USA: Alaska Sitka Blacktail Deer Hunt With Mileur’s Guide Service

JES Adventures

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I had arrived Kodiak Island, Alaska Saturday evening from Juneau via Anchorage and there must’ve been 75 hunters on the plane! It took me nearly an hour to get my gun then headed over to the Best Western and settled in. My am scheduled for a Monday afternoon flight to camp which worked out well as most of the planes were grounded Sunday due to high winds. I had a leisurely Sunday, went to Mass then caught up on messages before being out of comm’s for another week. The weather forecast looks fair for the balance of the week, always a chance of rain or snow. I will be hunting with Scott Mileur for Sitka Blacktail, #22 on my quest for the North American 29.

Day 1

I was up early and with the three hour time difference was able to make my calls and do a bit of office work before signing off for the week. One of the pilots from Island Air picked me up from the hotel about 1:40 and I was at the floatplane base by 2. The beaver took off at 2:50 for the 1 hr flight to Scott’s Bear Creek Camp on the Red River which is on the south end of the island. Kodiak is gorgeous with the first half of the trip having clear skies and amazing views.

About 40 minutes into the flight going through a mountain pass I looked out the window and saw 4 goats running from the plane! Looked like a billy with 2 nannies and a kid. That was very cool having just spent a week hunting these elusive critters.

We dropped into a Valley about 20 minutes later and I could see a tent camp next to the river below. The pilot circled and came in for a landing and Scott was on the bank ready to grab a line.

I got my gear up the hill to my tent and organized. I asked Scott if he wanted me to check my rifle since I’ve flown and he nonchalantly said “if you want to”. He gave me a cardboard box and sharpie for a target and I set up down by the river. I fired one shot and the RUM was on so back in the case it went.

Camp was a basic Alaskan Bush Camp. Two, 4 man cabin tents and a smaller toilet tent. There was a two strand electric fence around the tents to deter the inquisitive Brown Bear from making a mess. At the riverside, is a small inflatable boat with a 15HP outboard was tied off, also with an electric fence protecting it.

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Scott cooked up some pork chops, potatoes and mixed salad dinner. We had a good visit over dinner, Scott is a long time veteran of Guiding and Outhitting on Kodiak Island. He got there in 1977 as an assistant guide for Pinnel and Morgan two famous bear guides. He took over from them in ‘93 and has run the business since. It’s not often you get to hunt with someone that has this kind of history in an area so this is going to be fun. The bear hunting stories have been great and I look forward to the next few days hunting with him and hearing more.

I retired to my tent by 8 and did a bit of reading. Always carry a couple of paperbacks whenever you go hunting in Alaska. Trust me, you’ll need them when you get socked in.

Sunrise is at 8:44 tomorrow morning so we will be out of camp about 8:30. Scott saw several deer in the general area while hunting bear the last couple of weeks so we should be able to take a mature buck in the next few days. I continue to pray the weather holds out.
 

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Im headed to Kodiak this friday to chase sitka deer around for a few days.. Been looking forward to this hunt for a year..

Until then, I'll live vicariously through this thread :)
 

JES Adventures

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Day 2


I fell asleep last night by about 9 o’clock. I noticed the winds have started to pick up as the tent walls fluttered from time to time.

I tossed and turned a bit through the night, the cot was just not as comfortable as the bed was on the yacht a few days ago. The sleeping bag was warm so I was fairly comfortable through the night. I woke up and began to say my prayers and shortly there after began to hear Scott stirring around in his tent. About 15 minutes later he called me over for breakfast. He had cooked fried eggs, bacon and pancakes along with a pot coffee. He said he likes his hunters To be well fed because the day could be long and he wants everybody to have plenty of energy.

I got my gear ready to go, put on my layers with rain gear on top. Scott walked out of his tent and said “I’ll see you at the boat, sure is warm today“. I checked my watch when I woke up and it said the temperature was 46°.

Scott was organizing the small inflatable we would use to go up river to the valley he wants to hunt. By 8:14 there was ample light to see and we were on the boat and underway.
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We motored for about a half hour and turned up a creek to the landing spot, got out and hiked up onto the side of a mountain to glass for deer.

About halfway up, Scott stopped, raised his binocular‘s and said “ there’s a herd of reindeer in that Valley below”. As he scanned he pointed out another herd about 2 miles away, across the river in a big tundra flat.

He had mentioned to me when I booked the deer hunt there could be the possibility of taking a reindeer so I bought a tag just in case.

