Black-tailed deer can be found in the western parts of North America from central California all the way to coastal British Columbia and southern Alaska. Often referred to as the "Pacific Ghost," these creatures are extremely illusive, making catching one a true sportsmen's dream.
There are two subspecies of black-tailed deer, the Sitka blacktail located in parts of the Alaskan and British Columbia coast, and the Columbia blacktail found from central California north through coastal British Columbia. The Columbia blacktail is the more common of the two subspecies but both are equally sought after by skilled hunters.
Variables to Consider When Hunting Black-Tailed Deer
Location: Black-tailed deer prefer the thick brush and woodland forests of the Pacific Coast from central California to Alaska. Their habitat preferences make them even harder to spot as they move swiftly and quietly through the dense forests of the northwest almost completely undetectable.
Solunar Calendar: Black-tails are nocturnal in nature, making them most active during the hours between dusk and dawn. Their behavior is affected by the fullness of the moon which serves as a night lite for them as they search for food. The larger the moon, the higher your chances of spotting one of these illusive animals.
Time of Year: Blacktail deer can be hunted in most areas from early fall to mid-winter. However, if you plan on bringing home a trophy black-tailed buck, it is best to start scouting in the months of July and early August. By observing their pre season habits, you are more likely to track one down during open season.
Time of Day: Black-tails are the most active between dawn and dusk. However, plan on long days and long nights of scouting if you plan on spotting one during times of peak activity.
Temperature: Temperatures in the pacific northwest can range from hot and humid to freezing and damp. These dramatic temperature variations have an effect on blacktail movement. As the days get cooler signaling rutting season, bucks begin their pursuit of does, increasing your chance of spotting one using specific mating calls and techniques.
Barometric Pressure: Experts say the best hunting times for deer is when the barometer reads between 30.00 – 30.40. Anything lower, can dramatically decrease your chances of spotting a deer on the move.
General Weather Conditions: Unfortunately for hunters, the best weather conditions for spotting black-tails tend to be rainy, foggy, or misty days. However, due to their keen ability to elude even the most skilled hunters, be prepared for long days and every type of weather condition if you are serious about catching one of these pacific ghosts.
Wind: Like whitetails, black-tailed deer have an incredibly keen sense of smell. Though it is best to hunt during days when the wind is calm, if that is not possible, make sure to keep downwind of their tracks and trails.
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