Sunday, February 24, 2008
We had our first meeting today for the 2008 Proving Trail Adventures Youth Hunt. PTA is me and Scott's dream to mentor to young men through hunting. Specifically we want to target guys who may not have good home situations, absent or disinterested fathers. We hope someday to be a "real" business or non-profit, but for now we're just a couple of guys with a passion for hunting and the outdoors wanting to share that and our love for God with young men who might not have gotten that chance. We hope somehow to tie in our hunting videos with this endeavor, but we're still figuring out what that looks like. This years hunt will be a spring black bear hunt. This hunt we deviated from our target audience, a father/son combo will be going with us as well as Joel and his son Wyatt. Total there will be 7 of us. Today we took everyone to the rifle range to practice, go over gun safety and get everyone comfortable with shooting. The kids did great. Next time we'll break out the hunting rifles. The hunt will be in mid-May. I'll post periodic updates as we go.
Posted are a couple pics from previous PTA hunts. The first is Joel and his son Wyatt on a winter Ptarmigan hunt. The next is another Ptarmigan hunt. That's Matt and his first Ptarmigan. (We like to call them Petermeegans).
Friday, February 22, 2008
It's been a rough 6 months or so for me & Amy. Too much time apart. We do okay with absences, but this last stretch has been way beyond the norm. It started in August. I was gone for several 10-14 day hunts in August & September. Then in October Amy was gone for three weeks on a trip overseas, then in January I was gone to Argentina, then Amy spent a couple weeks in Fairbanks on a job. But I think all that is over and we're looking forward to resuming living under the same roof. And it this gives me an excuse to post up a picture of my smokin' hot wife.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.
“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. Why don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood…
“Is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion-the Lion, the great Lion.”…
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.
C.S. Lewis- The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
I love lions. Their spiritual symbolism for me runs deep. In Chronicles of Narnia (which are some of my favorite books), when Aslan speaks it feels like he's speaking directly to me.
"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." -Proverbs 4:23
This buck didn't do too good a job of that.
I saw that my sister linked the Fullcurl of Life at her blog. She made it sound like it would be scary, so I figured I better post something controversial to live up to the expectations.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Isaac's my reminder of how God does good things through bad circumstances. Amy and I had just moved to Anchorage. Times were tough, jobs were hard to come by. So I was working for a temp agency stocking auto parts at a warehouse and not very happy about it, when I met this quirky guy named Isaac who was also originally from Oregon. As we shouldered alternators (well, I did alternators, Isaac was more into lighter parts like decals and gear shift knob covers) conversation turned to elk hunting and fly fishing and a friendship was born. Pretty soon we we're ditching work to watch Silverado (I had to see it since Ike had recited the entire movie to me complete with voices and sound effects). Isaac became my "cool single guy friend" until he up and landed a gal named Katie who is WAAAY out of his league - but that's for another post. Eventually we began prowling the woods together, mostly for bears. But for other things as well and for all the time we spent together we never killed a big game animal together though we screwed up a couple times on a big blackie we called Buster. This last Thanksgiving though Amy and I did the long journey to Prince of Wales Island and got to spend a glorious long weekend hanging out with Isaac & Katie and their two little girls. Ike and I snuck out two mornings in a row and each day had a buck hanging in the shed by noon. Isaac's first buck and our first animals hunting together. Hopefully there will be many more T-day bucks in the future. I thank God for that crappy temp job. BTW-Isaac is an extremely talented writer, you should check out his blogs, http://themadfishicist.blogspot.com/ & http://themadfishicist.wordpress.com/. They are my inspiration for blogging the best on the web.
Funny how life goes. You met Scott in my last post. Joel was Scott's youth pastor back in the day. Joel was one of the RA's in my dorm my freshman year of college at Pacific Christian in Fullerton, California. Imagine my surprise when Joel ended up as the youth pastor at the church Amy & I were attending. Joel helped bring Scott to Alaska, now the three of us spend some pretty amazing times together chasing critters. I consider him another one of my personal sharpening stones now. Joel was never into hunting growing up, but Scott and I have had the privilege of training him up and now he's starting to become a pretty skookum hunter himself. Now we're getting to see him pass down that heritage to his son Wyatt. Way cool. I've been involved in a number of Joel's firsts. This ram completed the trifecta in 2006. Not bad for a guys first sheep. Scott and I were the proud guides on this one. Be watching for this hunt on video in the near future. The kill scene is pretty spectacular.
Some old-timers say finding a good hunting partner is harder then finding a good wife. There's some truth to that. On a 10 day wilderness hunt you get to know someone real well. I hunted sheep solo for many years because I couldn't find someone with the same passion, enthusiasm and drive who wouldn't hold me back in the mountains. Then I discovered Scott (far left in the pic). Scott's even more obsessed about hunting than I am. As far as hunting abilities and attitudes it was like we were cut from the same cloth. Perhaps separated at birth? We make each other better hunters and because we share the same love for Jesus, we make each other better men. As iron sharpens iron. I wish every man could have a relationship like this. When we're in the woods there's a mighty good chance some kind of animal is coming out with us.
