Hunting Washington Forum

Big Game Hunting => Backcountry Hunting => Topic started by: pd on February 07, 2021, 08:31:12 PM

Title: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: pd on February 07, 2021, 08:31:12 PM
This is a general question.

What is the historical reason that the "High Buck Hunt" is basically limited to a few (but not all) of the federal wilderness areas?

Is this a hunt in the higher elevations?  Or, is this a hunt in relatively inaccessible wilderness areas?

Look at the attached list of areas open for the High Buck hunt.  Then, look at the attached map of all of the wilderness areas in Washington.  My question is simple: How did this situation develop?  Why have we decided that some wilderness areas (and the Lake Chelan NRA) are open to this hunt, but the other half of the wilderness areas are not?

For example: The Salmo-Priest Wilderness area is very inaccessible, and also very high in elevation.  So why is it not part of the High Buck hunt??

High Buck Hunt Areas:
Alpine Lakes WA, Mount Baker WA, Glacier Peak WA, Pasayten WA, Henry Jackson WA, Buckhorn WA, The Brothers WA, Mount Skokomish WA, Wonder Mountain WA, Colonel Bob WA, and Lake Chelan NRA.

By the way, not included in the High Buck Hunt wilderness areas:
Noisy-Diobsud WA, Boulder River WA, Wild Sky WA, Clearwater WA, Glacier View WA, Tatoosh WA, Trapper Creek WA, Indian Heaven WA, Mount Adams WA, Goat Rocks WA, Bill Douglas WA, Norse Peak WA, Lake Chelan Sawtooth WA, Salmo-Priest WA, and Wenaha-Tucannon WA.

By the way, yes, I know the Lake Chelan NRA and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth overlap quite a bit.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: bkaech on February 07, 2021, 09:13:01 PM
Good question, I hope someone here has some knowledge on this. I don't know for sure but believe I heard once that at one time the "High Buck Hunt" was above a set elevation, Then changed to Wilderness areas. But I am not sure on that.

By Wilderness rule Wilderness areas do not have roads in them so, yes they are generally less accessible, but why some are included and not others would be a department question. I assume there is several different reasons why a wilderness area might be excluded, some might be because there is worry of to many hunters accessing a relatively small wilderness area, some because the deer population is low, some because neighboring areas might have low deer populations, or many other reasons that might preclude an area. I know that only recently was the Olympic Peninsula Wilderness areas added to the list.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Stein on February 07, 2021, 09:16:22 PM
Well, in general if a game agency opens something wide open there are usually only a few reasons behind it:

1.  It's invasive or otherwise unwanted.
2.  There is some overabundance or it is wanted but at a much lower level that creates fewer problems.  We see this with crop damage and competition with other more wanted species.
3.  There success rate is very low such that the resource won't be harmed and they can and hope to sell a ton of tags and create opportunity to participate.

I think WA's high buck and MT's OTC sheep fall into category 3, but there are others around here with far greater knowledge.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Knocker of rocks on February 07, 2021, 09:43:27 PM
Interesting question. I charted it out and all high hunts are in Wilderness areas on the Olympic mountains and north of I-90. 

The excluded areas are either in National Parks, in the GP or MBS administered by the GP, except for the Boulder River Wilderness.

Except for Wildsky, these Wilderness areas were created in 1984 or earlier.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: PsoasHunter on February 07, 2021, 09:44:22 PM
Also along these same lines, why are there no open wilderness areas in the southern part of the state for the high buck hunt?  Kinda frustrating if you're down in that area...
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Skyvalhunter on February 08, 2021, 05:19:56 AM
It seems that for the most part they don't prefer to have wilderness area's where people can drive right up to and hunt. There are places where you can get pretty close to the Wilderness boundaries to hunt. While some of the newer wilderness areas are dissected by roads und are more lenient of their wilderness definition those are not opened to the high hunt. I cant recall when a wilderness area was included in the high hunt when the year before it wasn't. A lot of The Wild Sky isn't really what I would call "true Wilderness area" much of it has bee previously logged and its borders jump all over. It was more of a way for Murray and Cantwell to pacify the tree huggers.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bill W on February 08, 2021, 07:18:57 AM

