Dry conditions, smoke and wildfire closures messed with this year’s High Buck season in Chelan County, making it tough to glass some basins and forcing other hunters to pull up tent stakes for unfamiliar areas.
“The fires made it interesting,” notes Dale Wick of Icicle Outfitters in Leavenworth, Wash.
He reports that drop camps up the Entiat River had to be relocated to the Lake Wenatchee area due to a pair of fires while another in the Chiwawa drainage had to pack out early.
Following a series of lightning strikes across the east slopes of the Cascades in early September, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest shut down large parts of the eastern Glacier Peak Wilderness, one of several areas where High Buck runs Sept. 15-25, as well as other federal lands down the Entiat, Mad and Chiwawa Rivers and along Lake Chelan.
“Bottom line is that six of our camps had to hunt spots that they were not familiar with and those camps did not do very well,” Wick says. “The guys took only seven bucks and two bear … Smoke in the other areas also made it difficult to spot and stalk.”
Stan Weeks, a veteran alpine hunter and regular client of Icicle Outfitters, was among those who notched their deer tags with a nice 5-pointer, counting eyeguards.
Jason Brooks, a Northwest Sportsman contributor who spent the first weekend in west-central Chelan County and had a friend take over his camp for four more days, reported that with the hot, dry conditions, deer were in the timber and bedding before first light.
One of Brooks’ partners did get a bear, a large boar, while other members of his party also saw numerous bruins.
To the north, in the Okanogan’s Pasayten, state game warden Troy McCormick and a Forest Service officer packed in for three days on the eastern side of the sprawling wilderness.
“They only checked a few hunters, but did check two deer,” reports McCormick’s supervisor, WDFW Sgt. Jim Brown in Omak. “One was a 3×4, and the guy said he passed on eight legal bucks before taking that one.”
Washington’s general rifle deer season begins Oct. 13, and hopefully by then Chelan County and the Okanogan as well as the rest of the state will have received some rainfall and cooled down. Temps have been in the 80s in some areas and it’s been hit or miss for frost in the high country, reports one WDFW biologist out in the Pasayten recently.
For more on 2012′s mule deer, blacktail and whitetail as well as elk prospects for the Evergreen State, go here.