Celene Olgeirsson was in her mid-40s before taking leave from being a nonhunter, bagging her first wild turkey in 2011.
She gave deer hunting a shot for the first time working the woods with a man who tended to road hunt. He’d drive an ATV or vehicle, see a deer, park and hunt. She filled her first buck tag that way in 2013.
“It was pretty cool,” she said. “We stayed at lodge at Priest Lake and didn’t even get out hunting until about 11.”
She wasn’t yet familiar enough with hunting to know her style, but she sensed that wasn’t it. The hunt left her unfulfilled.
“I like to move and use my legs,” said Olgeirsson, an avid whitewater kayaker and outdoor enthusiast who works for Avista.
She was learning something every time out, though. She was steadily filling a void of knowledge that hunting families would have instilled in their kids at an early age.
“I was borrowing rifles that were built for guys and they didn’t fit me. I didn’t shoot well, because my arms are shorter,” she said. “So I ended up getting a Lady Savage .270.”
The rifle has a shorter stock and higher than normal comb that fits her build. “It’s enough gun to hunt elk with, too,” she said.
But big game eluded her and her rifle in 2014.
Last season, out with a new partner, she tried deer hunting again. “The hunting itself was awesome,” she said “Sometimes we’d hike 6 to 10 miles a day. I discovered some great new territory. I’m not the kind of person who can sit long and hope something walks up to me. I loved it.”
She looked at hunting as being “out there” and getting a good workout.
“I’m also a little competitive,” she said. “I wanted to get something, but it takes time and effort getting to know an area.”
Reading signs and learning where deer came and went was much of the fun.
“I would go out by myself sometimes early in the pitch black of morning and crawl into a place that might be a good location,” she said. “Then I’d wait for daylight.
“I felt pretty crazy the first time I walked out there, sitting by myself in the dark.”
As light gathered from the imminent sunrise, nature seemed to wake up. Birds and squirrels chipped and chattered. “Watching nature is fascinating,” she said, noting that a hunter seems to melt into the picture.
“When you walk through your house, you’re distracted to do 10 things on the way to doing something else. You’re much more focused when you’re hunting. It’s intense, super therapeutic.”
Last year, she basked in nature without getting a deer in 10 days of hunting, including a couple of short midweek forays after work.
“After a while, I started expecting that I wouldn’t see a deer.”
When she got her chance, the littlest mistake almost blew it.
“We were walking down a closed logging road when I saw the buck. I raised my rifle and ‘click,’ I didn’t get the safety off.”
The buck got nervous, but she recovered quickly and made a neck shot as it started to flee.
“After gutting it, my friend Kevin and I dragged it down through the woods to an open logging road,” she said.
“I stayed with the deer while he went to get the car and I got to thinking, ‘Hey, elk season is open, too. And I have a tag!’
“So I sat there quietly, looking, ready, thinking how cool it would be to have an elk down, too, when Kevin got back. I was all cocky, going to get myself an elk.”
It didn’t work out that way, and that’s not a bad thing. Going 1 for 2 gives her something to shoot for this year.
“I’m very optimistic when it comes to hunting,” Olgeirsson said. “It’s like the gambler mentality that keeps them betting by believing that pretty soon they’ll win.”
And being a hunter, she has nothing to lose.
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