Monday, October 27, 2008
The cost of living on Prince of Wales Island is pretty high, so one of my first tasks once I got here was to get some meat in the freezer. Without Amy around I tend to subsist on peanut butter sandwiches, top ramen and milk duds so some venison is a vast improvement. Here's a pic of one of the two bucks I've taken so far (the limit is five).
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Wow, it's been nearly 2 months since the last post. Amy and I are still in a transition state moving between Anchorage and Craig. Until just recently I have not had good computer access to update this. I've been living in Craig since the end of August, Amy arrived just a week ago. The house we are buying won't close for a couple more weeks so we are living in a Forest Service bunkhouse trailer for now. Lot's of stories to share, but for now I'll leave you with just a couple nice pics of Prince of Wales Island.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Well, after the double Scott and I scored in the Brooks Range last week, my sheep fever was still not satiated. So I invited my buddy Donovan (he's the guy I went to Argentina with in January) to my secret honey hole to see about getting him his first ram. We left town on Wednesday evening and we're back by Saturday evening with a beautiful 36 inch flaring full curl. It was a good hunt that entailed overcoming some really bad weather. But the rams were there like they always are. What a season! The bucks on Prince of Wales Island better watch out!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Finally on day four we topped a ridge in the evening and discovered Ram Nation. We counted 23 rams in this hidden bowl. About half of them appeared to be legal full-curls and a couple of them were real bruisers. But there was a reason the rams loved this valley so much. They were virtually unapproachable. Two failed stalks got us no closer than 700 yards. We needed to employ some extreme tactics to get on these rams. We pulled back to base camp and decided a night stalk was our only chance to sneak within range. This stalk required a long hike up a knife edged ridge. At the top we huddled in our sleeping bags for about 3 hours waiting until darkness. At 1 am we entered the valley through a notch in the ridge we dubbed the sheep gate and descended 1000 feet down a steep rock chute to the valley floor in the near darkness.
We started the hunt with a day of good weather, but the skies opened up that evening and it continued to rain most of the hunt. We spent several days tent bound as fog shrouded the mountains. We hiked when we could and found scattered bands of lambs and ewes but after three days of searching we hadn't found any rams and were beginning to get anxious. By this point we were 20 miles deep into the back country.
Scott and I are back after a successful walk-in hunt for trophy Dall sheep off the Haul Road in the Brooks Range. We both took great double broomed rams on the same morning. It was a typical extreme sheep hunt. We were cold, hungry and tired the whole time. it was a great hunt. Here is Scott and I on the afternoon of August 8th before beginning the hike in, and a couple pics from along the way.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
All the planning, scouting, training and detective work come to fruition in 9 days. August 10 is the opening day of sheep hunting season in Alaska. Scott and I are heading out in less than a week, August 7th to make the long trek north to the Brooks Range. This will be our second time chasing rams in the high arctic. Wish us luck, we've got high hopes of doubling up again on monster rams.
PS 127:3 Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
It's official, I'm getting a new hunting partner! First week of March the Bethune family adds one to the flock.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
We've been busy packing stuff up and getting the house ready to list. Today I pulled down all my horns and antlers and made a pile in the spare bedroom. It's a pretty respectable pile. It represents many grand adventures, lessons learned and trials overcome.
Our old truck rusty (literally) finally bit the dust a couple months ago. The head gasket needs replaced. With the pending move to Craig we needed a reliable vehicle that can handle POW's 1500 miles of logging roads, transport a few dead bucks every fall and (maybe) tow a skiff. So we spent a weekend shopping around and found this truck off Craigslist. By far the nicest truck we've owned. This is the one I've wanted since 4th grade.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Sorry for the long gap between posts. Life's gotten very hectic all the sudden. The picture is a view of Craig, Alaska on Prince of Wales Island in SE. Amy and I are moving there at the end of August. I was recently offered an incredible opportunity to be Fish & Game's wildlife biologist on the island. To say I'm excited about this career move is an understatement.
