The Columbia blacktail deer, which lives only on the Pacific coast from northern California up through Oregon and Washington and on into British Columbia, is a deer that few hunters know much about. A smaller cousin of the mule deer, Columbia blacktails have similar body sizes but larger antlers than their more northern cousin, the Sitka blacktail. All things considered, taking a true trophy-class Columbia blacktail - not a hybrid cross between various mule deer subspecies and blacktails - is as difficult a task as any in all of North American deer hunting. One reason is, Columbia blacktails are very secretive deer, especially bucks that have managed to stay alive longer than three or four years. Pointing up that fact is a recent Oregon game department study that involved setting up cameras along trails in high-density deer areas. The study revealed that approximately 85 percent of mature blacktail bucks travel only after dark. It is against these odds that you have to weigh the track record of a company I came across during a two-week trip to Oregon this past November.
The company is called Southern Oregon Game Busters and it has an unsurpassed track record for taking large-antlered Columbia blacktail deer in the Cascade and Siskiyou mountain ranges. Since Game Busters started conducting blacktail hunts in 1990, their clients have enjoyed a 68 percent success rate during the general rifle season, which runs from early October through early November; 100 percent during the special late muzzleloader season in the latter half of November; and 50 percent during archery season. Most of the rifle season hunts take place on public land, while muzzleloader hunters primarily hunt on private land. Game Busters currently has exclusive guiding rights to a large tract of private land near Medford, and is also negotiating to obtain exclusive hunting rights to two more large pieces of private ground that they hope to begin hunting this year.
In terms of trophy quality, clients during the general rifle season take bucks that average about 100 Boone and Crockett points for a large 3 x 3 and........(continued)