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January 24, 2008

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The Best Day of All?

This fall will be my 40th season of big-game hunting. I've been lucky enough to do a lot of it. I have lots of memories,  but there is one day in particular that stands out in my mind. It was a caribou hunt in Alaska, perhaps 100 miles east of Dillingham (population 2,468, plus 80 security cameras, bought on a Homeland Security grant in 2006 in case Osama should try to infiltrate through a fishing village) and took place in the mid-1990s. I was there with two other hunters and I had gotten a caribou the day before, so I got to stay in camp while they went looking.
      
I was all by my lonesome in the middle of true wilderness. No roads, no power lines, no planes, no contrails, no nothing, just me in a tent camp by a river whose name I have forgotten.
      
It was a beautiful day; blue sky, no wind, no rain, no bugs. I split some wood in the morning, and for lunch made a sandwich out of  Argentine corned beef whose principle ingredients were salt, water, and horsemeat. For the rest of the time I simply sat by the river and watched the salmon roll.
      
Around 4 PM the clouds came in and after them a downpour with high winds. This was Alaska, after all. I went to our tents and started fires in the sheepherder stoves, and before long the others returned drenched, near-hypothermic, and caribou-less. (If there's anything that can bring joy to a hunter's heart it's being inside while your friends are catching hell outdoors.)
      
And that was about it. I don't know why I think of this unremarkable day so often, but there is a lesson here. We don't know how many days afield we are going to get, or which ones we will ultimately value the most, so it's best to appreciate all of them--good, bad, and ordinary.

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Comments

Dr. Ralph

I just wrote an essay about my first pheasant as the best day of all and it was deleted as possible "spam"???? AS THE ORIGINAL DR. RALPH SAID "TEND YOUR GARDEN" Obviously you have failed in this regard......

Voltaire

"Common sense is not so common."

Rocky Mtn Hunter

For many years I watched Curt Dowdy and the other outdoor shows on TV and dreamed of a day sometime when I could go Elk hunting. That day arrived 40 years later in Steamboat Springs, C0.. I was hunting with 6 other disabled guys and on the 4th day of our hunt, I was able to kill a 6 x 6 bull Elk. Too this day I can recall every detail from time I got up that Am till today. This past fall must share a simular day with the Elk hunt, probably the most important day of my hunting life came this past year. My Son, who has hunted with me for 42 years, we both killed a Buck on the same day 15 minutes apart. Just hope and pray the 2 of us can hunt the Rockies once more before I have to hang up mu 06. However, with the winter weather they have had and still do have, I'm kinda leary of going back this fall. I feel they will have a horrible winter kill especially for Mule Deer and Lopes. The Game Depts will play that down, as they get 99% of their $$ from us hunting nuts. Will make some calls prior to applying for NR licenses in the Rockies this fall. i bet there will be ample tags available, will see. As has been said many times, there is no place like being outdoors on a beautiful fall day, with a slight chill in the air to make you forget all your other problems. Too bad, we can;t do that more often and eliminate many more of our problems. O to smell the Sage once more along with the pine and see the leaves changing a brilliant color. Never leave home to hunt without your Camera along with your firearm and ammo + film. I keep a disposable camera in all my vehicles, never know what you will see these days.

sarg

Clay, Just picked up a Magazine from the mail box, read a article i need pass along to you... I wish you could meet SFC Chuck Reed.. a very good instructor/trainer in Combat arms. Here goes.

"The Bluegrass Guard" vol.12, issue December 2007

Expert Shots
The Kentucky Nat.Guard Combat rifle tean wins 1st place finish at the 2007 "winston P. Wilson Match atCamp Robison Arkansas. Under direction of SFC Chuck Reed. 42 teams competed from states and territories.SFC Dale Baily,SSg Johseph Scott and SGT Jeff Ice scored in top 10 percent. The APACHe Range with moving and camouflaged targets were used, Some teams shot the M-16A4's with optics while the Kentucky team shot m-16A2 as issued.This was a Combat Rifle Match, .. It didn't say any thing about the 9mm course.
I realy wish you could meet SFC Reed, he is really a nice guy.

