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Oregon’s New #1 Archery Mule Deer in Velvet

 

 

 

 

A New Mule Deer Record for Oregon

Using what some folks refer to as a “stick and string”, Oregon hunter Chris Dunlap stalks bucks and bulls in the sometimes-unforgiving heat of August and September.  As with most hunters, for Chris, each season opens with unsullied enthusiasm and hopes that he may bag the trophy of a lifetime.  Who has not fantasized that one-day they may harvest an animal with a mammoth set of antlers.  It is the defining motivation for countless thousands of big game hunters.  Chris Dunlap no longer has to daydream, for his trophy mule deer hunt has been firmly committed to memory. 

Oregon’s 2007 archery season would mark Chris’ seventh year as a bow hunter.  He has taken several deer and worked hard to bag a bull.  He was determined to pull out all the stops and make this his best year to date.  Chris lost weight and began a stringent exercise routine, which included running five miles – five days a week.  Several years of hunting the same terrain inside Jefferson County served to make his numerous scouting trips time-well-spent.  This season held great expectations for he and his hunting partners, which included Oregon resident Nate Richardson and Dave Isenberger from the state of Georgia.

The first several days of the archery opener were a blur of high emotions and missed opportunities.  Chris and his friends worked hard in the steep, rough and dry terrain.  Although they saw numerous bucks, the difficulties associated with archery hunting stuck to them like the dust and chaff from native plants adhered to perspiration on their skin.  Chris told me that before he bought his first bow, a close friend had given him a poignant warning; “Bow hunting is an emotional roller coaster.”  Chris said he has found that nothing else in his experience can take you from low to high and back again, all in fifteen brief seconds.  His 2007 archery hunt got off to an agonizingly slow beginning.

The men saw more than a few good bucks.  They estimated some sported antlers that would have scored in the 140 to 160 inch range.  But, every stalk had ended in failure.  One evening Chris came upon a very nice deer.  He felt this typical 4×4 held 145-inch antlers above a large mature frame.  As the buck fed along peacefully, Chris began his stalk.  When he got close the buck alerted and sharply raised his head into the air.  The buck stood broadside and fixed his gaze in Chris’ direction.  Placing his 40-yard pin on the animals’ vitals he cautiously released the string.  The arrow disappeared into a manzanita bush and the buck bounded away unharmed.  Sickened, use of his range finder showed Chris the buck had been further from him than he had estimated.

With a good nights sleep, the hunters woke with renewed determination on Monday, August 27th.  Beginning the day at a deep canyon he refers to as his “honey-hole”, Chris quickly spotted something that looked out of place.  Raising binoculars for a closer examination, Chris told me, “… All I could see was HORNS!”

Not bothering to count points, he immediately knocked an arrow and prepared to shoot.  His bad luck was cemented in place; as Chris raised his bow he accidentally touched his release.  He instantly felt the shock of the string blasting the arrow haphazardly into open air space.  The arrow landed twenty-yards in front of the monstrous mule deer.  Chris and his friends watched helplessly as the buck of their dreams exploded across the hillside, taking three additional deer with him.  As the big deer bounced out of sight, Chris’ binoculars served to add pain to the event, allowing him to view the incredible rack of antlers, with long kicker points protruding from the left and right sides.  As this was the last day of their first outing, a dejected Chris Dunlap broke camp and headed home.

Four days later Chris and friends were back on the mountain and resolute as ever to fill their tags.  But it was not to be.  The weekend came and went, with no deer being taken.  However, his personal run of bad luck was about to change in a very big way.

On Saturday, September 8th, Chris and his friends were back in the woods.  Forsaking deer hunting for the moment, the group was concentrating their efforts on finding bull elk.  But, while telling Dave about the big one that got away, Chris decided to show him the area in which the buck had been feeding.  At this point the buck was nothing more than a good story.

On site, the men observed some does and decided to give the canyon a closer inspection.  In minutes Chris saw a deer that appeared to be twice the size of those standing near to it.  Looking through the slightly enhanced lens of his range finder he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.  He had stumbled onto the big buck, again!

Stopping as close to the buck as he dared, Chris raised his bow as the animal walked slowly ahead, quartering away from him.  Desperate to succeed, he repeated to himself, “Do not punch your trigger”.  He released the arrow and remembers that, “It just felt good”.  As the buck spun and began to run, Chris heard Dave yell, “Perfect Shot!”  The arrow was visibly protruding from the big bucks’ rib cage and his dash to escape was brief.  Traveling only thirty-yards, the buck was down.

Amazed by the site of this colossal deer, Chris couldn’t wait to have the rack scored.  Long time big game measurer Glen Abbot traveled to Chris’ home and pronounced the buck had a gross score of 230-1/8 inches, with an official Pope and Young Club net score of 225-3/8.  This buck handily became the new Oregon state non-typical in velvet record.  According to the North West Book for Oregon Big Game Animals, with a score of 221-2/8, the #2 archery mule deer buck in velvet was taken in 1960.

To top off his newfound achievement, Chris harvested an archery bull elk four days later on September 12th.  Although it was a bit rough in the beginning, I feel confident believing Chris Dunlap’s 2007 archery season will be a tough act for him to follow in 2008.

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July 17, 2008 Posted by | Deer, Elk, Antelope, Big Horns and Such | 5 Comments