This past weekend an old friend came down from Anchorage to go deer hunting near town. We love it when Brian visits. Right away on arrival he was in a wrestling match with Stuey. And Brian had better watch out because Stuey will beat him one day. Every meal was accompanied by laughter and great stories. Best of all, Brian seems to like our cooking!
But the hunting was HARD. Late September through early October is the hardest time to hunt for deer on Kodiak. In August when you go deer hunting you almost always come home with a big, fat, tasty 3-point-buck. Up in the alpine the bucks are red and stand out against the green, green August vegetation. But by late September the deer have left the high country, turned grey, and hang out in the tall grass and alders just below the alpine. They are VERY difficult to find.
The hunting does pick up again in late October when the alders have lost their leaves and the bucks start to move around a lot more as they go into the rut for breeding season. But the hormonal changes also make them taste gamey and almost inedible. We generally stop hunting for bucks after mid October. So if you want tasty deer meat and did not get your deer during the salad days of August you have to endure the marginal hunting of early October. The scenery and hiking are great but the deer are scarce.
Every day we got up early and ate breakfast with the kids and Zoya. And then an hour before sunrise we'd be out the door - off to climb up a mountain and find deer by the dawn's early light. The first day we blew a chance at a buck during a snow squall (on the road system near town you are only allowed to hunt bucks), and then hiked for miles and saw nothing more but does. On the second day it was super cold and somebody beat us up the trail. We arrived at the alpine to find a party of hunters butchering a mountain goat. Needless to say, but they had scared off the deer and we hiked for miles and did not see any bucks at all - just does and fawns.
Finally on the third day (I took the day off work on Monday) we got our buck. I guess the third time was the charm. After the snow squalls and wind of the first 2 days the calm and sun of the third day made for 'a bright, bright sunshiny day' (a la Jimmy Cliff). Brian got his meat for winter.
Brian later told me that the thought of having deer meat for winter made him overwrought with emotion. As he put it, 'it's just so tasty'. Tonight he returned to anchorage with meat for the winter. Patrick
|Hiking up during the first snowfall of the season|
|If you look closely you can even see the goat hunters in this picture butchering their goat below the black spot in the scree field|
|Negotiating the brush on the third day on the way to the alpine|
|Whoo hoooo meat in the pack at last!|
|Brian's one happy guy. He has what he came for - primo game meat for the freezer|
|Brian's drawing of the hunt - it manages to include a great many of the details of the final stalk, including topographic and geographic landscape features|