What Our Customers Say...
In 1999, I hunted the Rouge unit, looking for a blacktail buck. I was holding out for a three-point or better buck, hoping to find a good mature animal. I passed up a small buck on opening day. On day two, I found a well-used deer trail and followed it to a bedding area.
Uphill, I came to a rocky promontory. If I could get up on top, there would be a view down into the brush ahead.
I started up, grabbing a handhold, finding a spot for my toe, pulling myself up head over hand. Once halfway up the cliff I was able to abandon the rock climbing and step from boulder to boulder. The view was good.
From up here I could see not only more brush but the tops of the brush. A marked improvement.
I rested against the rock wall. Something moved out there. A rattling of leaves. Closer to me a squirrel scampered, rustling among the dry twigs and fir cones.
The noise came again. Too big for a squirrel. I held my breath. Brush was moving. Three tall fir trees obstructed my field of vision. There. Antlers. Wide antlers with heavy beams.
Raising my rifle, I waited for him to show. I felt the wind in my face. So he couldnt smell me.
I eased along the rocky ledge, trying for a clearer view of the deer just 70 yards away.
He lifted his head suddenly and looked through the branches of the fir tree, directly at me. In another instant he would be gone, crashing away through the manzanita.
I sneaked the safety off, steadied the crosshairs and touched the trigger, feeling my rifle recoil. The echo of the shot rang from the hills and my empty brass went tinkling down through the rocks as I loaded another cartridge. Just in case.
I found him where he fell. A four point blacktail. He had lived well in this cover with its abundant browse. Now the food he had eaten, converted to meat, would feed my family. I was thankful.
My first priority was to take care of the meat and, as I field dressed the deer, I remembered what I had heard other hunters say about taking a nice buck. The antlers seemed to shrink once the animal was on the ground. I looked again at the head. No, they had not shrunk. This was a good one. In fact he would eventually make the Oregon Big Game Record Book.
This was a blacktail buck in the prime of his life. He was sleek and heavier in the body than any mule deer I have harvested. It took two hours to drag him out to the road. His head sports a four-point rack plus eye-guards. The antlers are almost perfectly symmetrical.
I marked my tag and tied it around the antler beam.
My season, and my quest for a big blacktail, was finished. I brought the head to Tim McLagan, owner of McLagan's Taxidermy, the next day. We discussed how the mount should look. Since the picture in my mind is of the buck as he looked when he lifted his head and looked at me, I decided to have the mount duplicate that posture.
It was nine months later when Tim called to let me know the mount was completed. The deer, which still stands out in my memory as one of the best hunting adventures, now hangs in my living room. It appears lifelike and it communicates the attitude of the alerted animal, a regal monarch of the high timber where I found him.
Eyes are the most important part of a trophy mount. Done wrong, the trophy appears bug-eyed or squinty. Done right, the trophy is one that its owner can be proud of, a work of art to pass down as a heirloom. On my buck, the eyes are finished to resemble photos I gave Tim when he started on the project. They appear vibrant, alive. The ears are at attention. Whiskers, nose and nostrils appear natural and the hair retains the sheen of vitality.
I am very happy with the work that McLagans Taxidermy has performed on all the trophies that they have done for me.
Gary Lewis is an outdoor writer whose work has been published in regional and national publications. His book Hunting Oregon was published in 1999. You can reach him at www.huntingoregon.net