I'll preface this by telling you I wasn't planning to do a story about my 2015 trip to Alaska. I've had about a couple dozen emails and messages asking me for it...so here's the accounting. I'm not going to gloss it up or make it prettier than it was in reality. I don't consider myself much of a writer and I often find it hard to pull out the correct words needed to convey what's happening. My writing grammar probably needs work, but I write it the way I'd tell it. It's a story and it isn't perfect. It's pretty long, so up-front apology on that. It might take me a while to get it done...lots of images and such...so feel free to comment or question along the way. The time-frame is August, but the story really starts much earlier...back in late winter when I decided to challenge myself somehow. You can get a clue from the picture. I'm well over the double-nickel, so getting in shape is a primary concern.
I normally go for moose in September, but after much consideration I decided it was time for a new adventure. I wasn't exactly sure what that might be, but it seemed like a great opportunity to experience something unique and memorable. I spent much of last winter contemplating options and talking to people about ideas. I spoke to the pilot who usually flies me in for moose and told him of my thoughts. We had several rounds of conversation and I finally decided to go after caribou. He gave me plenty of data regarding locations and opportunities...enough that I felt completely confident I would see plenty of game and have my chances. I'm not a guy who usually worries much about getting right into animals, but it's nice to have the feeling you'll be seeing them. Head on straight...I'm going for it.
I initially considered a partner for this hunt but opted away from that fairly quickly. I really felt the need to do something unfamiliar and to challenge myself in ways not done before this hunt. I began to understand that I wanted to go alone and experience the Alaskan wilderness with only myself to rely on. I was concerned about Marilyn's feelings, and decided there was no way I would do this without her complete approval. We talked about it at length and explored every concern or question. I liked her final answer.
“You've spent your whole life hunting and fishing. You have more skills than most guys who go there. You've always been focused on staying safe, and I know that is how you think. I will worry some, but it helps to know you'll be in touch. I think you should go do it.”
The day we flew out Columbus (Ohio) was a combo of excitement, relief and finality. A long summer of planning was over. There was nothing left to do now but execute all the plans.
Productive halibut day on the Homer Spit.
Bull moose in fireweed. Photography by excited wife.
The big volcano...Iliamna or Redoubt.
Salmon pooled up below Russian River Falls.
On the 3.5 mile trail at Russian River in the Kenai area. Big brownies!
Seward Harbor. You had to be there to appreciate it....trust me.
On Pika Glacier not far from Denali. If you've never done anything like this, I can't adequately describe the feeling it gives. This is special stuff.
Turbine Otter on the glacier. Our landing defied the odds.
A favorite image of mine.
Good luck, Robb
I had spoken to my pilot about the possibility of getting Marilyn up in his Super Cub. On a warm and fine evening he called and said, "Let's get her up!" Here she is getting pre-flight safety instructions.
Intrepid woman...first time in a Cub. Hell...I know I wasn't grinning like that the first time I buckled in.... !
One of our favorite stops is Pike's Landing in Fairbanks. Eating on the patio was a sweet treat.
Back at my room I poured the final glass from a bottle we'd shared. I looked at my gear and knew I was ready. I quietly toasted the success of our trip. No matter what happened from this point...I was satisfied. I had a few hours to contemplate the hunt before sleep. Tomorrow it begins.
At 6:30 the next morning my pilot picked me up. We tossed my gear in his truck and ten minutes later we arrived at the hangar. I caught up with an old friend and chatted briefly as the Super Cub was fueled. I loaded my gear and we lofted up and away in no time. I rather enjoyed that flight...it was probably the finest bush flight I've ever experienced. Imagine two Super Cubs heading into the bush and low mountains of eastern Alaska...pilots talking back and forth...I was adding dumb commentary as required...and we flew steadily east by northeast into the rugged Fortymile region. The Cubs eventually separated and we began doing a reconnaissance of various caribou areas. We flew over domes and rugged cliffs, up and through passes, and soared above wild quiet expanses of alpine tundra. From the air we located a few bands of Dall sheep, one of which was watching a black bear navigate the steep slope below. We spotted multiple moose including a nice bull just coming out of velvet. The caribou were spotty, just as they should be in late August. They were scattered and holding high...the migration yet to begin. After flying through and around many possible hunting areas it was time to make a decision. Based on visuals and feedback from my friend/pilot I made my choice. “Take me to Judith Pass”. My friend and pilot told me I'd chosen well. I heard him say something about tricky winds and short takeoffs which could make for problems in unfavorable weather, but by then it was a moot point. The rocks and tundra were looming larger by the second and less than a minute later we were bouncing to a stop. I clipped out of my flight harness and stepped into my new world, surveying the terrain and surrounding mountains.
