By Harry Morse
Blacktail deer are one of the most challenging of the deer species to hunt, renowned for hiding in dense forest or brush patches and seeking near-vertical hillsides where hunters can't or shouldn't go. And unless you live west of the Sierra Nevada or Cascade Mountain ranges you are going to have to travel for the opportunity to hunt this elusive deer species. Blacktails are only found in a small region: the US west coast states of California, Oregon
, and in British Columbia
and southern Alaska
. Blacktails are often referred to as a smaller cousin of the mule deer, and the two species are closely related. They can be found from sea level to over 7,000 feet. Hunting them can be as easy as glassing the shorelines of Afognak or Sitka islands from a boat, or as challenging as hunting out of a spike camp in the wilderness area of the Trinity Alps in California or the Cascade Range from northern California to southern BC.
The Boone and Crockett Club
lists two subspecies of blacktails in its record book and keeps records on both, so a hunter can get trophies for both the Columbia blacktail and the Sitka blacktail. Sitkas are found in Southeast Alaska and the Queen Charlotte Island of BC, while the Columbia subspecies is found from northwest BC southward to Monterey, California, along the coast. Columbia blacktails can and do crossbreed with mule deer, so Boone and Crockett sets very specific boundaries
, trying to ensure only pure Columbia blacktails are entered into the record book.
Sitka blacktails have larger bodies and smaller total antler size, with record book entries starting at 108 B&C. Columbia blacktail record book entries start at 130 B&C.....