2023 Hunts Recap

2023 brought lots of changes to Hustler Hunting. Due to the changes made to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hunt season dates, we faced a challenge. We can't hunt antlerless elk on the properties that we have access to until after the first elk season ends in our area. We also realized that 95% of the time people were booked for a 3-day hunt but we only used 2 days to be tagged out. So we changed our guided cow elk hunts to 2 full days from 3 full days. This allowed us to expand the number of hunts offered in the season to 28.

Scott Haugen Article

At the Northwest Sportsman show in Portland in February we were lucky enough to sell 8 of those hunts. We were also blessed to have Scott Haugen write about hunting with us the first year we were in operation. The article he wrote titled Modern Day Oregon Cow Boys (and Gils) was published in the March/April publication of the Oregon Hunter Magazine. This was a huge boost to our business. We sold out of our Eastern Oregon cow elk hunts by the first of September.

Logan Goes "Full Time"

The other huge change that we made was Logan quit his main job to focus on guiding full-time. This brought lots of new opportunities to the business, including a Partnership with Derek Miller and Eastern Oregon Outfitters. This partnership allowed Logan the opportunity to guide hunts from September 1st through the end of November.

'Coptering In

That's where the guide season will start. On a partnership guided archery elk and deer hunt in the Lookout unit of Eastern Oregon. This hunt is a different style of hunt than the normal. There are some large pieces of public land that are landlocked by private in this unit. Forcing us to get creative… a helicopter, makes those hard-to-reach places a little easier. We flew in for the 7-day hunt the day before the archery season kicked off on the 2nd of September. The weather was unseasonably cool for that time of year in Eastern Oregon. Unfortunately, our hunter was unsuccessful but had multiple opportunities. He just couldn't close the deal Logan left that hunt in Derek’s hands for the last few days so he could go set camp up for the next archery hunt which kicked off the day after the fly-in hunt ended. One thing that we learned a lot about was how challenging to logistics of setting and moving camps is.

The Good, The Bad, The...

With 2 clients coming into the Eagle Cap Zone for 7 day-guided elk hunts the second week of the Oregon archery season we set up a wall tent camp. Derek and Terron guided those hunts. Jordan was successful with a good little bull elk to start his elk hunting career. Bob Hadd was the other hunter in camp. He was a bad experience! After a day and a half, he left camp for an “emergency” at home. He conveniently left without paying the balance of his hunt, stiffing us for the remainder of what he owed. Don’t be a Bob! Meanwhile, Logan helped a friend of his for a few days and scouted for an upcoming Wenaha unit archery bull hunt.

The "Big 3"

The Wenaha unit is in what is considered Oregon's “big 3”. These units include Mt. Emily, Walla Walla, and Wenaha. These hunts take north of 20 points to draw and come with hopes of killing the biggest bull elk of your life. That is a lot of expectation for a guide to handle! Steve had cashed in 22 points to get his hands on a Wenaha unit tag. This hunt was a 7-day guide-only hunt. Which means that the hunter supplies his own camp and food. Which is a cheaper option for the hunter. By this time in the season, the elk have seen significant pressure and can be wary of calling. So after 7 days of hard hunting walking 12+ miles day in and day out we were not able to close the deal on a bull. I came home for a few days and Steves's wife called and asked me to go back up and see if I could help him fill his tag. I left Home at 3.30 the next morning planning on staying until we got a bull of the season ended. I arrived at camp in the pouring rain and picked Steve up. Expectations were not too high with the weather the way it was. As we were driving to our hike-in spot we spotted a bull off the road. After a short stalk, he was able to get a good shot on him and fill his tag. This wrapped up the Archery hunts for the 2023 season.

Deer Season

Next was deer season. Derek had booked 3 deer hunters who were packed into a camp in the Eagle Cap Mountains in the Keating Unit. We had also booked 2 deer hunters for the Lookout unit which Logan was guiding. The Lookout hunters were hunting with Outfitter Giude tags from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. These tags are for non-residents of the State of Oregon and are applied for by Eastern Oregon Outfitters. With our partnership, they are able to sell more of these hunts and tags. The 2 deer hunters Logan was guiding were Scott and his dad, Gary. Gary was 78 years old! This hunt was a pretty special time for the father-son duo. They had hunted together for a long time but hadn't got to hunt together for a few years. They were both able to fill their tags and fill the memory book with lots of laughs and time together. While we were in the desert killing a few deer Derek was in the mountains helping his clients kill 3 deer there. We were really happy to end deer season with a 100% kill rate.

Into November

With a few weeks until our cow elk hunts were scheduled to start we took some time to rest before the storm! This year we outfitted a few rifles with suppressors and required that our clients shoot our rifles. It was a game changer for keeping the herd close enough to go after one client killed a cow out of the group. Our antlerless elk hunts started off with a bang the second week of November. We had 8 clients that week. 7 of those clients killed and the 1 client that went home empty-handed missed two opportunities on cows. The next week we had 8 more clients and Logan Left for another guided-only “big 3 “ hunt. Of those 8 clients, 7 took elk meat home while the 8th hunter hit a cow but we were not able to find and recover her. Our luck changed after that. The following week we also had 4 hunters before Thanksgiving. We were able to scratch 2 elk out for that group but the hunting had definitely changed. Our winter had not shown its face yet so the elk were still not frequenting the fields that they normally rely on for their main food source. With 6 hunters coming in the last 4 days of November were were stressed! Rightfully so we ended up killing 2 was all for those last 6 hunters. There were stalks and opportunities in that time that didn't end with success it is still hunting!

Tony Gets a Bull

Logan’s rifle hunt in the Wenaha unit with Tony was a great time. Most of our rifle hunts are 5-day guided hunts but in the “big 3” we run 7-day hunts. Winter had not shown her face yet there either so the hunting was a bit different than usual. But by the 3rd day with help from And who Tony had paid a little extra for as a “spotter,” we had located where some good bulls were living. Andy had to come back to help guide cow hunts on day 4 so Tony and I headed in to set up in hopes of one of the bulls coming out in a spot we could make a shot on him. Shortly after arriving at our glassing spot a good bull walked out and Tony made a great shot on him at 525 yards. Tony was beyond excited it was the only bull he had ever killed! That is when the work stats on these hunts! We worked the bull up that night and got back to the pickup at 10 o'clock that night. The next morning I left Elgin early and traveled back to Haines to get horses to retrieve Tony's bull. In the Meantime Derek was guiding a client in the Mt. Emily unit who Killed a Bull that morning so we had 2 bulls to get out with the horses. It took all day to get Tony’s bull out so we went the next day to retrieve Derek’s client's bull. With adventures coming to an end so did the antlered hunts for the year.

Helping Young Hunters

With all the paid guided hunts coming to an end at the end of November comes the time to help some local kids fill their youth tags. This year we were lucky enough to help 2 different kids fill the antlerless tags in December. What a great year 2023 was we can not wait to see what 2024 brings our way.