It took ten minutes to unload my gear and get the Cub away. I don't recall any particular feeling of aloneness or gravity as I watched him float away down-canyon toward the spruce below...I've been alone in Alaska many times. Besides, I had work to do: “Well....I decided on this, so I can only blame me”. I wasn't going to camp where I landed. My campsite was to be farther up in the actual pass. That meant a backpack trip, and considering I had 75 pounds of gear it meant two backpack trips....I had to get working. I filled my pack with 40 pounds of gear and shouldered it. There's not much point trying to describe what it's like to be well over the double-nickel in age, while hammering up a big rough shale slide through alders and fighting for balance. In the end I climbed about 800 vertical feet and went a mile or two into the pass. On the way up I paused to shoot a picture or two. The tiny lake far below is about 3/4 miles away at this point, and I had started my trek near it. I recall surveying the drainages and distant mountains...the realization I had all this to myself was amazing. I noticed my shadow and struck a noble pose for the image.
I continued to advance in both elevation and distance until I was a good long ways from our landing strip. I liked what I could see and decided I needed to find a campsite. “Good lord....I forgot to bring a bulldozer.” I found a bench which wasn't really level...more like 15-20 degrees angle...and looked for a place to pitch the Sawtooth tipi. Every spot was either wet or bulging with rocks. I finally compromised and selected the least rocky spot I could find. I dumped the pack and flopped on a flat rock. It was 11:30 and I needed a lunch snack. I cut a chunk of salami....you know that good Genoa stuff by Boar's Head.....and opened a granola bar. “This is pretty good. I'm sitting alone in Judith Pass eating lunch. There are caribou walking below me. The sun is warm. I have another load to haul, but I'll get it done.”
My brain was in neutral...lulled by the comforts of sun and scenery. My legs were tired. The food tasted divine. “I think I see another caribou coming. Wait a second....uh oh.”
I grabbed my binoculars and verified what my unaided eyes had seen:
Big and blonde..."Jeez-o-pete...that sucker is big!" The wind was wrong; he was upwind and couldn't smell me. The situation was wrong: I had intelligently decided to leave my big handgun far below for the second trip. After all, bears don't usually find themselves attracted to airplanes and all that clatter. I had a can of pepper spray and a few minutes at most. I needed to make a decision, so I decided; I sat there and ate my salami and granola bar. “If this dude crosses that rocky slide and gets on my side he'll be at 125 yards or so. I'll give him until then. If he gets under 100 yards one of us is going to look bad.”
Well of course he didn't stop and when he hit the 100 yard marker I did something which is instinctively very difficult to do. I stood up, yelled some bad-bear talk his way, and I raised my arms high in an effort to look big and bear-proof. I swear I heard him say “You gotta be kidding”....and he just stared at me. I clicked the safety off the spray can (not comforted) and continued the propaganda assault. He took several steps my way and I suddenly realized that my two arms overhead might just happen to look like a Wilbur-sized bull caribou, so I pulled my arms down and curled them over my head. He started making steps in a sort of circling way, and I did the same hoping he would get my wind if this lasted long enough. “Hey bear!....Hey bear!.....Get outta here!.” He dropped his head low and eyeballed me hard....I thought “Crap....here he comes!”...and then he lost it. He lost his nerve and bolted down the mountain and into the alders. I thought he looked bad doing that, but I wasn't laughing. I needed a drink for my dry mouth...I blamed the salami.
My camp, looking down into the drainage.
The view up the mountain; image taken with 'dramatic' setting.
Knowing the grizzly was up there gave me a few pauses as darkness fell. I knew the odds were against him coming back, but the odds were also against having him walk up on me two hours after landing. I adhered to my usual ritual of handgun readiness and placement for night use. I drifted off to sleep while hoping the hungry night prowlers would stay away.
Hunting Day 1 was beautiful. Sunny and warm. Plenty of work to do around camp and time to hunt as well.
