Sunday, August 17, 2008

I am so sore...

My first backpack hunting trip in about a decade and a half came off yesterday without many hitches. No carribou were harmed in the making of this blog but thats why they call it hunting. My size 12 boots carried my butt up a 6000 ft moutain with a loaded day pack and oversize rifle just fine and despite the lack of game had a wonderful time. I picked an area that only the suicidal and law breaking would dare take an ATV into and didn't hear a single motor the whole time.

I had some time to ponder while I was trekking around in some pristine wilderness "why exactly do I feel the need to hunt?" I didn't exactly grow up a hunter but I did grow up in a rural community with a tradition of hunting. Maybe its the experience. Maybe its the desire to be an active participant in nature. Maybe its the desire to fit in. Who knows but the need to hunt is deep, powerful and unexplainable. It is a "roaring in the blood" to quote someone I can't remember at this moment...

While I was up there roaming around on foot looking for carribou and visiting my Stone Age psyche I had some time to ponder the simplicity of hunting and how complicated it all seems these days. A visit to the local Sportsman Warehouse reveals that for a lot of guys hunting the best sale price on new camo and camp gear may be the closest these folks get to hunting all year.
My endeavor is to simplify my equipment to a meager backpack and a rifle. And thats when I went hunting with Tim...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Carbohydrate Power

It seems that carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap lately and even myself (a born carnivore with a taste for beef and salmon) managed to shed a significant number of pounds on the "Atkins diet". Why has the lowly carbohydrate gotten such a bum deal? Well- we as Americans and Alaskans in particular tend to eat a whole darn bunch of them. A lot more than we need in fact. Coupled with a distinct lack of physical activity, an overconsumption of carbs have left a lot of folks more Porky Pig than ever before.

I know most folks will be saying "What does this have to do with the outdoors Hodgeman?"

Well the hunting seasons are fast approaching and I'm fully intend to go out and bring home some protein but this year I'm going to do it differently and I'm likely going to need some help from carbohydrates to do it.

After several dissapointing episodes involving my ATVs and a LOT of dissapointing behavior involving other peoples' ATVs, I decided to part ways with wilderness internal combustion- at least on a trial basis. It was frightfully easy- a brief ad and a reasonable price ensured my Hondas flew out of my driveway as if ridden by Hell's Angels.

Events that led up to my departure from petroleum powered transport involved a rather awful spectacle with my ATV becoming so stuck I had to walk 2 miles to retrieve another ATV to pull it out. I could have easily walked through the stupid hole or better yet went right around it through the woods on foot. Maybe I'm getting soft because i don't want to destroy a 48" swath of trees to get around a mudhole. Some might even call me a tree hugger for relinquishing my right to plow under barked flora while my patooty is parked astride the saddle.

As bad as I felt the behavior of others didn't really help me any. While gold panning in the White Mountains I watched a lady climb aboard her machine and ride 50 yards to a toilet facility and then upon exit- ride back. She was rather obese and I'll let her score points for even being there (albeit on an ATV and camping in an RV) but riding a $6000 ATV rock throwing distance to the crapper is just silly.

The behavior of other hunters is getting out of hand as well. I met a pile of guys on the trail last year and in the hunting area I frequented the sound of ATVs seemingly never ceased. I even thought I had the open tundra tactic of going high and glassing excessively for game all wrong as other hunters seemed to just ride standing on the pegs scanning as they went. One group that I observed from my frosty perch never got off there machines except to take a leak. It all seemed pretty akin to a more acceptable form of "road hunting" although no one is calling it that. Something rumbled in my gut- in my youth back in the East road hunting was prosecuted with excessive vigor by the game warden as was viewed as the epitomy of "white trash" behavior. An old timer at the ADFG open forum decried the use of the machines and told the sad reality- the average moose hunter in our area will wear out three ATVs before he wears out a single pair of boots. I kinda cringed at the statement but only from my gut telling me its true.

Now hunting season is waxing fast and I'm left looking at my size 12 boots and a left foot prone to pain from "plantar facisitis...". A rummaging through my gear revealed that I no longer owned a suitable backpack- plenty of day type packs but nothing I could cram a dressed carribou quarter into. Looking at my physical condition I'm sorely dissapointed to say I'll have to limit shooting much closer to the truck than I'd care to otherwise I'd never get the meat out. Moose may be off the menu altogether unless I find another spot.

That said, I'm entering hunting season with a renewed sense of hope. I can hike, I can pack meat, a backpack is available a variety of places and I have funds to allow for purchase. An exceptionally wet summer has left the trail system a total wreck and hunting from a wheeler may be an aggravating pursuit this year. Ethically I feel better hunting from my two feet and not using the machine at all.