Mike Okray, author of the 2011 self-published “Once Upon a time in Camo,” this week released a second book of hunting stories, titled “I Dream in Camo.”
Okray’s first book focused on the humorous stories from his lifetime of hunting, including 13 years as a full-time professional hunter and guide. The new book is a collection of his more adventurous hunting trips.
In a story titled “Double Whammy,” Okray recounts a challenging and surprising moose hunt in Alaska. Though his guide was often more interested in drinking alcohol and listening to music than hunting, he did manage to help Okray navigate within about 20 yards of a trophy moose. After Okray shot the moose, the guide tapped its nose to make sure it was dead. It wasn’t, and as Okray turned to run, his guide finished the moose off with a second shot. The two then began packing out the meat, a process that would involve multiple three-mile round trips back to their hunting camp.
“We come back and there’s a big brown bear on the moose,” said Okray. His guide said that was fairly common, and shot a few rounds into the air to scare it off. “Now, when I’m packing this meat out, I’m a walking meat locker.”
Okray decided not to linger much longer in the Alaskan wilderness and, despite a rough take-off in a plane overloaded with moose meat, lived to hunt another day.
The “big story” in the book is of the hunting trip where Okray shot the Colorado state record nontypical whitetail deer. “That’s kind of my claim to fame,” said Okray. “If you hunt long enough, you’re going to get lucky.”
A picture of Okray with that deer was the cover of his first book, but the story was not included. “I saved that for the second book,” he said.
Okray wrote his first book and printed about 100 copies intending to give away to family and friends but the book became on unexpected success. “It got out of hand,” he said. “I sold more than 800 copies.” As a self-published author Okray handled all of the book orders himself, which he said ended up taking a fair amount of time. “I said, ‘I’m glad I’m not going to have to do this again.’
As the buzz from the first book died down, Okray said his wife, Mary, suggested he do a second book focusing on the adventurous aspects of his hunting life and hunting business – Hunts West Inc., which had taken Okray all over the world in pursuit of various game.
The book includes stories from his youth as well as his professional hunting career. “After 12, 13 years of that, the adventure was still there, but the traveling got to be a bit much,” said Okray, noting that he spent between 200 and 250 days on the road during the peak of his business. “I was living out of suitcase a lot of those years.”
After retiring from the professional hunting business, Okray has worked in a variety of roles within the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point athletics department and is currently its equipment manager.