I spotted several big bulls but none I could reach and then hope to pack out on my own. Two very large bachelor bulls actually fed lazily near the landing strip in the evening and I considered a move to kill one of them. The biggest problem was the massive amount of ugly shale boulders and alders I had to navigate. I went for it. Halfway to the bulls I rolled a rock and had them staring my way at 150 yards. It was over...their suspicion was obvious. I headed back to camp as a light misty rain started to fall.
Along the way I noticed plenty of evidence that the blueberries were as irresistible to the bears as they were to me.
The weather remained in various stages of semi-terrible most of the day. There was a mid-afternoon break and I got out for about two hours. I spotted some good bulls but too far for a try. I also spotted a large band of 22 Dall sheep on the opposite mountainside at my elevation.
I took the sight of the sheep as a good omen...I knew I was in a very special place in which many species overlap. Caribou, grizzly, black bear, Dall sheep, moose....all could expect to be seen at any moment in time.
The cloud ceiling was very low most of the day, making it tough to see anything beyond 100 yards most of the time. The weather was acting weird and I opted to remain fairly close to camp...within a half-mile. The rain cranked up again just at dark and I hit the bedroll after a good meal.
You have mastered your wording with great thought and passion for the adventure and the hunt. Not bad for a buckeye. I am surely enjoying this.
Tricia and I will be in Columbus this late June to visit daughter and son in law.. Maybe we can met up and share a glass. my best, Paul
It was about this time that I began to think in terms of my own safety and security instead of hunting constantly. I knew the weather had me isolated and I needed to be careful. Knowing there was a persistent grizzly about the area made me keep my senses on alert. Planes can't fly in weather like that, and a guy is on his own in a solo camp.
I watched him with plenty of envy. He was big and he was safe from my desires. He bedded down at dusk and so did I. It rained all night and a wind gust slapped the tipi hard enough to jolt me upright at 2am. I sat there and listened. I felt vulnerable and momentarily stupid for doing this trip alone. I wished I wasn't having to endure the wild weather, and I knew none of it was within my sphere of control. Whatever would happen would happen, and I had to endure. Before I could develop those feelings further I thought I heard a low growl outside camp. It made me shudder and I reached for the gun. I heard it again, closer....then farther away. I strained my ears but all I heard was the howling wind. Maybe I imagined it...maybe not. Crazy weather and stress will do funny things to a guy. I slumped down and into a fitful sleep filled with crazy dreams unrelated to anything I was experiencing.
It was so steep that I was inclined against the rocks on my left side and had my right boot dug in to keep from sliding down the mountain. I was probably 1500 vertical feet above the landing strip and could barely maintain footing up there. I didn't have much time to decide. I thought about it and I knew it would be a foolish risk to kill a large bull so high up...and alone. I found my answer as they arrived. The bow was up and cleared the rocks. Two of the biggest bull caribou I've ever seen fed past me at 20 yards and my arrow stayed on the bow. Yes...it was a hard decision. Yes...it stung to watch their rumps feed away. Yes...I made the right call. You'll see why in a bit. I munched some of the abundant blueberries and glassed the Dall sheep opposite my perch. I thought about my hunting life and the decisions I've made. I thought about Marilyn who would be disappointed for me to come so close. I rolled a rock off the hill and headed back to camp.
The country is far rougher and steeper than it appears.
I hoped the storm was over, but it was again raining before darkness fell. I had braced every tent peg with big rocks and done all I could to secure the camp. By 11pm the winds were again roaring and at midnight the worst of it arrived. The tipi fabric was shuddering and popping in huge wind gusts. The noise was almost deafening. The fabric flap which covers the stove jack was holding securely, but the speed of the wind had it buzzing like a kazoo in the night. The center pole was bowing and bending like it might collapse at any moment. I fought it for hours, doing everything I could to save things. I realized that this had gone beyond an irritating inconvenience. If my shelter was lost I would be on my own to manage until someone could finally get to me, and that wasn't going to happen until the weather improved. If the worst happened I would need to activate my PLB and await some sort of rescue...not what this guy wanted to see happen. Somewhere toward 3am I think I just reconciled that things were now up to a power beyond myself. I couldn't control the storm or Alaska. The tipi had survived everything to this point. My fatigue was extreme. I offered a quick prayer for my safety, and then I pulled my beanie over my ears and slipped completely into my bag. My last thought was something like “I'm going to sleep. If it blows down, I will deal with it then.” I slept like I was dead.