There's a lot to do before then. Sell the house, cars, pack and go on two sheep hunts. We are going to be busy. I'll try to keep you posted as the events unfurl.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Amy and I celebrated our twelve year anniversary on May 25th. Amy took me hiking up Flattop and then in the evening I took her to a nice restaurant. Our waiter, knowing it was our anniversary and getting married himself in a couple weeks asked for some advice. It kind of shocked us that we've been married long enough for folks to be soliciting some marriage tips. Unfortunately twelve years is a long marriage anymore. So on the way home we discussed what our quick answer marriage tip should be. Our answer and a a truth for our own marriage is "divorce is not an option." There was a scene in the movie Juno where the main character confronting a couple in the midst of a divorce exclaimed, "You were in love once, you're just not trying hard enough." There's a lot of truth to that. Maybe it seems too simplistic, but barring cases of abuse or infidelity it so often comes down to a couple's dogged determination to make things work. To mean the vows you promised and do whatever it takes. Amy and I have fought for our marriage and we're proud of the things we've accomplished and worked through.
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendors was dressed like one of these." -Luke 12:27
The guys tease me, but I like to stop and take pictures of the wildflowers when I'm on the trail. Beautiful. Little fingerprints of God.
"Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth." -1 Samuel 17:34
We've taken five black bears this season. I wonder how many moose calves and Dall sheep lambs saved that adds up to. This is a picture of Scott and the bear he arrowed last weekend from 35 yards.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Chris was one of the young men we took with us on last weekend's Proving Trail Adventures hunt. Chris had never been hunting before. He took this nice boar at 10:00pm on the last night of the hunt. The things these kids are learning on these hunts are invaluable. Getting this bear was a testament to Chris of God's faithfulness and to never give up.
Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
I wrote a few months ago about some notable "firsts" helping friends to their first big game animals. Search through the archives to read some of those. Last weekend Scott and I led a group into the mountains for the first Proving Trail Adventures Youth Hunt, where 11-year old Wyatt bagged his first animal - a black bear. What makes this an even more unique first is that Scott and I helped Wyatt's dad, Joel to his first as well. What a thrill to help a father help his son be successful in the woods. One shot from 244 yards with a 30.06, not bad for anyone, let alone a little guy like Wyatt. He proved to be cool under pressure though with a confident, steady hand. Joel (and wife Tami) have done a great job training up Wyatt. He's a chip off the old chunk. He breaks out randomly in song, makes quirky off-handed comments, reads Louis L'amour and loves building campfires.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Learned something about myself as a hunter a couple weekends ago. Scott and I headed out Saturday morning for a quick overnight black bear hunt north of town. The spot is crawling with bears and about as close to a slam dunk as I've ever found, but unfortunately we climbed up to the bear meadows only to find 4 feet of soft snow. We waded around for awhile and quickly decided to bail back to the lowlands. Discouraged that our plans had been foiled by the late spring, we really weren't into it anymore but hung out for awhile anyway watching some hillsides down low, but not expecting much. Mostly we tried to get some shut-eye. After a couple hour nap we awoke and Scott spots a bear across a canyon at the top of a cottonwood tree. Range is 330 yards. A long shot for sure but doable under the circumstances. Its an average bear probably a 5 to 5 1/2 footer, but we've both shot big bears and this trip was supposed to be more of a predator control or "whack and stack" hunt, we weren't concerned with size. So I get a solid rest, Scott is on the video camera and spotting scope to call shots. Bear presents himself with an open broadside angle. Safety off and...I just don't feel like shooting him. Weird. I just wasn't excited about it. Being so far away and without having to make any kind of stalk, it just felt more like killing than hunting. Scott felt the same way. Conversation went something like this:
"Do you want to shoot him?"
"I guess, but you can if you want."
"Naw, go ahead."
"You sure, you can have him. I don't care."
And back and forth like that until the bear finally moved off. Can't say I'd do the same thing tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself again, but it sure was an interesting note to my hunting career.
The picture is me withthe 6' 10" black bear from a couple years ago that didn't get a pass. Black bear season is in full swing now so stay tuned for more hunting updates soon.