For the meat hunting purist, antlerless big game tags provide a means to get your winter provender without having to be as particular in your search efforts. Ideally, no one with such a tag should blast the first antlerless deer that they see. Consideration must be given to age, size and, most vitally, whether or not she has a fawn. To fail to do so is immoral and frankly defeats the purpose of these hunts.
To maintain a proper buck to doe ratio, ODFW issues doe tags annually, providing hunters additional chances to fill the larder. In my opinion these hunts are perfect for rookies and veterans alike. There are lots of opportunities, and success is as close to guaranteed as it gets while still providing the challenge of the hunt.
Emma and I were out busting the brush again this year on opening day. Having filled my damage control elk tag and buck tag, this was my last effort for the year. Since it was the only tag my wife drew, I wanted her to take the first shot. She brought along her trusty .243. I decided to take a Savage 99 in .308 that my father gave to me 20 years ago. Having never used it to take a deer, it was past due.
We spotted several deer right off, but they were farther away than Emma felt comfortable shooting. So we made a stalk to try to get in closer. We moved extra slow due to the steep, open country providing very little cover. But while crossing an open hillside, the wind hit us in the six, and the deer busted us. It was a bit disappointing after the hike we put in trying to close the gap, but that’s hunting. Later that afternoon, we happened into a little band of does and fawns.
After we watched them for a short spell, Emma took aim and dropped her doe with a single shot. Contrary to normal, the rest of the deer didn’t run off but rather stuck around, curious. I picked one out and let fly, hitting her behind the shoulder. Two does down in just a matter of seconds!
And just like that, we had venison! After taking pictures, we field dressed the two deer. Thankfully, it wasn’t very far back to the truck — that’s always a blessing. And I finally got to take a deer with Dad’s legendary old .308. What a wonderful day!
Although the antlerless deer tags aren’t as easy of a draw, I encourage you to keep putting in. It’s a great hunt with a delicious pot of venison-flavored gold at the end of the rainbow!
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Dale Valade is a local country gent with a deep love for handloading, hunting and shooting.