspired me to take my youngest son on his first eastern OR deer hunt last year (Silvies Unit). We had a blast. So I thought Hunt Talk made sense. So I've started applying all over the west for big game. Since I'm only familiar with OR, I thought a board like this made sense, since I've never hunted out of state. I hope to share my experiences getting back into hunting and glean some helpful insights from Hunt Talk members along the way.

    I've never hunted OR eastside for mule deer. Our goal was to get a deer, no trophy considerations at all. I've driven through Burns, OR and always wanted to hike and hunt the Silvies Unit. I spent 8 months pouring over maps trying to identify areas to hunt. I had multiple areas selected evenly across the entire unit. We left a week before season so we could scout these areas and select our final hunting spot. We also took some time in the field to make sure my son's rifle was sighted in properly. He'd been practicing all summer.

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    .243 at 100 yards.

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    At 300 yards.

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    We were very mobile in our scouting, moved around a lot, and after 5 days of scouting finally selected an area that had a lot of deer sign, and some decent bucks. I will pause right here and say this about the Silvies, I'm not sure it has any more deer than a lot of other units, but when you find deer, there are a number of them. As it turns out...drum roll please...these areas are WELL known to everyone else too! Go figure. I can't imagine your going to find a spot in the Silvies where your going to get into good numbers of deer, without good numbers of people. That is just a pipe dream. Thursday evening it sounded and felt like a tsunami of RVs, trucks, and trailers were trying to escape the Apocalypse. Before we knew it the countryside was dotted with camps, in a matter of about 4 hours. Just on a whim, we drove around to the other spots I had located to see what kind of camping activity they had attracted, yep, they were loaded with hunters as well. I always like to have a backup plan, and my backup plans were all crowded. I had located some closed roads near our preferred area and figured we would have to hit those areas to get away from what I was anticipating to be a sea of hunter orange. I will make another observation here. The Silvies is an awesome place to visit and camp, it seems there are thousands of camping spots. I think the downside of that is that it facilitates bringing everyone, including the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th cousins. There are only about 800 rifle tags, but there has to be a minimum of 4-5 people for every tag, and that's conservative. So there are at least 3000 folks (maybe as many as 5000) running around the woods during rifle that is A LOT of dust. I'm still blowing it out of my nose. First day we hiked in a a few miles past some gates and boy was it beautiful.

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    We saw 20 does that morning...not a single buck. Which was quite a surprise. We saw a few larger bucks on the trail cams. Which is not too uncommon, they are nocturnal most of the hunting season anyway. Temps were high, I think mid 80s and it was dry. We made our way back to camp and saw some deer that were pushed by hunters cross the road in front of us no more than 100 yards from camp. So for lunch I set up some trail cams right around camp. I had my son bring his rifle just in case. As it turns out we saw 12 does over the next few hours, some of them bedded down beside the main road. They couldn't have cared less that hundreds of trucks and trailers were passing within 200ft of them. Still no bucks.

    We spent the evening checking some trail cams, saw a cougar. I couldn't get a shot off before it jumped into the brush. OR has over the counter cougar tags, but you're no longer allowed to use dogs. Later found out there was a guzzler next to the road where I saw the cougar. Which brings up another sore spot. There are a number of guzzlers in the Silvies, they don't seem to be too hidden. We came across quite a few of them. Too bad every guzzler had about 3 camps within a 1000ft of them. Every morning you could find two dozen hunters loafing around them like its a break room. I think bombarding the guzzlers with hunters probably pushes deer out of an area faster then anything else. It was hilarious to find a few trucks parked within eye distance of a guzzler, road hunting.

