How my kid learned to love hunting

BearFoot

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Joined
Jun 6, 2018
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454
Location
Alaska
Thought I’d share some stories how my kid learned to love hunting. 100% in Alaska. I was raised in a fatherless home and did not have that early influence. My first hunt invite happened at age 19, when I came to Alaska over 40 yrs ago, and I’ve learned much since then.

Fishing with the kid. King salmon on Willow creek
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BearFoot

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Jun 6, 2018
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454
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Alaska
Boys first Hunting trip

I drew a tag for the Nelchina Caribou herd. This hunt was by drawing permit only, and I was very excited to have this chance. My son, Kyle, each year tells me “I want to go hunting please”. He had been doing this since two years old. “I’ll be really quite” he would say. I’d tell him, “when you get older, I’ll take you hunting”. He was now age seven, and I felt ready, to experience a hunting trip. Leaving the driveway, he waved goodbye to his mother. “By Mom, I’m going hunting!” I had my old beater cab over camper that I bought for $400. Vintage 60’s model. Old but fully functional. Pulling a trailer, with my ATV, a Suzuki quad runner, I drove north, to the Denali highway. The area offers beautiful panoramic views of mountains, glaciers, valleys, with chances of spotting wildlife, very good. The Denali is a dirt road, with many pullouts and trails. It was late August. Fall starts earlier here in higher country, and the leaves were turning color. After leveling up the camper, and unloading the 4 wheeler, Kyle and I were off to scout nearby trails.
The afternoon air was cool and sky overcast. Kyle sat behind me on the Suzuki. We rode several miles of trail and discovered what appeared to be old mining operations. Along the way, we saw a cow moose, a porcupine and several Caribou. The Caribou were skittish, and would not allow a close approach. It would be dark soon, so we rode back to camp, spotting more cow moose along the way. Back in the camper, I fired up the propane heater, and made burritos for dinner. We settled in for the night.
Early morning it was drizzling rain. We put on rain gear to prepare for the day. Kyle had borrowed gear, but was water tight! To fit, his Halley Hanson bib overalls were rolled at the feet and run up to his neck!
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The search began. Riding up the muddy trail, I would spot groups of Caribou. They were always running and moving up hill, disappearing over the top. Observing this same pattern a number of times, I realized that if I’m to get in range, I need to park the 4 wheeler and start hiking. All the Caribou seemed to be heading high up the hills. So Kyle and I started our hike up a hillside. It took us along time, with numerous stops to catch our breath. I had to keep pushing the little guy. The bush got smaller as we hiked higher. Finally the terrain leveled out, and we found ourselves on a tundra covered plateau. The sky was cloudy, but the rain had stopped. A group Caribou were feeding nearby, and we slowly crept closer. Within range, I whispered to Kyle “I’m going shoot one”. He sat down and put his fingers in his ears. That was good thinking! I advanced closer, then took aim. One shot with the 30-06 and down went the bou! This was awesome! I looked around and thought “I hope I can get the wheeler up here”. It was a long steep climb, and the Suzuki would not be able make it the way we came. We hiked back down to our ride. I had everything needed to field dress the animal strapped to the wheeler rack. Getting the 4 wheeler up there was the problem. Yesterday I noticed a rock slide on the hill, further up the trail. It seemed the best chance to access the top. Kyle and I riding double again, started the climb. There was no trail. Spots on the hill were steep, and I leaned far over the handle bars to help keep the front end down. The tires kicking shale rock down the hill. It became too steep to ride up. I had Kyle walk and I stood next to the wheeler, holding the handle bars and working the gas. Heart pounding, taking extreme care not flip the machine. I was able to walk it to the top. We remounted and rode to claim our Caribou. Weather was cool, with grey sky. The mountains toward the south had very dark skies. After a few pictures, the work began.
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Being Kyle’s first field dress experience, he was very interested in everything I was doing. The wind picked up and dark sky moved in very quickly. It began to snow! Heavy wet snow! By the time I finished my work, there was two inches accumulation, and still snowing!
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Love that Alaska weather! Someone once told me “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear!” I’ve found truth in that statement.

