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Be careful out there!
Moose
Contributors to this thread:
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
BTM 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Straight Shooter 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
ki-ke 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Rick M 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Rick M 29-Oct-14
Bill in MI 29-Oct-14
Huntcell 29-Oct-14
B N A A guy 29-Oct-14
BOWUNTR 29-Oct-14
SDHNTR(home) 29-Oct-14
GhostBird 30-Oct-14
BigRed 30-Oct-14
sureshot 30-Oct-14
Badlands 30-Oct-14
CPAhunter 30-Oct-14
SteveB 30-Oct-14
Toby 30-Oct-14
mjenkins 30-Oct-14
sureshot 30-Oct-14
mjenkins 30-Oct-14
Florida Mike 30-Oct-14
bearhunter 30-Oct-14
Jaquomo 30-Oct-14
cityhunter 30-Oct-14
rattling_junkie 30-Oct-14
Surfbow 30-Oct-14
Bill in MI 30-Oct-14
Straight Shooter 30-Oct-14
Hammer 30-Oct-14
Bill in MI 30-Oct-14
huntmaster 31-Oct-14
BTM 31-Oct-14
Bill in MI 06-Nov-14
SDHNTR(home) 06-Nov-14
t-roy 06-Nov-14
Mule Power 06-Nov-14
Nick Muche 07-Nov-14
greenmountain 07-Nov-14
Mule Power 07-Nov-14
VENISONJUNKY 07-Nov-14
ryanrc 07-Nov-14
ryanrc 07-Nov-14
Bill in MI 28-Oct-20
deerhunter72 28-Oct-20
trophyhill 29-Oct-20
Bill in MI 29-Oct-20
Tradmike 31-Oct-20
From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo
I've had a few guys reach out to me to inquire about my recent AK moose and brown bear bow hunt. Here is the summary and I'm curious to what your reaction would be if you were put in my situation....

I didn't bring this up on the Bowsite for a while as the memory is a tad painful. But, I did just got back from a hunt in from Montana where I finally killed a bull (rifle) as I was not able to get it done during the first week of September when I was out there with a bow. On that hunt I passed on a couple of long bow shots on decent bulls. But since I was heading to AK on 9/14 I was hunting opening week in MT and it was harder to pinpoint bulls due to them being a little quiet.

My Alaskan bow hunt though was a hell of an adventure, sadly though, with no animals harmed in the making of the hunt.

We flew to Anchorage on 9/14 and the drove to a airstrip on 9/15 up in Willow. My hunting partner and pilot took off in a 4 seat Maule with about 1/2 our gear. Our guides and the other gear went in on an earlier flight. We landed about 130 miles to the NNW at a miners claim/airstrip where we then caught a Super Cub flight to a sand bar up the Kichatna River near the SW boundary of Denali park.

It had rained about 5" in our valley before our arrival, so to say things were soggy is an understatement. The next morning we put our two rafts (2 hunters 2 guides) in the water. I was with a green-horn raft pilot (inexperienced with anything but slow moving rivers as he had floated easy rivers before) and the river was at close to flood stage, in fact the water crested the banks 2 days later...

