High Buck Hunt in WA...


Well-Known Member
Nov 2, 2003
Washington State
Finally getting around to posting my little short story here from my very quick 2009 High Buck hunt.

Went solo into the Pasayten Wilderness area (one of a few wilderness areas that are open in WA for 3 pt. min. Sept. 15-25) on the 18th. Got camp set up near a 6700' pass (just scraped a level spot for the Nemo Gogo).

Went carefully to spot a hillside from a couple of hundred yards away from camp. Carefully, because the ridge I spot from and camp on (only possible way to have enough space for even a bivy is to camp on the ridge itself) is very exposed and to avoid being seen on the side of the ridge I'm hunting on, I walk on the steep, rocky, loose side. Fairly nasty terrain, even after years of technical mountain climbing experience and x-country backcountry work.


Hillside I typically watch...

Get all the gear out and mostly set up for a long shot if one presents itself and then a few minutes later...what are those suspicious noises just downslope? Sounds like deer and close. So I grab my rifle and crawl down about 25' to a bush to have some cover while I figure out what is going on. Sure enough, about 70 yards downslope I see the hind quarters of a deer sticking out from behind a tree. Huh...that looks fairly well muscled and decent sized...could be a buck. Sure enough, a few seconds later it feeds out from behind the tree and I see some ivory. 3pt. min. here--so I gotta count. Scope is on 4.5 power by now for a close shot...hmm...1, 2, 3 on the one side--I quite counting at that point...legal buck...good enough for meat in the freezer. Now the trick was to scoot from behind the stunted alpine tree 'bush' on this very loud, gravely ridgetop for a clear shot.

His head goes down to feed and I scoot a bit. Head down again and scoot my butt over a few more inches. Meanwhile I noticed the red thread taped near the end of my muzzle as a wind indicator. Oh...that's not good. From me to him. He's downslope probably 40' vertical, but as the wind comes over a ridge, it eddies downwards on the lee side...just a matter of time 'til he winds me. Scoot, scoot. Almost clear...his head snaps up. A couple of bounds downslope while I scoot. He stops. I stop. Head turns away. I scoot. He'll be in the trees in a few more steps. He's at about 100yds now. He stops one more time before the trees and I shoot.

I'm not particularly proud of the shot I took, because I had a bad angle, but my chances were quickly dwindling and he'll be down eventually from the shot. He runs downhill and I'm deciding whether to follow and push the issue or let nature take its course and get him in the morning. It'll be fairly cold tonight at this elevation. At this point, it's nearly dark and it's nasty terrain at the top of the ridge gradually giving way to easier terrain farther down. I do a little looking before pitch black dark and decide to wait 'til morning.

Next morning I'm up at the place I shot from an hour before first light. Once it was light, it didn't take long to find him. He went about 100yds down hill towards a beautiful mountain meadow. The shot had taken out a hind quarter by shattering a femur and then blown a 12" by 12" hole in his side as the bullet exited literally (I mean literally--there was nothing left) 'de-gutting' him in the process from the diaphram backwards.

The big 240 SMK doing over 2900fps MV made a bit of an impact, but I wasn't proud of my shot and losing the meat from the hind. It was going to warm quickly, so I got to work and got him and camp out of there and home to a friends cooler.


Not the biggest deer and not a long shot, but I'm happy.


Beautiful country...especially after you get a couple hundred yards down off the ridge on the north side!

Tried sausage for the first time using a friends sausage recipe after steaking the backstraps and tenderloin. The kids love the sausage!

Congratulations, nice story.
I love solo backpack hunting stories.
You must have been impressed when you saw him without the hind, and no guts, from the shot.
Thanks for sharing. Nice pictures.
I like the high buck hunt! Only hunted the Pasayten once, normally I'm in the Glacier Peak Wilderness area instead.

Congrats! Pretty good looking buck - I figure any buck on the high hunt is a trophy!

Regards, Guy
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