View Full Version : Toughest deer of all

Jack O'Conner
April 16, 2008, 11:12 AM

I worked in northern California for 11 years. I used to bring home two coastal bucks each and every year. Less lucky in the Sierras but a couple nice trophies taken in Carson-Iceberg Wilderness of Alpine County. Deer hunting rifle season for A Zone (coastal mts) opened first Saturday of AUG for rifle. My friend and I hunted Bureau of Reclamation lands adjacent to a large reservoir. We "camped out" on his Dad's boat and hunted early morning. Usually, by 10 AM we had our bucks down, skinned, quartered, and covered with ice in large coolers. Remainder of day was spent waterskiing. It doesn't get much better than that.

Coastal deer are smallish compared to Sierra bucks. These two bucks weighed about 140 lbs each. But just the right size for carrying out quartered animal on a pack frame in just one trip. California deer are not toughest deer of all. They fall over same as any other deer when hit in the right spot.

These two California bucks didn't have armor-plating that morning. Photo was e-copied from an older glossy picture taken in 1993.


April 16, 2008, 12:39 PM
Nice bucks, Jack!

I also lived in and hunted in CA for many years. I found the bucks there to be just as easy to kill as anywhere else. First, find the deer. Second, shoot the deer somewhere vital. Third, start planning the barbecue. Pretty simple, and not very hard to do. Unless you don't want to work for them, and then the deer get pretty hard to kill.

April 16, 2008, 05:06 PM
Coastal deer..Are they blacktail? The rear buck seems to have whitetail style horns and the front more muleyish. Are the sierra deer different species?

April 17, 2008, 03:19 AM
i believe that those are either blacktail or coues deer.....yes, slightly different species....

Jack O'Conner
April 17, 2008, 02:58 PM

This is a better view of a genuine black tail. My friend, John F. sent me this photo from a back pack trip into Yolla Bolly Wilderness.

My two bucks are definately coastal blacktail deer. According to the books, these deer are found north of Monterey all the way to Canada.

Sierra deer are somewhat different. What I mean to say is that this is such a vast region that the deer are not all the same. The closer one hunts to the Nevada border, one might see bucks with mule deer type of tail and stockier bodies. I'm sure there are many crossbreed animals between mulies and blacktails roaming the high country.

Way up north at Lassen and Modoc counties there are numerous very large mule deer. By very large I mean B & C size! These are limited license areas and I've never hunted in either county.

No whitetails in California that I know about; they're not native.


April 18, 2008, 05:16 PM
So.. Jack, I am a little confused(normal).
Do the blacktails horns resemble a muley or whitetail. In the last pic it sure looks like the long eared critters around Wyoming.

April 18, 2008, 06:01 PM
Blacktails have horns shaped like a mule deer.

Savage Sam
April 23, 2008, 08:41 PM
i see that Savage 99! :cool:

April 23, 2008, 10:52 PM
I've hunted Calif deer for over 25 years, seen plenty of them. Columbia Blacktails (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odocoileus_hemionus_columbianus) are sub-species of California Mule deer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odocoileus_hemionus_californicus). They are smaller than the regular mulies, their range is only along the coast from Central California up into British Columbia. Southern California has Mule deer mostly, as well as the deserts and the Sierras. I've never heard of Whitetails there, I think the closest ones are the Coues in Arizona.

Other deer in NA. (http://www.deerhunting.ws/classifications.htm)

April 23, 2008, 10:58 PM
the one you're hunting.
Each have their triats that can drive a person mad.

April 24, 2008, 07:27 AM
Jack, nice deer. The postings in this thread, and your pictures, should put to rest once and for all the concerns of an earlier poster, who lead us to believe that California deer were somehow impervious to certain deer rifle calibers.

April 28, 2008, 03:03 PM
I've never heard of Whitetails there, I think the closest ones are the Coues in Arizona.

There are whitetails in Oregon - not a lot YET, but they are there. I have personally seen 2 and my buddy saw one a different trip. Willamette Valley, south of Eugene.

We are interested in seeing if they become the dominant deer, since they have adapted and thrived so well in other areas. I have a bad feeling they will out-compete the blacktails.

April 29, 2008, 09:50 PM
I just got through reading a Patrick McManus book where he talkked about 'first deer'. Man, that guy is an outdoor humorist genious! He spoke of stories aobut first deer war stories. He said as the stories would grow from Jr High towards the Sr year of high school, the original little spike bucks would grow to be able to hide logging trucks in their shadows and they could bound across three counties and only touch each one of them once. It got difficult to read much further as it's often quite challenging to read while rolling about the floor in laughing fits. So, my vote for toughest deer has to be the most difficult to explain. It comes down to the tellers melancholy, nostalgia, and maybe his blood/alcohol level.
(Ya gotta watch those fishermen- some of the objects of their endeavors tend to metamorphosize in the same ways over the years... or so I'm told).