    All total we saw 6 other hunters in our gated area. Way too many for such a small area. The next morning we hiked into an area that I was anticipating to be very steep, hoping we would see less hunters...nope. It was a really surprised how small the canyons were compared to how they are portrayed in Google Earth. They look a lot bigger in Google Earth. Some of the areas I was hoping would naturally filter out some of the hunters due to terrain difficulty, did not pan out that way. We saw about 12 other hunters that morning. We did not jump any deer ourselves, but we had 16 does pushed into our path by other hunters. I think we may have had a buck within 50 yards at first light. The ground was very dry and still hunting across flats and terraces could not be done too quietly. We got pegged by a deer and heard it snort and take off. I thought I saw horns as it bounded away in the thick brush.

    After two days of lots of hunters and lots of does I decided to abandon the area and move to an area with less deer and less hunters. My thought was that although there will be less deer, less hunters might actually end up resulting in more bucks being seen. So we picked up our camp and trail cams and drove 1.5 hours to a far corner of the unit where we actually saw most camp sites unattended. In our scouting we had not seen a lot of sign in this area, but had picked up a few deer on cams earlier. We quickly set up camp the evening of our 2nd day and picked a spot on the map we would hike into in the morning. So far we had hiked about 18 miles in two days. We woke up the morning of the third day to snow flurries and overcast skies and set off for some canyons behind another locked gate. Some of the most beautiful country I have ever seen. We saw 4 deer. One buck about a mile away, running at a dead sprint.

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    When we got back to the truck it was obvious my son's eyes were glazed over and I could tell I had just about lost him mentally. He's has had a deer in his cross-hairs each of the three years previous. But due to ethics or safety, the shot was not taken. His first deer, it never came broadside enough. His second, it was unclear if the area behind the target was clear or not. His third, the deer was just on private. I knew he had to be successful this year, or it would be hard for me to get him to be motivated to deer hunt in the future. Add to that 3 days and almost 21 miles of hiking and no bucks...he was not having fun. Those miles destroyed his new boots by the way. Note to self: don't skimp on boot $ next know better.

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    I did not want to him to lose interest in hunting so I was willing to hunt grouse if needed (he loves hunting grouse). We had seen a number of coyotes, so I asked him if he was interested in calling some coyotes. He readily agreed. It has been snowing all morning and I told him I wanted to scout some areas on the way back to camp. So for another 3 hours we used the spotting glass to check out some areas along some finger roads. Almost back to camp he looks up and says..."wouldn't it be hilarious if we see a buck going back to get the predator calls?" As I was about to respond, I saw a doe cross the road in front of us and hit the brakes. She did not seem too concerned about us and started browsing away from the truck. I looked behind her to see a few more does filtered through the brush and come across the road. I asked my son how many deer he saw, he said three. I also saw three. By this time I had the binos out scouring their heads for luck. So we sat there and just watched them. I didn't feel too hurried and figured we would just let them graze off the road a ways and then get back to camp without interrupting or harassing them. As we sat there, I thought to myself, this would have been too easy. All this hiking and preparation only to shoot a deer not 5 minutes from camp and barely 100ft off the side of the road, I felt myself being both relived and disappointed at the same time.

    Although we both saw 3 deer, we did not both see the same 3 deer. The first doe that grazed away from the road was not one of the 3 deer my son saw. But its one of the three I counted. As I pulled away from the deer my son yelled, "DAD ONE OF THEM HAS HORNS!" I slammed on the brakes and grabbed my binos. I couldn't locate the alleged horns, or the deer supposed to be wearing them. My son grew more frantic, "Dad...he's getting away!" Sadly, my first instinct was not to trust my son. I had already counted the deer, and made sure none of them were bucks. I had visions of a doe in the brush wearing twig and leaf headgear and having to explain to OSP that yes my son had taken hunter safety, and yes he had just shot a doe with a buck tag.

