LIST OF UNUSUAL HUNTING EXPERIENCES
-My second year in Kenai, a former pastor (H. Wayne Hull) came back to town, hoping to go on a bear hunt across Cook Inlet. After many hours of discussion, I agreed to go with him. We were flown to Oil Bay area and left for 3 days. I was terrified. We didn’t see any bears. We did find a bear skull. The most vivid memory was of a gigantic beaver dam and pond. We ate lunch watching them at work.
-When at Kenai, my greatest fishing exploits was accomplished by doing pastoral calling on the beaches of the Cook Inlet with my hands out. They were often filled. Especially on Kalifonsky Beach Road.
-Caribou Hunt with Don Sheldon in 1966 (See Post “Do Not believe Every Thing You Read” for the details.)
-During the late 1960’s, while the pastor at Chugiak, I had the opportunity to do a great deal of road hunting, mostly with Leo C. Cramer. Once, while hunting with several clergy, I was called the “Gentleman Hunter”, as I saw caribou standing under a tree and no one else saw them. I asked if I could shoot. They said yes and I shot one right through the head. Perfect shot. That may have been my last perfect shot. Another time it was 10 below and Ben Laird shot some caribou just at dusk. He was lucky we didn’t shoot him. The novel could have been called “Murder at 10 Below”. We did obey the law then. No shooting across the road. I was waiting for some caribou on my own one time, but it turned out I was on the wrong side of the road. I could hear them coming (click, click, click), but when I moved to the right side of the road, they saw me and turned around and disappeared.
-I honestly don’t remember when this happened, but two clergy friends shown up at my door, asking for help. They had killed a moose illegally and they needed help for transportation. They didn’t realize that they had shot a moose in a closed area. Best to forget the details!
-While I was the pastor at Chugiak, I had the brilliant idea of thanking the Pittsfield United Methodist Church for their generous financial support through the Advance Special Program by sending them enough moose meat for a dinner. I paid for a quick moose hunt across Cook Inlet from Anchorage. It was successful though my guide had to do the shooting. I missed! We got the meat and sent some to Illinois. We also sent them a painting of the Chugach Mountains above Chugiak by Maurice Richner. It was huge.
-Moose hunting with Tom Dahl and Don Gotschall at the Alsek River near Yakatat . We were legal for three moose and five miles from our cabin, three moose were killed. All we had to do was pack the meat for five miles. Don was a skilled butcher, so we didn’t have to pack bones. The first evening we packed meat back to our cabin. My pack was 90 pounds. I could not lay down to rest. I fell down to rest. When we started that day there was snow cover, but rain had destroyed our tracks. Some of the gullies we crossed were full of water. I slipped going through one and became completely soaked. Soon I was in danger of hypothermia. We dropped our meat and soon found our cabin. They stuffed me into my sleeping bag and I had my first task of alcoholic beverages. A hot toddy. I was in my 30’s.
The next day, a state game protection officer was watching us from his leased airplane. He was making sure we carried out all of the meat. We gathered all the meat at a very small runway. At one point the game officer landed and Tom Dahl negotiated a sub-lease of the plane to fly the rest of the meat back to our camp. The state official agreed and we loaded the plane. Then the pilot asked for more money. Tom haggled, while I begged him to give in. Finally, no deal was reached and the pilot said, “Take out the meat”. Tom said: “Take it out yourself” and the pilot relented and actually flew our meat the five miles to our camp at the original price. The following day our chartered plane came and got us and the meat. As we flew by Mt. Fairweather, I got very, very airsick. No one offered me a hot toddy.
-Moose Hunting at Yakatat with Don Gotschall. Two highlights: Don went out in the brush to scare up a moose and scared up a gigantic brown bear. It ran pass me in a clearing (not seeing me nor smelling me, fortunately). I was calm enough not to shoot. I carry some pride in that. First of all, I did not have a bear license and second, I had learned from State Senator Jay Hammond (later Governor Hammond) not to shoot a bear unless I had backup. He had found dead hunters and dead bears. One bear had several bullets in its body, but it was still able to kill the hunter. As I recall, Jay had one collapse just a few feet from where he stood and he had placed several bullets in the bear. I decided to enjoy the sight and stay calm. I succeeded.
