50 Years of Hunting and Fishing:The Mis-Adventures of a Guy Who Couldnt Quit part I

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Jonathan Winters

US UK. Thank you for subscribing! Please check your email to confirm your subscription. Our Stores. Apply Filter Remove Filter Categories. Yes, I Hunt! Something like 30 years ago, on one of my first walks into the covert I came on the grave on a hillside overlooking the creek bottom and old mining camp.

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The picket fence had been painted, more than likely about 20 years earlier. Now, 30 years later, that paint job is at least 50 years old and it shows. While paint peels and fades, the concrete cross at the head of the grave seems impervious to the elements. In those days before immunizations for many childhood diseases, childhood deaths were not uncommon. I know my mother grieved, much of her life, the loss of a little brother who died in childhood. I suspect that, aside from a few hunters, few people are aware of or have visited this forgotten place of rest on this wooded mountainside.

With the passage of time, anybody who knew her or grieved for her has long since gone to their own eternal rest.

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The mountain seems to be looking after her. A nearby large beetle-killed pine tree had fallen since my last visit, but it fell some ten or so feet away from the picket fence, not disturbing the grave. I was on a press junket partially sponsored by Trout Unlimited, with the goal of getting more outdoor writers acquainted with the marvels of the Tongass National Forest. With all that precipitation, there are lakes, streams and rivers on the island, and in September we were hoping to get in on a big silver salmon run.

The streams were full of pink salmon, however, and we quickly learned the characteristic smell of dead and rotting spawned out salmon, and how salmon are an integral part of that salmon ecosystem.

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Spawning salmon return to their natal rivers and after fulfilling their final destiny, the fish die. The dead and dying fish feed other fish, sea gulls, eagles, bears and other critters. After eating, birds and animals spread the salmon nutrients throughout the forest, nourishing that amazing system. Logging has long been a part of the Tongass, though not without controversy. Big timber companies like to clear-cut big tracts of forest, not surprisingly. Clear cutting means big equipment crawling across hillsides, creating roads and devastation. A tangle of re-growth.

In the Tongass, big trees occasionally blow down in the forest, opening an area to sunshine and re-growth.

Small logging projects that TU endorses mimic nature, without the environmental damage that big clear-cutting projects create. Returning salmon bring nutrients that nourish the forests, while intact forests keep streams cool and trap sediment. In past years, government expenditures, such as for road building and other infrastructure costs, far exceeded revenues from timber sales. Thus big logging projects end up as financial boondoggles and a loss to taxpayers. The endless view from the mountaintop.

When the opening of the upland bird season comes each September, I tend to have a bit of uneasiness about the coming of a new season. The mountains are there and the only thing I can do is put on my boots and go see for myself if the birds are there. Taking those walks across those mountainsides is what makes me uneasy. There are benefits to being a senior citizen. We get breaks on the cost of licenses. Better yet, we can usually get out during the middle of the week when most people are stuck in the workplace.

After getting up before dawn on the first day of September, and driving up the Forest Service road to the top of a mountain, it was a good feeling to look across the landscape and see, once again, the panorama of mountains for as far as the eyes can see. An even better feeling was to drop a couple shells into my shotgun and start hiking up the mountainside in search of blue dusky grouse.

At one point, Kiri, my black Labrador retriever, got excited about a scent and started following the elusive trail of bird scent. The trail eventually faded to nothing, and our first walk ended back at the truck without seeing any grouse. It was out of range but I took a shot anyway. The bird kept flying, of course. Kiri in search of scent. Taking timeout for a few minutes in the shade was welcome for me, also. The next morning Kiri and I were again on the mountain hoping for better success.

That was not to be the case. Still, when we got back to camp and sat down for breakfast, I told my wife that, in spite having nothing to show for our efforts, I felt good about it. My legs felt good. I felt good. I give credit to a love for tennis. We play a relaxed style of doubles tennis. We have no aspirations for going to the U. Still, the game is a great way to maintain good legs and wind and most hunting is all about legs and wind.

Montana hunting country — a preview of fall colors. So, I could suggest that you imagine my coming back to camp after a morning hunt with limits of dusky grouse.

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Actually, there are a number of hunting groups on Facebook. The deer and elk archery seasons open this Saturday, September 7, across Montana. I have messed around a bit with archery over the years, including a long ago junior high shop project in which I built a longbow. Still, for four or five years, until it broke, I had a lot of fun with that bow. For those people who will be pursuing deer and elk with archery equipment, be prepared to deal with success.


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That means dealing with a large animal in potentially hot weather. Two parts of anatomy are working against the lucky hunter: the hide and the skeleton. The hide, with a heavy coat of hair, insulates the meat from cooling.

The bones hold heat, warming the surrounding flesh. So, the well-prepared early season hunter should be prepared to skin the critter as soon as possible to let heat escape. Take a large ice chest along in your hunting vehicle filled with, what else, ice.

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Fill the body cavity with ice to get things cooling off as quickly as possible. Best of luck to our archery hunting friends.