Campfire Chat with Alaska Chick, Beyond the Harvest

Welcome back to my fire! Master Guide Terry Overly is joining us again tonight and we are going to chat about what there is, beyond the harvest.

Beyond the Harvest, more than the kill, photographs, pats on the back and the beautiful trophy that you have forever; what are you receiving from your amazing experience in the Alaska Wilderness?

Let’s chat!

Beyond the Harvest

Beyond the harvest and what it is that really draws us into the wilderness as well as what draws so many people into spending so much money on clothing, gear, weapons and trips describes where my mind was when I opened a link on LinkedIn to a poll that Mia Anstine of Wolf Creek Outfitters, created titled What Does Hunting Mean To You?

Mia Anstine Outfitter, Guide, Mentor, Public Speaker, Author, Writer, Columnist, Blogger, Shooting Instructor, Mother, Wife. You can reach Mia via  her website, www.MiaAnstine.com Mia is a columnist at Western Whitetail Magazine, Women’s Outdoor News and contributor at Beretta USA and guest at North American Hunting Club.

Mia offered 5 choices in this brief poll.

  1. Learning about the animals.
  2. Putting food on the table.
  3. Being outdoors.
  4. The harvest.
  5. OTHER and a box in which to explain what that “other” is.

This is where we are focused during tonight’s Campfire Chat. In the “Other” box. What we are increasingly concerned about as the years pass is what a person, a hunter, is missing out on when the only link to success and satisfaction is the kill or harvest of the animal you are pursuing.

My mind was already here, focused on what (it seemed to me) that many people are truly missing out on being only focused on a kill of an animal being the only scale by which the success of an Alaskan Big Game Hunt is based on when I clicked on the link that took me over to vote on the poll.

Later, I spoke briefly with Mia about my thoughts and the direction I was taking with this chat, a slightly different direction than the information she was hoping to gather. What I realized, speaking with another Professional Guide from outside of Alaska was that this new ultimate measure of success was not limited to Alaska Big Game Hunters as Mia expressed similar stories, thoughts and concerns during our chat.

Beyond the Harvest

Certainly no hunter walks into the wilderness, hunting, in hopes that he or she does not harvest their desired critter, but is that really all there is that has any value?

The biggies that I have witnessed people completely missing, both in experience and by being all present are the following:

Where you are. You are smack-dab in the middle of the largest National Park in the U.S.! The Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Designated a World Heritage Site and creating the world’s largest protected wilderness it is also, right in this exact place, the site of the last historic Gold Rush.

The incredible and almost spiritual connection with and through the horses. They are a huge part of your Adventure! Through these range horses, that spend more than half the year running wild and free, your connection to the nature of the wilderness and the hunt can not be made any stronger, if you acknowledge it.

The skills. Your skills and your guide’s skills are what you have. Every time that you head into the wilderness, you are strengthening and honing these skills. Every single time you (and we) have practiced, trained and upgraded it was for this Adventure, right here and right now.

Connection –vs- Connected. Remember WHO you are. There are no phones, no doors slamming, no meetings to be late for, no beep of an incoming text. Your own guide is completely focused on you. Make a connection with another human being. Don’t forget how.

YOU. It is ALL about You. Your hopes, your dreams, your hopes, your satisfaction and what brought you here to us and to Alaska. Enjoy it. It is not about your Boss, your company, your job; it is all about you.

The Challenge. The challenge of the hunt. Pitting yourself against nature and the wild. It is upping your personal game, beyond measure. Challenging yourself, Mother Nature and the wild animals that live here. You are here. You have already won. What you are doing will raise your own personal perception of what is difficult and what you can do. Expanding your own boundaries.

Beyond the Harvest

These of course are my own perceptions about what is being missed out on. I could go on to repeat what has been spoken of, written about, is in our contracts, what is ethically and morally acceptable, but the bottom line is when someone purchases a Big Game Hunt from any Outfitter in Alaska, they are buying the guide’s expertise, the Outfitter’s time and equipment and the opportunity to hunt a specific animal during a specific amount of time.

No one, no ethical Outfitter be he (or she) a Registered or Master Guide of Alaska would sell anyone a dead animal. It is not only against the laws, rules and regulations of just about every agency that can be named, but it is also incredibly offensive and unethical.

Digging, I found a multitude of responses in many places answering the question “WHY do YOU hunt?” I found thousands of responses to this very simply put question but not one response included “I just want to kill (harvest) an animal.”

Some of those responses were:

  • To revisit treasured memories with family and create more with the newest generation of family.
  • To experience the wonder and fantastic of Nature.
  • Before the hunt ~ it feeds my imagination; During the hunt ~ it feeds my soul; After the hunt ~ it feeds my family.
  • To take part in Gods creation as He intended. There is nothing more natural or basic than hunting.
  • To reconnect, to still the busy lives we live in work and material things, but to reconnect and slow ourselves down is to feel truly alive.
  • It makes me feel truly alive. I become fully aware of my surroundings, all of my worldly troubles disappear, and I feel closer to God than I do in church…it cleanses my soul.
  • To experience the beautiful country.
  • Adventure
  • To see and experience animals in their nature environment.
  • The encounters.
  • Hunting is my escape from the hectic real world.
  • Time to clear my thoughts and to just focus on all the wonderful things God has created.
  • To feel closer to God.
  • To fortify my diet.
  • To gain strength and compassion.
  • To regulate herd numbers.
  • To cull out the weak and deformed.
  • To provide clean, healthy, unprocessed food for my family.
  • To remind me to be strong, the strong survive.
  • The challenge.
  • It is a primal link, a call to the wild, to provide.
  • To be outdoors with my family.
  • To be truly a spiritual being.
  • Respect.
  • To feel connected to the wilderness.
  • Tradition.
  • To survive.
  • To be prepared.
  • To stay healthy; body and mind.
  • Being outdoors matching my wit against God’s beasts, it’s the process that brings me peace.
  • To get into the outdoors away from civilization.
  • The peace, quiet, space and solitude.
  • To retain the skills necessary for our most fundamental need to survive.
  • Exercise.
  • To feel alive.
  • To know myself.
  • It is one of the few activities where you can share and participate with at all ages.
  • Most of all the spiritual connection with nature and the respect for the process.
  • To stay connected to Mother Nature, her beautiful spaces, and species. Also, to get away from the technological rat race we all live in today.
  • The raw emotion of feeling and becoming a part of the natural world once again, distracted from the fabrications and conventions of modern society.

All of these responses, each one left dozens or even more times and the one that was mentioned even more than “for food”?

“Because it is who I am.”

Because it is who I am. It is who we all are. We were made to hunt, gather, kill and provide for our families and for our survival.

I really hope you enjoyed this Campfire Chat, Beyond the Harvest. If you have any ideas or thought on what you would like to know or hear discussed, please just let me know in the comments.

 

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