Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Deer Hunting => Topic started by: Donaker on August 11, 2019, 05:51:40 PM

Title: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Donaker on August 11, 2019, 05:51:40 PM
I am going to hunt the Pasayten Wilderness for the high buck rifle hunt this year.  I've never hunted there but have heard others say they have run into other camps/hunters/etc., indicating the area receives a fair bit of hunting pressure despite it being a large area and non-motorized.  My question is, for those that have hunted in the Pasayten Wilderness during the high buck hunt, how many miles did you hike in and how many other hunters did you run into?  I'm just trying to get a sense of what type of hunting pressure exists during this hunt.  I have a three spots picked out ranging from 12-17 miles in, and off the main trail.  If the area is overloaded with people I may look to Glacier Peak or elsewhere. 
Thanks.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: teamhughes2007 on August 11, 2019, 09:21:15 PM
We'll hike in about 4 miles on a trail and then about another mile off the trail. We see a few other hunters but if you get off the trails you should see deer.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Skyvalhunter on August 12, 2019, 05:27:46 AM
First I would ask have you ever packed out a boned out deer weighing 90 lbs further than a mile or so and that's not including your camp? Also just because you are 12 miles in is the deer hunting going to be any better? If you think that the GPW will be any less crowded well you are in for a awakening. Horse hunters and drop like the Pasayten, with that being said it would behoove you to go less distance in and get away from the trail. treat it as a back packing trip where you carry a rifle and if you get lucky to get a 3 point or better buck consider yourself lucky. But don't let me piss on your parade :twocents:
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Bushcraft on August 12, 2019, 06:52:56 AM
If the area is overloaded with people I may look to Glacier Peak or elsewhere. 

 :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:

 :bdid:

That's sort of like saying if your 1 bedroom house's septic system is acting up, you'll go jump in Seattle's sewage treatment plant's holding ponds.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: boneaddict on August 12, 2019, 07:52:43 AM
Enjoy the trip.  Think of it as a great camping trip with a chance to kill a deer or bear.  Youll probably see more of the latter.   There is no getting in further.  One mile this side of the border to the canadian border you will see folks.   You have to know that the outfitters funnel in as many hunters as they can.  They have only so many days to make a years worth of business and with shorter and shorter seasons....    If you think you can outhike a mulestring, goodluck.   The huge fires have also opened things up and the long range shooters enjoy the added visibility to poke at things 1,000 yards away.   My comment about this side of the border....lots of people cheat.     
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: 7mmfan on August 12, 2019, 08:05:59 AM
As others have stated, there are people throughout the whole thing. GPW is not better, if anything, it's worse so I wouldn't have that as a fall back. All of that being said, it is gorgeous country, and if you get off trail a mile you cut your competition down significantly. Get off trail a drainage or two, and you could find yourself alone. There's a lot of ground back there. I'd say that there used to be a sweet spot between the foot hunters and the horse hunters, somewhere in that 5-9 miles range, but I don't think it really exists anymore. Back country hunting has become such a popular thing, and with all the new lightweight gear available, people are going further and further every year on foot. My best advice would be to pick your spots, have 3 or 4 backup spots, and go enjoy yourself for a few days in one of the prettiest pieces of ground in WA during it's best time of year.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Jburke on August 25, 2019, 03:37:08 PM
It's been 5-6 years since I've done this hunt, but I went in about 5 miles and even around the trail I think I saw another group of people every two days or so.  I don't think any of them were hunting though, just hikers.  I think it's all a matter of which area you choose.  Certain trailheads are used more heavily, especially by the outfitters.  Some of them are more overlooked, or at least were.  :twocents:
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Cervus on August 27, 2019, 10:11:05 AM
As the HBH gets more an more popular, Pasayten is getting busy. And not just with hunters, but ultralight backpackers and trails runners deep in the backcountry. With the opener on a weekend, the major trailheads will be parked full. If you want to avoid people, plan to camp at least at least a mile off trail no matter how deep you go in.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Colville on August 27, 2019, 11:10:39 PM
Back country hunting isn't more popular, year over year, except to the new folks.  What I mean is that there's all kinds of resources telling joe never packed that he too can do it.  About one wet, foggy, snowed in, poor gear selected year is all it takes to weed out 90%.  They don't come back and on average aren't in the hardest to hunt spots, they are in big named basins.  Don't worry about which wilderness. Get out of the way and be able to endure because I've hunted lots of high hunts and all but one have included seriously inclement weather... all of them tough terrain.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Okanagan on August 28, 2019, 08:30:50 AM
Haven't hunted the Paysayten for several years but for many years was there during the opening and most of the high buck season.