Somewhere in the predawn I woke to fabric draping my face and realized the tipi had failed. I roused myself and slowly understood I was still deep in my down bag and it was only the inner lining I was feeling over my face. The tent was up...the wind had slackened to maybe 20 mph...and I gratefully closed my eyes.
Me: “Hey what's going on in town?”
Him: “It's been just awful down here. You wouldn't believe the weather.”
Me: “ Whatever you've had is a cakewalk compared to Judith Pass. What's the forecast?”
Him: “More of the same for at least 2 days. Then it turns cold and nasty. They say the wind will blow.”
Me: “I'm still up on the mountain. The wind has beaten me to a pulp.”
Him: “You probably ought to get off there and get down low. Maybe hole up in the spruce for a couple days. I'll get you out when this is over.”
Imagine that. Two more days to endure....it felt like a sentence to hard time. I needed to act. I looked at the sky and it wasn't that bad. A critical decision; as fast as possible I sorted my gear into need-it and need-it-less piles. I broke camp loading my pack with the need-it pile. Everything else I bundled and covered with a tyvek tarp which I securely rocked. I left the weary and battered electric fence in place to guard the cache until I could get back. I shouldered the heavy load and headed down.
On the way around the mountain I suddenly realized I just might not ever get back up there. My gear cache might have to be lost if I couldn't catch a break from Ma Nature. I snapped a quick photo....
Once off the mountain I realized the spruce were still a long way below me. Reaching the edge of them wouldn't help much; they were small and sparse at first. I would need to drop another quarter to half mile into them to find true shelter. “This is it. I'm camping here.” I went to a low place off the landing strip and into some light brush. I put the tipi up and was basically getting things adjusted when the mist turned to rain and the wind started. The first gust yanked 3 stakes and almost parachuted the Sawtooth into the Yukon. I stomped them down immediately and started looking for stones. I ended up having to carry 16 stones an average distance of 50 yards each. If you do the math I covered 1600 yards of walking to amass enough big stones to secure my tipi. It pounded rain and wind the whole time. Once inside I had some lunch and a nap.
This picture has little meaning to anyone except those who understand how the smallest things can be so appreciated.
All throughout the previous 3 days the temperature had remained relatively decent. In fact, it felt almost warmish-tropical at one point in the storm. Now I noticed the temperature was declining and quickly. My breath was evident inside. Much of my gear was now damp, though not wet as I'd taken pains to be careful through the weather. I fixed myself a cup of coffee and thought about my situation.
So I was secure, but half my gear remained up in the pass. I had no choice, as going after it would have been suicidal. I used the satellite phone to let Marilyn and Bryan know my situation, She was well aware of the weather and living with the constant wonder of how I was doing. I told her I really had no choice except to be tougher than a Marine, because even the Marines weren't going to come get me in this weather. I had zero shot at rescue if needed. I'm not much into self-images, but I popped off a couple shots as I sat in my rain gear in the tipi. My eyes tell the story better than words.
I went to bed damp, tired, grubby and feeling a bit subhuman. In the night I finally noticed the wind had abated some, but I also noticed a new noise. It was the sound of snow sliding on siliconized nylon fabric. “zzzzzit......zzzzzit”. I slept in a sort of hallucinatory dream state from time to time...losing track of time and feeling disconnected from reality.
I knocked it off the tipi and checked my shelter.
100% good to go. “Heck yeah...this is better than Hurricane Judith” and I enjoyed a breakfast to the sound of snow showers pinging on the tipi. I wanted to go get my remaining gear, but the clouds and weather kept closing the door. I needed a window of time and weather. I got it at 1pm and sent a message out “Going for gear. Have faith.”
I slipped into my empty pack, grabbed my bow and headed up the mountain one last time.
I knew they were fresh as snow had fallen only an hour earlier. I followed them a ways and then remarkably spotted their maker. A black wolf was standing up on the mountainside watching me...watching him. Such a cool moment. He trotted into the alders and I later found his tracks up that way. I also determined there were a couple other wolves with him, though I never spotted them.
I found my gear cache as I left it, though covered with 4 inches of snow and ice at the higher elevation. The fence was in tatters and knocked askew by the monster winds...but the charger was still clicking away and doing its job. I hurriedly cleaned up everything...packed up everything...and made the long downhill carry to my low camp. I was back with everything intact. My gut and the sky told me the worst was over....there was a bit of alpenglow washing the evening landscape, and the snow just enhanced the effect. I was feeling nothing but relief and appreciation to be over the hump. Yes...the storm was finished.
