Two weeks ago someone pried the window up on Brandon’s Allen’s cabin in Cooper Landing, crawled into the house, rifled through closets and draws and shelves and stole six hunting trophies.
As far as he can tell, nothing else was stolen — just two Dall sheep shoulder mounts, two black bear rugs and two mountain goat shoulder mounts.
But they were the worst things that could be stolen, he said. They were vestiges of his father, Buster Allen, now deceased, and of the time when he was just a kid he and his dad killed that brown bear up in the mountains.
“It was the first big game hunt we’ve been on, and we were stalking this bear,” he said. “He was above us and we were walking up the hill and there was a series of benches.
“We were about 100 yards away and I whispered to him: ‘Let’s go up this next bench and let’s get a little bit closer.’ We did, and due to the topography we couldn’t see him anymore — it was too low — so we had to go to the third bench.
“When we got to the third bench we were probably within 25 maybe 30 yards of this bear, on our hands and knees.
“My dad was a career soldier, so as we started to crest this little hill he poked me on the shoulder and he looked at me and said: ‘When we cross this hill, you better commence firing.’
“We shot the animal, and I think what I remember is how excited he was for me to take this animal. It was one shot, the animal was down, and I was concerned that maybe the animal wasn’t done — you know, you read about (hunters firing) two cases of shells and the bear keeps coming and eats half of Kenai and dies of old age.
“But one shot and the bear was down, and (my dad) was just jumping up and down; he was so excited. He was pounding me on the back.”
That was the only big game trip he took with his father. The other trophies he and his father collected separately throughout the state.
Now when he looks up on the wall between the four large windows that flood the cabin with sunlight — where his dad’s first place, hand-carved totem pole used to stand and where the sheep and goats used to look down — he thinks: “There’s just going to be an empty spot there. They’re never going to be there.”
He said it is lost history.
“You think about grandchildren not being able to see what their great-grandfather took 50 years ago,” he said.
Allen’s theft insurance gave him $5,000 for the loss. But he said you can’t buy back the mounts and you can’t buy back the memories. He’s putting the $5,000 forward as reward money to catch the person who stole his family heirlooms.
To report any findings, call Allen at 907-230-5966.
Dan Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.