By Dave Anderson
I’ve always wanted to hunt the end of Washington’s general rifle season for mule deer, so we made it happen this year and decided to hunt the final five days. Weather can be hit and miss this time of year, but after looking at the forecast a few days before taking off, I knew we made the right call.
We hooked up the trailer Thursday afternoon and headed east. After getting set up we came up with the game plan for Friday. We decided to hunt up high at my usual starting point. That morning we saw a few tracks in the 5,600-foot range, but never laid eyes on any legal bucks.
Therefore, we decided to come down midday and hunted low for the afternoon and early evening hunt. The deer were far more plentiful in the lower elevations versus up high.
We covered a lot of miles over the next few days, seeing a lot of does and several small, nonlegal bucks. This was a promising sign for future seasons, especially if we have a mild winter and no major fires.
The excitement came on Monday. I heard a shot come from a location where I knew my father-in-law Maury was. Several minutes after I heard the shot, I received a text that said “Buck Down!”
The text that immediately followed read, “The biggest deer I’ve ever shot!”
My father-in-law introduced me to this area about six years ago and we go back every year. He drew the Pearrygin Quality Buck tag last season and was able to harvest a smaller four-point deer using that tag.
While it wasn’t the typical deer you would consider harvesting during a quality hunt, he was still pleased that he was able to at least fill the tag and put meat on the table.
So when I laid eyes on the buck he got on Monday, the first thing I said was, “You just filled your tag with a buck that deserves that quality tag you had last year!”
There was a lot of celebrating and high fives, then we caped out the buck to get it ready for the taxidermist and packed it off the hill.
My father-in-law harvested this deer in a drainage that meant a lot to him. It was the exact same location his father and he had missed a large 4×4 years and years ago.
I was so happy for him and loved being a part of this special moment.
The last day of the season, my friend Kiley and I put our boots back on the ground and covered lots of ground and drainages looking for deer. I came across a total of 12 small, nonlegal bucks (all 2x2s and spikes) and a pile of does, but never anything I could legally harvest.
I covered more ground than I ever have and found lots of tracks and good sign. I cannot wait to get back over to hunt next year. Although my tag was not notched this year on our Eastern Washington hunt, my heart is completely full seeing Maury take his largest buck to date.