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Thread: Mental Trophies

  1. #1
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Default Mental Trophies

    A line in a recently revived thread made me think of this...

    My personal hunting exploits in Alaska have not been all that impressive in terms of game taken. I guess I'm a trophy hunter at heart--I've let many animals walk because they weren't big enough, or in the case of one 60-ish inch moose, being about 3 miserable miles from the boat was enough to keep my bow undrawn. I've also let about a dozen 5 foot blackies walk while waiting for a 6 footer. Then there's the sheep that almost were. I've come close a lot and it's in the coming close that I have some of my best memories, my mental trophies. On each and every hunt I've been on I've seen or experienced something so beautiful or amazing to me that I remember it clearly to this day.

    Because I hunt I have seen some wonderful things:
    A sow grizzly teaching her cubs to hunt ground squirrels
    Looking down on eagles in flight
    Waking up from a nap to find an ermine perched on the toe of my boot
    A sow blackie call her cubs down out of tree (which saved her life)
    Moose in full rut (cows whining, bulls grunting, antlers swaying--it was scary actually)
    Being stalked by a black bear
    Watching unapproachable rams sleep (they rest the weight of their heads on their noses)
    Making eye contact with a bolting ram at 5 yards
    Seeing the flight of my arrow arc up to, and then slip just under the brisket of a big ram
    Water oozing into very large bear tracks made just moments before I found them

    Then of course there's the campfire stories shared with people I love and respect, and slaking my thirst at brightly cold springs on high mountain sides, the whisper of rivers sliding by, and looking out across half of creation on one of those clear fall days when the world is a riot of color. Even regrets, like the times I kicked myself for not bringing a fishing rod along have a way of drifting positive with time...I still remember those beautiful, uncatchable fish finning in the current. Purple knees and hands and mouths from the reckless gobbling of tart-sweet blueberries that always seems to immediately follow discovering a good patch of them. Speaking of berries, I ate my first ever wild black currants and cloudberries on hunts.

    These are but a few of my "trophies" and I could have experienced them without hunting, but for me, and I imagine most of you, when killing is on the table something ancient and visceral in me awakens. Hunting brings everything into sharper focus as I slow down and feel the world around me with more sensitivity and intensity. I suppose that's why those memories are still so vivid.

    I recognize that someday age or misfortune will prevent me from going into the fall woods but until that sad year arrives I will continue to hunt, and whether I fill a tag or not, I will continue to gather trophies.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

  2. #2
    Member Roland on the River's Avatar
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    Oh my goodness, what a great post. The young hunters sure have to admire this man's reason to be in the hills.
    Many happy trails to you Erik.

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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    And that is precisely what I believe keep so many people coming back to the fields and mountains that we are lucky enough to live near. Experiencing things that you can only experience afield are sharing them with friends and family is what it is all about. Excellent post...

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    Yup. Where else can one breathing room? I have always learned more the the animals not shot than those that were. Always good to reflect on what is truly important in our brief interlude's with the natural world.
    "96% of all Internet Quotes are suspect and the remaining 4% are fiction."
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    Member highestview's Avatar
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    Watching bull moose playing their 'who's bigger' game is incredible. Seeing a big moose break a small spruce tree with his antler in the middle of a perfectly silent morning has been one of my favorite memories in the field.
    Born in Alaska: The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6

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    Very nice trophies indeed

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    I value pictures, good health from the Hunt with its good food, and alotta friends I can say"hey, you remeber.....?" and its quite 'Mental" ~~LOL!!~~

    Good thread
    If you can't Kill it with a 30-06, you should Hide.

    "Dam it all", The Beaver told me.....

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    Yep long after the meat is gone the memories are still there.I've know many old folk that had Alzheimer's and the mention of a hunt always brought smiles to there face
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

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    Member akhunter4811's Avatar
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    Erik- I agree with you totally on being able to just watch nature happen around you when out hunting. I went on my first fly-in hunt in 2005 and even though we didn't pull the trigger on anything it was one of the most memorable hunts I have been on. I saw the biggest bull moose the first morning we were there and didn't see him again till three days after the season closed, 75 yards close too! He was laying down by a pond and slowly stood up with his massive set of antlers glistening in the morning sun. Looked at us and slowly just walked away like he didn't like the way we smelled. We saw sheep in the mountains and goats by the glacier and even caught glimpses of black bears walking fastly in a straight line like someone was pulling them on a string. The memories of that hunt have stuck with me for the past seven years like I was just there yesterday.
    Thanks for starting this thread Erik!

  10. #10
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    This is a great thread. I think one of the reasons I enjoyed guideing clients both hunting and fishing through the years wasnt the trophys or the extra money but the time spent in the field with people that liked it as much as I did. One of my favorite thoughts was on a horseback moose hunt deep in the chugaches. We had just finished supper,"isnt it funny how plain old food tastes so good in a special spot like that?" I carried a chair down below camp and spotted a sow grizzly and two cubs across the creek on a hillside and whispered for the clients to come take a look. I asked one of them what he thought and to my surprize he told these were the first wild bears he had ever seen. Then he told me Ron,if I dont kill a moose the rest of the week this made the trip worth it.As I sat there listening to the bell softly dinging on one of the feeding horses I decided I guess this might all be worth it after all. Thanks, Ron.

  11. #11
    Member Lone Wolf1's Avatar
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    That's what it's all about -- the beauty of our outdoors. One of my favorite memories was on a 14-day Brown Bear hunt on Kodiak with my wife. We glassed a huge boar bed down up on the side of a mountain across the bay from where we were set up. We spent a few hours crossing the bay in our Zodiak and climbing up to a better vantage point about 300 yards away. As the afternoon warmed up, he roused from his bed, and then put on a great show for us. We watched him for the next hour dig up large, round, tussocks of grass, and toss them in the air with his mouth. He'd then swat them with his paw and chase them as they rolled down the steep hillside. He was literally playing with them like a huge Labrador Retriever plays with a tennis ball. After watching him for the rest of the afternoon, we scratched him off of our list, as we decided we didn't have the heart to pull the trigger on him after that awesome performance. (Instead, my wife took a different bear two days later :-)). I could share many more stories that didn't involve taking an animal, and were definitely seared into my memory as "trophies" of the experience. Alaska is truly "God's Cathedral".

  12. #12
    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    I will never forget the time I was guiding two husband and wife couples for caribou. They were resting, so I walked to the small knoll above camp. I had my spotting scope fixed on a band of caribou probably two miles away trying to determine if there was a "shooter" among them. As I focused my attention to detail, a massive brown bear just strolled right into the view of the scope about half the distance between myself and the caribou. I tell ya, it was almost like I could hear the music to "2001 Space Odyssey" at the same time the beast appeared, as if purposely to try and take my breath away....

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    The thread title made ​​me curious. Thank you for sharing "Mental Trophies", Erik in AK. I've never hunted, but I was fishing more often, even far out at sea and at night. I'm interested in special impressions from Alaska, and suddenly I'm between hunters in a forum, which for me is as a greenhorn new and unusual. Of course, there are hunters in my circle of friends, but I live so far away from Alaska.

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    Awesome post and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It brightened up my day

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    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Thanks ever so much for sharing this with us. Great food for thought.
    Semper Fi and God Bless

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