Each year, I find a way to get out in the woods to chase elk and deer for hunting. Sometimes with rifle, and sometimes with bow. This year, I was able to get two seasons, elk bow and deer rifle, over in the John Day, OR area. As many may know, bow hunting is very challenging. Bow hunting for elk is very challenging, and bow hunting in the Eastern Oregon
Mountains has it’s own set of challenges. We do a lot of hiking into areas you can’t get to any other way, which can be like a ‘needle in the haystack’ when attempting to get on the elk, and hoping they are ‘in the rut’.
This is where having access to a plane can extremely improve your odds. Even though legally you can’t scout the same day, you can at least cover ground from the air ahead of time, analyzing access and public versus private, and every now and then you may even see animals from the air. This year, we averaged about 10 miles on foot per day and around 1000 ft + elevation change additionally each day (which has been pretty average for us each year). We were able to use our ’68 Mooney M20G to scout, and it worked remarkably well! I fly with the Civil Air Patrol in the Oregon Mountains as well, so I am used to mountain flying and being able to look down from a high-wing aircraft (Cessna 182). A Mooney however, has the cockpit sitting forward a ways, which actually makes “looking down visibility” really good. We were able to cover a ton of ground because we can clean the plane up and move from one area to another very fast, then drop the gear and the flaps and drop down into a canyon very smooth and slow. I say “slow”, even though a Mooney doesn’t know how to slow down as much as a Cessna, but still
very effective. Mooney’s don’t want the same reputation as Cessnas, where they can have a bird strike the back window they’re so slow, ha!
Anyway, using the Mooney to travel across the state of Oregon quickly to get to our hunting area, and then to use for scouting once there, made the experience very efficient and rewarding on many levels. All while burning 9 gal/hr! All that to say, we were not successful for elk this year. We did get in on the elk however, and some years we don’t, which is more like taking your bow for a long walk.
We did use the Mooney for deer hunting transportation a couple weeks later as well, and 2 out of our hunting party filled tags – very nice bucks too! See attached for a pic of my brother’s buck.
So keep flying fast out there, and sometimes as slow as you can in a Mooney if you’re scouting! For any doubters out there, this is my story using a Mooney hunting, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!