The Tier II Subsistence Moose Hunt has begun in Haines, and, unlike last year, I have a permit.
This year I resolved to change my methods. Normally, I hunt moose here on the peninsula, usually an excellent place to meet moose, whether we choose to our not—except during the rut, with which the hunt more or less coincides. Once the hormones start to percolate, the moose seem to head off to the moose Riviera or other romantic getaways to do their honeymooning. Every year I see evidence that they actually do mate here, but it seems to take place almost exclusively after dark, when hunting isn’t allowed.
So, I had not intended to visit the places I often go to hunt moose near the homestead. Then, my strategy changed again.
Just before the end of the hunt, we will leave the homestead for an important two week trip. That means that the homestead must be ready for winter before we depart. Moose hunting has to accommodate this preparation, which includes filling the firewood shelter, gathering compost biofilter, and a lot of other activities.
The solution seems to be to haul my rifle along on my errands. Keeping it handy while I buck up a deadfall or cut beach grass seems like a good idea; there’s no telling when a moose might happen along.
As I made my way to my destination, a sense of nostalgia overwhelmed me. It had been some time since I’d visited these places, but much longer since I’d seen them in autumn. That made all the difference. The temperature, the aroma of the forest, the distinct angle of light, all brought me back to pleasant memories of sitting motionless in these hushed, lush swales, watching and listening intently for moose. My heart swelled as if I were returning home after years of absence.
I had good success that day: a bin-full of biofilter, a heavy bag of mushrooms, no moose, but an overwhelming sense of awe and peace akin to a visit to a major cathedral.
When Michelle arrived home that night, she told of seeing a moose on the trail. She never saw its head or hindquarters, so she couldn’t say if it was male or female. Maybe I’ll be able to spend some more time in my favorite hunting haunts after all?