A few years ago, while having dinner with famous bowhunter Chuck Adams, who is arguably the best known bowhunter alive today, we chatted about venison. We compared notes from the animals we'd taken on many continents. In this case, venison is defined as the flesh of a hooved wild animal, which would include all the African antelope, moose, caribou, deer, elk, etc. I asked Chuck what his all-time favorite venison is, and I was astounded when he said Sitka blacktail deer. Amazing, because that's my all-time favorite as well.
Here I am on June 1st a few years back. It may be the earliest deer season in North America.
I've often wondered what makes the flesh of these deer so delectable. The species is found from coastal British Columbia up through coastal Alaska. They're basically animals of wooded areas in wild places, and typically do not inhabit agricultural areas over most of their range. As such, their diet is composed of browse and other native vegetation. Logically, you'd think they wouldn't offer such superb table fare.
Here is one of my sitka blacktail, quartered. I can't wait to get it home and on the table.
I took my first Sitka blacktail on Alaska's Baranoff Island, hunting with a very young pilot who put his bush plane into an area that was highly questionable. It was a white-knuckle flight, but that's another story. Later I hunted extensively for blacktails on Alaska's Kodiak Island, and Canada's Queen Charlotte Island, taking another dozen or more deer. In every case, they were fantastic on the dinner table.
The deer in these images was taken on Queen Charlotte Island off the coast of British Columbia. I believe the Island offers the earliest and longest deer season in North America. I typically combined a spring black bear hunt with a deer hunt there. The deer hunt starts June 1 for bucks only, running into September, and then any-sex running into February. Limit was 15. Unfortunately, bear hunting on that island no longer exists, and I'm not sure about the deer hunts. But wherever you hunt them, I'm confident that you'll agree with my assessment about their gourmet qualities. For me, there's no close second.