The other highlight was less dramatic, but my wife had labeled many food items, but rain had destroyed the labels. One of the hunting rules is that the person who complains about the cooking becomes the cook. So one night, thinking I was making mashed potatoes, I had made mashed potatoes from flour. It was awful. But no one complained!
We were hunting around the toe of Malaspina Glacier, which is said to be the size of Rhode Island. I am very grateful to Don for allowing me to go along on these wonderful trips.
-Then there was the time I went deer hunting with the choir director of my church. His name was Richard Newton and he was a Tlingit Indian by heritage. We were dropped off from a hunting boat on a nearby island. We walked into the woods long a stream. We hit another stream and followed that for awhile. As it became time to return, Richard and I disagreed as to where we were. Arguing with an elder and an Indian elder at that was dicey at best. But I also wanted to get home. I won the argument and we got back to the boat. If we had gone the way Richard wanted to go, we would have been eight miles from the pickup point. Not good. Richard was very serious all the time, so I was careful not to tease him, but eventually he told the story on himself. I was able to say, “You would think you would be safe in the woods with a Native American guide.” And he actually smiled.
-Don Gotschall took me with him to find some Dungeness Crab. We caught 60. It took the four of us (Gotschalls and Shaffers) 3 days to process them in Don’s garage. (At Stanwood, where we lived in retirement, friends kept us supplied with Dungeness Crab during the season. One filled the two of us, usually hanging over the sink..
-Another deer hunt occurred on a ridge on Admiralty Island. I hiked to the top and saw a doe and her fawn. I just enjoyed the beauty of it all. Trying to get back down was one of the most difficult physical tasks in my memory. Windfalls across a stream made it very difficult to go downhill, especially while carrying a rifle.i
-Then there was Nome. On one fishing trip for grayling, a friend borrowed my 30-06 to take a brief walk. He came back all excited. I did not interpret his gestures correctly, but eventually we learned that Mike had shot a moose. I did not shot Mike. It was 80 degrees and we were a “fer piece” from the highway. It took us three days to pack it out. We ate it, but it wasn’t the best meat we ever had. Afterwards several friends said: “why didn’t you let us know?” Barbara became very skilled at butchering game animals on the kitchen table.
-Same place, another year, I purchased the right to shoot 3 reindeer “on the hoof” on the road between Nome and Teller. We found a herd and I did not realize the power of my 30-06 rifle. On the first shot I killed one animal and wounded another. I am glad that didn’t happen on my third shot.
-Missed in Nome and Gambell on St. Lawrence Island: going hunting for bowhead whale, walrus and seal. A genuine outdoorsperson would probably have been invited along. I skipped that opportunity from learning from individuals like Willie Senungetuk. Sadly, he made it possible for his children to get advance degrees and he lost some potential hunting companions. However, when visiting in Gambell, I was invited to a lunch featuring aging walrus meat (covered with a green material) and seagull soup. I went home thinking I had discovered a new source of protein, only to be reminded by friends that killing seagulls was illegal. I can report that the seagull soup was delicious. I passed on the walrus meat.
-During my time in Nome I was visiting in a home where the father was very angry at the church for some reason and he invited me to join him for some aged moose meat. I accepted his dare and its wasn’t too bad, but it stuck with me for a long, long. Willie Senungetuk advised me to eat their foods, but only to take a “little bit”. Good advice. I should have followed it one spring when a woman invited me to eat some Eskimo Ice Cream – it turned out the berry mixture had fermented. I took a whole bowl and as God is my witness, I ate the whole bowl. Never again.
-57 Pound King Salmon in Sitka Sound (See “Fish Story” for the details. Also got a 70 pound Halibut in my fishing experiences. (For comparison on King Salmon they used to go 90 plus pounds in the Kenai River on the Kenai Peninsula.)
-I switched to berry picking in Sitka. One year I picked so many berries that I was able to sell some for $100 and place that money into the church mission fund. At Sitka the primary berries were salmonberries and blueberries. I also found watermelon berries and a neighbor allowed me to pick red currents from his bushes. I demonstrated my intelligence by planting salmonberries in the parsonage yard. Not a good idea. I didn’t have to live with the results.
At Spokane, we utilized blue elderberries. At Stanwood, there are lots and lots of blackberries, plus a friend has given us quince and red currents and use apples and plums, too. We enjoy sharing them in various ways.