I was in boat 2. Within 10 minutes, my guide misjudged a nasty stretch of debris filled river and put me into a sweeper near the outside cut bank. The up-current facing tree caught under my life vest. Keep in mind I had on three layers of clothes including rain gear, plus hip waders, my 10x42 Swaros in a Kuiu case, rangefinder, and a pistol and knife on my belt. Also it was still raining, about 50 degrees air temp, and the glacier water was reportedly 38 degrees. The tree lifted me up and put me from the front of the boat to over the stern and into the raging water. The boat was now hydraulically stuck under this tangle of trees and I was swept under the water and under the boat. I popped up for a breath but immediately had my foot caught in something under water which yanked me back under again with my head downstream and me looking up at that murky sky through the silty water. My foot somehow popped loose and I was free. I was now floating downstream into more sweepers. There really was no swimming to do as my rubber hip waders were totally filled with water along with my skinny legs, besides the rest of me was obviously saturated. Apparently, a life vest loses some buoyancy if it has been soaked thru prior to getting into the water with it...something to think about. Anyways, as I'm floating down the river about 50 yards, I'm able to angle towards a partially submerged log stuck mid river. I was able to get my arms around the trunk and the current pushed me down to the root ball. There I began the wait for my guide to free the raft. It probably took 3-4 min for him to finally cut the stuck straps and lift the tree over the boat. By this time, my life had already flashed through my mind. I distinctly remember seeing the moment I first kissed the girl who later became my wife and I relived the moment my son was born, no joke. I was aware that I was losing most of my strength as I think the adrenaline of the dunking was being displaced by the frigid cold. Miraculously Steve, my guide was able to get back on the oars after freeing the raft and was able to avoid simply running me over. He got the boat angled just so, and I reached up to the slippery rubber tube where Steve manhandled me over the bow by reaching down and grabbing my belt. Thank God I had that belt on. I was now spent and simply limp, laying across the bow. Steve got me to shore below the channel rapid where I stripped in the rain and changed into 'dry' clothes. I remember the wet sand bar feeling hot on my bare feet and was with it enough to know that this was not ideal.

About 10 min into trying to change out my clothes I began to feel my extremities again and asked where my bow was....Well it was 25 yards off shore in a rapid that was about 10' (guessing) deep and running 10-12 mph. We tried making a grapple out of a charcoal grill grate and a hanging 2 lb rock that we drop-shot off it. This was attached to 100' feet of parachute cord. We attempted to dredge the bottom but, to no avail. In fact, that grapple and rock would not even touch bottom of the main channel before the rope would straighten out below us. So, my entire setup, Strother Rush bow, tight spot quiver, a CBE adjustable bow sight, custom CE pile driver arrows that I footed with a few inches of aluminum arrows, all tipped with German kinetic silverflames and CE lighted nocks, my goto browning mercury filled stabalizer were all lost. My "weather resistant" Nikon rangefinder was not 'dunk proof' and died. Better it than me so says the wife lol. I add the loss up to around 2200-2300 bucks give or take.

After we finished that days river run and made camp (in the rain...did I mention it rained the next 6 days haha)I switched to a rifle for the remaining 99.95% of the 12 day hunt. We saw 2 legal bulls one of which was within 30 yards but invisible to me due to the brush while another bull crossed the river 450 yards or so below camp. This bull didn't want to play and disappeared into the alders. I did have a probable 45" bull (if he wasn't completely broke off on one side) pose for multiple 10-40 yard bow shots. That was a lot of fun. Also male brown bears were elusive although we had 2 different sows with cubs within 150 yards. We saw many black bears 1500 vertical feet above us and above the alder lines of which we did not choose to pursue as it would take time away from where we thought our best chances were for our primary target species. It stopped raining on day 7 when I finally dried out so that was really nice.

The hunt minus the near drowning/equipment stealing part and a last day logistical problem that shortened the hunt by a day, was fun and I'd do it again when the finances allow. Not sure how smart I am so says the wife lol.

The point of this story is that crap happens. But, I'll say that the rafting experience level of my guide (in higher flow waters) directly contributed to my near death experience and equipment loss. He was an experienced moose hunter, and excellent caller, and an all around good guy who I enjoyed hunting with. I have no animosity towards him in the least.

I had a 2 minute discussion with the outfitter after we got off the river of which he asked me outright 'if the guides rafting decision put in me in harms way'. I answered "yes".

I changed my flight left Anchorage that night since I didn't need any time on the end of the trip for meat logistics.

I've been waiting for a call from the outfitter as I feel there might be something owed here...what are your thoughts? What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Thx and be careful out there. It only take a second for disaster to strike...

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo
This was camp 2. If you notice there is about a foot of bank exposed. When we left 2 days later, the water was cresting over this bank.