The reindeer were released on Kodiak in the 1930s as a project for the native people. It was intended to be a commercial venture however was not successful and the reindeer later became wild. They inhabit an area on the South end of Kodiak Island with a good percentage of them being in Scott’s area.

Our first objective is the Blacktail but we set up the spotting scope and glassed the herd of reindeer anyhow. There was no big bull in the herd below but one very interesting old cow that was absolutely snow white.

We carried on up the hill glassing as we climbed and by 9:40 Scott spotted the first group of deer.

There was clearly a buck there, you could tell by his actions as he was in pursuit of a doe. The rut is generally the first two weeks of November and it was nice confirmation to see the activity.

The buck was not fully mature so we carried on side hilling the mountain stopping to glass periodically.

We stopped several times to glass as we walked for about an hour and a half. Then we got to a spot and sat down to glass some deer on the opposite hillside. Almost immediately we saw several does, a doe and a yearling and then a few minutes later we spotted a buck. Scott watched him for a while then put the spotting scope on him. He said he’s a forked horn for sure but I can’t tell if he has any brow times. The deer was about 600 yards away and it’s a very overcast and gray day which made visibility difficult.

Some time elapsed and the buck moved about in and out of the willows searching for does and staying out of the weather. I said “ look there’s a second buck”, but he quickly melted away into the brush before we could get the scope on him.

The original buck sort of moved towards us, then bedded down about 400 yards from us overlooking a small gully. The wind has picked up so the deer are not moving much. They prefer to stay down in the heavy brush where they’re out of the wind and weather.

Scott spotted a second deer laying down and said this is a better buck and we should get closer and have a good look.

I glanced at my watch and it was 11:55 when we started the stalk. Not 50 yards into it and a light rain started to fall. Scott stopped and put on his rain gear I was optimistic that it would just be a light rain and blow through. Well, that wasn’t the case and a few minutes later I stopped and put my rain jacket back on!

About about a third of the way down we lost visibility of the buck but Scott said “let’s just keep easing down through this brush until we can get a better view”.

Suddenly he stopped and raised his binocular and said “look, there’s 3 bucks together across the gully”. Then he said “ there’s a fourth one down below, he’s the biggest”. The three deer came up out of the gully and started walking to the ridgeline in and out of the heavy brush.

I asked Scott ”do you want me to get ready?” He said “ yes, if you’re going to shoot one of these bucks”.

I unslung my rifle, chambered a round and set it up on my shooting sticks. I had brought along the takedown Steady Sticks I bought at The Dallas Safari Club Convention a couple of years back. I have really grown to appreciate these when hunting an area the grass or vegetation prohibits shooting from sitting or prone.

Scott ranged the Deer at 165 yards and said “the big deer hasn’t moved, he still down below the others”. I scanned the brush line and finally located him in my scope. Most of his body was obstructed by willow bushes but I can clearly see his face, antlers and his right front shoulder. I settled the crosshairs in and said to Scott “ he’s quartering towards us, do you want me to take the shot?”

The Buck wasn’t going anywhere as the weather was deteriorating with rain and blustery winds. Scott put the scope on him to confirm he was a mature deer and said “when you comfortable take the shot”.

I looked several times through the scope and settled the crosshairs on the forward point of his shoulder since he was quartering and visualized the shot before I took it.

I then said, “ I’m going to shoot”.

It was slightly downhill and 165 yards so I held right where I intended the shot to go. I squeezed off and you could hear the report of a solid hit, then just a quick flash of the deer disappearing to the right. I reloaded and was back on the sticks scanning but did not see any movement in the brush. After a couple of minutes Scott said “ I believe he’s dead so let’s make our way over there”.

When we got to the spot where the deer had been standing Scott said “I believe he was right here”. He took a couple steps forward and said “there he is, pointing 10 feet in front of us. t
The deer went less than 15 yards after the hit. A beautiful dark antlered buck 3 x 3 with one eye guard.

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We ate our sandwiches before skinning and quartering the deer. The rain persisted and as we got our packs loaded and it seemed to increase in intensity. We had about a 3 mile walk back to the boat, in the rain the entire way. As we loaded the gear and are back into the boat Scott said “ you made a wise choice taking this deer, the weather is changing and we could be socked in for a day or so”.

A wet boat ride back to camp I we got all my gear offloaded and I went to my tent, turned on the propane heater to start drying out my clothes.

As I sat in my tent gathering my thoughts and writing in my journal, the rain was pounding outside. I feel so Blessed to have taken a nice Sitka Blacktail Buck today that the pounding rain outside doesn’t bother me a bit.