At one time there were only three parts of wilderness open to high buck hunts.  Pasayten, Glacier Peak and one on the western Cascade by Skykomish.  From that time more wilderness spots were added.  I started hunting the high hunt in 1977 and this is how it was when I started.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Ridgerunner on February 08, 2021, 08:38:45 AM
I would also say the deer population south of I-90 is not what it is north of I-90 so that may play into why there are not more wilderness areas open down there, although I dont see the harm in them opening some of them up, maybe they could make it a draw, lol. 
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Meow on February 09, 2021, 09:57:03 AM
I've wondered the same thing. I hope that someone with knowledge of the basis of this regulation can enlighten us. Many of the excluded areas seem to be rather similar to the included ones in terms of access, elevation, habitat, and size. :dunno
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Lapua07 on June 11, 2021, 08:27:37 PM


For example: The Salmo-Priest Wilderness area is very inaccessible, and also very high in elevation.  So why is it not part of the High Buck hunt??


[/quote]

Thereís also very low deer #ís In the Salmo. I do agree that years ago it was probably more than worthy of being deemed into the high hunts. Iíve been in twice. First was the coldest night I have ever spent in the mountains. Waking up to just shy of 10Ē of fresh snow. The second was one of my least favorite bear experiences.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: pd on June 11, 2021, 08:42:12 PM
Haha!  My eye was caught by the title, and I read the entire thread.  Only then did I realize that I had written the first post.

Still not satisfied with any answers.  Well, this is Washington, maybe the reasons for doing this just will never make sense??
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Lapua07 on June 13, 2021, 03:25:02 PM
Couldnít agree more. Washington has a very odd way of accepting what is to be considered wilderness. Along with the management that pertains to it and itís wildlife.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Knocker of rocks on June 13, 2021, 05:37:50 PM
Couldnít agree more. Washington has a very odd way of accepting what is to be considered wilderness. Along with the management that pertains to it and itís wildlife.

Consideration of Wilderness is a federal issue
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: YellowShells on June 17, 2021, 01:08:17 AM
Maybe they're trying to limit conflict with archery elk hunters? The seasons overlap, don't they?
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: X-Force on June 17, 2021, 05:10:11 AM
Maybe they're trying to limit conflict with archery elk hunters? The seasons overlap, don't they?

This seems to be one of the more practical answers. If the wilderness areas south of 90 were open for high buck, archery elk and deer hunters would not be particularly happy. Season overlap, added pressure, having to wear orange.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bill W on June 17, 2021, 07:08:58 AM
The high hunt is open to archery, muzzle loader and modern firearm.   In the past I've had all three methods in camp.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: jstone on June 17, 2021, 07:45:00 AM
You also can hunt up there September 1st archery
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: 7mmfan on June 17, 2021, 08:51:53 AM
You also can hunt up there September 1st archery

Not necessarily true. The Pasayten for example, is not open for early archery. It is only open for High Buck and the general modern firearm season. You can hunt with a bow during those seasons, but there is no archery specific season in there.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: jstone on June 17, 2021, 01:02:50 PM
Yes sorry.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Skyvalhunter on June 17, 2021, 01:30:17 PM
Mum's the word on the high hunt
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Mtnwalker on June 17, 2021, 01:58:51 PM
Mum's the word on the high hunt

Almost time for another "it's the hardest hunt ever and there's no deer" thread  :chuckle:
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: 7mmfan on June 17, 2021, 02:31:41 PM
High Hunt in a picture. Pretty much sums it up.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: predatorG on July 21, 2021, 01:34:41 PM


For example: The Salmo-Priest Wilderness area is very inaccessible, and also very high in elevation.  So why is it not part of the High Buck hunt??



Thereís also very low deer #ís In the Salmo. I do agree that years ago it was probably more than worthy of being deemed into the high hunts. Iíve been in twice. First was the coldest night I have ever spent in the mountains. Waking up to just shy of 10Ē of fresh snow. The second was one of my least favorite bear experiences.
[/quote]

They probably don't want to have to keep sending rescue groups in because people thought it would be a fun adventure and ended up almost dead...
Never hunted in there but I've heard it's the real deal.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Jonathan_S on July 21, 2021, 01:39:26 PM
High Hunt in a picture. Pretty much sums it up.

And that was a drought year.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: 7mmfan on July 21, 2021, 09:16:26 PM
High Hunt in a picture. Pretty much sums it up.