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: BTM
29-Oct-14
I'm surprised he didn't at least offer you a break on a future hunt - a large break.

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

29-Oct-14
Wow!!! Glad you are ok. Life is short and things happen in a blink of the eye..

DJ

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Ambitious beaver...

From: ki-ke
29-Oct-14
It's a potentially dangerous business and we assume a lot of risk when we immerse ourselves in adventures like this. For many of us, the danger is part of the allure, even though, of course, we don't want to die. But a wilderness hunt has a way of confirming that we are really just a blip in the grand scheme of things and nothing about her changes if we die there. Not minimilizing what happened to you at all, trust me. I've done mare than a few DIY Alaska trips and have stories that rival yours. I'm alive and have a few good stories to tell is how I look at it.

Not sure what would be owed in your case, but if you liked the outfitter, he did what he was supposed to do and you deem him a MOSTLYbresponsible guy, perhaps a discussion about a redo is in order. A frank discussion about what you lost and a reminder that the guide may have been a bit inexperienced to be in that position mightvresukypt in him cutting a few bucks from a future trip. For him, if he is a stand up guy with an interest in staying in business for the long haul, he might relish the opportunity to salvage the client relationship and get you back.

On the other hand, if you would NOT hunt with the guy again, I doubt you will ever see any type of compensation.

Scary, but good story! Thanks for sharing. Glad to have you back.....

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14

Bill in MI's embedded Photo
Bill in MI's embedded Photo

From: Rick M
29-Oct-14
Dj, my thoughts exactly. If the bow would have been secured or at least attached to a float it sounds like my kind of adventure.

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14
Agreed, but whose responsibility is it to ensure guides are up to snuff including having the foresight to recommend to a first time rafting/hunting client, that your bow be under the netting and tied down?...I am a take responsibility kind of guy and I wish I had the inclination to better secure my weapon, tighten up the top of my hip waders (they were parachutes around my thighs lol), ensure that the life vests were not waterlogged from being left out in the rain, etc. The question for me is when you spend 18 grand on a hunt, aren't you paying for that experience set and guidance?

From: Rick M
29-Oct-14
We all assume risks on these types of hunts. That said for that kind of money, and if you were inexperienced, I guess the guide should have tied a piece of rope to your bow.

The problem is that even if he offered a half price hunt it may not be worth the financial risk.

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-14
For what it's worth, guide and hunter in 1st boat had the discussion about why a bow in the hand is not ideal and the bow was stowed. Those obvious (in hind sight) risks were revelations to my guide and discussed after the fact. This discussion also included the realization that fighting a sweeper with a 1000 lb loaded raft and strong current is futile and that in the case of another sweeper, the guy in the front should drop down into the hole in the bow of the boat. This advice I followed the next time it happened.

From: Huntcell
29-Oct-14
WoW! that beaver gnawed tree is impressive, looks awesome! big country big critters!

Glad your alright hope you can work out something for return trip, pray for low water next time.

From: B N A A guy
29-Oct-14
Hey Bill, glad to hear that you made it home safe. So sorry for the loss of your gear but so thankful that's all it was. I hope your outfitter will get in touch with you here soon and hopefully do something positive for you. When you get a chance, let's catch up.

Hug your family and thank The Lord that he brought you home!!! That big bull Moose will eventually make it up on your wall.

Best regards, Scott Alberda

From: BOWUNTR
29-Oct-14
Holy smokes... glad you survived. Not sure what I'd do in your situation. Helluva adventure. .. Ed F

From: SDHNTR(home)
29-Oct-14
No place like AK for an adventure! Glad you made it OK. Thanks for sharing. I wasn't there so take this with a huge grain of salt, but IMO, you cant entirely blame the guide. Blame the conditions, but that is nobody's fault and the risk you take when you go afield. Even experienced guides flip rafts. And unexpected sweepers can pop up anywhere. It really sucks, and perhaps the guide was outmatched, but accidents happen to the best of em. It would be nice if the outfitter stepped up to make some sort of concession, but I'm not sure anything is actually owed back here. Just my .02. Personally, I'd chock it up to part of the adventure. Nothing was lost that can't be replaced, and you've got a lifelong story to tell. Can't put a price on that.