Most beautiful hunt of the year, extremely low hunter success.  As said, often saw more bears than bucks in good huckleberry years.  Every other year there was a huge crowd on opening day.  I suspect that the crowds of hunters on big years would discourage a good many from coming back the next year.  A group of college student poachers were a problem in one area for a few years, coming in early and shooting undisturbed bucks used to ignoring hikers before the season opened. 

One morning before daylight some 8-10 miles from the road, I sat on a rim ridge deer escape route and listened to a dozen or two waking camps in the valley below:  a symphony of coughs, pots and pans on campfire stones and stoves, horse stomps and vocals, hunters talking and rustling horse tack or backpacks, plastic tarp and tent noise.

Another opening day we had scouted well we had a surprise of 50,000 sheep in the middle of our off trail hunt area.  They had been there several days, scouring every square inch of terrain for miles, herded by men on horses.  One of the horsemen told me they had 50,000.  Every usual camp site was crammed with disgusted backpack hunters.  Seems like the grazing authorities and the deer season authorities could have managed that one better, but maybe they intended to sync sheep and deer season.  I never went back.

Beautiful hunt.  Take the makings for huckleberry pie and a reflector or foil to bake.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: OltHunter on August 28, 2019, 10:18:36 AM
All spot on advice so far.

I think 12-17 miles is too far to hike.  Getting meat out in the middle of September without spoiling will be a big problem.

It seems like 4 to 7 miles is the sweet spot for trying to get away on foot while having it manageable. 

Pretty much any wilderness within 3 miles of a spot you can park a truck will get hit very hard by hunters.  Anything within 2 miles off any main trail will get hit hard by hunters and hikers.  Anything 10-20 miles is the sweet spot for horse camps.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: High Climber on August 28, 2019, 10:21:14 AM
Back country hunting isn't more popular, year over year, except to the new folks.  What I mean is that there's all kinds of resources telling joe never packed that he too can do it.  About one wet, foggy, snowed in, poor gear selected year is all it takes to weed out 90%.  They don't come back and on average aren't in the hardest to hunt spots, they are in big named basins.  Don't worry about which wilderness. Get out of the way and be able to endure because I've hunted lots of high hunts and all but one have included seriously inclement weather... all of them tough terrain.
That buck in your avatar is a tank! It would take a grown man to get him out in one trip. Would love to hear the story on that thing  :tup:
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Colville on August 28, 2019, 11:35:21 AM
Back country hunting isn't more popular, year over year, except to the new folks.  What I mean is that there's all kinds of resources telling joe never packed that he too can do it.  About one wet, foggy, snowed in, poor gear selected year is all it takes to weed out 90%.  They don't come back and on average aren't in the hardest to hunt spots, they are in big named basins.  Don't worry about which wilderness. Get out of the way and be able to endure because I've hunted lots of high hunts and all but one have included seriously inclement weather... all of them tough terrain.
That buck in your avatar is a tank! It would take a grown man to get him out in one trip. Would love to hear the story on that thing  :tup:

Well, a grown man would have to have an empty pack to have taken that out alone in one trip.  This was a two guys, one deer situation.  At the distance packed in, even an ordinary legal deer would mean 1 deer for two guys. On this deer, we were punished for the pack-out. No doubt bigger bodied deer have been shot. This is the biggest I've personally stood over.  Don't confuse this to mean I have had repeated success like that ;)
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: theleo on August 28, 2019, 12:39:00 PM
By the time you think you've hiked past what you think others can do, you're running it stock users. Unless you're somewhere accessible only by rock climbing or traversing some hell strewn nasty rock slide, you'll be putting yourself in with a bunch of horse hunters.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Donaker on August 28, 2019, 08:51:23 PM
Thanks to everyone for their responses; this is helpful.  I've been doing some additional research and know that the area (and backup area) I am headed won't overlap any outfitter camps, and due to the location I'm going there won't be private horse camps close by.  So in terms of other people it would be other backpack hunters willing to hike 12+ miles in or backpackers not hunting.  As for the distance, part of the fun and challenge for me is going deep.  I lived in Alaska for good chunk of my life and 12 miles is less than some of the solo hunts (and successful hunts) I did there, so this isn't new for me.  Yes I hope the distance thins out other hunters, but if it doesn't I know those other hunters put in the same miles and work as I did to get there.  I'd rather be around those hunters than those at 4 miles.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: JakeLand on August 29, 2019, 05:32:28 AM
Thanks to everyone for their responses; this is helpful.  I've been doing some additional research and know that the area (and backup area) I am headed won't overlap any outfitter camps, and due to the location I'm going there won't be private horse camps close by.  So in terms of other people it would be other backpack hunters willing to hike 12+ miles in or backpackers not hunting.  As for the distance, part of the fun and challenge for me is going deep.  I lived in Alaska for good chunk of my life and 12 miles is less than some of the solo hunts (and successful hunts) I did there, so this isn't new for me.  Yes I hope the distance thins out other hunters, but if it doesn't I know those other hunters put in the same miles and work as I did to get there.  I'd rather be around those hunters than those at 4 miles.
good luck !! I hope to see a successful story and at least some pics of the adventure !
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: TNTwestern on September 04, 2019, 08:55:24 PM
We as a group used to do the Patsayten hunt years ago, hunted Lucky Pass and surrounding areas. I've seen one buddy pull a double out of there ( Nice Black bear and a real nice 4 point), my sone killed his first Muley out of there, dandy 4 x5. We haven't been back in there for about 7-8 years since it burned up... good luck on your high hunt!
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Knocker of rocks on September 04, 2019, 09:18:03 PM
One thing I never understood is why is the Cascadian high hunt confined to only those Wilderness areas north of I-90?
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: JH on September 05, 2019, 08:18:42 AM
It is awesome country up there but as Bone said early in this thread, think of it more as a camping trip with a chance to get a deer.

Spent a week of hard hunting up there last year and ended up tagging out on the second to last day. Our group was not seeing a lot of deer but the country was so beautiful I personally didn't mind. We got hit by a pretty good snow storm the day after the opener so be prepared.  Keep your eyes out for Morels, they were thick last year. Wish I was heading back in this year but wasn't in the cards, I'll be back next year.

Good luck on your hunt!
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: sooperfly on September 05, 2019, 03:28:49 PM
Last year I was in the Pasayten during the high hunt hiking for 6 days. I was moving for 5 of them and took one day off to fish.  Did 80+ miles and didn't... see... one.... deer.  1st day I was on the trail by 3:00 a.m., and most of the days I was up early and out and about until late in the day.  I did a good mix of on and off trail, and in that whole time only came across hunting camps twice.  4 of the days I never saw a soul.   

I'm sure if I was out taking my time hunting I would have seen deer, but that was weird being out there for that long and that far without running across even a doe.  I think on the whole trip I came across more wolf and moose tracks than deer.

Like others have said, even if you don't get a deer it's a great area to tromp around in! 

Hopkins Lake last year, snapped this pic during a break in an all-day down pour.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/1942/44945295362_a69a98f4b0_c.jpg)
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: bigmacc on September 05, 2019, 05:14:16 PM


Like many have said its some of the most beautiful country you'll ever see and like most have also said, getting a buck nowadays will be a bonus and I 100% agree. I have made a few trips into the area back in the day but it was a time when the herd was in great shape, a couple trips going in via a couple different drainages it was nothing to see 30-40 bucks before you even pitched a tent! I remember one year going into Spanish Camp with a buddy with nothing but a hand written map by an old cowboy friend, no cell phones, no gps and no fancy equipment or gear. We made it to the "spot" we thought was our target when it was pitch dark out, we put up a pup tent in a small snowstorm and awoke to the sound of trucks and the sound of Jake breaks, way off in the distance. We looked at each other and wondered "what the hell", found out later we had missed our mark by aways :chuckle: and what we were hearing in the muffled distance was big rigs on the Hope Freeway in B.C. :chuckle:. He did tell us, because it was so quiet up in that area, it was common on a quiet, still night to hear what we heard. We did see some giant bucks but could not get clean shots, either too far or to quick to get a trigger squeeze, we came home empty handed. Another time I remember, we made it not more than 2 miles on foot up a popular drainage and had 3 big bucks down, got those out and cooled and went back in with more family members, set up camp 7 miles in and by 10 o'clock the next morning had 5 more bucks down. I am squeezing "parts" telling this fact, but one of those bucks was 35'' wide, yes it was posted, it is a fact. Point being, at one time getting into the Pasayten was an opportunity to get to big bucks AND a lot of bucks before the general season guys, now its nothing different than what you see during general season, very few deer but they are more spread out which equals seeing even less deer. How I close most stories about how Methow hunting is nowadays, its a shame...... :twocents:
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: Watimberghost on September 05, 2019, 07:19:27 PM
Sooperfly, that's quite the trek. Beautiful picture.