Once again riding double, and packing Caribou, I rode toward the edge of the hill. The bulk of the weight was on the rear and the Suzuki was much more stable. We both leaned way back, and crawled the machine very slowly, down the steep slope. About half way down the snow turned to rain. It felt great getting back on the muddy trail. Almost like pavement. It was raining harder now. We both were cold and wet. Back at the camper, I fired up the heater first thing. The Caribou quarters I hung and covered with a blue tarp to protect from the rain. What a great day! A wonderful adventure and my boy’s first hunting trip! Business all taken care of, it was now again, burrito time!
 

BearFoot

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Joined
Jun 6, 2018
Messages
454
Location
Alaska
First Moose hunt

The kid was nine and ready for his first moose hunt. We took to the hills. Riding double on a Suzuki king quad and pulling a meat trailer. We rode many miles from the truck. Set up camp just before dark. A four man dome tent covered, with a blue tarp.
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He was dead to the world each morning and I let him sleep. From my spotting knob I could keep a close eye on camp. When late morning arrived with not much to be seen, I’d come in to make a big brunch. He would be up playing his “game boy”. We took afternoon hikes and scoped until dark. A few days went on like that. Turning out to be a slow season. Evenings we would shiver some while cooking dinner outside the tent. I had burger, polish sausage, beans, potatoes, eggs, onions, bacon. His mother loaded us up with sweets, snacks and lots of kid delights. We eat well, then into the sleeping bags. Another morning, nothing to be seen, no movement, the sun blazing on the horizon, I had plenty of time to contemplate the meanings of life. Suddenly, after hours glassing, a moose walks out of the trees, a mile away. The bull is on the move and is coming my way. Legal three brow tine. I moved to intercept. Boom!
Back at camp I shout out “ get your ass up we’ve got a moose to skin!” Quick breakfast and off we go.

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I gave him a knife to skin a leg.
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BearFoot

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Jun 6, 2018
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Alaska
Our camp was in high brush country. Three small spruce trees grouped, were the only trees about. Using a hand saw, I cut the middle tree out and roped in a pole for hanging meat. We used the gutless method, removing each front, back legs, and boning out the neck, ribs and back strap. Then, cut into the lower ribs, and with a little work, recover the tenderloins and at times the heart. Tongue out last, from the underside of the jaw. Moose is work. The kid did as directed, my little helper. While I cooked dinner that evening, he was busy trying to beat some opponent on his “game boy”.

Caribou are seen every day. Moose was the mission and with that accomplished, I had a caribou tag!

Early morning hiking up to my spotting knob, I glanced back to check on camp. Seven nice caribou bulls were bedded down just beyond camp. I glassed and watched until they got up to feed. Moving back down the hill, across a creek, I closed the distance. They walked single file, just past our meat pole. The fourth one in line was mine. Did not have to go far to yell “get your ass up, we got caribou to skin”.
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Again, I gave him a knife and a leg to work on, while I skinned the rest. We had a lot of meat hanging!

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While I cooked dinner that evening, in a tone of surprise, he suddenly says “I BEAT THAT GUY!” Many hours on that game boy paid off.

Packing up to head home, we had a heavy load. Got stuck in the boggs, winching our way out. Two times, had to repair flat tire on the trailer using plugs and a hand pump. We did good, a great hunt.

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JColony

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Aug 9, 2016
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101
Location
Gilbert, AZ
Thanks for sharing your experiences! I'm hoping to be experiencing this same process in the upcoming years. My family and I are moving to Anchorage in June and my 6y/o daughter and 3y/o son can't wait to get out in the woods to "see a live moose" and "catch a fish bigger than me"! I'm hoping to have similar stories to share in the upcoming years!
 

coloradoguy

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Joined
Dec 11, 2019
Messages
74
I was that kid that was upset my dad and older brothers got to go hunting and I didn’t when I was “too young”. This really reminded me of that. My dad finally took me when I was 11 to tag along since I was still too you to get a tag in Colorado. I sat next to him when he shot a cow elk on the opening morning of season. I was hooked. Ive been a fanatic ever since. Even through many years not filling a tag. I love the outdoors and I’m on the verge of starting my own family and sometimes think about how to get my future kids interested in hunting. And I now think that they will let you know if they want to hunt when your packing your truck and gear up and getting ready to go but “too young” to go. But if they don’t.... take them anyway haha.

thanks for posting. Really made me remember my out tings and my start hunting as a young kid with my dad and brothers.
 