Mock1

Best day hunting? We all have that which we will never forget. How about the worst day hunting? I've seen the steam wafting off my own horse at 10,500 ft with sunlight gleaming through the aspen groves below and a herd of elk to stalk,,,, but, what about the worst hunts, we've all had them, we don't want them again, even though we all know we are going to have them. C'maon,, who's first??

ishawooa

I will limit this trip to just the "worst start" as things pretty much go downhill from there. My buddy and I have two foxtrotters saddled at the trailhead and are packing two more for a 25 mile trip. His saddle horse lays down, colics, and after sending for a vet had to kill it there. Later in the trip one of my horses stepped off a narrow trail and slid (not rolled) about thirty feet but stood up unhurt. After almost having a heart attack I finally got him back up on the trail. It didn't get any better due to weather, bears in camp, busted equipment, burned food, and my pal's Weatherby with loose screws. You don't want to hear it.
On the other hand back in '05 my kid and I were at a trailhead near Carter Mt. The energetic kid was already in the saddle and I was pulling my cinch. My kid remarked "Hey dad here comes four bulls and two of them are 300 are better". To my surprise there they were so I pulled the .338 out of the scabbard and left my cinch loose.

ishawooa

I feel a need to share this experience of last week. Apparently a local father and son were "cleaning" as they always say a couple .22 pistols in their house. After retiring to his room the 13 year old son managed to accidently shoot himself about an inch back from the point of the chin. The bullet went through his mouth, sinuses, and stopped in one of the frontral lobes. We stablized him, packaged him, and shipped him via chopper to a hospital in Billings, MT. I have not yet heard the outcome but understand from someone who probably knows that he is still alive. Long term physical and mental loss most likely is unknown at this point. I wish I knew the whole story BUT regardless we all must teach safety first, practice it, and DEMAND it at ALL times. We all can see numerous things that should not have happened which would have prevented this tragedy. I don't know the family or the amount of training the youngster had or had not received.

Trae B.

My best day of all would be when field and stream called me and asked if could write for them because thats pretty much my dream for life.

Dr. Ralph

Worst day? Drove three hours to Catoosa WMA to hunt wild boar. First time ever with a muzzle loader and it's absolutely raining buckets. Sitting in a Waffle House deciding what to do when a local says them pigs been hanging around this area I can show you where. He draws me a map on a napkin so I get in my truck, park where he says and head off. Been walking a while when I notice the ground is torn up a little, then a little more, then it's like every hog in the world must have been rooting in this corner of the world.... a shiver runs down my spine, I look at my side lock home made muzzle loader turn around and go home wet and embarrassed.

sarg

Ishwooa, good post, serious information .. This kind of thing should never happen but does quite frequently.


Trae.B, You did say yes to FIELD and STREAM?

sarg

Dr. Ralph, in a situation you just described, Shoot the biggest,meanest toughest one of all, the othes will run with out their leader.(I HOPE)...

sarg

Hey Dave, take me hunting with you and I'll write your next article for you...

sarg

Hey Guys, Pretty day here today, little cold, not bad, but I got down to Tygart Creek on my four wheel this afternoon looking at the new road they are putting through.. My neighbor came down on his four wheeler and we got to looking for some sheds, Didn't find any ,may be a little earlyright now.. That one good way to see what we missed this season. I may run back down tomorrow and take my pumpgun and trap, mine cane be operated my the one shooting, I made it to work off 12 volt from the four wheeler.

Trae B.

No I said I was hoping that I could write for them.As in my best day would be if they called me and asked if I could write for them.

Shaky

Muzzle loader in the rain? Dr, your a very smart man, We'll call that a tactical retreat. Shoot the biggest meanest in the herd, all the rest WILL ATTACK. In the rain you would have very little chance for the reload to fire.(in my experience)

Ralph the Rifleman

Hello YooperJack are ya out there?
I would like to hunt wild boar in the UP. Do you have any recommendations in your area/or anywhere in the UP that you may have experience with?
Thanks

Tommy S.

As far as hunting goes...

