Thursday, October 11, 2012

Washington State High Hunt 2012

So this September I went on my first ever Washington State High Deer Hunt. I went in to the Pasayten Wilderness in North Central Washington. The areas you are allowed to hunt are no motor vehicle access areas.

So Monday after work I drove an hour to the trail head where I was going to hunt. I left the car at about 5:30 PM with my pack and gun and started up the hill. I had never been to the area I was going but had somewhat of an idea how to get there. After about an hour and a half it got dark out. Of course I was on a steep side slope with loose rocks. My pack for this trip was about 30 pounds and the bag was not fitted for me so it was making life hard on me.  With my head lamp on I continued and kept telling my self one foot in front of the other.

I had no idea where I was going to camp. I knew I was looking for a steep meadow which is where I would be hunting the next day. At about 8pm I found the grassy area and started looking for a place to camp in the trees.  I decided this trip to pack a hammock to see if I could avoid sleeping on the ground. I found a small protected area about 10 feet of the trail and used a bone saw my dad gave me to cut some spruce branches off two trees to set my hammock.    After the hammock was up I set a tarp over the top of the just in case of some wet weather. You never know up at 6000 feet.

I got my bed set up and went straight to sleep. A few hours into my sleep I noticed my backside and feet getting cold. I was in a 0F degree sleeping bag and it was only 35F degrees out, I shouldn't be getting cold. I realized that as I sleep I was slipping down  in the hammock so my feet were getting above my heart which was making it hard for the warm blood to get there and warm them. With my backside it was cold because there was no insulation besides my sleeping bag under me and the wind was blowing . After a few hours of trying to ignore it I got out my sleeping pad and slept on the ground. The only reason I had my sleeping pad was because my mom who was visiting while I was packing said " You never know you might not like the hammock."

After tossing and turning for the rest of the night on the ground I got up right before sun up and got dressed. With my gun I walked over to a near by creek to get some water for the day. As I did this some deer started walking out of the woods into the grassy area at about 70 yards. All I could think was "Please let there be a buck and we can get this over with right now." After I watched the 5 does for about an hour I continued to get my water.

So I decided to walk up the steep meadow for the morning hunt. At the top of the meadow it turned into a big alpine bowl with a lake at the very top. It took me a few hours to get to the top. It was beautiful up there, with the high cliffs and even a little bit of snow. I saw lots of deer sign but no deer. I did flush a big blue grouse but missed it with the .22 revolver I had with me. When I got the the small lake it was about 11am and I found a nice shady spot and laid down for a little nap. The lake was 100% clear and beautiful. A half hour into my nap I was awoken by the sound of a voice. At first I thought I was dreaming but I kept hearing the voices. I looked up over the little hill I was sleeping on and sure enough there were two hikers walking up through the rocks. I yelled to them letting them know I was in the area. The couple walked over to me and we chatted for a bit.

As we were talking a falcon started chasing a small tweety bird, every few times the falcon would dive the smaller bird you could see a puff of feathers come off the small bird. The small bird finally hit the water and the falcon quickly scooped it off the water as if it was nothing.

The couple said their good byes and they went on their way and I hiked back down to camp. At camp I cooked my lunch of top ramen.  By the way did I mention all I packed for food was three power bars and six packages of top ramen.  After an even longer nap in the hammock in camp, which was very comfortable during the heat of the day I explored more around camp.

I decided at dusk to sit at the bottom of the meadow and see if anything comes out. As I was sitting there a Mother bear with three cubs came into the meadow. My camp was about 70 yards to my right and the bears were about 50 yards directly in front of me. I did not get a picture of the bears as it was too dark for the camera I had with me. After watching them for a while I got up and ran them off in the opposite direction of my camp.   

A bear scratch marks on a tree
I returned to camp and cooked my self a second helping of top ramen. After dinner I went to bed, this time I started sleeping on the ground. Through the night the mice were crawling on my sleeping bag. I would kick the mice off the bag and hear them land off in the bushes. After getting tired of that I placed my sleeping pad in the hammock and tried to go back to sleep. The pad solved my backside being cold but not my feet.

Again I woke woke up at daylight and went to sit in the meadow area. I was sitting next to a stump and I could hear something walking through the bushes on the other side of the stump. I got up to look what it was and it was two other hunters who seemed just as surprised to see me as I was them. We told each other what we each planned to do for the day so we would not interfere with each other.   

After the other hunters walked up the meadow I decided to walk up the main valley to see what it had to offer. I found that 30 steps pat my camp was a real campsite with flat places to sleep. Well at least I know this for next year.  As I continued up valley, the main trail stopped about 1/2 mile past camp. I then entered into thick old growth forests. As I got further back it started to open up a bit. I found a avalanche slide path that looked good to hold some deer. As I sat down I could hear something walk through the thick brush. I waited for about 15 minutes four does walked down a path. I was hoping that a big buck was going to follow them but I was thinking that it was going to be a pain in the ass to get that deer out of there if I shot one. But of course just does.

On my walk back to camp I decided with my lack of a good sleep, lack of seeing bucks, only having one more day before I have to be back at work and my lack of energy due to the awesome choice of food I brought I should likely pack up and get out of the woods that day before dark.

So I got back to camp made and while making some food next to the creek the other two hunters showed up. They said they saw a little two point up next to the lake but that was it.  I spoke with them for awhile and then went to camp and packed up and got home.

I had a great time hunting in the high country and I learned a lot of lessons. #1 Bring Protein, #2 leave the hammock at home and #3 it would be better with a 2nd hunter. I cant wait to do it again next year. 


  1. Good luck next year, Rory! Sounds like you had a unique experience and learned a lot. Sounds like a great area to hunt!

  2. It was a great area to hunt. Can't wait to do it again. IT is 100% beautiful up there.