In 1972 I embarked on my first pack train hunt. This was in the Peace River country of British Columbia for moose, mountain caribou and mountain goat. We were out 18 days, and I managed to take a very good mountain goat billy that measured something like 9-1/4". On the trip I brought my 7mm Weatherby Magnum, which I carried in a scabbard on my horse. On one of the packhorses I had in another scabbard my .280 Remington, custom built on a Sako Forester action, Ackley barrel and Reinhardt Fajen stock. (I still own both rifles.)
One of the joys for me while growing up in North Dakota was the luxury of being able to hop into a vehicle, drive 10, 15 or 20 miles, park the vehicle and go hunting on foot. As long as I was not on posted land, I was perfectly legal. It gave me a wonderful sense of freedom. That all changed when I moved to Wyoming in 1975 and learned that all private land is automatically posted, and the hunter must have permission to hunt before venturing onto private property.
It was at this time of the year in Southeast Alaska when we'd hook up Laurie's 17-foot Boston Whaler and make the 15-mile drive to Amalga Harbor to go crabbing. The water was calm, cold and clear and no one else was around. We motored quietly with the 7-1/2 horse Evinrude kicker 200 or 300 yards off shore, and tossed "crab rings" attached to a buoy. Wait 20 or 30 minutes, and haul each one to the surface in hopes of landing a male king crab that had a shell or carapace of six inches to make it legal to keep.
This tale of the Warenski-style drop point hunter goes back to winter 1982, when I wrote a letter to legendary Utah knifemaker Buster Warenski, and asked about him making a drop point hunter for me. He mailed a signed sketch that he had done on onion paper of the knife he suggested, and said the price would be $550. Gulp! In those days you could buy just about anyone's work for $100 to $200. An exception might be Bob Loveless, the famous knife designer who was charging $300 to $350 for a hunter in those days.
Hunters and shooters are notoriously eager to try anything new, and the proliferation of new center-fire rifle cartridges during the last two decades is evidence of that.
If you remember, last week I wrote about coyotes taking over the landscape from red foxes in southeastern North Dakota. I said that my friend, Kyle from near Mandan had just shot a coyote and told me on the phone that he rarely sees a red fox anymore. That prompted a reaction from several readers.
My friend Kyle, who is married to my second cousin, called me on Christmas Eve and told me he had just shot a coyote from his deck. Kyle, who lives outside of Mandan, said, "I figured that coyote probably did enough killing so I put the hammer to him. I used my .25/06." I asked Kyle a question I put to anyone who hunts coyotes: "Do you see many red foxes around anymore?"
The hounds looked a sorry sight when we found them on the rim above Horse Thief Canyon in the East Kootenay of British Columbia. Mike, the big Black-and-Tan, was missing a part of his right ear. Mac, the smaller Black-and-Tan cross sustained a deep gash along the side of his neck, which later swelled and required a trip to the local veterinarian.
There are some hunting trips where you just know you are going to experience a lot of pain. Most mountain sheep hunts fall into this category, but one in particular is especially grueling. That is the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts in Montana's "unlimited" areas—a couple hunting districts southwest of Billings along the Wyoming border in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness where you can buy a sheep license over-the- counter and not have to enter a drawing where the odds are daunting.
Anti-hunting radicals have an impressive history in banning hunting seasons, and their work continues on today. For example, a couple decades ago the Democrat-controlled Legislature in Sacramento banned all mountain lion hunting in California with absolutely no biological data that pointed toward a