    My eyes have gotten pretty bad. So I took a deep breath and pulled the truck over. I frantically helped him get the rifle and the tripod out (he may have had buck fever, but I think a dad's "first time" fever is worse). The deer were still browsing away and I still had not located the deer with horns. I set up the tripod and my son positioned it so he could get a good rest. As I continued to look for the deer I heard my son saying, "he's over there" without any accompanying hand gestures to indicate exactly what direction "over there" was. As I complained his instructions were inadequate, he confirmed he saw horns through the scope and that the area behind the deer was clear. I only saw two does. At the same time, I was also figuring that my son would eventually be hunting without the old man looking over his shoulder someday. He's been taught well, I said to myself, so as I'm still looking for the buck, I told him, "if you see horns, click off the safety, breathe, fire when your ready" I crossed my fingers. Boom! I saw a deer raise up straight into the air and knew immediately it was hit. I figured it would drop right there in its tracks. It was only about 30 yards away. With fingers still crossed, I took off down the hill praying I was going to see horns on that deer. Prayer answered.

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    I can honestly say I have never been so excited in my life. We jumped and shouted for 30 minutes. Poured over every second of the hunt up to that point and couldn't believe our luck. It seems that even under these circumstances, its my best hunting experience to date, probably for life. Who would have thought road-hunting could be so exciting. Not the hunt I would have scripted...but I wouldn't change a thing. We talked about perseverance, discipline, keeping a positive attitude, and grinding out success, and the blessing of a little luck. All attributes and qualities he will need to be successful in life. Yes it was only 3 days...but in "son days" it might as well have been two weeks. I would have loved to spend the entire season out there and get nothing, that country is beautiful, but I did not have a tag. So we cleaned up, packed camp, and made it back home that same night. It was a great experience. Hope your hunting season leaves you with wonderful memories and remember this Randy Newburg quote, "you will run out of health, before you run out of money"...go hunting...before you can't anymore.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Somewhere in the basalt rocks


    Cool story, thanks for sharing.
    Fear the beard....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Boise, Idaho


    Great introduction and thanks for taking us along on your story of your son's hunt. Welcome to Hunt Talk.

  4. #4


    Welcome. Spent 10 years in OR then hopped north one state. Now splitting time in AZ. I think the fishing is way better than hunting in NW. Lots of reasons for that from F&G preferring fins to fur and then add in anti-logging efforts that create habitat too mature for elk and deer to pro-predator that culls recruitment into herds. Exhibit 1 is the lack of trophy units in OR for bull elk. F&G runs 100s of spike and/or cow hunters into a GMU just as the bull elk season is approaching. Bulls get so spun up is not a quality experience. I am sitting on almost 25 OR elk points and will probably never use them they are so worthless. Rant over. Fishing is good.

  5. #5


    Welcome aboard.
    You can't get lost if you don't care where you are going.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    South East Colorado


    Welcome!! Helluva first post!
    I'm an addict...archery, rifles, shotguns, handguns, muzzleloaders, hunting, fishing, fly fishing..and I don't want rehab

  8. Default

    Agreed. The fishing can be as good as anywhere on earth. But the lack of quality hunts is a big reason I've finally started to branch out to other states. I think I'm going to burn my elk points on Sled Springs archery next year, as well as Steens rifle buck. I just don't see the point in carrying points forever anymore with little shot at drawing. I do have a brother who has been pestering me every year for the last 13 years to put in for a Utah Archery LE Elk and OIL moose. So those are hunts I'm accumulating points for and will likely continue to do so.

  9. #9


    Welcome from MS! Thanks for sharing already.

  10. #10


    Cool! It just gets better!

  11. #11


    welcome, great 1st post, enjoyed it greatly
    Soli Deo Gloria - To GOD alone the GLORY

  12. #12


    Awesome post! Congrats, dad!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Northwest Pennsylvania


    Welcome from Pa !

  14. #14


    Welcome! Awesome first post. Where in Oregon are you?

  15. Default

    I'm living in Gresham, but was raised in Grants Pass.

  16. Default

    Welcome and cool pics!
    And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.

    "The cities are for money, but the high-up hills are purely for the soul." Louis L'Amour

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Idaho Springs, Colorado


    Great intro!! Welcome from Colorado!!
    I'll have a beer flavored beer please!

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