Such was the case on this 2007 moose hunt. Scott had never killed a moose so when he drew a lottery tag for any moose hunt, we knew he had a good chance for this "first". But just any moose wouldn't do. Most of our hunting together has been for sheep so we just hunted this moose the same we do for sheep - walk farther than anyone else is willing to. Alaskan sourdoughs will tell you anyone who walks over 1 mile for a moose (and the 400+ pounds of meat you have to salvage) is crazy. Well lock us up because Scott put the hammer down on this 61" trophy bull nearly 10 miles from the trailhead. Thankfully we had Alex with us (an awesome, hard-working young man we've had the opportunity to share a couple hunts with), and a small army of good friends in town with strong backs and weak minds to help us make this hunt a success. We know where this moose's buddies hang out, so we're looking for a repeat in 2008. One moose blesses many families.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
In 1998, I drew a tag for a sheep hunt in the coveted Tok Management Area, one of the top trophy Dall sheep areas in the world. I'd just started hunting in Alaska. I didn't have the "right" gear, didn't really have a clue what I was doing and had never killed anything bigger than a spike buck previously. But I headed into the mountains anyway, all by myself. For a week those rams absolutely schooled me to the point where I'd given up. I was never going to kill a trophy class animal. I was literally hiking out the morning of day 7 when I looked back over my shoulder and saw those rams again come down out of the crags. When it comes to sheep hunting I've never looked back since.
Hunting with your brother is super cool. The first pic is Scotty with his first elk when he was 17. He'd drawn a special youth hunt tag and I got to go chase wapiti with him and dad on a Christmas trip back home to Oregon. He killed this cow in an absolute hole. Dad proudly sat back and watched as I instructed Scotty on how to take care of that elk. I think it was his first glimpse of how I'd matured as a hunter since moving to Alaska. Watching your boys put into practice the things you've instilled into them must be a highlight of fatherhood.
The next pic is Scotty's first Alaskan animal, a trophy Dall ram. I gave him a mileage ticket to Alaska for Christmas in 2004, with the promise to take him on a guided sheep hunt in 2005. We experienced the lowest of lows and highest of highs together on this hunt. You can have an intellectual knowledge of an attribute of God, but its not until you experience that attribute that it sink in. When the tears started flowing when we found this ram, it was one of the most perfect moments I've ever had in the mountains. Scotty calls this hunt his greatest life achievement so far. It makes my heart swell to know I helped give that to him. It's still one of my all-time favorite hunts.
Hunting is my favorite thing, and one of my favorite things about hunting is helping a friend get a "first." Maybe it's their first ever big game animal, or the first of a particular species. Being there with someone for this momentous kill is an honor and a privilege.
This picture is from Snow Camping With Rifles #4, affectionately known as SCWR. It's usually the inagural backcountry trip each summer for a group of us. Tim was one of my first hunting partners in Alaska and still one of my best friends. We'd had several fruitless trips before we finally put it all together and Tim took this black bear. It's not the biggest bear, but it broke the ice for us. I didn't even know this was Tim's first animal until we set out to butcher it. This spring will be SCWR #10, and I think the lot of us that goes on this annual trip have killed 8 bears in this area now.
Matthew 27:35, "When they had crucified him..."
Mark 15:24, "And they crucified him."
Luke 23:33, "When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him."
John 19:23, "When the soldiers crucified Jesus..."
I'm struck by the simplicity of the accounts. No need to go into details, everyone knew what it meant.
This statue of Jesus stands in front of the climber's cemetery near the Aconcagua trailhead in Puente Del Inca. It kinda gave me the creeps. I wonder if Jesus likes it?
Many of you know I recently returned from a mountaineering expedition in Argentina. The goal was to summit Aconcagua. At roughly 22,800 feet in height it is the tallest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. I prepared for a year. I ran stairs with a heavy pack - often. I bought gear, I studied guidebooks. It was to be the trip of a lifetime, an adventure extraordinaire. We made it to 16,400 feet before an extreme case of altitude sickness overpowered me. This picture was taken the moment I realized I had failed. As I was being medi-vaced via helicopter the summit came into view. It was right there, so tantalizingly close, yet unobtainable. I'm still disappointed, still listening for the Lord to teach me all the valuable life lessons that come from a failure like this. I've had a lot of success in life, but I guess it is good to fail now and again. If you're not failing big, you're not trying big.
Friday, February 15, 2008
"I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, and the horns were long"-Daniel 8:3
I'm not going to apologize. This blog is going to be sheep hunting heavy. It is after all about the fullcurl of life. I killed this ram last fall on a special lottery hunt I drew for the Chugach Mountains behind Anchorage. I've never been on a worse sheep hunt. The rain poured, the wind was fierce, the competition from other hunters intense, the rams were few and far between. I was cold, wet, tired and hungry for 13 days. My feet bled. I spent 5 days hauling that ram out of the mountains. It was miserable. And yet, these are the times when my heat is most full of joy. God made me for these mountains and for this pursuit. To steal a line from Chariots of Fire, when I'm sheep hunting I feel God's pleasure.
Dang, look at me. So modern. My own blog. I've been realizing lately that I learn best by reading and writing. Amy can read a line from a book to me and it goes right over my head but if I read it myself I may find it profound. Thus this blog. By writing my thoughts and ideas, I think I'll get a better handle on my own musings. You get a glimpse into my life and get a chance to look at some cool pictures (at least I think they are cool).