And that was a drought year.
2015 to be exact.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: mjustice79 on July 22, 2021, 05:02:41 PM
I had the same question (and a few others) last year and I reached out to WDFW and they had the "Ungulate Manager" reach out to me. He and I had a good conversation on the other topics, but even he didn't know why the high hunt is limited to certain wilderness areas.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Skyvalhunter on July 23, 2021, 05:33:26 AM
There's a chance that the HH was started before some of these Wilderness areas were formed . While some of the Wilderness areas don't fit the typical designation of untrammeled by man or you can practically drive in them. Some wilderness areas shouldn't be included in the HH  :twocents:
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bill W on July 23, 2021, 09:05:39 AM
there was a high buck area somewhere around Tonga Ridge that was in the high hunt in the mid-late 70's.  This was not in a wilderness area (then).
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Knocker of rocks on July 23, 2021, 09:41:04 AM
there was a high buck area somewhere around Tonga Ridge that was in the high hunt in the mid-late 70's.  This was not in a wilderness area (then).

Tonga Mountain is a border of the Wilderness, and became a Wilderness in 1976
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bill W on July 23, 2021, 10:43:50 AM
there was a high buck area somewhere around Tonga Ridge that was in the high hunt in the mid-late 70's.  This was not in a wilderness area (then).

Tonga Mountain is a border of the Wilderness, and became a Wilderness in 1976

That is now and it was a hunting area prior to that.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Knocker of rocks on July 23, 2021, 10:55:15 AM
there was a high buck area somewhere around Tonga Ridge that was in the high hunt in the mid-late 70's.  This was not in a wilderness area (then).

Tonga Mountain is a border of the Wilderness, and became a Wilderness in 1976

That is now and it was a hunting area prior to that.

I wasnít doubting that
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bushcraft on August 03, 2021, 07:48:22 PM
High Hunt in a picture. Pretty much sums it up.

<insert Love/Heart emoji here>

 :chuckle: :chuckle: :chuckle:
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: OPtrah on August 30, 2021, 09:44:27 AM
Itís unfortunate what the internet and people can do
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bushcraft on August 31, 2021, 11:39:17 AM
Going to be a Zoo in the LG and Boulder cr area this year. Was in there hiking this weekend lots of people around.

Yep. It's the same thing every year, regardless of whether or not people heed advice on how to select places to go.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Skyvalhunter on August 31, 2021, 12:03:05 PM
I wonder if the Traux kids are going in again
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: boneaddict on August 31, 2021, 12:12:16 PM
Probably only so many search and rescue crews available. 
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Bushcraft on August 31, 2021, 12:23:54 PM
I wonder if the Traux kids are going in again

Yep. Sent you an e-mail.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: OPtrah on August 31, 2021, 08:14:03 PM
I wonder if the Traux kids are going in again

Of course we are.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: OPtrah on September 01, 2021, 10:34:26 AM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: predatorG on September 01, 2021, 02:54:45 PM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.

I've seen that question asked quite a bit before on here. General consensus is "No deer in the buckhorn"

You can decide for yourself what that means  :chuckle:
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Mtnwalker on September 01, 2021, 02:57:50 PM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.

I've seen that question asked quite a bit before on here. General consensus is "No deer in the buckhorn"

You can decide for yourself what that means  :chuckle:

I thought that was the general consensus on high buck altogether?  :chuckle:
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: predatorG on September 01, 2021, 03:03:46 PM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.

I've seen that question asked quite a bit before on here. General consensus is "No deer in the buckhorn"

You can decide for yourself what that means  :chuckle:

I thought that was the general consensus on high buck altogether?  :chuckle:

Recently it seems people have been spreading misinformation by fabricating success stories in the mountains, totally unfair to all the new hunters who are now thinking its a good idea to go up there, those poor little guys  :bash:
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: OPtrah on September 01, 2021, 08:54:21 PM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.

I've seen that question asked quite a bit before on here. General consensus is "No deer in the buckhorn"

You can decide for yourself what that means  :chuckle:

I thought that was the general consensus on high buck altogether?  :chuckle:

Recently it seems people have been spreading misinformation by fabricating success stories in the mountains, totally unfair to all the new hunters who are now thinking its a good idea to go up there, those poor little guys  :bash:

Wasnít looking for conformation that deer are present, thatís the easy part. Part I am
Concerned about is how many guys might be hunting it.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: JimmyHoffa on September 01, 2021, 09:55:41 PM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.
Being so close to a few towns with a lot of generational knowledge passed down, there are a number of guys that just show up on opening morning and know exactly where to be.  A couple of those guys have all the long range set ups.  Some of the areas are only a few miles so you won't see camps, they just hike up the trail early in the dark.  Some of them have been hiking the area all summer and move into different areas and are successful that way too.  Probably be at least one group aways in with a couple horses.  I'd say you have to either beat them into those areas or have an area that's just not known to traditionally hold 3 pt + bucks.  I think a good number of the bucks are in the higher elevation valleys inside of the park and don't really come out into the buckhorn until mid/late October.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: Colville on September 01, 2021, 11:45:56 PM
Nothing new under the sun.  Fires are creating log jams the last few years.  It's ok.  If you took all the people who have ever high hunted and put the number of hunts they did on a chart, the most common number would be 1. Smoke filled, dude filled seasons should spike that number. Considering the rate at which tag sales decrease in WA every year, folks should be able to find a quiet place to hunt in the coming years.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: OPtrah on September 02, 2021, 05:02:39 AM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.
Being so close to a few towns with a lot of generational knowledge passed down, there are a number of guys that just show up on opening morning and know exactly where to be.  A couple of those guys have all the long range set ups.  Some of the areas are only a few miles so you won't see camps, they just hike up the trail early in the dark.  Some of them have been hiking the area all summer and move into different areas and are successful that way too.  Probably be at least one group aways in with a couple horses.  I'd say you have to either beat them into those areas or have an area that's just not known to traditionally hold 3 pt + bucks.  I think a good number of the bucks are in the higher elevation valleys inside of the park and don't really come out into the buckhorn until mid/late October.

Thanks Hoffa, thatís the type of info I was looking for.
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: ganghis on September 02, 2021, 08:16:13 AM
Nothing new under the sun.  Fires are creating log jams the last few years.  It's ok.  If you took all the people who have ever high hunted and put the number of hunts they did on a chart, the most common number would be 1. Smoke filled, dude filled seasons should spike that number. Considering the rate at which tag sales decrease in WA every year, folks should be able to find a quiet place to hunt in the coming years.

Tag numbers might be going down statewide, but seems like there's more enthusiasm than ever for backpack hunts - probably because of guys like Remi Warren, Randy Newberg, and Ryan Lampers.  This isn't definitive but I was curious and looked at modern firearm hunter numbers for the Pasayten from 2013-present... numbers were

302, 322, 346, 322, 208, 295, 324, 375

Pretty consistent except for the drop in 2017 (fire/access issue?), with the highest being 2020 (covid effect?).  Would be interesting if wdfw split out high hunt numbers specifically but they don't do it right now
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: GASoline71 on September 02, 2021, 08:58:55 AM

At one time there were only three parts of wilderness open to high buck hunts.  Pasayten, Glacier Peak and one on the western Cascade by Skykomish.  From that time more wilderness spots were added.  I started hunting the high hunt in 1977 and this is how it was when I started.

Alpine Lakes Area.  Hunted High Buck in there back in the early 90's.... once.  :o lol

Gary
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: GASoline71 on September 02, 2021, 09:09:27 AM
Anyone know much about the buckhorn wilderness on the Peninsula? Been doing some hiking in that area this summer and could be a cool place to hunt. Didnít want to step on any toes if guys are already hunting it. Relatively small wilderness with limited access.

There are roads that lead right up to the boundary and then there are a few trails that go in.  Be prepared to lock the hubs on some of those trails.  They are no joke.  Elevation lines on the topo maps are stacked super close almost everywhere. Hunted High Buck for 4 days in there in the 1990's and all we saw were mountain goats.  Lol.

Gary
Title: Re: High Buck Hunt & Wilderness Areas
Post by: pickardjw on September 02, 2021, 09:15:46 AM
I'm definitely a newcomer to the backpack hunting scene. Adult onset hunter, definitely inspired by some of the guys on youtube/netflix to get into hunting in general and backcountry hunting. Going into my 3rd year without spotting a legal buck (all modern / late rifle seasons) and chalking that up to paying my dues and trying to learn without taking shortcuts.

I think what's pushing me into the backcountry more than anything is the frustrations hunting around truck campers & road hunters. That and gaining more experience backpacking in the summers.

Had big plans to scout my butt off this summer and then my buddy offered me a deal I couldn't pass up on a boat so I spent it fishing lol. Going in this year having been pushed out of our original spot by fires to a brand new spot we've never been. We're mostly just hoping to see a legal buck at some point and enjoy exploring some new country! As my coworkers say, enjoy hiking with your rifle!
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