He we go again...a season in Alaska that is as stunning as it is short. Fall. That last burst of activity before winter- time to build that addition you've been planning all summer while you've been goofing off fishing. And tune that furnace that limped along through spring. And pump the septic. And paint the house. And kill a moose. And- well you guys get the point already. I've been walking around the property doing a clean up and ticking off chores the responsible homeowner doesn't wisely defer up here.
Alaskans tend to go into overdrive during this time of year with one eye on the ball and one on the mountain- watching as "termination dust" works its way lower and lower down the slope. A period of frantic activity while the trees turn a vibrant blast of yellow that is less than a week old with less than a week left at this point. Amid all the work there are some fun things to do outside this time of year- stalk through all the bright colored foliage with a .22 or shotgun and look for ruffed grouse feeding on the now sweetened high bush cranberries. As the morning frosts become more frequent and the hares start to turn white it is a fine time to go looking for them as well. Getting after the fall rainbows and grayling are a delight as are the last run of silver salmon. The moose are entering rut during this last week of the season and the bulls are losing their minds in testosterone driven oblivion- responding even to amateurish attempts at cow calling with a gusto that defies imagination.
My big game hunting has sadly suffered this year; as an ill father, mandatory out-of-state training and a high priority emerging project have all but eliminated my much anticipated 5 day float hunting trip. I tell myself, "Next year." But its a small consolation. This was to be my year to try for moose. Or so I thought. I launched my hunting partner down the river with another hunter Friday afternoon. I wish them luck but I'm a bit envious as well.
Sometimes being responsible sucks.
As a bonus the caribou migration is off kilter again and no one is seeing animals and very few have been taken to date in the local ranges. Way up north of the Brooks Range the animals are only now moving south from the Arctic coasts. I anticipate good snow cover by the time the caribou move locally (tune up the snowmachine is one more item to add to the to-do list) as well. As a bonus, caribou are usually easier to hunt from a snowmachine because the frozen tundra and snow base opens up huge expanses of country previously accessed only by foot and the colder weather ensures a bug free experience and easier meat care. Hopefully I can gain control of my schedule enough to hunt them through the early winter months.
In all the autumn here is a beautiful, busy and this year, a somewhat melancholy, time as well.