Although no mention has been made of it, I had the knowledge of this day driving me onward through the tough weather. All through the trip I had carried and protected a memento from the elements. I had felt some degree of guilt for being gone during our anniversary, but had also been assured it was good, and there would be a payback required anyway. It was time:
I ate a big breakfast and grabbed my bow for a walk. It was just the two of us. The snow told the tale; the caribou were gone. The storm, winds and snow pushed them out of the pass and into the first part of their annual journey south and east. I explored the area well, but there was not a track to be found. I felt a little sad to be alone...the animals had at least been a type of company when I could get outside. I returned to camp and decided to cook a hot lunch. That's when it happened...I had company again.
Didn't even wave......
Though I watched carefully I never saw the lamb again, nor did I see a single other sheep. The caribou were no more than a wish now. This pass would be the domain of the grizzly and wolf until next summer.
Just as afternoon was blending into evening I faintly heard that old familiar sound which I'm never quite ready for, but always somehow appreciate. Floating through Judith Pass was my angel: a familiar Super Cub with the evening sun glinting off her glass. My heart skipped a beat as I realized my difficult and very priceless adventure was coming to a close. Even though I'd been through so much bad weather and hardship, I still wasn't ready to leave the mountains. I guess I felt like I'd endured hell, and now had earned the right to hunt and maybe kill something. It didn't really matter though. In my heart I knew it was time to call it a hunt...pack it in...and count my blessings in ways other than meat and antler.
I broke camp and 30 minutes later we were winging out of the mountains. Mixed emotions chased me for the first 50 miles, then came the full peace of knowing I was a lucky man to see this place even once. Home was waiting, and I wanted nothing more than to be there.
I thought much about the last 2 animals of that trip. A black wolf which visited my camp and left me just as the storm blew away. A white lamb which visited my camp and left me just before the sun shone and my adventure ended. That's hard to ignore...I smile when I think of it.
I have a number of people in my life who should be thanked, but obviously the main one is my wife who trusts me to be safe and allows me the freedom to enjoy the wilderness. I am that lucky.
Thanks for following my story.
Stellar photography and commentary. Well done, Kevin!
Best of Luck, Jeff
Thank you for taking us along with you!
That may have been one of the best "keep you on the edge of your seat" stories I have read in a long time. I appreciate the lack of expletives and straight from the heart telling it like it happened. Your selfie said a thousand words. As did the dried pineapple! And your photography made the story come alive.
Dwight Schuh wrote a story many years ago called "Average Alaska". He was with my friend Gary from Day One Camo and they got snowed on heavily. Dwight won several awards for that story, and I got to talk to him about that adventure. Dwight is a great writer, and this story is right up there with it, if not exceeding it slightly.
Very well done.
Thanks for taking the time to write it up
Yeah, you really suck at writing. Good gawd, Kevin, that was freaking outstanding!
I really enjoyed this story. Certainly right up there with the "best of bowsite".
Thanks for sharing.
We coined a term for hunting in AK. Net-wet...You are never fully dry it seems and even when you try to dry your things out the moisture seems to be there and you end up "net-wet".
Thanks much. Great pics and an awesome very well told story. As always.
Great self control too.... I think I'da shot the bull..... =D
That country is beautiful, but the mountain passes funnel winds with terrifying force. It also is some of the coldest country in Alaska that time of the year.
The second trip was wet and breezy, but nothing like the first.
I killed a big bou in that area on another hunt and ended with 165 lbs of clean meat. I think your decision not to shoot was pretty smart. Best luck on your next adventure.
Thanks for taking the time. You should consider writing as a second or third career!
Let me know when you want to give bou another shot.!! I'm in??
Happy new year.
Good luck Robb
I will be honest here: There were moments...several of them...where I had to fight back some despair. When you're untold miles from any road...alone... and the wind is savaging your tent for the third straight night, you're being tested. Five consecutive days of it will find your weaknesses if you have them. It helps to be either dumb or tough...I haven't fully decided on which is better.
I do recall (easily) that my desire to be hunting was strong, but it faded to an afterthought by around day 5. My focus was on self and security by then until the storm abated. As soon as the weather settled I was ready to hit it, but the opportunity was gone. That's Alaska and that's hunting. The unknown is part of what drives some of us onward.
