Okanogan Monarch

By Heather Wilson

Okanogan MonarchHeather Wilson
Washington, 2009, DIY, Public Land

We stopped to fuel up the truck around Washington. Our bodies were fueled with hope and anticipation for this hunt, as we had been waiting all summer and fall.

While paying inside the store, we noticed a photograph of a man with a huge mulie displayed at the cash register. Of course we commented on it and got the story from the cashier. The hunter was actually an employee at the store, and this was his first deer - shot locally in the general season. Feeling a little envious, I thought, “Man, if only I could have some luck like that.”

As we were leaving, my husband Brad said to me, “Can you imagine us coming across a buck like that? It could happen.”

The previous week we had hunted a different area in the same unit, but the weather was abnormally warm for November. We had seen several bucks accompanying does in the sagebrush, but nothing too exciting. We passed on everything we encountered and came back the following weekend hoping for more weather and rut activity. It was a long, anxious week waiting to head back, since we knew it was only going to get better as days passed!

On our second trip, we decided to stay at our uncle’s cabin. On our way over, we encountered white-out conditions - just what we had hoped for! We arrived at the cabin at dark and organized our packs for the upcoming hunt.

At 5 a.m. I stepped out of the cabin anticipating snow, but it was 15 degrees and clear skies full of stars. We encountered snow at the base of the Forest Service road heading up the canyon. “This is perfect!” we thought as we proceeded up through the steep, winding road. We turned onto an unmaintained spur that we knew ended at the base of a ridge. The area was alive with deer tracks in the fresh snow.

The canyon was perfect for spotting deer. There had been a forest fi re here several years ago, so it was mostly open with burnt stumps and logs and good but short new growth. Deer movement was easy to catch with the naked eye.

We knew that having the late tag in this unit meant we could and should hold out for something special. I had been practicing keeping my cool by watching “decent” deer that in general season I would take without hesitation. I imagined taking the shot, staying steady, and breathing normal.

Okanogan Monarch

For a full account of Heather's adventure, go to page 6 in the April/May 2010 issue of Eastmans' Hunting Journal.