Fall Hunting Season is an exciting time for millions of people, from all over the globe. It is a time of the ultimate personal challenge for some. For others it is a time of peace and nature or fulfilling, providing for their families the meat that they will prepare and eat all winter long. No matter what the Fall Hunting Season represents to you, it connects us all.
To a Professional Guide, it means hunting the wilderness and in cases like my own, on horseback, for 50 (fifty) days searching for the majestic and incredible Alaskan big game animals that clients dream of and being able to share this majestic and amazing land with someone new. It is exciting, inspiring, spiritual, dangerous and exhausting.
For me, the 2015 Big Game Hunting Season has been frustrating and a study in patience and faith. The 4-Wheeler accident at the end of July that I shared with you in the post Keeping You in the Loop of Changes took me out of Pioneer Outfitters guide line-up. We had hoped that the accident’s bruises and pain would clear itself up with time and by missing the first hunting time-frame I would be back in the mix soon enough.
It wasn’t to be. After a quick trip to a nearby town and clinic, ex-rays and a lengthy discussion with a doctor, then later another phone call with the radiologist it became clear that this latest loss in the fight with gravity and Newton’s First Law of Motion, that I would be visiting an orthopedic doctor and having surgery before I resume riding and guiding anyone.
Sitting at home, here in Chisana, listening to reports come in and offering my own past experiences as the best help I can to our Trainees, out in the field for the first time. Knowing someone else is the lead guide, out in the wilderness with our guests and clients, doing the job and sharing our world, their own way, not mine.
That says it all, doesn’t it? “Their own way, not mine.” It is frustrating when you are sure you know the way, and someone goes at it a way that is different than the one you would choose. It is a study in patience and faith when all I can do is sit at home and pray that the experiences and adventures that are occurring without me are both fulfilling and always worth treasuring. Pray, that in all of my sharing, teaching, lectures and discussions, I have shared the right information, story or direction for what ever the wilderness decides to throw at them.
Add into that the frustration and all the rest for trying to get enough of my own household flown out of Chisana and into Tok as well as trying to find, research, learn and apply for various loans and grants to help us to repair the house in Tok that was sorely abused and mismanaged so that we will have a place to live in less than a month’s time. Truly it is, a study in patience and faith.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
The first hunt had a taste of everything; the anticipation, the frustration, the challenge, triumph and despair. Horses battling the quicksand of the river and time and rain-washed trails, long rides and out-of-reach sheep; crazy and anti-social guides, camp-destroying Grizzly bears and clients who were in no way prepared for the very real dangers of an Alaska wilderness experience; combined, create a never ending dose of frustration, worry and disaster clean up for those of us sitting and waiting at home.
A very good friend and mentor of Master Guide Terry Overly once told a much younger Terry that the greatest danger to an Outfitter came from his (or her) assistant guides. It is true. An Outfitter can only be in one place at a time and no matter how hard you work, no matter how prepared you are, all it takes is for one of your trusted guides to drop the ball and the game is over. One of the Boss’s jobs- one the most important jobs he has, is to match the client to one of his guides to produce the dream and fulfill the desire that brought that client to Alaska and to us.
Now, I understand that better and more clearly than ever before, in my own 23 years with Pioneer Outfitters. Being forced to remain behind while others make the same mistakes I remember making over 20 years ago and unable to do anything but attempt to shore up and fix what would have never happened, had I been there. No, I am sure I wouldn’t have made the same mistake twice, after so many years being me, I am sure I could have found some new way to make a mistake. (laughing) A whole lot like hindsight is dissecting someone else’s choices.
The next hunt has come in and home as I sit here and write this all out for you. Successes, great ones and small ones, matter. Moments that become memories matter. Laughter and satisfaction, meat to be processed and hides to be fleshed and salted and paperwork to be concluded in the next day and a half before the planes arrive to send these clients on their way to their homes and to bring in new clients for the next and final big game hunt of the season.
More excitement, more anticipation; it’s all coming hard and fast with no rest for the weary (yes, I am talking about the boys!). Stay tuned and I will badger the guys into talking more photos to share with you.