Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Yes my friends, this is the time of the year when many of you will pair up in your attempt to harvest some Alaska big game for meat. Some of you will hunt in small groups, others will put together a crew large enough to resemble a small army. A few of you will continue to hunt alone or with only family members. Some of you will chose to road hunt which requires a whole lot less energy and planning and at times can be successful too.

Regardless of which method you chose or where you hunt, always let someone know where you’re going. The thought of lying in some remote area with a badly sprained ankle or some other serious injury such as a bear mauling doesn’t seem a very pleasant way to end any season or one’s life mainly because we didn’t tell anyone. Imagine the thoughts going through your head as you lay there, or worse yet the thoughts going through your family’s head as they try and guess where you went, as each day goes by everyone becomes more frantic in the search for you.

Some of our hunts here are very difficult especially if you’re going to actually get off your couch and out of your truck and venture out into the wilderness, to me hunting in Alaska is the most difficult hunting in the world. Besides having to deal with the ever-changing elements we also have very difficult terrain to battle. Besides mountains there are also streams and rivers to cross, swamps, tundra, down timber, loose rocks, alders and other thick brush.

Then you have the weather to deal with, like days of rain, often times hot weather, or yet at other times extreme cold or even snow. If you’re camping out in the wilderness on a fly in trip a tent does very little to insulate you from a foot of snow. On the other hand imagine coming back to your camp and finding that the wind has blown your tent and sleeping bag off the mountain.

Your hunting partners are the most important tools you can choose as far as I am concerned. Are they safe, dependable and a true asset to your hunting camp? Are they knowledgeable, helpful and very useful members of your hunting party? Or are they a burden to you not only in camp but also out in the field. Are they physically able to even be on this hunt or do they slow you down continuously? Choosing the wrong hunting partners can be a disaster to your hunting trip or your season.

You can learn a lot of things about your hunting partners after a few days in the wilderness if you watch. If you’re a slob at home chances are you’re really going to be a slob in the wilderness. If you simply open the back door of your house and toss the trash out on your lawn chances are your going to behave that way in the woods also. If you are the type of person who routinely likes to sleep in on days off chances are you’re not going to want to crawl out of the warm sleeping bag and venture out very early.

If you are the type of person who routinely hollers for other family members to get stuff for you around your home don’t continue this practice if you’re in my hunting camp. Be organized, be neat and remember where you put your stuff. No I don’t know where you put your toothbrush or your bug net or.never mind.

During the time you’re in the wilderness you are actually borrowing that space from your fellow Alaskans. That is not your property nor will it ever be just your property. The old rule of “If you pack it in, pack it out” applies for everyone in every situation. Don’t leave your trash behind, try to burn it, bury it or attempt to hide it. Take it back out with you and leave your area as clean or cleaner then you found it. Do you have any idea just how hot your campfire must be to melt tin or aluminum cans? So when they don’t melt why do you think you have to attempt to bury them? Is it so that the animals have something to dig up or are you intent on proving to the people of the future that we had wilderness slobs during our time on earth too? Repeat after me, everyone, “If you pack it in, pack it out!” An extra trash bag or two really does not take up much room in your backpack.

Having the chance to live, hunt and fish in the state of Alaska is a dream many people never get to experience. Let’s all do our part in keeping “our” wilderness areas clean and no matter where you choose to hunt or who you’re hunting with do your part in policing those areas. Educate your partners on how to conduct themselves around camp and the importance in treating the wilderness with respect by picking up everything once we leave.

Imagine being in a tent on a cold frosty morning and hearing your partner whining about “You” getting up and building a fire. You step out of the tent and discover that apparently the wilderness night toilet was moved to a few feet in front of your tent! You discover a half eaten can of beans sitting on a log by a partially burned log where the fire had been. It has several bugs in it with other particles of soot and ashes. Dirty half-baked socks are wrapped around your tent pole. The cooler you brought along is all caved in and cracked from some big guy using it for a chair.

You round up some firewood and get a fire going while your hunting crew stays in bed. You get a bucket of water that you purified and put some on the stove to boil and discover no one did the dishes from last night for the meal you cooked. You start working on the dishes as the familiar voice comes from the tent once again. “Can you look in my bag for some clean socks for me?” “Have you seen my toothbrush?” “Is coffee on yet?” “Is there anything to eat yet?” “How long before breakfast is ready?” “Do you mind if I wear your jacket this morning?” “My boots are wet do you have extra boots along?” “Can I hunt with you today?”

After enduring a week of that you finally return home. Imagine the neighbor guy asking you “Where is your hunting partner?” And you respond with the only logical response”What hunting partner?” “I never had any hunting partners, oh you mean the guy who slept in a tent next to me? Oh that guy, ah yes, well I think he is still out there some place!”

See you next week!

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