By BEN McMORRIES
Pilot Staff Writer
It's said, in Curry County, during the last week of October and first week of November the hunting season reaches its zenith.
That time has arrived, and with it, abundant evidence that the old saying is true.
On Saturday, Oct. 23, Brookings resident Sam Appleton, his oldest son and his daughter-in-law went hunting at Indigo Prairie, in the vicinity of Agness, above the Rogue River.
Appleton was skunked when he went deer hunting in 2003, but he had high hopes in his first hunt of the 2004 season. Last Saturday it didn't take long for the veteran hunter to find what he was looking for a big blacktail buck with a huge set of antlers.
"It just broke daylight," Appleton said. "I saw a big deer standing in a clearing with a couple of does. It had its head down so I couldn't tell if it was a buck. When I saw him lift his head, I couldn't believe it."
Appleton was only 50 yards away from the 160-pound deer when he sighted in on the animal with his trusty .22-250. For a moment before he pulled the trigger, a shadow of doubt crossed his mind.
"My boy was real excited and all I could think of was not missing. It's a once in a lifetime chance to get a buck like that in this county," Appleton said.
But then, Appleton relaxed and gently squeezed the trigger. In an instant the buck was lying dead on the ground, killed by an expert shot to the neck.
Appleton was ecstatic when he measured the buck's large antlers. The 3x3's rack was 20 inches high and 17 inches wide.
"It's been six or seven years since I've seen bucks as big as this season," Appleton commented.
Later in the morning, Appleton's daughter-in-law, Jessica Lassiter bagged her first buck a fork-in-horn which she shot with a .22-250.
"She hit it with a neck shot," Appleton said. "She's real proud of that one."
Just about 30 minutes after Lassiter bagged her fork-in-horn at about 10 a.m., Brookings resident Cheryl Buehler, her husband Tim, and their children Ben and Laurie, were hunting in the vicinity of Hunter's Creek, south of Gold Beach.
The family had been hunting since dawn, and Cheryl had already bagged a doe deer with her brand-new Ruger 7x57 Mauser rifle.
Tim said Cheryl spotted some wild boar rooting around for some mushrooms on a landing at 10:30 a.m.
His wife's sighting added another dimension to the daily hunt, Buehler said.
"This year the ODFW has a rule that licensed hunters can harvest feral pigs (boar) without a tag because they're considered an invasive species," Tim, a biology teacher at Brookings-Harbor High School said. "Curry County has a lot of them. The pigs eat acorns and destroy a lot of good land when they root around for food."
At the landing, Cheryl sighted in on the largest of the three boars with her Mauser and let loose a round. After the smoke cleared, Cheryl had bagged a 200-pound boar in addition to her doe.
"I'd never encountered boar in 15 years of hunting in Curry County," Tim proudly said. "Cheryl had a very successful hunt, especially for being new to the sport."