We spent most of the summer up north working out of Happy Valley, first time since having to go to town to have our children we have left our home for so long. Had a great experience in the arctic, but was sure good to get back home. Thankfully no bears got in the cabin and everything was pretty much as we'd left it, other than what looked like an ermine had been living inside for a while.
We got the boat in the water a few days after our return via super cub and Helio Courier with the dogs. The dogs missed home as much as we did and were sure glad to be able to run free again.
River was high enough to use the jon boat to get around early in September, went berry picking and fishing and just enjoyed being out on the river once again. Started to put up some wood, fire-killed spruce from a couple miles upriver.
We started moose hunting on the 10th, river was still high enough to get around in the boat, always enjoy getting out with Lori and hiking our usual glassing spots.
Wasn't having any luck calling and glassing, we decided to hit a spot about four miles below us we call No Riffle Bend, a unique spot where the river makes a big horseshoe turn between two mini-gorges that is a very long slow pool that surprisingly lacks a riffle (hence the name), that has about the best grayling fishing on the entire river.
Around this time we got some constant heavy winds and warm weather from the south, so we continued to hunt downriver, floating down into the wind each day to this spot, calling, glassing, and fishing. Caught a bucket of fish each time and Lori was able to put up a few canner loads of grayling. On one of the trips down we came on a grizz sow and cub digging bear root and Indian potato along a big gravel bar but they spooked right as they saw us. The next day I thought they may still be around and kept an eye out as we came around the bend and pulled over across from them when I saw them maybe 100 yds ahead.
Was cool to be able to see them and take some pics (from across the river <grin>), we don't typically have a lot of grizzlies here but the fires from 2004 and 2005 really changed things and we have been seeing more since then. That cub had the most beautiful blonde hide! Interestingly, this is one of the better spots to dig Indian potato that the kids and us have found in years past, always cool to see the size of rocks a grizz can toss when digging for these roots.
River had dropped and so I began lining upriver solo still looking for moose. Was still fairly warm during the day and the gnats were pretty bad.
Spent most of the day glassing from that lookout, nada. But I did hear what sounded like a coyote howling not too far off in the distance. Came home late in order to hunt beaver at a beaver pond not too far below there. By now we were pretty desperate for some read meat. Saw the coyote as I rounded a bend, was up on a high flat howling, then took off over the hill, first coyote I've seen this far north in our area.
Shortly after getting to the beaver pond with the .22 a beaver popped up, kept telling myself as I was waiting for him to come into shooting range not to blow this opportunity and came home with a medium sized beaver that night.
The next morning we had beaver liver for breakfast (yum) and I finished skinning and stretching the hide and took the day off. Beaver ribs and the now ubiquitous grayling for supper, this time beer battered and with homemade tartar sauce and hot Chinese mustard.
But still we needed a moose, I just wasn't seeing anything. One morning this flock of sparrows came by and just lit up this birch tree near the house on their migration south.
More trips upriver in the canoe, nada. So it came down to the last day of the season, back upriver five miles, up to the lookout yet again with the gnats, calling, glassing but nothing.
Maybe I'll see something on the float back home I thought...but it wasn't to be, was pretty burned out when I got home around 6:30 pm, sore and dejected. Plan was to leave the next day to hunt the fed season a ways upriver that goes until the 30th. I had just changed into house garb and sat down with one of Lori's homebrew beers when one of the dogs near the bank barked looking downriver. Ran out in my crocs and grabbed the rifle and peered over the willows and lo and behold there stood a young bull in the river looking right at me about 50 yds away. I really couldn't believe it. A quick shot and he was down pretty close to the bank. Got dressed again and we canoed across to the moose.
Sometimes "Big Momma" smiles on ya, what a gift this was and what a huge burden I felt lift from my shoulders!
Always the first thing we do is take out the tongue, Lori has been canning the tongue and heart and tongue sandwiches are among my favorite.
Was coming on dark fast so we hurriedly began skinning. So great to have Lori there to help!
We got the two top quarters and ribs off, grabbed the kidney fats and heart then finished gutting and pulled the rest of the moose on shore to finish in the morning.
Two short trips in the canoe and we sure are loving the new wagon we got on Craigslist for hauling heavy items up the bank.
Got the meat all hung and ground up some burger (with kidney fat) that night and had cheeseburgers, what a treat that was.
This bull had a unique hole in one antler, something near the same in same spot on the other side but didn't completely go through, all I can figure is another larger bull fought with him earlier when antlers were a bit soft and holed him.
Here's the full set for your judging pleasure <grin>, the wagon is 23" wide.
Canned heart and tongue.
And now it's a few more days trying to catch some whitefish downriver to put up for us and trapping bait, got "Cutie" trained pretty well to sit still in the bow of the canoe, she's the dog that "got us" our moose with her watchful nose and eyes and barking.
Leaves are all dropped, winter is on the way, meat is hanging and we have enough firewood in to last until I can get out and start hauling more with the dogs. Blessed in so many ways to have been able to live where we do for so long and still be at it. Just hope we don't see -64 degrees this winter!
Best to all,