I have a second deer tag plus a caribou tag so when the weather breaks we will go out in search of the reindeer. If we bump into a bigger Blacktail along the way, we will take him.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 3

I didn’t sleep very well after 3 as It stormed all night. The tent shook and rain fell off and on. I heard Scott stirring so I checked my watch and it was 7:15. He had made a repeat breakfast of yesterday - hot coffee, bacon, eggs and a pancake. Daylight started to break and I actually saw the moon peeking through a hole in the clouds. It was nice to start off with no rain.

We loaded in the boat about 8:15 and headed up river to the big tundra flat where Scott had glassed up the herd yesterday.

Within a half hour he located the herd about a thousand yards out so we stalked in for a better look. Of course as soon as we started out here came there rain. The group was strung out over a few hundred yards feeding away from us. Scott got out the spotting scope and looked over the herd. We both dialed in on the Reindeer with the tallest and widest rack.

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By now the wind had picked up and the rain turned to freezing rain so we hunkered down and discussed a plan.

There is a line of willows about a quarter mile to our right so if the wind stays it’s course we can slip over there and close the distance using the willows as cover. Waking in the tundra has its challenges, especially with arthritic knees so moving quickly was not possible for me.

The plan worked perfect and we made our way parallel to the herd stopping to glass a group of Reindeer. We moved along slowly and the Reindeer had no clue we were there. Just about the spot where the willow cover ceased we spotted our Reindeer. Scott said “the third one from right to left”. I confirmed with my binoculars then chambered a round and set up on the sticks.

Quickly I was on the Reindeer and Scott said “take the shot when you are ready”. I didn’t have a shot as the antlers were obstructing the kill zone as he was feeding. I slipped the safety off and stayed on target as the group continued to slowly move. Finally, the Reindeer turned slightly to the right and I settled in for another quartering shot and squeezed the trigger. Almost immediately as the gun fired the Reindeer reacted and was down within a few yards.

As we approached I finally had the chance to thoroughly examine the animal and I must say they are quite beautiful with their long white neck mane.
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After photos, the rain stopped and we made short time of breaking the animal down and loading out packs. We had a mile and a half walk across the tundra to the river where our boat was tied off.

My hat goes off to Scott Mileur at 64 years old he handled that 130 pound plus pack like a twenty year old!

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Back in camp, we offloaded the gear, meat and trophy then made a plan to fly out tomorrow. The weather forecast is good at the moment, but this is Alaska and always subject to change. I have another deer tag but told Scott to schedule the plane and if we get weathered in tomorrow then we’ll go hunting again.

Scott prepared Reindeer tenderloin with potatoes and green salad. The winds have picked up and obviously something is changing. We called it a day around 9pm and the weather has rapidly deteriorated. We hold hopes it blows through so we can get out tomorrow.

My short time on Kodiak has been very special. Scott Mileur is a fine hunter and a pleasure to be with as with 43+ years experience hunting here you can imagine what the storytelling has been like! He knows his area like the back of his hand and took me right to where the game was.

I got on the SAT phone and texted my family the news, the congratulations poured in. The Sitka Blacktail is #22 of the 29 it’s been a great hunting year for me despite cancellations due to Covid.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 4


A rough night to sleep, wind gusts in excess of 40mph would beat the tent walls and wake me up. I finally stayed awake and what seemed like an hour later I heard Scott stirring.

I got dressed and went over to his tent for coffee. A combination of freezing rain and snow is falling and the wind gusts To 50mph persist. Scott is not real optimistic about flying out this morning but will call the charter service at noon.

I started on my second paperback and listened to the wind howl across the mountain and up the river valley. At times, I felt like the tent was going to collapse but it held. We opted not to hunt as the deer will be bedded down due to the inclement weather and the efforts would be fruitless.

Noon came and passed, no way it is safe enough to fly today so we just settle in. Scott getting cabin fever went for a walk while I texted my wife to change my flights. The first step is to get to Kodiak. Then I will find a way back home.
 

JES Adventures

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Day 5

Another rough night, the winds howled off and on so I tossed and turned thinking about whether or not we would fly out tomorrow. I was up for a while saying my prayers and I heard Scott stirring about so I knew the day was starting.

It was noticeably colder when when I went outside to relieve myself I could see some stars, news that some of the cloud cover had blown through.

Things look good for moving out today and by 8:30 we had confirmation the plane would be leaving in an hour to pick us up.

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We continued busting down camp and I started carrying all the gear down to the rivers edge. After about my 15th load down the hill I took a rest and enjoyed the sunrise in this beautiful and wild place.

