(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska – My favorite mountain is where I shot my first buck but that’s not the only reason.
It’s a great bargain mountain, in that an old logging road takes you within striking distance of alpine so hikes to its upper reaches do not necessitate substantial chunks of time.
My buddy Jesse and I started up it in a light, dry-ish rain. You know, that type of precipitation that Lower 48ers would call rain, but we’d call it no big deal.
Anyway, we made camp then the weather broke and allowed us to amble around on the alpine for a few hours before the sliver of open sky on the horizon turned orange, then deep red.
“Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.”
“So the ocean will be calm, but what about up here?”
The wind was angry most of the night. I rolled over in my sleeping bag, hoping I had slept most of the night but it was only 11 p.m. then 1 a.m. I felt most of those minutes so I was sure that I had in fact been awake.
I watched the dark shadows of the tent move. There was obviously no moon but there was enough to see the difference in shapes. I thought about my dry bag that had food in it. It was just outside my tent. On a night like that, anything willing to be out was more than welcome to my Milky Ways.
The next time I rolled over there was actual light. It had to be around four, but I checked, and it was 5:30. I had probably managed to stack a few hours together in some semblance of actual sleep rather than those camping naps that supplant actual sleep.
Jetboils were going by around seven and soon we were back in the alpine. We saw a spike and a few does, but the green slope was otherwise absent of anything standing in or near the myriad tracks or sign they left.
There were some bucks in the distance, but Jesse was hunting with a bow and the weather did not permit a stalk. Since Ketchikan isn’t rural I can’t hunt until August 1 and since most of Prince of Wales is federal land, the same regulation that excludes me from hunting the last week of July forbids me from hunting federal land until mid-August. So I get invited to be meat packers, which is fine, because I get to write about it.
Anyway, the window of good weather was supposed to last until just before noon, which it did. Two does emerged from the timber below us. One even bedded down. Then dark appeared from behind the ridge and invaded down the slope. The wind became almost violent. The doe was driven from its bed and Jesse and I from our perch. We side-hilled back to camp. The forecast promised rain every hour for the next day and a half so we packed up and left, the weight of a deer replaced by extra pounds of water soaked into our gear.
Whenever you go on a hunt and don’t get what you went for, it’s tempting to repeat one of those cliché, “A bad day hunting is better than…” or “Any hunt that ends in you safe at home is a good hunt” lines. And with good reason. That really is what it’s about.
My favorite hunting mountain is not one that many others go to for big deer, though there have been big deer taken off it. But it’s one of those connecting spots. One of those locations with connotation, weight, history.
I’ll go up again, when I’m allowed to pack a weapon myself and again be reminded why it’s my favorite.
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