By: Johnny Costello

The most important part of my blacktail strategy is trail cameras. They provide the essential surveillance required for night time activity, the only chance to locate, judge and pattern a senior Blacktail during preseason scouting, of course other than tracking, which can be informatively vague.

If you are from out of state you should find a reputable outfitter or local who has cameras out in different locations for months. Using mineral sites, bait stations, mock and real scrapes, quality scent products and food plots dramatically increase your chances of capturing critical photos with keen camera placement.

This is how long I’ve been using cameras on deer. I forgot about this one.

During summer months deer leisurely live their lives but mid-October the pre-rut begins and is commonly confused with rut because it simply looks that way. These bucks ain’t squat when the bosses migrate down from the high country around mid-November and high hoof it out of there with their black tails between their legs. This is when the true rut begins.

Take note of the tree circled in crimson red. That scent tree has brought me many happy memories.

The use of premium scent products is imperative and I am grateful to have such an amazing scent line at my fingertips. It is mandatory to have cover scents and deer excretions in my possession as well as scent eliminating sprays, detergents and garments.


It’s always wise to brush in your blinds and keep them scent free.

Treestand and blind hunting is the best way to hunt blacktail because long hard hours are likely needed to provide a shot opportunity. Golden Rule; DO NOT CONTAMINATE YOUR STANDS. Also keep them well cover-scented. I’ve had minimal luck with stalking, ground still hunting and rattling. I know there are skilled hunters out there that will argue with me on that one but that is my own experiences. As exciting as this strategy can be, I choose other alternatives.


Lisa endeared the characteristics of this unicorn with prayer and skill to make it happen.

I might look like Gumby on a dance floor, but I can sure as hell sit perfectly still for hours on end when in pursuit of a giant. It’s an art form to me. Most of my buds don’t have that type of discipline.

 Get in your blind or stand well before daybreak and stay put until dark. Unpredictability is what these bruisers are best at, besides picking off your smell and movements. Some of my oldest bucks have been taken at midday, in pouring rain, in dense fog and heavy snow, so God only knows when your moment will arise. Keep a pee bottle on your keychain and a ziplock in your pocket.


This buck appeared from the thickest of fog like he was on a rope leading to my VS1 loaded scent wicks

This is my take on an extremely difficult adversary and I’d like to emphasize that this article stems from countless personal errors. God willing I’ll have many more opportunities to hunt the elusive blacktail deer.

The author with another impressive trophy blacktail.

EQUIPMENT USED:

Bear Archery’s Legend Series bows , Trophy Ridge sights, quivers and rests, Badlands packs, accessories,and apparel, Easton FMJ arrows, Trufire Hardcore Release, Conquest Scent Products,Oakley RX glasses, Flying Arrow Archery’s Orion 3 broadheads, Dead Downwind, HECS Undergarments, Crispi boots

For Part I: For more please go to: Johnny Costello