From: GhostBird
30-Oct-14
Glad you are OK... thanks for sharing the adventure.

Look on the bright side, you are alive and have a good excuse to buy a new bow!

From: BigRed
30-Oct-14
Wow... First off, thankful you were not injured or worse. That's a trip you'll remember the rest of your life, as are the lessons learned from it.

Concerning compensation. I assume you signed a contract with the outfitter. Having signed a few of these myself, they pretty much release the outfitter from any responsibility due to injury or loss of equipment. All responsibility rests with you, the client. With that said, the outfitter is responsible for having safe, functioning equipment. And if you were given a life vest that was defective, that's an issue. You could also see if Alaska has any licensing requirements or training for guides, and see if your guide met those requirements.

I'd do what I could to work it out with him one on one at first. Sounds like you're looking for compensation on your bow. Good luck with that. He's more likely to give a break on a future hunt. Have an attorney look over your contract if he fails to be cooperative.

Best of luck!

From: sureshot
30-Oct-14
I lost a bowcase arrows and some other gear due to a boat sinking on a hunt. I chalked it up to part of the adventure. If I had been in the middle of the river sinking with the boat I probably would have been a little more upset. There is a fine line, in my opinion, where the guide either is or is not what you can reasonably expect. If I felt the guides lack of experience put my life at risk, I would not hunt with that outfitter again. Glad you made it home safe.

From: Badlands
30-Oct-14
When I used to guide fishing trips there would be a guide every year who lost their boat and clients. Usually all made it out safely. A few years back three very experienced guys took a rough channel and only two made it home. The other guy was found 10 miles downriver.

We all knew that at some point in time it would be our turn, no matter how many years we had been at it. You have to be diligent 100% of the time when you are on the river, even a momentary lapse of attention can result in disaster. Similar to driving on a busy highway.

I guess my point is that your guide may have been experienced and he could still have had a problem.

From: CPAhunter
30-Oct-14
I think there is a difference between blame and taking responsibility. I would not blame the outfitter nor the guide nor myself. Stuff happens. I'd give the outfitter a call to discuss and tell him you lost $XXXX of gear due to the incident and while you are not blaming anyone, in your opinion the outfitter does have some responsibility in this situation. See what he says........if he says to pound sand, inquire if you should just make an insurance claim against his policy directly rather than go through him. If he were a smart businessperson he would ask you what you think is fair. Be prepared to tell him what you think is fair prior to making the phone call.

From: SteveB
30-Oct-14
Wow. BIG wow! Its the outfits responsibility to provide you with a guide with necessary experience regardless of a signed release. He owes you big time.

From: Toby
30-Oct-14
Gouau!!!! What a scary story. Thanks god you are Ok, but it was close!!! Thanks for sharing, a hell of adventure We have to be careful all the time, particularly when you are in places like Alaska. Great to have you back

From: mjenkins
30-Oct-14
WOW, glad to hear you survived. Scary stuff when dealing with the power of water.

I don't think you are owed anything here, unfortunately. Certainly not the equipment because that is your responsibility. Can't blame the outfitter for the raft flipping as that can happen to the best guide in the world.

Was the lifejacket USCG approved? I don't know anyone who keeps life jackets in a dry sack to keep from getting wet.

From: sureshot
30-Oct-14
Would an outfitter sendig a inexperieced bush pilot out in bad weaher, resulting in a plane crash, be any dfifferent?

From: mjenkins
30-Oct-14
How much floating experience did the guide have? Was this his first river trip??

Was it truly inexperience or just a case of "crap happens".

