Washington Hunter bags deer in WY, then in Oregon
by Wyoming Game & Fish
February 24, 2007
Last hunting season, Rick Ward bagged his 4-by-4 mule deer rack twice and in two different states.
He also had two outfitters. First an established Wyoming business that took him into a remote area east of Alpine - and then a pair of Oregon good Samaritans he'd never met before being presented with his antlers the second time.
Ward was driving through the night to get home to Kalama, Wash. from his hunt. The 24-inch, heavy and "perfectly symmetrical" rack was tied to the top of his gear in his open-bed pick-up. He diligently kept his eye on the antlers through Idaho and northeast Oregon. Turning north, the Columbia River Valley delivered the strong winds it's know for, but Ward prepared for it - or so he thought.
He stopped to check his gear in Umatilla, Ore. and the antlers and firewood originally sitting on them were gone. "I about died," Ward lamented. "I felt like I was kicked in the stomach."
Even though it was 2 a.m. he retraced his trail as slowly as possible but spotted no antlers and dejectedly headed back home with just venison, resigned to the fact that nature giveth and nature taketh away.
But as Ward was finding it difficult to show his friends only the pictures of his deer, a couple from the Corvallis, Ore. area were conducting a phone search of every Rick Ward in Oregon. They wanted to return the deer antlers they'd found bearing that name along Interstate 82 just a few hours after blowing out of Ward's pick-up. Hitting a dead end with that strategy, the wife read the fine print on the antler tag and called John Hurley at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Hurley traced the info on the tag to the Kalama, Wash. Ward, and put the faithful Wyoming hunter in contact with his fateful second outfitter.
"I couldn't of been more ecstatic," said Ward, who promptly drove back to Oregon to again retrieve the elusive muley.
"It's fun to be part of a happy ending," said Hurley.
If Ward draws either the Wyoming elk or deer license he's applied for in 2007, look for his antlers to be in the cab with him in the Columbia River Valley.