Bigmacc, those days sound like a total blast... I love the high hunt and go into it with high hopes, but also understand the reality. A week away from work in one of God's most beautiful creations is what it's all about. The blessing of a hard earned deer is the goal, but always just a bonus to a great trip.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: teanawayslayer on September 05, 2019, 07:31:28 PM
Sooperfly, that's quite the trek. Beautiful picture.

Bigmacc, those days sound like a total blast... I love the high hunt and go into it with high hopes, but also understand the reality. A week away from work in one of God's most beautiful creations is what it's all about. The blessing of a hard earned deer is the goal, but always just a bonus to a great trip.
I might add thereís always that chance of finding that elusive 200Ē mule deer as well. In my opinion it is a better quality hunt than any draw tag this state offers. My favorite hunt of the year. Headed in on the 12th. Wonít get here soon enough!
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: cb1989 on September 06, 2019, 01:02:43 PM
How I close most stories about how Methow hunting is nowadays, its a shame...... :twocents:

If it was that good these days it wouldnt be an OTC tag... so at least one upside to the decline is you can still hunt it every year.
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: ganghis on September 14, 2019, 09:29:03 PM
Late to thread.  Sounds like you know what you are doing, but I'm definitely in the camp of getting your camp back 5-8 miles.   In many areas 12 miles in = 36 miles out (2 trips for your meat and camp). Hart's pass is a harder exit point than most though as you're guaranteed of having to walk uphill to your rig!  If you're taking trails that avoid horses though, it's most likely going to involve deadfall, and will be slower going than you might think.

I'll see if I'm eating by words going in through Iron Gate for the first time this year...Hart's pass there weren't too many people 5-8 miles in last time I was there (the one guy I encountered after Silver Lake was at a drop camp).  I'm going on the late side though.  You're definitely going to encounter less people on high buck if you go in later as well.  The few 'easy' 3x2's around will have been cleared out but most of the big bucks are still out there if you can find them.

Take my advice w a grain of salt, I've never killed a deer on high buck (bear, yes).  Enjoy the scenery and good luck with the hunt!
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: M_ray on September 15, 2019, 09:44:19 AM
Last year I was in the Pasayten during the high hunt hiking for 6 days. I was moving for 5 of them and took one day off to fish.  Did 80+ miles and didn't... see... one.... deer.  1st day I was on the trail by 3:00 a.m., and most of the days I was up early and out and about until late in the day.  I did a good mix of on and off trail, and in that whole time only came across hunting camps twice.  4 of the days I never saw a soul.   

I'm sure if I was out taking my time hunting I would have seen deer, but that was weird being out there for that long and that far without running across even a doe.  I think on the whole trip I came across more wolf and moose tracks than deer.

Like others have said, even if you don't get a deer it's a great area to tromp around in! 

Hopkins Lake last year, snapped this pic during a break in an all-day down pour.



Unfortunately this was the same for me, I put a fair amount of miles in the Pasayten last year and never saw deer! I only saw a moose, moose turds and lots of hairy wolf turds. Like others have said itís beautiful country for sure but my experience made me not even want to buy a Washington tag again. Good luck to ya Iím sure youíll do better than I did
Title: Re: Pasayten High Buck Hunt
Post by: hal on September 16, 2019, 09:14:57 AM
that area is used by guides packing in hunters. Alta Lake guide service took us in to Upper Eagle lake several years ago along with two other groups. Lots of snow so we had to ride out thru the woods instead of the trail. Brian Vallerman is the owner. Lower Eagle lake also had hunters and there were a group below us on Upper. 7 of us saw two deer all week. The snow drove them out and down to the valley.