By Mike Maltais
A largely unbroken blanket of clouds covered the valley, hid the gibbous hunter’s moon and held in the heat as hunters took to the field around the Methow early Saturday morning (Oct. 12) for the first day of modern firearm deer season.
Hunters on the Methow Game Range bordering the north side of Highway 20 heading up the Loup found the temperature almost balmy as they staked out overlooks and ridges.
Twisp resident Rod Peterson found a spot with a good view of the surrounding terrain to spend the opening hours.
“I used to hunt the Cub Creek area and also around Ramsey Creek but those areas became just too crowded,” Peterson said of his current preference for the Frazer Creek drainage.
Peterson was hunting with son Glen from Snohomish, who was stationed at the head of a draw some distance away.
The senior Peterson permanently relocated to the valley in 1995 and now resides on lower Beaver Creek.
At the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife check station in Winthrop, biologists Scott Fitkin and Jeff Heinlein checked 107 hunters and 30 deer on opening weekend. The largest buck of that bunch was a four-pointer with a 30-inch spread and one crooked tine.
“We’re seeing a higher than average percentage of the harvest in the 4-year-old or greater class as expected,” Fitkin reported.
“These numbers suggest a reduction in hunting pressure but a significant increase in success as compared to last year’s opening weekend,” Fitkin said.
Lat season the check station saw 127 hunters and 17 deer on opening weekend.
Katie Russell, who offers a hide drop-off station and free deer skinning at her property just north of Twisp, concurs with the opening day results.
“I had more business on opening weekend than I did during the entire season last year,” Russell said of the estimated 35 hides she processed. “And there were some nice antlers among them.”
It was a relatively quiet weekend for Aero Methow Rescue Service personnel with respect to opening day incidents.
“We were out and busy but had few hunter-related calls,” said director of services Cindy Button.
Lance Rider of The Outdoorsman sporting goods store in Winthrop said his opening weekend hunting camp on Boulder Creek was pretty quiet for the most part. His son Chris crossed paths with a black bear while out scouting for a buck, but since he wasn’t carrying a bear tag, Rider and the bear went their separate ways.
Later, as he was making his way back to camp, Rider saw the same bear again only this time it was following him.
Young Twisp hunters Cody and Shelby White both bagged their bucks on opening weekend, said Erin White of the Retro Pony in Winthrop. Shelby, 11, took down a three-by-three non-typical buck and 9-year-old Cody connected on a five-by-five point.
The photo wall at the Antlers Tavern in Twisp was decorated with 26 photos of hunters with their bucks as of Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 15). One of those was Jake Pennock of Twisp, posing with a respectable four-pointer.
And so it goes. With some five days left of the season, the weather forecast calls for much of the same as the opening half. It will be sunny days with little or no chance of rain and temperatures ranging from the low 30s in the morning to the mid-60s later in the day.