From: Florida Mike
30-Oct-14
Congrats on LIVING through it! I believe the outfitter should dig deep and offer you a return hunt for less than half price. But I doubt he does. Some guys that don't go on guided hunts probably won't think you are owed anything, but I've been on a few and you place your confidence into an outfitter to provide experienced, competent employees to provide a safe hunt. Thats not what you received. Mike

From: bearhunter
30-Oct-14
Glad you are safe. I know how terrifying that can be trapped underwater. Just had a recent experience myself and do not wish it on anyone. The thoughts that go through your mind at that moment are hard to explain. You did a great job telling your story. Thanks

From: Jaquomo
30-Oct-14
Glad you made it out safe. Thanks for sharing. It's frightening how quickly things can go from a float down the river to life-or-death. Or from a hike on a peak to an huge "Holy Spit" in seconds. I almost walked off a cliff in the dark on an unfamiliar ridge this elk season, and still puckered about that.

Had something bad happen on a big river in Quebec, on a caribou hunt. Fortunately our guide was a quick thinker, as were my hunting partner and myself, or we would likely have been the stars in a body recovery project somewhere enroute to the Atlantic Ocean.

You're lucky you have the memories, and best of luck on your next adventure. Thanks again for sharing this with us, Bill.

From: cityhunter
30-Oct-14
Don't hold your breath on a call back. Glad u didn't loose your life . I never had interest in floating while hunting Going in the drink isn't fun.

30-Oct-14
I guess if you were sitting lower you would have been alright?

From: Surfbow
30-Oct-14
I grew up surfing, and had lots of experience in the ocean and around heavy surf. Rivers, however, scare the heck out of me. A pounding in the surf typically lasts less than 30 seconds and it's easy to hold your breath if you don't panic, a river current hold-down will never end.

From: Bill in MI
30-Oct-14
Thx for all the comments guys and frankly I'm not sure that I feel entitled to anything at all, hence the question posed.

To answer the question asked, the guide told me that he had been on multiple DIY and DIWF (with family) float hunts. All were on comparatively lazy/slow rivers with open channels. I have done exactly one white water 'rafting' in a one man 'duck' on the Ocoee river in Tennessee. With my limited 'experience' it was interesting to feel the guide routinely make the wrong oar strokes, and then quickly make a correction. The realization and subsequent conversations he had with guide 1 about not entering a set of rapids with the boat East and West on a South flowing river were interesting. It was also interesting to hear him mutter 'oh my' and other similar fearful expression as we approached other bends and sets of rapids. So, based on my observations, he was outclassed on a river with class 3 rapids compounded by high water.

The other guide, who has a summer job guiding floats on the Colorado River thru the Grand Canyon, stated that this river (due to the ever changing channels, sweepers, and lack of river 'maintenance') was more dangerous than the Colorado.

Again, the crux of the matter is 'were we given a guide experienced enough for the conditions?'. If not, is it reasonable to expect more of a conversation of how the hunt went down?

30-Oct-14
I never really had an interest in doing a rafting trip, and after hearing this story I'm sure of it! Not sure if the being thrown from the raft or the $18,000 is more scary?? Again glad you were ok.

DJ

From: Hammer
30-Oct-14
Wow. So glad to hear you made it out alive Bill. That could have went badly very fast.

I think mishaps happen more than some may think and sometimes something seemingly small odds become reality real quick. My Buddy went in the drink on the Holitna in Alaska and lost his gun at the bottom of the river. Very expensive gun too. He was sitting on the front of the raft and fell in with his weapon in hand but lost it.

My pops had a similar and near death occurrence to yours on the "Hoholitna" river. He was sitting on the front of the raft in slower moving waters and the raft hit a snag and stopped it instantly and he slid off the front into the drink. An attempt to pluck him from the water was made after the raft was freed but it kind of failed. The raft party ran him over and luckily he was able to grab ahold and somehow held on to the back of the raft just long enough for his partner to pull him up. He had the same gear on as you and feared he would die. He was pretty concerned naturally. They had to start a fire immediately to get him warmed up because he was very cold and could not get warm for quite a while. Thankfully the waters were not flowing like what you described or he may not still be here.

