Wow. Now here is a complete blast-from-the-past! Big Game Basics?! What the WHAT!? Last time we had one of these specifically was March of 2014! Yes we strayed somewhat back into this topic with the Africa Big Five blog series, but we are back in action with American hunting and the awesome animals that make it on our slams and hunting checklists. And to kick it off we are going to take a look at the blacktail deer. Black-in-Action, Baby!
Now there are actually two different kinds of the blacktail deer. There is the Columbia and the Sitka blacktail species. Both are found on the western side of the United States. The Columbia blacktail is found from Northern California up to Coastal British Columbia. The Sitka blacktail is found in Southeast and South Central Alaska, as well as in Coastal British Columbia.
They share many of the same traits as the other deer species of America. They are a member of the ungulate family and are more closely related to mule deer than whitetail deer. They are more active during dawn and dusk. Both are a separate species as part of the North American Grand Slam. One would need to bag both of these species, a mule deer, whitetail and a Coues in order to achieve a North American deer slam.
They prefer to live on the edges of forest as opposed to deep within them. This is because they favor underbrush for food. Using their excellent sense of sight and smell, they do well at avoiding predators. Also their large ears can help sense danger, especially as they can move independently from the other.
The easiest ways to tell blacktail deer apart from mule deer are their antlers, coloration and tail. As their name implies these deer have a characteristic black tail.
The main predators of Columbia blacktail are coyotes and mountain lions. This is the same for the Sitka blacktail, but they also fall prey to wolves. This put them in some controversial light when there was a big discussion regarding the status of wolves in a certain area. Along with this issue, an ever-growing problem are the increasing vehicle collisions that these animals fall victim to. With more and more people being on this planet it is completely understandable that this is happening. One key thing to know when driving in deer territory is that if you see one deer cross the road you can expect a couple more behind it.
Many times this deer is overlooked as a game species. Most of the time people focus on the wonderful whitetail and monster muleys. I don’t think I have seen a lot of literature on these awesome animals. But with more and more people getting into hunting, I am sure they will be discussed more.
The one thing that I do remember about them is that I was looking at booking a hunting lodge in Alaska as my bachelor party. One of the options was to go on a Sitka blacktail deer hunt. And somehow it got brought up that Sitka blacktail deer is the best tasting game meat. Well, only one way to find out!
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