BearFoot

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Jun 6, 2018
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454
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Alaska
No time for Coffee

I had been working remote projects all summer and had little time off. I was in Fort Yukon, north of the arctic circle. Our crew finished up early, and I got a surprise week off, before flying out to the next job. Moose season just started. Waiting for my plane under the antler pole at Fort Yukon airstrip, I planned to make the most of my week off.
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Flying to Fairbanks, then on to Anchorage, I was soon home. Gathering up the hunting supplies and camping gear, my kid, now age ten, and I were out the door the next morning. Driving north on the Hwy, we arrived at our destination, wheelers unloaded (kid got to drive his own ATV), suited in rain gear, making good time down an old mining trail. It had snowed during the night. A wet heavy snow. Alder branches along the trail were bent over low, with the weight of fresh snow. We ducked and dodged while riding, occasionally contacting a branch, which in turn would dump a load of snow. We looked like frosted donuts! There was no way to avoid getting dumped on. The ride was wet and muddy. Finally arriving in prime moose country, camp was established, and we settled in for the evening. Work to play, all in a day! I’m a happy camper!
I woke to the beep, beep, beep, of the alarm clock. It was five thirty AM. Kyle really enjoys his sleep time, I let him have it. Lighting up the whisper light stove, I put the coffee pot on. Since it would take several minutes to brew, I grabbed binoculars, and walked to a knob hill close by the tent. It was still dark out, but good enough to start seeing things. Glassing the surrounding area, I found a bull moose standing in some trees. There were large antlers, but to dark for my binoculars. I quickly went back to the tent and got my spotting scope. It was a nice bull, and in velvet. Soon I verified four brow tines on one side, three was required. Legal bull! Returning to the tent, I turned the coffee pot off, grabbed my rifle, and put the big sneak on down the hillside. The bull was in a creek drainage, with a high ridge on my side. Moving quick as I could, below the ridge top, I wanted to get in range, then crest the ridge, to locate the bull. Having arrived, the moose was nowhere to be seen. Searching the area there was no sign. I waited. The creek was filled with thick yellow brush. I last saw the bull about one hundred fifty yards from where I now sat. It is amazing how quickly they seem to vanish. About fifteen minutes later, I saw movement, below toward the right. The moose was forty yards in front of me! His butt just disappeared behind a stand of spruce. I positioned myself for the shot waiting for the bull to walk out the other side. Antlers appeared. The bull stepped out and stopped broadside. As I squeezed off the shot, I thought “those antlers look different”. The moose dropped and lay over sideways. Then a second bull walks out! He stood there and looked my direction. This is the four brow tine Bull I first spotted! He’s just looking at me as I get up, no hurry to go anywhere. I stand there, he stands there. Waving my arms, he just looks. Now this is a nice bull, I’m thinking. If someone was with me, here he is! Our stare down lasted several minutes. Finally, the second bull slowly leaves. I walk over to inspect my downed bull. Four brows tines on each side! A very nice moose. The sun would be coming up soon.
Hiking back to camp, I stopped outside the tent, called out, “Wake up! We have a moose to skin, get up!” After a quick breakfast, we spent half the day getting everything cleaned up, meat hung. Kyle was at an age where he was becoming handy to have along. What a great first morning and I had five days off yet, before going back to work!
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Dave N

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Feb 20, 2013
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Illinois
Seems to be a recurring theme here. If you need a new good luck charm I'm more than willing to come up there and sleep in for you! No game boy required. ;)
 