I thought about the last couple of weeks, and everything that took place. The unique challenges that Alaska poses especially in the late season. I was surprised that in my time on Kodiak I never saw a Brown Bear. That being said, we never really stopped the glass for them. Once we located the game we were after we moved in and took care of business. That proved to be crucial as both days we hunted the weather quickly deteriorated.

I’ve got a long 24 hours of travel ahead of me. If all goes well I will get back to San Antonio at 1:30 on Saturday.
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I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Scott Mileur for his professionalism and overall jovial attitude. Regardless of how bad the weather was we got out and hunted and we got our animals. I enjoyed all of the stories of the seasons passed and of the great many Brown Bears that have come out of this area. Had I not already collected Brown Bear I would book a hunt with Scott in a minute. That being said, he doesn’t have any openings until 2024. That itself is a testimony to his track record and abilities as a guide.
 

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Well that didn't take long, congratulations! Sounds like you are hunting in a great area and have an outstanding and very experienced guide.
 

JES Adventures

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subscribed!

Im headed to Kodiak this friday to chase sitka deer around for a few days.. Been looking forward to this hunt for a year..

Until then, I'll live vicariously through this thread :)
Good Luck @mdwest, just be prepared for crappy weather. My understanding is it deteriorates as the year progresses
 

mdwest

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Good Luck @mdwest, just be prepared for crappy weather. My understanding is it deteriorates as the year progresses

Yep.. been watching the weather closely at Larsen Bay (where we will be hunting) as well as Kodiak as a whole for the past few weeks..

Right now its looking like we're going to have high's around 30-35 most days and lows in the mid to high 20's.. and its supposed to start snowing Thursday and not stop until next Monday (we arrive on Kodiak Friday night).. its going to be a wet and cold week for certain..


Great hunt report! You've got me more fired up now than I was before..

Just had a successful whitetail hunt this past weekend.. hoping for a successful sitka hunt starting next week.. and then have a muley chase planned a couple of weeks after that..

If I cant go back to Africa in 2020.. I'm thankful that I at least found a way to make a deer adventure out of this otherwise crappy year lol...
 

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Looks like a great time!!

Whats was the caliber/round selection for the hunt?
 

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Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

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Yep.. been watching the weather closely at Larsen Bay (where we will be hunting) as well as Kodiak as a whole for the past few weeks..

Right now its looking like we're going to have high's around 30-35 most days and lows in the mid to high 20's.. and its supposed to start snowing Thursday and not stop until next Monday (we arrive on Kodiak Friday night).. its going to be a wet and cold week for certain..


Great hunt report! You've got me more fired up now than I was before..

Just had a successful whitetail hunt this past weekend.. hoping for a successful sitka hunt starting next week.. and then have a muley chase planned a couple of weeks after that..

If I cant go back to Africa in 2020.. I'm thankful that I at least found a way to make a deer adventure out of this otherwise crappy year lol...

@mdwest I don't want to hijack this thread, but are you familiar with the FAA website that has multiple webcams at a lot of the Alaskan airports? It's pretty cool for actually seeing the weather. There are usually 3 or 4 cameras, looking in different directions.

 

JES Adventures

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Looks like a great time!!

Whats was the caliber/round selection for the hunt?
@Corey0372 I have been hunting North America exclusively with my 15 year old Christensen 300RUM Pushing a 180 gr. Nosler Accubond at 3400 fps. It has performed very well over the years and made a couple of trips to Africa on larger plainsgame as well.
 

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@Corey0372 I have been hunting North America exclusively with my 15 year old Christensen 300RUM Pushing a 180 gr. Nosler Accubond at 3400 fps. It has performed very well over the years and made a couple of trips to Africa on larger plainsgame as well.
If it ain't broke don't fix it right? Thanks for sharing the trip
 

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JES Adventures,

Great hunting report, thanks for sharing.
And congratulations on your success.
Sitka blacktails are one of if not our best eating game meat in Alaska.
No doubt you heard the common saying around here:
“If you don’t like the weather in Alaska, wait five minutes and if you don’t like the weather on Kodiak, wait a minute”.

Glad you had a good hunt up here.
Cheers,
Velo Dog.
 
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mdwest

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@mdwest I don't want to hijack this thread, but are you familiar with the FAA website that has multiple webcams at a lot of the Alaskan airports? It's pretty cool for actually seeing the weather. There are usually 3 or 4 cameras, looking in different directions.


I hadn’t heard of that. Checking it out now. THANKS!!!!
 

gillettehunter

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Congrats! Sounds like you made the most of your hunt opportunity.
Bruce
 

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Congrats. Thanks for sharing your great story.
 

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