Mike Lonsford writes, "I live in western Washington and hunt northeast of Yakima on the east side of the Cascades. My wife and I were blessed with the birth of first child this year (August 11th, 2004). This was after many trying years and is expressed in her name, Hope. The reason I mention this is that my wife had requested I only hunt one day this year so that I might have more time at home so soon after her birth (did I mention we also moved to our new home two weeks after Hope was born) so there was a little to help out with around the house.
I was looking forward to hunting season all year, as last year my hunting partner and myself were snookered by a nice 4x5. We had seen him from too far away to shoot and he followed a doe off before we could put the full stalk on him. Later, during elk season, I’d seen the same deer from about 10 yards away after I followed a group of does and fawns into a small clearing in the woods, and there he was. Anyhow we knew his neighborhood and the lay of the land real well and had planned and schemed all year. After my wife’s request it was hard to agree to allot only one day to find this buck, but I knew that was the requirement of being a new Dad.
Hunting season started with my buddy and I meeting at 2 AM for the drive to the hunting area. When we got there before dawn we could tell the loggers had been in the area very heavily at the end of the summer. There were now an extra 6 roads through our intended hunting hillside. The whole morning was spent looking for deer before the area was abandoned as lost (skidder trails were at about every 50 yards with every good spot now a track covered mud bog) and a year’s hope figured to be a lost cause.
We bailed over the top of the ridge to an area that had been timbered a few years before, to hunt the next valley over. After hiking several miles, I had circled back towards the road we were parked on and had hiked nearly to the top. It was about 3 PM and I figured there was only 2 hours left to my hunt this year. I had seen a few deer in the afternoon, but none that were “legal” 3 pt or better. I had found a grand place to sit until it was dark and my season was over. I tried to overlook a couple canyons from the same locale, by moving about 100 yards, back and forth, every ½ hour. The area looked so good and after the disappointment of the adjacent area that morning, I just couldn’t believe I wasn’t seeing more deer.
By 5:00 PM I was beginning to think about where we could have dinner on the way home. There is that great BBQ place in Cle Elum. No!... A Great deer is going to come out..I can feel it, I KNOW it. After my last position switch I set up in a much better shooting position in case I had to make a long shot.
About 5:15 I heard some rocks falling and my attention was drawn to two running deer leaving the canyon I had hunted up two hours earlier. At first, I thought they were does as I didn’t see any horns. As I put the scope up to look at them, I saw that both had horns and they seemed big. But, I couldn’t tell because they also just ran back into the edge of the woods. Please come back out…PLEASE!!! There he is, does he have..Yep! Boom!!! Where’d he go?! Did I get him? There’s the second. He looks big too. But did I hit the first? Don’t know but I guess I’ll have to hope for the best. After I got my bearings to go look for him I was off. The shot was about 275 yards as the crow flies, but the canyon and rocks I had to avoid took me a little longer.
Wow! My best buck. 21” spread, 18” tall and heavy. A 4x4 with an eye guard. What a great end to a Great year! Not as big as many “trophy” mule deer, but for this state and for me personally, I was and am ecstatic."