BearFoot

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Jun 6, 2018
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454
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Alaska
The kid was twelve. This summer we did a fair bit of shooting, target practice. I was impressed with his marksmanship. This hunting season, three machines, three dudes, busted out to hunt remote. First morning, Just before sunrise, we were in a good spot to survey the land around us. Hours spent sitting, glassing. Far to our right two bull moose are sparing. They push each other about and one is a shooter. I ask the kid “you want to shoot a moose?” “Yeah!” We busted brush, hiked high ridges, then followed a gully down toward the moose. Once in the area, we slowed and glassed. Our bull was located, bedded down. We snuck in close. The plan was, I would “ cough the bull up” and a shot would present. The kid put in his earplugs and when the moose jumped up, he had a solid first hit. Then he shot again. I said “you got him”, and he shot again. You got him! The kid shot again. The moose was slow to go down, and the boy put four rounds in him. Turns out with earplugs, he did not hear me. I believe it was over, on the first shot. He felt the moose was still standing and needed more shooting, either way, Moose down. Kid shoots first moose at age twelve. Proud dad? Hell yes!

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BearFoot

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Alaska
A couple of days later, Grizzly is sitting like a dog, scratching ear with hind foot, not far from the gut pile. We watched as he disappeared in the brush. Birds blew out of that spot, so we made our way down there. From the exact same spot he took his moose, the bear flipped at first shot impact. It was done. Together we skinned a bear.

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I found a legal bull another morning, and again we processed another moose.
This trip the kid and I took two moose, one bear. A very good year!
 

BearFoot

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Jun 6, 2018
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454
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Alaska
Salvage Mission

Not every hunt works out.

I looked back to see Kyle, standing next to his wheeler, waving at me. He wasn’t stuck this time. I turned around to find out what was going on. Pulling up alongside, it wasn’t good. Checking closer we found that the A arm had cracked clean through, causing the rear tire lay over. The machine was out of service. Each of us was pulling a meat trailer. It was late afternoon, so everything was transferred to my ride and trailer. We rode double the last few miles to our camp site. This is not optimum. We were heavy. Should one of us take a Moose. It would make for a difficult ride out.
That night the wind kicked up hard. The tarp covering the tent began flapping wildly, and our tent leaning sideways with the wind gusts. I crawled out of my bag to tighten everything down. It was a black night and snowing sideways! The rest of the night, sleeping wasn’t easy due to the intensity of this storm. Day break and it was a whiteout. Sky white, ground white, visibility zero. I crawled back into my bag. Within a few hours the weather broke. Clouds parted and the sun started to warm the land. Kyle and I had breakfast. With snow melting off, it was decided to cancel the Moose hunt, and work to get his wheeler back to the road. It was now a salvage mission!
After discussing the options, a plan hatched. By removing the rear tires from his machine, we were able to turn his meat trailer and wheeler on their side, then roll them together. Now his rig was loaded into the meat trailer. Excellent! We were going to “leap frog “ our way out. This would be a two day operation. Being about twenty five miles from the road, we planned to ride half way, set up camp, then ride back and retrieve tailored wheeler. This would be repeated the next day.

Riding two guys with no load, good time was made. It was soon apparent that there were balance issues. The receiver cup on the meat trailer was badly worn, causing the trailer to come unhitched a lot. This was remedied by Kyle hopping on the trailer front, adding weight to hold it down. Ride ‘em bronco! In this fashion we rolled down the trail. We arrived at camp just before dark, and it started to snow.
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At least the wind didn’t blow all night. I got up early and glassed the valley before me. From my vantage point, I could see for miles. Below were countless ponds, bog, lakes and spruce. I could see a few Moose “out there”. Farther than I care to pack moose out. After breakfast, we broke camp, and rode out to my truck. Dropping the trailer with all our gear, we made good time once again, heading back for Kyle’s wheeler. This section of trail had many hills to climb. The Suzuki weighs five hundred pounds dry. Kyle’s rig, trailer, and his bony ass weight combined proved to be too much for some hill climbs. I’d climb with as much momentum as possible, but the load became an anchor. I’d set my break and have Kyle do the “Winch Walk”. He’d pull my winch cable, plus rope, as far as could uphill.




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Winch Walk after winch Walk, after winch Walk. It got us home. Those Helly Hansen bibs are starting to fit!
 

fowl punishment

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Sep 26, 2017
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346
Location
Helena, MT
Thanks @BearFoot. Alaska stories never get old, keep them coming. Reminds me of my childhood going deer hunting with dad here in MT, looks like your son and I are within a few years of each other.
 
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