Through my travels I have ventured out to the east side of the mountains, and more I am finding myself over there more often. If you know me you’ll know that I am from Arizona, so when I say I have become fond of the Eastern side you’ll understand. My adventures over there started when my dad and I went on a hunt in Twisp, I fell in love like a teenager when I was there. The area is like mixing Northern AZ and W. Washington, and its fantastic. I cannot say that I love it more than AZ but it comes in my top 5 places for sure. If you have not ventured much out there, I recommend it for sure. Twisp has great places to eat (Like cinnamon twisps- https://www.facebook.com/CinnamonTwispBakery/) and also great coffee ( Blue Star Roasters – http://www.bluestarcoffeeroasters.com).
Moving on from Twisp, (Which by the way the fishing in the Methow river is a solid plan, trout fishing is pretty good year round also Twisp River is also a great trout stream) My travels have taken me lately to the most eastern side of the state to Ione, WA. My dad and I went over there for white tail deer hunting this season for a change of scenery and oh man was it a change. The area is a lot like Montana actually, dense forest with little ground cover at times under the canopy was almost cave like, no sunshine at any point in the day, that’s how dense the pines/firs/spruce are there. The forests there are almost something out of a fantasy novel and oddly quiet. Even at night the forest is dead quiet, no owls, no crickets, nothing. The last night we were there I heard a single tree frog but that accounts for all of the night sounds. The wildlife there is fantastic; wolves, bears, elk, deer (white tail and mule), lots of grouse and other birds. While I was there hunting I stumbled upon Sullivan lake where the Kokanee were spawning in a near by river from the lake, the river flow was way down so thousands of kokanee were piled up in little holes in the river. I took my fly rod out to the lake and managed to get a few in but released them unharmed as they were certainly not eating size, but very cool none the less. Much to my distaste, the lack of WDFW patrol in the area was very evident. The local town of Ione holds many people that do not pay attention to seasons or property protections. While observing the fish a gentleman rode up on a bicycle with a 357 mag holstered on his chest with a bullet belt who rode up and asked me if I had seen a bear, because he was out making sure that no one shot him, he was this black bears personal body bodyguard. Later I met that mans wife who when she saw that I had a riffle in my vehicle pleaded with me not to kill the black bear that lived in the area, when I told her I 1) don’t do predator hunts and 2) even if I did they were not in season at the moment she opened up with me about some issues that her and her husband had experienced. Some of the stories of their experience in the area; from locals harvesting out of season does from their yard after shooting through their bedroom window on obviously marked private property, to people shooting bears that walked next to the road (also not in season not to mention road hunting is not legal) the final story irked me the most however they told me that when the kokanee run like they were currently, the locals come down with garbage bags and just walk into the pools and collect a bag full of fish and go home. After the stories I prompted them to call the poaching hotline in the future, but they seemed defeated because they had in the past but patrols had not increased in the area and it seemed nothing was really being done. From my experience with the state, I know that they operate extremely shorthanded most of the time and the areas that wardens have as their assignments are huge, and impossible to be everywhere once, but regardless of this why is it that the state does not up the number of wardens, or give help in some way or the another. I don’t know what the answer is all I know is I see it all the time hunting the East side, illegal harvest of undersized animals or just shooting first seeing that its not the legal size and leaving it to waste. No seriously that happens last year in front of me, I was hiking this ridge of the mountains in twisp and in front of my a spike moved but seeing as it was a spike I kept moving on, the spike went over the hill to my right where the road was, not thirty seconds later a shot rang out from right next to me on the road. Figuring what happened I climbed the hill to the road and saw a man examining the deer getting back into his truck and driving off. I moved towards the animal and it was obviously dead, but was in fact the spike I had just seen. I did report it, but I don’t think anything ever came of it. Sorry this part ended up a tangent, but the baseline is that this sort of behavior is so disgraceful and it makes me ashamed to be part of the human race. Please for the love of God, keep your eyes open and do what ever you can to report what you see when you can and when you feel safe to do so.
In the end I wanted really just to tell you how amazing the east side is, and how much I want to get to know the land better and how wonderful it really is. So I hope that you got that……
“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
― Aldo Leopold