Last fall, I reported that Doug Gattis of Southern Oregon Game Busters (541-770-5050; www.Blacktails.net), would once again offer hunts for blacktail deer and black bear in southern Oregon after taking a few years off. Gattis previously outfitted in Oregon for 20 years and Mexico for nine years; his clients are well represented in the record books, especially for outstanding blacktail. Go to his website (slated to be updated soon) and look at the impressive "clock" display of huge blacktails, all killed by Gattis in the area he hunts. Although the bucks shown are not recent harvests, you still get a feel for the quality of the game available and the terrain. This area is simply one of the best in North America for producing trophy blacktail bucks! Admittedly, Gattis had a late start booking hunts last fall, and only had four clients, who experienced mixed results, probably not indicative of what he can still produce. One archer wounded and lost a buck that likely would have scored very high in the records and eventually killed a respectable 3x3. Two other clients left early due to abnormally hot weather. A trail camera caught a very respectable buck standing in daylight just 25 yards away from the blind where Gattis' fourth hunter was supposed to be waiting! This is exactly why so many outfitters are reporting shooting opportunities, versus just kill statistics.
Although I killed my two Top-10 bucks early in the rifle season, I wouldn't pass up the last week of rifle season in early November or even later during muzzleloader or archery seasons. That is when you have terrible weather and a decent chance of killing a monster buck on the prowl. First-time blacktail hunters don't know that the best hunting for this species of deer is when it is rainy, snowy, foggy, and/or cold in short, just plain miserable weather. I pray for that weather; it is different than other deer hunting!
Based on last season alone, it is too early to judge whether Gattis can continue to produce outstanding results. I have........(continued)