....and again gents....thanks for the compliments.
Having kept you safe through that I imagine you'd be pretty happy with the tipi!!
A few questions...
How did you choose the first camp site? Why didn't you camp in the spruce all along?
Did you have a stove and any wood for your tipi?
How did you stake down the tipi? Was the soil good enough or did you need rocks in the first spot too?
If the weather was not a factor, could you have shot the caribou? From the warmth and security of the office, it seems like a manageable distant to haul a caribou.
In response to Mad_Angler: First camp was chosen to have an elevated vantage in the pass. The caribou were using the barren tundra regions where more favorable browse / forage existed. They weren't migrating; just hanging around at higher elevations. The spruce area far below never showed me one caribou in the binoculars.
I didn't bring the stove. It would have been worthless with heavy rain and hurricane conditions. The nearest wood was 1.5 miles below me and of course wet. I may do the same hunt again, and the stove will stay behind again.
I used MSR Groundhog and Cyclone stakes. It was tough to get them in the ground due to rocks but I managed. After the storm got wild I added some heavy stones over each stake which helped immensely. I doubt if the tipi would have made it without the use of stones.
The weather wasn't the reason I passed on the bulls. You simply had to be there to see how steep and rough it was up there. Those bulls were side-hilling like sheep. I passed because of having enough time to evaluate the elevation, terrain and difficulty of packing out. It's one thing to be young and maybe with a partner. I was alone. It was so steep I had to be very careful just descending with a day pack. A dead caribou of that size (XL) would have meant 3 large pack loads and probably would have taken me to the end of the next day to get it all down to the airstrip. A full load of meat would have been too risky for me. That's a formula for 'scorpioning' off the mountain and breaking some bones. I have nothing to prove and try to always put safety above shooting. I was up that high intending to spot game and didn't plan on encountering them. Considering what the weather did that night and next day...I made the right call for me.
I'd say nothing failed or let me down. My bag was down-filled and that had me worried some, but it didn't get wet. A bottle of Valium might have been nice. All my clothes were excellent, as were my boots. A set of earbuds and some Yanni music would have been relaxing. If I go back there I'll make sure every tent stake is an MSR Cyclone....they hold 2 or 3 times as well as straight stakes.
Oh yeah....and a good pee bottle. I forgot that and had to go with empty Mountain House bags. Tricky!
You're gift to convey a story through written word is very evident. That was one of the best stories I've ever read that didn't end in a trophy photo. To complete and adventure like that at a "mature" age is extremely impressive. Thank you for taking the time to write all that up. It was very enjoyable and exceptionally well written!
I think you have the rare ability to capture and convey some of the most basic yet profound aspects of why we hunt and what wild places mean to the men [and women] that appreciate them for what they are. Just raw wilderness and the stark realities that we don't face in our everyday lives. Without being overly dramatic, being in an "out of my control" situation is what makes some people stronger and others determined to never be in that position again.
You should really consider chronicling more of your "out there" hunts and slowly flesh them out into a book. There is still a thirst among outdoors people for real adventure stories.
Congrats on a very successful hunt! Right up there with the Alaskan Solo Moose hunt.
And you have more restraint and sense than me. I'd have dumped the string on one of those bulls and been sorry later!!
One more time...thanks for reading, and for the kind words. The privilege is mine to provide a good story.
I made my first trip to AK last September for moose/bou. It was a float hunt out of the Brooks. We killed a massive bull moose on day two. A grizzly appeared immediately after the bull was down. We worked all night to break the bull down. The next day, snow started to fall. The river was fast and dangerous. We ended up getting pulled out early on a makeshift gravel bar "landing strip". After we returned to civilization, it was a strange feeling. Stepping out of the bush plane, still bundled in arctic river hunting gear, onto asphalt at FAI made the whole journey almost seem melodramatic. But I'll say this: when you're in the thick of it, the struggle is as real as it gets.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to share your experience. It was splendidly told.
Wish every hunter could read this - this is hunting every day. The trophy photos, back slaps, etc. That is the icing on the cake but it's this what we go through for that one moment.
Hunting isn't easy or a slam dunk.
Thanks for sharing this - I've been in some hairy situations and this brought those moments back.
Appreciate the time you took to write this.