Posted: Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Every since arriving in Alaska nearly eleven years ago I realized this is perhaps the most difficult place in the world to hunt. I’m not talking about being one of the lucky few that have become successful at the art of road hunting but to those who have put in their time year after year being out there in the wilderness hunting. The terrain here mixed with mountains, muskeg swamps, tundra, river bottoms and lakes combined with down timber, tag alders, willows and devils club creates about as tough of situation as you can find.

The most important thing you can do to combat the most difficult situation is not the equipment you chose but in preparing yourself physically and mentally before you go. The most common complaint hunting guides have is the fact that most clients report each year in too poor of physical shape to be able to do the hunt at all. Then they have not disciplined themselves mentally to over come the problems and conditions of the hunt and for all practical purposes they are defeated before they even get started.

I cannot stress the importance in working on your health and being physically fit if you’re going to be active in the Alaska wilderness in any capacity. Carrying extra weight is perhaps the most common problem all of us hunters create every year. If you’re not over weight physically you are still probably carrying items in your pack that you really don’t need. Check out your equipment several times before the big hunting trip.

If you just purchased a new pack wear it around several times before going on that big hunt this year. Where would you want to discover that the strap does not fit properly or that the buckle does not stay secure, at your home or on some mountainside? Just because your new pack is much larger then the old one does not mean we need to carry more weight. Each year you need to work on purchasing newer lighter items that will allow you to keep finding items that allow you to travel lighter and still be comfortable in camp. Always allow little extra room in your pack as many items become more bulky and tend to swell up once you get them wet.

If you’re getting up there in age run by the Doc’s office and get a physical to check out your physical condition before you start your big hunt. If you’re still relatively young it might be wise to do the same thing if you have plans on being one of us old guys someday. Just recently here on the Kenai Peninsula we had a 30-year-old medic collapse and die. After all you do check the oil on your pick-up to make sure it is ok before heading out, don’t you? And if it is low you add a little right? Well if your low of potassium or some other important mineral or nutrient in your body that makes it perform properly you need to know so you can take the proper steps to correct the situation.

I generally have a complete physical every year just to make sure everything is still working properly. I had my most recent one done just prior to returning to work on the North Slope on April 28th. Everything checked out pretty well except for a couple of the usual things like I still need to lose some weight and lower my cholesterol a little. Well despite having this physical done I went into A-fib and was flew off the slope to Providence Hospital where I had 30 hours of testing and being on a heart monitor. I then flew back to the slope to work a few days later only to have an attack of gal stones..... These little stones were threatening to chew completely through my insides and I must admit I have never been in so much pain in my life. I was again flown off the slope for the second time in a week with two completely different not related problems.

So hopefully you can see the importance of taking care of yourself especially if you’re planning on going to that remote area where there is little if any medical people around. Not only do you want to make sure you have all your gear rounded up this year and working properly ahead of time, you also need to work on getting yourself in shape too. If you are able to shed that extra 20 to 50 LB. before hunting season don’t think you should put that much more in your pack!

A mechanic and a doctor were having a discussion about each other’s work and the mechanic said I should be paid as much as you because I do about the same service that you do. He went on to explain that he works on the insides of the engines and the doctor works on the insides of people. He went on to say you do heart transplants but in a sense I do to I work on putting in new oil pumps and other work on the insides of the engine. If the engine does not work properly the car will not go! The doctor listened patiently then replied “Well the next time you over-all an engine you do it while it is running and I’m sure you will get paid like a doctor!” See you next week!

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