Going Guided for Columbia Whitetail | Bob Robb

Going Guided for Columbia Whitetail | Bob Robb


Going Guided for Columbia Whitetail

Bob Robb takes an opening morning Columbia whitetail buck with outfitter, Taylor Thorp.

by Bob Robb

If you want a rare Columbia whitetail buck, essentially you need to hire a guide. I did, and when the time came hired Taylor Thorp of 4×4 Outfitters in Oregon through a trusted booking agent, Wade Derby of Crosshair Consulting (www.crosshairconsulting.com; 925-437-8644 cell).

Taylor has access to some smoking hot private land, and before I arrived had found a dandy buck. As the false dawn began to illuminate the eastern horizon the first morning Thorp tensed. “I have deer,” he hissed. Slowly the light increased to the point we could see all we needed to see from a quarter mile away – big antlers outlined against the wheat-colored grasses below the oaks. “Let’s go.” We slipped in closer, I took a solid rest, and not 5 minutes into the season had crosshairs on the largest buck. I was shooting a Weatherby Vanguard Sub-MOA rifle (www.weatherby.com) chambered in .257 Wby. Mag. topped with a Nikon Monarch 4-14X scope (www.nikonsportoptics.com) and loaded with Nosler Custom Ammunition (www.nosler.com/nosler-custom-ammunition) featuring the 115-grain Ballistic Tip bullet. At 250 yards the shot was almost a chip shot, and just like that, a hunt that I had dreamed about for the near-decade that the Columbian whitetail has been huntable, I had a beautiful typical-8-point buck on the ground. Later we taped his antlers at 102 3/8 Safari Club International points, which would put him in the top 20 in the Safari Club International record book.

Columbia whitetail (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus) are not the continent’s smallest deer – the protected Florida Key subspecies (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) holds that distinction – but it is the smallest which we can hunt. They are found in two separate populations. The lower Columbian River population is found in Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties in Washington State and Clatsop, Columbia, and Multnomah counties in Oregon State; the second is in Douglas County, Oregon in the Umpqua River Basin. The deer became endangered throughout its range due to habitat modification by human activities such as farming, logging, and commercial and residential development. However, the Douglas County population has rebounded and was delisted in July 2003; today that population is estimated to be over 5,000 individuals, is self-sustaining, and the herd is managed by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department. Today the Umpqua River Basin is the only place in the world where this subspecies can be hunted.

Can going on guided whitetail deer hunts pay big dividends? You betcha!