Glad to hear you are ok man and maybe the outfitter will make it up to you in some way. Stay safe.

From: Bill in MI
30-Oct-14
That 18k is a total out of pocket including tags and logistics and loss of gear JFYI.

From: huntmaster
31-Oct-14
Wow! Glad you made it out and can still tell the story.

From: BTM
31-Oct-14
FWIW Fred Eichler had a similar experience. It's on one of his videos. (I also understand that he received a free hunt the next year.)

From: Bill in MI
06-Nov-14
I took the initiative and called the outfitter tonight. We reviewed the hunt in detail. He asked me outright if I thought he should buy me a new bow. I said 'no.' I don't have any evidence really that would say I would have got past that snag with a different guide. I indicated it would be nice to try again and he said 'he would love to have me again and could he offer a 1/2 price hunt.'

I said that I'd be interested. It was a productive call.

From: SDHNTR(home)
06-Nov-14
That outfitter did the right thing and so did you. Good news.

From: t-roy
06-Nov-14
First, glad you made it home safe.

Sounds like he feels bad for your situation & is willing to make things better! If you are still interested, I would take him up on his offer. Hopefully, things go a lot better the second time around.

From: Mule Power
06-Nov-14
Mixedbag... Don't worry I'll save you. lol Those lake hunts are sounding better all the time aren't they!

From: Nick Muche
07-Nov-14
Everyone talks about float hunts up here... No thanks, doesn't sound like much fun even when they go "right".

I'm glad you're ok and hope you get to come back.

07-Nov-14
As I read this I was thinking what would I do. I am still not certain. I appreciate the reasonable thoughtful attitude you presented. I think the outfitter is reasonable. As he can't afford to pay a lot of cash (I assume) he offered services. Life threatening adventures make strong memories. I am so glad to read you can get out and make more memories.

From: Mule Power
07-Nov-14
Exactly Nick. Set camp, break camp, set camp, break camp, all to basically "road hunt" since rivers are roads. Then a plane flies over, spots a bull ahead of you, lands and cherry picks it before you get that far! No thanks here either.

From: VENISONJUNKY
07-Nov-14
Glad your ok Bill ! Thanks for sharing . Makes me want to stay away from float trips price is scary enough for me to stay away !

From: ryanrc
07-Nov-14
It sounds like you are both reasonable people and that is refreshing. Good luck on your future hunt!

From: ryanrc
07-Nov-14
It sounds like you are both reasonable people and that is refreshing. Good luck on your future hunt!

From: Bill in MI
28-Oct-20
For the record I decided not to go back, only because life and starting a new business got in the way. The outfitter and guide are friends. Be careful out there gents.

From: deerhunter72
28-Oct-20
I just finished reading this, missed it back then. That was quite a story and I'm sure you still think about it from time to time, or maybe more than that. I appreciate you sharing the experience to remind us all that things can go south very quickly, especially on water.

29-Oct-20
Wow that’s harrowing. If I were the outfitter, I’d of contacted you, and offered to replace your equipment, offered to buy you another tag(s), offer you a raft or fly in hunt, and apologizing for the inexperienced rafting guide like there’s no tomorrow. The outfitter undoubtedly can write those expenses off. And if he can’t then tough luck but the bottom line is I’d be kissing your azz for a near death experience like that, that clearly could have been avoided had the guide been experienced

From: Bill in MI
29-Oct-20
I still dream of it. I started swimming again this year and bought a kayak this year to force my fears to the recesses of my mind. My now ex wife says this experience changed me. The jury is out on that, regardless it was an impactful event in my life.

From: Tradmike
31-Oct-20
Been to Alaska several times. Those fast rivers scare me even in a jet boat.

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