Blacktails in the Rut Leave a reply

Nov 20, 2009 by Rob Endsley

Blacktail deer are the toughest big game animal to hunt here in the Northwest because of where they live. For 49 weeks a year they burrow themselves into the west side jungle, worming themselves into the deepest, darkest holes they can find. One step and they're gone. Sometimes you get a glimpse of them in the headlights on the road at night, or perhaps in a neighbors back yard eating rose bushes in a residential area, but outside of that they are pretty damned hard to find….until the RUT!

Once the rut is on everything changes. I was sitting at my computer a week ago and a nice two point blacktail walked right past the window of my office, hot on the trail of some buttercup that may or may not be in the neighborhood awaiting his arrival. It didn't matter if she was there or not, he would go until he found what he wanted.

The great BLACKTAIL I got a few weeks back was just entering the rut and I knew things were about to get really whacky when a two point stopped me on the road as I peddled my deer-laden mountain bike out of the blacktail hell hole I was in. "If I could only have two tags," I thought. Not for this buck but for the late hunt that's happening right now on the wet side of the hill. Now is the time!

Find yourself someone that's spent his entire adult life logging around the Hood Canal and you'll find someone that knows blacktails. That guy is my childhood fishing and hunting partner Fred Fein. The guy knows which clear cuts produce, hunts with a lot of patience, and knows when to get really serious about the wet side blacktail hunt. After getting my deer in the general season I asked Fred what his plans were and his response, "Yawn…I'll get one on the late hunt….no problem." Fred's confidence comes from years of chasing these cagey critters and the timing of the rut. "They loose they're minds during the rut," says Fred.

Sooooo, today I'm talking to 4 time duck calling champion Robert Strong about the Moses Lake goose herd when I get the "beep" of another call coming in and "Fred Fein" on the screen of my Schmackberry. "Gotta go Robbie," as I quickly switched over to the incoming call, knowing full well what I was about to hear.

He had just bagged yet another good, very good blacktail from a heavily trafficked area near Hood Canal. Quite a few hunters had been in this area during the general season, but they weren't there for the rut. Guess who was?

Fred grabs one of the many blacktail racks from his shop wall.

Blacktails are definitely difficult to hunt, which also makes them one of my favorite big game animals here in Washington. Only 48 more weeks until next season! 

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