Following getting rained out in the a.m., running home and leaving my friend's ladder stand in a peanut field, with the dog-sized mosquitos and black bears, down east in Jacksonville, NC; I was on stand. It was about 3:30 in Wake County, and I was about 1/4 mile off the road, in a very rich spot over what were, at the time, full creek beds. I had forgotten about the dreadful low that had been pounding the coast for two days. I held a 45 magnum muzzle-loader; that should tell you what time of year it was. Folks couldn't run dogs down east yet, but two years in a row, a low had sat off-shore, and pounded the beginning of primitive gun season. So back to Wake County. I noted two hawks; each flew, about twenty or so some odd seconds apart, to the same tree; each perched for a moment in the same crotch, and each flew by the tree I was in; except the first flew in front of me and the second behind. Someone else hunting? I thought it was, perhaps, something to mark.

About a half hour later, a man came through; toting everything he could, and almost made me leave. He walked under me; oblivious and continued noisily up the stream. At least he walked far out of sight...into a water fowl impoundment.
Then, perhaps another twenty minutes and I heard a commotion back to my right. I stood and turned in my stand and held the gun up. No scope; and I figured the spot they would cross the creek, based on where I thought they were coming from, would be about 60 yards. Then he appeared. All I had time to see was that he was at least at his ears and tall. He stopped at the edge, in the clear, and allowed another smaller buck to walk right by him and cross the creek, to my side - but quartering away. Then another bigger buck, just about his equal passed. This all took about 4 or 5 seconds and I let him have it as soon as the second deer cleared. Standing up, off-hand at 60 yards, with no scope, no guide, no bait and a smoke-pole. I was pleased. I knew it was my best deer by far, and when I got to the big main frame eight I was already on the phone calling my wife. She was excited for me and before I could get the deer to my truck, I had received calls from my brother and a couple other good pals.
It was a great day and the euro mount looks great in between the snake cages.

YooperJack

Ralph the Rifleman

I haven't seen any yet. Apparently, there isa game farm near Northland in either Dickinson or Marquette Counties. There is another near Skanee in Baraga County. Both feature wild boar hunts and both have had escapes. That is why the DNR is worried. I didn't know anything about this until I bought my Deer license and they had something in their hunting guide and regs. pamphlet. On their website they list Baraga, Dickinson, Houghton and Marquette Counties as having boar populations.
I'll do some asking. I have a lot of DNR Forester friends who work those areas.
YJ

Ralph the Rifleman

Thanks for the info YooperJack.

sarg

Clay, this is a little off base but funny anyway, When I was in Ecuador about four years ago, in the middle of the jungle, A Captain came into the TOC (Headquarters tent), asked if he could use a computer.. He was some kind of evaluater, but he took off his boots and set them behind his chair. When he wasn't looking I picked them up and hid them.. About that time a bunch of troops gathered around in a large grout and was carrying on. He asked me what was going on, I told him that someone had traded a pair of boots for an anaconda. Helooked behind his chair then took off running towards the commotion thinking someone had traded his boots.. I had to run him down to tell him his boots were ok.. We sure had a good laugh on him.. He was from WVA. and never got mad.

Clay Cooper

Sarg, since we are off topic, I take it you know the term “BFE”! June 1980, Holloman AFB, here we go again operational exercise. Pack your bags, walk thru the line and play like you’re going someplace right? WRONG! Next stop, someplace out of the middle of Egypt 2 ½ hours from Cairo! 3 weeks after being there and a healthy growth on our face, the Commander of the communications squadron shows up and tell our E-8 that for us to use his equipment, we must be shaven etc. That means going down town, not in his life time. Anyhow, we cut the power to his A/C and he gets part of the message then he wants to talk to our Commander of operations, next call? The Pentagon to some General that was in charge of us! One week later, the Major looked like a POW! YEP! He got the message he did! Don’t screw with us, the 4449 Mobility Support Squadron!

Clay Cooper

O'Ya, REDHORSE was there too!

Scott in Ohio

Del,

Been away from this thread a few days. Thank you very much for the information. I really apreciate it!

Scott

sarg

Clay, It,s been a long time since I have been in the Air Force,(1967) i have forgotten a lot of the Terminology used.... I do know "BFE" By the way I know a guy from here, we talk ever once in a while down at the sporting good store and swope a tale every so often, but anyway He was in Special Forces in Vietnam.. He was tell of shooting on a team with the M-14 at 1000yds. He didn't comment much on it, I'll hit him up again when I see him. I took him a book on Lapping a bolt in on a bolt action rifle. He's wanting to try it on a bolt gun he's got.

Del in Kansas

Scott,

Hope you have a great time. Let me know how it goes.




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